Thank you to everyone who entered the contest.
As, Mike from Natrona Heights, PA wrote, "My fellow Pittsburgher and handwriting whiz, I have the answers to your quiz. The number you seek relates to a man who murdered his wife, and now in San Quentin is spending his life.
"1) The number is 95354
"2) This is the zip code for Modesto, California...
"3) And it was written by Scott Peterson"
Great going, Mike -- and the many others who got the answer correct. I thought that I had made this contest quite difficult. But, I should not have underestimated the many geniuses who read my column.
As I explain in Sex, Lies and Handwriting, ambiguous letters and numbers are a sign that the writer is disguising the truth. Often these tricky writers leave the interpretation of events unclear so that they always have an out when they need it. When you meet someone who writes with ambiguous or trick numbers, you are almost always dealing with a bamboozler.
Well, I have to tell you about one person who got bamboozled by Scott Peterson's tricky numbers. It was (er, hum) me!
Obviously, I knew that the number was written by Scott Peterson. He had written the number (his zip code) on a letter as part of his return address. I saw the number as 95357. To verify the number, I even looked up the zip code for Modesto, and sure enough, 95357 came up. But my editor was convinced that the last digit of the zip code was 4, not 7. Lo and behold, there were 10 zip codes for Modesto, and the zip code for 523 Covena Avenue was (alas) indeed, 95354.
When you view Peterson's address out of context (try covering up the beginnings and endings of words with your hand), I'll bet you'll misidentify some of his ambiguous writing too!
In the next week, I'll be notifying six lucky winners (three will receive a personal handwriting analysis and three will receive an autographed copy of Sex, Lies, and Handwriting) by e-mail.