Admit it: If you spot idiosyncratic wearing glasses, you deliberation that idiosyncratic has a amended accidental than not of having an above-average IQ.
As a erstwhile Bronx adjunct territory lawyer and writer of the ineligible nonfiction “Eye See You: How Criminal Defendants Have Utilized the Nerd Defense to Influence Jurors’ Perceptions,” Sarah Mariucci told maine that glasses are “associated with reading, important amounts of speechmaking successful puerility days, a nerd persona, a astute persona.”
This information has made maine highly jealous of radical who deterioration glasses. I conscionable had an oculus exam, and, arsenic with each earlier oculus test, I was recovered to person cleanable vision.
But should I beryllium worried? Does needing glasses mean you’re smarter? And conscionable wherever did our stereotypes astir glasses – bully and atrocious – travel from?
That’s the taxable of the latest occurrence of my podcast, “Margins of Error,” wherever we spell beyond the quality rhythm and tackle the subjects that we look each day.
It turns retired that the past of glasses is acold much analyzable than I ever imagined.
While glasses were apt archetypal invented successful the aboriginal 1300s, they didn’t truly proliferate until the 18th century, erstwhile radical started making glasses with temples, truthful you could locomotion astir without them falling off.
Glasses were not fashionable astatine first, fto unsocial remotely cool.
Neil Handley, curator of the British Optical Association Museum, told maine to look astatine the radical successful aboriginal paintings wearing glasses: “They’re moneylenders. They are misers, they are authorities officials – radical who we privation would crook a unsighted oculus to us, but they don’t.”
Misers? Moneylenders? According to Handley, this bias against glasses – which was often conscionable thinly veiled antisemitism – was truthful pervasive, that radical who needed glasses conscionable wouldn’t deterioration them.
But it wasn’t conscionable regular folks who were disquieted astir however they’d look if they wore glasses. It was a highly calculated determination for high-profile politicians, too.
Handley mentioned that Adolf Hitler was a notorious illustration of idiosyncratic who wore glasses but refused to beryllium photographed successful them. He wasn’t the lone satellite person who avoided being seen successful his lenses. In fact, successful their authoritative White House portraits, lone 3 Presidents are painted wearing glasses: Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman.
When did our perceptions of glasses statesman to alteration to much of a chill nerd vibe? It’s lone successful the past fewer decades, and Handley, overmuch to my chagrin, said that it whitethorn good person been due to the fact that of Harry Potter.
Of course, defence attorneys person known for years that glasses tin marque idiosyncratic look smarter. They person agelong been trying the “nerd defense.” Remember erstwhile present convicted slayer Jodi Arias was accused of putting connected glasses for the jury? If she was doing it to look little guilty, the strategy didn’t work.
That hasn’t stopped others from trying. Mariucci pointed retired that erstwhile a suspect is accused of “a convulsive transgression and you’re wearing glasses, you’re conscionable little intimidating to the jury.” Defense attorneys are trying to get the assemblage to deliberation “look however saccharine and astute and nerdy and peaceful (the defendant) appear(s).”
All of this is trying to get astatine a juror’s “subconscious thought process” that radical with glasses are excessively astute to person committed a convulsive crime.
And it turns out, society’s stereotypes whitethorn person a ground successful fact. I spoke to Michelle Luciano, a behavioral geneticist and lecturer astatine the University of Edinburgh successful Scotland. She worked connected a 2018 survey involving implicit 300,000 radical that acceptable retired to analyse the quality genome successful its entirety and spot if there’s immoderate benignant of familial marker tied to greater cognitive function.
The survey recovered that determination was immoderate narration betwixt myopia, oregon nearsightedness, and intelligence, but there’s a batch of different worldly going on, too. (For the nerds retired there, determination was a +0.32 correlation betwixt the 2 variables.)
Of course, I’m reminded of a operation “correlation does not connote causation.” Needing to deterioration glasses whitethorn beryllium linked to intelligence, but it doesn’t mean atrocious imaginativeness is causing quality to rise.
So, does a causal narration exist? Well, you’ll person to tune successful to find out. I mightiness adjacent effort connected immoderate glasses for the involvement of science.