"I can't believe he did this!" said the ally of the San Bernadino Islamic massacre shortly after the bombing. He went on to being arrested.
I read that "statement analysis showed his guilt in this statement."
Not so fast.
I have noted that some have said, "the word "this" in his statement shows that he was involved, since "this" is close and "that" is distant.
This is the type of over simplification that inevitably brings doubt to the work of Statement Analysts.
In this particular case, the analyst was correct; but it is far too much of a leap for accurate application elsewhere.
Here is why:
The word "this" indicates closeness. He did not say, "I can't believe he did that!", which in using the word "that", would have shown distancing language.
We do not know, in context, what the closeness or distance is related to.
The closeness could be chronological: it just happened whereas years from now, the same sentence would include "that" due to the passage of time.
It could be geographical: the cousin is in San Bernadino.
From time to time I raise the concerns of the over simplification in analysis. With the cousin arrested, it may sound impressive to "know" on a single sentence, but it will not hold up with consistency over time.
When I analyzed Gov. Chris Christie's denial of "Bridge Gate" I noted that he did, of his own accord, say "I did not know..." in his speech, but I also noted that this was the lingering question hanging over the speech and he spoke at great length before getting to the denial; consistently avoiding that which was expected. This is to "add to" the element of reliable denial moving to the point of being "unreliable."
The reliable denial is not something that parroting language will suffice for a conclusion, nor lengthy introductions, nor any change of language. "I did not steal that damned guitar!" is actually something that is unreliable since the "guitar" has now been changed to a "damned" guitar. This simple addition (due to the presence of emotion) changes the classification from reliable to unreliable.
Over simplification, like in "101 courses" can lead to discrediting the science. They are no easy answers in detecting deception and those that seek such will inevitably find a crisis of confidence in their own work, just as others will, too.
Far better is to apply oneself, fasten your seatbelt, and put in the time and effort to learn principle, learn the psychology behind principle, and learn the appropriate application.
It will not come quickly, nor easily, but it will yield marvelous results.
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