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What Happens When a Professional Poker Player Watches “Making a Murderer?”

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by Greg Hamblin

on 19 February, 2016

My educational background is in communication theory, so I’ve had a lot of fun meeting with Kenna James over the last few weeks talking about “bluffs” and “tells” and how we see these non-verbal communications in the business and legal world. I admit, at first I was skeptical of some of the signs he told us to look for, but I began seeing these tells almost immediately.

On a whim, I brought in my laptop and asked Kenna if he had ever heard of “Making a Murderer,” the very popular Netflix series reminiscent of This American Life’s “Serial.” He had not, so I asked if I could show him some depositions from the second episode and get his take on what he was seeing.

The results were fascinating. Having no idea what the story was behind any of these people, or even what “Making a Murderer” was about, Kenna started identifying nonverbal behaviors right away that seemed to tell the story of cover ups and occasional grudging admissions of mistakes.

Perhaps most importantly, he was able to identify the subconscious messages that these people were sending, and helping us to identify why we instinctively respond the way we do to their testimonies.