October 14, 2009

"Facial Profiling"

Slate has an article pooh-poohing old systems of trying to classify personalities by physical type and then worriedly reporting on new studies showing that maybe there is a correlation between say a heavy brow ridge and aggressiveness after all.
Facial Profiling
Can you tell if a man is dangerous by the shape of his mug?
By Dave Johns

What the article leaves out is how fully the arts have always participated in "facial profiling." It was never just some pseudo-scientific fad.

Back when images were expensive but words were cheap, novelists used to devote an extraordinary number of words to describing the looks of their characters, precisely with the assumption that the reader could pick up hints about the character's character. For example, Dashiell Hammett, a Communist, spent two full pages on a minute description of detective Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon: blond, 6'-3", and so forth -- pretty much the exact opposite of Humphrey Bogart. (Robert Heinlein was more forward looking: he never described what his characters looked like, allowing readers to assume wrongly what Johnnie's race is in Starship Troopers. Let's just say that Heinlein's Johnnie looked even less like Casper von Diehn's Johnnie in the movie than Hammett's Sam Spade looked like Bogey.)

Personally, I could never make head nor tail out of what somebody was supposed to look like from these old novelist's descriptions of facial features; evidently, however, readers in the old days could. By the way, European diplomatic correspondence in the monarchical age devoted a lot of time to just this problem, with ambassadors providing lengthy verbal descriptions of the looks of princes and princesses that the monarch back home might want to marry his offspring to in dynastic alliances.

Similarly, a quick way for researchers to generate new but plausible hypotheses to test about the relationship between physical features and personalities would be to interview Hollywood casting directors. These middle aged ladies have an encyclopedic knowledge of what audiences assume about the correlation between looks and personality/behavior.

At the leading man level, it's pretty obvious that Russell Crowe, with his sizable brow ridge, looks more like a gladiator than Johnny Depp. It wasn't as obvious that Depp, with his '70s rock star cheekbones, would make a good pirate, but once you come up with the idea of an effete pirate with the personality of a Rolling Stone, then it all fit together.

Of course, with stars it's fun to see them play against type -- Crowe as a mathematician -- but with minor roles, casting directors need to find faces that won't confuse the audience as to what this minor character's function in the plot is supposed to be.

Another way to generate hypotheses about looks, facial expressions, and personalities is to see what talented mimics like Tracey Ullman and Wayne Brady do with their faces when given a personality type to embody.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

83 comments:

Galahad said...

Not to mention Mannie in "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein.

Marc B said...

There may be something to this. People who I've met in passing have assumed on more than one occasion that I was either a police officer, in the military, or a fireman. Gangbangers would ask if I was a cop when I drove a cab and refused the ride as soon as I turned the questioning back on them without answering.

Veracitor said...

I remember reading (probably in the LA Times but I can't find it there with a quick search) about a program to give scary-looking convicts eligible for parole chin-reduction surgeries, on the theory that if they looked friendlier people would treat them better and they would be less likely to get into fights (therefore less likely to return to prison).

Of course, that left aside the question of whether those big chins were symptoms of something (e.g., very high testosterone level) which might affect behaviour "from the inside," not just unreasonably provoke treatment by others to which even a Marvin Milquetoast might react with violence.

Anyway, everyone agreed that some people looked scary, and that some fraction of those folks might "really" be less scary than they looked.

So far as I'm concerned, a "scary" physiognomy is often one which provokes an evolved fear response. Of course a mild face sporting gang tattoos would look scary. But when an unadorned face "looks scary" to nearly all observers, those observers are likely taking a cue from some aspect of the face which is a symptom of something which commonly affects behavior, something which has had that association so long that we have evolved to recognize it and react.

Jason said...

I'm surprised that the article didn't even mention the TV show "Lie To Me", which uses judgments based on appearances as a plot point week after week. Of course, that's mostly facial expressions rather than faces, but at least one episode turned on the detection of homosexuality.

couchscientist said...

A similar predictor for aggression and atheleticism is the index and ring finger ratio, as determined by prenatal exposure to testosterone. The studies I've read on that also conspicously leave out race...
See also studies of women choosing which faces would be good for long term and which would be good for flings (similarly which they are attracted to as the month varies) matching well with which men like kids.
This myth that society is the only determinent of our behavior is so engrained...Even the study which found criminals and hockey players as having wider faces than the general population concluded, "you can't judge a book by its cover"? Maybe not, but you can tell guess pretty damn well how aggressive it will be. How can we be so blind to what we already know?

