A Marcos supporter online argued with, and later apologized to an American psychology professor for claiming that liars are caught by their hand gestures, using Bongbong Marcos and Leni Robredo as examples. The exchange got the internet talking about psychology and body language.
Jhon Zalon, who introduced himself as a teacher, tweeted a photo claiming that people who make lots of hand gestures tell the truth, while liars keep their hands still when speaking. The "psychology facts" showed Bongbong Marcos moving his hands while talking with Vice President Leni Robredo clasping her hands while speaking. Both are running for president in 2022 in another election face-off.
Dr. Inna Kanevsky called out Zalon and suggested that he take it down for being misleading. Kanevsky, who has a PhD in experimental behavior, is a professor in San Diego Mesa College in California.
"As a teacher by profession, you should practice critical thinking and not believe and share any random thing that is labeled 'psychology facts'," Kanevsky told Zalon.
Zalon hit back with screenshots of his sources, citing blogs and commentaries on the psychology of hand gestures in a lengthy open letter to Kanevsky on Facebook. He also told her to focus instead on her own country's problems.
"While I agree with you that people of the Philippines are great, you are definitely not a good exemplar. Please, stop defending your embarrassing fake fact," said Kanevsky, adding there were no reliable ways to establish character traits using body language.
"Humans are not very good lie detectors and we do not have cross-culturally consistent body language," she said in a TikTok video debunking Zalon's citations. Kanevsky is TikTok verified and has a million followers on the platform. (Check out this Twitter thread for links to her sources.)
Surprised that she unintentionally stepped into a political debate, she told Zalon that his political posturing had nothing to do with her objection to his body language claim.
Three days after Zalon posted the tweet, he apologized to Kanevsky for sharing the photo without fact-checking.
"I know it is my mistake to not fact check, and I accept that mistake. Again, the said photo is not mine and I just used it to give my opinion and observation as a teacher. If I hurt someone about the said tweet or misled people, I am humbly asking for your forgiveness," he said.
After he apologized and took down the original tweet, Kanevsky considered the argument over.
"I know many of my Filipino followers are involved with the political aspect of this situation, but I have no say in your elections," she said.