strange like that

You Have Those Beady Eyes

Phrenology Chart

A phrenology chart.

There are a great many things that I am interested in, and that includes old studies and ideas of how the world works. One of the more fascinating ideas was that you could tell if someone was a criminal based on their physical appearance.

There are a number of studies that focus around being able to discern a person’s personality based on their physical characteristics. You have physiognomy (which is judging something based on it’s appearance) and phrenology (which is the measuring of the human skull to determine the stronger focuses of your brain). Anthropological criminology (or sometimes criminal anthropology) is also one of these focuses, and it can be largely credited to one man named Cesare Lombroso.

Cesare theorized that criminals were born criminals. That they were essentially a throwback to a more savage time in our evolution born from the genetics of their parents. Of course, it was likely that the parents were also criminals, and so forth and so on. His idea was that criminals tended to have distinct characteristics such as deep set eyes, a sloping forehead, elongated arms and a plethora of other traits. He believed this so much that he went and took measurements from the cadavers of criminals to prove this idea.

Now, people may laugh at this idea these days, but it’s not as outdated as you might think. This same sort of theory is prevalent in current racial profiling and the like. There are also people researching similar ideas about what a person’s face might say about their personality, and they’re doing so with some degree of accuracy.

Is there a correlation between how we look and how we act? Is it more than just the genetics passed down from our parents? For those people who seem particularly adept at reading people without doing much more than looking at them, what are they picking up on? Is it all visual, or something else?

As an example, Da Vinci believed one could discern the temperament of a person by looking at where their face was wrinkled. Did they have frown lines? Lines from a furrowed brow? Maybe crows feet forming around the eyes from laughing?

There is still so much we don’t fully understand in this world, about each other and even about ourselves. How much of our attitudes are truly influenced by the outward appearances of those we interact with? Is it done consciously or subconsciously? Perhaps both? It seems we’re still trying to find the answers.


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