Sunday, February 1, 2015

Linguistic Archeology: Unearthing the Secrets of Genesis Using SCAN by Avnioam Sapir

As readers of this blog know, I am an unashamed fan of the work of Avinoam Sapir, from

I have credited him in each and every training I have conducted since 2009, and referred men and women to sign up for his training.  In spite of receiving excellent interview training from the University of Maine's Muskie Institute of Child Welfare in 2003, where lawyers pressed and pressed me to be legally sound, and the various statement analysis trainings I have had, and the extreme volume of interviewing I have conducted in the past decade plus, and the interaction of such powerfully talented analysts like Kaaryn Gough and others, nowhere have I learned more than what I have learned from Mr. Sapir.

My personal success rate is due to the even application of the principles that he designed, or brought into focus, more than anything else.

The training by prosecuting attorneys in interviewing met with Statement Analysis, which then was built by an unsustainable pace of interviewing in the child protective services world.  I interviewed more than 6.000 adults and children in just over 10 years. When all this met with "SCAN", everything came together for me.  This then "took off" for me due to the immovable structure of SCAN.

Readers who might question the quality of such an extreme quantity of interviews in case overload  do well:  it was impossible to sustain quality while under such a burden of numbers.  This, too, however, had its purpose, as SCAN was practiced by me, regularly averaging 20 hours per week (nights and weekends) that I eventually found myself 'circling pronouns in my head' while people spoke.  My job was to interview and dictate, interview and dictate.  This produced:

Statements proved, verified by interviews, that Mr. Sapir's system was genius; rare genius. Each admission or confession was carefully noted in correlation to the written or recorded statement (or, in many cases, my handwritten notes where I wrote exact quotes).

Several years ago, I asked Mr. Sapir why he did not  write a book on Statement Analysis, (perhaps I begged a bit) and when he  decline he said  that there was no book worth writing, unless it was about the Bible.  As an orthodox Jew, this was his opinion, even though I read any book he recommended, or even just mentioned, I wanted something from him in writing, that I could 'curl up with' and learn from.  I had exhausted everything I could from him, and wanted more.  I had listened to recordings of his lectures, over and over again, and had read, and re-read, every article he wrote. I wanted more.

This week, "Linguistic Archeology:  Unearthing the Secrets of Genesis Using SCAN" arrived in the mail.

I have been unable to put it down.  I struggle in reviewing it, yet, with having only read a portion of it, I am comfortable reviewing it for readers here what I have gleaned thus far.

It is something special.

It is written for fans of Statement Analysis and Genesis.

SCAN is the term for "Scientific Content Analysis."  Mr. Sapir did not invent Statement Analysis (perhaps Solomon did), no more than someone "invented" mathematics.  In this manner, no one "owns" statement analysis in the way no one "owns" math.

 Statement Analysis studies from history are fascinating and research from various parts of the world is helpful.  It is, however, the "SCAN technique" that is the "grandfather" of all Statement Analysis I find taught, today.  It is a "scientific" system, that is, a system that removes guess work, and once repeated, yields repeating results.

I have enjoyed Dr. Ekman's works, long before "Lie To Me" brought him fame.  The TV show produced a bonanza of "experts" who were to pattern themselves after the TV show and "know" if someone is lying by something as innocuous as a twitch of the eye, without saying  'hello' to psychotropics and botox.

Fair enough, there are a few people that are intuitively good at this, but micro expression training is not something that is producing results for investigators; from police, to journalists to therapists to human resources.  It is entertaining to see on television and the gnostic thought of "knowing what no one else does" is enticing, especially to certain personality types, but Statement Analysis takes not only hard work, but a commitment to practice, practice, and more practice.

In the Fall of 2014, Dr. Ekman sent out an email stating that he would not conclude that one is deceptive in an interview unless he, himself, conducts the interview. How often is that going to happen?

 With Mr. Sapir's "Scientific" procedure followed, any analyst at any time, viewing only transcripts, can make the same conclusion of "deception indicated" or "veracity indicated" no matter who has conducted the interview, and no matter what the face expression, or even the voice inflection indicated.  It is then taught, line upon line, precept upon precept, by those who are not only able in analysis, but apt to teach.

