Identifying Lies in Disguise.
According to Rudacille, the underlying theme of this book is that "people who must lie about certain issues, events, or circumstances in the context of a criminal investigation do so by using definable and recognizable grammatical [patterns]." While the author generally does a good job supporting this proposition, dense passages, unexplained abbreviations, and other "reader-unfriendly" elements make this book tough going at times.
Identifying Lies in Disguise is constructed around the author's study of 100 individuals involved in criminal investigations as victims, witnesses, or suspects. From 1989 to 1991, the author, a police polygraph examiner, collected spoken or written narratives to questions posed during the pretest interview phase of the polygraph examination. The study, which is included in the book, directly supports many of the conclusions the author has reached.
Anyone fascinated by language, sentence structure, or the liar's attempts at deception should enjoy the chapters on syntactical and grammatical clues to lying. Rudacille points out, for example, that liars often prefer the passive voice to the active voice, because it helps them distance themselves from the act under investigation. Those without zeal for language may find this section slow going, but the author gives numerous examples to illustrate the concepts and test the reader's understanding of the material.
Unfortunately, some of the book's presentation is confusing. In a number of instances the author refers the reader to previously mentioned information, leaving the reader to recall its location. The author also liberally sprinkles large words into the text, when a shorter, simpler word would do just fine. Another frustrating problem is the author's habitual use of unfamiliar abbreviations, which constantly forces the reader to decode the letters. These shortcuts significantly hamper the book's readability.
Substantively, the author's text analysis seems most applicable to the investigator with considerable time to devote to a single investigation. Transcribing an interview for analysis or obtaining a written narrative from a subject requires a significant investment of time and money. Thus, the techniques seem to be suited more to public law enforcement than to the private sector. The author notes, however, that the speed with which the technique can be applied increases with the user's experience.
The author attempts to apply the skills of content analysis to street interviews in a chapter entitled, "L. E. A. D. S. - Law Enforcement Awareness of Deception in Evasive Speech." The chapter is illustrated using the verbal clues provided by a transcript of the final minutes of a video-recorded street stop, which resulted in an officer's death. Like most of this book, the content and analysis in this chapter are sound but weighed down by leaden language.
While the author makes interesting points, the methodology he uses to identify deception must be questioned. Rudacille quantifies the probability of deception in written statements using a scoring technique derived from his research group of 100 subjects. The study's limited population makes such conclusions and scoring guidelines questionable. If these conclusions and scoring guidelines were supported by similar studies, Rudacille does not say so in his book. He does, however, list a series of relevant references used as background material for his work.
Identifying Lies in Disguise is a heavy read. For the most part, however, its content and analysis are sound. As one of the few books available on the topic of lies and their grammatical structure, this book is recommended to those with a professional interest in interviewing and deception.
Reviewer: David E. Zulawski, CFE (certified fraud examiner), is a partner in the investigative and interview training firm of Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc., Lombard, Illinois. He is a member of ASIS.
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|Author:||Zulawski, David E.|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Oct 1, 1995|
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