Notes: Episode 40, Early Modern Criminology (Part 2)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


12:34 – Curiously enough, the Miranda warning was not put into place until 1966 in the United States. The familiar set of explanations about a suspect’s rights, usually beginning with the right to remain silent, came out of a Supreme Court case in which Ernesto Arturo Miranda successfully argued that his rights of protection against self incrimination and right to counsel (fifth and sixth amendments) had been violated during his arrest, and that his conviction was a function of not understanding that he had these rights. While Miranda was retried and convicted for some heinous crimes, this did force law enforcement to begin informing people of their rights in dealing with detention and officers of the law. I’m actually rather surprised that the warnings came into effect as late as they did – they seem like such an iconic part of our cultural understanding of police work that I assumed they were much earlier.

27:40 – Dan is obviously making a joke here, but interestingly enough, the phrase “caught redhand” to denote someone observed in the act of committing a crime does seem to have originated in Scotland in the 15th century.

28:55 – Although it actually came out in 2002, Dan is correct – “Catch Me If You Can” was based on the life of con artist and cheque forger Frank Abagnale, who took on a number of false identities throughout his career. I originally wrote that he successfully did this, though things like identity fraud are difficult to measure in terms of success or failure, as he was eventually caught and imprisoned. I suppose the only truly successful identity fraud is one which is never discovered.

39:12 – The name I’m failing miserably to pronounce is Juan Vucetich.

54:51 – Between the time that this episode was recorded and the time that it was posted, it was announced that Martin Scorsese was planning to make a movie about Holmes starring Leonardo Dicaprio, so that was a weird coincidence for us.

1:01:06 – I think this is the second time I use the word “psychoses” or “psychosis” in reference to a violent criminal. I just want to point out that this is a contemporary term based on the broad categorization of all mental illnesses into two types: neuroses (harmless) and psychoses (harmful). While I’m using them in context of their time, the labels are at best meaningless today and at worst bordering on perjorative. Unfortunately, any humane understanding of mental illness is really restricted to the past fifty years or so, and before that it was treated in all the worst ways people can think of persecuting one another. There is still some distance to go. In short, “psycho” and “psychotic” relate back to this very crude understanding of the numerous ways mental illness can affect a person’s life, and are probably best left to history.

1:15:18 – That was a bit of a cryptic statement, wasn’t it? When I said it, I was thinking specifically of the work of Dr Paul Ekman, who has done quite a bit of work on micro-expressions – a combination of body language and extremely short, reflexive facial expressions that are impossible to hide. While there is still some question as to their efficacy as a method of detecting deception, it has shown some promise. Unfortunately, Ekman’s work is almost entirely from the last 20 years and therefore outside the purvue of this show.

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