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

Personally, I could never make head nor tail out of what somebody was supposed to look like from these old novelist's descriptions of facial features; evidently, however, readers in the old days could.

I've noticed this as well. "Third world" leaders were often described as having a "fine, bullet shaped head". I still haven't figured out if that was a compliment or not.

I am Lugash.

P.S.- Was the housing bubble driven by the female belief in "nuture" rather than the male belief in "nature"? Most of the men I know looked at the $300K, 500sq. ft. shacks in Compton and knew the you could never do anything to improve its true nature. Women felt that if you landscaped it nice and put in granite counter tops you could "nuture" it to a higher price.

Officer Bill Gannon said...

Whenever I refer to "Johnny Depp, the homosexual pirate" it never fails to elicit shrieks of protest from my teenage stepdaughter.

Dutch Boy said...

There is an old theory that criminality correlates with physique (mesomorphs). Modern psychologists don't seem to think much of this theory but it has a certain plausibility from a physiological standpoint.

albertosaurus said...

This article skirts around the unthinkable. For example:

I can describe a face that is crime prone. It has a beard, it is young, it has a broad nose, kinky hair and dark skin.

I can also describe a face that will seldom be seen commiting a crime. It has no beard, it is old, the hair in straight and black unless it has turned white.

I use this technique all the time. I am never afraid of elderly Chinese women.

Andrea said...

I wonder whether facial features are the external manifestation of one's core inner being(or personality) or "accidentally" affect/shape/influence the character of one's inner being. There are three interesting movies worth mentioning on this subject: Eyes without a Face, Face of Another, and Open Your Eyes(remade into awful Vanilla Sky).

Suppose Sean Connery-as-baby had been given another face--that of Pee Wee Herman. Suppose he had grown up with that funny-looking countenance. Would he still have been Sean Connery inside, or would having a face like that--staring back him in the mirror and deemed as funny-looking by others--shaped his inner being into something Pee Wee-ish.
Suppose Woody Allen-as-baby had been give the face of Robert Redford. Would he still have turned into the annoying neurotic Jewish rascal? Or, would the beautiful face in the mirror have led to a more dignified and mainstream personality?

Of course, it's not just the face but the physique and voice. If blacks didn't have such booming voices, they wouldn't be regarded as 'charimatic' and would probably be less enamoured of themselves. Just look at Mike Tyson. He was big and powerful but was always something of a joke because he had a squeaky air-seeping-out-of-balloon voice.

There probably is a kind of inner core or natural personality, but it develops according to how one sees oneself and others see/deem/judge one also.

Reactionary said...

A well-known abstract on breeding for domestication in foxes is here. The study finds that physiological changes accompany the behavioral ones. Foxes get piebald coats, short or curly tails, and floppy ears.

So, it seems entirely plausible that certain physical characteristics accompany behavioral traits in humans.

Anonymous said...

Robert Heinlein was more forward looking: he never described what his characters looked like, allowing readers to assume wrongly what Johnnie's race is in Starship Troopers.



What was his race? And how could anyone "assume wrongly" about it?

Grumpy Old Man said...

These are stereotypes, and like most stereotypes, they have at least a statistical connection to truth.

"Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous."

Sheldon's somatotyping had weird aspects, not least his photos of scantily clad freshmen--but he may have been onto something.

sabril said...

One thing I've noticed is that fat black guys seem to be a lot nicer than thin black guys. Has anyone else noticed this?

Ryan said...

Schopenhauer knew it in the 19th century. Google "schopenhauer outer mirrors inner" and read #9 of the first link. Excellent passage.

And William Sheldon theorized about somatotypes relating to psychology and behavior. "Stereotypes" regarding introverted, tall and thin intellectuals, or fat and jolly extroverts, seem to have basis in biological extroversion/introversion that relates physiological traits which are manifested externally. I would expect most readers here to be cerebretonic ectomorphs.

Anyone have an opinion on Sheldon? Seems prima facie plausible to me, but can't speak with any authority beyond my own observations.

Anonymous said...

I'd been wondering what happened to Lugash.

Lionel Messi said...

The rehabilitation of Cesare Lombroso?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be too quick to assume that readers in say, the 1930's could get much more out of literary physiognomies than you can. Writers are always padding their stuff with fashionable nonsense words. Especially when they get paid, you know, by the word (see fiction, pulp).

