Can we accurately read someone’s body language to gain access to their innermost thoughts? Andrew Gold joins us on this Skeptical Sunday to find out!
On This Week’s Skeptical Sunday, We Discuss:
- Body language research has found that indicators of deception may include eye movements, blinking, posture shifts, and word choice, but these cues can vary widely and require careful consideration.
- Body language can be influenced by various factors, making it challenging to precisely interpret.
- The use of body language by experts like the FBI involves observing consistent patterns in a suspect’s behavior over time.
- While body language offers insights, it is not foolproof, and understanding context and individual differences is crucial for accurate interpretation.
- The case of Amanda Knox — exonerated after spending four years in Italian custody — highlights the dangers of relying solely on body language as evidence of guilt.
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. If you have something you’d like us to tackle here on Skeptical Sunday, drop Jordan a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know!
- Connect with Andrew Gold on Twitter and Instagram, and check out On the Edge with Andrew Gold here or wherever you enjoy listening to fine podcasts!
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Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss our conversation with FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss? Catch up with episode 165: Chris Voss | Negotiate as If Your Life Depended on It here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- The Tempest | Folger Shakespeare Library
- Amanda Knox | The Truth About True Crime | Jordan Harbinger
- 48 Hours of Total Isolation | BBC
- “Facecrime” Excerpt | 1984 by George Orwell
- 1984 by George Orwell | Amazon
- Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell | Amazon
- Malcolm Gladwell | What We Should Know about Talking to Strangers | Jordan Harbinger
- Malcolm Gladwell | Imperfect Puzzles and Mismatched Demeanors | Jordan Harbinger
- Friends | Prime Video
- Truth-Default Theory | Timothy R. Levine
- Duped: Truth-Default Theory and the Social Science of Lying and Deception by Timothy R. Levine | Amazon
- David Lieberman | Deciphering What People Really Want | Jordan Harbinger
- Mindreader: The New Science of Deciphering What People Really Think, What They Really Want, and Who They Really Are by David J. Lieberman, PhD | Amazon
- “Did You Know That a Gameboy Can Be Used as a Polygraph?” | Unstructured, Twitter
- The Behavior Panel | YouTube
- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Netflix Deal: How Much Is It Worth and What Are Its Biggest Revelations? | Hello!
- Mandatory Polygraph Tests Fact Sheet | GOV.UK
- Cuban Spy Passed Polygraph at Least Once | The Miami Herald
- Chris Watts: 4 Body Language Gestures That Revealed Killer Dad’s Guilt | News.com.au
- Joe Navarro | How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People | Jordan Harbinger
- The Dictionary of Body Language: A Field Guide to Human Behavior by Joe Navarro | Amazon
- Former FBI Agent Explains How to Read Body Language | Wired
- Neuroscience: ‘I Built a Brain Decoder’ | BBC Future
- Jack Gallant: Brain Mapping, Brain Decoding, and Future Neurotechnology | BrainMind Summit
- Marvin Chun: Reading Minds | TEDxYale
- Yale Professor Explains How Scientists Can Now Read Minds with Scanners | OTE Podcast #130
- Minority Report | Prime Video
- You Can Tell Someone’s Lying to You by Watching Their Face — Here Are 11 Dead Giveaways | Business Insider
- How to Spot Lies Like the FBI by Mark Bouton | Amazon
- Jacques Lacan | Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- The Deepest Secret | Lacan Online
878: Body Language | Skeptical Sunday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Airbnb for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. Maybe you've stayed at an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Yeah, this actually seems pretty doable, maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. Find out how much your place is worth at airbnb.com/host.
[00:00:22] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger, and this is Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where journalist and podcaster Andrew Gold and I will break down a topic you may have never thought about, open things up and debunk some common misconceptions, topics such as why the Olympics are kind of a sham, why expiration dates are nonsense, why tipping makes no sense, recycling, banned foods, toothpaste, chemtrails, and a whole lot more.
[00:00:45] Normally, on The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers. And if you're new to the show, or you want to tell your friends about the show, the episode starter packs are a great place to do this. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic that'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on this show. Topics like persuasion, influence, disinformation, cyber warfare, China, North Korea, abnormal psychology, crime, and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or take a look in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:29] Today, on this episode of Skeptical Sunday, podcaster Andrew Gold and I will be looking at, with our skeptical hats on of course, into the kind of detection that has taken the internet by storm — body language. Speaking of which, you're looking a little shifty over there, Andrew. I don't know.
[00:01:44] Andrew Gold: Perhaps it's a sign I'm nervous to be in the presence of greatness.
[00:01:48] Jordan Harbinger: Or you just have bad posture. Or you're tired. Or you're cold. Or your chair isn't the right height. Or you ate something weird for lunch. And that's the thing with body language. We're all familiar with that age-old movie trope where the Detective Columbo or whoever, notices that a suspect is looking a little suspect. And they look up, or they look down, or they stammer when they speak. And that helps the detective recognize that they're immediately a villain and they're obviously guilty. But is that even remotely close to real life?
[00:02:17] Andrew Gold: I'm pleased you picked up on the television tropes because I think that's part of where this all comes from. In TV shows, and especially in the theatre plays that preceded them, it's vital that the audience know what's going on in the minds of the characters. Imagine one of Shakespeare's plays at the Globe Theatre hundreds of years ago. How does an actor communicate subtle, hidden feelings to a spectator at the back of the standing section, while the audience around them guffaw and shout, and tempestuous rain drenches them?
[00:02:47] Jordan Harbinger: So, here's what I didn't understand. Usually, I'm with you, because we both speak English. I mean, you speak English. But, why would you get wet while watching a play?
[00:02:56] Andrew Gold: Yeah, you'd think they'd build a roof, wouldn't they? But it's open air, the Globe.
[00:03:00] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. I'm like, why would you do that? Especially in England. It's not, hey, we never get rain here.
[00:03:05] Andrew Gold: It's terrible. I mean, the plays go ahead in rain or snow, which, fair play to the actors. They really go for it or did go for it within Shakespeare's time. The Globe Theatre is not around anymore, but a reconstruction of it on its old site called the Globe Theatre is there, and they still put on plays. And I got absolutely soaked when I went, and ironically, we were watching The Tempest, so we all had a good laugh about that.
[00:03:27] Jordan Harbinger: That's like those IMAX movies where they spray you with water and they're like, "Ooh, it's so realistic," and you're like, "Actually, I could use less realism right now." Also, imagine you're getting casted for that and they're like, "There's nudity. Are you okay with that?" And you're like, "It's not the nudity. It's the fact that it's going to be 30 degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celsius or thereabouts. That's the part that bothers me. That's why I don't want to be naked in this play."
[00:03:49] Andrew Gold: I had an issue like that playing soccer the other day because we didn't have different colored shirts, so I said let's take our tops off and it was but it was raining and no one wanted to do it. And then I insisted and I looked a bit strange because I was insisting so much that everybody take their tops off. So that was a similar experience.
