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Colour Blindness

The well known Dunning-Kruger effect is (per Wiki):

‘a cognitive bias in which people with limited competence in a particular domain overestimate their abilities’.

I was thinking about this when I read a recent Casebook Forum post by Caroline Morris-Brown, the Chief Diary Defender, who appeared to be claiming that she possesses a magical superpower which, by seeing words in colours, enables her to rule out Mike and Anne Barrett as the authors of the diary.

Hence, after asking who among us is ‘qualified to match up the diary’s vocabulary and sentence structure with any of Mike or Anne’s written work’, she posted:


'I may have a slightly unfair advantage, due to seeing letters and words as different colours. I tend to get a colour palette with a writer's unique vocabulary range and frequency, and their sentence structure, which remains broadly consistent in their writing and a bit like a signature, so this helps me to recognise a writer just from their writing. The colour palette will vary from one writer to the next, emphasising the differences or similarities.


If Anne had composed the diary, it would not have been just her handwriting in need of an effective disguise; she'd have had to channel her inner karma chameleon and change her recognisable vocabulary range and usual sentence structure - and this has little to do with having basic writing skills. If she only thought she was helping to create a work of fiction, with a stab at mock-Victorian handwriting, I'd have expected to see her true colours 'shinning' through, unaware of any need to change them.'


It's kinda strange that she didn't mention this when I asked her over seven years ago, on 9 November 2016, why the Barretts couldn't have jointly forged the diary (her answer then being: 'Their personalities, combined with examples of their handwriting and creative writing skills, have given me no confidence in their ability - individually or together - to have produced anything like the diary as we know it') but, regardless of that, you’ll probably immediately notice at least two obvious flaws in her argument. 

Firstly, after prefacing her comments by talking about Mike or Anne’s written work, she then concentrates solely on Anne, having forgotten that she’s supposed to be assessing the written work of both of them.  

Secondly, despite not providing a single example of Anne’s written work for comparison, or explaining what is unique about Anne’s written work, she simply states as a fact that Anne would have had to ‘change her recognisable vocabulary range and usual sentence structure’.   That may or may not be the case but how does she know anything about Anne’s recognisable range and usual sentence structure?

Now, I don’t believe that the diary text was composed by Anne, so that particular discussion is not something I'll spend too much time on.  I think that it was probably composed by Mike, although he might have had help from Anne’s father and/or Tony Devereux, and possibly even Anne herself, but I do think it's incredible that the Chief Diary Defender has so much confidence in her own unproven abilities that she feels able to rule out Anne as being the author on the basis of an undefined vocabulary range and sentence structure.

What I want to consider for a moment is the Chief Diary Defender’s amazing ability to detect authorship by use of colours.

Back on 27 July 2020, she posted this on the Casebook Forum:

Look carefully at the question:

'Is that how 'The Baron' [who joined our merry throng a few months after his favourite person in the world departed, leaving him bereft] intends to prove it's a fake?'

In a thread created by The Baron in order to link to my 'Bunny's Aunt' article, there can be no doubt that the Baron’s ‘favourite person’ is supposed to be Lord Orsam.  But what possible reason could there be for her to have noted that The Baron had joined Casebook a few months after I, Lord Orsam, had departed, other than to insinuate that The Baron and Lord Orsam were one and the same?

That she held this belief is confirmed by the fact that she also asked how the Baron intended to prove the diary is a fake. 

In the very next post in the thread she wrote:

‘Might it not have been simpler to wait for The Baron to prove the bloody thing could not possibly have come from the house at any time, presumably because it was Anne Graham who planned and executed the hoax?’

This doesn't make any sense unless she thought that I was The Baron because The Baron had neither stated his intention to prove the diary was a fake or had even attempted to do so.  By this stage, he hadn’t yet discovered the ‘bumbling buffoon’ anachronism (he didn’t post about this until 23 August 2020) and rarely posted about the diary.  She was obviously attributing such an intention and desire to me.

Don't forget, her post was made only two days after Jay Hartley had expressly accused The Baron of being Lord Orsam in the same thread, hence:

'Cheers Lord O. I mean Dave. I mean Baron'

Caroline Morris-Brown would have seen this when she made her inflammatory post two days later about The Baron having joined Casebook shortly after Lord Orsam's departure, adding fuel to the flames of this silly theory. Not only did she not correct Hartley, using her magical superpowers of textual colour analysis to put him straight, but she basically repeated what he had said.

If, as she clearly did, she thought that me and The Baron were the same person, when we are not, what happened to her famous ability to separate people by the colours in their writing? 

Perhaps she isn’t more qualified than the rest of us to make these kinds of assessments after all.  


