The Pseudoscience of Body Language Advances on YouTube


“If specific actions are associated with specific definitions, and if they are explicitly or explicitly presented as scientific, then they start to fall under the umbrella of pseudoscience,” Denault said. While scientists are coding certain behaviors to better understand communication in different contexts, Denault said these systems are not, instead, applicable to “decoding.”

“The public thinks that non-verbal behavior is good for one thing: recognizing who is lying and who is telling the truth. This is not the case,” Denault said. 2020 study from the University of Portsmouth tasked people with identifying smugglers on videotaped ferry crossings; while observers claim to be looking for signs of panic, only 39.2 percent correctly identified the smugglers, “which is very low chance.”

In her September 2020 video about Amber Heard, Portenier himself reacted to the actress ’testimony, and she laughed, smiled, and wiped her face in disbelief before saying that her snacking on food and seems unhappy because “it’s not a good sign of being Amber. the victim. This is a very good sign for his abuse. ”On the lookout, Portenier stood by the statements made in the video but said he was“ probably speaking a little louder ”and would be“ a bit softer ”if he made such a video today. Perhaps surprisingly, he agrees with Denault about the dangers of pseudoscientific analysis.

“On the internet, it’s so easy now to just claim you know things, and no one can resist it… It’s something that definitely worries me,” he said. Portenier’s knowledge of body language is mostly self -taught, even though he also took psychology classes at university. He said he has been studying the subject for a decade, using the work of former FBI agent Joe Navarro (who made many videos using WIRED). Portenier also studied the work of psychologist Paul Ekman on microexpressions, which are facial expressions that last a fraction of a second and are difficult to hide. (By Ekman’s own admission, Microexpressions that reveal latent emotions are less common, and academics have noted that he has not published empirical data proving that microexpressions can be used to identify lies.)

Bruce Durham, a 41-year-old native of Newcastle, England, made a video showing “Exact Time” Meghan Markle “Lies” to Oprah, also self -taught. Durham says he has worked in performance coaching for more than 20 years. “I’ve had thousands of hours just sitting in front of people and telling them,” Durham said. “If you spend a lot of time looking at people and you practice your observation skills, you can easily develop trends and analysis, just as you join the dots.” His channel, Bruce believes, has just under 200,000 subscribers.

Both Portenier and Durham stressed that they were not leading experts in their field, and both said they tried to communicate the limitations of what they were doing to the audience. “A lot of people are looking for who’s lying and who’s not, but you can never say that. What you can do is, they fall into two categories of looking comfortable and looking uncomfortable,” Durham admits (his analysis of Markle inserted in clips of Pinocchio’s nose that grew out of Disney’s 1940 film.) Durham said recognizing when someone looks uncomfortable provides a jumping point to ask more questions and not a conclusion of his own, but he admits that he makes his video thumbnails and titles more “inspiring” to get clicks.However, he argues: “I always start or end my videos of, ‘You have to be fair and balanced.’ And I have said that many times as well. ”



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