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Tags Jeffrey MacDonald , Joe McGinniss , Mark McLish , Statement Analysis

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Old 25th June 2009, 04:20 PM   #1
Bob Klase
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Statement Analysis? BS?

Years ago I read Fatal Vision- the Joe Joe McGinniss book about Jeffrey MacDonald. I was also in the army when the murders happened and remember some of the news about the case. Not long ago I read a more recent book about the murders titled Fatal Justice. While it didn't fully convince me that MacDonald was innocent, it did raise doubts about whether he might have been railroaded.

So, while looking for more recent information to see if anything had changed since that book was written in 1995 I stumbled onto a site about 'Statement Analysis' run by Mark McClish (a federal law enforcement officer for 25 years) and read his analysis of MacDonald's statement made shortly after the murders.

http://www.statementanalysis.com/macdonald/

Ignoring the MacDonald case specifically, just reading this analysis makes we wonder if I'm being too critical of the analysis or if this really is the b.s. passing for investigation that it appears on first look to be (to me anyway)? I'm sure that there are people who, with experience, can make better than average guesses about when someone is lying. But just from reading the wording of a statement as in this example?

Just a couple examples from the analysis (there are many more. I suppose you really need to read the whole thing because my taking small bits out of context could be misleading).

MacDonald's Statement: “Let’s see. Monday night my wife went to bed, and I was reading.“

McClish's Analysis: “MacDonald does not introduce his wife by name. If you are with a friend and you meet another friend, it would be considered rude if you do not introduce them to each other. The same thing applies when writing. It is impolite not to introduce a character. This is an indication that something is wrong with the relationship.“

My Opinion: It seems very reasonable to me that when you're making a statement for the police about your wife's recent murder that you would assume your dead wife needs no introduction to the people who are supposed to be investigating her murder.


MacDonald's Statement: “my little girl Kristy had gone into bed with my wife. And I went in to go to bed, and the bed was wet. She had wet the bed on my side, so I brought her in her own room.“

McClish's Analysis: “I brought her in her own room." This is an unusual way to say that he carried his child to her room. It sounds as if he is carrying a body.“

My Opinion: This seems to be lose-lose for MacDonald. If he had said "I carried her to her own room" then the analysis would be "carried her- that's what you do with a body". Not sure what other word would even fit.


MacDonald's Statement: “And so, I sat up and at first I thought I was — I just could see three people“

McClish's Analysis: “Three is a liar's number. When deceptive people have to come up with a number, they will often use the number three. If MacDonald did kill his wife and two kids, then we can see that he did struggle with three people.“

My Opinion: And if there really were other 3 people? And didn't the police say that 3 people murdered? Are the police being deceptive about the number of murders that night? Seems like something to keep in mind- if you're ever attacked by 3 people, be sure to tell the police there were only 2, or 4.


MacDonald's Statement: “And this guy started walking down between the coffee table and the couch“

McClish's Analysis: “And this guy started walking..." The word "walking" is a very casual term for someone who is moving throughout your house attacking you and your family. If a struggle took place, we would expect to see language such as "ran" "moved" "came." The word "started" means the guy did not complete the act. (walking) “

My Opinion: 'Ran' might be a good word if the guy ran. If MacDonald used 'moved' or 'came' then would the analysis have said he should have used 'walk'. And "I started (walking/cooking/thinking/etc) seems like a pretty common phrase to me. I hope everyone that ever says they started doing something hasn't been lying to me. Just this afternoon I started to read a book.
And in the analysis McClish says "walking is very casual for someone who is moving". Isn't 'moving' also a very casual term for what he's saying?

There's much more, but the whole thing strikes me as similar to the "analysis" of Puff the Magic Dragon (and Peter Yarrow's counter 'analysis' of the national anthem) from several years ago.

I'd really love to see some of his Analysis's on statements made by people who were widely considered guilty but (after the analysis) were later proved innocent beyond all doubt. Or vice versa.

Last edited by Bob Klase; 25th June 2009 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 25th June 2009, 08:58 PM   #2
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Perhaps there's some empirical basis to this. It does raise a lot of red flags though. From Wikipedia, we find:

Quote:
The Statement Analysis techniques are based on FOUR fundamental concepts:
Everyone has an innate desire to talk. (to give their information).
Everyone is born honest by default.
Everyone has an innate desire to tell the truth.
It is not easy to lie. Lying conflicts with our default programming.
Ok, we have assertions, all four of which are open to argument.

I call shenanigans.
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Old 25th June 2009, 09:10 PM   #3
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What? Everyone is born honest by default? Have these people never raised kids? The only thing we have an innate desire for is to reproduce. And gettin' some often entails a little bit of lying (no, you don't look fat in those pants...).

Bob - I think your comments are spot on. I'm probably not going to read it based on what you posted already and the above info by Doc.
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Old 25th June 2009, 10:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bob Klase View Post
Years ago I read Fatal Vision- the Joe Joe McGinniss book about Jeffrey MacDonald. I was also in the army when the murders happened and remember some of the news about the case. Not long ago I read a more recent book about the murders titled Fatal Justice. While it didn't fully convince me that MacDonald was innocent, it did raise doubts about whether he might have been railroaded.