[00:04:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, we call it shirts and skins. Andrew's really into the skins thing. Wait, is he married, that guy? He's engaged what to a woman though? Because he's a little pushy with the skins thing here.
[00:04:12] Andrew Gold: Yeah, I know the worst part was I was finally convincing everyone to come around to my idea. Because you don't want to play when you can't see who's on your team. So I took my t-shirt off and I was like, "Come on, guys. Let's do it." As I did that, the guy who had the bibs that you wear arrived in that moment. So I was the only one with my top off and everyone was like, "Oh, the bibs are here." And I looked like a complete plonker.
[00:04:30] Jordan Harbinger: Plonker is a word I'm definitely going to use. All right, you're getting soaked. It's very apropos because Tempest is a storm. I get it. It's very clever.
[00:04:38] Andrew Gold: Yeah, big storm. Anyway, look, it was important in those days, the Shakespeare days, to make characters' feelings known to the spectators. Shakespeare's plays were all about the audience knowing more than the other characters because that confusion created humor and tension on stage the fact that the characters are confused about each other, but we know what's going on. It's something we call dramatic irony and it's where much of the humor in TV and stage comes from today. So, to do this, Shakespeare often resorted to soliloquies, which are these weird monologues where suddenly the rest of the cast can't seem to hear them, but the audience, us, we can hear what they're saying, so we get their inner thoughts.
[00:05:14] But soliloquies are a bit old hat, and seen as a bit of a cheat by modern standards. So instead, we expect characters on TV today to betray emotions, such as guilt or jealousy, through subtle but visible downtrodden looks, sunken eyes, what we'd call facial dialogue. As well as body language, a character that we're supposed to see as defensive might cross their arms. A nervous character might keep their hands in their pockets and shuffle their feet as they walk.
[00:05:41] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so I remember learning about soliloquies, I think, in middle school and we had to write one and then we went to see a play and it's like the lights go down and there's a spotlight on the character and he turns to the audience and he goes, "But do I really want to do this? If I do this, then that will happen. But if I do this other thing, then this other thing will happen." And it's really obvious, and you don't do that now. Now, poorly written movies have, what do they call it, exposition, where the character walks in and goes, "Tom, why are you here? I thought your brother was in the hospital from nearly dying in an accident the other day, and you were supposed to be gone, and no one would be in the office. Why are you here all alone?" And you're like, "Okay, whoever wrote this is not a good screenwriter, and they deserve to be fired." And if the real world looked anything like this, it would be really easy to catch somebody in a lie because of the body language stuff, right? The overacting. It would be like, "Where were you?" Looks down, starts biting nails and says, "Nowhere, boss. Why are you asking me these questions?" And you'd be like, okay, this person is up to something.
[00:06:37] Andrew Gold: Did you ever see that film, The Room?
[00:06:39] Jordan Harbinger: The worst movie ever, I think it's known as.
[00:06:41] Andrew Gold: Yeah. Well, you were just explaining—
[00:06:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's terrible.
[00:06:43] Andrew Gold: —reminding me of it, the exposition. "Hi, Mark. What are you doing there?" And they had the whole exposition stuff because exactly, they didn't use body signals and stuff. Also, Jordan, we've got to get hold of this soliloquy that you wrote. Was it like a teenage angst thing filled with emotion and stuff?
[00:06:57] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I don't even think it was that good. I wish I could remember it, but I'm sure it was based on characters that we had to create it. It was probably mostly what I just gave as the example, really crappy dialogue. Something that makes absolutely no sense. Jordan, where's your dog? I don't know. I was walking him the other day. Oh my gosh, my dog could have run away. The other day, all these things happened that we don't have time to do in the play, but I need to tell the audience. Nothing is lost due to that soliloquy ending up in what is now the recycle bin.
[00:07:27] Andrew Gold: I think a lot is lost. A lot is lost. Obviously, the most famous soliloquy would be To Be or Not To Be, of course, where Hamlet is weighing up whether to act on the death of his father or the murder of his father. But the fact that we are smart enough to notice and understand the facial dialogue and body language in TV scenes means that, as you point out, we are also smart enough to hide those signs in our own behavior from other people.
[00:07:50] Jordan Harbinger: Or at least try to, right? Because guilty people on TV, they look shifty, they don't hold eye contact, they look away, they hop from one leg to another, sometimes they tremble or they stutter, and I noticed that. So if I'm trying to hide my guilt, I'm like, all right, eye contact, firm handshake, look him straight in the eye, shoulders back, look confident. I didn't do that, obviously, criminal thing. And I remember lying to my principal in middle school about something, and she actually told another kid that she didn't think it was me because I looked her in the eye and I looked confident when I was talking like, I'm so good at lying but she was just terrible.
[00:08:27] Andrew Gold: That's amazing, because I've heard you say as well, and I really relate to you when you say this, that it's very difficult for you to lie, because you do get a bit flustered now as an adult, and flushed, and red faced, which, even when I'm telling the truth, I'll go really red and sweaty and think, God, they must think I'm lying.
[00:08:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'm a terrible liar now, but when I was a kid, I don't know if I was a good liar, I think I just practiced more, whereas as an adult, I'm like, I'm eventually going to get caught, I should probably just be like, you know what, I did that, I shouldn't have done that. I'm also not committing crimes now. Back then, eh, I was. No way to sugarcoat that.
[00:09:00] Andrew Gold: I know about you, Jordan.
[00:09:01] Jordan Harbinger: That's right.
[00:09:02] Andrew Gold: I know what you've been getting up to. But you're right, yeah, as an adult, probably best just not to commit crimes. But when we do, humans are pretty skilled at using the basics, as you say, look someone in the eye and that kind of thing, to cover it. So those TV shows pretty much give us instructions on exactly what not to do, how not to look if you want to get away with something. So we mustn't rely on body language to tell us who is guilty or innocent. Some people cross their arms because they find that comfortable, not because they're being defensive. As it happens, the victim of one of the worst cases of overreliance on body language has been on both of our podcasts.
[00:09:36] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, okay. Amanda Knox, right? She comes home to find her roommate has been murdered in Italy. Police find evidence of DNA matching a known burglar in the area all over the victim's room. But then, they decide that Amanda is the culprit, this random 20-year-old girl who's never done anything in her life. And that's episode 386, by the way. Tell us what you think because it's obviously insane, in my opinion.
[00:09:59] Andrew Gold: Yeah, it seems mad looking back. Although still, whenever I speak about the case, I get a lot of hate mail from people assuming that suggesting it wasn't Amanda means that I don't care about the victim, which couldn't be further from the truth. It's just that we just want to make sure that the right person gets put in prison.
