classic | mobile
Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook  Share via Twitter  Share via LinkedIn
 

Search...
Hi-Tech Security Solutions Business Directory
Residential Estate Security Handbook 2018


Statement analysis takes lie detection to a new level
February 2003, Security Services & Risk Management

The science of statement analysis – or the ability to determine truth and lies from discernable patterns in oral and written statements – is fast becoming accepted as one of the most advanced forms of lie detection all over the world, says Gary Meaker, a specialist in the field and an associate of this country’s oldest corporate security management company, Griffiths & Associates.

"Statement analysis has the added advantage of being admissible in courts of law, as opposed to the more conventional physical lie-detector machines," says Meaker. Started during the last World War by a German code breaker, and subsequently enhanced by an Israeli intelligence expert, statement analysis reveals that each person speaks in their own code or pattern, which enables certain predicative elements within the person's thought processes and manner of speaking or writing, to be identified.

"The science essentially looks for three sorts of 'problem' areas within the statement," says Meaker. "These are a person's willingness to take ownership - or deny ownership - of a particular item or concept; the subconscious attributation of responsibility; and the use of passive language in describing events."

"A liar will give him or herself away not because they want to, but often because they have no choice," he explains. "A person telling the truth is focused on revealing information, whereas a person telling a lie is focused on hiding information, and patterns can be detected if you know what to look for."

Practical examples of where this principle is at work can be seen in how people react to certain situations, or the importance that they themselves attribute to events when recounting their version of events. "It is related to the science of body language and semiotics, or the association of symbolism within language," says Meaker. "A person welcoming the truth moves towards it, embraces it, whereas a person avoiding the truth will turn away, or try to move on quickly to something else." Discomfort with topic is therefore a sure first sign that something is not in order.

"A delay in getting to grips with the issue at hand is another good indicator of a problem," Meaker says. "In 80% of the time where people are lying, they will spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with events prior to the real issue, subconsciously providing for themselves a breathing space to prepare for how they are going to handle or avoid the real issue. Instead it gives statement analysis specialists clear warning that something is wrong."

In addition, even in a denial, people will often admit things in such a way that if the statement is analysed mathematically, they are conceding guilt. "Take the late Hansie Cronje, for example," says Meaker. When confronted for the first time at a public press conference with the allegation of match fixing, he was asked by a journalist if he had discussed match fixing with any of the guys (members of the cricket team).

His famous answer was 'no, I never discussed it with any of the other guys.' "Now, on the face of it, that might seem like a denial. But in fact, he was subconsciously choosing his words very carefully," says Meaker. If there are 'other guys' then it means he was differentiating between 'some guys' and the 'other guys' - in other words, he had already in his own mind divided the team up into two camps, those 'some' with whom he had discussed the issue, and those 'others' with whom he had not. He was therefore technically telling the truth when he said he had never discussed it with the 'other guys' but was also conceding he had discussed it with 'some of the guys' - otherwise why use the words 'other guys' in the first place.

Spot the lie

Another example that readily springs to mind is former US President Bill Clinton's famous answer to the question if he had had sex with Monica Lewinsky. His answer 'I never had sexual relations with that woman' revealed that he had already drawn a distinction in his own mind between foreplay (sex) and full penetrative sex (sexual relations), and that he was therefore telling the truth when he said that he had 'never had sexual relations' with her.

"It was technically the truth, but the fact that Clinton saw fit to answer the question in a way which differentiated between acts, reveals that it was an admission that other things had taken place," says Meaker.

An answer or denial therefore, very often contains an admission of what did happen - the thing to look out for is the way in which the question is answered.

Another way to spot a lie is whether a person accepts ownership of an item or event, or if they deny ownership thereof. "For example, variations in statements using the words 'my' and 'the' are a giveaway," Meaker says. A practical example of this came in a recent case he was asked to investigate concerning a car insurance fraud in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal.

The victim claimed to have been hijacked and his car stolen: yet in his statement he continually switched between the use of the words 'my car' and 'the car' - by applying this inconsistency to other facts within the statement, Meaker was able to prove that the car had in fact been disposed of by the claimant, rather than the hijack story which he had invented.

The out-of-place use of passive words or phrases are also sure signs of lies, continues Meaker. "A good case came with the famous incident a few years ago when a Kempton Park dentist had his wife killed," he says.

While the search for the woman was going on, the husband appeared in the media as saying that all he wanted was 'If they could just bring her back, it does not matter if she is missing an arm or an eye' - all this while there was nothing to indicate she had been mutilated. When the body was eventually found, she had in fact been hacked into pieces with a panga, and the husband (who was found guilty of the murder) had, by talking about events in the passive tense, already revealed his guilt in public.