What does the restriction to personally conducted interviews say to us about Dr. Edman's  confidence in micro-expression training, where one sees a picture of a face expression going by quickly, and must decide which emotion is indicated?  What of police departments who have spent limited funding on such trainings?  If the top scientist in micro-expression analysis won't watch a video and decide, how much less is expected from students?

If he does not have such confidence, as the foremost scientist in micro-expression training to not be able to draw a conclusion from the full video of an interview, what purpose is there for a police department to have micro-expression training?

Recently, I taught before a classroom of season detectives where I looked at transcripts of a 911 call, cold, and went through them aloud, mistakes and all.  I concluded that the caller, who had passed a polygraph and cleared, was actually guilty.  How sure was I?  I stated that I "bet my training career on it."

Please imagine the public humiliation I would have endured  had I been proven wrong.  The embarrassment, that is, the shame, would have been appropriate.  It would have undermined confidence in me, the seminar and in the system taught.

I also did not conclude "there may be possible sensitivity here or there...", or anything ambitious to leave myself an "out"; instead I said, "he did it."  This was plain and without guess work.

The analysis I conducted was strictly by the principles I learned from  Mr. Sapir, mostly, and from other trainings and from experience.  Basically, I began with the "expected versus the unexpected" and employed the principles  that I have long memorized, used, and tested ("proofed") repeatedly over the years.  There was nothing earth-shattering, and, as Mr. Sapir taught, it wasn't necessary to "use a microscope" in the analysis. He says that if you need a microscope to conclude deception, you do not have deception.

I simply used the principle "Expected Versus Unexpected", followed the pronouns, change of language, and unnecessary connections, and put full confidence in the words of the subject's  phone call to let him guide me to the truth.

He did.

Confidence is not in me.  I possess no secret or hidden talent and it is something that can be taught, and once taught, practiced until learned well.   I have, instead, given myself to years and years of practice, night after night, weekends, during actual investigations, and in the cases that others had, to help them solve their own cases.

Yet, the system continues, after all these years, to amaze me. Even when I begin a new statement, knowing what this system can do, when I am finished, I shake my head in marvel over just how much information has been gleaned from the statement. It becomes driven home to me when the analysis is matched with the case file, or a confession.

But applying SCAN to Genesis?

I have spoken in gratitude of the debt owed to Mr. Sapir in his system's impact upon me, but what of in reading Genesis?

I've read Dr. Henry Morris' "The Genesis Record" as well as the commentary work by Keil and Delitszch, Calvin, and others.

This is not a commentary, however, but a word study.

It is all but impossible for one who is given to Statement Analysis practice to ever 'hear' the same way again. This, while true, is also true for reading.  I read the Bible regularly, and have read through it, cover to cover, once a year, for more than a few years.  Yet it is, even in the first chapters of "Linguistic Archeology" that I am stunned at the simplistic brilliance of the work.

Permit me a few examples.

The word "with" between people indicates distance. Mr. Sapir shows that in ancient Hebrew, there are two words for our word, "with"; one indicates distance, while the other indicates closeness.  He then applies this to the story of Baalam.

Baalam, in modern vernacular, has been understood by me in this manner:

Your 16 year old son says, "I have a final exam tomorrow but I want to go out and play ball.  Can I skip studying and go out and play with my friends?"

You answer;  "No! Go study!"

He then says he would rather go with his friends, but you say, "Are you kidding?  Go up and study!  If you fail, your summer will be lost in summer school."

Finally, on the third annoyance, your son says he really wants to go with his friends, instead of studying and you say, "Go with your friends and bear your own consequences."

It makes sense except that is not what the Hebrew says.

The Hebrew uses the word "with" by two different words; one close, one distance.  One is to accompany (distance only) while the other has a stronger feel of unity to it.

As a king sent some pretty  big hotshot big- wigs to Baalam to get him to "go with them", and betray the Israeli army, the Almighty told Baalam not to go with them.  This was repeated, as the ancient king sent more and more impressive emissaries to lure Balaam into going "with" them and Baalam's replies seem...sort of reluctant.  Maybe he is  impressed with the honor shown to him, not to mention the wealth that 15 minutes of fame brings.

