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November 21, 2014

Strange But True!

Q. Why is it that the attractive men (or women) you date tend to be mean, while the nice ones tend to be ugly?

A. It's due to a sampling bias known as Berkson's fallacy, says Jordan Ellenberg in “How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking.” The only people you consider dating — the acceptable ones — are not too mean and not too ugly. But if someone is really nice, you are less critical of their appearance, and this brings down the average level of the appearance of nice dates. Similarly, if someone is really attractive, you cut them some slack on how nice they are, bringing down the average level of niceness for attractive dates. The impression you develop is that “attractives” tend to be meaner than “uglies,” and “nicies” tend to be uglier than “meanies.”

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