We are all bigots. There are two things which are regularly used to discriminate which are not as fêted as racism or sexism, and yet are still a form of bigotry – those being prejudices of beauty and intelligence. People fail to obtain jobs because they are too stupid and sometimes too clever. Similarly we naturally discriminate against ugly people. Imagine a badly deformed man, hunched and pox-ridden, wearing warts like a kid wears pimples, who wouldn’t pass a judgement. Maybe we were caught of guard but a for split second our unconscious told us to back off. Furthermore its rare to see an ugly barmaid and rarer to see an ugly promotions girl.
The difficulty with bigotry against intelligence, compared with racism, is that intelligence is functional. It is a mark of our capacity to do cerebral work. In activities where more mind power is better than less mind power, surely discrimination can be justified. Beauty bigotry is harder to fully justify. We can understand why it happens, humans being a lascivious and somewhat aesthetic race, have a natural affinity towards beauty. We even have whole centres in the brain which are used to analyse and recognise faces. But here I give you a (quasi) scientific reason to hate them – uglies are more likely to commit a crimes!
Two economists from University of Colorado and Georgia State University tracked 15 000 high-school students in the US between 1994 and 2002. The studies asked them to rate their appearance and asked questions on crimes commited. The study found that cute guys were less likely to commit seven listed crimes involving burglary and drugs that their ugly peers. Similarly attractive girls were less likely to commit six of the seven crimes than there ugly peers.
The researchers, Naci Mocan (UoC) and Erdal Tekin (GSU), don’t know why this is so. But we can speculate that there are many sociological and psychological reasons. Since other studies have found ugly people less likely to succeed, less likely to be employed and have worse social skills. The labour market penalty may force those who are as ugly as a block of flats into crime. Similarly low-income households, which are more prone to producing criminals, can’t afford nice cloths, good nutrition and top styling, making them socially ugly (but not genetically ugly). Socio-psycho babble aside the study is rigorous, both scientifically and mathematically. Those used to reading scientific papers can view their manuscript in progress (Edit 2012 - link now dead - MIT Publication can be seen here). This study does reassure this author though. Having never committed any of the seven crimes, or even had a detention at school, I must be one of the handsome set.