||[Jun. 22nd, 2003|01:34 am]
More thoughts, both prompted by adam's recent book-buying spree at Borders some days ago:|
So he was looking for books on deception and emotions and affect-detection and so on, so most of these things (even the reputable ones) were in the "self-help" section. Now it goes without saying that there's plenty of bullshit in this section also. I was looking at some of it, and it impressed me how much of it was arbitrary, ad hoc, untestable (or at least, I would bet, untested) and frequently nearly completely meaningless enumerations and classifications (like, here are the 17 personality types, here are the 34 criteria for determining if your spouse is cheating on you, find out what color your personality is (no joke, I actually saw that one) better living through i ching, etc.) It made me wonder how much unjustified respect we might be paying to some theories of some ancient (and maybe some not-so-ancient) philosophies, what with all the four elements and four humors and however-many virtues. Such is the instinct to categorize, though...
The other neat thing came out of one of the books that seemed, at least prima facie, nonbogus, Ekman's "Emotions Revealed", a study of facial expressions. There is this muscle that raises the eyebrows in the middle that makes people look extremely sad, and is in fact a very good predictor of sadness, since most people (a) do use the muscle when they are sad and (b) don't have conscious control over it, and so cannot fake that expression. Adam is one of the people that can, though, and it's really unsettling to see him suddenly switch demeanor to one which really does elicit strong involuntary feelings of sympathy. He just looks really pathetic! I'll have to nag him to put some pictures up, or maybe he will anyway.
Anyway! I was just washing my face getting ready for bed, and noticed that I definitely can't do the same trick right off, BUT if I push the middle of my eybrows up and see how that looks in the mirror and try to mimic it, I can hold it in place. So weird.