Other methods used in statement analysis include the study of the choice of language and variation in words used: for example, describing a firearm as a 'gun', 'pistol', or 'revolver' within the same statement can indicate uncertainty about certain facts.

Order

The order in which a person states something is also a fine indicator of the value or importance to which they attach to certain people, things or events. "Everyone is familiar with the Biblical story (1 Kings 3: 22) of Solomon and the two women arguing over a baby," says Meaker. What is, however, interesting in that story is when the two women argue before the king: the one says: "The living is my son, and the dead is thy son"; to which the second woman replies "No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son." As it turned out, the second woman was lying.

"This one is a classic case of a person making a statement according to the importance they attached to people," Meaker says, "The second women's statement was not first that her baby was alive, but that the other woman's baby was dead, giving the game away for an experienced statement analyst."

Meaker believes that statement analysis is in fact more powerful than the polygraph test, as it tells not only when a person is lying, but also more specifically what that person is lying about and provides a lot of other information hidden intentionally.

"A polygraph is also very intrusive, whereas statement analysis can be done without the person under observation even being aware of the technique," he adds. In addition, there are physical issues with a polygraph: for example, if the person being tested has not eaten, the polygraph readings can be affected by the electrolytic activity in the body, and so on.

Benefits

The only pre-condition for statement analysis is that the words to be analysed - written or spoken - must be original from the person concerned, and not taken down by a third party. "You have to analyse the person's original statement, and not the way it has been interpreted or put into other words by another person," Meaker says.

There is, according to Meaker, an important maxim in statement analysis that is that everybody wants to tell everything to everyone else, even if sub-consciously. "We are designed to live in communities and be social animals, that is our nature," he says. "This comes out whether we like it or not, in the form of communication, and the way in which we communicate reveals far more than what we may actually want known. This has significant importance in so many places in our society; wherever you need to discover the truth or more of the truth, not just what someone is willing to reveal, you can benefit from the principles of statement analysis."

For more information, contact Howard Griffiths, 011 786 8556, howard@griffithsonline.co.za


  Share via Twitter   Share via LinkedIn      

Further reading:

  • ASIS Security Technology Concepts day
    April 2019, Technews Publishing, This Week's Editor's Pick, Security Services & Risk Management
    ASIS SA kicked the tyres of a few technologies at its first Security Technology Concepts day in February.
  • Securing a reliable source of backup power
    April 2019, Drensky Technologies, Mustek Security Technologies, Specialised Battery Systems, Security Services & Risk Management
    Dependence on a reliable and stable source of electrical power is a part of everyday life, whether for an individual or a business.
  • The value of having a maintenance contract or SLA
    April 2019, Johnson Controls, Mustek Security Technologies, Security Services & Risk Management
    A maintenance contract or SLA offers a company peace of mind regarding the functioning of their security installation.
  • Biodegradable security seals for SA
    April 2019, TruSeal, This Week's Editor's Pick, Asset Management, EAS, RFID, News, Security Services & Risk Management
    The new TruSeal product extension is produced from a special biodegradable material sourced from Malaysia.
  • CCTV operators’ duties to response personnel at crime scenes
    April 2019, Leaderware, This Week's Editor's Pick, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Security Services & Risk Management
    Control room operators often have a responsibility to monitor response scenes that go beyond the initial detection and response relationship.
  • Simplified surge protection for PoE cameras
    April 2019, BFR Digital, Security Services & Risk Management
    Traditionally the two most common causes of surge arrestors failing to do their job are sub-standard quality, and incorrect earthing.
  • Better energy savings than BMS
    April 2019, Johnson Controls, Integrated Solutions, Security Services & Risk Management
    Central plant optimisation software provides better energy savings than BMS control alone.
  • Hidden person detection
    April 2019, Flow Systems, Security Services & Risk Management
    The FSC HPD system detects any movement generated by a hidden person or persons in contact with the interior or cargo of a vehicle.
  • Making sure the lights don’t go out
    April 2019, Netshield, Security Services & Risk Management
    Based on the state of our current power grid system, load shedding has become a necessary evil as it reduces the risk of a national blackout that could take the country a week to recover from.
  • Gas to replace Eskom’s vapourware?
    April 2019, Security Services & Risk Management
    With Eskom’s unstable electricity supply and increasing tariffs, a handful of estates in Gauteng offer piped gas as an alternative energy source.
  • Is your data protected when the power fails?
    April 2019, Security Services & Risk Management
    It’s relatively easy to lose data due to a power outage, but it’s just as simple to protect it and ensure losses don’t occur.
  • Load shedding calls for essential genset maintenance
    April 2019, Security Services & Risk Management, Fire & Safety
    It is important that such important equipment is maintained properly and serviced regularly in order to be able to cope with extended electricity outages.

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory (HSBD)

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual
         
    Mobile | Classic

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.