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The Power of Statement Analysis – A Case of Forensic Linguistics

The legal profession has an unfamiliar companion in its pursuit of justice and truth; the language used in the communication itself. Even though it frequently goes unnoticed by the general public, an intriguing discipline leverages the power of words known as ‘Forensic Linguistics’ which combines the study of language and its application in police and forensic investigations. 

Forensic Linguistics extracts hidden realities in a form that is concealed from plain view. Whether it is an anonymous letter or a disputed confession, the clue can be found in the immense variety of expressions that make up the interaction. Just like the spoken voice, words, colloquial language, and accent can give away from which geographical, regional, or ethnic community the person is from; there would be an influence of our native speech when we tend to put down something; be it written or verbal. In other words, the style of writing or the manner one speaks is as distinctive as fingerprints. The choice of words reveals a lot of cues. 

From the minor punctuation to the often-repetitive term one employs all vital hints. In addition to identifying the author, forensic linguistic probes into the emotion or intent of the instigator. For instance; emotive or evocative dialects may convey feelings of rage and the usage of ellipses can suggest hesitation. 

In the era where digital interaction is dominant, the genuine identity of a person may be concealed by online communication like emails and social media posts. But Forensic Linguistics effectively pierces through these digital veils to divulge people who wish to stay anonymous. It is also a powerful ally in the field of cyber security and fraud prevention. 

These seemingly routine electronic messages exchanged through emails or social media contain solutions to complex legal cases. 

 In one such case of piracy where an individual had adeptly utilized his skills in technology to incorrect ways by fraudulently creating an alternate website to fill in details and bypass the authentication of a public transport booking site. This website enticed citizens who preferred to take the quickest route to avail facilities of online booking of tickets even if it was not official. In this case, the law enforcement officials investigating the case approached Truth Labs to procure an opinion based on language and writings. The experts at Truth Labs used Forensic Linguistics to ascertain the authorship of the person who created pirated websites and content pages. An array of scientific techniques were employed to analyze written communication. Linguistic profiling was done where the nuances in vocabulary were looked into, the idiosyncratic features were decoded and the style of writing was identified. The scientific prowess with keen observation, giving importance to even the smallest punctuation fixed the language puzzle pieces in turn disclosing the authorship of writing. 

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blog post on forensic image analysis

An Untouched Enigma or Pixelated Puzzle:

A study in Forensic Image Analysis

In the intricate world of forensic image analysis, each photograph is a canvas that paints a narrative of events, sometimes bordering on the miraculous. In one such cases at Truth Labs where an image came for check of authenticity to prove a miraculous occurring, the experts embarked on a scientific journey, peeling back the layers of a photograph capturing the vanishing act of a priest during Hindu havan rituals. Our forensic image analysis focused on images that were questioned and standards that were retrieved from the recording device, delving into the realm of pixel-level analysis and exploring the scientific factors at play.

The questioned image appeared untouched by the hand of manipulation, but a closer examination through the lens of pixel-level analysis and scientific factors reveals a different story. Some scientific factors contributed to distortions:

  1. Exposure Time: The exposure time of 1/33 second is an incredibly short duration, capturing a fleeting moment in time during the havan rituals. This brief exposure allows for the meticulous scrutiny of the motion, providing insight into the complex interplay between hand and camera movement.
  2. Aperture Setting: A larger aperture setting of f/1.8 hints at the attempt to capture more light, a common strategy in low-light conditions. In this case, it not only allows for a brighter image but also contributes to the intentional blurring of the background, emphasizing the priest’s hand in motion.
  3. Focus and Environmental Conditions: The camera was focused on objects approximately 2 meters away through an air medium filled with smoke and high temperatures emanating from heating wood. This environment introduces unique challenges to image capture, with heat and smoke potentially impacting both the clarity of the image and the camera’s ability to focus.
  4. Impact of Heat and Smoke: Heat and smoke, as revealed by scientific inference, can significantly impact the color balance of an image, leading to unnatural or inaccurate colors and loss of detail. This aligns with the observed anomalies in questioned image highlighting the environmental factors at play during the havan rituals.
  5. Combined Effects: Heat and smoke distortion, coupled with the motion of the priest’s hand and the camera, contributed to the observed pixel-level distortions. This complex interplay results in parts of the object appearing blurred, wavy, out of focus, or even disappearing from view, creating an optical illusion that challenges the authenticity of the image.
  6. Camera Settings – ISO: Investigation into the camera settings during the capture of questioned and sample images revealed an ISO setting of 210. This setting, indicative of the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light, is deemed suitable for normal to high light conditions. However, in the context of the havan rituals, the high temperatures and the presence of smoke creates a unique lighting scenario that influences the image’s overall quality.

The Image authentication study concluded that, the image capturing the miraculous disappearance of the hand during Hindu havan rituals merges art and science. Scientific factors such as exposure time, aperture setting, and environmental conditions contribute to the narrative, shedding light on the complexities beneath the surface of visual narratives. This exploration in a Photo Forensics or Image Forensics case prompts a reevaluation of the authenticity of seemingly untouched images, emphasizing the significance of scientific rigor in uncovering the intricate details that shape our perceptions.

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