This is the story of the boy who died with a last visit from a man playing Santa that is making the news as skeptics question if it really happened.
Skepticism is justified by the many "go fund me" frauds and fake hate crimes that take place, but we need to listen to him.
What do you make of his words? MSM is reporting it to be fake with "no verification." Most report that they cannot verify even the hospital of which it took place.
Is this because of HIPPA, or desire to protect the child's identity, or is it due to deception?
For us, do his words come from experiential memory?
And if so, is it memory of this event?
We look for signals of veracity such as:
Strong pronoun usage: "I" We want him to speak for himself, not hide behind others. This was an event between him and a dying boy; therefore, we should plainly see two separate entities, including the contextual points: (a) unrelated child who is (b) dying.
Strong verb usage: The account happened prior to this statement, therefore, we look for him to verbally "commit" to it happening in the past by using past tense verbs consistently throughout. The complete or perfect past tense is a good indication, when coupled with the pronoun "I", that the subject is comfortable psychologically committing to the sentence.
Communicative language: consistency in context of "said, asked, "told", etc. Inconsistency in communicative language is something people feel "odd" about when they hear it and wonder if the person is lying.
Body Posture and tension consistency and contextual accuracy. Here we get a good lesson on how this fits within the overall context of an account. It is not enough to say "body posture = tension" in analysis. We need to know what triggers tension, what eases it, and what causes it to return.
We look for...what is not there: additional and unnecessary language that may suggest deception. This is to reverse the law of economy and make "extra effort" which is often found in the "need to persuade" defensive posturing.
Statement Analysis analyzes what is said and what is not said.
Here is his statement. Let him guide you to an opinion on whether he is telling the truth or not:
“When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!
Here we have the appropriate use of the pronoun "I" where he should be speaking for himself. Guilt and deception can trigger the plural use by psychologically wishing to "not be alone" with the statement.
Body posture in a statement can be a signal of an increase in tension, or stress, for the speaker. He tells us:
a. "I walked in"
b. "he was laying there"
c. "I sat down"
What might cause the increase in tension?
We look for the subject to tell us the reason. "...so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep" tells us the extremity of the view. Although there is much to discern with "walked in" suffice to say the closeness to death was perceived by the subject, giving us appropriate use of body posture language.
“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
Note the absence of any additional language and the continuation of good pronouns and past tense verbs. "Looked up" is not only body posture, but likely an intrusion of a positive emotion for the subject. If this is true, let us see what happens to it. He looked "up"; with the word "up", and not "he looked at me", which would show focus upon self; something we see in deceptive statements of those looking for attention. See Keith Pappini's statement for an extreme example: even his wife's injuries were not "reported"; instead, he reported how the injuries impacted him.
“I gave him the present.
This sentence is very likely to be reliable. If this did not happen, this is a rare (less than 10%) harmful liar.
We continue to look for body posture:
He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.
Note the tension began with the boy looking so weak that it appeared like he was about to fall asleep produced body posture.
Here, the weakness returns and the body posture returns. This is a consistent usage that strongly suggests that experiential memory is at work.
‘“They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’
"told" is strong, authoritative. Note that in recall, the subject does not present that in the form of a question.
This shows a proper "communicative language" sentence.
“I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?’
"said" (like "asked") is softer than "told." Here, he uses "said" instead of "asked" which could be either deceptive (failure to recall due to the lack of experiential memory in language) or it could be contextually consistent:
He is not asking a question to obtain information.
If he is not asking a question to obtain information, "said" is appropriate communicative language from an adult. We sometimes see this from children who expect a positive answer, (say yes, mom!) rather than an actual answer that is in doubt.
“He said, ‘Sure!’
“When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.
“He said, ‘They will?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
“He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: ‘Santa, can you help me?’
Note "kinda sat up" is a weak commitment while "gave" is strong. This weak commitment to sitting up is consistent with the physical weakness of the child described by the subject.
Note here he uses the actual answer-seeking "asked" as communicative language: This suggests the child was asking something that the adult may not be certain of, or may not be certain of the answer.
“I wrapped my arms around him.
90% likely reliable structure.
Before I could say anything, he died right there.
I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.
Here is passive voice. Passivity seeks to conceal identity and/or responsibility.
Question: Is this an appropriate application of passive voice?
Answer: He reliably reported that the child had died in his arms. The child is, therefore, incapable of "not staying" in his arms. This is an appropriate usage.
To this point, he reports reliably what took place. He reported reliably "what happened."
Here, we have editorializing:
“Everyone outside the room realized what happened.
There is here missing information. Remember, no one can tell us everything that happened; it is impossible. We must edit everything otherwise we would never stop speaking and people would run from us.
He does not tell us how everyone "realized" what happened, but the word "realized" indicates a passing of time where the knowledge of what happened is not sudden but one comes to "realization" with thought processing, often from external indicators, including speech, medial equipment, etc.
His mother ran in. She was screaming, ‘No, no, not yet!’ I handed her son back and left as fast as I could."
Here he deviates from the consistent "complete" or perfect past tense and says
"She was screaming" instead of "she screamed."
This imperfect use shows a passing of time; an indefinite action.
This likely indicates an emotional impact upon the subject, himself. She did not just "scream" but did so repeatedly or over a period of time that although technically short, left an impact upon the subject.
That he "left" tells us that something happened there that he is not telling us. This does not necessarily mean nefarious information withheld. It could simply be due to rushing, or to emotion, as seen in "...was screaming", which is 70% likely, with the other possibility simply being the emotional upheaval. It is missing information, however, from the statement itself. Once the subject is asked about it, it is no longer a mystery.
His words come from experiential memory.
Although there is some missing information, including regarding staff and his departure, he reliably reports his interaction with the child.
If this subject is lying, the words come from somewhere and liars sometimes "composite" people. If he is a liar, he is a long term, pathological liar, who fabricates reality. At his age, he would have a reputation of such and would likely have a history of trouble.
It is likely that the basic facts of the case are true and Santa is telling the truth.