February 08, 2011
Improbable Cause

Add this to your list of things you always suspected were true. It’s from Ted McLaughlin at The Rag Blog. Turns out that those amazing drug-sniffing dogs are no more amazing than Clever Hans, the Counting Horse.

The researchers took 18 drug dog teams to a church, where it is likely no drugs or explosives had ever been placed in the past. The cops were told there might be up to three target scents in any one of four rooms. If they saw a piece of red construction paper in the room, that indicated where a target scent was placed.

The first room was left untouched. The second room had a piece of red construction paper on a cabinet. The third room had two sausages and two tennis balls placed as decoys. The fourth room had the decoy scents and the red paper. However, none of the rooms had any drugs or explosives.

There shouldn’t have been any alerts, but, in fact, handlers indicated their dog had alerted in every room. There were more alerts in rooms with red paper (which piques the cop’s interest) and no corresponding increase in rooms with sausages and tennis balls (which would pique a dog’s interest).

In other words, at best, dogs are responding to the subtle non-verbal cues of their masters to find drugs or explosives where the human thinks there should be drugs or explosives. The cop suspects you have pot so his body language makes the dog alert. At worst, the cop is purposefully cuing his dog to alert when he wants a handy excuse to violate your Fourth Amendment rights.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at February 08, 2011 01:06 PM
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B-I-N-G-O

Posted by: Jim H. on February 8, 2011 2:52 PM

A true case of American blind justice?

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on February 9, 2011 12:05 AM

Ah, yes, the corruption permeates everything and is everywhere.

Posted by: knowdoubt on February 9, 2011 8:30 PM
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