Posts Tagged ‘honesty’

Eye Contact: Overrated and Misunderstood?

August 6, 2009

There is a huge misconception that if a person doesn’t look someone else in the eyes, it means that that person is not being honest or trustworthy.   There is nothing inherent about looking someone in the eye that indicates honesty.  Different cultures have different norms and social morays.

People from countries such as China and Peru do not normally look people in the eyes as part of their culture.  So for people to assume that when people don’t look them in the eyes, they are telling lies, that is obviously not always the case.

Another case in which this old belief doesn’t hold true is for people with autism.  For a variety of reasons – looking someone in the eyes can be too much stimuli or too overwhelming, listening and looking at the same time may be too hard because of sensory overload, or social skills such as understanding what people do in a particular culture may not come naturally – people with autism often have a hard time looking others in the eyes.  Here’s one explanation of how some people with autism comprehend spoken language:

If you want to find out if someone is telling the truth or not, go to  Janine Driver is one of the authorities on the subject.  Rather than use eye contact or whether someone touches his or her face as an indicator of truth, establish a norm for the person’s style of speaking and body language,and then see if the person talks or acts differently than they usually do.  That can be a better tipoff on honesty than whether a person is looking you in the eye or not.

In fact, the idea that there is a correlation between eye contact and “truthiness,” as Stephen Colbert would say, has been around so long that those who wish to beat the system have used that as a way to say, “See, I’m telling you the truth.”  One time an ex-boss of mine looked me in the eyes nonstop without any breaks.  Instead of thinking he was telling me the truth because of the nonstop eye contact, I perceived it as him intending for me to perceive that he was telling the truth.  If anything, it is awkward to constantly look someone in the eye without any breaks.

Howard Stern: Bring Back the Honesty

June 17, 2009

I’ve been a loyal Howard Stern fan since 1981 when he worked at DC-101 in Washington, so I’ve listened a lot longer than even Stern show Producer Gary Dell’Abate has.  I think Stern is the greatest entertainer in the history of radio.  Obviously, Howard has been a creative and revolutionary force, with such a huge influence that he completely changed radio.  But in my opinion, somewhere along the line in the last couple of years, things seem to have changed.  The show is still great, but it’s missing something.  That something is honesty.     

For example, the fight in 2001 between A.J. Benza and Stuttering John was real.  However, last summer and again this year, there were several arguments back to back that seemed to be greatly exaggerated.  After each one, I list my best guess as to whether the “arguments” or situations were real, fake, or partly real but exaggerated. 

  • The Rev. Bob Levy complained on the Miserable Men show that he wasn’t getting enough airtime on Howard’s show.  Howard pretended to be outraged and a mountain was made out of a molehill.  Best guess:  It started out as real but was greatly exaggerated. 
  • Ronnie the Limo Driver got angry when Lisa G. asked him whether he was going to get a colonoscopy.  I’ve seen less fake outrage in a political campaign.  They went on ad nauseam about this.  Best guess:  It started out as real but was greatly exaggerated.
  • The argument when Tracy the intern yelled at former Stern staffer Steve Grillo seemed way over the top.  And it wasn’t worth it to have Artie constantly do an impression of her rant.  Best guess:  It started out as real but was greatly exaggerated.
  • When Sal argued over the selection of the Baba Booey song parodies, it was truly an argument about nothing that didn’t make sense.  Best guess.  It was real.  Sal would do this.
  • Earlier this year, Artie ripped Dr. Drew on the show for supposedly taking advantage of addicts on his TV show.  Best guess:  absolutely fake.
  • Gary Dell’Abate’s wild opening pitch at the Mets game.  Best guess:  fake.  Gary knew it would be good for the show to throw a wild pitch so he did it on purpose.  Plus, nobody could throw that badly. 
  • The controversy about Sal not being invited to Howard’s wedding.  Best guess:  real. 
  • Of course, the granddaddy of them all was when Artie walked off the show after getting in a fight with his assistant, Teddy.  Best guess:  I don’t have a good feeling about this one, and I could be wrong about this, but I think it was fake. 
  • Robin’s romance with Jim Florentine.  This wasn’t an argument, but I’m listing it here anyway.  Best guess:  they may have sort of gone out for a while but it’s a stretch to think that they had a real relationship.

The show is still mostly honest, but they need to be all honest, all the time.  That’s what made the show, not the outrageousness of it, contrary to popular belief.   

Even though I don’t agree with everything about the show.  It can still be great.  If there are any loyal fans that are reading this and are upset about it, just realize that you can like something and still criticize it because you want it to be better, or as good as it used to be.  Take Philly fans for example.  Please.  They love their teams but that doesn’t stop them from booing when necessary (although I do think their criticism of Mike Schmidt and Donovan McNabb was way over the top).  I’m a big Redskins fan but I criticize them because I want them to be better like they used to be.

Anyway, I figure this is a good time to put this up, following the Artie Lange – Joe Buck HBO controversy.  Another reason I write my blog is to publicize my other websites, including  Just being honest.