Summary of What Every Body Is Saying An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins
Five out of five stars
This is a summary that is probably better than the book. Drawing definitive conclusions from body language is difficult, yet in this book at times it appears that the technique is sound and then shortly after there is a strong disclaimer of the technique.
This starts in the overview, where the following sentences appear early. “Body language can reveal concealed feelings and uncover lies because it is more difficult to lie with body language. Non-experts can learn to identify and interpret body language cues to become more effective communicators.” Yet, at the end of the overview there are the sentences, “However, detecting a lie is extremely difficult and body language cues can be an unreliable indicator of intention. This means that context is still important.” When the word “can” appears often, it is clear that the technique is unreliable.
There is one paragraph that puts the book in perspective. It appears in the “Author’s Style” section at the end.
“Navarro and Karlins sometimes cite outside sources when describing the science behind their assertions about body language. However, the most significant assertions are supported only with anecdotes and Navarro’s assurances that he has witnessed a particular behavior and its alleged meaning many times in his professional career.”
This is a polite way of saying that what is being described in the book is considered pseudoscience. I applaud the author of this summary for expressing skepticism of the assertions in the book. We must always keep in mind that FBI agents are producing suspects for criminal behaviors based on the information related in this book. Healthy skepticism remains essential.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.