Sunday, April 21, 2013
Boston Marathon: The Importance of Reliable Denial
The FBI said that the suspects had denied being Muslim "extremists" in the interviews, and denied terrorist ideation.
It would be of great value for the FBI to study the transcripts of the interviews.
The Reliable Denial, when coupled with the final, "Why should you be believed?" is statistically a fool-proof estimate of truth. It is deceptively simple and often overlooked for this very reason.
In a lengthy interview, the Interviewer (and later analyst) must carefully view each area in which a denial is given, and each area in which the reliable denial is avoided, in the many hours in which this took place.
It is important to note where pronouns disappear, especially what topics cause the pronoun "I" to be ejected. Since the pronoun "I" is so heavily used by humans, it is often an emotion that will not simply cause it to be dropped, but ejected:
1992 Gennifer Flowers scandal: "It is difficult when the man I love, and the man I respect is attacked."
1998 Monica Lewinsky scandal: "It is difficult when the man you love, and the may you respect is..."
The pronoun "I" is used millions of times by us, leaving us as "experts" in pronouns, so much so, that when there is a change in pronoun, it should be trusted. This is why pronouns are considered "instinctive" or spoken like a reflex, very naturally, and why, when there is a possibility of guilt being assigned, a guilty person will jump to "we" quickly.
Nancy Grace: What did the police tell you?
Billie Dunn: "We are hearing that..." while speaking for herself. Note the immediate jump to "we" happens in her interviews whenever she was asked about contact with police: she attempted to portray herself as in close contact with police, but it was that police was not sharing information with her, as she is suspect in kidnapping and murder charges to come.
We do not have the interviews conducted by the FBI but if they are published we will analyze them.
A reliable denial must have three components:
1. The pronoun "I"
2. The past tense verb "didn't" or "did not"
3. The allegation specifically addressed.
When words are added to the Reliable Denial, it is no longer a reliable denial and weakens the denial.
Example: Missing money from a business. A staff person knows the allegation and says,
"I did not take the money" which is a very strong denial. When asked why he should be believed, he said, "Because I told the truth."
Statistically, he did not take the money, and it is not even close.
There are unreliable denials that, while may be true, cannot be considered "reliable" and the subject cannot be cleared:
"I never took money"
"I would never take the money"
"I can't believe that I could even be accused of this"
"I have no reason to take the money"
"Why would I take the money?"
"If I needed money, I would borrow from..."
Sometimes these "unreliable denials" are coupled with a reliable denial, which is fine. Someone might say "I did not take the money. I would never take anyone's money!" This is to issue a reliable denial and if the person says "I told the truth", it is a closed case.
If someone can say "I didn't do it" even though they really did, it is a rare lie against reality (less than 10%) and with the follow up question, the person who says "I didn't do it" will be unable to say "Because I told the truth."
They might say:
"Because I don't lie" or other responses that often include the word "lie" while avoiding using the word "truth."