MEDINT — How to Read Body Language

It’s estimated that as much as 80% of our interaction with others is through non-verbal communication, or body language. And the vast majority of the nonverbal cues we display are driven by our subconscious mind – they are important indications of how we are feeling and what we’re thinking.”

Former FBI Agent Joe Navarro

Body language is a critical part of that communication. The finger wag is a classic trope of the genre. Their goal is not to communicate facts. Their goal is to tell you how to think about the facts. Their goal is to communicate an opinion as if it were fact.

Body language is a type of nonverbal communication in which physical behaviours, as opposed to words, are used to express or convey information. Such behaviour includes facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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Body language has seen use in the area of law enforcement. The relevance of body language in this area can be seen in the numerous Federal Bureau of Investigation Law Enforcement Bulletins that have included it in their articles.

The application of body language in law enforcement goes both ways. Members of law enforcement can use body language to catch unspoken clues by suspects or even victims, this enables a more calculated and more comprehensive judgement of people.

The other side of body language is that of the investigators’ themselves. The body language of the members of law enforcement might influence the accuracy of eyewitness accounts. [Wikipedia]

Call for Double-Blind Lineup Administration

For several decades, social scientists have investigated variables that can influence the accuracy of eyewitnesses’ identifications.

This research has been fruitful and led to many recommendations to improve lineup procedures.

Arguably, the most crucial reform social scientists advocate is double-blind lineup administration: lineups should be administered by a person who does not know the identity of the suspect.

An innocent suspect, who is the focus of a single-blind administrator’s attention, is at higher risk for mistaken identification from single-blind rather than double-blind line-ups.

The Lockerbie Case is a textbook example.

RELATED POST: One Year Ago — Lockerbie Case Review : Key Witness Tony Gauci Was Unreliable

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview two of the world top experts on eyewitness and false memories: Professor Elizabeth F. Loftus and Professor Tim Valentine.

Both have studied the Lockerbie Case and both have come to the conclusion that Tony Gauci’s testimony and statements are simply not credible.

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A Dubious Identification — On Nov. 18, 1991, the US Dept. of State issued a “fact sheet” regarding the indictment of Libyan citizens Megrahi and Fimah for their alleged role in the bombing of Pan Am 103 on Dec. 21, 1988.

The sheet reads: In February 1991, Megrahi was described “resembling the Libyan who purchased the clothing items… most likely on Dec. 7, 1988.”

On Feb. 15, 1991, Gauci was shown some photographs and failed to identify Megrahi. When asked to concentrate on his picture – a leading procedure to say the least — Gauci correctly pointed out that the man on the picture was in his 30s while maintaining that the man who had bought the clothing items was very much older.

Previously, on Sept. 13, 1989, during a photofit session, Gauci stated that the buyer was about 50 years old. Born on April 1, 1952, Megrahi was 36 in late 1988.

The next day, Gauci again told Detective Chief Inspector Bell that Megrahi was too young to be the man who bought the clothing.

“If the man in the photograph was older by about 20 years, he would look like the man who bought the clothing,” Gauci told DCI Bell.

In his first interview held on Sept. 1, 1989, Gauci told DCI Bell that the mysterious buyer was 6 feet tall or more. Megrahi is 5 feet 8, a significant discrepancy considering that it comes from a man who sells clothes for a living.

The trial judges were well aware of this striking discrepancy but they failed to provide any explanation as to how it was resolved.

Amazingly, the few people who still believe that Megrahi is guilty as charged are the very same people who refuse to admit the established fact that Gauci was paid US$2 million for his testimony by the US DoJ.

Former FBI Agent Explains How to Read Body Language

Former FBI agent and body language expert Joe Navarro breaks down the various ways we communicate non-verbally.

What does it mean when we fold our arms? Why do we interlace our fingers? Can a poker player actually hide their body language?

REFERENCES

Body language — Wikipedia

Eyewitness Science and the Call for Double-Blind Lineup Administration — Journal of Criminology

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MEDINT — How to Read Body Language

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