The following statement was posted on Facebook. When I saw it, it had 191k LIKES & 123k SHARES. It is a good example to breakdown using forensic statement analysis.
As it relates to deception detection, just because a lot of people are saying it doesn’t make it true.
You need multiple instances of incongruity before deeming a statement credible or not.
Some areas to look at in the statement:
- Coherence – does it make sense? Is it logistically impossible, e.g. puts a person at different places at the same time?
- Pronouns and verbs – are pronouns missing or distancing and are actions what you would expect in a given situation?;
- Detail – is there an appropriate amount of detail? Are some details very specific, but then some unusually vague?;
- Balance – is there a long set up but then the core or end of the story is abbreviated or ends abruptly?
Here’s the statement as it was posted:
Thursday night, I was sitting in my garage smoking a cigarette. Horrible habit, I know. 4 young men rushed me, decided they wanted my car, beat me up, and wanted my keys. I told them the keys were in the house. They decided to go in. What they weren’t expecting were my 2 80lb Pit Bulls. They are sweethearts and the kindest dogs you’ll ever know, but protect their home and owner with finesse. My beautiful babies charged these assholes and stood over me as I laid on the floor of my garage, forever protecting me. They are rescues. Unwanted dogs. They saved my life. Please consider adopting a rescue. They might save your life too.
He also posted a photo of a man with a shiner (one black eye) like one would get if he took an elbow during a basketball game. There were no other visible bruises, cuts, or marks.
Now let’s break down the statement using forensic statement analysis. It’s a review for credibility.
Thursday night, I was sitting in my garage smoking a cigarette. Horrible habit, I know.
**Proper sentence structure, pronouns, verbs. Likely true.
4 young men rushed me, decided they wanted my car, beat me up, and wanted my keys.
**Rushed, decided, beat, wanted. Rushed from where? Did he see them coming down the street? Four men walking together would be noticeable. Did he react? Yell? Try to go into the house? Or did they silently appear out of nowhere?
Decided and wanted are not proper verbs you would get in the midst of a harried, brutal crime being committed. How did he know they decided that? Did they insist or demand? Or just wanted the keys? Beat up how? Was there any weapon involved? Did they punch? Hit? Kick? Where? Why aren’t there any details of this brutal crime where he was rushed and beat up?
I told them the keys were in the house.
**Told? Willingly just told them? Reluctantly? Did he also tell them to stop beating him up? Or to leave his property? Or that he was calling the police? Or just told them keys are in the house?
They decided to go in.
**They rushed and beat him up but then just decided to go in? They decided to, but did they actually GO in? Or START to go in?
What they weren’t expecting were my 2 80lb Pit Bulls.
**Where were the dogs? In the garage? In the home? Were they not barking while four men rushed their owner in the garage?
They are sweethearts and the kindest dogs you’ll ever know, but protect their home and owner with finesse.
**But no barking? How does one protect with finesse?
My beautiful babies charged these assholes and stood over me as I laid on the floor of my garage, forever protecting me.
**Again, if the four men weren’t expecting the dogs, and didn’t hear them, were they in the house? If the dogs were in the garage with him, why didn’t he start the statement by saying he was in his garage with his dogs, smoking? If the dogs weren’t in the garage, then were they in the house the whole time?
If they were in the house, how could they charge “these assholes” who were beating him up in the garage? If the men went into the home and that’s where they met the dogs, how could the owner, who was lying in the garage after being beaten up see that the dogs were charging? But if the dogs are charging the men, how can the dogs also be standing over their owner in the garage?
Then what happened? Did they get the car? Did you call the police? Did the dogs bite the intruders? Did the neighbors hear? Where’s the end of the story?
These vs. those assholes. Articles are words that define a noun as specific or unspecific. Articles determine ownership vs. distance, and familiarity vs. stranger.
For example, if I said, “A man walked up to me.” That sounds like it’s a stranger, or random man, right? Whereas if I said, “The man walked up to me.” Then we can assume he’s someone I’ve seen or mentioned before. There has already been some familiarity with the specific man we’re talking about.
The same goes for These and Those. “These” are specific, definitive, close and familiar. “Those” is distant and stranger. If they were random men, you’d expect him to say those assholes.
They are rescues. Unwanted dogs. They saved my life. Please consider adopting a rescue. They might save your life too.
Conclusion: Most lies contain some truth. He does love his dogs very much and they are welcome family members in his home. However, the attack tale is not a credible statement. It is likely an attempt to counteract some negative opinions about taking in pit bulls as pets.
Performing is in Laurie’s DNA. Comedian Laurie Ayers first hit the stage in 1968 with her tutu and tap shoes and has been performing ever since, showcasing her various talents from dance, playing musical instruments, acting, keynote speaking, corporate, clean stand-up comedy and presently as a Phyllis Diller tribute artist.
If you’re looking for the professional lie detector or wedding officiant, this is the same person, uniquely qualified. Those links are at the bottom of this website.
Aleece Shaffer says
What Laurie has written gets the mind working, with the gears turning and the brain thinking. She breaks it down in small, easily digestible bits. Good information to take in and take with you!
Fakebook has become a platform for people to voice their lies, unpopular opinions, and all the BS that they are afraid to say to your face. He sounds like somene who is insecure and needs dogs just to walk to the store. Undoubtedly, he’s sick of all the negative press about pitbulls and is too cowardly to just make a simple stand for the dogs.
I like your analysis.
Laurie Ayers says
Thanks Aleece. I hope to open some eyes.
Laurie Ayers says
Agreed. It’s true that lies are everywhere but what saddens me, and perhaps why I’m so passionate about this subject is there are just so many people who blindly believe anything they see or read. It’s like PEOPLE, do some critical thinking!
A Fan says
I really appreciate these analysis pieces of online writings. I’d love to see more. I had an instance where a woman and her group of cronies aka “friends” each wrote some very long, and fishy hit pieces about someone in my family. Even I, with no training, read the stories and thought for one, they sounded way too similar with too many details that didn’t matter to be true, and two, a couple of “facts” they’d noted I was able to prove as false just by the timeframe they’d claimed and the situation.
These skills would be helpful for everyone to learn with more people resorting to smears and cancelling people they don’t like for dumb reasons online while the targets never get a chance to defend themselves. I was surprised at how many people took a random person’s word as the full truth without considering motivation or how it was strange the stories only came from a group of people who were all friends against another particular person in the social group. I wish people would resist the urge to dogpile on and have a grasp on critical thinking.
Also, notice that “he” never says where he lives or whether cops were called or whether the “young men” were arrested, etc. Totally bogus.
Laurie Ayers says
Good observation. Not only could you tell it didn’t sit right, but where there were missing information that didn’t balance with the rest of the tale.