Many of us love optical illusions. It’s a safe thrill to know we’re being tricked, and yet are still unable to tell our brains to “get real” and stop the illusion.

Bridget Riley, section of Blaze 4 (1964)

When you’re doing an investigation, the same kind of thing can take over

After years in business, one of my biggest marketing challenges is still explaining to potential clients why an investigator can’t just use a few mysterious databases and “deep Googling,” as one hopeful person described it, and produce an answer in an hour or two.

Someone’s well-hidden assets? The eight-month job in 1998 that ended badly

What conveys the truth more effectively?

A snapshot of a person’s values and accomplishments in the form of a quotation? Or a long essay about that person that will contain the short clip but surround it with other facts that could contradict or water down the single line (or build on the quote and infuse

For anyone who has ever tried to play pool, it quickly becomes obvious that the best way to get the ball in the pocket isn’t always the most direct.

If there’s another ball in the way or the angle doesn’t work, redirecting the ball off one of the cushions can be the best option. Even

Investigators are in the business of gathering evidence. Beyond gathering, there is the equally important job of analyzing. Good fact gatherers need to report on evidence but also where it comes from and how reliable it may be.

Evidence was my favorite law school course by far (so perhaps not surprising I work with evidence

Most of us in the business can remember clients who call us to say something like, “We’ve done some pretty serious Googling, so you probably won’t find anything.” We had a prospective client some years ago who said exactly those words, and I wrote them down at the time.

It got to the point that

We always like to say that when we find out about a person, we do so without invading their privacy. That can still mean we find out a lot of things about them that they would rather keep secret, but those facts are derived from what we can legally look at: legal records, mortgages and