Thursday, October 11, 2012

Psychics: Understanding Investigative Percentages

                         Statement Analysis has a very high success rate for indicating deception.

 LSI, the nation's lead in analysis, says that it may be as much as 80% of files in police stations contain linguistic confessions within them, especially via the pronoun.  Techniques employed to show deception yields percentages that approach or obtain 100%.

The polygraph also has a very high success rate.  In the hands of an experienced polygrapher, it also can approach 100%; particularly if the pre screening interview uncovers the Personal, Subjective, Internal dictionary of the subject.

The Personal, Subjective, Internal dictionary is something we all have.  This is best seen in the realm of sexual activity.

If you ask 10 people what "sex" is, you may find 10 different answers.  President Clinton's famous "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky" showed this very thing:  he believed (and spoke of) sexual relations means "intercourse" which, he said, he did not have with Ms. Lewinsky in the White House.  In fact, he may have passed a polygraph if the code was not uncovered.

This is why the pre-screening interview is so important to the polygraph.  Recall the sheriff who passed the polygraph about having sex with an inmate only to confess later.  He said that he was truthful:  He did not have sex with her.  He said, "I didn't touch her."  Yet, he said, she had sex with him, through the bars (oral) but he did not touch her.  A 30 minute interview, before the polygraph, would have learned what his definition of sex was.

There are exemptions from the principle that each of us has a personal, internal, subjective dictionary.

Objective time is an exemption.

This is time that is on a clock.  If the small hand is on the 2 and the big hand is on the 12, it is 2:00 O'clock to each of us.  This is universal.

Pronouns and Articles.

Pronouns and articles are also universal.  The pronoun, "I" means the same thing to each of us, just as the pronoun, "we" does as well.  Articles do not change, either.

 "A" man approached me, and "the" man told me to give him my money.  Once identified, the article, "a" will become "the" in language.  This is also instinctive.

With pronouns and articles being instinctive, there is no confusion in truthful statements, regardless of education, culture, background, medication, or anything else.  They do not change and are 100% reliable. Therefore, when pronouns (or articles) are 'confused' by the subject, deception is present.

Statement Analysis has an advantage over the polygraph as it can not only identify deception, but it can show where information is withheld in a statement.

Statement Analysis and the Polygraph are excellent tools within an investigation that can guide investigators to the truth.

What of psychics?   

For me, this is a fascinating part of human nature.  Percentages of success of psychics, under various names and titles, is said to be anywhere from less than 1% to microscopic percentages far less than 1%.

In the investigation into the disappearance of a child, police may end up following 500 or 600 "psychic tips" phoned or emailed in and find that of the 500 tips, not a single one panned out.  .05% or less success?

Yet, the public's fascination and gullibility continues.  Is this part of a greater problem of the dumbing down of the American public, a la the Casey Anthony jury?

The "Science Channel"has "pumpkin chucking"
The "Learning Channel" has an overweight indulged and spoiled child call Honey Boo Boo
The  "History Channel" has "Pawn Stars"

Recently, I was asked about psychics.

Many people love to believe that they have 'psychic' abilities.  I was asked to look into possible deception of a person communicating with a psychic.  I asked, "Why would a psychic need me to discern deception since she claims to 'read' the minds of people?"

How many anonymous posts do we end up having that say something along these lines:

"I had this terrible feeling and sure enough, the phone rang and my husband was in a car accident..."?

I liken it this way:

If you are a parent, you likely have thousands of worrisome thoughts with each passing hour.  Eventually, something in this life goes wrong,!  You think you had a 'premonition'; that is, an access to information outside the laws of nature, when it is more likely that as the worrisome thoughts went by, the timing of an accident correlated with the thoughts.

One day I was driving late at night when Heather called me and urged me to put on my seatbelt, which I then did to pacify her.  Two hours later she was at the scene to find me on the ground, with a broken rib from my air bag, after hitting a deer.

She frets often and the timing worked out.  She is not "psychic" and doesn't believe that she was able to supernaturally access information kept from her sensory perception.  It seems that today, the more ignorant we become, the more superstitious we become, as everyone and their mother has "psychic" abilities.

