IT’S A SIGN

February 7, 2011

Maybe it’s just my twisted sense of humour. But I love funny signs.

As a kid I remember seeing a road sign that stated “Heavy Plant Crossing”. I half expected to see a giant, potted aspidistra crossing the road.

Other signs that have caught my attention over the years include one which said nothing other than: “Warning: this sign has sharp edges.” Eh?

One that particularly appealed to me was: “Warning: Children left unattended will be sold to the circus” And at Table Mountain National Park there is a sign that states “Please look under your vehicles for penguins.”

When I was in my teens we had a family shop in my old hometown. One of the first things my father did when we got the shop was to hang a sign that said “Warning. Shoplifting makes your nose bleed”. It certainly gave a fair indication of what to expect.

But as a student of The Human Condition, I’ve discovered that the signs found in shops, hotels and offices reveal a great deal about the people who work there. Do they take themselves too seriously? Do they have a sense of humour? Signs and notices on the walls of the workplace will giver you a fair indication.

But sometimes the signs tell us about ourselves and our society. For example, I was recently on the train to Glasgow, and I noticed that every window had a sign that sported a big smiley face and the words: “Please do not put your feet on our seats”. Have we become such a feckless society that we actually have to be TOLD that putting your feet up on public transport seats is impolite behaviour?

And then I realised that we must be getting better, because I cannot remember the last time I saw a “No Spitting” notice. It seems we no longer need to be informed that hacking up a grolly and spreading it around is not really acceptable behaviour in polite company.

I guess it really IS a sign of the times.

Drew McAdam


SCEPTICAL OF THE SCEPTICS

November 23, 2009

 

Aliens landed in West Lothian. Or so the story goes.

In 1979, forestry worker Bob Taylor happened across a UFO in the woods at Dechmont Law where he was attacked by two spheres. Ridiculous, of course.

Or is it?

Certainly, there was evidence. Bob’s ripped trousers, and strange marks on the ground where the craft was reputed to have landed, were all that was left. Within hours, Ufologists – yes there really are such people – and hundreds of souvenir hunters had dug up the grass and soil before making off with their spoils.

Sadly, Bob passed away, and with him went the only chance to find out the truth of the matter.

But wait a minute… Waterborn Productions Ltd. produced a film that contains footage of interviews with some of the personalities involved in the story, and that film is now available on the internet.

As Scotland’s foremost mind reader, I’m not really giving away any secrets when I tell you that my methods involve reading non-verbal cues, micro-expressions and body language. Night after night I entertain audiences with my ability – as a “human lie detector” – to distinguish truth from deception.

It’s why I was regularly used as “The Interrogator” on the Trisha Goddard Show to illicit confessions from our guests. It’s why the BBC made a four-part series in which I was the subject and presenter on how to identify when somebody is lying.

So, we may think that all the evidence about the story has now vanished. But thanks to the film we still have access to the interviews. And I have now spent hours pouring over the footage. Rewinding the interviews. Freezing the frames. Studying the “clusters” of expressions, gestures, voice changes and the sentence structure of the interviewees including Dr Gordon Adams, Detective Inspector Ian Wark – scene of crime officer – and Bob’s work colleagues.

Being honest, I expected to uncover body language suggesting that the whole thing was a hoax or a lie.

However, I can categorically state that at no time is there any evidence of deception from any of these people. Not once.

When Bob Taylor recounts the incident he is clearly accessing actual memory, not his imagination. His body language is open; there is no fluctuation in his paralanguage, and his open-palmed gestures suggest a man simply recounting what happened.

So, what of the wheel-on sceptic Steuart Campbell? His conclusions included the suggestion that the tracks were produced by somebody with a pickaxe, planks of wood and construction machinery. 

Sounds reasonable, except that the police, according to DI Wark, had examined “every piece of machinery they (Livingston Development Corporation) had… we didn’t find anything to match.”

That aside, the sceptical view is based on the discredited hypothesis of an astronomical mirage, that the workers were lying, the police didn’t know what they were talking about, and the medical expert was wrong. That alone should make us sceptical of the sceptics.

Based on my expertise and experience of body language, my view is that the interviewees were telling it exactly as it was. This was no hoax.

However, Steuart Campbell, author of “The UFO Mystery Solved”, demonstrates textbook closed body language, self caressing and all the “tells” of a person in discomfort, offering an explanation about which he, himself, harbours grave doubts.

He may dismiss the whole thing with scientific theories, but his body language is saying something different.

Of course, that’s the job of a self-appointed sceptic; to debunk it. But I’d rather be hoaxed than have some authority coldly dismiss everybody else – suggesting they are feeble-minded – while offering a theory which they are pretty sure is bunkum.

Did aliens land on Dechmont Law thirty years ago? We’ll probably never know. But thanks to the footage we can still view the interviews and sort out the nonsense from the fact.

Was it a hoax? Is the sceptic offering a theory in which he doesn’t even believe himself?

Take a look yourself. But don’t just listen to the words… watch the body language.

THEN decide.

(Part One. There are also parts 2 and 3): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOuKl1ze51c

Drew McAdam