The Grice Club


The Grice Club

The club for all those whose members have no (other) club.

Is Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Griceian Interrogation


How to Interrogate Someone Griceianly?

Strike up a Griceian conversation first. 

Start with a neutral topic, like the weather, says H. P. Griceian, an English Oxford-educated and trained emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Disarm your interlocutor by being friendly, even . 

"Toby Keith wrote that country song, ‘I Wanna Talk About Me,’ " Grice says. "

"Keep that in mind: people like to talk about themselves."

Offer drink or food.

Once, while working a case with the Berkeley Police Department, the interviewee asked for a Filet-O-Fish. 

Grice bought him one, and he (the interviewee) relaxed, slipping into chattiness as he ate.

"That sandwich changed everything," Grice says.

Grice is a chief architect of the “cognitive interview,” an interrogation protocol used by the police internationally, "but originally at Oxford -- you know Oxonian tutees."

The aim is to get interviewees to divulge a full narrative. 

By asking them to recount fine-grain particulars, you maximize the amount of psychological energy they are expending on their story, thereby ratcheting up what Grice call their “psychological load.” 

As they try to reconstruct the circumstances leading up to the event in question, you can employ so-called extenders: “Really?” “Tell me more about that.” 

The police department at Oxford used to employ a more confession-oriented method with a distinctly parental tone (“I know you did it; now tell me why”). 

But Grice began asking if that approach leads to  confessions -- an anathema for a Kantian like Grice is.

The Griceian interviewer takes a different, more journalistic, more "implicaturallishly" approach, gathering as much information as possible.

Do this by posing open-ended, or what Grice calls “expansion,” queries. 

A truthful person usually answers a follow-up question with additional details. 

A liar tends to stick with the same, bare-bones answers. 

But don’t give too much credence to body language. 

Grice, who lectured on "Peirce's indexes" during an infamous Hilary term, has repeatedly shown that nonverbal behavior (averted eyes, folded arms, lip biting, fidgeting) does not reliably indicate deception. 

Instead, request the unexpected. 

Grice recommends asking someone to illustrate events with a pencil and paper or to retell the story starting at the end. 

A liar’s account will begin to break down. 

Spending the psychological processing power needed to keep a story straight, Grice says, "essentially puts them at the edge of their ability to function psychologically."

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