"Psychics" prey upon the vulnerable. 

When a "psychic" speaks or writes, the words do not come from memory and Statement analysis indicates this, given enough sample to work from.

"I see darkness, and water...and it is cold and lonely..." is said at each missing child.  "Tall grass, no wait, someone is crying..." and other such vagueness.

If an investigative tool was only 10% successful, (making it 90% failure), we'd not invest our time and energy into learning it.

Yet, fearful of that one tip of "water, darkness, lonely..." hitting the press, police are forced to expend time and resources chasing down every tip of a psychic.

For me, it is deception, but it is also cruel.

Chronic pain patients are vulnerable.  Living hourly in pain is something, thankfully, most people do not experience, but those who do often do not have the satisfaction of knowing that the pain will fade "in an hour" or "by bedtime" as it is chronic.  Therefore, the lack of hope makes them open to all sorts of snake oil and fake means and they run to and fro trying anything to gain relief.

How much more so for those who suffer the pain of a missing child?

It is very difficult to put ourselves into the shoes of a missing parent, emotionally, so we must rely upon logic and cases that show innocency on the part of the parent.  Desiree Young, mother of missing 7 year old, Kyron Horman, is such an example.  They help us understand "the expected" responses from the truthful and innocent, while Deborah Bradley, mother of missing Baby Lisa, helps us see the "unexpected"; that is, what a deceptive person, who is specifically deceptive about what happened, does and says.

To the innocent parent, the missing child is 'outside' the control and protection of the parent. The parent's natural God-given instincts are inflamed.  A mother, for example, might throw herself in the path of a speeding car to protect her child, or fight a man twice her size should it mean her life or the child's life.  This is the natural instinct of a mother.

Because of this instinct, there is a desperation from a feeling of impotence; a feeling that frustrates the mother to the core of her being:  her child is in the hands of a stranger and she cannot find him.

It is, perhaps, beyond what words can describe.

It is at this moment, when the mother is at the most vulnernable that she possibly can be, that those who wish to be considered of consequence, descend like a vulture, upon the mother and say incredibly cruel things that give her false hope.  "Your son is alive and he told me, don't give up hope, mommy!" and other lies.

These lies are not innocent.

These lies may be the second most hurtful thing the mother may experience in her life; secondly only to the loss of the child.

Analysis can show that the words are lies as they do not come from memory. Yet, the mother is so desperate for even the slightest bit of hope, that she grabs on to it.

With the millions of people who claim to talk to the dead or missing, can it be that not a single one can tell Desiree where Kyron is?

Yet, the "learning" channel will give one her own TV show.  The rise of the internet has given rise to a mass army of psychics.

Why should we have Search and Rescue Dog training if we have 10,000 'psychics' on Facebook? Surely one of them can tell us where Hailey Dunn is, right?

As if a person with an extreme psychological need to be 'different' or 'special' can't get lower than telling the parent of a missing child something, they have found a way to be even more immoral:

They charge money.

When a psychic contacts me, the first thing I generally note is the passivity of voice.

"I've been asked to look into the disappearance of..."

"I've been asked" is passive and it seeks to conceal identity.  I ask, "Who asked you?"

Next is, "I have been in contact with the police..." as the word "with" between "I" and "police" shows distance.  I ask, "did the police contact you? If so, I'd like to talk to the officer."

If we take 500 people to guess where a body is, 1 may hit on it, regardless of any claims of 'psychic' or 'intuitive' knowledge.

It is unscientific, shows deception, and has an incredible failure rate, yet, people still love stories of it, just as they love ghost stories.

The snake oil practice remains the same, even when the language becomes more sophisticated, or the means now include digital technology.

Body Language Analysis.

Body language analysis and micro expression study have principles in which they follow.  Many body language analysts recognize a need for a "base line" of behavior.  With enough video, for example, they can highlight certain movements (hand to mouth) that appear during sensitive questions.  Although it does not rise to the level of success of the polygraph or statement analysis, body language analysis is still a valuable tool in investigations.  Unlike the psychic world claims, body language analysis is applicable (with the proper reference point) case after case.

