A fun image that I think you will enjoy

Hey guys! Check out this great JPEG I found last month. The caption was created by physics blogger Matthew Francis, and I've really been looking forward to sharing it with you!

In totally unrelated news, I just read a story by Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience.com, all about evolutionary psychologists' ongoing attempts to determine whether human females prefer our men hairy or smooth and, if so, why. Pappas' story covers a recent study that tried (and failed) to support one hypothesis: Women like hairless guys because we somehow know that hairy chests could be havens for parasites. A Sean Connery-like thatch is just one more place for lice to hang out.

Studying the preferences of women in two different cultures — Turkey and Slovakia — the researchers expected to find that Turkish women were more likely to choose hairless men because that country has long had higher rates of parasite-transmitted disease. Instead, they found that women in both countries overwhelmingly preferred their gentlemen in a less-wooly state.

The headline on the LiveScience article: "Why Women Don't Fall for Hairy Guys Remains A Scientific Mystery".

Thanks to Joanne Manaster for the inspiration!


  1. In fact, women prefer relatively hair-free guys across the board, according to new research published online Sept. 13 in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

    They’ll come around sooner or later.

  2. Ah, evolutionary psychology. Did they even check to see if more body hair actually correlates to transmission of lice? Does it even live there? (Head and, er, tail lice are different species in humans.)

  3. I’m reminded of how Dr. V.S. Ramachandran once submitted a fake paper to an evolutionary psychology journal claiming that men prefer blondes because their lighter hair makes it easier to identify parasites on their skin. He expected to be laughed away, but was surprised when they accepted his paper without question. I’m always dubious of a discipline where you can essentially just make stuff up, and it is equally difficult to prove or disprove as the “real” research.

    Also, while I’m sure there are many legit people in the field, evolutionary psychology has a long history of being used by the status quo to reinforce ideals that are personally convenient to them. Makes me nervous.

    1. Well, my question is whether he made up supporting data. If his paper was really an elaborate just-so-story, then it certainly casts doubt on the journal and by extension the field. If he faked some sort of actual evidence for his theory, then no one should be surprised at it being accepted (and shame on him).

      1. It didn’t need fake data — all EP is just elaborate just-so stories. That’s the point. It’s exactly the same as this “study” above — would a difference in chest-hair preference between Turkish women and other women really have been any evidence at all for their hypothesis? No, not at all.

    2. An amusing story, if only it were true.

      The journal was Medical Hypotheses which is not an evolutionary psychology journal. Based on the name alone I think most people can surmise that a lot of the articles published in it are going to be wrong. Moreover, Ramachandran is on the advisory board of Medical Hypotheses and has 15 papers published in the journal.

  4. Never was a problem during my hairier days… More importantly how do same sex couples feel about the “rug”?

    1. Generally speaking, if you see an article about how women do or don’t like hairy chests, most of the comments are from gay men defending the fur.

      1. I have an older friend who fancies himself as a twink who has miserable luck with men. I’ve suggested, teasingly,  that he might have a little more luck if he expands his interests beyond the hairless young men he chases. He gets horribly defensive and says “What? You expect me to date a bear?”

        1. I can’t remember who it was, maybe David Geffen, at 60ish was appalled that anyone would expect him to date a 35 year-old, because 35 was so ancient.

  5. acceptance of mens bodies seems to go back and forth with trends, right now a hairy chest is down right accepted as normal, when i was a teen in the 90s – 00s no one had hair on their chest in tv or movies

    i was teased mercilessly and looked at with disgust by most girls/women

    so i developed a personality and learned how to be attractive with my behavior, thats really all anyone can do

    1. A hairy chest is always at least somewhat ok, what do I do about this damn scraggly fur coat on my back?

      I have the reasonable assumption that the hair fled the top of my head for shadier locales. Good thing I got married before the exodus was complete!

      1. Mine has done the same, except a good chunk of it kept on marching and has now taken residence on my back side if you catch my drift…

        I’m pretty sure if they offered a pill that would render you completely hairless (except facial and eyebrows) I’d take it.  Yeah I’d trade head hair (what I have left) for not having to deal with back or ass hair.

    1. When I was new to being out as a queer guy, the scenes I went to really frowned at the hairy chest.  The outright disgust I endured doesn’t bother me anymore.  I spent some time hanging out with bear friend, and his circle of friends.  I got the confidence to be comfortable in my own skin.  I don’t live up to a mainstream standard of beauty, but I now know that there are people I’m attractive to.

  6. “the researchers expected to find that Turkish women were more likely to choose hairless men because that country has long had higher rates of parasite-transmitted disease”
    Wouldn’t a historical higher rate of parasite-transmitted disease indicate Turkish women are more likely to choose hairy men, assuming that the researcher’s transmission vector assumptions were correct? If Turkish women pre-dispose to hairless men that would result in a LOWER historical rate of parasite transmitted disease.

    What I am saying is, this is bunk on so many levels.

  7. Given the preferences, I’d try to figure out the other angle: what possible evolutionary advantage could a hairy chest provide to counterbalance the problem of women not liking it? Insulation? Seems like a stretch…

    1. ive heard that men have body hair because it actually helps keep us cool, body hair increases our surface area and allows sweat to evaporate more efficiently

      that was the theory anyways

  8. Considering the amount of variation in quantity and distribution of male body hair it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of selection pressure toward either extreme.  Can’t we just celebrate the diversity of body hair styles?  There’s something for everyone to enjoy somewhere out there.

    Well, except for the weird daddy-long-legs-legs-like hairs that started sprouting on my upper arms and shoulders in my late 20’s.  Those are gross. 

  9. Now they’ve gone and done it…pretty soon “hairless chest” is going to be a category on Pinterest.

  10. As someone who was dating the smooth-chested men until recently, I like some hair better. I think the appeal for me is the virile-manly-man kind of thing. But, to each their own. And growing up with a father with back hair certainly helps one’s acceptance of back hair!

  11. I do believe it is more of a cultural aspect than anthropological.

    We probably associate hairless guys in a higher social status and conversely, hairy guys as more illiterate or even violent. In the media for instance that is quite frequent. Same discriminatory portrayals are with bald guys where, unless the actor is well known, he usually is the bad guy.

  12. The evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists work the same side of the same street. I wish they’d stay there and leave anthropology alone.

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