David R. Henderson  

Lie to Me, 2

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Creative Destruction: What's N... Health Insurance and Reputatio...

Back in February, I posted an enthusiastic entry on the TV show, "Lie to Me." I enjoy the show, although I'm not sure how scientific the basis is for detecting whether a person's lying based on movements of eyes, mouth, etc. One that seems clear is their method of asking someone what he did on the evening at issue and then asking him to say what he did in reverse order. The idea is that when you're making it up, it's hard to do the reverse-order part because you aren't referring to an actual memory of events.

Sometimes, though, other body language makes it relatively easy to detect lying, especially when your economic theory tells you to look for it. I think I saw such an incident at a public forum last Thursday. The event was the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference held in Monterey, California. I went to see my friend, Sam Kazman, give a talk on a panel on global warming. On the panel with him, among others, was a lawyer named Robert Wyman. In his opening statement, Mr. Wyman said that he was there to give "the business perspective." I turned to the woman beside me, an employee of the Department of Justice and whispered, "How can he claim to give the perspective of a few million people, many of whom have different perspectives?" She whispered back, "He's representing his own perspective."

One advantage of going to conferences in big rooms nowadays is that there are often huge screens in front so that you can clearly the faces of the speakers even if you're sitting 100 feet away. That was so on Thursday. I noticed that every time Mr. Wyman mentioned some policy on global warming that he said would be particularly costly for businesses to comply with and would lead to lots of litigation, he broke into a huge grin. I wonder why.


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Lance writes:

Is he an attorney? Maybe he's imagining the litigation he'll be involved in!

PJens writes:

A very close attorney friend of mine, recently passed away, wished that society was "more litigious". I asked him why, and he said: "So such issues could be resolved." I followed up with the response that he ought to be careful for what he wished for.

Resolving things via courts and lawyers has advantages and unforeseen consequences. Think health care. Great technology, but expensive insurance.

John writes:

Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Blink" goes into some detail regarding a real life firm doing some “Lie to Me" type research and consulting. My impression is that interrogators are getting closer to a 51% edge on liars rather than the 99%+ enjoyed by script writers.

Vichy writes:

"Think health care. Great technology, but expensive insurance."
It's not even clear that the technology is 'great'. It may be advanced, and occasionally verge into particle physics - but you can also make cookies with a nuclear engine. Doesn't mean it's intelligent, economical or safe. This is one of the side-effects of technology and high-industry subsidization, we get extremely expensive, arcane, difficult to operate and (therefor) practically useless crap. Likewise, most people quite simply don't go to the doctor and some of them are probably healthier because of it.

In regards to the main article: I occasionally watch the local government broadcasts and it's quite easy to tell when someone's shilling for the unions and business interests; specifically because they make no reference to their own gains but stress only those of others. This is something I find suspicious behaviour in anybody.

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