January 30, 2010

The people instinctively know what Caesar knew: Don't trust skinny men.

In Shakespeare's telling of the tale, Julius Caesar says:
Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
And according to a new study, people consider fat men in politics more "reliable, honest and even more inspiring" than thin men.
[Dr. Elizabeth Miller," a political scientist at the University of Missouri and a co-author] split 120 volunteers into four groups. Each group was presented with descriptions and photos of four separate phony candidates who had the same gender and body type: obese male, skinny male, obese female, skinny female. Within each group, each phony candidate's political views differed.

The study subjects then rated the candidates based on a series of criteria, including honesty and ability to perform. The obese males were viewed 6% more positively than skinny males, while skinny women were viewed 5% more positively than their full-figured counterparts. Overall, obese females were viewed 10% less favorably than obese males.
Yes, the preference was for non-skinny men. Women still need to be thin. "Let me have men about me that are fat." Men. What we trust in men and what we trust in women are 2 different things, then and now.

49 comments:

Jason (the commenter) said...

I find this post both encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging, because I am an non-skinny male; discouraging, because I've recently started losing weight.

Don't tell this to any of the guys on The Biggest Loser!

Ann Althouse said...

Keep going, Jason. Maybe people don't trust non-fat men because they're afraid they are going to get all the best women (and guys).

JAL said...

I've noticed that that Meade fellow is, err, somewhat lean ...

Heh. And he got a Best Woman.

JAL said...

wv chortive
Like chortle?

Chase said...

What JAL said.

But seriously - 120 volunteers? 120? volunteers? A junior high school type science class experiment gives us the "possibility that 300,000,000+ Americans react this way?

I love Freakonomics and Malcolm Gladwell but this is Freakinstupid.

Ambrose said...

It's time to re-examine the much-ignored Taft Presidency.

Kirby Olson said...

Lincoln wasn't fat. I think most people think of him as our greatest president.

Chris said...

Awesome Poast--Now with more Bard.

I have always been most successful with women when I have been lean and most successful in business with a tiny bit of fat.

bagoh20 said...

Since the questions were about honesty and ability to perform as a politician, this is only asking: "Who do you think is gonna be screwing when they should be doing the peoples business?".

We assume the heavy guys will have problems and we know that the heavy females can still get laid whenever they want.

Scientists are so close-minded these days.

Barney Frank is an outlier in all things.

Skyler said...

But Caesar was a dictator that overthrew the Roman republic. Of course he would want to be surrounded by docile, servile, complacent men.

And Caesar was himself thin and balding. Seems to me that someone has missed the irony that the Bard intended.

Peter V. Bella said...

Hefty! Hefty! Hefty!!

wv: hariblu= a gray haired haridran

Meade said...

@JAL: Sometimes a man has to choose.

In my case, did I want political power by having other ordinary people think I'm reliable, honest, and inspiring? Or did I want the Best Woman?

Considering my options... other ordinary people's opinions?

Waaayy overrated!

Skyler said...

As for the gender differences, some other obvious points are being glossed over.

The 5-6% difference is slight.

Women are regarded less for being overweight than men because women are valuable to men at a fundamental level for their beauty. Men are valuable to women for their status.

MrBuddwing said...

Thanks for the quote from Shakespeare. It reminded me of something Charles Laughton, playing Senator Gracchus, said to Peter Ustinov in the 1960 movie "Spartacus":

"You and I have a tendency towards corpulence. Corpulence makes a man reasonable, pleasant and phlegmatic. Have you noticed the nastiest of tyrants are invariably thin?"

Petrov said...

Clearly, fat men are to be trusted more.

Exhibit A: Santa Claus

...but does that mean women lust after that look? Hmmmm, not sure 'bout that.

kentuckyliz said...

Peter Bella quoth:

Hefty! Hefty! Hefty!!

Maybe that should have been McCain's campaign cheer, in response to the Yes We Can crowd.

Fat politicians are eager to please the people--they have eaten way too many rubber chicken dinners at meetings, fried catfish at the fish fries, and pancakes at the firehouse.

My sis always complained about gaining weight when her husband was campaigning. All those food events in the community!

Maguro said...

The 5-6% difference is slight.

Correct. Considering the tiny sample size, the 5%-10% differences noted are statistically meaningless.

Just another half-baked social science study.

Ann Althouse said...

