Thin-Sliced Thoughts and Theory's Ends

Mark Andrejevic


This article explores a variety of techniques for “cutting through the clutter” in an era of information glut: body language, neuromarketing, and data mining. It traces connections between these different strategies by arguing that they converge on an understanding of the social, political, and economic roles of information, which challenge the empowering promise of the digital information revolution. The attempt to short-circuit the discursive content of communication in order to get straight at the underlying sentiment is symptomatic of an impasse that Slavoj Zizek describes in terms of the demise of symbolic efficiency. The promise of direct access to emotional truths modeled, for example by deception detection experts on the show Lie to Me compensates for what might be described as a vernacular postmodernism in which representations are understood to be not only subject to contrivance, but completely reducible to it. The result, this article argues, is a shift in the relationship of information to power, and thus in strategies for challenging or resisting it.


Body language, neuromarketing, data mining, convergence, Slavoj Zizek, Malcolm Gladwell, media, power, Lie to Me

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