Thursday, July 17, 2014

The "I Principle" in Statement Analysis

Most police K-9 handlers want male dogs for street work.  Most. There are exceptions. 

In Statement Analysis, we operate on statistics.

Statistics guide us, and allow us to draw a conclusion, "betting" on a norm.

There is no such thing as building principle on exceptions.

Lie Detection is not rocket science, but it is hard work.  It is not as the Hollywood TV show, "Lie To Me" indicated where one could simply stare into the face, see, as it were, the "video" of the face inflections going by in "slow motion", knowing all.  It made for interesting television, until they jumped the shark by turning the character into a superhero, punching out, and being punched out, with ever increasing bad guys and higher stakes.  It was not sustainable writing.

After the show became popular, suddenly, many "experts" arose and imitated the show, which was very loosely based upon Paul Ekman's work.  Recently, Dr. Ekman sent out an email stating that he would not be able to say if someone was lying or not, unless he, himself, conducted the interview.

That should put an end to the legion of his followers seeking expert status.  If the leader won't watch a video of an interview and conclude...well, you get the picture.

Statement Analysis is a generic term that is based upon principle, established cohesively by Avinoam Sapir, who founded the Laboratory of Scientific Interrogation.  He has taught nationally and internationally, and he uses principles based upon norms. He continues to teach, predominantly law enforcement, through his website.

It is based upon principle, statistics, and percentages.  He does not, for example, conclude "deception indicated" on a single linguistic indicator, no less on a single movement of the facial muscles.  Anything you might read here that you have an appreciation for, has come from LSI.  If you appreciated the research done by Susan Adams on 911 calls, when you read the article, you are reading the principles of Avinoam Sapir, whether credited or not.  He began in Israel as a polygrapher who was then able to, along with other previously completed research from the 1920's through the 1960's, observe language used in passed tests as well as failed tests.

Statistics emerged.

These statistics emerged and built upon one another, decade after decade, and only increased as his students contributed statements along with end results of investigations.  When he says "80% of police files contain confessions by pronouns", I listen.

No principle is established upon an exception.


"Men are stronger than woman" is a true statement made as a generalization.

Let's say that your career was based upon following this principle, and each time you had to face a suspect, you prepared yourself, based upon the principle that if the suspect is male, he is going to be stronger than a female.

The choices you made, as one in authority, based upon this principle have served you well for the past 15 years.

One day, you send out a small male due to the suspect being female, and she is, against the odds, stronger than the male.

After 15 years, you finally landed upon the exception to the norm.

Will you now ignore statistics based upon the exception?

In live training, I call this the "I Principle" where the student says,

"Statement Analysis does not work because I say..." and the student uses himself or herself as the exception to the principle.

Ego 1, Training 0

Thankfully, I have not encountered this often.

If an owner of a NFL football team wishes to ignore principle, he can say,

"We are a team who welcomes diversity.  From now on, a full 50% of our players will be female!  We celebrate diversity and show our respect to our many female fans!"

How will this team do?

How will the ticket sales go?

It would be like the owner of the LA basketball team announcing:

"From now on, our team will have blacks, whites, hispanics and Asians.  This is mandated.  We will show the rest of the league that we are not hateful nor exclusive.  We have instructed management to get us female players, too!"

In Statement Analysis, we work on "70% likely" and "80% likely" and in some cases, up to "90% likely reliable denial..." due to the massive amount of research and brilliant conclusions of Avinoam Sapir.  Reid Technique, and my own Analytical Interviewing, as well as anything else you might find, owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Sapir's work.

It is based upon principle, not exception.

There was one class, a few years ago, that produced the following "I Principle" objection.  I will recreate it here for you.  The class was civil investigators.  They all had advanced degrees and were their company's best and brightest.  They were internal investigators, as well as Human Resource managers.  They need information, via the interview, for their careers.