[00:10:15] Jordan Harbinger: I actually get a lot of that as well. I get a lot of kooks in the inbox, still on the comments on the YouTube video. Don't even get me started, but they say things like, you've been hoodwinked by the mainstream media. She's a persuasive faker of all things non-verbal and they cite some strange evidence, usually that they've made up or that they found on an Internet forum, implying Amanda was let off on some technicality of high court Italian law and is actually guilty but simply has everybody fooled. I would suppose that finding a culprit and putting someone in prison probably makes us all feel better about the murder like we cracked the case, but an innocent person in prison is actually just another tragedy that you can add to the first one, especially she was 20 and she was in Italian prison for a long time, if memory serves.
[00:11:01] Andrew Gold: Yeah, four years—
[00:11:02] Jordan Harbinger: Geez.
[00:11:02] Andrew Gold: —in an Italian prison. That may not be as bad as losing a life and being brutally murdered, but it's far worse than anything that most of us will ever have to endure. To give a bit of context, Amanda Knox was a 20-year-old American exchange student in Perugia, Italy. Her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Solicito, and her came home one day to find her housemate Meredith Kercher's door locked, and it emerged that she had been brutally murdered. I took a keen interest in the case at the time because Meredith was about my age and was studying at the same host college university as me, Leeds University, and we both took years abroad. I went to France and she went to Italy, and she never came back, and it was tragic for her family and everyone in her orbit. But of course, that doesn't mean that locking Amanda and her boyfriend up for four years in an Italian prison was anything but an atrocious miscarriage of justice.
[00:11:53] Jordan Harbinger: So remind me, what was it initially about her that made police decide she was the culprit? Because there's circumstantial evidence, but I remember there was a lot of, ooh, normally at a murder, you'd never react in this way. And she was canoodling with her boyfriend at the murder scene, which is a little bit like, why would you do that? But it's also not like you definitely murdered this person.
[00:12:12] Andrew Gold: Yeah, a lot of it came from the press, as well as an Italian detective desperate to find the murderer. And the story of Amanda made headlines around the world because she was a young, attractive, intelligent, and ambitious woman, and there were suggestions Meredith might have been murdered in a sex game. In a sense, the story got so big because she was so atypical as a murder suspect, and because of misogyny in the media. It looks like the case's prosecutors got a little too mixed up in the sensationalism of the whole thing. So while the tabloids printed stories that painted Amanda as a sex-obsessed lunatic, prosecutors did all they could to make every move she made fit that narrative, confirmation bias. So she's caught buying red lingerie the day after the murder. It looks suspicious, like she really is this sex-crazed devil, but she just needed new underwear because she wasn't able to access her clothes at the crime scene. It had all been cordoned off.
[00:13:07] Jordan Harbinger: Sure, that makes sense, yeah.
[00:13:08] Andrew Gold: Yeah, she's seen, as you say, kissing her boyfriend outside the house the morning after the murder. And again, this is seen as a sign she's like a Randy psychopath. And I remember at the time feeling sad about Meredith's murder, and seeing that kiss through the prism of the newspaper stories. And I thought it was really odd behavior from Amanda. But now, I'm a lot older, and I just see a scared young woman, as you say, 20 years old, and a scared young man comforting one another, totally unprepared for how their lives were about to change forever.
[00:13:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I remember thinking it's weird and I remember the headline's Foxy Noxy which I talked to her about on the podcast and I guess foxy in English is more like wily. Oh, she's a little bit, we would say squirrely maybe. Whereas in American English it means sexy, so I guess it works both ways, but I would imagine if you are in another country, if somebody around you gets murdered, you're going to gravitate towards the person who speaks the language of the country that you're in and that was this boyfriend. And so it's, yeah, I'm going to cling to anybody who's going to give me a little bit of comfort at that time, especially because that could have been me if I hadn't been over at that person's house getting my shag on or whatever they were doing. So, it seems as though she was shell shocked, like she was walking in a bit of a daze, but from the TV shows, we really do expect a different reaction. We want her to be down on her knees, screaming at the sky, visibly distraught in a very visceral way. That's obvious. And it's okay. We're just not satisfied by her looking really tired and gazing off into the distance, totally zoned out. So we want to punish her for that.
[00:14:40] Andrew Gold: Yeah, absolutely. And I think Malcolm Gladwell who wrote about this, that Foxy Noxy developed as her soccer nickname because she was wily like she was really fast when she played soccer and she was like quick on that So they called her Foxy Noxy for that reason and then, it was taken by the press to mean this sort of sexy kind of thing but we are in this case the Shakespearean audience and the character isn't acting how we expect. And that makes us mad and I think she was in a daze. She even told me on my podcast that she has a tendency to get very deer in the headlights. There's so much that went wrong in that case. The Italian authorities put her in a cell for hours and hours with nothing to do.
[00:15:19] Now, they've done experiments where people try to sit alone in a room for a prolonged amount of time. And people give up. They can't do it. Even if there's a lot of money they can win by staying in a room for quite a few days on their own. People find that really hard. She's doing yoga to pass the time. She's stretching. She didn't do the murder. Why shouldn't she stretch and keep active? A guard walks in and decides that she's doing cartwheels. And then this goes down as further evidence of her bizarre body behavior. She's now celebrating the murder in her cell.
[00:15:49] Jordan Harbinger: All of these things, the lingerie, the kissing, the supposed cartwheels, they all really had good explanations, but what if there weren't any? What if she was a sex-crazed foxy noxy, if she just doesn't care about the murder, she wanted new lingerie, screw it, and she was cartwheeling because she didn't give a crap? That's not great, but it's also not evidence that she actually murdered somebody. Not really.
[00:16:13] Andrew Gold: No, and that's the crux of it. We're so influenced by what we see on TV that we sometimes find it hard to accept that people just act differently and weirdly and not how you expect them to. You have a right to not care about the murder of a person you didn't know very well. Sure, the people in your vicinity might judge you for that and might be a bit wary of you, but we don't put people in prison for not having the right levels of empathy or the right reactions. We put them in prison because we have substantial evidence that they committed a serious crime. If I may paraphrase a line from George Orwell's 1984, "To wear an improper expression on your face was itself a punishable offence." There was even a word for it, face crime.
[00:16:54] Jordan Harbinger: Face crime, sounds like an app that you would use on your iPhone to do things that are illegal. We have to be careful to control that urge to punish people based on face crime trademark.
[00:17:06] Andrew Gold: Yes. In Malcolm Gladwell, as I mentioned, his book, Talking to Strangers, he has a whole chapter on the whole Amanda Knox saga, and he speaks of a theory of matched and mismatched people based on the work of communications Professor Tim Levine. The idea is that some people are matched. That means that their body behavior tends to correspond with their inner dialogue, what they're thinking, but others are mismatched. Their body language is different to how we might expect, given what they are secretly thinking. So going back to that TV theme, Gladwell considers Friends to be a perfect example of matched characters. He notes that Phoebe's jaw drops when she is surprised. Her eyes go wide, her eyebrows go up.