Fat is feminizing. Marc Antony looked dangerous to Caesar, and he was. Leanness emphasizes a man's difference from women. He looks more masculine, and that makes him more appealing to (most) women. But we don't want our political leaders to be too masculine, which we associate with individual ambition and ruthlessness. Women who are more thin seem more like men, and in our subconscious, this makes us think they are more able to do the work our culture associates with men.

traditionalguy said...

Speculation from observation: The fatter men are over loading on Carbs due to the stress of continual interaction among followers that wears them down. They make great politicians in a democratic election system. The Thin men are better sole rulers that are acting out a perfect performance in public, but not taking in the feed back offered by their subjects. Hence no stress, but seething anger at the audience that does not applaud the perfect performance he offers them of His vision for their future...it's always all about him. The fatter men do better as second in command under for another leader, kind of like a politician seeing his role as second in command to carry out the desires of the majority of the people.

kentuckyliz said...

I'm practicing our new set list for the women's show choir I'm in, and it strikes me that "Heal the World" by Michael Jackson shoulda been O's campaign theme song.

When we did the first run-through last Monday night, after hearing the track, there was a moment of silence which I broke by saying:

"Well, that's not very realistic."

(Referring of course to the ideas, not the singability.)

Pardon the overcapping, I copied and pasted from a lyrics website:

There's A Place In
Your Heart
And I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could
Be Much
Brighter Than Tomorrow
And If You Really Try
You'll Find There's No Need
To Cry
In This Place You'll Feel
There's No Hurt Or Sorrow

There Are Ways
To Get There
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

If You Want To Know Why
There's A Love That
Cannot Lie
Love Is Strong
It Only Cares For
Joyful Giving
If We Try
We Shall See
In This Bliss
We Cannot Feel
Fear Or Dread
We Stop Existing And
Start Living

Then It Feels That Always
Love's Enough For
Us Growing
So Make A Better World
Make A Better World...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

And The Dream We Were
Conceived In
Will Reveal A Joyful Face
And The World We
Once Believed In
Will Shine Again In Grace
Then Why Do We Keep
Strangling Life
Wound This Earth
Crucify Its Soul
Though It's Plain To See
This World Is Heavenly
Be God's Glow

We Could Fly So High
Let Our Spirits Never Die
In My Heart
I Feel You Are All
My Brothers
Create A World With
No Fear
Together We'll Cry
Happy Tears
See The Nations Turn
Their Swords
Into Plowshares

We Could Really Get There
If You Cared Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
To Make A Better Place...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me
You And For Me

kentuckyliz said...

Oh gosh sorry, that ended up being a lot longer than I expected. *blush*

Kirby Olson said...

Caesar is not the best judge of character. He gets wiped out by many senators, including his friend Brutus.

So as usual in Shakespeare there is an irony in what people say.

In Henry IV -- Falstaff is hefty, but not to be trusted.

John of Gaunt is the hero of the play. Perhaps he's not to be trusted either, but he and his son wipe out all other comers.

I'm not buying any of this. I think the woman who did the study had a fat husband or something and was skewing the data to shoehorn him into popularity.

This can't be true. Fatties aren't always bad, but beanpoles aren't always bad either. Something is behind all this data, and I suspect mischief. It certainly isn't true that Shakespeare himself is saying fat people are the likeable ones.

Falstaff is plump, but he's also mean and venal and disloyal.

John of Gaunt is the better actor in a moral sense.

kentuckyliz said...

Speaking of Obama's delusions of grandeur and destiny and mandate and specialness, I always thought this song should have been a campaign and/or Immaculation (Inauguration) song:

God Has Chosen Me
Bernadette Farrell

1. God has chosen me, God has chosen me
to bring good news to the poor.
God has chosen me, God has chosen me
to bring new sight to those searching for light:
God has chosen me, chosen me:

Refrain
And to tell the world that God's kingdom is near,
to remove oppression and breakdown fear,
yes, God's time is near, God's time is near,
God's time is near, God's time is near.

2. God has chosen me, God has chosen me
to set alight a new fire.
God has chosen me, God has chosen me
to bring to birth a new kingdom on earth:
God has chosen me, chosen me:

3. God is calling me, God is calling me
in all whose cry is unheard.
God is calling me, God is calling me
to raise up the voice with no power or choice:
God is calling me, calling me:

kentuckyliz said...

