The house arrest was very small-pardon me for not remembering if it was 60 or 90 days.
Obviously, it's difficult to fathom that a person wouldn't be able to remember after just six years whether it was two months or three months that he was forced to wear an ankle device so that law enforcement authorities could track his whereabouts and ensure that he was home by 6:00 p.m. - it seems the duration of such a loss of freedom would be permanently etched in one's mind. Oddly, Latman did not specify the duration of his house arrest in his book. In any case, here's how we explain this deceptive behavior in our book:
We're certainly not at all suspicious of someone who's just a nice person. But if, in response to a question, a person suddenly increases the level of nicety, that's significant. Perhaps the person says, "Yes ma'am" in that particular response, but at no other time in the interview. Or a compliment might be injected during the response: "That's a great tie, by the way." The idea here is that the more we like someone, the more we're inclined to believe him and to shy away from confrontation. The person is using politeness as a means of promoting his likability.
(As an aside, another example of inappropriate level of politeness came later in the interview, when Latman made the comment, "I think there's a lot more here that would be very easy for an educated man like yourself to come to [more positive] conclusions [about].")
The second part of Latman's response exhibited what we call an "inappropriate level of concern." Latman downplayed his house arrest in comparison to whatever the ostensible norm is for a house arrest:
With house arrest, you still go to work, you still go pick your kids up, you still do all the normal process. It's just, essentially, an electronic curfew, if you will. And at least the way it was implemented with me, it certainly was not what you would typically think of as house arrest.
In "Spy the Lie," we explain this deceptive behavior this way:
If the facts are not a person's ally, he's put into a hole from which he needs to try to extricate himself. A person in this position doesn't have much going for him, so he might resort to a strategy of attempting to diminish the importance of the issue. Typically, he'll focus on either the issue or the process, and try to equalize the exchange by doing the questioning: "Why is this such a big deal?" or "Why is everybody worried about that?" The person might even attempt to joke about the issue, which can be especially inappropriate.
The line of questioning I pursued that bothered Latman the most had to do with the $1.5 million judgment from the lawsuit brought by the Washington state attorney general's office that he never paid. I tried several times during the course of the interview to get Latman to talk about his failure to pay the money, attempts that were repeatedly met with a glaring deceptive behavior: refusal to answer. When I initially asked him about the status of the judgment, this was his terse response:
You're going to have to ask the attorney general for that.
I immediately followed up with a second try: "I guess the point of the question is, do you have any intention to eventually pay it?"
That's something I can't comment on, unfortunately. You're going to have to ask the attorney general that one, and we'll certainly go from there.
Of course, the idea of asking the attorney general whether Latman intended to pay up is nonsensical, but nonsensical responses are common when the truth isn't your ally. Later in the interview came what might have been my toughest question of all: "What's your response to someone who says, if you can't be trusted to pay what you owe the people of Washington state, why should I trust you enough to do business with you?" Latman's response:
Yeah, I've never actually heard that. So if a customer were to say that, I'd be happy to address them privately on that. Again, anything related to the attorney general or that judgment would be branching out from the book, which is not what I'm trying to do here. Again, the book is pretty clear about what we're trying to set forward, and where we're trying to head. I'm not going to rehash things from 12, 13 years ago, it doesn't make much sense. It seems like your focus is a little bit towards Microworkz as a whole and not towards the lessons of the book, so I'm a little bit concerned as far as that's concerned. I want to make sure that the press and publicity we have around this book is revolving around what it takes to overcome obstacles, what it takes to learn a lesson from a failure.
I'll give you the same stock answer you've gotten every time you've brought it up, is that the book's purpose is not to rehash the past. The book's purpose is to move forward and help young entrepreneurs not make those same mistakes going forward.
The behaviors Latman exhibited in response to these questions are fascinating, because they mirror almost exactly a case we cited in "Spy the Lie." In that case, the author was the Tea Party's Christine O'Donnell, and the interviewer was CNN's Piers Morgan. Here's an excerpt from the section of the book in which we discuss "inconsistent statements" as a deceptive behavior:
Tea Party member and former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight on August 17, 2011, to promote her book, Troublemaker: Let's Do What It Takes To Make America Great Again. O'Donnell ultimately walked out before the interview was over because there were only certain parts of her book that she wanted to talk about, and Morgan refused to restrict his questioning to those parts. Here's a short excerpt from the exchange:
Morgan: So would you agree with Michele Bachmann that we should maybe [reinstate] Don't Ask Don't Tell, we should restore that?
