Lie to Me, 2
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.