If you haven’t been online or turned on a TV in a while you may not be aware there is a situation with the safety of the water in Flint, Michigan. You can do a quick internet search to learn specifics.
The Reader’s Digest version
In summary, in 2014 for cost cutting measures, officials switched where residents would get their water from Lake Huron over to the Flint River. As a result pipes corroded and residents ingested potentially dangerous amounts of lead. The water no longer comes from the river, yet the problem isn’t over. Task forces and countermeasures have been put in place and this story continues to evolve.
This situation has made national news and the big question now is when did state officials learn of this problem and did they do something about it quickly enough?
In this two minute interview you will see Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder, address what is being done and is asked when he first found out about the problem.
I performed a body language / content statement analysis on this interview to determine credibility. Parts of that analysis are below.
Before you watch the video, there are a couple of caveats. I have analyzed Governor Snyder before. I am well aware of his baseline. By baseline I am referring to how he normally communicates – as it relates to body language, nonverbal communication, word choice, vocal rhythm, speed, variety, pitch, tone verbal hedges and facial expressions.
If you did not know his baseline, one could mistakenly take some of his behaviors as potentially deceptive. For example, his baseline includes frequent use of the words “again” and “um.” He’s not always as fluid of a speaker as others may think he should be. My evaluation is that he speaks like he’s having a conversation with those asking the questions. He doesn’t generally provide rehearsed or canned responses.
The Governor often emphasizes with his eyebrows. He tends to break eye contact. It’s important to note that there is a great deal of false information about deception pertaining to eye contact and direction one looks being presented by self-professed “deception experts”. The eyes are not a reliable indicator of deception. Don’t read anything into his baseline behaviors. In deception detection, I look for changes in baseline.
Governor Snyder is credible in much of what he says during this Q&A. However, there are some spots that are worthy of addressing.
00:26 – 1:11 (Question: Have you specifically asked them to tell you what the State knew and when it knew it?) “Well I ax, asked, actually asked them to be (###1) as clear and open as they want to be. ‘Cause there are relatively … they’re a great group of individuals. And I said, “I want you to go find out what you want to find out. And (###2) make it clear, so we can get the facts here. And I said, again, “I’m really interested in the context of what recommendations we can say we can do better in. A ru..one that’s comes out of it, that, again, if you look at… this is the part I learned a lot. As you get into the details, is .. what is, we found is at the Federal or the State level is there is no requirements for schools to do really any testing. And I found that… I was amazed. To be open, I was surprised by that. ‘Cause I (###3) can’t believe… there should have been some requirement, for school testing, in some capacity.
People will use the word “actually” to emphasize something. The use of this word also indicates a person is comparing two thoughts. Consider the following question and answer.
Question: “Did you buy a new house?”
Answer: “Actually, I bought a new condo.”
In this above example, it is easy to see the person is comparing buying a house with buying a condo. Most of the time when people use the word “actually” you will be able to see what the person is comparing. When the word “actually” is used and no comparing statement has been extended we then have some undisclosed information. Sometimes you will be able to figure out what information the person is withholding. Perhaps it was in comparison to another statement he made to them instead.
###1 – watch body language. When he says he “asked them to be as clear and open as they want to be” he is shaking his head side to side in the negative motion. This indicates he may not agree with the words he is speaking. This happens again when he says, “they’re a great group of individuals.”
###2 – watch body language. His left shoulder shrugs when he’s talking about what he said to them go find out what they want to find out. A slight single shoulder shrug is an indicator of deception or of conflict between what is being spoken and what is being felt.
###3 – watch body language. By contrast, when he says he can’t believe there isn’t a requirement to test in school, he shrugs both shoulders. This is a universal gesture that suggests that you’re unsure about something or can’t believe it’s happening. Think about when you may shrug both shoulders simultaneously? Likely in response if asked “Why do you think so-and-so would do/say that?” Or “What do you want for dinner?” It’s a genuine, authentic gesture. This is a credible move, and one I would expect to see if he truly was baffled that there wasn’t a school requirement.
1:56 (Question about when he received the information) “Umm.. I .. I had the information that we started to see some trends (###4) but I can’t remember what that specific date is. And I (###5) in terms of the analysis of all the facts I view, (###6) I’m letting the after action r…group handle that.
###4 – single shoulder shrug (deception or conflict)
###5 – single shoulder shrug (deception or conflict)
###6 – single elbow juts out, this is the same as a single shoulder shrug (deception or conflict)
2:13 (Follow-up question if he remembered if it was before or after a specific time frame)”Again, I don’t want to speculate on things like that (###7). I just don’t (###8) recall.”
###7 – single shoulder shrug (deception or conflict)
###8 – single shoulder shrug (deception or conflict)
The word “just” is often used to minimize things. When the word “just” is used to minimize a person’s actions it is an indication more things transpired than what the person is telling us. For credibility, the shortest sentence is the best sentence. The word “just” is not needed in this sentence. He used the word “just” to minimize the innocence of his lack of memory. The use of the word “just” indicates he may know other things about the timeline. Because he knows when he was informed it caused him to unknowingly use the word “just.”
If you have an audio, video or written statement you’d like analyzed contact me so we can discuss how I can help.