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 All Comments / On "Beauty"
    Beauty matters a lot in our world. The entertainment and fashion industries are based on beauty. Obviously some aspect of beauty is socially constructed and contextual. Beauty standards can change. There was a time when many aspects of European physical appearance, from light hair and eyes, down to the lack of an epicanthic fold, were...
  • @Sean

    I am skeptical that there would be societies where the former’s facial features would strike individuals as preferable to those of the latter (one might have to correct for Refaeli’s species-atypical hair and eye color, but European norms are pretty widespread outside of small-scale societies now, so that shouldn’t be a major issue).

     

    "it’s universal idealization (more or less) is an artifact of the modern age. "


    OK, you are saying forget about colouring, Bar is an example of cheesecake because OF HER FACIAL FEATURES. But it seems to me you ought to be able to come up with an Indian or Ethiopian model with features that all could agree are tasty (and I don't doubt you could). In other words, no one forced you to use the vanilla cheesecake. She does not need help with her career!

    But it seems to me you ought to be able to come up with an Indian or Ethiopian model with features that all could agree are tasty

    you don’t dictate how i write blog posts. stop pulling this bullshit or i’ll never post your comments again.

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  • @Razib Khan
    As for the widespread preference for “Aryan” goddesses among disparate ethnic groups, who can blame them?

    stop being a moron. i note in the article specifically to the fact that in east asia there's a wide record of preferring light skin, but NOT light eyes or hair. it's universal idealization (more or less) is an artifact of the modern age.

    this is why sean's link was moronic too. i'm talking about evolutionary psychology, not contingent history. the discussion goes better when you address what's being spoken of instead of side issues.

    stop being stupid or i'm closing the thread.

    I am skeptical that there would be societies where the former’s facial features would strike individuals as preferable to those of the latter (one might have to correct for Refaeli’s species-atypical hair and eye color, but European norms are pretty widespread outside of small-scale societies now, so that shouldn’t be a major issue).

    “it’s universal idealization (more or less) is an artifact of the modern age. “

    OK, you are saying forget about colouring, Bar is an example of cheesecake because OF HER FACIAL FEATURES. But it seems to me you ought to be able to come up with an Indian or Ethiopian model with features that all could agree are tasty (and I don’t doubt you could). In other words, no one forced you to use the vanilla cheesecake. She does not need help with her career!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    But it seems to me you ought to be able to come up with an Indian or Ethiopian model with features that all could agree are tasty

    you don't dictate how i write blog posts. stop pulling this bullshit or i'll never post your comments again.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • just got around to reading this so i apologize if this is redundant:

    “This suggests that we find thinness in females so attractive because we equate it with youth…This was to be consistent across European, African and Asian test groups.”

    http://phys.org/news/2015-08-evolutionary-key-females-physically.html

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  • @Razib Khan
    As for the widespread preference for “Aryan” goddesses among disparate ethnic groups, who can blame them?

    stop being a moron. i note in the article specifically to the fact that in east asia there's a wide record of preferring light skin, but NOT light eyes or hair. it's universal idealization (more or less) is an artifact of the modern age.

    this is why sean's link was moronic too. i'm talking about evolutionary psychology, not contingent history. the discussion goes better when you address what's being spoken of instead of side issues.

    stop being stupid or i'm closing the thread.

    “stop being stupid or i’m closing the thread.”

    Sometimes your … authoritarianism … makes good sense.

    These sorts of threads I call the Snow White discourse, “mirror, mirror, on the wall, whose the fairest of them all.” Or darkest, depending on preference.

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  • @Jacobite
    Lady Di is indeed illegitimately descended from both Charles II and James II, but Queen Elizabeth II is doubly directly and legitimately descended in 10 and 11 generations from James' I daughter Elizabeth Stuart, the famous "Winter" Queen of Bohemia and grandmother to George I. This makes Prince William independently descended from the lines of three different generations of Stuart kings.

    I said no previous heir apparent was descended from Charles II, not from James I. Every monarch since James I himself has been his descendant, and I never said otherwise.

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  • @James Kabala
    Charles II never had legitimate sons or daughters. Mary and Anne were the daughters of James. If they had been the daughters of Charles, they would have been ahead of James in the line of succession.

    He is also a bad example for your thesis because he had a large number of at least fifteen illegitimate children. Some died young or unhappily, but others certainly "got into circulation" - four of the lines he started still hold dukedoms to this day. The line of one illegitimate child eventually led to Diana Spencer, so Charles has become an ancestor of Prince William - the first heir apparent to actually be descended from Charles II.

    My bad on Charles:

    Ancestry of Lady Diane Spencer

    http://www.almanachdegotha.org/id295.html

    Diana by birth was a member of the Spencer family, one of the oldest and most prominent noble families in Britain which currently holds the titles of Duke of Marlborough, Earl Spencer and Viscount Churchill. * * *

    Diana’s ancestry also connects her with most of Europe’s royal houses. Diana is five times descended from the House of Stuart from Charles II’s four illegitimate sons James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans and Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, and from James II’s daughter, Henrietta FitzJames, Countess of Newcastle, an ancestry she shares with the current Dukes of Alba. From the House of Stuart, Diana is a descendant of the House of Bourbon from the line Henry IV of France and of the House of Medici from the line of Marie de’ Medici. She is also a descendant of powerful Italian noble families such as that of the House of Sforza who ruled as the Dukes of Milan from the line of the legendary Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forlì. Diana is a descendant of the famous Lucrezia Borgia (18 April 1480 – 24 June 1519), who was Princess of Salerno, Duchess of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio. Diana also descends from the House of Wittelsbach via morganatic line from Frederick V, Elector Palatine and of the House of Hanover via Sophia von Platen und Hallermund, Countess of Leinster and Darlington, the illegitimate daughter of Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg and the half sister of George I. Diana also descends from the House of Toledo of the original dukes of Alba and Medina Sidonia.

    * * *

    I like Marie de’ Medici and Lucrezia Borgia better. Marie was up to her ear lobes in palace intrigue while she was regent for Louis XIII as a child.

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  • @james ennis
    Isn't beauty related to neoteny?

    It's hard to see how men would be attracted to women with, say, heavy brow ridges, large protruding mouths, and a large nose.

    Neoteny in humans relates to overall face size and not facial shape or any facial features. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11953945

    Sexual dimporphism could be the driver behind the preferences you mentioned.

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  • Isn’t beauty related to neoteny?

    It’s hard to see how men would be attracted to women with, say, heavy brow ridges, large protruding mouths, and a large nose.

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    • Replies: @MKL
    Neoteny in humans relates to overall face size and not facial shape or any facial features. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11953945

    Sexual dimporphism could be the driver behind the preferences you mentioned.
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  • @Jacobite

    “Why Are Israel’s Top Models Blonde and European Looking? “
     
    Because the Zionist Ashkenazi Jews who colonized Palestine *are* Europeans. If current theories (as opposed to the various Koestlerian, lost 13th tribe of Israel, Khazar type hypotheses) that the founding population of Northern and Eastern European Jews are from a small initial group that migrated over the Alps into Germany and then east after the fall of Rome, then despite discrimination against them and Jewish maternity laws, there would still have been ample opportunity for small but continuous interbreeding with their light colored German and Slav neighbors over the past 1500 years.

    As for the widespread preference for "Aryan" goddesses among disparate ethnic groups, who can blame them?

    https://soverydeep.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/g11.jpg

    http://cdn1.ouchpress.com/media/celebrities/153/charlize-theron-135117.jpg

    All sorts of guys choose to marry white women, me among them.

    As for the widespread preference for “Aryan” goddesses among disparate ethnic groups, who can blame them?

    stop being a moron. i note in the article specifically to the fact that in east asia there’s a wide record of preferring light skin, but NOT light eyes or hair. it’s universal idealization (more or less) is an artifact of the modern age.

    this is why sean’s link was moronic too. i’m talking about evolutionary psychology, not contingent history. the discussion goes better when you address what’s being spoken of instead of side issues.

    stop being stupid or i’m closing the thread.

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    • Replies: @dcite
    "stop being stupid or i’m closing the thread."

    Sometimes your ... authoritarianism ... makes good sense.

    These sorts of threads I call the Snow White discourse, "mirror, mirror, on the wall, whose the fairest of them all." Or darkest, depending on preference.
    , @Sean

    I am skeptical that there would be societies where the former’s facial features would strike individuals as preferable to those of the latter (one might have to correct for Refaeli’s species-atypical hair and eye color, but European norms are pretty widespread outside of small-scale societies now, so that shouldn’t be a major issue).

     

    "it’s universal idealization (more or less) is an artifact of the modern age. "


    OK, you are saying forget about colouring, Bar is an example of cheesecake because OF HER FACIAL FEATURES. But it seems to me you ought to be able to come up with an Indian or Ethiopian model with features that all could agree are tasty (and I don't doubt you could). In other words, no one forced you to use the vanilla cheesecake. She does not need help with her career!
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  • @Astuteobservor II
    like over 10 years ago. I read a study that used a program that averages out scanned faces into 1 single face.

    the more faces the program adds to final face, the more attractive it appears to the human eye.

    just something very interesting and has stuck in my mind over the last 10 years.

    averaging multiple faces like that makes them more symmetrical as a side effect (and note they average the male and female faces separately)

    symmetry makes a lot of sense as one factor in attractiveness if it’s proportional to load

    but i think mixing up symmetry with overall facial attractiveness likely confuses the issue

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  • I wonder about whether what variants for facial averageness (in the sense of proportions) actually are.

    One form would be, they’re simply the consensus variants for the population. So if on average the majority in your population has a particular variant, then that’s the “facially average” variant.

    The other would be variants which specifically encourage regulation, to allow compensation for changes in a face’s modules. So if you carry a variant that encourages a lot of bone deposition in your lower jaw, then if you carry another variant that regulates the expression of that variant, downregulating it to match the bone deposition in the upper jaw, to give a more average face, but doesn’t do anything perhaps if that “strong” bone deposition variant isn’t active. Crucially these variants would have to promote averageness of facial shape on whatever genetic background (or at least for the range in that population), or they wouldn’t really be “averageness” genes.

    Average variants vs averaging variants. Of course, the averaging variants would probably also be average variants, in any population, if they exist.

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  • Every species has evolved to seek the best mate possible.

    Humans are incredibly preoccupied with peering into the face of potential mates and making quick choices after doing so if this person is attractive or not. The super model types are on one end of the spectrum and the “funny looking” people are on the other end.

