The Micro-Expressions of A-Roid

Our faces our billboards to our emotions, but often only on a lightning fast time scale. The famous microexpressionist (I think I just made that word up), Dr. Paul Eckman takes the time to analyze A-Rod's lying ways on his 60 minutes interview in 2007.

"The most reliable thing that he did is what we call a gestural slip," Dr. Ekman said. Several times during his session with Ms. Couric, Mr. Rodriguez raises his left shoulder momentarily as he speaks.

"It's a slight raise of one shoulder, a fragment that slips out of a full gesture," Dr. Ekman said. In a full shrug, both shoulders rise, stay up, then drop.

A half-shrug can be prompted by feelings like helplessness in the face of tough questions, or a "Who, me?" response to accusations. It doesn't square with firm denials, Dr. Ekman said.

In the interview, Ms. Couric asks: "What's your reaction to this investigation?" referring to the Mitchell report on steroid use in baseball.

His shoulder appears to pop up three times as Mr. Rodriguez talks of being "extremely disappointed" and adds, "It would be a huge black eye on the game of baseball."

He is also asked if he ever witnessed or suspected illegal drug use among players. His answer: "I never saw" - here, his left shoulder lifts - "anything. I never had raw evidence."
The article goes on to explain, that scientifically, nothing is particularly conclusive because he would need to study the purple-lipped cheater during a less stressful conversation to establish a baseline of whatever idiosyncratic facial expressions he has. Frankly, I couldn't imagine staring at that face any longer than I had to.

And even more frankly, I don't need science to prove that Arod and the rest of baseball's lying liars are in a constant state of fabrication, back pedalling, and denial.

If there's anything the steroid era in baseball elucidates, it's the extraordinary lengths people will go to protect their secrets and lies, and that most people, despite instinctually knowing the truth, will still believe the perpetuated stories. Innocent until proven guilty works well in the court of law, but I think we can safely say it doesn't apply to celebrities, athletes and politicians.


Go Jonah Lehrer!

He was just on the Colbert show! I think he did great. In fact, I have no idea how guests can handle being interviewed like that. Not easy to get a word in edge-wise, but he did eventually.

Jonah discusses his new book, How We Decide, which is high on my reading queue, but haven't gotten to it yet. He mentions the idea of metacognition, which is such an important idea in neuroscience and every day life. Knowing your bad habits, knowing the context, knowing how you relate to the other characters in the scenario, the other variables. He calls it, "thinking about thinking." One has to consider their rational thoughts AND their emotional instincts. Colbert throws in "like Spock!" My thoughts exactly.

I wonder when we're all gonna get on board with this idea, it's vital to everything from global ideas like politics and religion to local issues like choosing your mate or what to have for dinner. Great to see Jonah getting more recognition for his insightful work.


Post-Op Pain Killer Freak Out

From a 7-year old. This seems awfully familiar to me...yes, freshman year in college...in the quad...I ate something that tasted bad and made the world go all swirly...

"Is it always going to be like this?!"

The Singularity University is Near

I'm very seriously considering considering this.

To be housed at Nasa’s Ames Research Center, a stone’s-throw from the Googleplex, the Singularity University will offer courses on biotechnology, nano-technology and artificial intelligence.

The so-called “singularity” is a theorised period of rapid technological progress in the near future. Mr Kurzweil, an American inventor, popularised the term in his 2005 book “The Singularity is Near”.

Proponents say that during the singularity, machines will be able to improve themselves using artificial intelligence and that smarter-than-human computers will solve problems including energy scarcity, climate change and hunger.

Yet many critics call the singularity dangerous. Some worry that a malicious artificial intelligence might annihilate the human race.

Science fiction coming faster than we think...