Even when the descriptions kinda makes sense, they're clearly a crutch for the writer. Like a "heart-shaped face" - presumably this is a face broad at the cheekbones, narrower at the angle of the jaw (which is placed fairly high) with a narrow chin. In other words...Uma Thurman I guess. Some Japanese girls maybe. Not what you'd call a common type, except certain novelists would have you think the world is crawling with women of that description. Why? Because most faces aren't so easily amenable to description. The same with "bullet heads" and "lantern jaws" and whatnot.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading (probably in the LA Times but I can't find it there with a quick search) about a program to give scary-looking convicts eligible for parole chin-reduction surgeries, on the theory that if they looked friendlier people would treat them better and they would be less likely to get into fights (therefore less likely to return to prison).


Reminds me of a great movie with Mickey Rourke, Lance Henrikson and Forrest Whittaker called "Johnny Handsome." Rourke is a criminal who gets plastic surgery (peformed by Whittaker). Whittaker thinks that it will make Rourke a law abiding citizen. I won't ruin the film for anyone, so just go see it.

not a hacker said...

A weird ambibuity with me: streetwalkers assume I'm a cop, while bigger guys of all races assume they can pick on me.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you write for Taki and Vdare---who's ever heard of these magazines??

Marginalized.

WorkScience said...

Do you think these facial profiling techniques could help employers pick the right candidates? What jobs, besides pro hockey players would have specific facial characteristics?

Anonymous said...

There is an old theory that criminality correlates with physique (mesomorphs). Modern psychologists don't seem to think much of this theory but it has a certain plausibility from a physiological standpoint.

A little off-topic, but I remember being shocked at how many people in this thread at iSteve were plugging astrology.

But then I saw this story:

New Light on the Plight of Winter Babies
By JUSTIN LAHART
SEPTEMBER 22, 2009
online.wsj.com

...In 2007, Mr. Hungerman was doing research on sibling behavior when he noticed that children in the same families tend to be born at the same time of year. Meanwhile, Ms. Buckles was examining the economic factors that lead to multiple births, and coming across what looked like a relationship between mothers' education levels and when children were born...

Truth said...

"A weird ambibuity with me: streetwalkers assume I'm a cop, while bigger guys of all races assume they can pick on me."

A little bit of advice; learn to fight and stop soliciting hookers.

"Steve, you write for Taki and Vdare---who's ever heard of these magazines??

Marginalized."

Not everyone can write for "Smithsonian", Sport

Anonymous said...

I tend to believe our genome is very visible to others on a subconscious level and is mostly discernible in our faces (and this is why I support the Romeo and Juliet revolution).

The most extreme example of this that everyone understands is Down's Syndrome and its specific and universal physical effects. Another is non-functional MC1R which results in red hair (and probably many other things, but our current elites think studying such things is noxious).

What do other peculiarities and flaws indicate?

Of course I believe that we are most strongly attracted to those with whom we'd create the healthiest and best children, but I believe further that sometimes mate choice can take surprising turns because of what would be greatly beneficial to the genes of one's future children, especially when certain deficiencies need to be counteracted. For example, it may be more important for a woman's future children to avoid men with big noses if she self-describes as a person who detests them than it would be for a woman who doesn't notice noses as much.

As far as crime, it's so obvious that faces are revealing that I find the subject boring. My mom taught me back as a kid to stay away from anyone with low-set-and-turned-back ears.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous asks, "What was his race? And how could anyone "assume wrongly" about it?"

Throughout Starship Troopers no reference is made to Johnny's race at all, leaving the reader to assume that he's probably a white guy like just about every other protagonist in every other science fiction story (this was written in the 50s). Right near the end of the book, Johnny refers to his native language as being Tagalog and it becomes pretty clear that Johnny is Filipino. This never mattered to the story, and doesn't matter after we find out, but especially given the era in which Heinlein was writing it's noteworthy that he depicts his hero as being Filipino.

headache said...

sabril said...
One thing I've noticed is that fat black guys seem to be a lot nicer than thin black guys. Has anyone else noticed this?


Mee too. I'm always puzzled about the muscular athletic blacks being displayed as crooks in TV or in the articles you read about crime. I have a feeling they become body builders in jail coz there is nothing else to do.
In southern Africa the most dangerous criminals are usually thin guys. They move fast, are deceptive and can use weapons fairly well. And they are ruthless.
Fat black guys are like the proverbial fat black mama who always had a good reputation amongst whites.

John Craig said...