    I have little doubt that part of the preoccupation we have with facial symmetry is because it is the best window we have into the healthy genome of a potential mate. Yes beauty is in the eye of the beholder and humans mix up attractiveness with all kinds of cultural influences. I don’t want to go further with these speculations because it is pointless, nobody knows at this time. But I will keep reading this blog because it will keep me up to date with what science does know. That the super intelligent get less attractive is very interesting. I don’t know what this means but it hints at things. I am reminded of a conversation that Cochran lead over at his westhunter blog that a high percentage of math geniuses are to put it kindly flaky.

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  • @Difference Maker
    Regrettably I am sleepy, constraining my vocabulary and conciseness, but some elucidation of simple points:

    1) Correlation between beauty and simple fertility must necessarily have some basis. In addition, there are also other factors such as indirect effects on fertility, and randomness introduced into the mental filter from natural variation. Which leads to the next point -

    2) Different preferences. As with different species, so with natural variation within a species there will not surprisingly be some different preferences. Food spiciness and hetero/homosexuality are somewhat analogous. That said, I'm certain there are enough relatively universal beauty features grounded in enough genetic commonality.

    3) Exceptional different from average. Must necessarily be the case. A helpful illustration: Average of ugly people will be uglier than average of beauty.

    4) Intelligence beauty correlation. No doubt we are familiar with the goofs of dubious hygiene and graces who think themselves intelligent.

    But beyond that, the development of beauty (as well as other traits) is ultimately the luck of the draw (though some people start with a stacked deck), and therefore there are true geniuses of perhaps looks remarkable in some other way than earthshattering beauty or certain populations selected for intelligence but not so much for beauty.

    On the balance, however, the best men will win the most beautiful women, and in order to be great, one must have brains as well as brawn. Their descendants will have a headstart in both beauty and brains.

    Correlation between beauty and simple fertility must necessarily have some basis.

    One study did find that attractive women (Wisconsin, Boomer cohort) had more children (Jokela, 2009). The difference was very small and barely significant, however.

    Intelligence beauty correlation. No doubt we are familiar with the goofs of dubious hygiene and graces who think themselves intelligent.

    Doesn’t exist. See above.

    On the balance, however, the best men will win the most beautiful women, and in order to be great, one must have brains as well as brawn. Their descendants will have a headstart in both beauty and brains.

    This apparently is not the case.

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  • @Sean

    I am skeptical that there would be societies where [Bar's] facial features would strike individuals as preferable to those of the latter (one might have to correct for Refaeli’s species-atypical hair and eye color,
     
    Bar Refaeli‘s face is what sets her apart and facial shape is affected by 2D:4D .

    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/272/1576/1995

    Shape regression within females on the 2D : 4D ratio of the left hand (left figures), the right hand (middle figures), and the mean 2D : 4D ratio (right figures). The three upper figures are visualizations of predicted faces for 2D : 4D ratio 6 s.d. higher than the average. Accordingly, the lower figures are predicted faces for 2D : 4D ratio 6 s.d. lower than the average.
     
    They don't say, but I think one row looks much more like like cheesecake than the other.

    Bar Refaeli‘s face is what sets her apart and facial shape is affected by 2D:4D

    A lot of that digit ratio stuff isn’t holding up to scrutiny. It certainly has nothing to do with prenatal hormone exposure.

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  • @Sean
    "Refaeli’s species-atypical hair and eye color"

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/.premium-1.619109

    "Why Are Israel's Top Models Blonde and European Looking? "

    “Why Are Israel’s Top Models Blonde and European Looking? “

    Because the Zionist Ashkenazi Jews who colonized Palestine *are* Europeans. If current theories (as opposed to the various Koestlerian, lost 13th tribe of Israel, Khazar type hypotheses) that the founding population of Northern and Eastern European Jews are from a small initial group that migrated over the Alps into Germany and then east after the fall of Rome, then despite discrimination against them and Jewish maternity laws, there would still have been ample opportunity for small but continuous interbreeding with their light colored German and Slav neighbors over the past 1500 years.

    As for the widespread preference for “Aryan” goddesses among disparate ethnic groups, who can blame them?

    All sorts of guys choose to marry white women, me among them.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    As for the widespread preference for “Aryan” goddesses among disparate ethnic groups, who can blame them?

    stop being a moron. i note in the article specifically to the fact that in east asia there's a wide record of preferring light skin, but NOT light eyes or hair. it's universal idealization (more or less) is an artifact of the modern age.

    this is why sean's link was moronic too. i'm talking about evolutionary psychology, not contingent history. the discussion goes better when you address what's being spoken of instead of side issues.

    stop being stupid or i'm closing the thread.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Sean
    "Refaeli’s species-atypical hair and eye color"

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/.premium-1.619109

    "Why Are Israel's Top Models Blonde and European Looking? "

    this preference did not exist in much of the world before european influence. so that’s what i was referring to. stop repeating yourself about stuff i know about as if you are a citation bot. it annoys me a lot.

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  • @Difference Maker
    Regrettably I am sleepy, constraining my vocabulary and conciseness, but some elucidation of simple points:

    1) Correlation between beauty and simple fertility must necessarily have some basis. In addition, there are also other factors such as indirect effects on fertility, and randomness introduced into the mental filter from natural variation. Which leads to the next point -

    2) Different preferences. As with different species, so with natural variation within a species there will not surprisingly be some different preferences. Food spiciness and hetero/homosexuality are somewhat analogous. That said, I'm certain there are enough relatively universal beauty features grounded in enough genetic commonality.

    3) Exceptional different from average. Must necessarily be the case. A helpful illustration: Average of ugly people will be uglier than average of beauty.

    4) Intelligence beauty correlation. No doubt we are familiar with the goofs of dubious hygiene and graces who think themselves intelligent.

    But beyond that, the development of beauty (as well as other traits) is ultimately the luck of the draw (though some people start with a stacked deck), and therefore there are true geniuses of perhaps looks remarkable in some other way than earthshattering beauty or certain populations selected for intelligence but not so much for beauty.

    On the balance, however, the best men will win the most beautiful women, and in order to be great, one must have brains as well as brawn. Their descendants will have a headstart in both beauty and brains.

    “1) Correlation between beauty and simple fertility must necessarily have some basis.”

    A quick expansion on this point, simplistically the easiest to identify attractiveness indicators are masculinity and femininity. These apply to the mind as well as the body.

    I suspect as well that there is some merit to the idea of the structure of the jaw and nose introducing constraints on the braincase. If so, it would not be surprising that they are included in sexual selection

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  • Regrettably I am sleepy, constraining my vocabulary and conciseness, but some elucidation of simple points:

    1) Correlation between beauty and simple fertility must necessarily have some basis. In addition, there are also other factors such as indirect effects on fertility, and randomness introduced into the mental filter from natural variation. Which leads to the next point -

    2) Different preferences. As with different species, so with natural variation within a species there will not surprisingly be some different preferences. Food spiciness and hetero/homosexuality are somewhat analogous. That said, I’m certain there are enough relatively universal beauty features grounded in enough genetic commonality.

    3) Exceptional different from average. Must necessarily be the case. A helpful illustration: Average of ugly people will be uglier than average of beauty.

    4) Intelligence beauty correlation. No doubt we are familiar with the goofs of dubious hygiene and graces who think themselves intelligent.

    But beyond that, the development of beauty (as well as other traits) is ultimately the luck of the draw (though some people start with a stacked deck), and therefore there are true geniuses of perhaps looks remarkable in some other way than earthshattering beauty or certain populations selected for intelligence but not so much for beauty.

    On the balance, however, the best men will win the most beautiful women, and in order to be great, one must have brains as well as brawn. Their descendants will have a headstart in both beauty and brains.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Difference Maker
    "1) Correlation between beauty and simple fertility must necessarily have some basis."

    A quick expansion on this point, simplistically the easiest to identify attractiveness indicators are masculinity and femininity. These apply to the mind as well as the body.

    I suspect as well that there is some merit to the idea of the structure of the jaw and nose introducing constraints on the braincase. If so, it would not be surprising that they are included in sexual selection

    , @JayMan

    Correlation between beauty and simple fertility must necessarily have some basis.
     
    One study did find that attractive women (Wisconsin, Boomer cohort) had more children (Jokela, 2009). The difference was very small and barely significant, however.

    Intelligence beauty correlation. No doubt we are familiar with the goofs of dubious hygiene and graces who think themselves intelligent.
     
    Doesn't exist. See above.

    On the balance, however, the best men will win the most beautiful women, and in order to be great, one must have brains as well as brawn. Their descendants will have a headstart in both beauty and brains.
     
    This apparently is not the case.
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  • @Karl Zimmerman
    I'm reminded of this study from last year, which found the following:

    1. People can accurately perceive IQ based upon looks for men, but not women, where people confuse attractiveness for intelligence.

    2. Perceived intelligence is associated with certain facial features, such as widely-spaced eyes, a narrow face, and a small chin. Even though people can accurately assess the intelligence of men based upon looking at a picture, it isn't due to these different facial features, but some other cues which analysis of facial shape cannot ascertain.

    3. There is no association between IQ and attractiveness.

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.

    “Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.”

    Interesting. IIRC the military of old determined that the threshold for incomprehensibility of thought processes was an IQ gap of 30+ points.

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  • @guest
    Does Cindy Crawford being famous for her "beauty mark" mean we should stop harping so much on the attractiveness of clear skin? No, obviously, because she's an exception. People known both for attractiveness and crooked smiles, scars, abnormally large eyes (noses, mouths, etc.), or general weirdness like Forrest Whittaker, don't disprove the rules. The rules weren't ever meant to be absolute.

    We're in no danger of thinking we need to conform perfectly to conventional standards of beauty in order to be beautiful, or at least so long as people still read Hawthorne.

    My point is that I think there are certain features where the average is not the ideal. This is true for many features in nature. The average peacock tail will not be as appealing to a female as an outsize one, for example. Or, the average female body will not be as appealing as a voluptuous one.

    So, it would be interesting to take one of these average faces and do alterations to it to see if you can increase attractiveness. Two obvious ones to try are 1) making cheekbones larger, and 2) increase distance from eyes to bottom of nose while decreasing distance from nose to mouth.

    It’s definitely true that in Hollywood you are rewarded for distinctiveness over bland good looks, so you’ve got a point there. In the old days, actresses would sometimes add artificial beauty marks to become more distinctive.

