Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Hot Chicks May Be Different…….

……yet men somehow stay the same. Or worse, regress.

Not sure whether to be more irked that Razib suggests that smart women aren’t hot (and vice versa), that hot women don’t like sci fi, or than sci fi somehow denotes intelligence. Booooooooo.

:/

Paging Zuska?

Comments

  1. #1 Brian
    December 13, 2006

    I didn’t see anything in his original post that implied Sci-Fi denoted intelligence. I took it to mean that hot women sharing nerd-like priorities/interests was rare. Having worked as an engineer, I’m going to have to side with Razib on that one.

    (Nor, in my experience, do nerd-like priorities imply intelligence).

  2. #2 Rob Knop
    December 13, 2006

    Here is my hypotheses for why there is this idea out there that “intelligent people are less attractive.” And I assuredly hear it all the time.

    First reason: most of us are average, or close to it. We look around at each other, and see decently good-looking people, but not the amazing standouts that are all over the media. As such, we conclude they’re somewhere else.

    Second reason: when we were kids, many of us were outcasts because of being nerds. We weren’t part of the “beautiful people,” where in this case “beautiful” isn’t specifically about physical attractiveness. We come to develop this idea that we’re really better, but misunderstood, and therefore everybody else is somehow lesser. We then get the idea that any positive characteristic that’s not specifically nerdy must anticorrelate with nerdism so that we can feel superior about it.

    Most important reason: grooming. Here’s where I think there is a real effect. Call it, if you will, the Hermione Granger effect. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Ron Weasley is smitten with the part-supernatural beauty of Fleur Delacour, whereas good old Hermione, more interested all the time in her studies than her social causes, goes completely overlooked. Then, at the ball, Hermione gets all dolled up, and comes out looking so beautiful that Harry and Ron don’t recognize her at first.

    As another example, check this out: http://www3.youtube.com/watch?v=00nhKwv4M5Q

    (I’ve done theater, and as such have put on obscene amounts of makeup, and have had people put makeup on me, but I don’t think I’d ever have the patience to sit through what that woman sits through. This is part of why models get paid….)

    The reason that the beautiful people are beautiful in advertisements and in movies is because of the massive amounts of grooming they get. In everyday life, nerds tend not to spend a lot of time grooming (some do, but on the average they don’t), because they don’t tend to put as much value on that as some other kinds of people. As such, nerds tend not to look as attractive. But, obviously, some do.

    -Rob

  3. #3 romunov
    December 13, 2006

    Totally unappropriate and out of context, but I’m pasting it anyway:
    link

  4. #4 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    December 13, 2006

    Well I just don’t understand it. Being smart makes a woman hot. Liking science fiction makes a woman hot.

  5. #5 James
    December 13, 2006

    I think it’s true. I’ve met some interesting people.

    The really hot ones are so trite, lifeless to talk to …(but NOT to look at …wow!!)

    …but the ones that are actually interesting, and enjoyable to be around… …require some constant explaining to your guy friends… some classic lines…

    “Ah, nah fellas we’re jus’ friends” or ” Wha?! are you kiddin? Na, we jus hang out! fer’ real”

    …not saying that hot, and brilliant don’t go together or that they don’t exsist out in the real world…. just saying it’s not easy to find…

  6. #6 Roy
    December 13, 2006

    I’m sorry, I just can’t get behind the “nerds tend not to be as attractive” parade. Maybe when you’re, say, 15, that might hold water (although, even then, I don’t know…), but… come on.
    I assumed (perhaps wrongly?) that most of us are at least in our mid-twenties now. Even if we ignore the way that intelligence can make a person seem more attractive (which, for me, it does), I don’t see any inverse relationship between physical attractiveness and intelligence, or attractiveness and geekiness.
    I think that a lot of people think that there’s a connection there, but my experience suggests otherwise. Besides, how is that any different from stereotype X, Y, or Z? Should we justify that blondes have more fun, but aren’t very smart, next? Or maybe we can talk about how women are worse drivers than men? Tsk.
    And, in my own experience: I’ve simply known too many very attractive men and women who were really into typically geeky activities to think that you have to look like a geek to be a geek.