I was taking them through principles and the class, due to its intellectual level, was moving at a good clip.  I came upon the "Divinity" principle and taught:

"When you hear someone say "I swear to God", "I swear on my mother's grave" and so on, you are listening to a deceptive person.  They may be lying, but if they are not lying, they are telling you that they are liars and need to swear and invoke Divinity in order to be believed.  Red flag every phrase involving Divinity."

It was rather a boring point in the class and in classes, it does not raise objections.

This time, it did.

A somewhat quiet, pensive investigator said,

"Statement Analysis seems good, but I..."

It hit me.

I had forgotten to give the introductory warning about the "I Principle" to this class.  It happens.

I begin classes with an introduction to the various law enforcement and Fortune 500 companies that utilize Statement Analysis.

I prepare them, emotionally, for some tough spots, particularly how our language reveals us, including embarrassing, personal things.  I then say:

"You will likely love Statement Analysis and find it exciting, but some of you, at some point, will be tempted to say that "Statement Analysis is good but I..." and it will be the word "I" that I want you to consider:  Don't let ego, the "I", take you off principle."

Inevitably, someone's face tells me I have trampled on their flowers.

I use celebrities to get attention and in studying the words of Michael Jackson, I reveal not only a pedophile, but one who's own language shows that he had victims all across the world, including South America and the Middle East.

Inevitably, this upsets someone, usually a female, who was about 14 years old when "Thriller" came out, and she emotionally shuts down due to the powerful connection to adolescence and music. When this has happened, thankfully, the few females afflicted had enough self awareness to say to the class, "I feel like resisting this teaching due to that stupid song in my head!"

It usually brought a laugh.

Males were more upset at Roger Clemens or Lance Armstrong, and felt a certain resistance, depending upon their age when these two athletes impacted them, and, perhaps, where they grew up.  A lawyer in my training was a major Roger Clemens fan who sat stone faced while I spoke of his non denial.

In this class, the female who used the "I Principle" to overturn the training spoke out.  It was not easy for her, as she was, by nature, shy.  But she was upset and was not going to be silent.  She said:

"Statement Analysis is wrong because you say that when someone says they swear to God that they are a liar.  I can tell you that you are wrong.  It is not true.  Here is why:  My sister and I, for 40 years, have had this rule growing up and we still use it today.  If one of us says "swear to God" we are not allowed to lie to each other."

I stood silently, stunned at what I just heard.

I did not respond and the class was also silent.

Suddenly, the silence was broken as Heather could not control herself from giggling.  She put her hand to her mouth to stop her, but she was just so shocked that she laughed.  It was contagious.

The investigator next to her started to laugh, and as the realization of what the woman had just said settled into the class of over 20, the laughter spread until the entire room was filled with laughter, all but one.

The woman who had spoken out was furious.

"I don't see what is so funny", she said.

Heather said, "You've just proven the principle!"

Interestingly enough, the woman, very intelligent, had emotionally shut down and was unable to see how she had just proven the principle.

When she and her sister, for 40 years, have invoked God's Name, they were unable to lie to each other, presupposing that when they do not invoke God's Name, they may lie.

If something is "70% likely" it means that "30% will be different in analysis. It will be "unlikely" in the statement.

Mr. Sapir tells an amazing story of how in a class he was teaching "Incomplete Social Introductions" when an Israeli investigator told him, "I love the class but..." and went on to explain that she would "never" use the word "husband" because, in Hebrew, it means 'lord' or 'boss' or 'leader' and she, as a professional woman, as well as her professional friends, never call their spouses "husband."

Mr. Sapir said, "we are possessive creatures.  "My husband, Bob" has the possessive pronoun, the name, and the title. Incomplete social introduction means trouble in the relationship."

She agreed to disagree as she loved the training.

The next day he was teaching on how to count the words in a statement to look for deception.  He said something to the affect of, "You don't even have to count.  Microsoft word will count for you" to which she said, "Oh, on the computer.  My husband is on the computer all the time."

She was in the Free Editing Process, speaking for herself.