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  • “Refaeli’s species-atypical hair and eye color”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/.premium-1.619109

    “Why Are Israel’s Top Models Blonde and European Looking? “

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    this preference did not exist in much of the world before european influence. so that's what i was referring to. stop repeating yourself about stuff i know about as if you are a citation bot. it annoys me a lot.
    , @Jacobite

    “Why Are Israel’s Top Models Blonde and European Looking? “
     
    Because the Zionist Ashkenazi Jews who colonized Palestine *are* Europeans. If current theories (as opposed to the various Koestlerian, lost 13th tribe of Israel, Khazar type hypotheses) that the founding population of Northern and Eastern European Jews are from a small initial group that migrated over the Alps into Germany and then east after the fall of Rome, then despite discrimination against them and Jewish maternity laws, there would still have been ample opportunity for small but continuous interbreeding with their light colored German and Slav neighbors over the past 1500 years.

    As for the widespread preference for "Aryan" goddesses among disparate ethnic groups, who can blame them?

    https://soverydeep.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/g11.jpg

    http://cdn1.ouchpress.com/media/celebrities/153/charlize-theron-135117.jpg

    All sorts of guys choose to marry white women, me among them.

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  • like over 10 years ago. I read a study that used a program that averages out scanned faces into 1 single face.

    the more faces the program adds to final face, the more attractive it appears to the human eye.

    just something very interesting and has stuck in my mind over the last 10 years.

    Read More
    • Replies: @notanon
    averaging multiple faces like that makes them more symmetrical as a side effect (and note they average the male and female faces separately)

    symmetry makes a lot of sense as one factor in attractiveness if it's proportional to load

    but i think mixing up symmetry with overall facial attractiveness likely confuses the issue
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @James Kabala
    Charles II never had legitimate sons or daughters. Mary and Anne were the daughters of James. If they had been the daughters of Charles, they would have been ahead of James in the line of succession.

    He is also a bad example for your thesis because he had a large number of at least fifteen illegitimate children. Some died young or unhappily, but others certainly "got into circulation" - four of the lines he started still hold dukedoms to this day. The line of one illegitimate child eventually led to Diana Spencer, so Charles has become an ancestor of Prince William - the first heir apparent to actually be descended from Charles II.

    Lady Di is indeed illegitimately descended from both Charles II and James II, but Queen Elizabeth II is doubly directly and legitimately descended in 10 and 11 generations from James’ I daughter Elizabeth Stuart, the famous “Winter” Queen of Bohemia and grandmother to George I. This makes Prince William independently descended from the lines of three different generations of Stuart kings.

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    • Replies: @James Kabala
    I said no previous heir apparent was descended from Charles II, not from James I. Every monarch since James I himself has been his descendant, and I never said otherwise.
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  • I am skeptical that there would be societies where [Bar's] facial features would strike individuals as preferable to those of the latter (one might have to correct for Refaeli’s species-atypical hair and eye color,

    Bar Refaeli‘s face is what sets her apart and facial shape is affected by 2D:4D .

    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/272/1576/1995

    Shape regression within females on the 2D : 4D ratio of the left hand (left figures), the right hand (middle figures), and the mean 2D : 4D ratio (right figures). The three upper figures are visualizations of predicted faces for 2D : 4D ratio 6 s.d. higher than the average. Accordingly, the lower figures are predicted faces for 2D : 4D ratio 6 s.d. lower than the average.

    They don’t say, but I think one row looks much more like like cheesecake than the other.

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    • Replies: @JayMan

    Bar Refaeli‘s face is what sets her apart and facial shape is affected by 2D:4D
     
    A lot of that digit ratio stuff isn't holding up to scrutiny. It certainly has nothing to do with prenatal hormone exposure.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Walter Sobchak
    "I wonder what proportion of the ancestry of modern people is from kings and their mistresses."

    The null hypothesis would be 1/n. Kings and their consorts were better feed than the masses, but they were political targets during dynastic wars and imperial invasions. Losing often meant being wiped out. Most dynasties came to violent ends.

    "I also wonder if the average king had more children by mistresses or by his legal wife."

    Kings were under systematic political pressure to make sure that children of questionable legitimacy, especially males, did not get into circulation. In the 17th Century, a couple of Charles II bastards were involved in plots. Charles had not fathered a legitimate male heir. Eventually, his daughters Mary and Anne, ruled, but only after their Uncle James II had been deposed.

    An interesting contrast is the way the Ottomans handled the problem. Being Islamic, the Sultan could have multiple wives and concubines. The Ottoman solution to the problem of too many heirs was that the newly minted sultan killed his brothers (whole and half). After the 16th Century they just imprisoned them in the "Cage".

    "there have certainly always been reciprocal obligations between families, etc. I don’t know how that interacted with good looks, etc. to determine mate choice in pre-ag times."

    Hunter gatherers necessarily lived in small bands. Usually the bands were part of larger groupings of Tribes and Clans. Mating involved elaborate rituals driven by membership in families, clans, tribes, and totem groups. Choice of mates was severely limited by these structures which form a large portion of anthropological literature from before the 1970s.

    Free personal choice of mates is a development of the Industrial revolution. Victorian novels treat the tension between the old and new ideas about mate selection as a driving force in their plots. I highly recommend Trollope's Palliser novels as an example.

    Charles II never had legitimate sons or daughters. Mary and Anne were the daughters of James. If they had been the daughters of Charles, they would have been ahead of James in the line of succession.

    He is also a bad example for your thesis because he had a large number of at least fifteen illegitimate children. Some died young or unhappily, but others certainly “got into circulation” – four of the lines he started still hold dukedoms to this day. The line of one illegitimate child eventually led to Diana Spencer, so Charles has become an ancestor of Prince William – the first heir apparent to actually be descended from Charles II.

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    • Replies: @Jacobite
    Lady Di is indeed illegitimately descended from both Charles II and James II, but Queen Elizabeth II is doubly directly and legitimately descended in 10 and 11 generations from James' I daughter Elizabeth Stuart, the famous "Winter" Queen of Bohemia and grandmother to George I. This makes Prince William independently descended from the lines of three different generations of Stuart kings.
    , @Walter Sobchak
    My bad on Charles:

    Ancestry of Lady Diane Spencer
    http://www.almanachdegotha.org/id295.html

    Diana by birth was a member of the Spencer family, one of the oldest and most prominent noble families in Britain which currently holds the titles of Duke of Marlborough, Earl Spencer and Viscount Churchill. * * *

    Diana's ancestry also connects her with most of Europe's royal houses. Diana is five times descended from the House of Stuart from Charles II's four illegitimate sons James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans and Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, and from James II's daughter, Henrietta FitzJames, Countess of Newcastle, an ancestry she shares with the current Dukes of Alba. From the House of Stuart, Diana is a descendant of the House of Bourbon from the line Henry IV of France and of the House of Medici from the line of Marie de' Medici. She is also a descendant of powerful Italian noble families such as that of the House of Sforza who ruled as the Dukes of Milan from the line of the legendary Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forlì. Diana is a descendant of the famous Lucrezia Borgia (18 April 1480 - 24 June 1519), who was Princess of Salerno, Duchess of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio. Diana also descends from the House of Wittelsbach via morganatic line from Frederick V, Elector Palatine and of the House of Hanover via Sophia von Platen und Hallermund, Countess of Leinster and Darlington, the illegitimate daughter of Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg and the half sister of George I. Diana also descends from the House of Toledo of the original dukes of Alba and Medina Sidonia.

    * * *

    I like Marie de' Medici and Lucrezia Borgia better. Marie was up to her ear lobes in palace intrigue while she was regent for Louis XIII as a child.
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  • @Numinous
    I'm not sure I get your point. As I mentioned earlier, light skin is still a huge advantage in professions like acting and modeling. The intelligentsia has been trying to push back against this, but it hasn't had much effect in these industries. ("Fair and Lovely" creams sell like hot cakes in India.) Sunny Leone has exactly the kind of looks that Bollywood prizes. She looks Indian and she looks white (at least of the southern European variety.) Bollywood wants its actors (actresses, really) to have ambiguous looks, so they'll never cast light-haired women in leading roles, nor would they have a preference for light-eyed women.

    Sunny Leone being accepted in India shows things are altering there very fast.

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  • @Jim W
    While averaging faces brings you to a local maximum in attractiveness space, I don't think it puts you at a global maximum. This is because there are some features (symmetry) where the optimal is at the mean of the distribution but others (cheekbone size, eye-nose vs nose-mouth distance ratio) where the optimal is on one side of the distribution.

    People like Cameron Diaz or Kristen Scott Thomas are strikingly attractive but nowhere near the mean.

    So one question to ask is why (like the red stripes on fish mentioned above) are the majority of people on one side of the distribution for certain traits? There must be other constraints preventing people from evolving in those directions.

    Finally, as someone with >average asymmetry (identity politics alert), I wish people would stop harping so much on it. Yes, it is important, but must account for only a small fraction of variance in attractiveness. People like Harrison Ford (extremely attractive) or Forrest Whitaker (moderately attractive) both have noticeable asymmetry.

    There is nothing moderately attractive about Forrest Whitaker.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Jim W
    While averaging faces brings you to a local maximum in attractiveness space, I don't think it puts you at a global maximum. This is because there are some features (symmetry) where the optimal is at the mean of the distribution but others (cheekbone size, eye-nose vs nose-mouth distance ratio) where the optimal is on one side of the distribution.

    People like Cameron Diaz or Kristen Scott Thomas are strikingly attractive but nowhere near the mean.

    So one question to ask is why (like the red stripes on fish mentioned above) are the majority of people on one side of the distribution for certain traits? There must be other constraints preventing people from evolving in those directions.

    Finally, as someone with >average asymmetry (identity politics alert), I wish people would stop harping so much on it. Yes, it is important, but must account for only a small fraction of variance in attractiveness. People like Harrison Ford (extremely attractive) or Forrest Whitaker (moderately attractive) both have noticeable asymmetry.

    Does Cindy Crawford being famous for her “beauty mark” mean we should stop harping so much on the attractiveness of clear skin? No, obviously, because she’s an exception. People known both for attractiveness and crooked smiles, scars, abnormally large eyes (noses, mouths, etc.), or general weirdness like Forrest Whittaker, don’t disprove the rules. The rules weren’t ever meant to be absolute.

    We’re in no danger of thinking we need to conform perfectly to conventional standards of beauty in order to be beautiful, or at least so long as people still read Hawthorne.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jim W
    My point is that I think there are certain features where the average is not the ideal. This is true for many features in nature. The average peacock tail will not be as appealing to a female as an outsize one, for example. Or, the average female body will not be as appealing as a voluptuous one.