So, while looking for more recent information to see if anything had changed since that book was written in 1995 I stumbled onto a site about 'Statement Analysis' run by Mark McClish (a federal law enforcement officer for 25 years) and read his analysis of MacDonald's statement made shortly after the murders.

http://www.statementanalysis.com/macdonald/

Ignoring the MacDonald case specifically, just reading this analysis makes we wonder if I'm being too critical of the analysis or if this really is the b.s. passing for investigation that it appears on first look to be (to me anyway)? I'm sure that there are people who, with experience, can make better than average guesses about when someone is lying. But just from reading the wording of a statement as in this example?

Just a couple examples from the analysis (there are many more. I suppose you really need to read the whole thing because my taking small bits out of context could be misleading).

MacDonald's Statement: “Let’s see. Monday night my wife went to bed, and I was reading.“

McClish's Analysis: “MacDonald does not introduce his wife by name. If you are with a friend and you meet another friend, it would be considered rude if you do not introduce them to each other. The same thing applies when writing. It is impolite not to introduce a character. This is an indication that something is wrong with the relationship.“

My Opinion: It seems very reasonable to me that when you're making a statement for the police about your wife's recent murder that you would assume your dead wife needs no introduction to the people who are supposed to be investigating her murder.


MacDonald's Statement: “my little girl Kristy had gone into bed with my wife. And I went in to go to bed, and the bed was wet. She had wet the bed on my side, so I brought her in her own room.“

McClish's Analysis: “I brought her in her own room." This is an unusual way to say that he carried his child to her room. It sounds as if he is carrying a body.“

My Opinion: This seems to be lose-lose for MacDonald. If he had said "I carried her to her own room" then the analysis would be "carried her- that's what you do with a body". Not sure what other word would even fit.


MacDonald's Statement: “And so, I sat up and at first I thought I was — I just could see three people“

McClish's Analysis: “Three is a liar's number. When deceptive people have to come up with a number, they will often use the number three. If MacDonald did kill his wife and two kids, then we can see that he did struggle with three people.“

My Opinion: And if there really were other 3 people? And didn't the police say that 3 people murdered? Are the police being deceptive about the number of murders that night? Seems like something to keep in mind- if you're ever attacked by 3 people, be sure to tell the police there were only 2, or 4.


MacDonald's Statement: “And this guy started walking down between the coffee table and the couch“

McClish's Analysis: “And this guy started walking..." The word "walking" is a very casual term for someone who is moving throughout your house attacking you and your family. If a struggle took place, we would expect to see language such as "ran" "moved" "came." The word "started" means the guy did not complete the act. (walking) “

My Opinion: 'Ran' might be a good word if the guy ran. If MacDonald used 'moved' or 'came' then would the analysis have said he should have used 'walk'. And "I started (walking/cooking/thinking/etc) seems like a pretty common phrase to me. I hope everyone that ever says they started doing something hasn't been lying to me. Just this afternoon I started to read a book.
And in the analysis McClish says "walking is very casual for someone who is moving". Isn't 'moving' also a very casual term for what he's saying?

There's much more, but the whole thing strikes me as similar to the "analysis" of Puff the Magic Dragon (and Peter Yarrow's counter 'analysis' of the national anthem) from several years ago.

I'd really love to see some of his Analysis's on statements made by people who were widely considered guilty but (after the analysis) were later proved innocent beyond all doubt. Or vice versa.
Well, speaking from personal experience being a former investigator, actually knowing Mark and having done projects, attending the seminars and actually using these in the field- the problem is many of the people commenting dont understand how this technique works or how the system works or how a case is built.

First of all, no LE technique is foolproof, absolute, without risk and is hampered ( a necessary evil) by our Constitutional laws.

Second, techniques like this are only a PART of the whole process and focusing on the INVESTIGATION ( the case building process) and not the trial process ( the lawyers have their own techniques which are similar)

Statement analysis ( in the global view) is designed upon the simple concept that a "memory" is linear but a lie ( which never existed and thus cannot be "remembered" so must have to be "thought of") more often than not flags itself.

See, its not just the statement- thats just a trigger, the rest ( for the skilled interrogator) is to identify the trigger and then zero in on it thus prompting another trigger- this process repeats itself until either you get the truth or you fully identify the falsehood.

It has many weaknesses and is often used out of context especially by those who dont have extensive experience in investigations.

Some of them are

It doesnt work well with WRITTEN statements ( by definition a prepared statement- not a transcript of a verbal dialog) because people often use different words in written documentation than in normal speaking.

It doesnt work well with a spoken speach written by another- just like an actor quoting a script, thats almost useless

It doesnt work well as a stand alone technique without other indicators like body language, inflections etc

It also doesnt work well with premeditated and rehearsed lies
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Old 25th June 2009, 10:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
It doesnt work well with WRITTEN statements ( by definition a prepared statement- not a transcript of a verbal dialog) because people often use different words in written documentation than in normal speaking.

It doesnt work well with a spoken speach written by another- just like an actor quoting a script, thats almost useless

It doesnt work well as a stand alone technique without other indicators like body language, inflections etc

It also doesnt work well with premeditated and rehearsed lies
That is then of very limited use, especially the last sentence.
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Old 25th June 2009, 11:07 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by LONGTABBER PE View Post
First of all, no LE technique is foolproof, absolute, without risk and is hampered ( a necessary evil) by our Constitutional laws.
Notice that he added "a necessary evil" parenthetically. He's trying to be temper his position in an attempt to befriend the audience. Somebody with real experience who truly believes what he says would not apologize like this.