If body language analysis had a 99.9% failure rate, we'd never use it.  With a failure rate of 99.999% plus, psychics continue to deceive yet gain media spotlight, which eventually leads to the fleecing of the vulnerable and/or the gullible.   The body language analyst studies, and seeks to help.  The one claiming to be a 'psychic' has a deep psychological need to be seen as "special" and "unique."

Statement analysis is taught and can be learned by anyone so inclined.  Though some of us are born with more musical talent or athletic talent than others, the trombone can be taught to anyone, just as throwing a ball through a hoop can be taught to anyone.  Body language analysis can be learned by any of us, just as statement analysis can be.  It is only 'psychic' powers that one must be "self anointed" and "unique."

I don't pity the psychologically damaged individual who claims to be a 'psychic' and exploits money from others, just because they crave to be of consequence.  I save my pity for the victims of these deceivers who prey upon their victims without mercy.


Anonymous said...

Firstly, I don't believe in "psychics". it is sad to know that there are people who are willing to put a price tag on information they may or may not randomly possess. it would be the same as say, witnessing a violent assault and expecting to be paid prior to giving law enforcement the description of the assaulter.
we are better than this.

Peter, why does it feel as if you are competing on a percentage basis or any basis for that matter?

on a lighter note, I've met Mark Mcclish. my first thought, he has perfect hair.

Truth Seeker said...

Peter, excellent analysis on Sarah Ridgeway.
As someone in the field, I really do think your analysis would have a profound impact on these particular investigations that require law enforcement to quickly seek out interviews and obtain statements when ruling out suspects. The other one that comes to mind was Deborah Bradley, and how law enforcement failed to get a confession before she lawyered up. Having a consultant, such as yourself, who could use analysis to guide and direct interviews/interrogations that can be adapted to engage the particular suspect, I strongly believe would produce more information that can be deemed relevant to the outcome of the investigation. The ability to do this would substantially shorten the length of these investigations, which we are seeing now drag on for years. The first few hours and days are the most critical when you need to get to the right people, build that rapport, know how to ask the right questions, and follow-up appropriately, if there is any chance of obtaining information that could potentially break the case. When we really stop and think about it, current high profile cases, and those in recent past, all have strong similarities with the inability of law enforcement to obtain confessions from persons of interest or likely suspects. There are several cases that come to mind and cases that you have continued to do analysis on, where I am sure many of us are beyond frustrated that law enforcement cannot make an arrest, with or without a confession. It only takes one mother or father to get away with it, before a landslide of similar cases begin turning up now all over the country, with no confessions from the overwhelmingly likely suspect. Analysis continues to be an understated investigative tool, largely because agencies lack any training or any understanding of how this tool can be incorporated into the investigation. This is an area that I am particularly interested in and even presented my thesis on the importance of integrating psychological tools within a criminal investigation. My biggest push was to try to further promote different avenues of integrating investigative psychology within law enforcement agencies. This is an area that should be much more progressive in bridging these gaps. Even in speaking with many of my profs about statement analysis, it was clear that this is an area that not many were even familiar with. My degree is in forensic psychology, with an emphasis in interviewing and interrogation, which is definitely where my passion lies. So, Peter and Heather, if you ever start up your own consulting firm, let me know!

Anonymous said...

I think most who post here already know my beliefs about "seers", psychics, psychic readers and those calling up the spirits of the dead. They go directly against the Word of God and everything he stands for that is righteous and good, and that leads back to God and having faith in HIM no matter what the end result may be. God warns us in numerous passages throughout the Bible to stay away from them and warns us of the dangers.

They are messengers of satan, are easily decieved and the practice of their witchcraft is from the pit and the devil, who roars about seeking whom he may destroy. The father of lies is their leader. They speak in soft tones and often mention God in their works and talk of praying, but they do not know God, if they did, they would not be practicing the works of the devil that fight against God. But satan comes as an angel of light to deceive them and all who fall into their trap.