    So, it would be interesting to take one of these average faces and do alterations to it to see if you can increase attractiveness. Two obvious ones to try are 1) making cheekbones larger, and 2) increase distance from eyes to bottom of nose while decreasing distance from nose to mouth.

    It's definitely true that in Hollywood you are rewarded for distinctiveness over bland good looks, so you've got a point there. In the old days, actresses would sometimes add artificial beauty marks to become more distinctive.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Why don’t we just say that beauty is an advertisement for reproduction?

    After all, the bottom line point is to reproduce and beauty is a remarkable tool for getting from Point A to Point B.

    As for the association of beauty and intelligence; I’m unsure about that. However, it ought to be said that people are culturally or experientially conditioned to consider beauty and intellect in the choice of a mate (and probably other things as well.) I know that in my case I definitely chose for brains, because I didn’t want beautiful but stupid children.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @jb
    I've seen the same message as Henissart maybe three times over the past month or two. I read unz.com regularly, and I've only seen the message when trying to read your blog.

    It’s all over unz.com, not just gnxp. this has been blocked for months and this for a week.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Karl Zimmerman
    I'm reminded of this study from last year, which found the following:

    1. People can accurately perceive IQ based upon looks for men, but not women, where people confuse attractiveness for intelligence.

    2. Perceived intelligence is associated with certain facial features, such as widely-spaced eyes, a narrow face, and a small chin. Even though people can accurately assess the intelligence of men based upon looking at a picture, it isn't due to these different facial features, but some other cues which analysis of facial shape cannot ascertain.

    3. There is no association between IQ and attractiveness.

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.

    I’m reminded of this study from last year, which found the following:

    1. People can accurately perceive IQ based upon looks for men, but not women, where people confuse attractiveness for intelligence.

    Range restriction (college students), minor ethnic confound. I suspect their result was spurious.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Attractiveness clearly tapers off and possibly declines at the far right end of the IQ bell curve, but the claim that there is no correlation at all flies so much against stereotypes (aka aggregated wisdom) that I am really skeptical about the study that came up with this.

    Note that in our days of "thin privilege" there would be a lot of SJW pressure to deny any links between IQ and attractiveness even though it was well known to the ancient Greeks.

    There are also studies that claim the opposite.

    In the UC system, it is UC Santa Barbara that has a reputation for having the hottest undergrad chicks. (I am pleased to see alcohol fueled conversations empirically confirmed! UCLA also appears in the list). UCSB and UCLA are considered middling-to-high on national university rankings, implying an IQ of perhaps 120. But UCB won't be making any of these lists (IQ ~125-130), neither would the low tier UCs, to say nothing of the local community college.

    So my observations strongly suggest that beauty/attractiveness peak around 115.

    Go lower than 100 and people start getting that vacuous look in their eyes that's hard to describe but which you know when you see it and which is quite offputting.

    This would be an observation in favor of the theory that both IQ and attractiveness differences are driven by mutational load.

    I suspect a big part of why 130+ IQ people might have a reputation for unattractiveness is that they feel less sensitive to social pressure to tidy themselves up, apply the mascara, etc. Also the image of the ugly but super intelligent genius - rare in real life, but prominent in media - might be distorting stereotypes. Marilyn Monroe - very intelligent. Emma Watson - Oxford grad. Neither "known" for their IQs though. (Well Watson did play Hermione but character ≠ actress).

    I strongly suspect that when these factors are accounted for you don't even have so much a peak at 115 as a flattening plateau.

    Attractiveness clearly tapers off and possibly declines at the far right end of the IQ bell curve, but the claim that there is no correlation at all flies so much against stereotypes (aka aggregated wisdom) that I am really skeptical about the study that came up with this.

    There are also studies that claim the opposite.

    The Mitchem et al study is methodologically far superior to all the studies claiming to find a link between attractiveness and IQ (use of a large, ethnically homogeneous twin sample, multiple raters, raters blinded to IQ score or purpose of study, etc.).

    This makes is clear there is no such link. Which shouldn’t be surprising: facial attractiveness is controlled by comparatively few genes, where as IQ is controlled by many, many genes. Even if genetic load was behind low IQ, there’s a good chance attractiveness genes would be unaffected.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Sean
    Sunny Leone's Bollywood career ?

    I’m not sure I get your point. As I mentioned earlier, light skin is still a huge advantage in professions like acting and modeling. The intelligentsia has been trying to push back against this, but it hasn’t had much effect in these industries. (“Fair and Lovely” creams sell like hot cakes in India.) Sunny Leone has exactly the kind of looks that Bollywood prizes. She looks Indian and she looks white (at least of the southern European variety.) Bollywood wants its actors (actresses, really) to have ambiguous looks, so they’ll never cast light-haired women in leading roles, nor would they have a preference for light-eyed women.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sean
    Sunny Leone being accepted in India shows things are altering there very fast.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Karl Zimmerman
    I'm reminded of this study from last year, which found the following:

    1. People can accurately perceive IQ based upon looks for men, but not women, where people confuse attractiveness for intelligence.

    2. Perceived intelligence is associated with certain facial features, such as widely-spaced eyes, a narrow face, and a small chin. Even though people can accurately assess the intelligence of men based upon looking at a picture, it isn't due to these different facial features, but some other cues which analysis of facial shape cannot ascertain.

    3. There is no association between IQ and attractiveness.

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.

    Totally agree.

    For personal anecdote of my college classmate and myself, this is true. Most average folk were really puzzled how in the world we can get into top university because we did not look smart to them.

    In graduate school, one janitor also felt our technician smarter than me (a PhD student). In my professors eyes, I was the brightest student.

    My explanation is that you take one to know one. People with closer mental ability can appreciate each other better than people with big gap. This also explains that better politicians or salesmen can not be too bright for average folk to appreciate. If Einstein run for political office, he would fail. Only 1 out of 261 people has IQ above 140. If you have IQ above 140, you will meet a lot of frustration with average folk . Then you would rather be alone until you get into top college or elite professions where you have better odd to meet some one who really appreciate you. So self-actualizers mostly have very few friends.

    So only way to defeat perception illusion is objective measurement of intellectual ability including IQ test, academic score/achievement, income/wealth, brain size ect which correlate with g factor.

    When you feel some one smart or dump, do not trust your own perception. only take measurement. When someones going around judging other mental ability with their own perception only, these folk can not be too bright. That is why we can not simply use our perception to vote who become doctor or scientist. Only stupid people judge every things based on their perceptions. You can spot those morons easily on blog or comments.

    Morons also have hard time to differentiate fact vs opinions. They often form their opinion based on very little evidence (more imagination). No wonder stupid people are sucker for religions or cults.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I feel kind of shamed for having this thought after reading the article, but it came and went nonetheless. What is with the male obsession with female breasts? Mind you, I’m not putting forth any opinion on it, I love’m myself, but is there any science behind why guys like them so much?

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Honorary Thief

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.
     
    Dunning-Kruger effect? Average to below average IQ people perceive high IQ people to be dumb because "well, I know I ain't dumb and them folks don't sound nothing like me when they talk about stuff."

    Or maybe the Newt-Gingrich effect.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Karl Zimmerman
    I'm reminded of this study from last year, which found the following:

    1. People can accurately perceive IQ based upon looks for men, but not women, where people confuse attractiveness for intelligence.

    2. Perceived intelligence is associated with certain facial features, such as widely-spaced eyes, a narrow face, and a small chin. Even though people can accurately assess the intelligence of men based upon looking at a picture, it isn't due to these different facial features, but some other cues which analysis of facial shape cannot ascertain.

    3. There is no association between IQ and attractiveness.

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.

    Dunning-Kruger effect? Average to below average IQ people perceive high IQ people to be dumb because “well, I know I ain’t dumb and them folks don’t sound nothing like me when they talk about stuff.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @J Yan
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Razib Khan
    doesn't match an IP i blocked so no idea what's going on.

    I’ve seen the same message as Henissart maybe three times over the past month or two. I read unz.com regularly, and I’ve only seen the message when trying to read your blog.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    It's all over unz.com, not just gnxp. this has been blocked for months and this for a week.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Numinous

    I wonder how much Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s popularity in India has to do with the fact that she has green eyes
     
    None, as far as I know. Light skin, definitely. And Aishwarya is no more popular than any of the other celebrities (light-skinned or not). Also, there's been a lot of pushback on the light skin preference in public discourse over the past few years, but it hasn't had much discernible effect.

    (And nitpick: she seems to have blue eyes, not green. At least in the pictures I have seen.)

    Sunny Leone’s Bollywood career ?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Numinous
    I'm not sure I get your point. As I mentioned earlier, light skin is still a huge advantage in professions like acting and modeling. The intelligentsia has been trying to push back against this, but it hasn't had much effect in these industries. ("Fair and Lovely" creams sell like hot cakes in India.) Sunny Leone has exactly the kind of looks that Bollywood prizes. She looks Indian and she looks white (at least of the southern European variety.) Bollywood wants its actors (actresses, really) to have ambiguous looks, so they'll never cast light-haired women in leading roles, nor would they have a preference for light-eyed women.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Attractiveness clearly tapers off and possibly declines at the far right end of the IQ bell curve, but the claim that there is no correlation at all flies so much against stereotypes (aka aggregated wisdom) that I am really skeptical about the study that came up with this.

    Note that in our days of "thin privilege" there would be a lot of SJW pressure to deny any links between IQ and attractiveness even though it was well known to the ancient Greeks.

    There are also studies that claim the opposite.

    In the UC system, it is UC Santa Barbara that has a reputation for having the hottest undergrad chicks. (I am pleased to see alcohol fueled conversations empirically confirmed! UCLA also appears in the list). UCSB and UCLA are considered middling-to-high on national university rankings, implying an IQ of perhaps 120. But UCB won't be making any of these lists (IQ ~125-130), neither would the low tier UCs, to say nothing of the local community college.

    So my observations strongly suggest that beauty/attractiveness peak around 115.

    Go lower than 100 and people start getting that vacuous look in their eyes that's hard to describe but which you know when you see it and which is quite offputting.

    This would be an observation in favor of the theory that both IQ and attractiveness differences are driven by mutational load.

