Lie to Me- Skeptics’ Take

i’m sure the skeptical/scientific community will add much more insight into the TV show “Lie to Me”, until then, here is what i was able to find in my short research (the following is in the format of a conversation between me my friend Keldwud):

some info on the show:

some people can tell when people are lying slightly better than others:

women are supposedly better than men at detecting lies in one’s face.  the information in those links still doesn’t show that the guy’s abilities in the movie can be seen as science-based, but it may be possible to some degree.  remember, though, that polygraphs are not based on science and can be fooled.

hope that helps!  as i get more info about that from the skeptic community i’ll share it with you.

he replied, and i then replied to his comments (see how hard this is to follow so far?  well i don’t have the time to edit it- i’m already spending precious saturday night time so deal with good luck with the format  🙂 :

On Fri, Feb 20, 2009 at 10:09 PM, KELDWUD> wrote:

Thanks for the links 🙂
Yeah, I was figuring they were basing a lot of it off of real studies
but the way they were spinning it made me wonder what parts of it
*weren’t* real. A lot of it is plausible and then they make a good
case by showing famous people with the same expressions as proof that
they are all experiencing the same emotion.

yes, and as you and i both suspect they may be committing a post-hoc fallacy where you have lots of data (lots of pictures of faces) and you match these faces with what you’re looking for to support your theory.  many celebrity faces are shown in one scene’s example (some 20 or so i think) but how many thousands of pictures of celebrities lying were not shown?  it sounds too much like quote-mining Nostradamus in order to get an ambiguous quote that sounded like he predicted 9/11 or something else after the fact.  the book The Bible Code commits this fallacy as well:

…The only thing that it is missing is when people show those
expressions and they *don’t* mean what the others are feeling when
they show those expressions.

Wondering how effective his technique is in real world scenarios and I
am betting that his technique would produce valid hits more often than

What do you think?

this is another very good point as to why even when someone may be generally better at telling when someone is lying, they will not be able to read many people who react differently when they lie.  at best, i think someone may be good at telling if people are lying if they are already familiar with the person (like in a family/friendship), or if they are women (like i said, it’s been shown that they are slightly better than males at detecting deception.from Michael Shermer’s The Science of Good and Evil, page 176 (emphasis mine):

To the extent that lie detection through the observation of body language and facial expressions is accurate (overall not very), women are better at it than men because they are more intuitively sensitive to subtle cues.  in experiments in which subjects observe someone either truth telling or lying, although no one is consistently correct in identifying the liar, women are correct significantly more often than men [source: Myers, David G. Intuition: Its Powers and Perils, p. 119].  […] People who are highly skilled in identifying “micromomentary” facial expressions are also more accurate in judging lying.  In testing such professionals as psychiatrist, polygraphists, court judges, police officers, and secret service agents on their ability to detect lies, only secret service agents trained to look for subtle cues scored above chance.  Most of us are not good at lie detection because we rely too heavily on what people say rather than on what they do.  Subjects with damage to the brain that renders them less attentive to speech are more accurate at detecting lies, such as aphasic stroke victims who were able to identify liars 73 percent of the time when focusing on facial expressions (normal subjects did no better than chance).

I think it’s kind of a mixed bag, but one thing i think must be on the bullshit side are the cute little face gestures he teaches as being indicators of dishonesty.  this black/white methodology sounds to simple to be true, too learnable that it would easily taught and widely used today in all of the professions listed above.  it seems that the aphasic stroke victims most likely used intuition and nothing that could be listed or depicted in a textbook (ie “this curl of the lip here suggests…”).

FWIW, that’s the info i could come up with so far… hope it helps someone else out in pointing them in the right direction.  good luck!  if you’re from San Fransisco, you can attend this on the subject as well:


Political Correctness, Vulgarity, South Park, etc.

bugboy’s comment (see previous post):

If similar generalizations were made about another race here it would be considered a racist site. Imagine “Stuff Black People Like”, followed by a bunch of idiotic plaitudes and the like. Cool?

that’s true, bugboy. and yes, i think there’s so many things that are messed up in our culture. me personally, i think there’s a happy medium in being politically correct. It can actually be progressive in some senses but so many things are taken too far. Continue reading

Stuff White People Like

funny blog to check out…

#2 on “stuff white people like” is:

Religions that their parents don’t belong to (see post here).

White people will often say they are “spiritual” but not religious. Which usually means that they will believe any religion that doesn’t involve Jesus.

Popular choices include Buddhism, Hinduism, Kabbalah and, to a lesser extent, Scientology. A few even dip into Islam, but it’s much more rare since you have to give stuff up and actually go to Mosque.

Mostly they are into religion that fits really well into their homes or wardrobe and doesn’t require them to do very much.

#84 T-Shirts: Continue reading

just awesome…

thought this was pretty funny:

What tech skills of yesteryear are useless today? This is the question asked by Obsolete Skills, a wiki which tracks the abilities which have been obviated by technology and gadgets. It’s an interesting peek into how fast technology has changed everyday life, and also offers a little bit of social history, with short lived tech (formatting a floppy) listed alongside older but still recently-dead skills (dialing a rotary telephone).

Standouts include adjusting the tracking on a VCR, putting a needle on a vinyl record, and loading film into a 35 mm camera. Inevitably, some wag has already added buying an HD-DVD disk.


Evolutionary Psychology and Superbowl Sunday

i don’t like (watching) sports- i don’t see many reasons too. i always use the line from an old mafia/gangster movie A Bronx Tale. The script goes something like this:

Mickey Mantle? That’s what you’re upset about? Mantle makes [tons of money every] year. How much does your father make?

– I don’t know.

You don’t know. If your dad needs money, go ask Mickey Mantle. See what happens. Mickey Mantle don’t care about you. Why care about him? Nobody cares.

The dialougue between the old-school gangster and his youngbuck (nephew?) continue: Continue reading

The Arrival of the iPhone is Tomorrow!

Apple’s New iPhone

Apple is set to release the much-hyped iPhone Friday, June 29. Here are some of its most highly anticipated features:

  • Apple's New iPhoneNanotechnology enables it to reassemble itself when thrown against wall

  • Exclusive link to Google Street View so you can watch yourself using your iPhone at all times

  • Takes Polaroids

  • When moved from hand to ear, makes Lightsaber sound effects

  • Prominent Apple logo

  • Reproduces through asexual budding

  • Has way, way more PRAM than the last thingy

  • Comes with an iPhone hat, so people know you own an iPhone during the brief periods you’re not using it

via the Onion