[Famed lying expert Paul Ekman's] most memorable encounter with

[Silvan] Tomkins took place in the late sixties. Ekman had just tracked down a hundred thousand feet of film that had been shot by the virologist Carleton Gajdusek in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea.

"Some of the footage was of a tribe called the South Fore, who were a peaceful and friendly people. The rest was of the Kukukuku, who were hostile and murderous and who had a homosexual ritual where pre-adolescent boys were required to serve as courtesans for the male elders of the tribe.

"Ekman was still working on the problem of whether human facial expressions were universal, and the Gajdusek film was invaluable. For six months, Ekman and his collaborator, Wallace Friesen, sorted through the footage. They cut extraneous scenes, focussing just on closeups of the faces of the tribesmen, and when the editing was finished Ekman called in Tomkins.

"The two men, protege and mentor, sat at the back of the room, as faces flickered across the screen. Ekman had told Tomkins nothing about the tribes involved; all identifying context had been edited out. Tomkins looked on intently, peering through his glasses.

"At the end, he went up to the screen and pointed to the faces of the South Fore. 'These are a sweet, gentle people, very indulgent, very peaceful,' he said. Then he pointed to the faces of the Kukukuku. 'This other group is violent, and there is lots of evidence to suggest homosexuality.'"

["My God! I vividly remember saying, 'Silvan, how on earth are you doing that?'" Ekman recalled. "And he went up to the screen and, while we played the film backward, in slow motion, he pointed out the particular bulges and wrinkles in the face that he was using to make his judgment. That's when I realized, I've got to unpack the face. It was a gold mine of information that everyone had ignored."]

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