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I shall then attempt to explain why a practice that consistently fails scientific tests can seem so convincing to intelligent people who run across it in everyday settings.Graphology is the allegedly scientific practice of determining people's psychological, social, occupational, and medical attributes from the configuration of their letters, lines, and paragraphs on a page.Similarly, many people assume that graphology must be legitimate because it has occasionally been accepted in court.And many skeptics have accepted free offers to have their writing analyzed and found, to their surprise, that the portrayal seemed remarkably accurate. Following a brief historical introduction, I shall present the logical and scientific objections to graphology.Graphologists strenuously deny (though there is evidence to the contrary) that they attend to the contents of the scripts they scrutinize.
French graphologists continued to dominate the field until the early twentieth century when they started to be eclipsed by German-speaking authors.To the casual observer, handwriting analysis enjoys greater plausibility than other occult or pseudoscientific ways of reading personality. It is hard for a thinking person today to imagine how the stars or creases on the palm could affect human behavior.But it seems at least possible that, inasmuch as writing is a form of expressive behavior, it might reveal something about ourselves.Obviously, those whose fates hang in the balance have a strong incentive to present a favorable face to the world, and for that reason, hucksters promising to cut through what is euphemistically called "impression management" have always found an eager clientele.Think of the advantages if potential employers, landlords, spouses, business associates, or courts of law could quickly and accurately reveal "what someone is really like." At various times, it has been assumed that such a window on anyone's inner make-up could be gained by interpreting the positions of the stars (astrology), the features of the face (physiognomy), the lines on the hand (palmistry), bumps on the head (phrenology), and the shape and distribution of handwriting (graphology).