  7. #7 zusty
    December 13, 2006

    I think part of where this stereotype comes from is that attractive smart people are often given more rewards for being attractive than for being smart. So their personality skews toward making the most of the attractiveness, and perhaps minimizing or paying less attention to the smartness.
    Then there’s also the unattractive person who knows they can’t compete with the Hawt Chyxxors & Doods, so they develop other abilities.
    Outside of nerdish circles, and indeed sometimes inside them, being hot is pretty strongly more valued than intelligence, or at least this is what it’s looked like to me. Look at the comment in that thread, implying ‘your girlfriend is hot, therefore she’s a good catch’. It’s sad that this is still what people focus on so readily.

  8. #8 razib
    December 13, 2006

    focus on the science fiction part. not the intelligence.

  9. #9 razib
    December 13, 2006

    and for the record, i have been involved with two very intelligent women in a row who have had nothing but contempt for science fiction. so personal experience colors my attitudes. but then again, i see the type of people who hang out in the SF sections in bookstores. not smokin’ chicas.

  10. #10 Roy
    December 13, 2006

    razib,

    The last two women I dated were both extremely intelligent Lit majors working on advanced degrees in their fields. Both of them, as it happens, hated mysteries. I worked in a bookstore for two years, and I can further verify that, by and large, it’s not “smokin’ chicas” who hang out in the mystery section.
    I’m not, however, about to suggest that there’s some kind of inverse relationship between “liking a mystery” and “being an attractive woman.”

    I mean, really, I’d be hard pressed to point out any section of the bookstore where “smokin’ chicas” hang out- except for maybe the study area or the cafe. I considered that to be for the rather obvious reason that attractive women- like moderately attractive and unattractive women, and, in fact, people in general- have a wide variety of interests, and don’t necesssarily hang out in one particular section of the store. ;)
    And, for the record, I just don’t know that I could ever befriend someone who has nothing but contempt for sci-fi. I’ll grant that a lot of it is absolute garbage- but, come on, Asmimov? Heinlein? Vonnegut? Gibson? Bradbury?
    I can understand not being a huge fan… but contempt?
    Tsk.

  11. #11 AgnosticOracle
    December 13, 2006

    I think the problem here is an incomplete model. There isn’t a simple trade off between looks and intelligence. There are actually three characteristics: smart, pretty, and sane. When selecting a potential mate, you may choose two. This applies when dating women or men.

  12. #12 razib
    December 13, 2006

    p(smokin’ | reading SF ) << p(smokin’ | reading mystery)

  13. #13 razib
    December 13, 2006

    ok, in words (carrots are not loved)

    probability of smokin’ conditional upon reading SF is far less than probability of smokin’ conditional upon reading mystery. that doesn’t mean that the basal rate of smokin’ is high, but if smokin’ i assume that taking that prior into account the probability of reading SF if reading drops a lot.

    (can’t use the notation to get all bayesian cuz of the MT limiting)

  14. #14 Tyler DiPietro
    December 14, 2006

    probability of smokin’ conditional upon reading SF is far less than probability of smokin’ conditional upon reading mystery. that doesn’t mean that the basal rate of smokin’ is high, but if smokin’ i assume that taking that prior into account the probability of reading SF if reading drops a lot.

    Suuuuurre, fewer attractive may actually like SciFi than Mystery Novels, but that is only because the White Male Patriarchy(TM) actively encourages the stereotype and forces women to like books they really do not. You need some extensive re-education, Razib. ;-)

  15. #15 Shelley
    December 14, 2006

    Some people seem to be missing the point. Screw the patriarchy crap- just another brand of stereotype. The point is that stereotypes of any kind are stupid, and I expect more from SB readers let alone SB bloggers. :P

  16. #16 Roy
    December 14, 2006

    Exactly.
    The notion that a combination of one’s sexual organs and relative attractiveness has a real influence on one’s literary preferences is… well… rather silly, I think.
    *shrug*

  17. #17 Rich
    December 14, 2006

    Isn’t this really just simple probability theory? Suppose that a person considers 10% of the population to be physically attractive and 10% to be intelligent. If there’s no correlation between the two then that person will only consider 1% of the population both physically attractive and intelligent, and thus worth commenting on. It has nothing to do with attractive people having a different distribution of intelligence or any such thing.