The comic books are another example of what Steve is talking about. The villains are always drawn to be very menacing-looking, which means that they have big jaws, deep set eyes, (very often) a five o'clock shadow, and lots of muscles. Of course, the heroes are drawn the same way (comic book readers want their heroes at least as androgenized as their villains).

Another example would be how often acromegalics are used as bad guys in the movies. (Think of the guy Paul Newman beat in that knife fight as Butch Cassidy, or Richard Kiel as Jaws in a couple of Roger Moore James Bond movies, or Andre the Giant (initially) in The Princess Bride. Acromegalics are essentially guys who've ended up with extremely male features because their foreheads and jaws and noses just keep growing longer. (Plus they're huge, and have deep voices.)

Away from physical features, we also just naturally have more of a fear of extremely large guys. I remember once when I was running on the UCLA track in the late Seventies and suddenly a seven foot black appeared (we were the only two at the track at the time). I felt an immediate jolt of fear. It went away when I recognized him (it was Wilt Chamberlain), but I'll never forget the jolt I felt at being confronted with someone that large.

Yes, we've developed the instinct to fear certain physical types for a reason. Not only are they more likely to be aggressive, they can usually handle us physically with ease.

Drogomir Smolken said...

Haha, I've always been told I looked scary, even when I was young and skinny, and people often mistakenly think I'm angry. I was once offered a gig in a band because the sensitive artist bandleader hated getting heckled and he thought I'd discourage that just by my presence.

Not sure how strong the correlations really are, and I've managed to avoid any convictions so far, but if you're a guy looking scary sure is great in all kinds of situations. Anything from arguing with guys cutting you off in traffic to shooting rap videos.

kudzu bob said...

Twoof, learn what the word "assumes" means. A friend of mine, who was a Marine sniper in Afghanistan, also has a look about him that causes others to assume that they can pick on him--but it is only after the situation has escalated that they learn how bone-crunchingly deceptive appearances can sometimes be.

kudzu bob said...

>the proverbial fat black mama who always had a good reputation amongst whites<

That was probably true in an another time, but not in our era of food stamps and Hostess Ho Hos, alas.

Svigor said...

What the article leaves out is how fully the arts have always participated in "facial profiling." It was never just some pseudo-scientific fad.

I put this into the same category I put Social Identity Theory into - even if science doesn't give the same credence to the phenomena that society does, it's social validity grants it scientific validity. In other words, human nature means "racism" and "looks-ism."

Svigor said...

Anyway, everyone agreed that some people looked scary, and that some fraction of those folks might "really" be less scary than they looked.

Before I posted my first comment I couldn't help but think of Will Farrell; he's made a career out of looking dumber than he is, among other things.

Svigor said...

One thing I've noticed is that fat black guys seem to be a lot nicer than thin black guys. Has anyone else noticed this?

You think race has a part? I mean, who hasn't noticed fat people being more agreeable?

Harry Baldwin said...

not a hacker said... “A weird ambiguity with me: streetwalkers assume I'm a cop . . .”

There is a widespread belief in the demi-monde that if you ask an undercover cop if he is a cop, he has to answer honestly or his case won't hold up in court. This is not true, but streetwalkers and call girls still generally ask a prospective client this question.

I've always wondered about a lot of the generals I've seen since the Vietnam War (the television age) --they "look" like authority figures, with strong chins, craggy cheeks, and full heads of silver-gray hair, and generally they make a point to keep fit. I admit there are exceptions, but considering how rare that look is, it seems to pop up a lot among the high command. Do they get promoted because they look the type, or because the physical type mirrors inner qualities?

When George S. Patton was young, he cursed his "mild look" and practiced scowling into a mirror to develop what he called his "war face." Obviously he understood the importance of looking the part.

Steve mentions casting, but in the last decade or two casting is often way off base. The self-absorbed child-man Johnny Depp as Dillinger? Forget it. In an earlier film, Warren Oates portrayed Dillinger perfectly: alpha male, cocky, full of bluster, cagey but not too bright, capable of explosive violence. There is no way Depp could project that persona: he's not the "type."

They say that when you hit 40 you have the face you deserve, and there is a lot of truth to that. I've heard that Lee van Cleef, one of my all-time favorite heavies, was one of the nicest guys you could meet, and in old age his previously villainous visage took on an open, good-natured look. Meanwhile, Chris Dodd, a handsome man when he first entered the senate, is beginning to look like Emperor Palpatine. Bill Clinton, that shameless old scamp, is looking more and more like W.C. Fields.

douchbag said...

