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Tag: Scott Peterson

Why did a very bad liar think he was a good one? Chris Watts and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

At 02:57 in the clip below, right at the beginning of the interview that preceded the polygraph, Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Tammy Lee tells Chris Watts:

“You know if you did have something to do with their disappearance, it would be really stupid for you to come in and take a polygraph. [Laughs]. It would be really dumb.”

And so Chris Watts takes the polygraph, fails, and then goes on to confess largely because of the failed test.

There’s no doubt stupidity does play into the criminal psychology [and psychopathy] here, just as it did in the Scott Peterson case. And probably, elements of vanity and narcissism exacerbate [or inflate] this self-perceived sense of mastery [over others and one’s world].

But there has to be another aspect that accounts for the incredible poor levels of intuition going on here. Does being dumb lead to poor perception skills, or do poor perception skills drive dumbness?

Here’s a clue, and it’s one than can impact all of us.

What the Dunning Kruger effect suggests is the less we know, the more we think we know and tend to over-estimate our chances. On the other hand, the more we know, the more modest we tend to be about what we think we know.

In a criminal case, a criminal – like Chris Watts or Scott Peterson – may believe they know a great deal more about their crime than anyone else. Further, especially if there is premeditation and an extensive and elaborate effort to dispose of evidence [and the human remains], this sense of overconfidence is likely to be exaggerated.

It helps, in these circumstances, for the cops to play dumb, and to not reveal what they know. In both the Chris Watts and Scott Peterson cases, the cops knew about the affairs some time before the criminals knew that the cops knew.

But there’s another dimension to the criminal psychology that goes beyond all of this. It’s like the coldness of a psychopath but it’s not quite the same thing. Any person can become numb or unfeeling to someone else after a season of lying, duplicity and deceit. This behavior creates disconnection, and the murder is the final leg of that journey. It’s the final disconnect. In order to get to that place, the murderer becomes “standoffish” not only towards his intended victim, but to many others [close to the victim] as well.

In effect, the murderer is preparing himself for what would otherwise be a somewhat traumatic event. Murder can be traumatic. But if the murderer is sufficiently imbued with a sense of self, and a disconnected sense of self, then it’s less difficult. Of course, following the murder, this disconnectedness is what the world sees and sees immediately something is very wrong [because this person close to the victim doesn’t show the right emotion – because he’s disconnected himself…]

At 13:30 in the clip below, Forensic Psychologist Dr. Keith Ablow describes the mental process behind Scott Peterson’s less than credible acting.

ABLOW: I think Scott Peterson knows he is putting things over on people, or attempting to. The trouble is, because he can’t connect – he can’t feel your emotions, or his own [in terms of Laci] – he’s in a very tough spot as to lying effectively. But Scott Peterson thinks he’s very resourceful. No doubt he thinks people believe him when they don’t at all. 

Getting to know Hair Jazz, Shan’ann’s mother’s work place in Aberdeen, and the surrounding neighborhood

Shan’ann Watts’ parents are blue collar folks. Frank is a carpenter. Sandi a hairdresser. Does it matter who Shan’ann’s parents were, where they work and where they’re from, what their financial circumstances were [and are], or is it unkind and irrelevant even to ask?

If we’re to determine the journey to rise beyond one’s raisin’ [and if that even applies], doesn’t it matter that we know where the accused and the victim’s family arose from?

A simple way to answer this question, especially if you’re married, is to ask whether it matters who your partner’s parents are, where they’re from and their circumstances. Does it? And does it matter who your parents are to them?

Could it have any relevance to a family murder?

In the Scott Peterson case, the night before Laci’s murder, Scott Peterson and Laci made a final stop at Salon in Modesto, where Laci and her husband got a haircut. Laci’s sister Amy Rocha worked there.

In the image below left, Amy can be seen cutting Scott Peterson’s father’s hair.

The entire Peterson case, arguably, turned on a hair. A single hair found in the yellow needlenose pliers in the boat was the only evidence found of Laci. This puts the haircut in perspective, especially when we intuit a premeditated murder.

CCTV footage of the haircut inside Salon also confirmed what Laci was wearing the last time she was seen alive.

In the Watts case, Nickole Atkinson helped her cut and color her hair.

In Aberdeen, Shan’ann’s mother cut her killer’s hair a few days before her daughter’s death.

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While Hair Jazz doesn’t play as prominent a role in the Watts case as Salon does in the Peterson case, it’s through the hairdressers at Hair Jazz that we’ve discovered that Shan’ann and Chris Watts planned to separate. They knew this because Sandi had told them, and Sandi knew, apparently, because that’s what she’d been told – presumably by her daughter sometime during her 6 week stay in North Carolina.

We also know that Shan’ann posted a picture of a house she was looking at in North Carolina, which suggests she was thinking about moving home, back to her family. Her Thrive business, which she took with her on her trip, could theoretically be operated from anywhere with an internet connection.

Now let’s take a closer look at Hair Jazz and where and how it fits into Aberdeen and the fabric of North Carolina.

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During my first run-through on Google Earth, Aberdeen looked and felt a lot like Vass Road, outside Spring Lake, where Chris Watts grew up.

While floating through the street view, however, I couldn’t seem to find Hair Jazz. Google took me to the street corner but couldn’t do any better than that. I had the street and address, and yet I couldn’t seem to locate it between a number of nondescript buildings. It is in one of the images above [besides the top image], if you look carefully.

So I looked at the building as it’s presented on its Facebook page, and during a television interview.

It still wasn’t easy to find, but eventually I did.

This is it.

Hair Jazz sandi Onorati Shanann watts

And this is it from directly opposite.

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One has to consider this place and juxtapose it with Shan’ann’s bold statement in February 2018 that she wanted to by a Tesla ModelX for $80 000.

In the collage below we see Shan’ann and her friend [and part-time hairdresser] posing next to luxury cars. Both Shan’ann and Nickole spoke on camera about their intentions to by Teslas. In the collage on the left is Chris Collins’ daughter posing beside two of his Lamborghini’s.

According to the gurus behind Thrive, if you want a nice car, put a picture of the Lamborghini – or Tesla – on a vision board, and if you wish very hard and say the right words, it can be yours. Simple as that.

In the first two image on the left are Chris Collins’ daughter and his vision board. Notice the picture of the car in the vision board corresponds to the color of the Lamborghini in the collage above [which is from his garage]. The message is clear: you can get whatever you want, all you have to do is ask, and then believe in yourself [and sign up to be a promoter with Le-Vel].

The impression that Aberdeen feels like Vass Road turns out to be not such a long walk in the park after all. Where Sandi works today and where Chris Watts parents live is separated by less than 30 miles by car.

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Saratoga Trail probably felt like another world to the Watts family, where the laws of finance and the universe didn’t apply. Until they did.


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