    If there’s no correlation between “intelligent” and “sf reader” and 10% – probably an overestimate! – read things like Hyperion then only one in a thousand people meet the attractive/smart/sf joint criteria. Even assuming a weak correlation between working in a bar and being attractive and/or smart, you’d still have to visit a lot of wine bars before running into such a hostess.

    All of which reminds me of my friend Cerstin’s dating problems. She had a list of criteria for someone she’d date that were very specific, right down to “has good shoes”. I once estimated the probabilities of someone passing each of the more-or-less independent “tests” she was setting, multiplied them together, took into account the current rate of population growth and estimated that there would next be someone acceptable to her alive in about 2800AD.

  18. #18 Christopher Gwyn
    December 14, 2006

    The whole thing is very odd. Every woman Scienceblogger who has a picture up is ‘smokin hot’. Razib’s corrolation has less factual support for it than suggesting that because the women Sciencebloggers are ‘teh hot’ most ‘hot’ women are interested in science…

  19. #19 razib
    December 14, 2006

    The point is that stereotypes of any kind are stupid, and I expect more from SB readers let alone SB bloggers. :P

    no, i don’t think they are. so we disagree.

  20. #20 Daryl McCullough
    December 14, 2006

    Rob Knop wrote: Call it, if you will, the Hermione Granger effect.

    Maybe I was weird, but if I had met a girl like Hermione when I was a kid, I would have been instantly head over heels in love.

  21. #21 Daryl McCullough
    December 14, 2006

    I also think that many nerds intentionally feed into negative stereotypes about themselves: They’re no good at sports, they’re socially inept, they have no fashion sense. Why do they do that? Well, I’ll tell you why: People like to pretend that life is fair. If someone is rich and famous, then there’s got to be the down side: they’re addicted to drugs, they’re anorexic, they have unhappy relationships, they’re tormented by the press. If a man is a big, tall, muscular football player, there has to be a down side: usually, they’re not too bright. If a woman is drop-dead gorgeous, then she can’t also be smart, or she can’t also be athletic, or she can’t also be a nice person.

    It’s extremely rude to be good at everything. So cut it out!

  22. #22 Rob Knop
    December 14, 2006

    Maybe I was weird, but if I had met a girl like Hermione when I was a kid, I would have been instantly head over heels in love.

    Well, yes. Me too. But Ron is shallower than us :)

    It’s a classic Hollywood stereotype. Nerd Girl has the hots for Nerd Guy, but Nerd Guy has his eye on the Much More Attractive Cheerleader.

    Is this true in reality? Well, yeah, sometimes it is. Men have this awful connection between their eyeballs and the arousal centers of their brain that works an awful lot faster than the indirect connection through their reasoning centers. There’s nothing more attractive to a true Nerd Boy than a intelligent and personable Geek Girl, regardless of physical appearance, once he’s had time to think about it. But there’s that “think” word in there that makes it all hard.

    I remember in college thinking the opposite as well. I recall my sister recanting a conversation between a bunch of women in theater about my friend Mike. “Mike is a nice, stable, reasonable guy, the sort of guy you’d want to marry,” they said. Yet, by and large they weren’t attracted to him; they were more likely to be attracted to the arrogant jerks who would treat them like trash.

    What’s up with all of that?

    None of it makes any sense. I’m just glad I’m stably married and never have to worry about it again.

    -Rob

  23. #23 Zuska
    December 15, 2006

    Razib is behaving like a total adolescent ass. And he’s promoting a very poisonous stereotype about woman as if it’s just a lark, like it has no damaging effects whatsoever. If you did your science as shoddily as you extrapolate your theory about woman, intelligence, and beauty from your N of 1 you ought to be drummed out of the scientific enterprise. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for encouraging other nutcakes to believe this kind of crap. You have your head up your ass on this one, razib, and I’ve said so on my blog. http://scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/2006/12/razib_head_up_his_ass_on_women.php

  24. #24 Mike
    December 15, 2006

    Random comments (mostly knee-jerk and unscientific):

    A lot of sci-fi requires no intelligence whatsoever (as with any genre, 95% is rubbish). Liking quality literature may be a sign of intelligence, liking a particular genre isn’t.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe men who feel that smart women can’t be beautiful just fundamentally want someone dumber than them to be taken care of and tell them how smart they are?

