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Friday, January 28, 2022

Herman Cain’s Blinkage – An Unscientific Comparative Study

Many have commented on Herman Cain’s vigorous denial of sexual harassment allegations on Fox News the other day. As I watched the interview, something struck me. As someone who is intrigued by nonverbal communication of all sorts, I found myself mesmerized not by what Cain was saying, but by what he was doing. Blinking.

I had to watch the clip a second time because I couldn’t even concentrate on the words the first time through the rapid-fire visual blink assault. Then I thought to myself, “Wow. I wonder how many times a minute he’s blinking? I bet it’s a lot. It would be interesting to know just for the heck of it. But what idiot would sit there and watch this thing and count how many times Herman Cain blinked and then figure out his blink rate?”

You know where this is going, Mudflatters, don’t you?

Yes, I am that idiot.

So, during the six segments in which Cain was speaking we find this:

Segment 1

47 seconds, 50 blinks = 64 blinks/min.

Segment 2

23 seconds, 24 blinks = 63 blinks/min.

Segment 3

31 seconds, 36 blinks = 70 blinks/min.

Segment 4

44 seconds, 53 blinks = 72 blinks/min.

Segment 5

26 seconds, 24 blinks = 55 blinks/min.

Segment 6

52 seconds, 65 blinks = 75 blinks/min.

This averages out to a whopping 69 blinks per minute! Pretty impressive if you think about it, or if you try to repeat the blink rate yourself.

You do hear all the time about how one of the ways to tell if people are lying, or under incredible duress (often from lying) is that they’ll blink a lot. It’s one of those nonverbal cues like lip licking, and stammering. It seemed a little suspicious to me, but of course, it is an inexact science.

There certainly is reason to think that Mr. Cain may not be speaking entirely truthfully. Just on Monday, he gave wildly different accounts of what he knew, and if or when he knew anything, regarding a settlement for the sexual harassment charges that were levied against him when he was head of the Restaurant Association.

From Politico, here’s a video montage of Cain’s conflicting stories just on Monday alone.

Despite all this, I did wonder if maybe it’s just the case that Herman Cain is a naturally blinky person. You never know.

So, then I thought, “If this were to mean anything, you’d really have to compare it to another instance of Cain being interviewed where the interview was about something totally different – something that we presume he’s not lying about, when he’s not under stress from having to distort the truth. It would need to be a nice easy relaxing interview so you could compare the two blink rates. But what idiot would seek to find another Cain interview and repeat this whole mind-numbing process?”

(I raise my hand sheepishly)

Do you remember when Sarah Palin called him “the flavor of the week?” He went on CBS’ Early Show to address that, and to talk about the rising popularity of his campaign. It was pretty easy – pretty softball stuff.

During this interview we find:

Segment 1

48 seconds, 33 blinks = 41 blinks/min.

Segment 2

60 seconds, 58 blinks = 58 blinks/min.

Segment 3

58 seconds, 48 blinks = 50 blinks/min.

Segment 4

41 seconds, 32 blinks = 47 blinks/min.

The average is a comparatively paltry 49 blinks per minute.

So, from my calculations, that’s a 40% increase in blinkage in the sexual harassment interview, over the flavor of the week interview. What does this mean? I have my theories, but ultimately, gentle reader, that’s up to you to decide.



51 Responses to “Herman Cain’s Blinkage – An Unscientific Comparative Study”
  1. bb says:

    Hate to tell you I’m a blinker and it doesn’t mean I am lying or under stress. I never realized how much I did blink until I was interviewed on TV. Then someone reminded me that putting on eye make up exposed how much I blink. That’s why I don’t wear eye makeup. πŸ™‚

    • bubbles says:

      that ‘s different ‘Little Blinker’. you do it all the time so that is not a “tell”. it is when you do not blink at all but ‘stare’. that when we would know you were not comfortable with the truth.
      when i try to lie it is a disaster.. my nose turns red. like Rudolf. it is embarrassing to say the least.

  2. beth says:

    Awww, c’mon, now; let’s cut The Black Walnut some slack. The reason all the information about the allegations against him is coming out in dribs and drabs, is that he is breaking all the details of it to his stay-at-home little-wifey, Mrs. Herb, bit by bit. Trying to protect her delicate sensibilities and all…

    Mayhap she knows him too well to go out campaining with –and for– him? beth.

