Friday, June 13, 2014

"Sure, why not?" in Analysis

When you ask someone a "yes or no" question, you've been taught, particularly in denials, to note every word that follows the word "no" as important to the answer.

But what about an answer in the positive?

This is applicable in all aspects of life, and it is interesting, at times, to veer away from the world of criminals and enter the private life of casual conversation.  In the comments section, I often find people enjoying such small, and easy to follow lessons.

"Would you like Thai food tonight?" Heather asked.

"Uh, sure."

She knew.

I like Thai food, but I like steak and beef ribs.  I like my steak rare, red and juicy on the inside, almost blackened on the outside.

In fact, I like steak any time, anywhere, and most any day.  That and a potato and I'm satisfied.

Heather, however, loves Thai food.  She does not like it, she loves it.  She loves the spice and lightness of Thai (and Chinese).  The kids like it, but they've inherited my love of meat and potatoes, something I inherited from my Great Depression surviving parents.  In Brooklyn, they waited on soup lines, as kids, for a single bowl of soup, and it was anathema to waste food.

Even while going hungry, their families refused government assistance, believing that hard work could overcome anything.

They were, in my opinion, scarred by The Great Depression, as were others of their generation, and sometimes the anxiety seemed to haunt them in latter years.  If they were still alive, they would not recognize our country any longer, not due to technology (my mother used to beg us to "get into computers" back when Apple was in a garage somewhere.), but due to how we've lost our freedom, and how we've come to believe that government is to provide for us, from birth to death, and all in between.  They treasured freedom of speech, even while hearing terribly disagreeable protests, in their views, while clinging to the rights of those to express themselves.  They often spoke of being puzzled over the "hippie movement" of the 60's, but not about their right to speak their minds.

This may seem off topic, but increasingly, in our country, freedom of speech's dramatic erosion, with a new facist ideology, is seen in our comments' section where some are willing to negate principles of analysis in the folly of partisan politics.

The "Panda Garden" in Bangor, Maine, is Heather's favorite Chinese food restaurant, bar none, including eating Chinese food in New York.  She has been a regular there for more than two decades, and is fond of the owners, even as they are fond of her, with the pleasant joking of "Oh, Hedder!  You too young!" with the comfort of familiarity; the same joke, at each visit.  The owners are beloved in the community, immigrants who worked 18 hours a day until they were able to purchase the restaurant for themselves.  They love to talk while waiting for the freshly made dishes and educate us on various regions of China, their love of horses, and how their food compares to Chinatown of Boston.

It's hard to resist Heather when her eyes light up on the Thai or Chinese food.  The Thai is a bit new, not so much the food, but a newly opened eatery that she has become a bit 'addicted' to of late.

So it is when she says, "Hey, how about Thai tonight?" I know that there are a few things in play:

Sean's got hockey practice, Christina's got a commitment for school, and she is thinking, "quick and easy", even though steak is, winter and summer, cooked only by me; only on the outside grill.  She'd like to not only have Thai, but the quick and easy time saver.  She deserves the break.

Here is the same question, with different answers.  Note the subtle differences in the answers.  We have discussed this often, and have had a few laughs over it, but mostly have learned from it.

Q.  "How about Thai tonight?"

A.  "Yes"

This is straight forward.  It is a simple agreement and uses an economy of words.  When I say "yes" it is that I want Thai food.  I am in the mood for it and not hammering for a steak.

Q.  "How about Thai tonight?"

A.  "Sure"

She knows exactly what is meant by this answer, and gives me a smile.

"Sure" indicates agreement.  I can reveal, plainly here, that it means that I was not in the mood for it, preferring my usual, including steak, ribs, chicken, shepherd's pie (and on the meat list goes) but will acquiesce to something I am not in the mood for, because I love her, and enjoy that small smile, and...even in the smallest of ways, I believe in, and teach my children, sacrifice.

Q.  "How about Thai tonight?"

A.  "Sure, why not?"

Here is now the production in the brain of a question.  In Statement Analysis we always note a question that is found either in an open statement, or in an answer.

A question within an answer can be several things:

1.  If the subject has answered a question with a question, the question itself, is sensitive.  This can be in minor things (like dinner), but we've also seen it in murder cases:

"Did you kill your daughter?" answered by, "how can you ask me that?"

In this, we note that the subject did not answer the question.  The question is sensitive.  Superficial readers of Statement Analysis may, at this point, jump to guilt.  It does not necessarily mean guilt.  It means:  The question is sensitive, and it is our job to learn why the question is sensitive.

It can be frustrated to read such responses, and if the comment is listed as authoritative, I will delete it.  This blog is meant to be an educational tool, and to propagate error is unfair to those who have come to trust the analytical work here.

Which ones get deleted?

"Did you kill your daughter?" answered by, "how can you ask me that?"

If someone writes, "I think this means he did it" I will leave the comment. This person is making an assertion and qualified it with "I think", which is appropriate.

"Did you kill your daughter?" answered by, "how can you ask me that?"

Another person writes, "This clearly shows that the sensitivity indicates the subject's guilt..."

