- President Clinton has demonstrated that
honesty is at the tip of the nose.
- So says Alan Hirsch, a neurologist and
psychiatrist who studied how often the president touched his nose during
his grand jury testimony in the Monica Lewinsky affair.
- Hirsch, director of the Smell & Taste
Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, and Charles Wolf, a psychiatry
student from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, analyzed
the president's testimony as part of a study on lying.
- They will present their findings Wednesday
in Washington at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.
- Hirsch and Wolf reviewed Clinton's Aug.
17 videotaped deposition, in which he denied having a sexual relationship
with Lewinsky. They found he touched his nose 26 times per minute during
answers later revealed to be untruthful, compared to not touching his
nose during truthful segments.
- Hirsch says there's a physiological explanation:
"When one lies, erectile tissue inside the nose engorges. In response
to this swelling, the nose itches."
- Hirsch and Wolf identified 23 verbal
and nonverbal signs of lying, from throat-clearing to lip-licking.
- Brian Jayne, director of research and
development for John E. Reid and Associates, a Chicago consulting firm
on criminal interrogation and polygraph use, says that simply looking
for these signals can be misleading.
- "You've got to look at the subject's
overall behavior and read it in context with the statement the person is
making and the environment in which it's given," he says.
- Hirsch cautions that in any single speech,
the 23 signs prove nothing. Their frequency must be compared to a truthful
control period, and other factors such as stress often can cause these
- Hirsch said that aside from scratching
his nose, Clinton showed an increase in stuttering, swallowing, clearing
his throat, touching his face and averting his gaze during his testimony.
- The White House declined to comment on