  3. psminidivapa says:

    OK, here’s my theory. Stay with me on this. The “men in grey suits” who run the GOP have a problem: the GOP is not connecting with women, minorities, young people -hence President Obama winning last election. GOP needs to APPEAR to embrace these groups. Find candidates, find candidates…. The female has to be HOT, but NOT Palin -been there, done that- there has to be a black or hispanic guy, and a GOP “lifer,” plus some wacko, really out there, super conservative guy – to make the members think that all of the varied wings of the party have been covered. The “grey suits” already have the person they want in the candidate position, but need to make the party faithfuls (and donators) believe that they are the ones who chose this person. Then pick off the candidates, one by one – MIchele (one L) with the corn dog and gay husband, Newt with the numerous wives, Pawlenty (wouldn’t you like to know what they had on him?). They never expected Cain to resonate with the party..BUT HE DID!!!!…damage control, damage control…pull out the file…oh, ok we have the sexual harassment …collective sigh of relief. Personally, I can not wait until the Santorum dirt gets released, he is freaking scary!! But I know that it will be just a matter of time, particularly if he moves up at all from his bottom of poll position. It’s all about the GOP eating its young and not looking beyond the end of their noses.

    • bubbles says:

      exactly. good one.

    • CO almost native says:

      Newt is next, as his poll numbers are up from 3 to 10%. Of course, there are so many scandals to pick from: which to chose, which to chose…

  4. Danielle says:

    I remember during the whole Clinton/Lewinsky fiasco that someone did the same analysis on Clinton when he gave his infamous “I DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH THAT WOMAN” speech. The blink rate was his ‘tell’ too. It changed dramatically when he was lying and when he was telling the truth. Truth = less blinds. Lies = more blinks. πŸ™‚ Good catch!

  5. jenjay says:

    Could be the TV lights…. but even allowing for that, he’s …. ugh.

  6. leenie17 says:

    How utterly mortifying that he is among the sad cast of demented characters being sold as the Republican presidential field.

    Romney can’t decide from one day to the next what his favorite sandwich is, no less what his proposed policies will be.

    Crazy Shelly is…well…crazy, and has creepy, alien eyes and a husband who’s so light in his loafers that he (and his yummy corndog) need to be tethered to the ground.

    Gingrich is just a disgusting lecher with no morals and an ego that fills a football stadium.

    Santorum…well one word will suffice: Google.

    Huntsman is the only one who seems comparatively sane and intelligent BUT he’s a Mormon AND he worked with President Obama so, naturally, he’s been essentially dismissed.

    And then there’s ‘Herb’ the Pizza Man. Clueless about the economy, foreign policy, the Constitution, and pretty much everything else. On top of that, he’s got one…no, make that two…oops, now it’s THREE sexual harassment claims against him and a memory that is frighteningly fuzzy about some possibly serious criminal charges.

    And this is the BEST they can come up with?????

  7. Leota2 says:

    Now Herman is blaming Rick Perry for leaking his little “problem”. It seems one of Perry’s people
    used to work for Cain. All I need is a comfortable chair and something to munch with butter on it.

  8. rethuglicans lowered the ethics and intellectual bars so low for dubya and they can’t find and run a single candidate that comes close to their minimum standards. Far be it for me to suggest that the last weasel rethug potus will turn out to be the high point in right wing history for this century. The opposition is going to have to scrape the dregs of their party to find a candidate capable of uttering more than a single syllable word-no.That does not appear to be a likely scenario for the 2012 elections. At least it will lend credence to the idea that rwnj are spoiled,rich brats who throw Newt Gingrich-like tantrums when they don’t get their way. Sill,I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on Dems because they can’t seem to handle prosperity much better than nutters. Have faith-sooner or later some politician will pull a”boner” of unbelievable stoopidity and re-affirm the idea that there are no statesmen anywhere.

  9. ibwilliamsi says:

    Buh-bye, Herb! (snicker – I couldn’t resist!)

  10. laurie says:

    I saw his comments regarding the charges go from complete denial and ignorance of any accusations to being unaware of a settlement to admitting to knowing about the charges and the settlement, but maintaining his innocence. That convinced me that he is lamely attempting to hide something.

  11. I See Villages From My House says:

    LOL. Even with idle hands AKM manages to eviscerate old Herb.