[00:17:45] So Gladwell gets a psychologist called Jennifer Fugate, an expert in facial action coding system, to watch Friends and apply numbers that correspond with each facial action to get a sense of how transparent they are. So they've got all these different numbers for every single gesture and smile and smirk that your face and your eyes and your mouth can make. She concludes, of course, that Friends is very transparent. And that you could watch an episode on mute and get a good sense of the plot. You can know what's going on without the volume. Gladwell also believes that Amanda Knox was singled out for being mismatched. The press continued to portray her as cold and calculating and not remorseful. But as Gladwell points out, why should she be remorseful if she didn't do the murder?
[00:18:32] Jordan Harbinger: You know what's not just Internet hype that makes you annoying at parties? The fine products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
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[00:21:17] Now, back to Skeptical Sunday.
[00:21:20] Yeah, I think Malcolm and I talked about this a bit in episode 256 a while back. So it seems that body language can lead us into all kinds of traps if we rely on it too heavily, but can it actually be helpful in catching criminals as well?
[00:21:35] Andrew Gold: Here's one statistic around its limitation. The National Registry of Exonerations estimates between two percent and 10 percent of individuals in US prisons are innocent.
[00:21:44] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yikes. That's a lot.
[00:21:46] Andrew Gold: I mean, even just one person is a travesty. So between 46,000 and 230,000 innocent people currently serve in prison terms. If detectives and judges could ascertain a lot from body language, then no innocent person would ever see the inside of a prison cell. But communications professor, Tim Levine, that I mentioned earlier, he does experiments where he sets students a trivia test with a cash prize. He assigns them a partner, but the partner is actually working for Tim, unbeknown to the students. Halfway through the test, the instructor leaves the room. And the partner who is working off of a script suggests that the student cheat at the test with them. 30 percent of the people doing this test decide to cheat for the cash prize. Now, afterwards, Levine interviews them to see if they'll admit to cheating. Now, Malcolm Gladwell spent a day watching these videos and said he had absolutely no idea from watching the videos which of the students were honest about whether they cheated and which were hiding something. Levine showed the videos to many other people to see if they could guess correctly and people guessed rightly on average, 56 percent of the time.
[00:22:52] Jordan Harbinger: So a little more than a coin toss, right? And maybe that no innocent person would ever see the inside of a prison cell because there's all these weird incentives and sometimes police or prosecutors are just like, "I don't care if he's guilty or not, let's throw him in prison because I got to up my percentage or I don't like the guy." Being able to tell if somebody was guilty It's a little bit more than a coin toss, fine. So it seems like body language maybe has a tiny, minute, almost influence. Maybe it gives away something. But wait a minute, these were not actually experts who were judging. They were just Malcolm Gladwell and a bunch of other people like me just sitting there watching videos. Did Tim Levine actually get experts to look at these same videos?
[00:23:28] Andrew Gold: Yes, he got police, officers, judges, therapists, people in all different lines of professional work, but the accuracy didn't improve at all.
[00:23:37] Jordan Harbinger: That's because he didn't have anybody who's been watching a crap load of YouTube look at this. Have you met the YouTube body language experts? They would have nailed this, 97 out of 100.
[00:23:46] Andrew Gold: They would have got it in a second, but they weren't there. Those are the only experts that would have gotten it immediately. But the apparent experts, aside from the YouTube experts, are no better than the general public, despite what those TV shows and YouTube channels about detectives and all these things with a knack for knowing might want us to believe.
[00:24:03] Jordan Harbinger: Just for those who are maybe not able to pick up on the sarcasm here, the YouTube body language expert is not actually an expert in anything. Okay, so does that mean that the concept of body language needs to be entirely scrapped?
[00:24:16] Andrew Gold: As you said, 56 percent is better than a coin toss, although other researchers have found it more like 54 percent, so we're getting a little bit lower there. I think that slight advantage can give detectives clues about lines of questioning to pursue. Former Guantanamo Bay interrogator, Lena Sisco, did this pretty effectively. She used to hook prisoners up to a lie detector, except it wasn't even a real lie detector, it was just an old Game Boy. She would draw up potential terrorist plots on a whiteboard and point to certain theories before asking the prisoner to give a yes or a no answer. She took clues from the body language of the prisoners to ascertain whether they might be lying. And then she manually made the Game Boy light up whenever she suspected that the information they had given was false. She said it was remarkably effective because prisoners, believing they had been caught in a lie, then went on to spill the beans.
[00:25:10] Jordan Harbinger: So that's quite impressive. It's a nice little deception there. So it feels like you're debunking body language as something that we can really rely on, but it can come in handy, which reminds me on episode 773 with human behavior expert, Dr. David Lieberman, he said you gather facts and then you introduce a piece of evidence that's not true, but could maybe be true, and then you watch how your suspect handles it. So his example was, "Oh, there's a water main break and traffic was backed up for hours. It must have taken you a while to get out and maybe that's why you're late or weren't there." And then, the suspect has a big problem because if they weren't there in the traffic jam, they won't know how to respond. So they're going to have to guess, but they'll do the one thing that everybody lying about a story does, which is hesitate.
[00:25:59] Andrew Gold: Yeah, I think that's pretty similar to what the Guantanamo detective was doing as well. So body language is most powerful when you're in control of the situation when you can introduce surprising elements and catch people off guard. Then, having monitored the suspect beforehand, you might spot subtle differences that allow you to continue down a certain path and catch them in a lie. But body language in and of itself, I think, is overestimated in society. I think the reason I wanted to cast a skeptical eye over it is because it has become such a huge part of our culture now. Celebrity gossip columns are filled with so-called body behavior analysts. We talk about Meghan Markle and how she might have looked at Harry a certain way all the time.
[00:26:41] I have people emailing me all the time to suggest that my guests were lying on the podcast because they looked to the left or to the right and that was the creative side of the brain or something like that. So it means that they were fabricating events and it's like you don't even know which way the camera is mirrored. So they were probably looking in the opposite direction to what you think they were. So that's just total nonsense.
[00:27:03] Jordan Harbinger: I remember a former friend of mine was like really into this. I think it was called eye-accessing cues. And it's, ooh, up and to the right, you're creating something in your brain, but then you looked left, so you're using your logical faculties to create the story, and then you go back upright because you're creating the next part of the story. And it's just such a complete load of crap. And oh, he did it the opposite way because he's left-handed, so his brain halves are now switched, and it's like, what are you frigging talking about? And I get this stuff too, either because I looked up or down or left or right, or the guest did. And yeah, it happened a ton with Amanda Knox. They were saying, "Oh, she's looking upward all the time." She was seated really close to, I think, an iMac, which has the camera at the top of the computer. And so she's looking up at the screen and then she would look up at the camera and then be like screw it I'm going to look at Jordan because he's on the screen and they're just going, "Oh, wait, look at her eyes moving in this very unnatural way." And the reason she was seated that way is because we needed better lighting we needed her to be in a weird room with better acoustics so she put the computer up on a shelf and the shelf wasn't where she normally worked. It's just all of this is, of course, lost on the self-appointed body language experts who decided that she was just making everything up you because of her eyes, because of her body language. And also, bear in mind this is edited, so like, some stuff is take two, and she's just saying it differently. "Look how relaxed she was when she said this, and how not relaxed she was when she said that." She had to say that four times because the Internet wasn't working. It's just complete BS.
