The Tell, by Matthew Hertenstein, is about the power of prediction based on observations of brief samples of others’ behavior. Throughout this book, Hertenstein teaches what tells in early life predict autism, how photographs betray others’ personality and aggressive inclinations, how smiling predicts marital stability, how micro-expressions signal deception, how facial structure predicts companies’ profits, and who wins political elections. In the following few pages, there will be many clues on what tells can predict certain things for the future (Hertenstein, ix).
In the first chapter of The Tell, Hertenstein looks at the synonym of the word “prediction: foreshadow, foretell, foresee, forecast, prognosticate, and envision” (Hertenstein, 4). These are only a few words that can replace prediction. He not only looks at the synonym of prediction, but he also suggests that natural selection explains why human beings are good at making predictions about people. Human beings have been making predictions since the existence of humankind. Some people are able to make more accurate predictions than others can. This is only because those people are highly conscientious, as Hertenstein calls them. Highly conscientious people are those who are reliable, they plan ahead, and focus on what they are doing. These people are aware of their surroundings and pay attention to detail.
During Isaac’s, Hertenstein’s son, first year and a half of his life, Hertenstein noticed that his son would not do simple things that almost every child at that age does. Isaac was not smiling a lot, he was not babbling, and many of his motor development, as Hertenstein describes them, such as sitting up, crawling, and walking were delayed by months. Herrnstein says, “Babbling might seem a pointless behavior, but it provides the foundation for language” (14). Isaac was not acting like a normal baby. Hertenstein took him to the physicians and they said to wait until Isaac is older to detect whether he has autism. Hertenstein’s problem was that waiting until Isaac is older might reduce the positive outcome of treatment. Soon, the pediatrics confirmed his concerns. Isaac’s brain scan showed some abnormalities.
Isaac’s parents decided to take him to an early intervention and therapies. According to Hertenstein, early intervention may rewire the brain to change the course of potential autism. When he got older, he showed no signs of autism. He is perfectly healthy. Through Isaac’s behavior, Hertenstein was able to detect symptoms of autism before the doctors diagnosed his son and before there was no cure. Just as Herrnstein predicted his son’s condition before he got older, it is possible to make fairly accurate predictions about what a child will be like when he or she gets older (Hertenstein, 26).
Hertenstein teaches, through John Bowlby, how to predict whether a child will be securely or insecurely attached. A securely attached child will cry when his mother walks out of the...