The science behind Brendan Dassey's agonizing confession in "Making a Murderer"

It’s infuriating to watch. It’s also an example of a really weird quirk of human nature: It’s not particularly difficult to get people to confess to stuff they didn’t do. If you want to better understand why, there’s a 2013 New Yorker article on this very subject that’s an absolute must-read, especially now that the full four-hour Dassey interrogation is online. (Though if you’re mad about young Brendan, be forewarned that this article will likely only make you madder.)

In the article, Douglas Starr lays out the history and methodology of the so-called Reid Technique, an interrogation style centered around reading suspects nonverbal cues for signs of lying and wearing down their psychological resistance. For a variety of reasons, researchers now know, the Reid Technique is quite likely to induce false confessions at an alarming rate, and it’s premised on the supported notion that nonverbal cues are true indicators of dishonesty rather than nervousness. Unfortunately, it’s caught on in a big way, both in the U.S. and around the world.

Here’s a scene from an interrogation that helped the technique’s founder, John Reid, make a name for himself. He was interrogating Darrel Parker, who found his wife dead in their Lincoln, Nebraska, home in 1955…