[00:28:26] Andrew Gold: What I conclude from that is that Amanda Knox needs to invest in a teleprompter.
[00:28:30] Jordan Harbinger: I think that's not a bad idea. Or like some acoustic panels for the room that she's comfortable in.
[00:28:34] Andrew Gold: When I spoke to her she did have all that. And it might have been after you did. So I think she does have it all. Some success has come from this.
[00:28:40] Jordan Harbinger: To cover up her lies.
[00:28:43] Andrew Gold: Anyway, so then you've got really popular YouTube channels like The Behavior Panel. You go on their page and the trailer is like, "Megan and Harry gave away a lot more than they intended in their Netflix special." I was about to go into an American accent there and I didn't. I stopped myself. I've got nothing against The Behavior Panel. They seem nice and they probably do know a lot more than most of us about body language. But this kind of analysis Is very attractive to viewers because it's creating a narrative that's enticing. Look how Harry looks back to the camera here. It's a sign of how he wasn't supporting Meghan in what she said. And you're like, maybe that's plausible. That could be true. In fact, it seems like it probably is true, but it might not be. Harry might also have been thinking in that moment about the older woman that he lost his virginity to behind the stables.
[00:29:27] Jordan Harbinger: Is that true? Is that a real thing?
[00:29:29] Andrew Gold: Yeah, that's a real thing. I read his book, Spare, to spare you the horror of having to read it yourself. And you know what? He's actually been accused of basically doxing her.
[00:29:40] Jordan Harbinger: Well, yeah.
[00:29:40] Andrew Gold: Because he went into, like, quite a lot of detail so that she was easily recognizable. See, I've got into the whole gossip now—
[00:29:46] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[00:29:46] Andrew Gold: —just from talking about Harry and Meghan for a second.
[00:29:48] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like you wouldn't want to be that person, because people are going to be like, "You're a pedophile." Well, no, he was old enough, but also, no matter how you slice it, that doesn't look good.
[00:29:57] Andrew Gold: Yeah, she's supposed to be at work. She's working for Prince Charles at the time, King Charles now, on grooming. And that was her, I'm not kidding, that was her title.
[00:30:04] Jordan Harbinger: Her title was the groomer?
[00:30:06] Andrew Gold: She was a groomer.
[00:30:07] Jordan Harbinger: How on brand for Prince Charles to have hired her anyway?
[00:30:10] Andrew Gold: She was a groomer. She groomed horses, of course, and had a canoodling with Prince Harry behind the stables. And he just goes into so much detail. I'm not going to go into a whole rant about them now, but for somebody who complains about press intrusion, to then give up so much private detail about everybody he's encountered in his life in this book. Anyway, the point I was making was on the behavior channel and all these channels, we don't know what they were really thinking. And as you said before, especially in the Netflix documentary, it might be like the fourth take, the fifth take. They look different each time. So we have no idea of really knowing what he's thinking.
[00:30:42] Jordan Harbinger: Also, when you're editing something, you put stuff where you want it as the editor. I've done commercials, for example, or like online content for AT&T. And they'll take something where I make a joke or a comment about something that has nothing to do with what I'm talking about in that moment and they'll just move it and it's because it's entertaining or it's funny or they'll add a bunch of us laughing and we're laughing about eating the stale cookies at the shoot and they'll put that after somebody's joke that nobody laughed at. That laugh was funny. That looks fake. They must have been cued to do that because it's a big overreaction compared to the joke and that wasn't even the same thing. Or they must all really think this person is high status because look at how much they're laughing at his joke. And nobody laughed at that joke, actually, they went over everyone's head or they thought it was dumb and it didn't really come through. So they added the laugh later on and you can read literally nothing from that because it's constructed. So yeah, none of that makes any sense.
[00:31:34] Andrew Gold: That's the thing. So he could have been thinking, as I say, about that older woman or just about anything else.
[00:31:40] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah, like his earnings per second for that Netflix documentary. I think they got a hundred million dollars for that. The problem with that is we don't know what Harry's typical body language looks like when he's sitting at home with Meghan. We only see him on TV. I do know The Behavior Panel guys. They're great guys. I know all of them in person. I also know that they are hamming stuff like this up for YouTube because that's what makes for great TV. Nuance doesn't have the same effect. Just like we talked about with Friends, the TV show. You don't want to go, this could mean 20 different things or nothing at all. No, I want you to say this means she's lying because that's what makes me interested in your video.
[00:32:18] Going back to that episode I did with Dr. David Lieberman, it appears that a lot of actual experts find the popular YouTubers to be pretty misleading, a little bit sensationalist because we're not seeing what is. We're only seeing a projection of our wants, securities, and needs. And that's a direct quote, or a direct ish paraphrase from Dr. Lieberman. It's a basic confirmation bias and projection. We see what we want to see. He goes on to say the fact that somebody's arms are folded or scratching their nose doesn't mean anything in and of itself. You'll get false readings time and time again. And the timestamp for this is in the show notes if people are interested in going and listening to that exact quote from the show.
[00:32:56] I remember Dr. Lieberman also spoke of sophisticated and unsophisticated liars. So a small child, yeah, maybe they're going to look down or look away when they lie. But adults, we've figured this out by age 10 or 12. You really have to sit with somebody for a long time and observe them to see how their behavior differs. You get a baseline on somebody. And that's why your mom pretty much always knows when you're full of crap, but your teachers, the principal in middle school, she has no idea but I could never have pulled off the same lie to my parents.
[00:33:25] Andrew Gold: Yeah, I was just thinking now it's why it's so funny sometimes not in a cruel way but to watch children when they've been caught lying because I guess they haven't quite learned the societal ways of behaving at that point. And it's really funny to look back and see they don't know how to hide it. You even get that with dogs when dogs look quite guilty and it's really cute to see them looking guilty curled up in the corner because they know they did a naughty thing. And I suppose the humor in that comes from, "They don't yet know what we know," it's that dramatic irony, that Shakespearean thing.
[00:33:51] But of course, yeah, it's no surprise that another detection tool we use but can't rely on, the lie detector, works exactly the same way as body language. You can't just bring a lie detector on someone and get to work because they'll be nervous compared to normal, or might have trained themselves to stay calm under pressure. You need to sit with them for a long time beforehand to get a sense of their usual heart rate, blood pressure, and sweat. Only then can you get a better sense of whether lying provokes slight changes that the polygraph can show. Even then, polygraphs are only 80 to 90 percent accurate. So if you relied on polygraphs and you tested 100,000 people in a year, you could be sending 10,000 to 20,000 innocent people to prison.
[00:34:32] And while faking a polygraph test is not as simple as putting a stone in your shoe or whatever, people can practice to fake polygraph tests. That's what Defense Intelligence Agency senior analyst Ana Montes did to pass a lie detector in the States when she was secretly working as a double agent for the Cubans. She just practiced doing the lie detector so many times that she trained herself to no longer show signs of nerves when it came time for the real thing.
