I just caught the tail end of The Ed Show. He had on body language expert Tonya Reiman to discuss Bill O’Reilly’s freak out last night. Let me be clear: I think that “body language” is mostly just a pseudoscience. Sure, there is something to it. But human behavior is fairly individuated. I think there are great limits to it. What’s more, I don’t see how it is ever disproved. Just like in cold reading, some people are good at it and others aren’t. As with other pseudosciences like astrology, it provides some basic notions along with endless caveats.
Ed Schultz made a big deal of the fact that Reiman was “Bill O’Reilly’s body language expert.” He started the segment by showing various instances of her pontificating on O’Reilly’s show. I was very struck by one in which she was looking at a meeting between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. By looking at their eyes, she determined that they didn’t like each other.
Once on the show, Ed had her look at Bill O’Reilly’s behavior the night before. She had the shocking insight that O’Reilly was angry. Who could imagine? She repeated several times that Bill was just being Bill—it’s just the way he is. But when Ed asked her if he had an anger problem, she replied, “I’m not a psychologist!”
So let me get this straight. She can tell us the motivations of Obama and Netanyahu based on their eyes. But she cannot tell us the motivations of O’Reilly who commonly loses control of his temper on The Factor. What is it? Is body language a part of psychology when it makes Democrats look bad but not when with it makes unstable conservative loons like O’Reilly look bad? Or is it just that Reiman’s real job is her own self-promotion and she would never do anything to harm O’Reilly, who has been so very helpful in selling her silly self-help books?
Regardless: let’s add Tonya Reiman to the ever growing list of conservative blond automatons.