  12. Even more than the blinks are his inconsistent answers. He can’t seem to figure out whether he knew anything or whether he knew a lot. I can’t imagine that if you were in his position and someone accused you of sexual harassment that you wouldn’t remember what it was about. Especially if he hadn’t done anything wrong. I’m still annoyed that one of my comments on Pottermore not only went into moderation but was rejected. And I remember what it was about. That’s a lot less important than the accusations about Cain.

    As for the blinking, I’m glad you compared it to previous blinking. I’m a blinker, but I rarely lie. I blink because my eyes are dry due to allergies or because the light is too bright. But since he blinked quite a bit more and stammered more and just sounded evasive – all that together points to someone who doesn’t want us to know the truth of the matter.

  13. barbara says:

    i’ll bite. he’s lying. but then he is a republican.

  14. bubbles says:

    oh dear. oh my. Mr. Herman ‘the Herb’ Cain has a third lady who says he winked and blinked at her. my word. what a bummer.
    it seems Herb has many things in common with Palin and the rest of the Republican leadership. they are all sociopaths and they all resemble each other in their core affect.
    they are all fundamentally unable to be human or to respect human values.
    like Palin like Boehner, Cantor, McConnell and all the rest of their associates and followers; if you have seen one you should be able to spot all others you meet.

    • GreatGranny2C says:

      Dear Bubs – You are spoy-on with identifying them critters as sociopaths – and that is being kind to them!! I’ve been in Vandy Hospital since the weekend and will be here a few more days. DH bought me a new computer and I can’t get e-mail, etc. set up until I get home and access all my passwords and so forth. Will update you once I’m home. The Good Lord, my good husband, and a fantastic team of doctors are tending me well. Forgive my going off-topic here… you all!!

  15. LA Brian says:

    Any volunteers to see whether the blinks are a Morse Code message like “Help” or “Now was she the hot one or . . . “

  16. tigerwine says:

    Ohhh, AKM, you have entirely too much time on your hands! Counting blinks?

    Seriously, this man is such a smoothie – had lots of folks falling under his charming ways. (I thought he had a nice smile until I saw the end of his creepy ad) Don’t you know Romney is pumping his fists now? (Yesssssss!)

  17. Dagian says:

    Well, not only does Cain aspire to achieve “unsuitable candidate”, the cherry atop the sh*t cupcake (useless politics ‘in action’) can be found here:

    H.Con.Res 13 β€” Reaffirming β€˜In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States.

    By Dana Milbank, Published: November 1 (

  18. Simple Mind says:

    I’m no expert but my recollection from psych class is that the research on behavioral clues to lying is, at best, all over the map. However, whether Cain is lying or not, what is clear is that increased blinking, stammering, etc, are signs of stress. While I’m sure that answering questions about a sexual harassment claim is stressful, why is Cain bumbling and stumbling around? Surely, someone in his organization had to have asked before now, “Do you have any skeletons in the closet for which we need to prepare?” This had to come out. Why doesn’t he have a prepared response? Its not magic. Its in every corporate strategy handbook. When you have bad news, face it, get it over with and try to move on. Squirming just prolongs the agony. Of course, this is the same bumbler who trumpeted a silly tax plan/gimmick that even conservatives said was stupid. Cain seemed completely unprepared when that Friend-of-the-Working-Man Hugh Romney pointed out that the “9-9-9” plan would raise taxes for a large majority of Americans who just happen to be everyone who is not rich. Oops. When the “its apples and oranges” explanation didn’t work, the “9-9-9” plan suddenly became the “9-0-9” plan. Cain said he was just keeping the “zero tax” part a secret. Didn’t want to confuse any of us simple folks, I guess. Then, of course, there was his admission that he doesn’t know anything about foreign affairs but he’ll surely study up before we hand him the nuclear codes. On the employment front? Well, if all you poor folks would just get a job delivering pizza or as a migrant farm worker, everything would be fine and the rich folks could get back to figuring out their social calendars. While I disagree with almost everything that Cain has ever said, I find it even more frightening that someone this unprepared and apparently unaware that he is unprepared is seriously in the running for the highest office in our nation. If I was a conspiracy type, I’d almost believe that Cain was just hired by Romney to assure Romney’s eventual nomination.

    • Simple Mind says:

      Mitt Romney, obviously. I admit its hard to keep him in mind.

    • BigPete says:

      β€œDo you have any skeletons in the closet for which we need to prepare?”

