Monday, April 11, 2016

10,000 Hours in Statement Analysis?

A poster, "Skeptical" (I like the name) asked about the studies in excellence that cites 10,000 hours as a point of deep expertise in various fields. 

Skeptical said...
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a field. There have been updates to this theory since the book was published. Does it hold true for SA? 10,000 hours divided by the standard 2080 hours of work in a year is equivalent to about 4.80 years. (That's assuming anyone could survive 40 hours a week of the intense study required SA and stay sane.) Dedicating 10 hours a week, it would take about 20 years, 15 hours a week, about 12 years.

However here are dissenting opinions on the 10,000 hours. If an accurate testing was done, it would be interesting to see who becomes proficient at SA and how long it took them.

The studies are fascinating.  I don't know about exact numbers, but I have read enough about this to feel strongly that they are close to truth.  

A comic, for example, is on stage for 1 hour, live, nationally televised, yet behind every sentence is hours and hours of testing his work in small clubs, over many years, tweaking words, dropping and replacing, and seeing what gets a laugh and what does not.  

The cello playing expert has, perhaps, thousands of hours of practice in his attic, without recognition or reward. 

Tiger Woods, as a little boy, hitting a teeny little ball into a teeny little hole over and over and over...

These are all born with some form of talent but to reach the top of their field, they had to have single minded dedication to their craft. 

The first time I saw high school ice hockey in Maine, I thought, "these kids are better than junior college hockey that I saw in New York!", with temperatures so cold many kids grew up on ice skates here. 

In watching NHL hockey or minor league hockey, what is the difference?  1/10th of a second here?  1/8th of an inch there?  They are all great at what they do, but what is the difference between the top and the near top?

What of Statement Analysis?

My addiction began shortly after 9/11 and quickly grew, reading wherever I could, and eventually finding courses and seminars.  

In my work with the state, I investigated child abuse and neglect claims which had immediate application of analysis.  On top of this, the blistering pace and case load, coupled with, at times, severe times of dramatic increase of hormones, furthering memory.  I eventually conducted more than 6,000 interviews, and was responsible to dictate (or transcribe for some) all of them.  Many of these were done in length and with the results of psychological evaluations before me, as I typed.  

The initial results of Statement Analysis are thrilling and cause even more attention, so that at night and on weekends, I worked on it, while during the week, I used it.  Eventually, I began teaching, writing and working part time as an analyst.  It was still being used Monday through Friday, but it was then also being used at night, while practice (such as blog writing) 7 days a week. 
When I finally went full time as an analyst, I had gone through the trainings with others and had developed solid peer review, and looked back over the psych eval/language in interviews, to build a 'data base' of sorts furthering my work into profiling.  Somewhere a few years back, I believe I crossed the 10,000 hour mark but found that it came 'easy' as if I wasn't analyzing, I was helping someone else analyze and if I was not helping someone else, I was researching or practicing, pushing more and more into profiling.  I had 5 weeks of full time training, particularly in legally sound interviewing, so merging statement analysis into the interview (analytical interviewing) was a peaceful and easy marriage of convenience that can gain the most amount of confessions, as well as be used in sales work.  

This leads me to my answer to "Skeptical" and an excuse to talk about certification in training.  


first, great post. 

Second, yes, It has been discussed and 10,000 hours appears to be 'magical' in this, and in so many fields.  

The reason I will only give certification at the two year point under conditions, is because one must consider what those 2 years are like.  They are not like 2 years of 4 college semesters; not even close.  

For full certification, what one must complete is quite a bit:

1.  Standard Training (formal)  This is disciplined work.  A 2 day seminar is a great introduction, and if the seminar includes ongoing support (ours offers 12 months of e support) the application of Statement Analysis will be immediate.  The home course has the advantage of time, while the seminar has the energy and the advantage of Q and A and seminars for those already trained have the best advantage:  speciality work.  

This means the student will analyze but have his or her work checked, corrected, challenged and ready to use in either an investigation (law enforcement) or HR, professional setting, or even in just a theoretical setting.  

Errors will be made. 

Where there is no follow up, the first error made while the 'stakes are high' are often the last error made:  no one wants to work with the analyst again.  The 'lone wolf' only survives in the movies.  The first time, for example, one says, "this guy is lying; he did it" and it proves to be wrong, its likely over.  The others do not want to hear it, and even if the student analyst is shown where he went wrong, the embarrassment and discouragement are often too much.  A journalist once "checked" one of my qualifications and quoted it only to discredit me.  Yet, when the work came back correct, she wanted more opinions.  

