Herman Cain’s Blinkage – An Unscientific Comparative Study
Many have commented on Herman Cain’s vigorous denial of sexual harassment allegations on Fox News the other day. As I watched the interview, something struck me. As someone who is intrigued by nonverbal communication of all sorts, I found myself mesmerized not by what Cain was saying, but by what he was doing. Blinking.
I had to watch the clip a second time because I couldn’t even concentrate on the words the first time through the rapid-fire visual blink assault. Then I thought to myself, “Wow. I wonder how many times a minute he’s blinking? I bet it’s a lot. It would be interesting to know just for the heck of it. But what idiot would sit there and watch this thing and count how many times Herman Cain blinked and then figure out his blink rate?”
You know where this is going, Mudflatters, don’t you?
Yes, I am that idiot.
So, during the six segments in which Cain was speaking we find this:
47 seconds, 50 blinks = 64 blinks/min.
23 seconds, 24 blinks = 63 blinks/min.
31 seconds, 36 blinks = 70 blinks/min.
44 seconds, 53 blinks = 72 blinks/min.
26 seconds, 24 blinks = 55 blinks/min.
52 seconds, 65 blinks = 75 blinks/min.
This averages out to a whopping 69 blinks per minute! Pretty impressive if you think about it, or if you try to repeat the blink rate yourself.
You do hear all the time about how one of the ways to tell if people are lying, or under incredible duress (often from lying) is that they’ll blink a lot. It’s one of those nonverbal cues like lip licking, and stammering. It seemed a little suspicious to me, but of course, it is an inexact science.
There certainly is reason to think that Mr. Cain may not be speaking entirely truthfully. Just on Monday, he gave wildly different accounts of what he knew, and if or when he knew anything, regarding a settlement for the sexual harassment charges that were levied against him when he was head of the Restaurant Association.
From Politico, here’s a video montage of Cain’s conflicting stories just on Monday alone.
Despite all this, I did wonder if maybe it’s just the case that Herman Cain is a naturally blinky person. You never know.
So, then I thought, “If this were to mean anything, you’d really have to compare it to another instance of Cain being interviewed where the interview was about something totally different – something that we presume he’s not lying about, when he’s not under stress from having to distort the truth. It would need to be a nice easy relaxing interview so you could compare the two blink rates. But what idiot would seek to find another Cain interview and repeat this whole mind-numbing process?”
(I raise my hand sheepishly)
Do you remember when Sarah Palin called him “the flavor of the week?” He went on CBS’ Early Show to address that, and to talk about the rising popularity of his campaign. It was pretty easy – pretty softball stuff.
During this interview we find:
48 seconds, 33 blinks = 41 blinks/min.
60 seconds, 58 blinks = 58 blinks/min.
58 seconds, 48 blinks = 50 blinks/min.
41 seconds, 32 blinks = 47 blinks/min.
The average is a comparatively paltry 49 blinks per minute.
So, from my calculations, that’s a 40% increase in blinkage in the sexual harassment interview, over the flavor of the week interview. What does this mean? I have my theories, but ultimately, gentle reader, that’s up to you to decide.