The reason why fat black guys are "nicer" than skinny black guys has, I think, to do with how people mentally respond to situations. I don't think fat black guys are "nice" because they are fat, I think it's because they are "nice" that they are fat.

People respond to external stress differently . Some people will react with a very heightened sense of fight or flight response, while other less so. If you have thoughts of rage and anger constantly pulsing through your mind, you're probably also very aggressive, and you also probably have more adrenaline flowing through your body at any given time.

Adrenaline is very catabolic, it ignites a series metabolic reactions in the body that biases it towards energy production and body tissue breakdown. So, in essence, people who don't have an extreme reaction to stress, usually are heftier, because there is less tissue breakdown than people who are very stress reactive.

Thus, people who are always emotional charged are usually going to be skinnier than their "nicer" counterpart.

Paul Parson said...

One thing I've noticed is that fat black guys seem to be a lot nicer than thin black guys. Has anyone else noticed this?

The Idi Amin Fan Club!?

Paul Mendez said...

During my bar-hopping days, we noticed the really good-looking people were at the Capitol Hill bars frequented by Congressional staffers. The biker bars were full of ugly people. We debated the reason for this and came up with 3 hypotheses:

1) Pretty children were treated better than ugly children, grew up nicer and smarter and got good jobs on the Hill.

2) Smart people take care of themselves better, and turn out prettier.

3) Humans have evolved a way to tell the smart/nice people fromthe dumb/bad people, and that is what we call "beauty."

P Coderch said...

Interestingly, though, the World's greatest and most feared fighter, Fedor Emelianenko, has a round face with little of his brow ridge sticking out and an amiable, almost zen like personality. Correlation does not equal causality. Just because traits like square jaws and developed brow ridges correlate to a higher degree with aggressivness, it does not follow that they are responsible for it. Merely, the same physiological/biochemical factors that result in large jaws and protruding ridge bones, also induce a more resolute personality to a higher proportion than the physiological/biochemical traits that result in delicate jaws and round ridge bones. The correlation is far from linear, notwithstanding.

Truth said...

"Twoof, learn what the word "assumes" means."

Gee, thanks Bob, I looked it up; now please do the same with "satire."

Dutch Boy said...

"Meanwhile, Chris Dodd, a handsome man when he first entered the senate, is beginning to look like Emperor Palpatine. Bill Clinton, that shameless old scamp, is looking more and more like W.C. Fields."

The Dorian Gray phenomenon?

Anonymous said...

When George S. Patton was young, he cursed his "mild look" and practiced scowling into a mirror to develop what he called his "war face." Obviously he understood the importance of looking the part.

Goes with voices, as well.

Being cursed with a high-pitched voice can be a career-killer for a guy.

[And for a girl, too - I once dated a female MD who considered taking up smoking so that her voice would deepen and people would start to take her more seriously.]

Of course, now that no one smokes tobacco anymore, we are coming to discover that deep, gravelly voices are exceeding rare in men - the men of our fathers' and grandfathers' generations had those raspy, basso voices because they smoked 2+ packs of cigarettes a day.

And all the cigarettes and booze that they consumed [Americans used to consume orders of magnitude more booze than they do nowadays] also gave them much deeper creases and wrinkles in their faces, which in turn made the men look a lot more masculine.


They say that when you hit 40 you have the face you deserve, and there is a lot of truth to that.

The other really weird thing is how married couples come to resemble one-another over the years: two or three decades of marriage has the weirdest ability to make Mom & Dad look like brother & sister.

But that may get back to the point about the "Romeo & Juliet" stuff - married couples may very well have sought out some sort of similarity in one another, the presence of which they somehow intuited in one another subconsciously, but which required several decades to assert itself explicitly so that it became more obvious to the casual observer.

Of course, nurture could play a role here, as well - maybe something about living each other's lifestyles for several decades causes people to start to resemble one-another.

Anonymous said...

especially given the era in which Heinlein was writing it's noteworthy that he depicts his hero as being Filipino.




The characters name in Troopers was "Juan Rico".

The protaginist in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was "Mannie" aka "Manuel Garcia O'Kelly-Davis". It also features a "Professor Bernardo de La Paz".


Heinlein seems to have had a thing for Hispanicky characters.

Anonymous said...

Humans have evolved a way to tell the smart/nice people fromthe dumb/bad people



On the "dumb/bad" scale, I think that bikers rate as less dumb and bad than the typical Congressional staffer. Reagrdless of their physical apperarence.

MQ said...