But that’s not all, because shortly before Christmas of 2020 she posted about a member called Vfor who had made a post wondering aloud if the fact that the email address of the Admin of included the words “queen mean” suggested that Jack the Ripper was female.  Her theory was Vfor meant V for Vendetta, implying someone with a vendetta against Ally Ryder, the Admin of  She also said for no apparent reason that Vfor was, ‘someone with lots of time on their hands, hoping to keep others busy responding’

I didn’t see this post at the time but someone emailed me to ask if I thought she was suggesting that I was Vfor.   When I read it, I was quite sure that this is what she was saying, especially as I live permanently rent free inside her head.   Only four days earlier, on 18 December, she had totally misunderstood a joke by Howard Brown who had posted a list of made-up Christmas song titles attributed to me but, with her extraordinary comprehension skills, or lack of, she appeared to think they that they were all titles I had created, hence she posted:

‘Goodness me, that man has a sad obsession with Carols’


But I'd never said a single word about Carols!  The only person who had done so was Howard Brown, so if anyone had a ‘sad obsession’ with them it was Howard.

Did that list of song titles possess my colour palette, though?

Going back to the Vfor point, as I noted subsequently in Lord Orsam Says…Part 13:


Vfor posted in response (in #51) to say that his name was actually Vlad and that his username was based on his first initial and the idea of V being for victory.  He said he'd posted under that username in the archive site many years ago.  While I haven't been able to find any of his posts, a quick Google search established that he made a virtually identical online wordpress post to his Casebook post about Mary Jane Kelly being the Jack the Ripper, including the point about the "queen mean" email of Casebook admin, as long ago as 16 July 2013, which post can be found here:


That was years before I even joined Casebook and puts to bed the rubbish suggestion (which was clearly being made by Caroline Morris) that this mention of "queen mean" was part of a vendetta by me against Ally Ryder.


The idea that Caroline Morris-Brown has any special ability to detect authorship of texts is refuted by the actual evidence whereby she seems to see me in posts I haven’t written.

I want to deal now with another part of her argument about Anne Barrett’s involvement which she’s been making.  Astonishingly, I find her still saying that Anne was too competent to make basic spelling mistakes and solecisms because she had worked as a secretary. The idea that Anne was too 'sensible and competent' to have written the diary, as the Chief Diary Defender had first rashly claimed back in 2018, was thoroughly debunked by me in a 2018 thread on Casebook which can be found here.

As I stated in the OP, Anne Graham was not beyond making basic errors of English. I gave the following examples from just a very few items of correspondence of hers that I had seen:

"he knows the type of keys and rythams she will need "

"She is also getting quiet a reputation as a singer and in the last 2 weeks has sang solos in Church..."

"They are reading “The Hobbit” in English which she or any one else can’t make head nor tale off..."

"People get divorced every day it is only you who are making this one so cruel..."

"And when you did retrieve it you had the bloody gaul to send the card to her…"

"Your messages of tonight have gone in the bin were they belong."

These are very similar to the types of errors found in the diary. In fact, the writing of 'off' instead of 'of' is exactly the type of error found in the diary (e.g. "the pleasure of writing off all that lays ahead of me..." and "I ate all off it").

So rattled was Caroline Morris-Brown by the examples I provided that she suggested that perhaps I had 'made the odd transcription error' myself when transcribing Anne's mistakes! I knocked that on the head later in the thread (and in another thread) by posting the images of the above mistakes, proving that they were errors made by Anne herself.

I then posted a number of examples of Anne not using an apostrophe in her writing, exactly like the diarist!

"Why you should do that when you were sending notes by the dozen to my fathers address, I don’t know."


"I had to get two police officers to stand at my fathers funeral"


"My sex life, or lack of it is my own business, not yours or anyone elses"


"Well lets face it Mike"


"It is Helens birthday on Sunday"


"Thats her second certificate"

This all followed me spotting that Anne used the expression "I seen" in her recorded telephone message about the diary in June 1994, just like the diary author. We all aready knew that Anne was unable to spell the word 'rendezvous' because she got it wrong in the handwriting sample she gave to Keith Skinner in 1995.

It's perfectly clear, therefore, that Anne could have held the pen, writing the diary at Mike's dictation, and made the types of errors found in the diary, secretary or no secretary, and, as I posted on the Forum many years ago, I've known many secretaries in my time who were capable of making basic errors of English while typing up dictated tapes, which errors would be corrected by the people they were working for when reviewing the typed-up documents.

So why is the Chief Diary Defender now resurrecting her claim that Anne must have been too competent to make the kind of mistakes found in the diary?

It's because she's devised a brand new argument which is as daft as it is ignorant. She notes that the articles published in Celebrity don't contain similar errors to those in the diary so that, if Anne had assisted Mike with the diary as she assisted him with his articles, there wouldn't have been any errors in the diary.

This is wholly misguided because what we see in Celebrity are the articles after they had been checked and proofed by an editor or sub-editor whose job it was to correct the very types of mistakes which are found in the diary. What we've never seen is the original copy submitted by Mike to Celebrity. That is what we would need to examine in order to see how good the spelling and grammar was in his (or his and his wife's) articles.

I've told the story before of when I interviewed a former editor of Record Mirror who showed me the original copy of one of the articles he had published in the form it had been submitted by the journalist for publication. To my surprise, it was littered with errors! But, of course, the editor corrected them all before publication so that you would think, from the published version, that the journalist had a perfect grasp of the English language.

So the argument now being put forward by Morris-Brown is fundamentally flawed.

