Face-ism

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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