Quote:
Second, techniques like this are only a PART of the whole process and focusing on the INVESTIGATION ( the case building process) and not the trial process ( the lawyers have their own techniques which are similar)
Notice the attempt to create a common enemy (lawyers). A classic tactic.

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Old 26th June 2009, 06:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Notice that he added "a necessary evil" parenthetically. He's trying to be temper his position in an attempt to befriend the audience. Somebody with real experience who truly believes what he says would not apologize like this.


Notice the attempt to create a common enemy (lawyers). A classic tactic.

Both are incorrect

>>>Notice that he added "a necessary evil" parenthetically. He's trying to be temper his position in an attempt to befriend the audience.

No, the "necessary evil" is the part regarding the RIGHTS of the accused. In the US system of judgement- the defendant is given an upper hand in the legal system. ( thats what keeps us a little different than the Taliban, Nazi's etc)

The defendant has the RIGHT to remain silent, lawyer up, not cooperate in any way- the total burden is on the state.

No such device exists such as a "truth serum" or a "lie detector" and we have no time machine to go back and see what actually happens.

I'm not allowed to torture, hose, whip, threaten to kill close ones ( or actually do 1 to make a point), starve, deny medical treatment or any other "creative' coersive method.

All I'm left with various methods that are all flawed and imperfect to build a case with to defend society and administer justice in a system that while in principle is the best ever designed by man is often used,abused and wrongfully tilted.

Then those on the sidelines who dont have a clue comment on things they have no knowledge of with wiki as their only source of information.

So much for 'appealing" to an audience-If they havent been there and done it- I dont give a tinkers damn what they think or say.

>>>Somebody with real experience who truly believes what he says would not apologize like this.

In case you dont realize it- I made no apology then or now. What I said is factually accurate. How many criminals have you put behind bars? How many cases have you built? How many victims have you had to explain things to?

If your answer is zero or less- well, you get the picture
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Old 26th June 2009, 06:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
That is then of very limited use, especially the last sentence.
True. Its almost impossible to trip up a skilled and intelligent person with a good amount of personal discipline with a rehearsed story that is well thought out.

Fortunately, they are in the rare minority.
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Old 26th June 2009, 07:30 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by LONGTABBER PE View Post
Well, speaking from personal experience being a former investigator, actually knowing Mark and having done projects, attending the seminars and actually using these in the field- the problem is many of the people commenting dont understand how this technique works or how the system works or how a case is built.
Speaking for myself you're absolutely correct. I'd never heard of statement analysis before I came across the site (although I may have a slightly better understanding of how a case is built than the average non-police person since I have a large number of close family members who have been (some still are) directly involved in police work.

Originally Posted by LONGTABBER PE View Post
See, its not just the statement- thats just a trigger, the rest ( for the skilled interrogator) is to identify the trigger and then zero in on it thus prompting another trigger- this process repeats itself until either you get the truth or you fully identify the falsehood.

It doesnt work well with WRITTEN statements ( by definition a prepared statement- not a transcript of a verbal dialog) because people often use different words in written documentation than in normal speaking.

It doesnt work well as a stand alone technique without other indicators like body language, inflections etc.
I can see where it might be useful in an interrogation to identify points the interrogator might pursue to look for inconsistencies. I can also see where it might have some use when used in conjunction with other cues such as inflections, body language (although I have many doubts about how useful body language really is- doubts mostly based on seeing a girl that Bill O'Reilly often had (maybe still has) on his show to interpret the body language of people he mostly doesn't like).

It doesn't appear that it would work all that well with transcripts of verbal dialog either unless the interrogator in the transcript also knew the technique and used it to find the trigger points. Otherwise an analysis after the fact would only be useful to point out mistakes the interrogator made.

Since it doesn't work well with written statements, the website seems a little misleading because it does seem to concentrate on written statements used in isolation. In fairness though, the home page does say "This site is intended to serve as a review for those individuals who have attended one of my seminars or read my book I Know You Are Lying".

I can also see where it could easily be misused by investigators who don't fully understand or ignore the weaknesses. I'm sure that's true of many investigative techniques, but for someone (like me) who is looking only at the heavy reliance of written statements used on the web site that weakness of not working well with written statements appears to be a pretty big one.

I think it would still be very interesting to see him do some analysis's on statements made by people who were widely considered guilty but (after the analysis) were later proved innocent beyond all doubt.
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Old 26th June 2009, 07:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by LONGTABBER PE View Post
Both are incorrect

>>>Notice that he added "a necessary evil" parenthetically. He's trying to be temper his position in an attempt to befriend the audience.

No, the "necessary evil" is the part regarding the RIGHTS of the accused. In the US system of judgement- the defendant is given an upper hand in the legal system. ( thats what keeps us a little different than the Taliban, Nazi's etc)

The defendant has the RIGHT to remain silent, lawyer up, not cooperate in any way- the total burden is on the state.

No such device exists such as a "truth serum" or a "lie detector" and we have no time machine to go back and see what actually happens.

I'm not allowed to torture, hose, whip, threaten to kill close ones ( or actually do 1 to make a point), starve, deny medical treatment or any other "creative' coersive method.

All I'm left with various methods that are all flawed and imperfect to build a case with to defend society and administer justice in a system that while in principle is the best ever designed by man is often used,abused and wrongfully tilted.