He said to her "Computer triggered the word "husband"; your husband must be cheating on you with the computer."

He was.

You may fall into an exception at any point.  Don't let it derail your understanding of principle.

Egocentric view is nearsighted.

The word "but" is used to refute or minimize by comparison. If you find yourself saying,

"yes, but I..."

stop yourself.

A little self awareness can go a long way.

We all find the "but I" somewhere in Statement Analysis.

I was raised to be a "polite liar" telling my dear aunt Polly that her blue hair was just ever so lovely.  Years ago, I was faced with this uncomfortable truth about myself and set out to not be a "polite" liar. Now, when I see blue hair, I say, "it's interesting."

Upcoming: Audio online free lessons
We are hoping to expand our Statement Analysis services to include audio files, transcription services, and  online courses available via download.

If you would like to help:


Statement Analysis Blog said...

A special "thank you" for those who have responded to our donation request.

We are going to run this for the next year to see what we can do, but the appreciation we feel about the work here, is deep.

The work is important enough for you to respond.

If we are able, we hope to offer much more for you, as finances allow.

Please feel free to make suggestions in the comments section, even if the suggestions are something that we would have to grow significantly in order to implement.

Thank you for your kindness!

Peter and Heather

LisaB said...

"We didn't do it," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

Regarding Malaysia Flight 17

Unknown said...

I really appreciate you going over the "I principle" after yesterday I noticed in the comment section of the dog lovers thread, and really needed a refresher after a poster commonly did the "I say" thing.

It's very interesting how people will find a way to argue an expception. Recently I was in online spat with a bully long time member of site. The stupid arguement was over dog bites. The question- Will you now ignore statistics based upon the exception? Is a great one. Many people will argue till their face is red defending an exception.

Anonymous said...

Can you dissect this most recent Edward Snowden interview based on your expertise? I find him deceptive but I would like to know your take.

Anonymous said...

OT: Shocking Tweets from Skylar Neese's Killer After She Stabbed Her to Death
By ABC News
5 hours ago

When 16-year-old Skylar Neese snuck out of her Star City, W.Va., home after midnight on July 6, 2012, she never returned.

Six months after her disappearance, one of Neese's best friends from high school, Rachel Shoaf confessed to authorities that she had stabbed Neese to death with their other friend, Sheila Eddy, and then led police to Neese's remains in a wooded area over the Pennsylvania state line.

On Jan. 24, 2014, Eddy pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for her role in Skylar's death and was sentenced to life in prison. Shoaf was sentenced to 30 years the following month. Both were charged as adults.

From Best Friends to Killers: Teens Murder Friend Because They 'Didn't Like Her'

Prior to Shoaf's confession, Neese's parents and the police had frantically searched for answers in her disappearance. Up until that point, Shoaf and Eddy, the last people to see Neese alive, had denied knowing what had happened to their friend.

The three high school sophomores had been inseparable, but in the days leading up to her death, Neese's Twitter account showed that something had gone awry. On July 4, 2012, two days before she was murdered, Neese tweeted "it really doesn't take much to p*** me off" and "sick of being at f****** home. Thanks "friends," love hanging out with you all too." The day before she was killed, Neese tweeted, "you doing s*** like that is why I can NEVER completely trust you."

Neese's last tweet, sent out hours before she snuck out of her bedroom window after midnight on July 6, 2012, was a retweet from a friend who had posted, "All I do is hope."

Anonymous said...

OT: Shocking Tweets from Skylar Neese's Killer After She Stabbed Her to Death
By ABC News
5 hours ago

cont./part #2

Before the truth about Neese's disappearance was revealed, Sheila Eddy remained active on social media, tweeting regularly about her thoughts and day-to-day activities as authorities searched for her "missing" friend. In hindsight of Neese's murder, several of the posts from Eddy seem disturbing.

Eddy's first tweet on July 7, 2012, the day after she and Shoaf killed Neese, was message to a friend wishing her a happy birthday.

happpy birthdayy @young_muffintop!