When the analyst is supported, only the new analyst and the instructor know about the error!  It is not simply corrected, but explained.  Human nature is complex, therefore, human speech is complex, and there comes the time where every analyst raises an eyebrow as two principles seem to be conflicting one another.  This is where the learning gains traction.  Errors are corrected and the analysis will be accurate and will prove itself.  

This is why the investigators and analysts who have studied in 2015 have all reported 100% or near results.  The "near" is due to contamination in which the statement is returned.  

The standard training involves completed homework assignments and general testing.  

2.  Constant practice.  This most find easy and love the blog for it.  This is often 5 days - 7 days per week.  They often enjoy peeking in at the blog, reading comments, leaving comments and for those who are in training but have been long term readers, there is, inevitably the, "I can't believe I wrote that!" which they all embrace as they grow to complexity. 
They realize that without formal training, stagnation is inevitable.  Practice, for most, is nightly and on weekends and is "fun." 

Everyone loves solving a mystery or catching the liar.  This part needs no pressure from me. 

3.  Monthly Guided Training with Peer Review.  This is where the most amazing results come and come with each session.  Most own that they need an entire month just to process, rest and recover from what they went through over 6 hours time!

The discipline of working with others, and being held to principle, and, perhaps most importantly:

having something "on the line" in the outcome, is amazing. 

These are real cases.  Being wrong could mean an innocent man is arrested, or a guilty murderer walks free.  

No anonymous, no nick names, no, "Okay, am I lying?  I am wearing ladies underwear" jokes.  The stakes are high and they are real and you are in a room of dedicated professionals who want the truth, are disciplined and who do not dare rest with a mistake.  

I liken this to a recent shaken baby case where the subject's statement showed:  he did it. 
The interview showed:  he did it. 
The polygraph results:  he did it. 

Yet, the dedicated analyst-investigator wanted everything reviewed one more time before an arrest is effected. 

"Do No Harm."

This work is  exhausting, thrilling, intimidating, supportive, challenging, fun, depressing, and sometimes the student analyst sees his or her work in the news,  but can never take credit or even acknowledge it.  Should the confidentiality agreement be broken, not only may there be civil consequences, but...

we screen for personalities that show a need recognition before hand.  They can be quietly guided to monthly training where confidentiality is not needed. 

The monthly guided training must be completed for a minimum of 24 months.  

This is something that, like practice, needs no convincing of its worth.  More than one analyst has said, "minimum of 24 months right?  We keep going, right?"  

It is difficult to explain how thrilling this is, but I will try with this:

Most months I will not look at the statement that is to be used.  I go into it colder than anyone else; as all other professionals have had it for at least 24 hours before class.  

I go into it cold to push myself, and take questions from people with strong IQ, solid training, but also with life experiences that I have not had. 

I learn.  

I learn and it is thrilling and exhausting and thrilling. 

When a 1998 murder case is analyzed and we find a confession within the language, it is difficult to describe how thrilling this is, as we prepare for the interview, final report, and the possible testifying (my role) for the sake of justice for the family of the victim.  

4.  Advanced Training  Here is where the advanced work is done, not only using advanced methods, but:

a.  Profiling
b.  Screening for Contamination 
c.  Employment work
d.  Anonymous Author Identification 

This means handing in completed assignments along the way that show not only accuracy, but that the analyst can explain how and why he or she came to the conclusion in words that a 12 year old can understand.  

5.  Finally, before certification is granted, the analyst-student will have completed all the above, including 24 months of monthly guided training with peer review:

A thesis paper is submitted and will be reviewed by a panel of analysts.  It must meet with approval from three analysts, representing diversity in application, including law enforcement, investigation, psychology and business.  

When the thesis is approved, the final certification testifies to the expert status this hard work has proven to show. 

They choose from a variety of topics, but I do encourage those who are working diligently in building their own 'data base' (one of the most interesting aspects of statement analysis is your own experiences, and when you keep a rolling 'data base' of statements and what you learned, you not only build a data base, but you help further our science, as language shifts and brave new worlds are opened before us in communication), to choose his or her own topic. 

When all of this work has been done, this is an analyst who's resume is strong, and who's work will stand on its own, and who can claim status of professional and "expert."

This analyst is an expert and will, by now, be most likely to rarely ever submit important definitive analysis without peer review, as it has become a habitual norm.  

It is exciting to see the results of investing thousands of hours into the training. 

Do I think 10,000 hours is a magical mark?

I do!  

I know that in some fields it does not guarantee success.  There are actors who may put in 10,000 hours and not be discovered, or pop band that is excellent in what it does, but is not 'catchy' with the public.  The study that says contrary only is contrarian based upon these invariables that take place in life.  Concentrated, guided or "correct" repetition of 10,000 hours or anything close to it,  is going to produce excellence.  Even Bach wasn't appreciated in his life time. 