Then those on the sidelines who dont have a clue comment on things they have no knowledge of with wiki as their only source of information.

So much for 'appealing" to an audience-If they havent been there and done it- I dont give a tinkers damn what they think or say.

>>>Somebody with real experience who truly believes what he says would not apologize like this.

In case you dont realize it- I made no apology then or now. What I said is factually accurate. How many criminals have you put behind bars? How many cases have you built? How many victims have you had to explain things to?

If your answer is zero or less- well, you get the picture
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Old 26th June 2009, 07:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
(I think his was broken...)
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Old 26th June 2009, 10:51 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
(I think his was broken...)

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Old 26th June 2009, 11:29 AM   #13
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I even included a smiley face.
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Old 26th June 2009, 11:53 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by LONGTABBER PE View Post
Both are incorrect

>>>Notice that he added "a necessary evil" parenthetically. He's trying to be temper his position in an attempt to befriend the audience.

No, the "necessary evil" is the part regarding the RIGHTS of the accused. In the US system of judgement- the defendant is given an upper hand in the legal system. ( thats what keeps us a little different than the Taliban, Nazi's etc)
I won't try to speak for UncaYimmy, but it seemed to me that he intended that in humor. (ETA- it appears that he did).

Originally Posted by LONGTABBER PE View Post
Then those on the sidelines who dont have a clue comment on things they have no knowledge of with wiki as their only source of information.
That's kind of the point of a thread like this- looking for more information.

ETA: I hadn't looked at wiki before you mentioned it, but you're right. If you want more information then wiki is not the place to go. It appears that the wiki entry could have been written by Mark and echoes his website closely.

Originally Posted by LONGTABBER PE View Post
So much for 'appealing" to an audience-If they havent been there and done it- I dont give a tinkers damn what they think or say.

In case you dont realize it- I made no apology then or now. What I said is factually accurate. How many criminals have you put behind bars? How many cases have you built? How many victims have you had to explain things to?

Then those on the sidelines who dont have a clue comment on things they have no knowledge of with wiki as their only source of information.

If your answer is zero or less- well, you get the picture
You're acting as though we're attacking police in general and saying "all the police are Gestapo pigs" here. That attitude might be a little understandable, but it's certainly not the case here and I think you're getting way too defensive.

You are right- I've never put a criminal behind bars and never built a case. I've also never planted evidence or put an innocent person in jail (I'll assume that you've never done either of those either). I've never amputated a patient's leg to save their life or stopped a robbery in progress (very possibly you have). That hardly invalidates every opinion either of us has about those things or the individuals who've been there and done it.

The ability and rights of ordinary citizens to question things like police procedures is another thing that keeps us a little different than the Taliban, Nazi's etc.

Last edited by Bob Klase; 26th June 2009 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 26th June 2009, 02:08 PM   #15
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I used statement analysis and kinesic interviewing techniques a lot in my career in law enforcement.

They are both excellent tools. However, to pretend that either one is a foolproof method of determining lies is silly.
Unfortunately - those that have never had the opportunity to be properly trained and experienced in the use of them (and therefore do not understand their respective strengths and limitations) often make the mistake of trying to judge what they know little or nothing about.

Everytime you have a face to face conversation with someone (unless you are a social retard) you use your ability to decipher verbal and non-verbal clues.
If you do not understand that basic point of human interaction - there is no point in discussing this further.

People unconciously use body language and verbal clues in their everyday life to make judgements about others.
For example - how many of you can honestly say that you never "got the feeling" that somebody was not being truthful while you engaged them in conversation?
Your "gut feeling" is your inate ability to pick up on those non-verbal and verbal clues and make a decision based on your own life experience.

QUALITY statement analysis and kinesic interviewing instruction gives the experienced LEO the ability to go much further in his/her analysis than just "gut feelings" in a large number of cases.

Longtabber said it one way - I say it another way: Don't pretend to have the ability to ascertain the effectiveness of something you know relatively nothing about.
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Last edited by rockinkt; 26th June 2009 at 02:11 PM. Reason: grammer
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Old 26th June 2009, 02:41 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
Unfortunately - those that have never had the opportunity to be properly trained and experienced in the use of them (and therefore do not understand their respective strengths and limitations) often make the mistake of trying to judge what they know little or nothing about.
Speaking only for myself, I think it should be clear from the OP that I was trying to find out more about something I know little or nothing about. I even stated very clearly that any judgments I made were based on my first look at the subject.

Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
Longtabber said it one way - I say it another way: Don't pretend to have the ability to ascertain the effectiveness of something you know relatively nothing about.
While replies by LONGTABBER PE and yourself have not been totally uninformative, your insistence that we either shouldn't have opinions on the subject or even question the subject at all (even to form a better opinion) seems very close to "trust us- we're the government".

I realize that most on the law enforcement side don't like their opinions and methods questioned (very often with good reason such as when people are painting questions with a very broad brush), others (Mike Nifong and at least some of his investigators come to mind) provide good reason to question things that we may know little or nothing about.

Last edited by Bob Klase; 26th June 2009 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 26th June 2009, 02:45 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
I used statement analysis and kinesic interviewing techniques a lot in my career in law enforcement.

