Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Eyeism

According to an article in the Daily Mail, eye colour is a good indicator of a person's skills and ability:

They claim those with blue eyes are more likely to sparkle academically than those with brown. They are more intelligent and gain more qualifications because they study more effectively and perform better in exams.

...

In reaction time trials conducted by U.S. scientists, the brown-eyed performed better, making them more likely to succeed at activities such as football, hockey and rugby.

But the researchers concluded that those with lighter eyes appeared to be better strategic thinkers.

Blue-eyed boys and girls proved to be more successful in activities that required them to plan and structure their time, such as golf, cross-country running - and studying for exams.

Without knowing what the original research took into account before coming to these conclusions - WTF?

The best golfer in the world has brown eyes. Roger Federer might have brown eyes (2) but Bjorn Borg 's were blue (3). Brown eyed Indians haven't yet won the soccer world cup, nor the brown eyed Chinese - though the cliche is that brown-eyed asians are very studious, and I know plenty of asian dentists and accountants - presumably they made some effort to study for their qualifications. The best distance runners are come from Kenya and always have brown eyes. Presumably, running 10,000 metres or winning the steeple chase requires an athelete "to plan and structure their time"?

Socio-economic factors will obviously play a part in determining what skills a person is able to gain. Put bluntly:
  • People from lower socio-ecomonic backgrounds tend not to be as effective studiers than those from higher socio-economic backgrounds. They don't go onto further education as often, and in economic terms they tend to be less successful.
  • Sports like golf, yauchting and the like need a much larger outlay of capital than football, rugby and basket ball, so they are mor elikely to be pursued by people from comfortable socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Some ethnic groups are, as a whole, over represented at different socio-economic levels. In the USA, black people are over-represented at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. In New Zealand, Maori 'enjoy' a similar position.
  • Blacks and Maori have brown eyes.
I'd like to think that the researchers have accounted for this, but without seeing the original research, it is unknown. Certainly, the commentary in the Mail, or the TV discussion i saw about it, made no mention of social class or ethnicity.
1 - "Why blue-eyed boys (and girls) are so brilliant," by Ben Clerkin, in the Daily Mail, 20th of August, 2007. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_article_id=476244&in_page_id=1965)
2 - It is hard to tell with Federer, because of his craggy brows. When his eyes aren't in shadow, they are usually screwed shut. But they are brown, apparently, according to the profile of him on netglimse:
http://www.netglimse.com/celebs/pages/roger_federer/index.shtml
3 - At least they were according to Time Pears, writing in the Guardian on the 5th of June, 2005, in an article called "When he was king." Since a whole paragraph is headed 'eyes,' one assumes Pears checked. (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,,1496703,00.html)

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