Sometimes I will copy/paste and answer this in the contrary, while other times, I will delete it.  It depends upon circumstances, including context, news information, and even my own time.  I ask the other editors to hold off deletion on questionable comments until I have more time, but they will alert me to it.  If the subject did, in fact, murder his own daughter, I will likely delete the comment, as the "ends" and the "means" of the ignorant analysis might mislead some.

Sensitivity does not always mean deception.

Detecting deception is hard work.  A skilled analyst must come to a conclusion, and having an above 90% truth versus deception record is not good enough.

I have not concluded anyone deceptive only to learn the subject was not deceptive, nor have I cleared someone as truthful who was later shown to be deceptive.  I am proud of that record but it comes from following principle, and being unafraid to say "I need more data" as I avoid jumping to conclusion.

One error that haunts me to date was not about truth or deception but of an opinion where the subject has been charged in a crime in which she openly disparaged the victim.

I had not seen anyone do this before, and have not seen anything like it since.

To read of my error of opinion, click HERE.

Guilty subjects will disparage victims while the crime is unsolved, but not openly, rather in a subtle manner.  They find small words and small ways to blame and/or disparage the victim, rather than an open attack.  In this case, (some of you know I am referring to Heather Elvis and Tammy Moorer), it revealed the depth of evil of Tammy Moorer, and just how unrestrained her hatred of Heather was.

2.  True to form, some will answer a question with a question to divert attention away, but there are those who may be so insulted that they ask, "how can you ask me that?" due to shock or surprise, as well as insult.

3.  Guilty people often do answer a question with a question, but "often" is not always.

4.  *Self question.

Here is something greatly fascinating.

*In Analytical Interviewing, we teach the Interviewer to NOT interrupt the subject.  Do not attempt to control the subject, to "govern" the interview (this is so commonly taught as a time saver, but is likely to miss critical information), or anything else:

keep them talking.  Keep you mouth closed and your ears open.  Let the subject speak.  The brain knows what it knows and even while being deceptive, the leakage of words may contain the information you are seeking.

When a subject asks a question in an open statement (or a lengthy answer) DO NOT ANSWER IT.

"Should I continue?"

Do you remember the case of the Kennedy relative accused of rape?  The victim was speaking about what happened and was describing herself as she took off her clothes.  While speaking, she said, "Should I continue?"

Was she asking the Interviewer if she should continue in answering the question at this delicate point?


Was she, possibly, re-living the event in her mind?

By wisely being silent, the Interviewer allowed her to continue her response, as she was literally working from memory; not memory of what she said earlier, but memory of what happened:

Experiential memory.

Suddenly, this short exercise about Thai food, combined with a touch upon societal commentary, has opened a door for a unique and powerful Statement Analysis principle:

A question within an answer is sensitive.  Why it is "sensitive" must be sought, as an answer, by the Interviewer (or analyst) in order to learn the truth.

In reliving an event, the subject now gives us a camera like view of what happened.  The question was critical as she described a moment of the event where she was thinking about the choice she made to continue to remove her clothing, or stop.  It was a guide in the investigation.

"Sure, why not?" in my answer was not only an agreement, but was me, thinking out loud, about other possibilities for dinner that would not only give Heather a night off from preparation (and a night off from my love of steak) but showed that I was thinking about other alternatives to present to her, about pick up dinner.


Dacea said...

One of the hardest concepts for me to remind myself of is, sensitivity does not equal guilt. I too often jump to that conclusion but am trying to remember.

GeekRad said...

Yes Dacea, it was a good reminder. A number of bloggers on this site tend to jump right to guilty. A statement could indicate sensitivity or deception but not indicate guilt.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I don't think the error of Tammy Moorer analysis should haunt you as you have written. You analyzed with integrity and what she wrote did not show guilty knowledge. (Although it looks like sge is guilty). Most evil people I have known in my life will speak of how much they "care" about the person they are victimizing while subtly disparaging them.
Also, I get what you are saying about deleting "authoritative" posts. However, it is a fact that a person must be "confident" to become good at anything and 9 times out 10, this confidence becomes arrogance or assertiveness. The approach of "I think..." just means the person will not become skilled at what they are attempting to do. Noone would want a doctor, mechanic, lawyer, etc. who says "I think...". It's just a sad fact of reality a person does not get good at something unless they learn enough and then begin thinking and saying "I know...." Just my opinion. Interesting post.

Skeptical said...

This was a light-hearted way to teach an important concept in Statement Analysis. It has overtones of that other analyst, Sigmund Freud who said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." Sometimes sensitivity is just sensitivity.

getthem said...

Sure, why not?

Or, maybe like you taught in some other posts, simply asking yourself the question. Not necessarily asking Heather.

Unknown said...

Reading this blog from start to finish, i find myself giddy when i see skeptical has commented.

You just're like the second gunman on the grassy knoll...

You got a different way of looking at things... And i enjoy reading them.

You bring up a great point. I would assume asking a parent about their missing child would always be sensitive. Guilty or not, they should be sensitive right?

I understand that when the questions get into alibi and where was the child going etc, these would be far less sensitive in an innocent parent, but the general question simply asking about boyfriends or possible abduction etc would send me into sensitivity indicator overdrive!

Statement Analysis Blog said...


I think you may not understand what "sensitivity indicator" means.


Anonymous said...

muslim shooting over free speech rally in europe, Peter.