They are both excellent tools. However, to pretend that either one is a foolproof method of determining lies is silly.
Unfortunately - those that have never had the opportunity to be properly trained and experienced in the use of them (and therefore do not understand their respective strengths and limitations) often make the mistake of trying to judge what they know little or nothing about.

Everytime you have a face to face conversation with someone (unless you are a social retard) you use your ability to decipher verbal and non-verbal clues.
If you do not understand that basic point of human interaction - there is no point in discussing this further.

People unconciously use body language and verbal clues in their everyday life to make judgements about others.
For example - how many of you can honestly say that you never "got the feeling" that somebody was not being truthful while you engaged them in conversation?
Your "gut feeling" is your inate ability to pick up on those non-verbal and verbal clues and make a decision based on your own life experience.

QUALITY statement analysis and kinesic interviewing instruction gives the experienced LEO the ability to go much further in his/her analysis than just "gut feelings" in a large number of cases.

Longtabber said it one way - I say it another way: Don't pretend to have the ability to ascertain the effectiveness of something you know relatively nothing about.
Got any proof that this works? Any double blind experiments?

After reading the analyses on this site:
http://www.statementanalysis.com/cases/, I think I 'll have any statement I ever make to the press screened by at least four grammarians and two professors in English so I don't mix up any tenses, numbers or gender and thereby make such an analysis as amusing is possible.

Given the actual outcome, this analysis is particularly hilarious:
http://www.statementanalysis.com/duke/

Pull my other leg.
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Old 26th June 2009, 04:44 PM   #18
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Should be easy to do an experiment using this technique. Get tapes of police interviews. Put them though this technique and also ask police officers who are not familiar with the cases are these people guilty or innocent? If the technique is any good then it would perform a lot better than police officers.
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Old 26th June 2009, 05:00 PM   #19
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Better yet, write something off-the-cuff in an Internet forum and include a smiley face. Then see if an expert in statement analysis can figure out if what you're writing is serious or not. Wait a sec...didn't we already do that?

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Old 26th June 2009, 05:52 PM   #20
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I'm busy analyzing Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

So far I've "proved" him guilty of necrophilia.
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Old 26th June 2009, 06:09 PM   #21
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Please this is a serious thread. This tool is meant to be used for verbal communications only. What you have said is for written communication.

Edit. And for prepared speeches.
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Old 26th June 2009, 06:34 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Given the actual outcome, this analysis is particularly hilarious:
http://www.statementanalysis.com/duke/
That's much less condemning than I would have expected with:

Quote:
On the other hand, cooperating with the police, not requesting an attorney and willingness to take a polygraph and passing it is something guilty people usually do not do.
Although that conclusion has nothing to do with analyzing the statement. It only requires the information that he did cooperate, didn't request an attorney and did pass a polygraph. That information could just as easily come from many sources other other than a statement.

This one might lend it a bit of credibility (although not to it's use with written statements since he apparently watched the show and didn't work strictly (if at all) from a written transcript or statement:

Quote:
the CBS news show "60 Minutes" interviewed the three accused lacrosse players... All three players answered Ed Bradley's questions in a truthful manner... While this still stops short of saying "I did not do it" the boys appeared to be credible.
The preponderance of written statements analyzed, all of them well publicized cases which appear to have been analyzed after the arrest, wouldn't seem to be evidence one way or other that it works at all. He's found evidence of deception in all of them including the one that apparently had no deception (Duke case).

In my quest to become someone who knows a little about it (rather than nothing) I did a search on '"statement analysis" law enforcement'. Most hits that I looked at were semi-advertisements or testimonials but I did find a couple that did provide some information. The first discusses both polygraph and statement analysis.

http://www.crimeresearch.co.za/polyg...t_analysis.htm

The bit on polygraphs ends with

Quote:
The American Polygraph Association has determined that the polygraph is accurate to between 60 - 70%
The next sentence begins with

Quote:
Statement Analysis is believed to be as reliable as a polygraph examination.
This site says it works best as a stand alone technique (exactly the opposite of LONGTABBER PE's statement):

http://www.forensicinvestigation.co....t_analysis.htm

Quote:
STATEMENT ANALYSIS focuses on analysing the words in the statement and their inter-relationships, not upon observing "kinesics" or "body language".
Quote:
it's a "cold" technique. Scoring is based only upon structure and content, not upon gestures, perspiration, eye movements, and other factors that are open to individual interpretation.
Then there's a short section on it in an exert from a book published in Feb, 2008 by Richard A. Leo, Professor of Law (presumably someone who's done enough research to be more than a little knowledgeable about it). In just two paragraphs he writes (among other similar things):

Police interrogation and American justice

Quote:
But statement analysis is just another form of junk science.
Quote:
If the theory underlying statement analysis is based on little more than speculation, the empirical evidence for its claims is no better.
Quote:
As Roger Shuy (1998: 75) has pointed, "the accuracy of detection of deceitful language is... at about the level of chance."
But the last sentence doesn't seem in line with anything else written in those two paragraphs:

Quote:
As with the other behavioral methods of lie detection analyzed above, the value of SCAN and statement analysis lies simply in it's utility as an interrogation technique.
If he believes it's junk science and it's accuracy is about the level of chance then wouldn't flipping a coin also have utility as an interrogation technique?

Obviously it's not "science" and it's not very accurate. I'm in no position to really judge how useful it is as an investigative tool, but that seems to depend totally on the person using it and it appears very susceptible to misuse- ie misleading an investigator into wild goose chases.