I don't know about any exact figure, but this form of ongoing dedication, drive and commitment, when done correctly, will produce excellence.  When it is done wrong, it only solidifies error, making it more and more difficult to correct.  Practice makes permanent, not perfect.  

With this certification, if this analyst has a gift for teaching, teaching analysis will come easy.  

For some, it means doing better work, while for others, it is opening to brand new careers, while still others strengthen their own resume.  

It is good to gain a certificate of attendance or even another of completion, but to reach to this point of excellence, this analyst' work can match up with anyone's in the country.  

The study that "shatters" this in Business Insider, addresses application where there are not "rules" to guide, such as a CEO or a rock band, proving "10,000 hours does not guarantee success" while mentioning scientific or "rule" endeavors such as "chess", where study will bring you to the top.

Statement Analysis is a science where study is so intense, even personal bias can be overcome and especially where there is scrutiny, the bias is put in check, allowing for success. 

Thanks, Skeptical, for an interesting post!


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John Mc Gowan said...

"Practice makes permanent, not perfect."

Love it!

Skeptical said...


Thank you for the insightful post. It gives a clear picture of what to expect and the dedication it requires to become excellent. I also enjoyed your advice on bias. For some of us that is a major hurdle. For those of us brought up by southern mothers, the best example I can think of are Misses Emily and Mamie Baldwin on The Waltons. They weren't bootleggers; they made "the recipe". This is as natural as breathing.

One reason I would like to be good at statement analysis is the state of our country. The book I am reading now is also about 9/11. "The Big Bamboozle: 9/11 and the War on Terror" starts with the quotation by Carl Sagan. "“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle."

The rest of the quote is this: "We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

I'm tired of being bamboozled.

Anon "I" said...


Southern mothers.... LOL! Surely, any woman who makes sweet tea is innocent of every and all improprieties. Isn't the "recipe" just sweet tea?

sha said...

I would also say that SA (like many other types of training) is something that, once you learn it, you can't turn it off. Thus, you are then practicing (or training, call it what you will) every time you read or hear someone talking.

Anonymous said...

I always want to smash idiots' faces who try to justify their ignorant racism and bigotry with, "But what about when it's 'nearly always' true?"

Peter, how do you overcome that neon blue eyeroll when your first and so far only bits of information are "3 attackers" and "Facebook" with a justification of the public post?

Yes, you know on an intellectual level to simply flag and listen, not conclude; yes you can probably name dozens of real cases involving three attackers.
Even habitual liars and/or attention seekers can be actual crime victims.

But is your mind every bit as wide open when those two factors are your first read in a statement, or are you mentally purchasing another Costo-size case of blue pens even while trying to remain objective?

sha, welcome! (double welcome if you're a newly-named Anonymous regular! :^D).
I just posted that same thought on the most recent 3 Men And A Facebook sequel, how I notice some of these sensitivity flags on innocuous objects such as road signs and price tags. :^D

Anonymous said...

One more bias hurdle: how do you analyze the statement of a known habitual liar and attention seeker who is an actual victim?

Is your interview approach different; do you ask different questions?
Or does character and history only come into it when you're analyzing the statement?

Hey Jude said...

I would love to be able to do SA properly rather than like a bull in a china shop. I can't leave it alone, despite my love of tea cups and saucers. :-/ After next summer, when time and finances will, I hope, be improved (expensive year ahead) I would like to do the home study course, if Peter will let me. I'm not enquiring before then, in case he already decided ''no', he could still change his mind in the meantime,

Anonymous said...

To another random Anonymous at 4:27 pm today:

That looks ugly in bold like that; thank-you for highlighting it. I'll calm down a bit before posting.

I wouldn't literally put my hands, cane, shovel or anything else on somebody except in self-defense.

For a few years I lived in an area where someone starting a sentence with some form of, "I'm not prejudiced, but..." was a guarantee something embarrassingly ignorant is coming next, and bigotry frequently justified with "they all" fit whatever moronic stereotype.

I'd just read the latest fake hate fool insulted via banana, so I was a bit riled up when the analogy came to mind. :^D

My actual point: With SA, the number three is proven to frequently be used in a false statement, and leading off with an explanation of Facebooking an alleged incident is a highly accurate example of the SA principal that order speaks to priority and importance.

My point, as unnecessarily violently (again, thank you!) as I expressed it, is asking if Peter and the veteran analysts in here have to suppress their own biases, having seen these indicate deception most of the time.

Also, when you interview, and analyze the statements of habitual liars who are actual victims, do you do anything different?
Do you listen and expect the same responses,actions, language, as any other victim?