Through a Google Alert, I found out about Andrew Hodges, MD who is being touted as originator of a new, cutting edge “psycholinguistic” technique of “reading between the lines” and being able to show people confessing to crimes that they are not discussing.This technique is also known as “ThoughtPrint Decoding.”

The misuse of the term “psycholinguistic” has been going on since at least the 1980’s, initiated in Federal law enforcement circles and now trickled down to state and local law enforcement. Psycholinguistics is the study of how language is processed in human cognition, including memory function, the mental lexicon (how words are created, formed via affixation), syntactic rules, semantic and world knowledge, and even categorical perception of sounds (how we can hear a different accent and still understand our shared language and how we can hear soundstream and recognize it as a foreign language or no language at all). I tried in the early 1990’s to talk to some of the Feds about using a better term, but this was dismissed as “just an academic issue.” Well, it shows me that they don’t know what they are talking about, and are willing to misuse terms of a science to look good or sound intellectual– and that says a lot about integrity, or lack thereof. Psychology of language, on the other hand, includes work in affective use of language, but most psychologists working in this field–those who have integrity– keep the distinction between cognitive and affective functions clear in how they talk about what they do.

Also, it is so odd to me that recently innovations in forensic science try to grab hold of the -print suffix, ie. writeprint, brainprint, and now thoughtprint. This shows me that the innovators have no idea of what has been happening in the real world of forensic science since the late 1990’s, and that they just want to ingratiate themselves into a CSI-type knowledge of forensic science.

But if any of you know more about Dr Hodges’ work, please defend him and teach me what I need to know.

This link is to an anti-Obama website, but my points have nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with forensic linguistics and the growth of this field.