I especially don't want any of them praying for me, or laying hands on me, or anything/anyone else who touches my life as I do not know what spirits they are following, I just know it isn't from the spirit of God. This would include some ministers who claim they can see this and see that and believe through their power from "God" they heal this and that. It is just another form of being a psychic "seer" but this time using God in the mix. They are all doomed and headed straight for hell if they do not fall on their knees, turn from this evil and repent of it while they still can.

I didn't write the Bible folks, I just happen to believe that it IS the Word from God and IS true. We will reap what we sow. Simple as that.

Lis said...

This is an excellent post, I agree with all you said, Peter.

Anonymous said...

Peter - Thank you for posting this. There has never been a case solved from a psychic. I hate the false hope they give parents/people (always at a cost) whether it be $$$$ or self exposure, not excluding the actual costs to LE following up on these tips. I don't want to get into the religous end of it because I don't think it has anything to do with it.
Psychics are cons & prey on the vunerable. Vunerable comes in all aspects of life; because there is tragedy in all & what a better way to make some easy $$$$ to tell people what they want to hear.

Tania Cadogan said...

One day I was driving late at night when Heather called me and urged me to put on my seatbelt, which I then did to pacify her. Two hours later she was at the scene to find me on the ground, with a broken rib from my air bag, after hitting a deer.

A helpful tip Peter.
Most people who fancy a nice bit of venison for dinner either go to the butcher , a good friend or if they are skilled and brave enough go out and snag one with a gun or crossbow.
This is a lot easier when hunting a deer as it allows you to hide behind bushes and trees and to follow their tracks quietly allowing you to sneak up on said mobile dinner and nab it.

Using a vehicle is not only expensive it is also messy unless you prefer your steak pre-tenderised.
It is slightly hard to hide your vehicle behind a small bush or medium sized tree trunk for a start.
The engine noise, unless you drive an electric car (in which case don't even think about chasing deer you will run out of juice as soon as you hit the first puddle)tends to be a bit of a giveaway as does the color (either of the vehicle or the language of the driver as you get stuck again)
Deer tend to notice when they are being followed by a 4x4 especially when said 4x4 gets stuck and it's contents spill out gesticulating and cussingand generally being the opposite of what a stealthy hunter is.

Aiming one's vehicle at a deer when it is on the road as well a being unsportsman like, usually results in the vehicle and it's contents coming off the worse for wear whilst said deer mutters about the size of the local skeeters or wondering if it's new grille will be a hit with the ladies (it works for gangstas)

Try not to pick fights with deer unless you know you will win and escape injury.
Do not pick a fight with an airbag, they always win since you can't see through them and are soft and squishy unlike you.

Tania Cadogan said...

The mccanns claimd there were 195 leads that hadn't been fully investigated and cleared. what the ommittted to say and what the police ever so helpfully pointed out was that over 100 had come from psychics!
The mccanns made it appear to the public that the PJ and scotland yard weren't investigating properly and ignoring what could be an important lead.

No mention has been made by the mccanns or their chums about the 48 important leads (questions) that kate has refused to answer despite them making appeals for even the smallest piece of informtion could solve the case.

As regarding psychic ability, surprisingly little is known about how the brain works.
They know the various area and what controls what roughly but do not know what makes a brain tick, how we remember,how everything is interlinked, how the brain learns, how the brain can compensate when injured, why senses sometimes get mixed up so people see colors when they hear words or taste colors.
Sometimes things happen that cannot be rationally explained currently, however those who claim to be psychic and charge others for their services are not genuine.
They play on peoples fears, needs and desires.
they are adept at reading people and getting answers out without actually asking a question, turning it around so their victim believes they are in touc with a missing loved one.

If they were so in touch with the dead , how come we never get full names and adresses, a full medical history, a run down of the gossip?
instead we get initials and a list of names till someone says i know that name.
Vague manners of death and ailments. he passed over because he died type of thing.

I have an open mind in that i have experienced things which cannot be explained rationally, we all have.
Who knows what future advances in science will bring.

In the meantime any psychic that charges or accepts "donations". who involves themselves in a criminal investigation and brags about it is best avoided and ignored, filed under attention seeker.
The real ones who for whatever reason sense something and contacts LE without fanfare, stays silent and has information that is exact and explicit rather than the generic vagueness of darkness , sadness, water etc, we will never hear about. It is not something to be bragged about.