It's important to note that the point I am making about the work of the Barretts having potentially been edited before publication is entirely different to the speculative point made by Robert Smith in his 2019 book that the articles were not actually written by the Barretts and were entirely writtten up by the sub-editor from a string of quotes provided by them. In my opinion, despite all his supposed experience in the publishing world, this is utter nonsense and not how it worked at all. Unless he is saying that this is what was done with all of the articles attributed to Celebrity's journalists, including the very experienced James Green, he hasn't anything to offer on this issue because he has no experience of the way it worked specifically for the Barretts.

Perhaps the most ironic part of the diary defender approach to the Celebrity articles is that Tom Mitchell claims that those articles are so badly written that they show that Mike wasn't a proper journalist and thus he didn't have the skills to write the diary, which, if a forgery, he thinks must have been done by a professional writer, whereas the Chief Diary Defender tells us the very opposite, namely that the Celebrity articles represent examples of someone 'who actually knew how to write professionally'. They just can't seem to decide what approach to take.

The other entirely daft argument that I see once again from Morris-Brown, although not, on this occasion, put in the form of an argument, more an aside, is that Anne wouldn't have made the mistakes found in the diary because she would have used a dictionary, hence:

'Talk about the incompetent leading the slightly less incompetent, and both being blissfully unaware of what a dictionary could have brought to the party.'

The argument, such as it is, is flawed for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it applies to any forger of the diary. Dictionaries have existed since the nineteenth century so that whoever forged the diary must have been blissfully unaware of what a dictionary could have brought to the party. Morris-Brown believes that the diary was written by someone other than James Maybrick, so how does she explain their failure to use a dictionary? I'll return to this at the end because the answer I suspect she would provide involves the nuttiest part of her argument.

Secondly, we don't even know that the Barretts owned a dictionary. If they didn't have one, they couldn't use one.

Thirdly, if the Barretts owned one, was it easily accessible while they were writing the diary? If not, they might not have bothered to look for it.

Thirdly, we don't know if Anne, as a matter of routine, used a dictionary while creating written work. Not everyone uses them by any means. If they did, no one would ever make any spelling mistakes! We know that Anne did make mistakes in her written work. I mean, why didn't she look up in a dictionary how to spell 'rythmns' when writing one of her letters so that she didn't write 'rhythams', which is what she did write? Or why not check the spelling of 'gall' to avoid writing 'gaul'?

Fourthly, an obvious problem when using a dictionary to check one's spelling is that, unless you check every single word you write, which would be impractical, you need to know which words you can't spell but if you think you can spell certain words you won't bother checking them.

Fifthly, on a similar theme, we don't know if Anne overestimated her ability to write English, thinking she was getting everything right. If people weren't correcting her, how would she actually know whether she was good at writing English or not?

Sixtly, Anne's approach might have been not to care on the basis that any small mistakes she made could be attributed to James Maybrick.

As to that, we return to why Morris-Brown doesn't think the actual forger used a dictionary. I suspect we find it in her comment that:

'It's highly doubtful that the Barretts would have pointed out that the mistakes were all deliberate, and intended to portray 'Sir Jim' as a tragi-comic figure who butchered prostitutes on the streets of London, before butchering the prose and poetry when recording it all in the pages of his diary.'

To the extent that Morris-Brown is trying to say that the mistakes in the diary were all deliberately inserted by the forger to portray James Maybrick as a tragi-comic figure butchering prose and poetry, the idea is risible. It defies all rational understanding and makes no sense because no reader of the diary could possibly have guessed that the mistakes were supposed to be deliberate. The first thought of any sensible person would be that the semi-literate nature of the diary positively demonstrates that it's a forgery, written by a semi-literate forger, the very last thing, surely, that the forger would have wanted people to think. Had the forger wanted to comically portray Maybrick as semi-literate, the mistakes would have needed to have been flagged in a way that it was obvious to the reader that they were mistakes. This doesn't happen in the diary.

Take any work of literature in which characters are given their own voice, with sections or the entire thing being written in the first person supposedly by a fictional character, and you will invariably find that the spelling and grammar will be correct, regardless of the educational status of the writer, unless it is being made obvious that the mistakes are by the character, in which case it will be visibly and clearly flagged. No one would want to read a book written by a character in which there are spelling mistakes and grammatical errors littered throughout because, apart from making it difficult to read, the reader couldn't possibly be expected to know which are deliberate and which are actually errors by the actual writer and/or publisher. So what she's saying makes no sense whatseover.

But, to the extent that this is her point, and she thinks that the mistakes actually were all deliberate and were all intented to portray James Maybrick as a tragi-comic figure butchering prose and poetry, why does she think that the Barretts couldn't have had that thought? Perhaps they were as mad as she is. Why not?

But we really don't need to go that far. It's been proven from just a very small number of examples of her private correspondence that Anne was perfectly capable of making the sorts of errors found in the diary. Sure, she was much better than Mike in that respect so that if Mike dictated the diary to her she could have tidied his sentences up and improved them but they would still have contained the careless types of mistakes which we know for a fact that Anne was capable of making.

Perhaps all the colours she sees in her mind are making the Chief Diary Defender blind when it comes to seeing the truth of the diary.


1 December 2023

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