Television: Listen to the Body Bird

Ray L. Birdwhistell, 38, ornithologically named, is actually an anthropologist, and he has the scientific conviction that there is more in TV than meets the eye. Each move, grimace or gesture, however slight or unconscious, spells a meaning to Birdwhistell (pronounced bird whistle)—a meaning that does not always fit what the performer may be saying out loud. The University of Buffalo's Birdwhistell calls his specialty "kinesics," the study of body motions as a form of communication.

Body language, explained Birdwhistell last week, is just as real as the spoken kind, tends just as...

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