Anonymous said...

I understand and respect your skepticism. However, I grew up with a family member who was psychic. I choose to believe in my grandmother's abilities, because what I witnessed I can explain in no other way.

But I think there's also one very true way to tell a REAL psychic from a fraud. Anyone who is charging you money for their services? Fraud! Anyone who is seeking fame, or seeking to insert themselves into media or into an active police investigation? Fraud!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of deer hunting... U4A has printed 500 missing flyers to distribute to hunters in hopes that they might come across any evidence in regards to Ayla's disappearance. We need your help in getting these distributed. If any of you Mainers (hint..Peter and Heather) could help us get them distributed please go to United For Ayla .com. We will mail them to you or email the PDF if you'd like to print them yourself. Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Hooray, Peter! Thank you for this very important article. I fear that soon more criminals will be set free because their defense lawyers will prove the police didn't follow enough "psychic" tips and find the "real" perp. The day is bound to come because of the dumbing down of the American people. I can remember when the Learning Channel and the History Channel actually had some worthwhile programming.

MissUnderstood said...

Can someone please help analyze some of this?

Normal was a different word now. Morgan had an appt. with her dentist. Steve was going to drop off a trailer for someone to use after work. My daughter-in-law had a birthday and Steve and I were going to be normal grandparents, babysit while “the kids” went out for a dinner alone. And Morgan would not be home, so it all could work out. it all sounded so, “normal”.

*snipped* ^

Erin Go Blah said...

I don't know who you are, but I agree with you 1000%. I was going to ask (not expecting an actual response, however) Peter what his thoughts are on God, demons etc. I wonder how many perpetrators out there are under demonic oppression?

Anonymous said...

Hobnob- You are being hilarious! Love it! LOL

Anonymous said...

I believe that God speaks to us through the Bible and through the Holy Spirit. We need to be close enough to him (and depend on him to give us wisdom) to recognize His voice or the given impression when we sense it. We need to be able to distinguish between the voice of the true Shepherd versus the voice of enchanting evil (that God condemns) that wants to lead us astray and to destruction.

Isaiah 30:21

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

I Kings 19:11-12

11And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:

12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

pythia serpentis said...

I think skepticism about every topic dealing with the unseen or unknown such as psychics, the bible, any religion, people reading, and so forth is healthy, realistic, and needed. Any one who claims they have pertinent information on a missing person's case or murder and requests money for their insight IS a fraud and a monster. Look at the people who are making a name for their selves or who are trying to profit. Anyone who would interrupt an on going police investigation over something like psychic info is likely to be a fraud, or some one who is crazy, cruel at best, and wants attention.
My professors say given the diversity of people and their mannerisms we can't believe that all people exhibit the same traits and behaviors while being deceptive. How ever I believe there is something to it or psychics such as clairvoyants actually use this technique during readings while questioning their customers to garner info.
On the other hand I don't think that people offering psychic readings are any more cruel than what you do though Seamus. No offense but in your analysis such as the Ridgeway one and others you often accuse parents of being deceptive and murdering their own missing children don't you think that might be considered just as cruel?
In my opinion I don't find it any more or less cruel than a psychic reading, in the end they are both purely speculative and often exploit the victims and their family for entertainment. This is especially true if you haven't been accurately trained in Kinesics (you do seem really good at what you do to me though, and I LOVE your blog).
I personally find kinesics fascinating and I have taken quite a few college classes that discuss Ekman and the practice of kinesics. People will often put down Statement Analysis/kinesics calling it an "unreliable soft science", just as they put down psychics. It has been said,"A goose quill is more dangerous than a lion's claw" about people who write. As bloggers we should keep this in mind and be sensitive to others especially if they are parents of a missing or murdered child whether you are "psychic" or not.

Anonymous said...

Can something really happen "one day" & "late at night"? I am confused by that.

I have known of this blog for a while, but I haven't followed it enough to learn much. Is Day a word that we assign our own meaning to?

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