[00:35:00] Body behavior, despite the numbers we can apply for each facial gesture and movement, is even less of an accurate science than polygraph testing. So I don't want to completely poo body language. If you look at, for example, the Chris Watts case, where he murdered his wife and kids, when he's appealing for their safe return, he looks incredibly guilty. And body language experts have explained why. His voice doesn't show any despair, he's swaying, his volume drops, he has a double-handed hand shrug, he uses too many eye statements. And I have to admit, it seems right. He does look incredibly guilty, but I just wonder how much of this is obvious now with hindsight and confirmation bias. When you don't already know the outcome, it seems like an expert would have to observe a suspect for a very long time to get a sense of their normal habits before making any guesses. And they would be guesses about what they might be hiding.
[00:35:52] Remembering that episode you did with David Lieberman, he spoke of what I'd call a sort of Schrodinger's irony, and you called it the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and that makes us sound very clever because you'll get much more accurate readings from body language when the suspect believes they are unobserved. Then, you can look at a few things. For example, Lieberman told you that someone who stands with a more liberal posture, we might be more confident. And if someone is slumped over, perhaps they're less positive.
[00:36:21] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting, right. So these are indicators that somebody is confident in their story, which might give us an indicator about whether a person is being honest or deceitful in a particular moment, right? Of course, that's really helpful for detectives and FBI agents, and of course, the common person. It's useful to get a sense of whether your partner, or your husband, your wife, is lying to you, for example. But what about body language that gives away somebody's personality? Are there signs of narcissists and predators that would be good for us to be able to spot somehow?
[00:36:50] Andrew Gold: Yeah, to research this, I went back and re-listened to episode 135 of The Jordan Harbinger Show with retired FBI agent Joe Navarro, really great episode. And he wrote the Dictionary of Body Language because he found that women would call psychologists to ask about the suspicious behavior of their husbands. And the response would be, do you have insurance? The person in charge of their insurance was the husband. So Navarro wanted to write this book to warn people about the common body language signs of narcissism and psychopathy to look out for.
[00:37:20] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. So what kind of things should we look out for?
[00:37:24] Andrew Gold: Firstly, start documenting abusive, predatory, and toxic traits. Email yourself the behaviors that you are observing, partly because months down the line, you'll have forgotten half the things they've done to you, and also because it will help when you do go to the authorities. And it will help with defining the kind of abuser you're dealing with.
[00:37:42] There are all sorts of behaviors to look out for in malignant narcissists, such as rage as opposed to anger. Rage being totally out of proportion compared to anger. But if we're to zone in on body language alone, it seems to be about using your intuition. Navarro recalls being dropped off as a child by a coach, and he recalls the coach touching his knee a couple of times, and something about it he just felt was way off. He credits his limbic system, the automated part of the brain, with realising this, and he decided never to get in the car with that man again. Years later, he heard all sorts of rumors that man had been abusing children. Listen to the limbic system and don't hesitate to say, I'm getting out of the car.
[00:38:24] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm, you're looking down, left to the right, up and to the side, which means you should probably support the fine products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:38:36] This episode is sponsored in part by Airbnb. Pre-kids, we'd fly almost every week for podcast interviews and conferences. We'd stay in Airbnbs most of the time because we love the locations and personalized stay. One of our favorite spots in LA, it was in this really sweet older couple's home and since their kids have left the nest. They converted the granny flat in the backyard into an Airbnb and it became our go-to accommodation whenever we were in town doing interviews. And as regulars, we always appreciated the thoughtful touches they included. So they'd throw down a basket of snacks that Jen would eagerly dive into. They gave us a bottle of wine, a personal note, and they even started tuning in to The Jordan Harbinger Show. Hey, folks. And this actually inspired us to pay the hospitality forward and convert our spare room into an Airbnb. So maybe you've stayed in an Airbnb before and you thought to yourself, "Okay, maybe I could do this. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your entire place while you're away. You could be sitting on an Airbnb and not even know it. Perhaps you got a fantastic vacation plan for the balmy days of summer. As you're out there soaking up the sun and making memories, your house doesn't need to sit idle. Turn it into an Airbnb, let it be a vacation home for somebody else. And picture this, your little one's not so little anymore, they're headed off to college this fall, the echo in their now empty room might be a bit much to bear, so why not Airbnb it? While they're away, make some extra cash and who knows, you might just meet some fascinating people along the way. So whether you could use a little extra money to cover some bills, or for something a little more fun, your home might be worth more than you think. Find out how much at airbnb.com/host.
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[00:40:20] Now for the rest of Skeptical Sunday.
[00:40:24] It's interesting. When I was a kid, I used to stand in my driveway and write down the license plates of every car that went by because, I don't know, I got in my head the idea that if you had someone's license plate, the police would need it later and I was like, I'll just track everyone's license plate. So I used to write in this book with magic markers every license plate. And I remember, I would stand out there with my friend and do this, and we would be playing in the driveway until a car went by, and we'd like, run and get the paper, my friend Tim, who I'm still really good friends with. And one day, this crappy car was driving through the neighborhood, which it looked really out of place. And I remember being like, huh, that's weird. It looks like my cousin's car. My cousin was probably like 16. And this is a grown man in the car. He looked unkempt. I thought that was weird. And he was driving slowly and he stopped at the end of our driveway and goes, "Hi kids, do you know where Schroeder School is?" Which actually was a school that was really near my house. But I didn't go there because I was on the edge of a district and blah, blah, blah. That's not where I went to elementary school. And I said, "What's your name?" And he paused and he goes, "What?" And I said, "What's your name?" And he pauses and goes, "Gus." And I was like, "I don't know anyone named Gus." And also I remember the pause being very weird. So me and my friend, we've ran in the house. We said, "Hold on. We're going to ask my mom. She knows how to get to the school." We've run in the house. Told my mom, "There's a guy outside asking where this school is," and she was like, "Holy crap." She runs out of the house, dude's gone. So obviously, he didn't really need directions. Also, who asks two five-year-old kids, six-year-old kids, seven, whatever, how old we were, for directions to an elementary school? Definitely a kidnapper. And I remember the pause. I remember the car, I remember his haircut. It was weird. And I remember Gus sounded like a made-up name, even though it totally could have not been. The hesitation was so fricking weird.
[00:42:08] Andrew Gold: That was a sliding doors moment for you, I suppose.
[00:42:10] Jordan Harbinger: What does that mean? I've never heard that term.
[00:42:12] Andrew Gold: Sliding doors, there's a film called, I think, Sliding Doors, I think it's called that anyway, might be called something else, Gwyneth Paltrow. It splits into two when she's about to get on the train, the film does. So then you see what happens when she gets on the train, and then you also, every like few minutes, it goes back to the story where she didn't quite make it through the doors. And the sliding doors moment is like, your life could have been totally different if you had just, like, that slight thing had changed.