The Almighty then  says "go with them", using the distancing word for "with", but when Balaam went "with" them, that is, the word "with" that indicates closeness, agreement, unity, the Almighty then went to punish him...Balaam's animal, shockingly enough in itself, spoke to him.

(To make matters worse, Balaam...

spoke back and argued).

This simple view of the different word changes the dynamic altogether.

Or what of Noah?

Sapir goes carefully over the order of social introductions and the closeness (or distance) implied.  From this, we learn that while on the Ark, Noah grew closer to his sons than to his wife.  This may have been do to caring for the animals (not all of which may have been in hibernation) and the physical care of the ship that he would have been involved in with his sons.  The animal husbandry, alone, would have been fascinating beyond our wildest dreams, though, perhaps it was not Mrs. Noah's cup of tea.

For centuries, debate has raged over who authored Genesis. Mr. Sapir reverently not only throws his hat in the ring of debate, but brings forth a profile of the author, by the author's own language, to draw his conclusion.

No spoiler here.

As an orthodox Jew, he shows reverence to the text that Jews and Christians will find refreshing.

The book is an 600 page lesson in Statement Analysis which, of itself, is fascinating, but for those who love to read Genesis, it is something that must be read very slowly and carefully, so that the mining of information can be thorough.  In just my first week, I have highlighted much in my copy and will need another copy to 'keep' clean.

Simply studying how people's introductions and titles change, alone, is worth the price of the book.

This volume will take me a long time to "go through", as I plan on far more than simply "reading" it.  "SCAN" runs through my brain in all reading, and whenever a change of language comes forth, I immediately put on the brakes and look for a change in reality.  Each "unnecessary " word jumps out at me. This book is like one trying to speed with his right foot, while burning the brake with his left.  You want to make progress, but you fear you may miss something, so you must slow down.  This is how I find my own reading of "Linguistic Archeology:  Unearthing the Secrets of Genesis Using SCAN."

Avinoam Sapir is the rare genius of linguistics.  He is the grandfather of Statement Analysis, having put together the most coherent system of study available.

This book is a majestic work for students of SCAN who wish to apply it, not simply to the Bible, but to all reading.  If anything, learning to "listen" while reading, will produce invaluable yield of information.


After all my gushing,  I forgot to tell you where you can get a copy...

.  If you wat to reserve a signed copy, please send a check payable to "Avinoam Sapir" to LSI, 17286, Phoenix, AZ 85011.  

It is $57 for non-students, and $49 for students.  


GetThem said...

I couldn't find it on Amazon, or in Google. Where can I get a copy? I love learning the Jewish teachers/rabbi's instructions but being Baptist, I don't get much of that in my path. We are fortunate to have a brilliant rabbi come in once or twice a year for different things and it's always wonderful. I want my mind to be BLOWN with this book. Where can I get mine?

Seagull said...

GetThem, you beat me to it. I have looked on the net and I'm unable to find it. Peter, can you point me in the right direction please? I've a couple of weeks off work shortly. It would be the perfect time to read it.

tania cadogan said...

Although i am an atheist i will be fascinated to read his book and how scan works on a book that is factual/fiction depending on ones point of view.
Where can we get this book please Peter?

john said...

'There was no snowball fight': Video showing New Rochelle police officer pulling gun on teens not what it seems: cops.

Warning: Graphic language. The footage appears to catch a cop holding a group of teenagers at gunpoint after an alleged snowball fight. However, officials said police were responding to a gun-related 911 call and the clip paints an entirely different picture of what happened.

A video that appears to catch a New Rochelle police officer pointing a gun at a group of teenagers who were having a snowball fight — and went viral on the Internet — is not what it appears to be, cops said.

“There was no snowball fight,” New Rochelle Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Murphy told the Daily News, calling the video a piece of “clever mischief.”

He said police were responding to a 911 call around 4 p.m. Friday that a teenager standing in a group of six near the Heritage Houses had pulled a gun from his waistband and pointed it at another person,

“We dispatched several cars to the area. Police officers got out of their cars and one of the individuals bent down, adjusted something in his waistband and ran,” Murphy said.

As one officer took off after the suspect, another remained with the five teens who did not run, Murphy said.

“Don’t f-----g move, guys,” the cop shouts in one of two clips that were sent to the Talk of the Sound.<(Link)

Two teens can be seen in the video kneeling with their hands in the air. The officer frisks both of them before ordering them to stand up.

