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If you write a book, you have a right to lie. At least that’s what Lance Armstrong’s attorney’s say about his autobiographies. Lance Armstrong is being sued by his book publishers for $5 million dollars plus damages for the massive lies he wrote about in his books.
I find it very interesting that Armstrong’s attorney Jonathan Herman says “People don’t always have to tell the truth.” I guess it doesn’t matter that he duped the publishers and millions of readers in his books “It’s Not About the Bike” and “Every Second Counts.” The argument is that he didn’t fraudulently mislead anybody to buy his books through some form of false advertising campaign. The publisher’s attorney Kevin Roddy says “He cheated on bike races to sell books and he published books in order to cover up cheating. We think they are intertwined.”
I wonder if Armstrong’s attorney would be so cavalier about lying if it was a witness he was deposing? Would he be so generous if a witness lied on the witness stand? I guess as long as I feel “justified” in the situation I am authorized to lie. That’s the same logic people use with they commit all types of crimes, fraud, deception, even sabotage and espionage!
In my mind, this is just another example of Armstrong’s grossly over blown ego and that he can do anything he wants and can find ways to justify his actions. Lying, not matter the situation is ALWAYS done for selfish reasons. Even the little white lies we tell in social situations. What I worry about are the lies that are designed to “hide” a wrong, “hype” the image of oneself, or to “harm” another.
In my mind, chronic lying (hide, hype and harm) is a sign of a MAJOR character flaw on the part of the liar. It would be my opinion that Armstrong has some major character flaw issues!
Don’t you find it amazing that liars are so good at rationalizing and justifying their behavior? Isn’t amazing that some people go out of their way to enable these people to keep getting away with victimizing others?
I guess some people just prefer to be lied to because they hate hearing the truth as much as some people fear telling the truth.
Well … at least that’s my observation anyway.
Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”
One interview and interrogation training course is NOT a vaccination! Just because you took one course on the topic doesn’t mean you don’t need or won’t benefit from any more follow-up training. More often that not investigators and especially their administrators maintain the philosophy that once you take a course on interview and interrogation, you don’t really need any more training on the topic for the rest of your career.
The last 10 – 12 years has seen an enormous amount new research and legal rulings on interview and interrogation. To maintain a high level of proficiency and reduce personal legal liability, investigators should be constantly studying and researching interview and interrogation research as well as their particular field of expertise. A VERY large majority of the research has proven that many of our detection of deception techniques are absolutely wrong! Unfortunately misdiagnosis of deception signs is one of the leading causes of false confessions. Even more disturbing is how many people teaching interview and interrogation have been ignoring the empirical research and are responsible for continuing to perpetuate myths about deception and interrogation.
Questions the professional interviewer & interrogator should ask themselves -
- Am I dedicated to being the best in my field including my interview & interrogation skills? Am I a “virtuoso” in my field or am I just average?
- Am I spending 30 – 60 minutes per day reading about interview and interrogation or about my area of specialization?
- Have I ever spent the equivalent of the cost of a gourmet cup of coffee on educating and improving myself and my knowledge base?
- How long ago did I take any training or refresher training on interview & interrogation?
- Have I really looked at the true “source” of my interview and interrogation training? Is what I am being taught supported by empirical evidence or is it just anecdotal. As business expert Mark Sanborn wrote in his latest business book “Up, Down or Sideways,” despite popular belief “data is not the plural of anecdotal.”
- Am I learning for the future? The more you learn, the more you know what you are going to need to learn to be able to adapt to what you will encounter in the future.
If nothing else, there is one more VERY good reason to read, research and study our interview and interrogation skills. We dramatically improve our chances of success in the interview room and in the field.
Mark Sanborn wrote “The more you learn, the more you develop behavioral flexibility that provides you a distinct advantage over your competition.”
Interrogation techniques taught to investigators run the gamut of styles and philosophies. Certain styles have a higher tendency of showing up in false confessions cases. One of the characteristics of those flawed techniques is the use of false evidence as a tool to get the subject to confess.
There are numerous “problem” interrogation techniques that teach and support the use of false evidence to put pressure on the subject. Suspect techniques tend to also recommend tactics that include suggesting unnamed witnesses, the presence of surveillance cameras when none exist, DNA, fingerprints, footprints, making up file folders purportedly filled with evidence, labeling DVD’s of video tapes with the subject’s name and more. This is typical of high pressure interrogation methods which in and of themselves have a high correlation with false confession.