[00:42:34] Jordan Harbinger: Or a lot shorter, potentially a lot shorter. That was very odd, because obviously this guy was a kidnappy kind of guy, and what happens when a stranger kidnaps kids is far different than what happens when a family member kidnaps kids.
[00:42:47] Andrew Gold: Oh my god. Navarro would say, I imagine that Gus showed some of the body behavior signs that suggest he may be a predator. The point is you used your intuition, and this guy was odd, something didn't add up. Other typical things to look out for include too much familiarity, violating space, controlling your space and time, touching you. Navarro thinks of Bernie Madoff, he didn't have to show them a copy of the files, taking advantage of his friends.
[00:43:15] Jordan Harbinger: Bernie Madoff, yeah, he's a financial scammer who created Ponzi scheme where he would take an investment and he would show fake returns and if anybody needed a little bit of money he would pay that person out with other new money that he got from scamming new investors and he showed these above average returns nothing crazy but over time it was like wow this guy never misses and it turned out to be a big scam that ran for I think decades.
[00:43:40] Andrew Gold: There you go. Because he was overconfident, he didn't have to show people a copy of the files or anything like that. He was overly friendly. Sometimes you just have to know a lot of things about somebody. So Navarro, again, he told Wired, this great video online where he talks to Wired about finding a spy, because the spy was holding flowers upside down. That's how they hold them in Eastern Europe. But he also checks eyes, Navarro does, to see if they're red or indicate a lack of sleep, the same with the forehead. Hands on waist, he thinks, can be a little bit territorial, that kind of thing.
[00:44:15] Jordan Harbinger: I don't remember the flowers thing, but that sounds interesting. What is that all about? Upside-down flowers. Never heard of that.
[00:44:20] Andrew Gold: Yeah, Navarro was tasked with finding out if somebody was a spy, and while monitoring footage of him, saw him holding flowers, and noticed that he held them not upwards, as an American or most Westerners would do, you know, from the stalk with the flowers, the petals at the top, but with the stalks high up and the flowers down. And that's apparently typical of Eastern Europeans. When Navarro interviewed him, he said, "We caught you, it was the flowers." And the guy at that point admitted that he was the spy. Because he just knows those are the kinds of things that are such big giveaways. So sometimes it just helps to just know something about a different culture.
[00:44:55] Jordan Harbinger: You know what this reminds me of, dude? Have you seen Inglorious Bastards. Remember the long scene where the Nazis are talking and they're talking with an American officer. It's this really tense scene. And the way that he counted with his fingers, he was like, that's an American or that's a Nazi. I can't remember who gets caught, but you count differently because in America, we don't use our thumb for one. We use our pointer finger for one. And in Germany, I don't know how it is in the UK, you use your thumb for one, two, three, you do it totally differently.
[00:45:22] Andrew Gold: Watching that movie played with my head a bit because I remember afterwards thinking, well, how do I do it? Do I even know how to count? What do I do with these fingers and stuff?
[00:45:29] Jordan Harbinger: That's why it's such a good tell, right? Because the guy probably went, "I don't know, I'm not going to think about how I'm going to hold a frigging bouquet of flowers." He just did it the way he always did it growing up, and since he grew up in whatever, Czechoslovakia. They were upside down.
[00:45:41] Andrew Gold: Yeah, there you go, I love that. That's that point about being unobserved when somebody feels that they are unobserved, or in this case is unaware of the thing that somebody is observing about you, the way you hold your flowers, the way you put your fingers up. But yeah, the whole thing, body language, is not an exact science, but that's the best we can really do for now.
[00:45:57] There is talk, and I find this quite exciting and scary, of mind reading in the future, which is pretty scary. But there are these amazing YouTube videos by Professor Jack Gallant and Yale Dean Dr. Marvin Chun, where they use fMRI scans to show on a screen what a patient is thinking. And you can actually see the video footage of like their dreams and thoughts. Dr. Chun explained to me on my podcast that it's a bit primitive right now. And that's because fMRI scanners can only go so deep. They can't yet isolate individual neurons. But once we develop a scanner that can go deeper into the brain, we might be able to actually really read in real time what people are thinking.
[00:46:39] Jordan Harbinger: It's funny you mentioned this. We just did a show on this with Nita Farahany, and she talked about how brain-machine interfaces aren't going to be something that you need implanted in your skull. It's going to be something that, you know how you walk through a metal detector at the airport? It could be as simple as that, or it could be as simple as aiming a device at somebody, like how we can listen to sound in a room by aiming a laser at a window. That's really down the pipe. Right now, you might have to wear a watch or a headband. And it's primitive, but in 10 or 20 years, it could be, you're just walking in the airport and they can see that you're a terrorist because they can see what you're thinking. It's only a matter of time. So then, all this body language stuff won't matter at all, or at least for law enforcement because they'll be able to put you in a room and go, "We know that you can see the dead body in your head right now, and so you were there and so you're under arrest and that's it and it'll be evidence and you won't even have to say anything."
[00:47:28] But it's about as fascinating as it is horrifying. We talked about this on the show as well with Nita Farahany, it's like a real life Minority Report. And then you got to decide whether to put people in prison for thought crime, which again, very Orwellian. Not as Orwellian as face crime, or maybe it is the same level of Orwellian ness, but if you know somebody who really wants to murder somebody else, what do you think, you just let them do it? We knew that was going to happen, but we had to wait until it did. The future is really just a confusing mess.
[00:47:55] Going back to body language. We know it's very difficult to read and that we can't tell too much from it right now, but FBI agents and other experts still kind of do use it for whatever advantage they can get from it. What kind of things are they looking out for besides upside-down flowers?
[00:48:10] Andrew Gold: Besides upside-down flowers, sounds like a radio hit song or something.
[00:48:13] Jordan Harbinger: It does.
[00:48:14] Andrew Gold: Veteran FBI agent, Mark Bouton, and writer of How to Spot Lies Like the FBI, looks out for a bunch of signs of deception in the people that he interrogates. Again, he emphasizes that it's important to look out for signs beforehand, while you make small talk, to see what their usual, their baseline reactions are. One sign is eyes darting back and forward when a suspect feels uncomfortable. That's apparently an indicator the suspect is looking for ways to avoid answering the question in a way that'll get him or her in trouble. Rapid blinking is another. So Bouton says to watch out for people blinking five or six times in succession.
[00:48:52] Jordan Harbinger: That seems a little cartoonish, some of this stuff. Surely we're all thinking, all right, don't dart your eyes back and forward. Don't blink seven times before giving an answer. And maybe you can control it sometimes, maybe not all the time, but for God's sake, wouldn't you relax a little bit? Take a frigging Valium before you go in there.
[00:49:09] Andrew Gold: Yeah, and it seems impossible to just go off of those indicators. To make matters worse, people with conditions like Parkinson's blink slower, other conditions like schizophrenia make you blink at a faster rate. So there's so much to consider. Bouton also claims that right-handed people often look to the right. Right-handed people also look down and to their right when lying about smells or sensations. It's all very hard to prove, but seems to be part of the FBI handbook, so you'd think it has some use. And then, there's language without the body, so the words we use.
