Sometimes you come across an article which seems to consist of truisms presented as revelations and things not borne out either by other sources or your personal experience.

For example, a recent BBC article about ‘face-ism’. For one thing, the essence of the article is basically all in this paragraph:

“Although we like to think we make decisions in a rational way, we are often swayed by superficial cues,” says Christopher Olivola at Carnegie Mellon University. “And appearances are a particularly superficial, yet very strong cue.”

Against which you can put G.K. Chesterton’s words from his compilation of essays The Defendant (incidentally published just a year after Carnegie Mellon University’s foundation):

There are some people who state that the exterior, sex, or physique of another person is indifferent to them, that they care only for the communion of mind with mind; but these people need not detain us. There are some statements that no one ever thinks of believing, however often they are made.

Also, a reasonably well-referenced Wikipedia page uses the term for something distinctly different. Yet what surprised me most was the following claim: “Todorov has shown that 40 milliseconds are all it takes to form a rapid impression of someone’s personality – that’s about a tenth as long as a single blink of the eye.” I really don’t believe that within mere 40ms I can form the impression that I am looking at a person, as opposed to, say, a piece of furniture – let alone attribute some characteristic to it.



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