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What is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s tell?, with Jon Hoefling

In this episode, I interview Jon Michael Hoefling, a sports analyst and broadcaster, about a recent story that was making the rounds: a young man named Theo Ash, who has a popular TikTok where he analyzes football, had found a physical tell that Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had: how Roethlisberger positioned his foot before a play indicated with almost near certainty whether he would run or pass. Jon Hoefling had written a piece for Deadspin about this, and I invited him on to talk about this tell – about why it showed up, about how likely it was that other teams had noticed it, about what the practical way to take advantage of it would be – and about some other football and sports tells. I may also have on Theo Ash in another episode, as I’m curious to know how he noticed this and what other things he’s noticed.

See the bottom of this post for other topics and resources. Podcast links:

Other topics discussed include:

  • The role that analyzing video plays in football and how they may not be focusing that much on individuals
  • Some other football tells
  • The football tell in the movie Invincible
  • Some baseball tells
  • Andre Agassi’s claim that he had a super reliable read on Boris Becker
  • Cheating scandals in baseball, including sign stealing and pitchers using “sticky stuff”

Related resources:

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Reading behavior in tennis, with Carlos Goffi

A talk with experienced tennis player and coach Carlos Goffi about the role that psychology and reading opponent behavior and mood can play in tennis. To learn more about Carlos, visit his site. He’s been coaching for more than 30 years, and has coached John McEnroe and John’s brother Patrick McEnroe, amongst many others. He’s maybe most well known for his best-selling tennis book Tournament Tough, which he co-authored with John McEnroe. During our talk about the role of reading behavior, we discuss Andre Agassi’s claim to have a very reliable tell on Boris Becker: that he could predict Becker’s serve direction based on how Becker’s tongue was sticking out.

Podcast links:

Other topics discussed include:

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Factors in excessive police force, with police captain James Mitchell

A talk with James Mitchell, a retired police captain who worked in Prince George’s County, Maryland. We talk about the United States problem of police brutality and excessive use of force, with the goal of understanding some of the factors that can lead to unjustified and too aggressive police responses. Topics discussed include: what he would do if he were put in charge of a federal department charged with solving this issue; the wisdom of “abolish the police” and “defund the police”-type slogans and thoughts; George Floyd’s death and how Chauvin and his fellow cops handled that; how our mental health issues relate to police violence issues; how cops can escalate a situation whether they mean to or not, and more (below).

Podcast links:

Other topics discussed include:

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Understanding and coping with anxiety, with editor of The Atlantic Scott Stossel

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I interview Scott Stossel (@sstossel on Twitter), who is the national editor of the magazine The Atlantic, and the author of the book My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. That book is a history of humanity’s understanding and treatment of anxiety, and also a personal history in which Scott recounts honestly and openly his own struggles with extreme, debilitating anxiety and phobias from a young age. I talk to Scott about what he’s learned in his research and in his personal life about the factors behind anxiety and how we might, as much as we are able to, overcome it. Along the way, I also talk a bit about my own struggles with anxiety.

Podcast links:

Other topics discussed include:

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How does not believing in free will affect one’s life?, with physicist Daniel Whiteson

In this podcast episode I interview Daniel Whiteson, who’s a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine (his university page, his Twitter). He is a co-author of the book We Have No Idea, about the unknown mysteries remaining in physics, and he co-hosts the podcast Daniel and Jorge Explain The Universe.

I talk to Whiteson about free will. We talk a bit about why we both think free will is unlikely to exist, but our main focus is on more psychological and emotional aspects: what are the results in our own lives of not believing in free will? What potential effects does lack of belief in free will have for people in general? Because the idea that free will doesn’t exist can make people anxious or sad, the idea that we are basically just automatons, the idea that our conscious experience of the world is like watching a movie we have no real control over.

Episode links:

There are many resources on free will out there, but here are a few that were either discussed in this episode or that I’ve found interesting:

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How does Facebook increase political animosity and polarization?, with Jaime Settle

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I interview Jaime Settle, a political scientist and professor at William and Mary. She is the author of Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America. In that book, she summarizes thinking on American political polarization and describes the research she’s done, which shows that Facebook likely increases “psychological” or perceived political polarization, in the form of Facebook users becoming increasingly antagonistic towards members of the opposite political party.

I talk to Dr. Settle about what the psychological pathways are behind how social media polarizes us, what the downsides of extreme political polarization are, and what we can all do to decrease the most dangerous forms of this polarization.

Links to this episode:

Topics discussed include:

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An interview with a militant Portland-based antifa/BLM protester

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I interview a self-described anti-fascist who has frequently taken part in the more militant and unlawful aspects of the BLM-focused protests and riots that have occurred in Portland, Oregon in the wake of George Floyd’s death. This person has also taken part in physical confrontations with alt-right pro-Trump groups, like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer. I ask them about the motivations and goals for these violent protests, why such behavior is justified, and the reasoning behind physically confronting rightwing groups.

Want a transcript? See Transcript of Portland protester interview. And as a follow-up to this interview, I did an interview with Dr. Omar Wasow, who did research showing that the violent protests and riots of the late 1960s turned public opinion and voting trends in the U.S. more conservative/Republican.

Links to the interview of the Portland antifa/BLM protester:

Topics discussed include:

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Can you predict schizophrenia by analyzing language?, with Dr. Neguine Rezaii

The latest People Who Read People podcast episode is an interview with Dr. Neguine Rezaii, a psychiatrist and psychology researcher, about her team’s 2019 research using machine learning finding speech patterns in young adults that were predictive of later psychosis and schizophrenia diagnosis. The two language patterns found in the subjects’ speech were 1) a low semantic density (i.e., low meaning), and 2) speech related to sound or voices. Here’s a good article about this work: Machine learning approach predicts emergence of psychosis.

Links to this episode:

Topics discussed include:

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Indicators of good and bad relationships, with psychology researcher Dr. Brandi Fink

The tenth “People Who Read People” episode is an interview with Dr. Brandi Fink, a psychology researcher and an assistant professor at UNM Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Fink has done a lot of work analyzing the behavior of couples and families experiencing problems, including issues of physical abuse, emotional distress, and drug/alcohol abuse. Here is Dr. Fink’s LinkedIn.

Links to the episode:

Topics discussed include:

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Analyzing written and verbal statements, with Mark McClish

My second “People Who Read People” podcast features Mark McClish, a former US Marshal, and a longtime trainer of law enforcement personnel in interrogation/interview techniques. He has written two books on his Statement Analysis® techniques: I Know You Are Lying, and Don’t Be Deceived. These are great books; the first book was one of the inspirations for me writing my book Verbal Poker Tells.

This podcast is meant to serve as an introduction to some statement analysis concepts. We talk briefly about quite a few cases, new and old, including OJ Simpson, Timothy McVeigh, Chris Watts, Making A Murderer, the KROQ radio DJ hoax, the McStay family murder, and the Van Dam child murder.

Here are links to this episode:

If you’d like to read some in-depth analysis of the Chris Watts statements, check out this blog post.