    Or then there is the problem that a drop-dead gorgeous, athletic, smart and funny woman may have – being perceived as “out of my league” by many men, leaving the exceptionally over-confident, arrogant and drunk to pursue her.

    Judging hotness by photos – I wouldn’t want to go out with a beautiful statue.

  25. #25 Daryl McCullough
    December 15, 2006

    Zuska,

    It seems to me that the real poison here is the ridiculous amount of importance placed on attractiveness of women. Arguing that “Smart women can be hot, too!” is just feeding into this.

    Who cares what fraction of women who are physicists/engineers/science-fiction fans are drop-dead gorgeous? For some reason, nobody ever brings up the question of whether Isaac Newton or Isaac Asimov were “hot”. I think that insisting that women can be both brilliant and hot is almost as damaging as insisting that they can’t be.

  26. #26 Alon Levy
    December 15, 2006

    but then again, i see the type of people who hang out in the SF sections in bookstores. not smokin’ chicas.

    Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that reading science fiction is inversely correlated with attractiveness among women. Great logic.

    But then again, I see the type of people who try arguing that some kind of women is more attractive than another kind. Not dazzlin’ geniuses.

  27. #27 MaddNess
    December 15, 2006

    There isn’t a simple trade off between looks and intelligence. There are actually three characteristics: smart, pretty, and sane.

    I was going to take offense to this, not really, but then I realized that it applies to me! I’m pretty smart, pretty in a dark sort of way, but not particularly sane. You just might have something there …

    My man, who is a tech geek, occasionally enjoys rubbing his co-workers noses in the fact that his woman loves sci-fi. It’s usually when they’re all complaining about their wives giving them a hard time about some sci-fi related activity. I just can’t even fathom being married to someone who isn’t in to sci-fi.

  28. #28 Kathy Sierra
    December 16, 2006

    Daryl: “nobody ever brings up the question of whether Isaac Newton or Isaac Asimov were “hot”.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/08/27/mental.floss/index.html

  29. #29 jon H
    December 18, 2006

    Christopher Gwyn writes: ” Every woman Scienceblogger who has a picture up is ‘smokin hot’. ”

    But they aren’t necessarily into SF.

    There are plenty of intelligent women, many in the sciences, but they may have more mainstream tastes.

    Furthermore, as i noted in another comment thread, when you meet someone new, chances are you don’t start talking about SF. Intelligent, attractive, SF-reading men probably get chatted up a lot, by all kinds of men, many of who are neither intelligent nor sf-reading. So for the intelligent, attractive, SF-reading woman, bringing up SF with a stranger is almost always going to be a dead-end conversational gambit.

    And nerdy men are unlikely to launch into conversation about SF, either, with a new female acquaintance. Or even with a man. That is, until some kind of topic negotiation has happened, or some signal of nerd-dom has brought it into conversation.

    So the most likely scenario for a nerdy guy to discover that an unknown attractive woman reads SF is to overhear or join a conversation between the unknown woman and her SF-reading friend. Just the situation Razib was in.

    Exceptions exist of course, for example women who have nerd paraphernalia or clothing that broadcasts their interests. I could be wrong, but that seems to be somewhat less common among women than among men.

  30. #30 Daryl McCullough
    December 18, 2006

    Kathy,

    Okay, I stand corrected.

  31. #31 anonimouse
    December 20, 2006

    Everyone finds different things attractive or “hot”.

    I oppose this thread on the grounds that it implies only a certain type of person (hair style, body type) can be “hot”.

  32. #32 proform coupons
    August 2, 2010

    Hotness is in the eye of the beholder as some ancient philosopher said. Smart chicks are much hotter to me and a touch of sci fi is always welcomed although too much for me is no bueno