A documented tactic used by some problem interrogation methods that has been shown to have a very strong correlation to false confessions is the use of the high pressure tactic of suggesting that the subject has a memory problem. There is empirical evidence that one of several common denominators found in false confessions is referred to as “memory distrust syndrome.” In many of these cases the subject need not have a “high suggestibility rating” as described in extensive research on false confessions. Using high pressure tactics, guilt assumptive techniques dominated by leading questions, interrupting the subject, short answer questioning techniques, combined with the interviewer suggesting the subject may not be able to trust their memory is a deadly combination.
Empirical studies of interrogation techniques that capitalize on false evidence do promote false confessions. Such tactics will also contaminate the statements of uncooperative victim’s and witnesses.
Our law enforcement training academies and corporate loss prevention training associations would do well if they would familiarize themselves with the techniques that promote such tactics. They are exposing themselves, their academies, their investigators and their companies to the risk of liability by training their personnel in methods and interrogation techniques that are now being made illegal in many countries.
I think it’s time we paid more attention to the interrogation methods we teach. Are we just training our personnel in a technique because of the name or more importantly, are we really aware of the the moral and legal ethical problems that exist due to the content of the training.
Of course, this just my opinion on the topic.
One of the most persistent myths about signs of deception is that a break in eye contact is a sign of lying. NOTHING could be further from the truth. The sad part is that law enforcement academies keep shooting themselves in the foot by perpetuating the myth.
I recently read an article posted on PoliceOne.com (an excellent site I might add!) submitted with a title that screamed “The eyes have it: How to detect deception: If there is a #1 rule in the interpretation of non-verbal human behavior, it is to look for breaks in eye contact.” In my opinion the article was loaded with unsubstantiated declarations and anecdotal evidence as proof positive that breaks in eye contact are the number 1 sign of deception.
The sad thing is, the author trains not only law enforcement and criminal justice agencies as well as loss prevention and risk management professionals. He also professes that he teaches material suitable for “certification.” Based on the content of the article, it is obvious that he has never read single piece of social-psychological research because if he did he would learn that what he is professing “as an authority” is pure bogus myth. Conservatively speaking, there are now well over 30 plus articles outlining empirical evidence that refute his claim. Well… we should won’t want “science” the get in the way of our pre-conceptions!
In the meantime, interrogators and their agencies are being dragged into court for seriously flawed and contaminated victim and witness interviews and severely flawed interrogations including false confession cases. A good portion of the problem can be traced back to courses taught in our academies that espouse such unsubstantiated, disproven, baseless and scientifically inaccurate content that in my opinion borders on the side of negligence.
My message to academies to bring this type of crap into their training schedule should be more diligent about the content and the supporting documentation to avoid this type of drivel.
Of course, this is just my opinion but I would like to hear your point of view including your experiences with the same type of problem.
60 Minutes “False Confession Capital” airs tonight and will highlight the long trend of false confession cases that have plagued the Chicago area. This will be another black eye for law enforcement. It SHOULD be an alarm bell to agencies who continue to provide little or no training in interview & interrogation to their officers. The training they do get is riddled with myths, disproved concepts and techniques debunked long ago by multiple social psychological studies.
What is really perplexing to me is the excuses you hear for such interrogation disasters. Over the last 4 months I have read numerous accounts of false confession cases and here are the the most common excuses I hear from the police agencies (and also corporate loss prevention I might add… ATTENTION: A.S.I.S., A.C.F.E., Retail Industry – Loss Prevention Foundation, etc.).
1. “The interrogator used the technique wrong.”
2. “We don’t interrogate innocent people.”
3. “Innocent people don’t falsely confess.”
4. “The subject is responsible for false confessions.”
Here’s my conclusion to those stupid comments.
1. Then you must be “failing” as instructors of your technique.
2. Sounds like you have a pre-conception before you begin that the subject “has” to be guilty to begin with.
3. Right! And nobody has bought a time share they didn’t want.
4. You were in charge of the interrogation. If it goes wrong … YOU OWN IT!
FINALLY … let’s face it, the reason you keep having problems with the techniques you have been taught to use… THEY DON’T WORK! To keep training your investigators in the same flawed techniques and expecting different results is insanity.
Time to take a VERY serious look at the interrogation technique(s) taught to investigators that for decades have been identified as being “chronically” responsible for false confessions. The public deserves it, officers should demand it or just like Chicago, the courts and the Justice Department will be on YOUR back!
At least that’s the way I see it…