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Old 26th June 2009, 07:21 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Bob Klase View Post
T

<snip>

If he believes it's junk science and it's accuracy is about the level of chance then wouldn't flipping a coin also have utility as an interrogation technique?

Obviously it's not "science" and it's not very accurate. I'm in no position to really judge how useful it is as an investigative tool, but that seems to depend totally on the person using it and it appears very susceptible to misuse- ie misleading an investigator into wild goose chases.
There is a famous case here in Toronto of Susan Nellis who was arrested for murdering babies at the Hospital for Sick Children mostly on the basis (IMHO) of the police being convinced that she must be guilty because she stood on her rights and refused to be questioned by them without a lawyer present. It went downhill from there.

Not much on the 'net as this dates from the late 1970s or early 80s.
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Old 26th June 2009, 07:49 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
Longtabber said it one way - I say it another way: Don't pretend to have the ability to ascertain the effectiveness of something you know relatively nothing about.
Who here is pretending to understand this technique in depth? I haven't seen such a claim yet. All we are saying (and I don't mean to speak for others here) is that some red flags are raised.
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Old 27th June 2009, 09:52 AM   #25
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For what it is worth, I've researched the MacDonald case upside down and sideways for 20 years now, providing material to various authors for articles, and there is a basic flaw here:

Quote:
MacDonald's Statement: “Let’s see. Monday night my wife went to bed, and I was reading.“

McClish's Analysis: “MacDonald does not introduce his wife by name. If you are with a friend and you meet another friend, it would be considered rude if you do not introduce them to each other. The same thing applies when writing. It is impolite not to introduce a character. This is an indication that something is wrong with the relationship.“
For one thing, MacDonald wasn't speaking to a friend, he was a military officer being interviewed by two military investigators-a situation far from casual. Secondly, MacDonald and Colette had, especially for the 60's/70's, an extremely traditional and conservative relationship. He was dominant, she was submissive. He did not consider Colette his equal. Even if there was trouble in the marriage, which has never been established, it would have been entirely consistent with MacDonald's character to refer to Colette as "my wife" or "Mrs. MacDonald" when speaking to the investigators. An arrogant man defining his territory, so to speak.

Quote:
MacDonald's Statement: “And this guy started walking down between the coffee table and the couch“

McClish's Analysis: “And this guy started walking..." The word "walking" is a very casual term for someone who is moving throughout your house attacking you and your family. If a struggle took place, we would expect to see language such as "ran" "moved" "came." The word "started" means the guy did not complete the act. (walking) “

My Opinion: 'Ran' might be a good word if the guy ran. If MacDonald used 'moved' or 'came' then would the analysis have said he should have used 'walk'. And "I started (walking/cooking/thinking/etc) seems like a pretty common phrase to me. I hope everyone that ever says they started doing something hasn't been lying to me. Just this afternoon I started to read a book.
The MacDonald coffee table was a) very heavy, and b) set close to the couch. Anyone walking between it and the couch would have had to slow down, turn slightly sideways and inch along, especially in the dark, so as not to bang their shins. MacDonald, of course, knew that, and he also knew that his statement had to fit certain physical details. If he had used the term "ran", wouldn't that have invited the question from the investigators how anyone could run in such a narrow, awkward space? "Walking" is a better fit.

I don't know if that affects the validity of witness statements, or just this one, but it's something to consider.
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Old 27th June 2009, 12:56 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Bob Klase View Post

If he believes it's junk science and it's accuracy is about the level of chance then wouldn't flipping a coin also have utility as an interrogation technique?

Obviously it's not "science" and it's not very accurate. I'm in no position to really judge how useful it is as an investigative tool, but that seems to depend totally on the person using it and it appears very susceptible to misuse- ie misleading an investigator into wild goose chases.
Having been trained in multiple interrogation techniques, including statement analysis, I was struck by a chapter in "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me.)" The book is about cognitive dissonance, and much of the first part of the book reminded me of very effective techniques in interrogation, including rationalizing with the suspect to explain why their action was reasonable. Then, one of the chapters was on the Reid Technique of interrogation. Having taken their class, I found it very similar to other private and government classes. I was faced with my own cognitive dissonance moment. Is one of the things I have been trained in worthless? (BTW, thanks to whoever reviewed the book here on the forum, it is what got me to buy it )

Most striking is the fact trained investigators are little or no better than an average citizen at determining which statements are true and which are false. What tends to change is the certainty of the observer. Investigators using these techniques are not more correct, they just think they are.

I do think there is some usefulness to watching for clusters of behaviors of suspects, micro facial expressions, neuro-linguistics, and statement analysis. However, I think it is important to realize one's own limitations at detecting lies, and not imagine you can make yourself a human lie detector. If you can talk a suspect into confessing, and equally important giving additional facts showing the truthfulness of the confession, great. If not, you are stuck with other evidence and statements.

Don't even get me started on the smoke and mirrors of the polygraph. Any system for detecting truth that rewards liars is a farce.
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Old 27th June 2009, 01:54 PM   #27
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This is not my field of expertise at all. However, as someone pointed out, all of us get "gut feelings" about someone lying. Without actual proof of lying, how are these gut feelings any different than any other "feelings" people get about any number of things we consider woo?