    I suspect a big part of why 130+ IQ people might have a reputation for unattractiveness is that they feel less sensitive to social pressure to tidy themselves up, apply the mascara, etc. Also the image of the ugly but super intelligent genius - rare in real life, but prominent in media - might be distorting stereotypes. Marilyn Monroe - very intelligent. Emma Watson - Oxford grad. Neither "known" for their IQs though. (Well Watson did play Hermione but character ≠ actress).

    I strongly suspect that when these factors are accounted for you don't even have so much a peak at 115 as a flattening plateau.

    I’m reminded of this study from last year, which found the following:

    1. People can accurately perceive IQ based upon looks for men, but not women, where people confuse attractiveness for intelligence.

    2. Perceived intelligence is associated with certain facial features, such as widely-spaced eyes, a narrow face, and a small chin. Even though people can accurately assess the intelligence of men based upon looking at a picture, it isn’t due to these different facial features, but some other cues which analysis of facial shape cannot ascertain.

    3. There is no association between IQ and attractiveness.

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Honorary Thief

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.
     
    Dunning-Kruger effect? Average to below average IQ people perceive high IQ people to be dumb because "well, I know I ain't dumb and them folks don't sound nothing like me when they talk about stuff."
    , @AG

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.
     
    Totally agree.

    For personal anecdote of my college classmate and myself, this is true. Most average folk were really puzzled how in the world we can get into top university because we did not look smart to them.

    In graduate school, one janitor also felt our technician smarter than me (a PhD student). In my professors eyes, I was the brightest student.

    My explanation is that you take one to know one. People with closer mental ability can appreciate each other better than people with big gap. This also explains that better politicians or salesmen can not be too bright for average folk to appreciate. If Einstein run for political office, he would fail. Only 1 out of 261 people has IQ above 140. If you have IQ above 140, you will meet a lot of frustration with average folk . Then you would rather be alone until you get into top college or elite professions where you have better odd to meet some one who really appreciate you. So self-actualizers mostly have very few friends.

    So only way to defeat perception illusion is objective measurement of intellectual ability including IQ test, academic score/achievement, income/wealth, brain size ect which correlate with g factor.

    When you feel some one smart or dump, do not trust your own perception. only take measurement. When someones going around judging other mental ability with their own perception only, these folk can not be too bright. That is why we can not simply use our perception to vote who become doctor or scientist. Only stupid people judge every things based on their perceptions. You can spot those morons easily on blog or comments.

    Morons also have hard time to differentiate fact vs opinions. They often form their opinion based on very little evidence (more imagination). No wonder stupid people are sucker for religions or cults.
    , @JayMan

    I’m reminded of this study from last year, which found the following:

    1. People can accurately perceive IQ based upon looks for men, but not women, where people confuse attractiveness for intelligence.
     
    Range restriction (college students), minor ethnic confound. I suspect their result was spurious.
    , @Difference Maker
    "Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent."

    Interesting. IIRC the military of old determined that the threshold for incomprehensibility of thought processes was an IQ gap of 30+ points.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anonymous
    Hi Razib,

    i was blocked from your site today with this message:

    "Your access to this site has been limited

    Your access to this service has been temporarily limited. Please try again in a few minutes. (HTTP response code 503)

    Reason: Manual block by administrator"


    Same thing happened a couple of weeks ago. I've never commented before so i doubt it's intentional. Not a huge deal but it would be sweet not be banned in the future.

    doesn’t match an IP i blocked so no idea what’s going on.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jb
    I've seen the same message as Henissart maybe three times over the past month or two. I read unz.com regularly, and I've only seen the message when trying to read your blog.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Jefferson
    I wonder how much Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's popularity in India has to do with the fact that she has green eyes in a country where less than 1 percent of the population has blue eyes/green eyes.

    Not even the vast majority of light skin Indians have blue eyes/green eyes, let alone dark skin Indians. Light skin Indians like Freddie Mercury, Charli XCX, Nikki Haley, and Ben Kingsley all have brown eyes.

    just to be clear, mercury was a parsi, who are only ~25 percent south asia. xcx and kingsley are half indian.91.42.224.68

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Hi Razib,

    i was blocked from your site today with this message:

    “Your access to this site has been limited

    Your access to this service has been temporarily limited. Please try again in a few minutes. (HTTP response code 503)

    Reason: Manual block by administrator”

    Same thing happened a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never commented before so i doubt it’s intentional. Not a huge deal but it would be sweet not be banned in the future.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    doesn't match an IP i blocked so no idea what's going on.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @JayMan
    Yup.

    The biggest give away is that attractiveness is uncorrelated with IQ.

    This led me to say:

    http://twitter.com/JayMan471/status/624541900016648193

    http://twitter.com/JayMan471/status/624566094276202496

    http://twitter.com/JayMan471/status/624542384236462080

    Attractiveness clearly tapers off and possibly declines at the far right end of the IQ bell curve, but the claim that there is no correlation at all flies so much against stereotypes (aka aggregated wisdom) that I am really skeptical about the study that came up with this.

    Note that in our days of “thin privilege” there would be a lot of SJW pressure to deny any links between IQ and attractiveness even though it was well known to the ancient Greeks.

    There are also studies that claim the opposite.

    In the UC system, it is UC Santa Barbara that has a reputation for having the hottest undergrad chicks. (I am pleased to see alcohol fueled conversations empirically confirmed! UCLA also appears in the list). UCSB and UCLA are considered middling-to-high on national university rankings, implying an IQ of perhaps 120. But UCB won’t be making any of these lists (IQ ~125-130), neither would the low tier UCs, to say nothing of the local community college.

    So my observations strongly suggest that beauty/attractiveness peak around 115.

    Go lower than 100 and people start getting that vacuous look in their eyes that’s hard to describe but which you know when you see it and which is quite offputting.

    This would be an observation in favor of the theory that both IQ and attractiveness differences are driven by mutational load.

    I suspect a big part of why 130+ IQ people might have a reputation for unattractiveness is that they feel less sensitive to social pressure to tidy themselves up, apply the mascara, etc. Also the image of the ugly but super intelligent genius – rare in real life, but prominent in media – might be distorting stereotypes. Marilyn Monroe – very intelligent. Emma Watson – Oxford grad. Neither “known” for their IQs though. (Well Watson did play Hermione but character ≠ actress).

    I strongly suspect that when these factors are accounted for you don’t even have so much a peak at 115 as a flattening plateau.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    I'm reminded of this study from last year, which found the following:

    1. People can accurately perceive IQ based upon looks for men, but not women, where people confuse attractiveness for intelligence.

    2. Perceived intelligence is associated with certain facial features, such as widely-spaced eyes, a narrow face, and a small chin. Even though people can accurately assess the intelligence of men based upon looking at a picture, it isn't due to these different facial features, but some other cues which analysis of facial shape cannot ascertain.

    3. There is no association between IQ and attractiveness.

    4. Men with an IQ above 140 are perceived as being less intelligent.
    , @JayMan

    Attractiveness clearly tapers off and possibly declines at the far right end of the IQ bell curve, but the claim that there is no correlation at all flies so much against stereotypes (aka aggregated wisdom) that I am really skeptical about the study that came up with this.

    ...

    There are also studies that claim the opposite.
     
    The Mitchem et al study is methodologically far superior to all the studies claiming to find a link between attractiveness and IQ (use of a large, ethnically homogeneous twin sample, multiple raters, raters blinded to IQ score or purpose of study, etc.).

    This makes is clear there is no such link. Which shouldn't be surprising: facial attractiveness is controlled by comparatively few genes, where as IQ is controlled by many, many genes. Even if genetic load was behind low IQ, there's a good chance attractiveness genes would be unaffected.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Jefferson
    I wonder how much Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's popularity in India has to do with the fact that she has green eyes in a country where less than 1 percent of the population has blue eyes/green eyes.

    Not even the vast majority of light skin Indians have blue eyes/green eyes, let alone dark skin Indians. Light skin Indians like Freddie Mercury, Charli XCX, Nikki Haley, and Ben Kingsley all have brown eyes.

    I wonder how much Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s popularity in India has to do with the fact that she has green eyes

    None, as far as I know. Light skin, definitely. And Aishwarya is no more popular than any of the other celebrities (light-skinned or not). Also, there’s been a lot of pushback on the light skin preference in public discourse over the past few years, but it hasn’t had much discernible effect.

    (And nitpick: she seems to have blue eyes, not green. At least in the pictures I have seen.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sean
    Sunny Leone's Bollywood career ?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Isn’t it possible that the advantage of choosing a beautiful mate is precisely because differences in symmetry and most other aspects of beauty are not primarily genetic, but environmental, and reflective of resources accumulated rather than a theoretic potential for accumulating resources? Today, a full-breasted woman may be a woman with different genes than her neighbor, but I’d guess that for thousands of years, a comparatively full-breasted woman was simply one who was better nourished than her neighbor.

    What advances one’s own genes more, partnering with a mate whose genes are superior, or with an overperforming mate whose genes aren’t that great? Might it not be choice b, which will allow grandchildren with most of your genes to outperform grandchildren who have inherited more of your partner’s genes? Might not this be particularly important in a village/band environment, in which there is group selection vis-a-vis other bands, but also pretty strong selection pressures within the village, in a competition between relatively few lineages.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • “we did not find a genetic correlation between facial averageness and attractiveness”

    Embracing the null. Unfortunately, the take-away that people will get from this paper is that there is no genetic correlation between these variables. But that hasn’t been demonstrated at all, as Razib noted: there is a large confidence interval around this unknown variable. In fact, if you had to guess one number, the data say that the correlation is 0.11 (small, but maybe not for selection). I wouldn’t put money on it actually being 0.11, but, then, I’d put even less money on it being 0.

    This is a big pet peeve of my because it is taught in intro stats courses. It is something that researchers should understand. Failing to prove that something is not 0 is not the same as proving that it is 0.

    Anyway, I wonder how much measurement error could be reducing these heritability calculations. Don’t have access to the paper, but it sounds like noisy data.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • I wonder how much Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s popularity in India has to do with the fact that she has green eyes in a country where less than 1 percent of the population has blue eyes/green eyes.

    Not even the vast majority of light skin Indians have blue eyes/green eyes, let alone dark skin Indians. Light skin Indians like Freddie Mercury, Charli XCX, Nikki Haley, and Ben Kingsley all have brown eyes.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Numinous

    I wonder how much Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s popularity in India has to do with the fact that she has green eyes
     
    None, as far as I know. Light skin, definitely. And Aishwarya is no more popular than any of the other celebrities (light-skinned or not). Also, there's been a lot of pushback on the light skin preference in public discourse over the past few years, but it hasn't had much discernible effect.

