Furthest Right

Biology is a whole

…by a whole, I mean that it reflects itself as context, not a focal point. Focal points are singular facets we can appreciate in an instant; context requires we take in many factors at once. Guess which one is more popular?

We like to put biological traits — focal points — into silos. Someone is either smart, good looking, healthy or honest. What if these traits ran together, as if humans were literally ranked on a scale by evolution?

Holy shinola… they may be:

For Jefferson Duarte of Rice University in Houston, Texas, and his colleagues are suggesting that one of a person’s most telling moral features, his creditworthiness, can also be seen in his face.

Dr Duarte’s research was enabled by the internet. Once, if you wanted to borrow money, you had either to visit a bank or to tap a rich friend or relative. Now it is possible to do business directly with a stranger, using a peer-to-peer lending site. The needy advertise themselves, and how much they want. Those flush with cash assess potential borrowers and decide who to lend to, and at what rate of interest.

The researchers looked at 6,821 loan applications, 733 of which were successful. Their first finding was that the assessments of trustworthiness, and of likelihood to repay a loan, that were made by Mechanical Turk workers did indeed correlate with potential borrowers’ credit ratings based on their credit history. That continued to be so when the other variables, from beauty to race to obesity, were controlled for statistically. Shifty physiognomy, it seems, is independent of these things.

People flagged as untrustworthy by the Mechanical Turks were less likely than others to be offered a loan at all. To have the same chance of getting one as those deemed most trustworthy they were required to pay an interest rate that was, on average, 1.82 percentage points higher, even when the effects of historical creditworthiness were statistically eliminated.

The Economist

This data will not be popular with the Crowd.

First, it means that your traits are inherent and inborn; therefore, you can’t be whatever you want to be, because you are what you are, and anything else is polishing a turd.

Worse, it means that we’re not all equal (love of equality is contingent upon us not having inherent, innate traits). Some are shifty and some are less shifty. That’s just how they are.

As science advances, the same people who used primitive science to slay religion are finding that science is revealing the same “biases” that religion had — as being inherent to nature. Maybe we threw out some good data when we pitched out the fairytales?

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