- shelia eddy (@_sheliiaa) July 7, 2012

In the months that followed, Eddy regularly tweeted about watching TV, school, hating homework and other typical teenage things. She even tweeted about her and Shoaf's close friendship:

#tweetapicturethatdescribesyourfriendship @_racchh

- shelia eddy (@_sheliiaa) October 31, 2012

no one on this earth can handle me and rachel if you think you can you're wrong

- shelia eddy (@_sheliiaa) November 5, 2012

Then, on January 3, 2013, Shoaf confessed to stabbing Neese to death with Eddy and told authorities where they had left her body. Meanwhile, Eddy kept up appearances that everything was normal, tweeting about watching her favorite TV shows:

staying home on tuesday is the best cause law and order svu is on all day

- shelia eddy (@_sheliiaa) January 8, 2013

On the morning of March 13, 2013, the U.S. Attorney's Office publically announced the human remains found in the wooded area in Brave, Pennsylvania, belonged to Skylar Neese. Eddy, still keeping up appearances, pretended to be devastated over the news that her friend had been found dead, tweeting "Rest easy Skylar, you'll ALWAYS be my best friend," with a photo montage of her and Neese together, and "worst day of my whole life."

rest easy skylar, you'll ALWAYS be my bestfriend. i miss you more than you could ever know.

- shelia eddy (@_sheliiaa) March 13, 2013

worst day of my whole life

- shelia eddy (@_sheliiaa) March 13, 2013

Anonymous said...

OT: Shocking Tweets from Skylar Neese's Killer After She Stabbed Her to Death
By ABC News
5 hours ago

cont./part #3

During her confession in January 2013, Shoaf had told authorities she and Eddy had planned Neese's murder while in science class together. The plan was to pick Neese up from her house at night and drive to a remote area to smoke marijuana together. Once they were in the woods, Shoaf said the plan was to count to three, then stab Neese to death.

On March 30, 2013, about a month before she was arrested for Neese's murder, Eddy tweeted "we really did go on three."

we really did go on three

- shelia eddy (@_sheliiaa) April 1, 2013

The following day, she tweeted:

they say you remember the past better than it really was

- shelia eddy (@_sheliiaa) April 1, 2013


Link to article:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I don't know what this new Malaysian crash is about but I do not think it was shot down. the footage of the crash shows a large explosion at impact with the ground but there is no first hand documentation or second hand report of an explosion in the air, this lack of a mid air explosion does not support the plane being shot down - but rather being brought down - and exploding only on impact. I don't know how or why it was brougt down but I do know there is technology to fly these planes by remote.

maybe it was an error attempt to shoot down putin, but I don't think it was.

my guess is it IS the missing 370 plane repainted and finally being disposed of.

huh, but I don't know. anyway. SOMETHING systematic is going on. new world order is making some concerted efforts.

Anonymous said...

Lynn Messer has been missing for over a week. There has been no trace of her. They say she wandered off from her home. Here's the press conference:

FB page: Find Lynn Messer

Thenn said...

I recall my research methods class on the validity and reliability of statistics and how correlations may result from them may be inaccurate. My teacher began the lecture by bringing up that the sales of ice cream increase at the same time shark attacks do thus ice cream causes shark attacks? They like the sweet, sweet taste of sugar and blood, according to the statistics and correlation.

The variables are where truth lies, in the case of the statistics proving that sharks enjoy eating us because we taste sweet and are plump from ice cream, the non-mentioned varibale of "summer, hot, people like going for ice cream and to the beach" should be considered as well as that sounds more plausible. . .more likely to be the reasonings behind the increased numbers.

Does statement analysis consider the variables? Or are they just named "exceptions" and ignored?

Thenn said...

Gah. Too many errors in that last post of mine, my apologies. I also forgot to include another comment/question: 80% is not 100%. In a test, it means you lost 20 marks, a significant amount (to me, anyway). It's not a small number to ignore and term as the 'exceptions'.