^ The Marxists can use that song to persuade and delude the Christians when the Revolution comes.

Ann Althouse said...

"Marc Antony looked dangerous to Caesar, and he was."

I mean Cassius looked dangerous. The line was spoken to Antony.

bagoh20 said...

Mao

Icepick said...

Twenty-six comments and none mention the most famous (and famously) skinny male politician of the day? Shocking!

But Caesar was a dictator that overthrew the Roman republic. Of course he would want to be surrounded by docile, servile, complacent men.

And Caesar was himself thin and balding. Seems to me that someone has missed the irony that the Bard intended.


Caesar himself being skinny and ruthlessly ambitious means he knows whereof he speaks.

William said...

A lean and hungry look is as transient as youth--or batchelorhood. Look for Althouse and Meade to start packing on a few pounds....Michelle Obama is in late middle age. Look for her preaching against obesity to come back and bite her in the ass.

Oligonicella said...

Althouse --

"But we don't want our political leaders to be too masculine, which we associate with individual ambition and ruthlessness."

So, Reagan would be out?

vw: pollolly - To take someone in with a poll.

Flexo said...

The nastiest of tyrants are invariably thin?

Nero was hardly thin.

Trooper York said...

Once again, the hatred of chubby woman contiuses.

When grandma saw you, she didn't say "Oh what a beautiful skinny baby! Let me pinch her skinny boney cheek!"

Embrace the chubby!

Trooper York said...

Once again, the hatred of chubby woman contiuses.

When grandma saw you, she didn't say "Oh what a beautiful skinny baby! Let me pinch her skinny boney cheek!"

Embrace the chubby!

Chris said...

No one likes fat women
but plenty of men like chubby.
It comes down to definition.
When fat was an anomaly
And chubby girls were round
where it mattered,
no one cared.
Today, fat abounds,
and it had dragged chubby
up by a few pounds.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

This is about as dumb a post as using a study of how optical illusions occur as a way to defend an assertion that our eyes never deceive us.

Ann Althouse said...

"A lean and hungry look is as transient as youth--or batchelorhood. Look for ... Meade to start packing on a few pounds..."

Meade is 55 years old, and he wasn't a bachelor through most of those adult years. Here's Meade in 2005.

Beta Conservative said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beta Conservative said...

The Blog Mistress proudly displaying her catch. Very nice!

Beta Conservative said...

A word about fat guys in honor of Super Bowl week.

I think it's awesome that linemen on both sides of the ball often look like my chubby neighbor Bob, but they are fast, graceful, have wonderful balance and roughly the strength of an ox.

They are the coolest fat guys around.

traditionalguy said...

Thank you for that enlightenment, Ritmo. I suppose Shakespeare is just boring to a superior thinker like you. I have always noticed that the insights of Shakespeare into the human condition are so masterful and witty that many people are just plain jealous of him.

Peter V. Bella said...

Embrace the chubby.

We can all be like Ernest Borgnine!!!




wv: rante=French liberal

Ralph L said...

People associate skinniness in the non-youthful with drug addiction and AIDS.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Ralph L :People associate skinniness in the non-youthful with drug addiction and AIDS.

Yes, whenever I see a thin, elderly person those are the first two things which come to mind. (?)

Chris said...

I've been lean, but I've never been hungry.

Paddy O. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

@ Chris...LOL. I hope your appetite returns soon.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I wouldn't deny that Shakespeare had privileged insights into human nature, TG. However, I also wouldn't deny that, as a playwright, he would have occasionally engaged common human prejudices or sentiments in order to further the viability of a plotline at times in his work. Especially in the limited space of 4 little lines.

When Shakespeare was trying to make a larger point regarding human nature or the "truth" inherent in it, I daresay he devoted much more than 4 isolated lines to it. As an obvious fan, wouldn't you be inclined to agree?

Trooper York said...

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers".
(King Henry the Sixth, Part II Act IV, Scene II).

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Good point, Troop. I hereby stand corrected!

traditionalguy said...

Ritmo...Yes, Shakespeare had many characters reacting to the stress in their lives being presented on stage for our entertainment. The perfect verbal expressions by those characters about the very real problems we all remember thinking about too. This gives us a great feeling that others in the audience understand and accept publicly what we once struggled with secretly. But in end the end, even the great Will Shakespeare does not offer us the answers to these dilemmas that he could so precisely talk about, anymore than you or I can do.