To me the most compelling evidence of someone lying is when the story is either self-inconsistent or inconsistent with what we know about the subject being discussed. The more you can get someone to talk, the better the chance of revealing this.

If I know someone, then it's easier to tell when they are lying. The more I know someone, the easier it is. Usually there's a change in how they tell a truthful story versus an untruthful one. This assumes, of course, that the person is not an experienced liar who can do it very smoothly and never be found out.

Beyond that I'm not convinced that investigators aren't assuming they are seeing indicators of lying because they have other more reliable information to indicate the person is lying (consistency, for example). Like I said, my experience is limited, but I cannot tell you how many times I've seen an investigative TV show where the investigator points out the manner in which a person says something as an indicator of untruthfulness, and I disagree. They say, "Would an innocent person say or do this?" A lot of times my answer is, "Yes, I would say or do that. People I know would say or do that."

So, as a skeptic, I have to ask where the evidence is proving these theories? I'm willing to be convinced.

Also, someone pointed out that writing Internet posts doesn't count. Where is the evidence for that? Some posts I write are well considered - I pick and choose my words. Other times, like in my joking response to LongTabberPE, it was competely off the cuff - just like normal conversation. It surprised me that my joke was completely missed by someone stating how reliable statement analysis is.
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Old 27th June 2009, 02:39 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
This is not my field of expertise at all. However, as someone pointed out, all of us get "gut feelings" about someone lying. Without actual proof of lying, how are these gut feelings any different than any other "feelings" people get about any number of things we consider woo?

To me the most compelling evidence of someone lying is when the story is either self-inconsistent or inconsistent with what we know about the subject being discussed. The more you can get someone to talk, the better the chance of revealing this.

If I know someone, then it's easier to tell when they are lying. The more I know someone, the easier it is. Usually there's a change in how they tell a truthful story versus an untruthful one. This assumes, of course, that the person is not an experienced liar who can do it very smoothly and never be found out.

Beyond that I'm not convinced that investigators aren't assuming they are seeing indicators of lying because they have other more reliable information to indicate the person is lying (consistency, for example). Like I said, my experience is limited, but I cannot tell you how many times I've seen an investigative TV show where the investigator points out the manner in which a person says something as an indicator of untruthfulness, and I disagree. They say, "Would an innocent person say or do this?" A lot of times my answer is, "Yes, I would say or do that. People I know would say or do that."

So, as a skeptic, I have to ask where the evidence is proving these theories? I'm willing to be convinced.

Also, someone pointed out that writing Internet posts doesn't count. Where is the evidence for that? Some posts I write are well considered - I pick and choose my words. Other times, like in my joking response to LongTabberPE, it was competely off the cuff - just like normal conversation. It surprised me that my joke was completely missed by someone stating how reliable statement analysis is.
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Old 27th June 2009, 05:08 PM   #29
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It seems that the quoted analysis says far more about the person doing the analysis than about the speaker. At one point, he even verges on numerology with the line "3 is a liar's number". This does not inspire confidence. If police are actually using something this subjective, then it seems to be the utmost point of wisdom to never speak to them without a lawyer.

With this method, anything you say can be manipulated to indicate guilt. This has no basis in objective measurement and appears to be little more than a confused attempt at cold-reading.
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Old 27th June 2009, 06:46 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by wackyvorlon View Post
It seems that the quoted analysis says far more about the person doing the analysis than about the speaker. At one point, he even verges on numerology with the line "3 is a liar's number". This does not inspire confidence. If police are actually using something this subjective, then it seems to be the utmost point of wisdom to never speak to them without a lawyer.

With this method, anything you say can be manipulated to indicate guilt. This has no basis in objective measurement and appears to be little more than a confused attempt at cold-reading.
This is absolutely false. Everyone knows two is the liar's number.

Officer: "How much have you had to drink tonight?"
Driver: "Two beers."



Saying "3 is a liar's number" is pretty asinine. That observation is wayyy too open to confirmation bias. That statement needs to be backed up with statistical analysis or it is worthless.
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Old 27th June 2009, 07:44 PM   #31
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I don't believe this stuff works or it would be available in the psychology journals. People there have checked out the accuracy of the polygraph and other techniques and they just have too many false negatives, and false positives. And the liars number is actually 2, NO! 5, ,yes, that's it, like I told you before, 8.
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Old 27th June 2009, 09:20 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Jeff Corey View Post
I don't believe this stuff works or it would be available in the psychology journals. People there have checked out the accuracy of the polygraph and other techniques and they just have too many false negatives, and false positives. And the liars number is actually 2, NO! 5, ,yes, that's it, like I told you before, 8.
Liar!
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Old 27th June 2009, 09:47 PM   #33
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I've looked at a few more web sites and since I'm not trying to become an expert I'm not going to spend any more time looking. My personal opinion now is that very best thing that can be said about it is that it's untested (as in scientific double blind testing). I say that's the best thing because testing might show that it does have some valid utility. In that case, no matter how small that utility it would still be better than it appears now.

I've read (either in posts here or on websites that advocate it's use) that it doesn't work well with written statements and that it doesn't work at all with written statements. I've read that it doesn't work well as a stand-along technique but it works best as a stand alone technique. It works just as well as flipping a coin, but it has utility as an interrogation technique. I don't think I need to be someone who knows more than little or nothing about the process say that if it works best as a stand along technique and it doesn't work well as a stand alone technique, then it must work extremely poorly as anything other than a stand alone technique.