For another view, consider this. If a commercial proclaimed "this product is 80% safe!" ... would you still buy it?

Anonymous said...

That would be a mighty big conspiracy/cover up, with all the passangers on board. How could they lie about all the deceased passangers; their names, friends and family mourning their loss?

Anonymous said...

Oops I meant to post a link.

Anonymous said...

Oops again, sorry, that was for the Malaysian aircraft comments.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's crazy. I can never understand how people plan these things together. I can (somewhat) see one person doing something so crazy, but two or more together really boggles my mind.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Anonymous said...
Can you dissect this most recent Edward Snowden interview based on your expertise? I find him deceptive but I would like to know your take.
July 17, 2014 at 5:07 PM >>

Do you have transcription?

Unknown said...

Yeah in sociology it's the ice cream rape theory. The hot days when more people are out less clothing. Summer activities and so on. Never heard if the shark attack one but seems to be similar

Kit said...

Suggestion: separate threads for separate topics. It's not you doing it, but us commenters. Maybe a forum?

Lemon said...

Peter, what would be the exceptions to "most"?
Curious Lemon

Anonymous said...

Yes, a different type of website all together. Maybe people could start threads of their own even? The thing is, it would be a LOT of work to moderate.

Buckley said...

"In Statement Analysis, we work on "70% likely" and "80% likely" and in some cases, up to "90% likely reliable denial..." due to the massive amount of research and brilliant conclusions of Avinoam Sapir. Reid Technique, and my own Analytical Interviewing, as well as anything else you might find, owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Sapir's work. "

I love statistics and certainly don't wish to ignore them. Is there somewhere we can find more specifics, as there is a big difference between 70 and 90 percent.

Any help in the right direction is appreciated!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Buckley said...

Okay, based on past non- responses, that's what I expected; let me try another "question" or two. Usually, when scientists are using statistics to determine if evidence is good enough to be believed as true, is 95%. When we are given unsourced ranges from 70-90%, that falls clearly below what most scientists would accept as "statistically significant." Now, I understand that we wouldn't come to a conclusion with just one linguistic indicator, but it also seems we would have to take every wording, and not just those that indicate deception or sensitivity, to get a valid probability. We can't just factor in those that help our formula and ignore those that do not.

I have seen how statement analysis is a helpful investigative tool. Without understanding the actual statistics involved, I am hesitant to accept it as science, but would love to be convinced otherwise.

Peter says we don't build principle on exceptions, but often, that's exactly what statisticians do: rather than attempt to prove something is correct, they attempt to disprove the "null hypothesis."

"the null hypothesis refers to a general statement or default position that there is no relationship between two measured phenomena.[1] Rejecting or disproving the null hypothesis – and thus concluding that there are grounds for believing that there is a relationship between two phenomena or that a potential treatment has a measurable effect – is a central task in the modern practice of science,"

This is exactly why statisticians report probability not as 95% likely, but as 5% unlikely (alpha=.05). They attempt to disprove the exception. So when I hear the opposite of that, and the word "scientific" uttered in the same argument...especially with a largely anecdotal argument, with a loose "70...80...maybe 90 perfect..." Thrown in one sentence, well I begin to seriously doubt the science of it, and feel it is, using Peter's word "betting."

Second- reasonable doubt. If a prosecutor tells a jury (let's take 80%) that there is a 1 in 5 chance the accused didn't commit the crime he's on trial for, should a juror believe that the "beyond a reasonable doubt" aspect has been fulfilled?

I'm trying to understand the science of this better; I'm not trying to be antagonistic.

Buckley said...

"Perfect" should be "percent".

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

Here is the transcript of the Snowden interview I'm wondering about.


Anonymous said...

PS - It's a long interview. I am mostly interested in the end part, which is Snowden's long-winded non-denial of being a Russian spy.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

thank you.

Anonymous said...

It is bizarre that the sisters would consistently lie to one another. Why?

A story telling feature they both shared as a form of entertainment?