[00:49:44] Some of this gets a little wishy-washy, and we get into the realms of French psychologist Jacques Lacan. He believes our words unconsciously reveal our secrets. And I'm a linguist, so I'm fascinated by this stuff. I found this great website by psychoanalyst Owen Hewitson, devoted to Lacan. And Hewitson uses Lacan's methods to analyze the victory speech of Lance Armstrong before he was caught and disqualified for doping. This is the cyclist. And he notes that Armstrong apologizes three times when he says, "For the people who don't believe in cycling, the cynics and the skeptics, I'm sorry for you. I'm sorry you can't dream big. And I'm sorry you don't believe there are no secrets."
[00:50:26] Jordan Harbinger: And it turns out, spoiler alert, there were some secrets.
[00:50:30] Andrew Gold: Yes, he had good reason to be sorry. It's why he kept saying sorry, if we're to go along with the Lacan theory, because he was actually guilty that he was doping. Now that's a little psychological and theoretical, but Dr. Lieberman, going back to him, he speaks of how interrogators might use our choice of words to catch us out. We'll use personal pronouns like I, me, and my, when we're taking ownership of something with integrity, but distance ourselves from those pronouns when we feel on less steady ground. These are all things to look out for and when combined with body language analysis and a long study of the suspect's normal or unobserved behavior, it might give us some clues.
[00:51:11] Jordan Harbinger: It must be kind of a thrill too to be able to learn to use these observations. and then actually spot them in the field, actually grilling someone, just totally sure that they're lying and then they conjure up some lie about a smell or whatever and they're looking down and they're looking to the right. As long as we account for any confirmation biases and we're careful not to mount an entire case based on body language alone, which I would imagine is easy to do from a legal perspective because you need more evidence than that but tough, once the police decide you're guilty, they're just going to start looking for evidence to corroborate that.
[00:51:42] Andrew Gold: Oh, absolutely. And I agree. I can't think of much that's more satisfying than you've got this big plan and you see someone look a certain way and you're like, "Aha, now I know they did it." And I wonder if that's why confirmation bias is such a concern. You've learned all this body language stuff for years, and you feel like you can see exactly what you learned, the fruits of your labor in the people you're interviewing. It probably is quite thrilling and exciting, and you can see how it might lead to overzealous agents discounting some of the more boring physical evidence in favor of this psychological body language stuff. Face touching, pursed lips, excessive sweating, blushing, and shaking one's head while talking are some of the other signs that detectives look out for.
[00:52:25] Should we try it out on you?
[00:52:26] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:52:27] Andrew Gold: Okay, so is your name Jordan?
[00:52:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yes.
[00:52:30] Andrew Gold: Okay, so that's your normal face.
[00:52:32] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, unfortunately, yes.
[00:52:35] Andrew Gold: Okay, do you respect and love your listeners?
[00:52:37] Jordan Harbinger: Of course I do.
[00:52:39] Andrew Gold: Oh, is that the slightest hint of rouge I see creeping across that handsome face? Of course, I'm just kidding. I think body language is undoubtedly a thing, a real thing with real consequences in the world. And there's that marketing philosophy where you can never predict how one person is going to act, but you can often predict how many will act. Humans in great numbers tend to be quite predictable which is why some of these body language tells are relevant. But when you pluck one person from the crowd, the prediction becomes extremely difficult.
[00:53:08] Jordan Harbinger: Right, it's just a little higher than a coin to us.
[00:53:10] Andrew Gold: But in any case, I'd still recommend not blinking or looking to the right while you read out your sponsors today.
[00:53:16] Jordan Harbinger: A Jordan Harbinger poker face is incoming for the sponsor breaks. Thanks, Andrew, for that journey into the truth about body language on today's Skeptical Sunday. It looks like the rise in courses supposedly teaching body language is leading to a rise in people who watch these courses. And then, think that they're experts in it. And so I think it's good to be able to give that concept of body language and basically mind reading a healthy dose of skepticism.
[00:53:40] Thank you all for listening. Any suggestions for future Skeptical Sunday, feel free to fire them at me. email@example.com. Give me your thoughts. A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. And you can find Andrew Gold on his podcast, On the Edge with Andrew Gold, anywhere you get your podcasts.
[00:54:02] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on this show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love, and if you found the episode useful, please share it with somebody else who needs to hear it, maybe somebody who believes all the body language stuff they see on YouTube. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on this show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:54:36] Now, I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before we get into that, here's what you should check out next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:54:42] Chris Voss: Chase Manhattan bank robbery, I'm the second negotiator on the phone. Hugh McGowan is the commander of the NYPD team. He puts me on the phone, he takes this guy off, he says, "You're up. You're next. This is what I want you to do. You're just going to take over the phone and say you're talking to me now. And we're going to do it really abruptly. My point is to get a hostage out," which is what the hostage negotiator is supposed to do.
[00:55:02] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:55:02] Chris Voss: And somebody hands me a note and says, "Ask him if he wants to come out." That was somebody that was listening. My friend, Jamie. Jamie Sedano. Jamie's sitting there and something in Jamie's instincts is telling him that this guy wants to come out more than anything else. He just hears it. And he writes, "Ask him if he wants to come out." I see a note pop in front of my face. So I go, "Do you want to come out?" And there's a long silence on the other end of the line. And the guy says, "I don't know how I'd do that," which is a great big giant yes.
[00:55:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:35] Chris Voss: Everybody goes like holy cow, okay, get him out of there. I'm talking, I'm talking, I'm talking. Again, probably about, I don't know, maybe half an hour later, another note comes in my hand. I don't know where it's from. As it turns out, it's from Jamie again, and the note says, "Tell him you meet him outside." And I say to him, "How about this? How about if I meet you out front of the bank?" And he goes, "Yeah, I'm ready to end this sh*t." I get out there, I get on the PA, I start talking to him. Yeah. So I said, "Hi, it's Chris. I'm out here." Standard operating procedure is to barricade the exit from the outside, so bad guy suddenly doesn't run away. So SWAT has barricaded the bank from the outside, which everyone has forgotten. So I'm trying to talk this guy out the door. We don't know how many bad guys are inside. We don't know how they're going to react. We don't know when they're going to start shooting. We don't know what the hell is going to happen. He comes to the door. He can't get out.
[00:56:33] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, God. I that was—
[00:56:35] Chris Voss: So he rattles the door. Everybody's like, "Aah!"
[00:56:38] Jordan Harbinger: He's nervous, right? I mean, "Oh, crap. I'm trapped in here now."
[00:56:41] Chris Voss: Yeah, on the outside, we go, "Now, what do we do? We forgot to unlock the door." And our bad guy is kind of like, "Oh, you want to play games with me, huh?
[00:56:51] Jordan Harbinger: For more from FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, including negotiation and persuasion tips, along with a few crazy stories, check out episode 165 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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