    (And nitpick: she seems to have blue eyes, not green. At least in the pictures I have seen.)
    , @Razib Khan
    just to be clear, mercury was a parsi, who are only ~25 percent south asia. xcx and kingsley are half indian.91.42.224.68
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Greg Pandatshang
    I wonder what proportion of the ancestry of modern people is from kings and their mistresses. Given downward social mobility, I imagine it's more than one would think intuitively. I also wonder if the average king had more children by mistresses or by his legal wife.

    In any event, what you're describing might be mesotypal, by which I mean that it is not a feature of "pre-modern socities" broadly but of post-agricultural, pre-modern societies. Certainly, land ownership and kings with or without mistresses are mesotypal; not sure about bride price and dowry; and, while there have certainly always been reciprocal obligations between families, etc. I don't know how that interacted with good looks, etc. to determine mate choice in pre-ag times.

    It would be fascinating to know more about how evolution during the agricultural period changed our instinctual urges about who makes a good mate.

    “I wonder what proportion of the ancestry of modern people is from kings and their mistresses.”

    The null hypothesis would be 1/n. Kings and their consorts were better feed than the masses, but they were political targets during dynastic wars and imperial invasions. Losing often meant being wiped out. Most dynasties came to violent ends.

    “I also wonder if the average king had more children by mistresses or by his legal wife.”

    Kings were under systematic political pressure to make sure that children of questionable legitimacy, especially males, did not get into circulation. In the 17th Century, a couple of Charles II bastards were involved in plots. Charles had not fathered a legitimate male heir. Eventually, his daughters Mary and Anne, ruled, but only after their Uncle James II had been deposed.

    An interesting contrast is the way the Ottomans handled the problem. Being Islamic, the Sultan could have multiple wives and concubines. The Ottoman solution to the problem of too many heirs was that the newly minted sultan killed his brothers (whole and half). After the 16th Century they just imprisoned them in the “Cage”.

    “there have certainly always been reciprocal obligations between families, etc. I don’t know how that interacted with good looks, etc. to determine mate choice in pre-ag times.”

    Hunter gatherers necessarily lived in small bands. Usually the bands were part of larger groupings of Tribes and Clans. Mating involved elaborate rituals driven by membership in families, clans, tribes, and totem groups. Choice of mates was severely limited by these structures which form a large portion of anthropological literature from before the 1970s.

    Free personal choice of mates is a development of the Industrial revolution. Victorian novels treat the tension between the old and new ideas about mate selection as a driving force in their plots. I highly recommend Trollope’s Palliser novels as an example.

    Read More
    • Replies: @James Kabala
    Charles II never had legitimate sons or daughters. Mary and Anne were the daughters of James. If they had been the daughters of Charles, they would have been ahead of James in the line of succession.

    He is also a bad example for your thesis because he had a large number of at least fifteen illegitimate children. Some died young or unhappily, but others certainly "got into circulation" - four of the lines he started still hold dukedoms to this day. The line of one illegitimate child eventually led to Diana Spencer, so Charles has become an ancestor of Prince William - the first heir apparent to actually be descended from Charles II.

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  • Thinking aloud, may be wrong…

    1) I wonder if male vs female attractiveness might act as a complication here?

    Say populations range from 1 to 5 on hereditable average symmetry but individuals can also vary much more randomly on a scale of 1 to 5 of having the full set of best male or female features – like even if they have attractive parents they might end up with the wrong features for their gender i.e. a girl gets her dad’s masculine nose and a boy gets his mom’s feminine chin – then what might happen is when it comes to attractiveness the hereditable symmetry acts as a base for the more random gender feature allocation and the gender feature allocation is as big an element of attractiveness.

    In which case it might be more that the gender feature 5s from a symmetry 5 population are seen as the *most* attractive of all but gender feature 5s from a symmetry 4 population still come next.

    #

    2) Ditto the previous commenter on the arranged marriage angle. Doesn’t this theory need a population who spent a long time where a lot of marriages were contracted by individuals on the basis of individual physical traits rather than family economic ones? Since agriculture I’m not sure how many populations like that there are: NW Euros for a long time maybe, long term welfare underclass, plus lots of other populations since industrial urbanization but that’s quite recent (although I think you can see it even between the grand-parents and grand-kids if they came from somewhere very rural).

    If the theory was correct groups like the Yanomani or San might be good candidates also. I had a quick google of Yanomani faces (not scientific obv) and they seemed to have a lot of symmetry although the attractiveness was very variable (maybe cos of point 1?)

    #

    2a) I think the symmetry vs IQ thing – if correct – would only work on the same kind of specific populations also for the same reason – people selecting mates on the basis of individual traits rather than family situation – and if point 1 was correct even if there was a strong symmetry vs IQ correlation any attractive vs IQ correlation might not be as strong for the gender randomness reason.

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  • @Walter Sobchak
    I am not at all sure about this one. In most pre modern societies mating was arranged by families without much input from the younger generation. Factors like land ownership, bride price, dowry, and reciprocal obligations between families, clans, and tribes far outweighed personal attraction. Even royalty were contrained by raison d'etat. Only in their choice of mistresses, could kings go for good looks.

    I wonder what proportion of the ancestry of modern people is from kings and their mistresses. Given downward social mobility, I imagine it’s more than one would think intuitively. I also wonder if the average king had more children by mistresses or by his legal wife.

    In any event, what you’re describing might be mesotypal, by which I mean that it is not a feature of “pre-modern socities” broadly but of post-agricultural, pre-modern societies. Certainly, land ownership and kings with or without mistresses are mesotypal; not sure about bride price and dowry; and, while there have certainly always been reciprocal obligations between families, etc. I don’t know how that interacted with good looks, etc. to determine mate choice in pre-ag times.

    It would be fascinating to know more about how evolution during the agricultural period changed our instinctual urges about who makes a good mate.

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    • Replies: @Walter Sobchak
    "I wonder what proportion of the ancestry of modern people is from kings and their mistresses."

    The null hypothesis would be 1/n. Kings and their consorts were better feed than the masses, but they were political targets during dynastic wars and imperial invasions. Losing often meant being wiped out. Most dynasties came to violent ends.

    "I also wonder if the average king had more children by mistresses or by his legal wife."

    Kings were under systematic political pressure to make sure that children of questionable legitimacy, especially males, did not get into circulation. In the 17th Century, a couple of Charles II bastards were involved in plots. Charles had not fathered a legitimate male heir. Eventually, his daughters Mary and Anne, ruled, but only after their Uncle James II had been deposed.

    An interesting contrast is the way the Ottomans handled the problem. Being Islamic, the Sultan could have multiple wives and concubines. The Ottoman solution to the problem of too many heirs was that the newly minted sultan killed his brothers (whole and half). After the 16th Century they just imprisoned them in the "Cage".

    "there have certainly always been reciprocal obligations between families, etc. I don’t know how that interacted with good looks, etc. to determine mate choice in pre-ag times."

    Hunter gatherers necessarily lived in small bands. Usually the bands were part of larger groupings of Tribes and Clans. Mating involved elaborate rituals driven by membership in families, clans, tribes, and totem groups. Choice of mates was severely limited by these structures which form a large portion of anthropological literature from before the 1970s.

    Free personal choice of mates is a development of the Industrial revolution. Victorian novels treat the tension between the old and new ideas about mate selection as a driving force in their plots. I highly recommend Trollope's Palliser novels as an example.
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  • I know I’ve read before that we tend to pick partners who are similar to ourselves in overall attractiveness. E.g., while it’s often assumed an average-looking man really wants to have a beautiful wife, in general they are more comfortable with an average-looking wife. This may be due to (subconscious or conscious) fears of adultery if one shoots too far “out of their league.” It may just be a variant of the whole “groupness” complex of behavior as well. I’ve noticed many average-looking people tend to stereotype attractive people as having unpleasant personalities (conceited, rude, dull, etc). If you don’t identify as a “beautiful person” you may in some sense look at them as being a different tribe from yourself.

    If it is true that people tend to have a natural tendency to desire as a long-term mate someone of similar attractiveness to themselves, we should expect that all things considered, beauty will not be selected for, unless beautiful people have more healthy offspring who survive to adulthood. I’m not sure I’ve seen any information to suggest they do. I have seen studies which conclude that beautiful people are not healthier than average-looking people.

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  • And it may be that beauty, like many aspects of culture, is not about adaptation and function in any direct sense, but simply a cognitive side effect

    Think about the currently fashionable silver hair look for young women.

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  • While averaging faces brings you to a local maximum in attractiveness space, I don’t think it puts you at a global maximum. This is because there are some features (symmetry) where the optimal is at the mean of the distribution but others (cheekbone size, eye-nose vs nose-mouth distance ratio) where the optimal is on one side of the distribution.

    People like Cameron Diaz or Kristen Scott Thomas are strikingly attractive but nowhere near the mean.

    So one question to ask is why (like the red stripes on fish mentioned above) are the majority of people on one side of the distribution for certain traits? There must be other constraints preventing people from evolving in those directions.

    Finally, as someone with >average asymmetry (identity politics alert), I wish people would stop harping so much on it. Yes, it is important, but must account for only a small fraction of variance in attractiveness. People like Harrison Ford (extremely attractive) or Forrest Whitaker (moderately attractive) both have noticeable asymmetry.

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    • Replies: @guest
    Does Cindy Crawford being famous for her "beauty mark" mean we should stop harping so much on the attractiveness of clear skin? No, obviously, because she's an exception. People known both for attractiveness and crooked smiles, scars, abnormally large eyes (noses, mouths, etc.), or general weirdness like Forrest Whittaker, don't disprove the rules. The rules weren't ever meant to be absolute.

    We're in no danger of thinking we need to conform perfectly to conventional standards of beauty in order to be beautiful, or at least so long as people still read Hawthorne.
    , @Kyle a
    There is nothing moderately attractive about Forrest Whitaker.
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  • I am not at all sure about this one. In most pre modern societies mating was arranged by families without much input from the younger generation. Factors like land ownership, bride price, dowry, and reciprocal obligations between families, clans, and tribes far outweighed personal attraction. Even royalty were contrained by raison d’etat. Only in their choice of mistresses, could kings go for good looks.

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    • Replies: @Greg Pandatshang
    I wonder what proportion of the ancestry of modern people is from kings and their mistresses. Given downward social mobility, I imagine it's more than one would think intuitively. I also wonder if the average king had more children by mistresses or by his legal wife.

