Monday, January 07, 2008

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Reading a most fascinating blog, I came across a link that led me to the latest turn in America's war against evil.

Now they've donned their capes and turned their super-vision on travellers at various airports across the US, watching for subtle expression changes that will show up potential terrorists. What are these magic signals? Apparently, "a central task is to recognize microfacial expressions -- a flash of feelings that in a fraction of a second reflects emotions such as fear, anger, surprise or contempt."

Contempt? Anger? How is it possible to deal with airport procedures and not feel any of these things? Surprise? Like when you're the very first in line and the girl at the check-in desk tells you that only seat 49J is available? Fear? Like when you've overslept and arrived late and are worrying that your flight will take off before you reach the gate?

They say they observe reactions to simple questions put to random passengers. Well, if someone stopped me out of the blue to ask whether all my bags were mine, or even worse, how I am doing, fear and confusion (and quite possibly contempt) would be the very first emotions I registered.

And they coined a word to commemorate the exercise. What was wrong "facial"? Too much like something that ordinary people on the street (without capes) would use?

This blog happily likens it to the Bene Gesserit truthsayers from Dune.

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