I have a hard time fitting glasses.

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS | Social Darwinism. This is a review of Dunbar’s How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks. As usual, the reviewer doesn’t deal with the actual numbers – does everyone have exactly 150 social / familial connections? What’s the spread? What is the statistical significance?

Dunbar makes a number of astonishing claims – something that happens a lot in evolutionary biology. While I’m not a big believer in common sense (it’s most often common prejudice), his claims about human symmetry have been around for awhile. I’ve never bought those claims beyond the basic idea that bilateral symmetry may be an indication of health. What’s defined as attractive in the male seems to go through “fashions” that range from asymmetrical types like Hoffman and Bogart to the “pretty boy” types like Redford.

What’s really interesting is to see Bogart’s attempt to make up for his asymmetry (the stage right side of his face is much fuller than the stage left side). I you look at this set of pictures, you see that Bogart is almost always posed tilting his head stage left to down play his weaker side. While a straight on photograph is aesthetically unappealing, the consistency of these pictures are interesting.

Sure, it’s nice to look healthy, but kind, funny and smart are the relationship glue.


2 responses to “I have a hard time fitting glasses.

  1. I can think of another man who was pretty amazing despite the asymmetry of having only one arm. I did think the Bogart pictures were striking- he definitely found his one pose and stuck to it. However, wouldn’t that also suggest that he was trying to hide his asymmetry and not emphasize it.

  2. You’re right (you often are).

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