    In any event, what you're describing might be mesotypal, by which I mean that it is not a feature of "pre-modern socities" broadly but of post-agricultural, pre-modern societies. Certainly, land ownership and kings with or without mistresses are mesotypal; not sure about bride price and dowry; and, while there have certainly always been reciprocal obligations between families, etc. I don't know how that interacted with good looks, etc. to determine mate choice in pre-ag times.

    It would be fascinating to know more about how evolution during the agricultural period changed our instinctual urges about who makes a good mate.
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  • Yup.

    The biggest give away is that attractiveness is uncorrelated with IQ.

    This led me to say:

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Attractiveness clearly tapers off and possibly declines at the far right end of the IQ bell curve, but the claim that there is no correlation at all flies so much against stereotypes (aka aggregated wisdom) that I am really skeptical about the study that came up with this.

    Note that in our days of "thin privilege" there would be a lot of SJW pressure to deny any links between IQ and attractiveness even though it was well known to the ancient Greeks.

    There are also studies that claim the opposite.

    In the UC system, it is UC Santa Barbara that has a reputation for having the hottest undergrad chicks. (I am pleased to see alcohol fueled conversations empirically confirmed! UCLA also appears in the list). UCSB and UCLA are considered middling-to-high on national university rankings, implying an IQ of perhaps 120. But UCB won't be making any of these lists (IQ ~125-130), neither would the low tier UCs, to say nothing of the local community college.

    So my observations strongly suggest that beauty/attractiveness peak around 115.

    Go lower than 100 and people start getting that vacuous look in their eyes that's hard to describe but which you know when you see it and which is quite offputting.

    This would be an observation in favor of the theory that both IQ and attractiveness differences are driven by mutational load.

    I suspect a big part of why 130+ IQ people might have a reputation for unattractiveness is that they feel less sensitive to social pressure to tidy themselves up, apply the mascara, etc. Also the image of the ugly but super intelligent genius - rare in real life, but prominent in media - might be distorting stereotypes. Marilyn Monroe - very intelligent. Emma Watson - Oxford grad. Neither "known" for their IQs though. (Well Watson did play Hermione but character ≠ actress).

    I strongly suspect that when these factors are accounted for you don't even have so much a peak at 115 as a flattening plateau.
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  • A while back I read about an experiment on fish. This is just from memory, so I’m sure I’m leaving out details, but as I recall the males of a certain species had a red stripe that the females found attractive — and the redder the stripe (they tested this by painting the fish), the more attractive. Sort of like an underwater peacock tail.

    Just to see what would happen, the scientists tried painting a red stripe on the males of a related species that was not striped (and as far as they knew had never been), and lo and behold, the females of that species went nuts for the painted males! The conclusion I drew from this seems inescapable: fish have aesthetics! For whatever reason — perhaps, as you suggest, some sort of cognitive side effect — red stripes just tickled something deep in their little fishy brains.

    The side effect hypothesis also has the benefit of explaining how sexual selection arms races get started in the first place. Why a red stripe and not yellow? It’s not a matter of selection, it’s just that yellow doesn’t trigger the same side effect. Why one species and not the other? A lucky (or maybe unlucky) mutation in one and not the other.

    I see no reason this couldn’t happen with people as well. As a speculative example, I remember being a young child and hearing chimes and thinking the sound itself was so pretty. I don’t think this was something I had to learn; I remember the appeal as being immediate and visceral. Is this a universal reaction? I can’t say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, and it’s certainly something that would be easy to test. This would make an interesting research project — see if you can come up with a list of things that that everybody just immediately likes for no obvious evolutionary reason.

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  • On occasion it is useful to outline definitions and frameworks. One thing that I often hear (i.e., I am constantly told) is that beauty is a subjective, and culturally defined, construct. In particular it is common for me to listen to explanations of "Eurocentric Western" beauty standards, as if they are sui generis. These views...
  • I enjoy reading on human origins and population genetics, and visit this blog fairly regularly. This is my first comment. I thought you might appreciate a linguistic plug on this subject, a by product of a research. This sounds axiomatic, but we get the insight that the ancient age conceived beauty, for the most part, in terms of “youth” and “tender age”. Further, it based its standard of beauty on the snake, as a model of grace. Notions such as “beauty” and related European forms; “Hebe,” the first cupbearer of the gods of Olympus; the “ephebe,” the tender youth of the Classical Greece period; “wibet,” Amharic for “beauty” and its Ge’ez root wihib [wi-hib] share their roots with the snake; that is, “ibab [ib-ab]” (Amh.), Apep (Egy.), Apophis (Gr. ), as do “ababa” (bloom, flower), “baby,” and the pet name for a boy of tender age, “ababu” (Amh.). We see the intersection in the flower myths of Greek mythology. Fast come to mind Narcissus, Hyacinthus, Crocus, Adonis and other youth adored in the form of flowers. This thought likely dates to the age of serpent worship (pre-Neolithic). The fiery aura of Sunset and the lambent glow of the Horned-moon also supplied gauges for “hypnotic beauty” and “good looks”, respectively. Gunevere was of the former type, and Endymion of the latter. What inferences follow? I often wonder what else is petrified in other languages.

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  • “What’s curious is that the evidence presented for “objective” standards of beauty is no evidence for it at all! (And I do believe there is an objective sense to the word.) But the fact that the same thing is valued across cultures doesn’t really speak to this issue.”

    This is a puzzling statement. Perception of attractiveness is similar across cultures. Objective standards could be thought of those that arise from beauty evaluation mechanisms that exist in all humans. The fact that beauty does not seem to vary arbitarily across cultures suggests that some form of “objective” beauty exists.

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  • As a social psychologist, I have to deliver this to my students on a regular basis. Don’t know why I seem to enjoy this, actually. Generally, I’m quite nice and sensitive, and allow people to keep their illusions, but the science on it is quite strong. We like what is beautiful, and we know what is beautiful, and we can judge who is beautiful across gender preferences and ethnicities fairly well. Nancy Etcoff published a book on this some years back (no I haven’t read it, but, well, I come across the primary literature. ) http://www.amazon.com/Survival-Prettiest-Science-Nancy-Etcoff/dp/0385479425

    Some of my colleagues do work on the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype – although it seems like “what is ugly is bad” is stronger.

    I was talking with one of them a few years back, and she mentioned how it was impossible for her to get people to rate unknown faces as being as beautiful as those of actors or actresses. Sure, exceptional beauty is a trait of at least the leading man/leading woman figures, but there is plenty of beautiful people who will never bother with fame.

    When I read DS Wilson’s Evolution for everyone (I am pretty sure it was that one), I think I came across an explanation. Well, it was his explanation. The experience of beauty has a survival signal, and he reiterated that once he had fallen in love with the woman who was to become his wife, she seemed much more beautiful than all the other beautiful women. So, he set out to test whether additional information influences the perception/rating of beauty.

    I’ll link in the press release about it, http://www.news.wisc.edu/releases/9679.html.

    What he did (at least the first one), was take year-books, and have the faces rated for attractiveness/beauty by people who did not know them, and also by former class-mates. And, he found that the rating was influenced by how you thought about the person.

    So, all hope is not gone from us ordinary looking folks. It is a familiarity liking/disliking feature.

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  • #17, well, when kids draw humans they tend to be anatomically correct in an innocent kind of way (“hey dad, you forgot the butt!”).

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  • >some archaeologists are now claiming they are toys!

    Sex toys?? Hmm, kind of graphic for kids toys, but times change I guess…and after all we are talking about 24,000 BCE!

    http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/1709.html

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  • #12 – How about this one? To my eyes, it’s more beautiful.

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  • #14, some archaeologists are now claiming they are toys!

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  • So where does the venus of willendorf fit in?

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  • What’s curious is that the evidence presented for “objective” standards of beauty is no evidence for it at all! (And I do believe there is an objective sense to the word.) But the fact that the same thing is valued across cultures doesn’t really speak to this issue. You know the optical illusion where one line looks a lot shorter than the other, though it isn’t? Well, let’s say this illusion works across all cultures: so what? That certainly does not show that the lines are objectively different lengths!

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  • I presume the sculpture of Nefertiti is there as an example of cross-cultural agreement on standards of beauty: Nefertiti was seen as beautiful in ancient Egypt and still seems beautiful to us. So it is worth mentioning that there is a theory that the sculpture is an early 20th century fake. This is probably wrong (though the evidence is not conclusive) but the apparent ‘modernity’ of the face does seem a bit suspicious – like all those van Meegeren ‘Vermeers’ starring Greta Garbo.

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  • It is at the very least the common thread between symmetry and secondary sexual characteristics and, arguably, the larger expressive concept that encompasses both symmetry, which is in effect a form of proportionality, and the expression of many secondary sexual characters (think hip to waste ratio).

    i think of proportionality as a linear combination between the two, which is sex-specific. but you can add that. my major point is that this is a multi-dimensional concept, and we shouldn’t reduce it down to one linear aspect.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    My wife was born at an almost opposing pole vis-a-vis my birth place (Utah(not Mormon!)/Tehran). We met after university, i.e. after I spent untold hours listening to academics set up and discuss the Western/Other schema. Per their paradigm, this large cluster of ‘cultural’ and other apriori differences should constantly befuddle our relationship. They couldn’t have been more utterly wrong. Perhaps the only salient cultural difference that can’t be overcome is that she won’t go A’s baseball games with me. However, my in-laws and I attend a couple of Angles games every year and my (formerly Muslim) mother-in-law can tailgate with the best of them.

    The Western/Other dichotomy is too stagnant. It models people as stagnant entities, unable to adjust and accumulate new attributes. Worse, it yearns to equate inalienable attributes such a skin color, last name, place of origin with fixed cultural behaviors. I’m sure that critical studies types have a pejorative term for people that integrate into ‘Western’ societies. Meanwhile, the rest of us, just going living together and fu#$ing each other to create the next fusion.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Long time reader – first time commenting. Good post Razib, but I feel like you should have mentioned the roll of proportionality to human perceptions of beauty. It is at the very least the common thread between symmetry and secondary sexual characteristics and, arguably, the larger expressive concept that encompasses both symmetry, which is in effect a form of proportionality, and the expression of many secondary sexual characters (think hip to waste ratio).

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  • #3 has it really been shown that estrus affects attractiveness of still images?

    I was under impression that we are talking about visual, and static, input only. Not dynamic body language, not auditory signals, not chemoreception, nothing beyond just seeing a snapshot

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  • one thing i didn’t mention, because the literature on this seems thin: there is likely some innate individual differences in preferences and weighting (as suggested above).