Paul, I think the alternative explanation would be that Congressmen and Senators like being surrounded by attractive people. Especially attractive young women.

albertosaurus said...

There may be something to Sheldon but if so it can't be much. Dennis Quaid had been a classic mesomorph until he had to play the tubercular Doc Holiday. He starved himself into being a ectomorph. Just as Robert De Niro had eaten himself into being an endomorph to play the older Jake LaMotta. They were manipulating the expectations of the audience but I don't believe that their essential personalities were modified along with their weight. Maybe I'm wrong. Was any reader on either of those two sets?

There is a face - personality interaction that is strong at least among populations. The primate face has been undergoing reduction for a couple million years. The canines have gotten smaller. The brow ridges have shrunk and the lower jaw has gotten less robust which caused the emergence of the chin. The skull itself has gotten thinner.

Some populations have retained more of these primitive features: sub-Saharan blacks, Australoids, and Maori for example. All of these more brutish looking people have higher rates of violence.

This is a real population effect but it is not valid at the level of the individual.

sabril said...

"You think race has a part? I mean, who hasn't noticed fat people being more agreeable?"

For starters, anyone who has had to deal with a fat black woman at a government office.

josh said...

"I am never afraid of elderly Chinese women." Ah...but what about the young ones???

Anonymous said...

Somewhere I once read that women are better at judging emotions by being able to read faces and body language. There is one exception to that. Men can detect anger quicker than women. There are old gunslingers and slow gun slingers but no old slow gunslingers.

Andrea said...

Hey Paul, maybe smarter people make more money and attract/marry pretty people and give birth to prettier kids than themselves. Even ugly Woody Allen got some hot babes in his glory days, and he could have had decent looking kids with them if he'd wished to. Indeed, many half-Jewish kids tend to be more handsome than full Jewish kids. Look at Paul Newman. Half-Jew. Winona Ryler. Half-Jew. Of course, a half-Jew may not be as smart as a full Jew, but he or she can have decent looks(from the pretty goy side) and decent brains(from the smart Jew side). Your average bimbo will prefer a smart millionaire(even if ugly)than a poor white trash bub. Most bikers aren't rich so they attract trash women. Capitol Hill staffers are on the up and up(and could well be the children of those who'd made it). Those who make it attract good looking spouses and have decent looking kids. I'll bet even Ann Coulter would choose to marry an ugly rich liberal Jew than a manly white trash redstate redneck conservative.

Melykin said...

This couple looks quite attractive and harmless:

http://img.index.hu/cikkepek/0507/bulvar/BernardoHomolka.jpg

In case anyone doesn't recognize them, I'll post their names later. Got to run now.

David said...

Andrea said

> Suppose Sean Connery-as-baby had been given another face--that of Pee Wee Herman. <

We can suppose a lot of things. Our imagination is almost boundless. However, in reality Connery was born with Connery's face, not with Pee Wee Herman's. This occurred probably because of reasons, that is, it is unlikely that it was an arbitrary decision by a capricious god. In my opinion, trying to imagine what our responses might be to worlds that aren't or can't be is less interesting than looking for reasons for what is. After all, what is is the subject matter that we are primarily constrained to engage. Not that plastic surgery couldn't do me some good, or that doctors couldn't have done a number on baby Connery. But at his birth they didn't know he would become our Sean Connery, nor did they know what Pee-Wee Herman (born later) looked like; nor would they have any motive to change this baby's face. In actual fact things happened just as they did. Let's study what went on, not build academic castles in the air.

Anonymous said...

that fat black guys seem to be a lot nicer than thin black guys
---------

The Teddy-Bear Effect: Does Having a Baby Face Benefit Black Chief Executive Officers?

Robert W. Livingston and Nicholas A. Pearce

Stigmatized or minority groups are often hindered from reaching the highest levels of power and status by the dominant group's perception that members of such groups are threatening. A new study of Black and White Fortune 500 CEOs suggests that exceptional members of stigmatized groups who do ascend to the top of the corporate ladder do so with the help of "disarming mechanisms"--including having an innocent, sensitive, and trustworthy appearance--that may put majority-group members at ease. Black CEOs were significantly more "baby-faced" on average than White CEOs and were judged as warmer; baby-faced Black CEOs also led more prestigious companies and earned higher salaries than did more mature-faced Black CEOs.

stari_momak said...