“The group was compliant,” Murphy said. “(At the same time) the other cop is in foot pursuit of the suspect that had the gun. The suspect runs into an apartment house and into an unknown apartment.”

Police did not catch the suspect.

But the video paints a very different picture of what happened.

“They were having a snowball fight,” the woman recording the incident says. “This group of guys was having a snowball fight and now a cop has a gun on them.”

Murphy disagreed.

“There was no snowball fight,” he said.

A high-ranking source agreed with Murphy.

“The video looks terrible, but it’s completely out of context,” the source said. “It’s a completely different incident than it appears from that snippet. There's clearly a lot of misunderstanding. The record of the 911 call will by itself illustrate what was going on.”

Officials said they will not release a recording of the 911 call, but may release a transcript of the call.

“I’m sure that if I release it (the recording), there are people in the neighborhood who will identify the (caller),” Murphy said. “We depend on the public to give us information. If you violate that (trust), then what do you tell people? We know what happened, I know what happened and that’s it.”

New Rochelle Councilman Jared Rice, who in the past has raised questions about police training, took to Twitter Sunday to address the incident.

“Just heard from NRPD re the gun video. They say that there was a call of someone w/a gun and that person ran. That's where the video begins,” Rice tweeted.

“Although there appears to not have been a snowball fight and instead reports of a gun, there are many questions that still need answers,” he continued.

The story has gone viral and generated so much traffic that the “host company thought (the) site was under attack,” according to the outlet’s Twitter account.


911 transcript my yield the of events ?

Peter Hyatt said...


right from his website:

I should have put that on the blog --thanks. I will add it.

tania cadogan said...

Thankies. I will have to see about payments from the UK.

Seagull said...

Thank you very much Peter. I've sent an email requesting information on payment from and delivery to the UK. As soon as I receive a reply, I will post it here if its of help to other UK based readers of this blog.

tania cadogan said...

Thanks Seagull.
I know the company i work for accepts American checks, i don't know about UK checks, we do accept paypal, cc, money orders and e checks since the payment is made in dollars.
I will have to go bug my boss and billing to see what's what :)

Kellie said...


Interesting transcript of a deposition from Pam Hobbs, mother of Stevie Branch and ex-wife of Terry Hobbs.

tania cadogan said...

I just spoke to a nice lady at lsiscan ( i think my nion accent confused her)
They will accept checks/money orders from the UK payable in dollars as it goes to his personal account not his business account.
She is going to send me an email with the relevant details and i can they go bug my bank tommorow to ask about sending a check/money order.
She also said if i want i can have it autographed by him as well (o0o0o my little eyes lit up) She did ask how i heard about the book and i said from Peter Hyatt (name dropping is free)
When i get further details i'll update in here

jen dugena said...

Hi Peter, I went to the LSI website & saw "The LSI SCAN Newsletter Anthology" -- which is described as 500pages of "basic principles of SCAN through the analysis of examples and case studies.
The themes of the LSI SCAN Newsletter Anthology are as follows: Pronouns; Changes in Language; Ambivalent Sentences; The William Kennedy Smith Case; Detecting Child Abuse Through Language; Jeffrey Macdonald - "I don't remember" in an open statement; From the News Media; From the Library" -- if one is new in SCAN and would like to know/learn more without being overwhelmed -- do you still recommend Linguistic Archeology? or the LSI Newsletter?

Render said...

Interesting conceptual application to SCAN and Statement Analysis however it isn't really an application of the text unless it is SCAN done on the ancient Hebrew. And even then if it is on the ancient text, is it on the Masoretic text, the Dead Sea Scrolls version, or another version? And what if there are textual variants? That would effect the document also. Otherwise it is an application towards a translation of the text and different translators can have different textual decisions that they make in translation. Text critics have been doing this kind of work for a very long time.

Peter Hyatt said...

have you read any of it?


Render said...

Peter - I haven't got a copy of it yet. My first grad degree was in Religion with my focus on Ancient Near Eastern texts so I am quite familiar with the Hebrew text that are in circulation. It's an interesting concept that I'd like to see but I'm curious if it is a SA of the English text or if not, what text is Sapir using?