The Howland Will Forgery Trial is a very interesting case involving Charles Peirce (pronounced purz). Louis Menand wrote about him and others in a wonderful 2001 book, The Metaphysical Club.
Peirce was involved in the 1868 Howard Will Forgery Trial, and that case is useful here as I try to demonstrate how illogical are the official stories of major crimes of our times. Please refer to this post for a simple exposition of the logic of the coin toss in analyzing observed phenomena.
Anyone interested in Howland (Robinson v. Mandell) can read about it in depth, and I will treat it briefly here. Sylvia Ann Howland died and left a large amount of money to various heirs and legatees. Any residual was to go to her niece, Hetty Robinson, who stepped in with an earlier will. Attached to that will was a letter dated later than the existing will that canceled all the other bequests. It was purportedly signed by Howland, and that was where Peirce entered.
Each of us sign documents regularly, and the quality of our signature varies with our mood, attentiveness, time of day and by pure chance. So it is rare that our signatures will always match in all detail. Peirce noticed with Robinson’s document that part of Howland’s signature, the “downstroke,” when overlaid, matched in all thirty instances with another of her signatures. Using other signatures from other documents, he noted that Howland’s downstroke rarely matched in more than a few instances, and so found this occurrence to be highly unlikely.
That’s one chance in 2,666,000,000,000,000,000,000.
In other words, the Howland signature on the codicil was traced, and the document was a forgery. The conclusion was inescapable. As Charles’ father, Benjamin Peirce, testified on the stand,
The coincidence which has occurred here must have had its origin in an intention to produce it. It is utterly repugnant to sound reason to attribute this coincidence to any cause but design.
The reasoning was relatively new at that time, and the court ruled it inadmissible. Robinson otherwise lost the case.
I will use similar reasoning in the next post as we take a close look at the Naudet film, seen below.