You know, reading isteve is getting to be like reading the LA Times -- in that you have to read between the lines, try to guess what Steve is really on about. In this specific instance -- and there have been others -- the question is, Wow, where did facial profiling come from , that's a bit out of the blue, isn't it? And sure there is the linked story, but that's a misdirect, as is all the stuff about Depp and Crowe.

Nope, what got Steve thinking about "facial profiling" -- I'll be dollars to doughnuts -- is the latest stabbing/near murder that it making a fairly big splash in LA. No points for guess the races of victim and perp -- although this one has the delicious detail of taking place at one of our top ranked public universities. (No it ain't the white guy who killed the Asian at Harvard, that of course made national news)

Anyways, take a gander

http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=15252

If that ain't a criminal face, I don't know what is.

Steveonaut said...

One thing I've noticed is that fat black guys seem to be a lot nicer than thin black guys. Has anyone else noticed this?

Sabril, the only black guy that I ever knew, who believed in the 15 point IQ gap between blacks and whites to be true, was fat. Fat black guys are awesome, and Truth is likely not one of them.

Steveonaut said...

The Idi Amin Fan Club!?

Paul Parson

Idi Amin is awesome, or mainly in comparson to Truth. Idi Amin would kick ass on Sailer threads. We need him as our token black guy on these threads, and not Truth. It is just sad that Amin is dead, so maybe Robert Mugabe could be our token. Think how awesome that would be, Mugabe posting comments on Sailer threads. And Mugabe would still be better than Truth, which everybody can agree with that as a fact.

O'yes, I do know who Robert Mugabe and Idi Amin are. Killing bunch of people and evicting successful minorities from the countries that you rule, is still better than being Truth in my opinion. Mugabe and Amin awesome, Truth not cool at all.

Melykin said...

Paul Mendez,
About the bars, it might be that the girlfiends of the congressman were better looking than the bikers' girlfriends because the congressman have higher status than bikers and are therefore able to attract prettier girls.

Anonymous said...

it might be that the girlfiends of the congressman




Not congressmen, staffers. Can't people here read?

Truth said...

"Fat black guys are awesome, and Truth is likely not one of them."

Sadly, I have to concur.

"Killing bunch of people and evicting successful minorities from the countries that you rule, is still better than being Truth in my opinion. Mugabe and Amin awesome, Truth not cool at all."

Here is
The site
Today
.
.
.
This is
.The shark
.
.
The site was
here yesterday

Anonymous said...

There was a study showing that people vote against politicians who are babyfaced: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8160433/

Underachiever

kudzu bob said...

Twoof, haven't you heard? Satire is what closes on Saturday night.

kudzu bob said...

>The other really weird thing is how married couples come to resemble one-another over the years: two or three decades of marriage has the weirdest ability to make Mom & Dad look like brother & sister.<

Doesn't the age-related drop in testosterone levels tend to feminize men? And don't old women become more masculine in some ways? Perhaps the reason for what you've observed lies in hormonal convergence combined with several decades of similar diets. Purely speculation on my part, of course.

Anonymous said...

There was a study showing that people vote against politicians who are babyfaced

Yeah, that killed Dan Quayle.

Similarly, I think that Obama really benefits from the smoking-induced depth of his voice.

Can you imagine Obama with his naturally high-pitched, squeaky voice?

Melykin said...

I'll try again. Previous link doesn't work.

This guy looks sort of baby-faced and harmless:

http://www.truecrimeinsider.com/assets/images/KarlaHomolkaPaulBernardo.jpg

If you don't recognize the couple, google the names in the link and read about them.

Melykin said...

Anonymous wrote:
"Not congressmen, staffers. Can't people here read?"
--------------------

Well staffers to congressmen would also have much higher status than bikers, I would think.

JoeShipman said...

There is indeed a positive correlation between brains and beauty, the explanation of which is not too difficult. The reason for the common view that there is an anticorrelation is that many people investigate this by evaluating the famous people they know of, rather than the actual individuals they know personally. The former is a poor sample because of dual selection -- people who are famous usually have beauty or brains or both, very rarely neither, and the removal of the correlated "neither" subset from the sample leaves an anticorrelated residue.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking at faces my whole life (40 some years), I'm still not sure I can tell much about someone by the way they look. My first guess is right sometimes, way, way off others... What a piece of work is man (or however S said it.)

ben tillman said...

Steve, you write for Taki and Vdare---who's ever heard of these magazines??

Marginalized.


Misanthrope.

acy said...