O'Donnell: (laughs) I'm not talking about policies. I'm not running for office. Ask Michele Bachmann what she thinks. Ask the candidates who are running for office what they think.
Morgan: Why are you being so weird about this?
O'Donnell: I'm not being weird about this, Piers. I'm not running for office, I'm not promoting a legislative agenda. I'm promoting the policies that I lay out in the book that are mostly fiscal, that are mostly constitutional.
Within the span of two responses, then, O'Donnell said she was "not talking about policies" because she was "not running for office," and then said, "I'm promoting the policies that I lay out in the book that are mostly fiscal, that are mostly constitutional." She clearly couldn't have it both ways, and became entangled in a web from which she couldn't extricate herself without simply walking out.
Once again, hold that thought. We also cited this interview in the section on "attack behavior" as a deceptive indicator. Here's an excerpt:
Well into the interview, Morgan cited a 1996 MTV documentary in which O'Donnell spoke out against masturbation, and he asked her if her views on the matter had changed since then. O'Donnell, who was in a remote studio for the interview, responded that she had addressed the documentary in her book and had explained why she had raised the issue publicly at that point in her life. Morgan referred to other statements O'Donnell had made about abstinence and lust, and used the matter as a segue into a discussion of gay marriage and Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Let's pick up the exchange at that point, and highlight the attack behaviors:
Morgan: It's a natural extension to ask you, for example, a very relevant question for any politician
O'Donnell (interrupting): I address it all in the book.
O'Donnell is already squarely in attack mode. The interruption aims to prevent Morgan from getting the question out on the table. This discourteous behavior constitutes an attack on Morgan and the interview strategy and process he is attempting to execute. It strongly suggests that O'Donnell fears Morgan's question will put her in serious harm's way from a political standpoint. As a result, she tries to seize control of the interview and send Morgan a message that she will dictate what is discussed.
Morgan: What is your view of gay marriage, for example?
O'Donnell: I address that stuff in the book. I'm here to talk about
Morgan (interrupting): You're on here to promote the damn book, so you can't keep saying, "It's all in the book." You've got to repeat some of it.
O'Donnell: I'm here to talk about the book.
Morgan: Yes, I'm talking about the book. You keep saying, "It's all in the book," so tell me what's in the book.
O'Donnell: Why don't you ask me questions about what I say in the chapter called "Our Follower in Chief" where I criticize Barack Obama? Why don't we talk about
Morgan: Because right now I'm curious about whether you support gay marriage.
O'Donnell: You're borderline being a little bit rude, you know? I obviously
O'Donnell: I obviously want to talk about the issues that I choose to talk about in the book.
At this point in the exchange, O'Donnell has launched a direct attack on Morgan by branding him as "rude." At the same time, her statement that "I'm here to talk about the book" is glaringly inconsistent with her previous responses, in which she refuses to talk about issues that she acknowledges are in the book. In the face of Morgan's persistence on the gay marriage issue, O'Donnell is forced to backtrack and insist on discussing only the issues of her choosing.
Now, in Latman's case, the inconsistency lay in the fact that the entire foundation of his book, what enabled him to write about the lessons he learned, was what happened in his life in the late 1990s. The "good fail" itself, around which he wrote the book, occurred at that time. And yet since the truth wasn't his ally, in response to my questions he felt compelled to make statements that were completely inconsistent with those facts: "Again, the book is pretty clear about what we're trying to set forward, and where we're trying to head. I'm not going to rehash things from 12, 13 years ago, it doesn't make much sense" and "I'll give you the same stock answer you've gotten every time you've brought it up, is that the book's purpose is not to rehash the past." It's worth noting that the first 90 pages of Latman's 153-page book were nothing but a rehash of the past, up to the point of his bankruptcy filing.
The attack behavior in Latman's case was very mild, but it still falls into this behavioral-analysis category: "It seems like your focus is a little bit towards Microworkz as a whole and not towards the lessons of the book, so I'm a little bit concerned as far as that's concerned." Latman was essentially questioning my understanding of what's relevant and impugning my judgment in choosing to focus on Microworkz, as a means of getting me to back off from what I was asking.
I'll end the behavioral analysis there. In a subsequent post, I'll share more of what Latman had to say, including what I finally extracted from him - expressed in terms of what he called "hypotheticals" - about his failure to pay the $1.5 million he owes the state of Washington.