I can see only two differences between this technique and flipping a coin. The first is that flipping a coin only costs a quarter (or even a nickle or penny)- and since that can still be spent afterward it wouldn't even have to be a tax quarter. The second is that (for most people) when you flip a coin you know the chances of getting the right answer are only 50-50.

Some people obviously (and honestly) believe it works ("no need to really test it thank you, we "know" it works"). No doubt they think my opinion is worthless because I don't work in law enforcement. But my opinion will never affect them or what they do anyway. If I ever see any local, state, or federal effort to use my tax dollars to fund anything about statistical analysis other than scientific testing I'll be contacting my representative to let them know this voter's opinion.

However (despite my sarcastic comments which might not be seen as humor since I don't use smiley's), I did start this thread in an attempt to get more information and opinions about it, and I do thank everyone who posted and attempted to provide either information, opinions or both.
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Old 27th June 2009, 10:40 PM   #34
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Bob,

I think you have just shown you have gotten your answer. And despite your not being in law enforcement, I think you are quite accurate in your assessment.

Statement analysis, both of oral and written statements, is currently a bit in vogue, as is the micro-expression theory that people will flash an emotion for a fraction of a second. The implication is this flash of emotion can tell you if the person is lying. A few years ago, the leading theory was that people subconsciously released the stress of lying by coughing, fidgeting, etc. When that was shown to be unreliable, then the experts said to look for clusters of these behaviors.

Interpreting the direction in which a subject's eyes' darted was also in fashion for a time. If someone looks to the left, they are usually recalling something, to the right creating it. Upwards is a visual memory or creation, while to the side is auditory.

The problem with all of these techniques is that they are subject to interpretation. When I asked the subject if he witnessed the murder, he looked up and to the left, then to the right, and then answered "no, he was at his brother's house." Was he remembering the crime and then lying? Did he remember his friend who was the real killer, and then lie? Did he remember some other murder, and then visualize how I would react to him saying no?

Too many of these techniques end up being too similar to reading tea leaves. While often based on good research, e.g. people make micro expressions without being aware of it, interpreting what is going on in someone's mind based on these external indicators is still too unreliable to show probable cause someone committed a crime, much less proving them guilty.

At this point, all these are are tools. If you interview three possible suspects and one strongly shows deception with any one of these techniques, it might be a good idea to pay more of the investigative attention to that person.

In my opinion, the best techniques are still spending a long time building a rapport with the suspect and getting them to tell their story multiple times. In general the truth is easier to remember, people start to trip over their own lies and self contradict too often, and scripted lies are overly consistent in some key elements, but then inconsistent with things the suspect did not expect to be asked.
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Old 28th June 2009, 11:29 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Biff Starbuck View Post
This is absolutely false. Everyone knows two is the liar's number.

Officer: "How much have you had to drink tonight?"
Driver: "Two beers."



Saying "3 is a liar's number" is pretty asinine. That observation is wayyy too open to confirmation bias. That statement needs to be backed up with statistical analysis or it is worthless.
Just say it three times and it's true.
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Old 28th June 2009, 12:50 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Biff Starbuck View Post
At this point, all these are are tools. If you interview three possible suspects and one strongly shows deception with any one of these techniques, it might be a good idea to pay more of the investigative attention to that person.
That sounds reasonable although I don't know enough to argue it one way or the other. And while anything can be taken to extremes, I think you'd have to be very cautious that you're not paying so much investigative attention to that person that you ignore things which may point to the guilt of the other(s), especially when that's the only thing pointing to the guilt of the first.
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Old 28th June 2009, 01:54 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
Just say it three times and it's true.
Do you have to say it coherently all three times?
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Old 28th June 2009, 02:56 PM   #38
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I found that the blood evidence in the case was a far more compelling reason to suspect Dr. MacDonald than any after-the-conviction dissection of his statements. It's really easy to say that a man's guilty after he's been convicted. To rely on this type of interpretation before the trial would just be foolish.

Just another author out to make a buck on an old but interesting case.
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Old 18th December 2011, 01:07 PM   #39
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has statement analysis ever been tested?

I would envision taking a bunch of true and a bunch of false statements. Then giving them to people practicing statement analysis techniques and also given them to a control group of some sort. This sort of exercise has been done with respect to false confessions, with somewhat surprising results.
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Old 18th December 2011, 01:58 PM   #40
joesixpack
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Originally Posted by halides1 View Post
I would envision taking a bunch of true and a bunch of false statements. Then giving them to people practicing statement analysis techniques and also given them to a control group of some sort. This sort of exercise has been done with respect to false confessions, with somewhat surprising results.
And this is likely the reason that advocates of statement analysis insist that it doesn't work on written statements.

In all honesty, I feel that a persons phrasing of a statement could possibly indicate how truthful they're being, but I'd need to see it tested rigorously before I encouraged officers in the field to learn and use it.

I think what this thread demonstrates most clearly is that people in law enforcement seem to believe that they are much more adept at discerning the truthfulness of a statement than ordinary citizens are. I have never seen anything to back up that belief with fact. Clearly one of the things that raises a cops suspicion is a person asserting their right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present. I think THIS is actual cause for concern. Innocent people shouldn't do this? I beg to differ.
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