"A woman much admired for her looks once made grizzly George Bernard Shaw the following proposal. 'Sir, we should marry, for with my looks and your brains think how blessed our children would be.' Replied Shaw: 'But what, madam, if they had my looks and your brains!'" (britannica.com)

Anonymous said...

Aging couples looking alike? I'm thinking of all the aging couples I can, and I'm not seeing it. Mostly I'm seeing the women age a lot faster because tanning and makeup are basically slow self-mutilation.

Fat black people being exceptionally nice? Again I don't see it, any more than with fat people in general.

Personally I think whites have a lot of strange ideas about black people, because blacks are better than us at exerting personal force or magnetism. A lot of white people generally see black guys when they are trying to be scary, at which they are usually pretty good. Most of these "scary" guys can turn on a dime and be as charming as you ever saw.

This is why a lot of Americans think native sub-Saharan Africans are the nicest cutest most sweet-tempered folks, even though they are the most violent and savage people in the world. These Africans haven't been embittered by several generations of failure in America (unlike American blacks) so they are putting their best foot forward and hoping for the best. White folks are not accustomed to that kind of charm offensive.

Anonymous said...

There is indeed a positive correlation between brains and beauty, the explanation of which is not too difficult.




Then let us hear it. I've never noticed any such correlation.

Truth said...

"Twoof, haven't you heard? Satire is what closes on Saturday night."

That's another 103 IQ joke that went over my head.

"White folks are not accustomed to that kind of charm offensive."

Charm...offensive?

Anonymous said...

Maybe some fat men are friendlier, due to the estrogen generated by their blubber.

kudzu bob said...

Don't feel bad, Twoof. Nobody here would have expected you to have heard of a phrase such as "charm offensive," which occurs a mere 204 thousand times on Google, anymore than we figured you were up on your George S. Kaufman lore. Whooooooooooooooosh!

David said...

Fat guys like to eat. They will be nice to any potential source of food.

Diminuendo said...

There are many examples like: www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/reprint/49/2/174.pdf
That show a correlation between testosterone levels.

Since testosterone (and its hydroxylate, DHT) greatly affects appearance, it makes perfect sense.

Truth said...

That's good Bob, please keep it up. I love learning Old White Guy stuff.

rob said...

If you buy the idea that genetic load is responsible for a large fraction of variation in intelligence, then IQ and attractiveness should be correlated.

At the extreme low end, the correlation is obvious. Serious defects affecting developmental processes, whether genetic or environmental, that cause mental retardation often have associated diffences in appearance and personality: fetal alcohol syndrome, Downs, fragile-X, congenital rubella syndrome...No one thinks they are attractive, and the personality differences tend to be negative, or at least nonadaptive.

For the t99 betas, some of these retardations not only result in ugly and dumb, people living with the diseases tend to have low muscle tone and or low muscle mass. The retarded are scrawny or obese.

That's why Rita on Arrested Development was so funny: beautiful people are never retarded.

Whether the IQ-appearance extends to mild genetic defects and environmental insults that influence developmental processes, there's some evidence. The children of mothers who were infected by the 1918-19 flue were shorter, fatter, less healthy, lower earning, less educated(which likely means dimmer) than those born before or after.

Even mild outbreeding (Italian villagers in the US) makes people smarter, healthier and taller. At least for men, tall means hotter.

Anonymous said...

Hans Eysenck and G.H. Gudjonsson
in their 1989 book The Causes and
Cures of Criminality contains truly expert retrospective commentary about Sheldon's flawed work. Research concerning possible revealing correlations between
physiognomy and personality is unconsummated--not yet discredited.
It is sobering to note how many decades the rock solid finding was repeated in psychology textbooks that research had established the lack of correlation between response time and mental ability

Anonymous said...

Rob:

That's why Rita on Arrested Development was so funny: beautiful people are never retarded.

Then how do you explain Paris Hilton?

rosemary's baby' s babysitter said...

"Even ugly Woody Allen got some hot babes in his glory days, and he could have had decent looking kids with them if he'd wished to."

He did, remember. Little Satchel Farrow, now known as Ronan Seamus Farrow. However, Woody apparently did not wish for him at all, especially when he found out Mia's unplanned pregnancy was going to be a boy.
Kid is gorgeous. Image of mom, Rosemary Babyish; but I saw at least one picture where the Woody mouth was unmistakable. And something in the gaze too.
Life really does imitate art if you give it time.

Truth said...

Wow, Allen's kid is really brilliant.

rob said...

Then how do you explain Paris Hilton?

Paris Hilton can't be explained: there are things man was not meant to know.