I'm a huge fan of the series called Lie To Me.
The basic premise is a man who can read ones body language and then read their true actions or intentions based on said language. I honestly was hooked from day one. Indeed the show inspired me to research and read the writings on which the show is based on.
So lets go full tilt into Mitt using the knowledge of Paul Ekman and see what we can come up with below the orange satan.
But I want to explore that further to some degree.
Before we get into the meat and get some clear examples of Mittens, lets set the stage.
What are the tell tale signs of a lie?
Very often a liar will misdirect and imply facts while at the same time use distancing language to separate themselves from the issue at hand. The language used intended to direct the listener not to the topic of the moment but to direct it elsewhere. Much in the same way that a magician will focus your attention elsewhere while they then perform an action to complete and construct an illusion.
However it is not just the words said that is important, it is how we say them and how our body reacts while we say them that indicates affirmation or negation of what we say.
Lies are everywhere, we as a species literally swim in them. In fact, I would wager my paycheck right now that you the reader has lied at least once today. We participate in this culture of lies through use of things like white lies. White lies are lies of omission or benign nature. Things like the answer to this question many a man has faced down the barrel of a gun with.
"Honey do I look okay in this dress?"
And lest you think we are the only species that lies, know that others participate in lies as well. Deceit is not limited to the human experience. There are studies where elephants in captivity have been observed to distract slower eating elephants just so they could swipe a little extra food from them. Also instance of apes in captivity literally lying via sign language about who might be responsible for breaking a toy or tearing a fabric.
The world lives on lies, some would say.
Paul Ekman has a litany of books he has written regarding Micro Facial Expressions and generality behaviors like hand movements, inflections of tone, and auditory clues like laughter, coughing, etc.. that all point to that literally the truth of what we say, is written on our face.
Now is that to say that you can read this stuff and at the end of the day you'll be dead set to haggle with your local car dealer down the street?
It takes A LOT of time and some natural ability to do what the FACE system applies. Indeed there is even a tiny natural percentage of people, approximately 1% of the population who are literally born natural lie detectors. So who knows, if you think you've had a natural bull shit detector, you just might be one of those folks.
Also because we all lie and we do it everyday, its pretty easy to actually practice on public figures. It allows us to test the FACE system because they are in the limelight day in and day out.
Which brings me back to Mittens.
We know Romney has lied before and lies now. They are pretty obvious lies where he has contradicted himself from statements in the past. These are dubious lies as pointed out above and through the various media outlets, but these are not the lies I want to focus on in this diary.
I want to focus on his body language, tone and inflection during interviews and his auditory cues. I plan to make this a multi part diary so for the first most obvious cue from Mitt, lets focus on something called Nervous Laughter.
Here's a sample of Romney and his nervous laughter, specifically from his interview with Brian Williams.
Now nervous laughter is not a shining silver bullet to detect a lie. Really is depends on the context and location of said laughter to set a stage. Indeed it is the follow up silent body language that determine the meaning of that nervous laughter. Its how we respond after that laughter which indicates our true emotional and thought process.
So lets get to Mitt shall we?
Specifically go to the 26 second mark when he responds to the question of releasing more returns. He nervously laughs and then goes into direct misdirection. Take note of his hand movements during his response as well. He opens both up towards Williams and the movement is towards himself, his eyebrows are also raised. Raised eyebrows are indicative of openness.
The basic conclusion is that the laughter indicates his uncomfortable position and his raised eyebrows and hand movement are an attempt to open the listener to his redirection. Notice the affirmative nods at marker 42 when speaking of his ability to get good jobs again, the laughter was the tell that he is making things up, his brows with head movement are clear indicators of him selling us this redirection. He never answers the question directly but instead dovetails into something else through his body language and tone is trying to sell us on his words.
Jump to marker 58 when Williams is asking him or rather setting up the question regarding the real world and how people might speculate if Romney paid no taxes. Specifically freeze it at marker 58 and look at the face.
Notice the grin? Specifically the raised lip grin, his right cheek slightly higher than the left. This is an indication of a person that accepts what one is saying but however is sloughing it off as worthless. He is hearing Brian right now, but does not care to the content. Also indicative of his dismissive tone is his head position, it is leaning slightly down and to the left. He is already setting up in his head a reply to avoid and is dismissive of the topic at hand.
The reveal on why we know this?
Brian asks him "What is in your returns that prevents you from releasing them?"
Note his response starting at marker minute 1:08. Notice the eyebrows, they are not raised. He is not accepting of this question and has gone full on into defensive mode. He states that he has "released all financial information to his holdings". But he does this while shaking his head. Even he doesn't believe what he is saying. Its even more indicative when he holds this facial expression and head positions while blinking. Almost all people will move their head while blinking unless they have a response ready, Mitt has already waiting a response to redirect the question.
Note his hand movement at marker 1:20 as well. He side swipes his hand from center to outward and away. He is literally subconsciously sweeping the question aside. Its obvious that if you analyze the words alone he is avoiding the issue, but when coupled with the body language it is obvious that Romney is really hiding something. What that is, who knows. I won't speculate, but its obvious that its enough of an issue for him to dismiss and avoid the issue.
So in essence beyond the actual factual checking revealing his lies, Romney has clear tells in his body language and delivery of information. He lies, and to be honest there are sometimes I wonder if he even thinks he is lying. I'll write about that in the next Lie series where I look at lies of omission and how believable they can be to us.
Go ahead and take these simple marker cues and apply them to his numerous interviews. A good one would be his one on ABC while overseas, there is a great nervous laugh setup along with requisite head shaking and even some great shoulder forward movement, an act of intimidation to assert a position.
Also I encourage everyone to read Ekman and his writing, hell even take the class! Also if you get a chance, read check out the show Lie to Me. It is dramatized to the Nth degree but its pretty entertaining.
Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 8:02 AM PT: Hah, took a break from work to peruse some tags and saw this on the spotlight. Thanks twigg for the rescue!
I'll try to respond as much as possible depending on my work load today