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  • http://www.economist.com/node/21562896

    the economist wrote about symmetry in relation to health a few weeks ago.

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  • I haven’t studied the subject in depth, and probably won’t be tempted to look for references, but I’d be surprised if three more innate aspects of beauty recognition didn’t exist
    - affinity to similar appearance, perhaps rooted in general biological self-species recognition, but also in a more recently evolved enhanced ability to “read the facial language”
    - affinity to different appearances, perhaps driven by hybrid vigor / inbreeding aversion
    - affinity to neoteny / baby-facedness, perhaps piggybacking on our societal extension of parental love

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  • Another issue to consider is that secondary sexual characteristics considered attractive in one sex may not be attractive in the other.

    And even within one sex (female), depending on time of ovulation, as has been shown.

    What I find also interesting is the mix of universal vs. cultural perceptions. For example, a European might find two specific Japanese women exceptionally beautiful out of ten previously chosen to be judged mutually beautiful, while his Japanese counterpart would pick a different two and may rank the former near the bottom, and vice versa.

    Finally, even the biological side is not fixed. There surely are differences in perception, too. I find Japanese maps impossible to read, and their subway stations confusing. It’s all a sea of slight nuances of light pink and orange and light purple/blue/greens and yellows – few contrasting dark hues:

    I don’t believe this is just cultural – for something practical, eventually, practicality and safety should win out.

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  • My best guess is that the connection is that the subjectivists of the first paragraph implicitly believe that non-western standards are natural and uniform, while western standards are artificial and subjective.

    it’s not that coherent. it implicitly goes in that direction, but when confronted on this often there’s confusion and lack of recognition. most of the subjectivists i’m talking about don’t really focus on the details of non-western cultures too much, except as foils for western culture. so they don’t grasp that that’s what the implication is. to use their own terminology, they’re often quite eurocentric (even those who are non-white and don’t even identify as western).

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  • I am confused by the second paragraph, about lumping together all non-western cultures, which does not seem connected to the rest of the post. My best guess is that the connection is that the subjectivists of the first paragraph implicitly believe that non-western standards are natural and uniform, while western standards are artificial and subjective. Of course, it contradicts their claim in the first paragraph, but lots of people have inconsistent beliefs. Do you endorse this claim? Was that the point? Should I not guess?

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  • Several people have inquired as to my opinion on the OKCupid post The Mathematics Of Beauty. I've blogged data from this dating website in the past, in particular, the differential race consciousness of women vs. men. But that material is a different class than the current post. As I have noted before, there is a...
  • I’m on OKC, and it’s not entirely clear that ratings are based solely on looks; my impression is that men and women rate based a great deal based on profile content as well.

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  • It seems to me the way it works is this: men have a simple set of parameters when they look at a woman’s photo:

    One: will I be embarrassed to be seen with her in front of my friends? If so, too “ugly.”

    Two: Will I be humiliated when she laughs at my picture because she is so beautiful she’d never want me? If so, too “stuck-up.”

    If she falls somewhere in-between on the looks scale, they move on to secondary criteria.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    This article is written and read by scietific priented people who are beauty blind . Frieda Pinto would settle as Karisma’s maid servant at best.
    If you want to understand the true meaning of beautiful face take these simple natural tests :-
    1. Get a 1-2 year old baby near Freida and karisma and tell both actress not to do any actions . See where the baby gets attracted to.it would be karisma
    2. Ask an uneducated a not so aware and unbiased person who is more beautiful the answer would be Karisma.
    The educated and politicised people would only say Freida,.

    [retard comment posted for amusement -R]

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  • ha, I have exactly the features you wrote may seem “ludicrous” on men and emphasizing them in the profile picture seems to have helped my second go-round on okc. I am now inspired to see what else, other than the brown skin, fits into a ‘good’ deviation from the mean. You have to be careful, however, given the locale–whether the people’s republic of portland or the capital of confederacy.

    For how women view men, you could have had quite a bit of fun with south indian actors as the difference seems even more stark–explaining the appeal of Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth to American peers when they’ve probably only seen the guy who played “Dr. Suresh” on ‘Heroes’

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  • It’s a good thing I’m no longer in the dating market. If I were to put my particular, ahem, standard of feminine beauty in the profile, OK Cupid would reject it as inappropriate :)

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  • Perahu – I would agree also

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  • Freida Pinto is in my opinion much better looking than Karisma Kapoor as well.

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  • I used be on OKCupid years ago, and didn’t like it as a serious dating site at all, better as a hookup site I think. What I liked best were the Quizzes. I also tried eHarmony and it’s a total waste of money, as they won’t match you based on your criteria, but their own. They use a gimmick, where their system compels you to share lots of information and answer lots of mutual questions, before you ever see the other person – in the hope that you then won’t run for the hills, if she’s ugly.

    IMO Match.com is still the best, simply because they had first mover advantage and have a monster database, and so you can be very selective in your matching criteria.

    I’m lucky in that, like Razib references, I have non-typical US standards of beauty – as I’m not an American – and so my top picks are often NOT too popular with other guys. I particularly like curvier women, and eschew skinny ones, so I used have a lot of cute women, whom typical American males find fat, that were right in my ballpark. I also have a liking for women with Mediterranean type features, which is again not always popular with US men, not to mention that Mediterranean women are more temperamental/passionate and intense, which I also like.

    Using these criteria, I met online the mother of my daughter – a curvy, passionate French woman, who bore a close likeness to the Pakistani model:
    1. Iman Ali
    2. Iman Ali

    While the mother of my son, I also met online, is somewhat like a curvier Kate Winslet.

    It also meant that when I was approached by attractive skinny women online, I would always be indifferent/aloof – as they’re not really my cup of tea – and that would drive up their attraction for me, as it would make me seem more Alpha?!

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  • I’m on OkCupid and I’ve never rated anyone, ever. Granted, I haven’t used it for dating in some time, but I never really used that feature. I actually wish I had a larger variety of experiences to draw from, because while I have dated a lot of people that I initially met online, only one of them was from an actual dating website (and it happens to be the guy I’m dating now). My experience is consistent with the one OkCupid describes, though. I log in, read all my messages, reply to maybe 2% of them, and that’s it.

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  • I’m on OKC. The only women I rate are ones that I put in the 4 and 5 star ratings, and I only do that for perhaps 20% of the ones that I perceive that way – I just don’t bother for most of them. So I don’t know how that skews the statistics.

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  • How good is the evidence for symmetry? For example, composite photos fail to distinguish between the symmetry hypothesis and the smooth skin hypothesis.

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  • I got annoyed with the use of the word ‘fatty’ (I was a bit, um, rounder at the time) so she and I agreed to change it to Secret Internet Fake. Same idea though, everyone using the Angles is trying to hide something!

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  • SM, SIF is great. there’s a particular friend i need to tell that to….

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  • I agree with a lot of what you said here, but I don’t think that MySpace angles matter as much as you think they do. They’re like the caviar analogy you made earlier, some men are going to like it, others aren’t.

    My ex had a term for girls who used excessive MySpace angles. SIF, for Secret Internet Fatty. (Classy, I know, but I didn’t date this individual for very long.) I think most people have wizened up to this method and assume that girls using these angles aren’t actually as attractive as they appear, or at least that they’re attempting to hide something.

    I would love to see if this trend was repeated in lesbians, especially with respect to butch/femme dynamics. But that’s another idea for another day.

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  • Two observations.

    1. Reactions to photos aren’t necessarily entirely or mostly about physical appearance. Clothing and context convey social symbols. If your clothing, hairstyle and context show that you fit in a particular subcultural niche (e.g. tatooing millenials), this is going to win approval from niche members and disapproval from non-niche members.

    2. Messages are partially a way to get more information. One reason a profile can get disparate reactions is that it has a paucity of visual information, or has information that is ambiguous (for example, because it contains a symbol, such as a rainbow, that has multiple cultural meanings). Sending a message may represent the need of viewers to get more information in order to be able to evaluate the picture satisfactorily.

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  • Y-axis: Mean attractiveness rating X-axis: Black faces, Mixed-Race faces, White faces Top curve – ratings by female students Bottom curve – ratings by male students (Lewis, 2010) This study has attracted much notice in the media and on the Internet. When photos of black, white, and mixed-race faces were shown to twenty white psychology students...
  • 20 universerty phsychology students desparatly try to not be rascist. That is in no way surprising.

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  • Peter Frost,

    To me, that suggests overcompensation: the participants wanted to be unbiased and ended up leaning too much in the other direction.

    In addition, I suspect that there is also a degree of unconscious bias driven by a desire to see 'the other' in the best light. These feelings are genuine — white men and women who pair themselves with blacks aren't faking their attraction — but I wonder whether the effect doesn't have its genesis in a sincere desire surmount one's lingering pro-self-kind racial leanings in order to conform to the by now dominant culture's prescription.

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  • "It's not difficult to kill a large animal if the animal is surrounded by humans on all sides. It's simply a matter of being patient and exploiting the opportunities that arise."

    Right, a cow maybe, but a lion ?
    If 10 men could surround a wild boar with spears, I'd expect to have one dead man and no meat at diner, so a lion, hmmm, the neanderthal boss would have to try hard to convince me to go hunting.

    Anyway, the lion is supposed to see, hear and smell the stinky neanderthals well before they come at spear range. It might be possible to approach against the wind, but then the lion can run in the opposite direction. I'd say the neanderthals had some tricks that we don't know and hunting lions make them smarter suddenly.

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  • Ben10,

    Neanderthals had wooden spears and hafted spears (stone blade + adhesive + wooden handle). There is no evidence of traps or snares among the Neanderthals.

    It's not difficult to kill a large animal if the animal is surrounded by humans on all sides. It's simply a matter of being patient and exploiting the opportunities that arise.

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  • Off topic sorry, have you seen the article in archeology about neanderthals hunting lions twice bigger than modern lions.
    Beside a courageous soul, could this be an indication that neanderthals used throwing weapons ?
    Otherwise, how could they get close enough of a lion to kill it at close range ?

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  • Tod,

    Yes, I think mixed-race individuals benefit from a "double advantage."

    We see this in the fashion industry. Mixed-race models are socially defined as 'black' or 'non-white', so their presence eases guilty consciences about racist underrepresentation. But they also have a physical appearance that is closer to the white ideal. They thus tend to be overrepresented in relation to black women and to white women.

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