      The pizza guy is a motivational speaker/author who admits he knows nothing about foreign policy and has never held elective office in his life. He just wanted to make a name for himself with other people’s campaign donations, and have his campaign purchase his books, a la Palin. He claims not to be interested in a cable TV show on Fox.

      Mel Brooks made a film (and a Broadway show) about Herbert- it’s called “The Producers”.

      • A Fan From Chicago says:

        Bingo!. Sarah’s friend “Herb” is no more running for President than I am. This whole exercise has been about selling books, raking in speaking fees and landing a talk show. Herb has almost no presence in Iowa or New Hampshire and has been “campaigning” in states that have primaries in late March. He talks in slogans and knows nothing about foreign policy.

        Herb’s eye blinking and dry mouth are not a result of his fears about how the harrassment charges will affect his Presidential Campaign. They are the result of his fears that the charges will affect his ability to earn money. Just another grifter.

  19. Just Me says:

    Did Cain really say that Clarence Thomas was his favorite Supreme Court Justice? That really shocks me and tells me a lot about Cain (none of it good).Thomas is a phony from the git-go and hopefully, if we all try hard enough, maybe we can get him off the court for falsifying his tax reports. There are groups that are working on this, so please support them. Sorry I can’t give you any sites, but they seem to be everywhere.

  20. slipstream says:

    “So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.”

  21. AKblue says:

    When Cain said that his favorite Supreme Court Justice was Clarence Thomas, it set off alarm bells for many reasons….

  22. You need to get an old sock,sew two buttons on it for eyes,slap some pitbull slobber-gloss on its mouth parts and voila-you have AKM’s official,scientific, eye-blink language evaluator,along the lines of what fake noise produces to read Obama’s body language.I would get an old grey,wool sock so it looks like it has wisdom,get a fauxknee university degree to hang on the wall for visual nuance and copy-right your creation,so there can be no impostors. Not only would your expert be more informed than the other guy’s,you have proven to be far more clever and funny than them nuts.

  23. Dee says:

    Not only is he blinking,he’s stammering,and stumbling over his talking points.

    • Paddlefoot says:

      If I remember correctly, blinking was also an issue during Operation Desert Shield/Storm when Saddam Hussein was interviewed with a young boy at his side preaching about his redeeming qualities. Hussein was blinking like a butterfly on crack.

  24. Lacy Lady says:

    heard that something should be coming out on this story in 48 hrs. Hopefully the woman involved in the story will be release from her signed contract, and be able to give her side of the story. Start runnnnnnnning Herman!!!!

  25. Really? says:

    Could the blinking be some obscure medical problem? (is lying a medical problem ?)

    • Zyxomma says:

      It’s a mental health issue — or should that read a mental illness issue?

    • Writing from Alaska says:

      Perhaps we need a larger sampling. Proposed research project?

    • way says:

      Perhaps Cain is under great duress and not able to communicate this to the outside world and is using the ‘blinks’ like a Morse Code…. I believe there were several POW’s who used this very method while being interviewed by the Red Cross… to communicate back to their govt the truth of what was going on. I really hesitate to ask the original author to go back and see if there are any ‘hidden’ morse messages… I am not sure they would raise their hand for this one…. however on the outside chance they are the ‘mark’ I suspect they are… here is a little help.

  26. OMG says:

    It is frightening that the GOP rallies around one unqualified candidate after another. Even conservative Joe Scarborough is fed up:

    Scarborough is not a fan of Sarah Palin (far from it–he thought she was a joke) but he believes that even Palin had more gravity than Cain.

    • Pinwheel says:

      The blinking is a terrible distraction, nye unto a ‘tick’. But I must remind us all of Nancy Pelosi’s first State of the Union address. She was probably unaware of the impact of her blinking. I have always hoped that Nancy was dehydrated and her eyes really were giving her grief. Perhaps she wears contacts. Perhaps Nancy was unprepared for the glare of the lights.

      I am making no comparison between these two appearances. Let’s not create a double standard where one probably does not exist.

      Now for all you ‘profilers’ out here in the ‘Mud’, I truly believe the greater insult is Ron Paul’s comment that “women can’t take a joke”. Therein lies the insult. Ingrained within the GOP is a terror that women shall acquire power. I read last nite about the influence of the American Bishops. The Bishops created the attack on women and, like all good, cozy lobbyists, with deep pockets, accomplish their goal. Deny a Womans’ Right to Choose.

      Ever seen a pregnant Catholic Bishop?