Thursday, March 8, 2012

Face Reading Challenge

Recently (February 2012) the Entrepreneurs Organization in Reno had Naomi Tickle as a guest speaker.  A pleasant woman with an English accent, Naomi proceeded to tell the 100 or so business owners gathered that she could determine personality characteristics by looking at people's faces.  This ability was independent of race and she has written an entire book about it.  She stated that she can read personalities from looking at photos with greater than 90% accuracy. She regaled the audience with photos of people who had various characteristics (analytic, artistic, etc). Well, color me skeptical. During the Q&A session I politely thanked her for her presentation and asked if I heard her clearly say that she could differentiate engineers or accountants from musicians by looking at their pictures.  She confirmed this is the case.  I then said that I felt that the James Randi Education Foundation (Randi.org) would be willing to offer $1 Million if she could and stated I would make the introductions.  She clearly sensed I was skeptical but was intrigued and took my business card.
I expected this would be the end of the matter.  Much to my surprise, yesterday I received a follow up email from Naomi.   Her email is summarized and my response are as follows:


Naomi,The $1Million challenge I referred to is actually for the paranormal, but I believe your claim of being able to determine someone’s career simply by looking at pictures of them could be turned into an acceptable challenge to the JREF.  From your website it seems you’ve already had publicity on your face reading, which is one of the earlier qualifiers for the claim.  Please understand  I don’t represent the JREF so we’d have to run it by them.The way that the challenge works is that YOU actually design the double blind test yourself.  You start by writing what your claim is.  Then the JREF creates a testing methodology that is double blind and mutually acceptable.  My recommendation would be to make it as easy on yourself as possible by making claims less than what you think you can do.  In the presentation you said something about being able to differentiate personality types with over 90% accuracy.  My suggestion was that since personality is a bit nebulous (which is why you think you can do what you do and I think you cannot),  that we make the test based on specific careers people are already working in that field and are easily verifiable, very different from one another, and not subject to interpretation.  Design the claim carefully because you must be able to do it in double blind conditions and excuses after the fact aren’t going to help you.  So in other words after you fail the testers don’t want to hear things like “ the photos weren’t of sufficient resolution, or “the lights in the testing room threw off my abilities” or “the people in the pictures had glasses on and I can’t determine with glasses on”, or “ there was so much negative energy in the room” or “it was too noisy” or “I wasn’t given enough time”.   If ANY of those things matter – specify them IN WRITING – IN ADVANCE.  Test yourself by having a friend give you photos and see if you can really do what you think you can.  Then modify the claim to fit.  I urge you to think it through so you won’t need  to make excuses and you insure yourself maximum chance of winning the one million dollars.   Rather than your 90% accuracy  claim if I were you I might claim something less like 75% for example.    An example claim you might make: By looking at the photographs of people I’ve never met I can determine with 75% accuracy whether they are engineers or artists by the characteristics of their face.  I can do this at any time of day, with any lighting, with any race of people. I do not need any equipment except a ruler or measuring device. The pictures must by 3x5 or larger.  I don’t need to know if there are an equal number of engineers or artists.Obviously the above is just my idea – tailor the claim to what you think you can do.  You mention psychiatrists (my wife happens to be one) have unique characteristics.  Or maybe Musicians versus accountants?  Doctors versus actors?  Whatever makes it easy for you should work fine. Make the 2 groups very different personalities as you desire.   With the claim above what jref might do take 100 or 500 pictures (enough to preclude random chance), then an objective 3rd party (who has no idea who the people are) presents the photos to you and you just sort them into two piles.  If you can achieve your claim reliably (statistically significant) under double-blind conditions (where neither you or person administering the test knows which career the person in the pictures are in) my guess is this would win the prize.  There would probably be two phases – a preliminary test and, if you pass, a final one.  You must be specific like- how exactly many photos you will get right to be considered a success (obviously it must be significantly above random chance).  It may be that either you or JREF would suggest additional controls prior to the test such as specifying the resolution of the photos, the age of the people, etc.   Few such claims make it past the written documentation phase because people are unable or unwilling to articulate what they think they can do. 
I am willing to help as I offered – I have no authority with JREF but would be happy to help interface or give ideas or even conduct informal preliminary tests.  Work out details about what city and location is convenient for the testing.  JREF is in Florida but I travel a bit on business and might be able to help with something. I can also talk to my friends at JREF to see whether, since your ability isn’t “paranormal” they would be willing to extend the challenge – I believe I can convince them but it would help to get a specific written application to begin the discussion.Learn more about the challenge here: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.htmlThe history and Frequently asked Questions are here:  http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/component/content/article/37-static/254-jref-challenge-faq.htmlApplication here: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge/challenge-application.htmlThe ball is your court Naomi!  I don’t think you can do what you claim.  I notice you are already backpedaling from what you claimed in front of 100 people in Reno …. i.e. “of course it’s a little more accurate in person”.  I’m sure it is ….especially when you can read body language and use “cold reading” techniques as I observed you do.  So I ask you….can you do it from pictures or not?  I believe you *think* you can but I think you are deceiving yourself and others.  There is too much inaccurate knowledge in the world and we should all attempt to validate our beliefs so we don’t spread misinformation….don’t you agree?  Are you willing to validate your entire book and career and win a cool million in the process???My cell is xxxxDarren McBride
Naomi Wrote back to thank me and indicate she could do assessments from photographs but they are more accurate in person.  She indicated architects have similar shaped eyebrows to perfectionist. Teaches have close set eyes.  Accountants have close set yes and roman noses.  Etc. etc  See the follow up blogs for more of her response and my counterpoints.

3 comments:

  1. Very Nice information!! I like this Very much !!
    Thanks for shairing with us,keep positing and please do post on face reading
    human psychology face reading, face reading chinese astrology
    Best face reading courses in pune | Face reading center in pune

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very Nice information!! I like this Very much !!
    Thanks for shairing with us,keep positing and please do post on face reading
    human psychology face reading, face reading chinese astrology
    Best face reading courses in pune | Face reading center in pune





    ReplyDelete
  3. Very Nice information!! I like this Very much !!
    Thanks for shairing with us,keep positing and please do post on face reading
    human psychology face reading, face reading chinese astrology
    Best face reading courses in pune | Face reading center in pune

    ReplyDelete