When “No” means “Yes”

Convicted for killing his parents by bludgeoning them with a baseball bat, Ernie Sherrer’s denial of the crime when questioned presents a prime example of an emblematic slip as his head shakes “Yes” when asked if he did it.  It’s chilling how cold and calculated this killer is even thanking detectives after the interview.  You would expect an ex-poker player to be able to control his unconscious body language, yet there it is.

Emblems are specific gestures that convey a precise meaning universally recognized within a cultural group.  The meaning of an emblem stands without any words.  Emblems are almost always performed deliberately, as the performer is consciously aware of the action. Examples include; Head shaking yes, shoulder shrug, wave hello, etc.  Emblematic slips are a fragmentation of the full gesture and never performed in usual presentation position.  Slips occur when the performer unconsciously leaks the gesture.  Usually indicating a feeling or expression the performer is trying to conceal.

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