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Crime The Courts Idle Science

Justice Not As Blind As Previously Thought 256

NotSoHeavyD3 writes "I doubt this is much of a surprise but apparently Cornell University did a study that seems to show you're more likely to get convicted if you're ugly. From the article: 'According to a Cornell University study, unattractive defendants are 22 percent more likely to be convicted than good-looking ones. And the unattractive also get slapped with harsher sentences — an average of 22 months longer in prison.'"
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Justice Not As Blind As Previously Thought

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:06PM (#32256404)
    Those will take a real toll on your looks. They also have a nasty tendency to turn people into thieves, prostitutes, and murderers. Also, being white trash will tend to age you about ten years, and it usually also comes with at least two or three DUI-on-an-ATV/public-intoxication/starting-a-fight-down-at-the-bar arrests.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:08PM (#32256434) Journal

    Did anyone consider that the ugly may commit more crimes?

  • And this is why... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:10PM (#32256452) Journal
    The statues of justice are always blindfolded, not blind...

    On the plus side, we could spend some time discussing phrenological theories of the "physiognomy of the criminal type" which are always amusing.
  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:11PM (#32256486) Journal


    I mean, he may get an extra 6 months because of that big scar on his cheek, but that big scar on his cheek shows that he got into a knife fight at some point. Perhaps keeping individuals prone to that kind of behavior off the streets for a few extra months isn't exactly a bad thing.

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:11PM (#32256490) Journal

    Any time a study comes out, twelvity million Slashdotters start chanting "Correlation!=Causation". None actually read the article. In fact, most have their rant typed out long before the story hits slashdot, and simply cut and paste into the comment box.

    So, in the interest of keeping up this fine tradition, I offer the following:

    1) Ugly people are more likely to actually commit the crime. Makes sense. Pretty people are less likely to need to do a crime as they are more likely to get good employement.
    2) Committing a crime MAKES you ugly. Far fetched? Maybe. But I am sure those stupid researchers who only get by on grant money never thought of such a thing.

    Clearly, I a faceless Slashdotter am more capable of analyzing the situation without actually reading the article, or giving it more than 20 seconds of thought.

    Can the rest of my Slashdot bretheren help support my contentions?

  • by Karganeth ( 1017580 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:13PM (#32256526)
    Nobody even fucking said that being ugly caused you to commit more crimes.

    if i see another +5 insightful "correlation != causation" my brain is going to fucking explode.

  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:13PM (#32256534) Homepage Journal

    From an Ev Psych perspective, ugliness is a possible marker of some kind of degeneracy, and our negative reactions to the ugly are likely a gene-regulatory mechanism (conformity's hand - that thing in side of us that makes us think "FREAK" when we see people who can't walk correctly, who are missing limbs or deformed, etc - the whole attraction of "freak shows" in circuses was to engage this, although in modern times we aim for a more compassionate society and try not to engage or mention this anymore).

    Judges, police, the boss considering promoting someone, they're all human, and unless they use some objective metrics as their primary means for choice, attractiveness will accidentally factor in.

  • by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:21PM (#32256632) Homepage

    if i see another +5 insightful "correlation != causation" my brain is going to fucking explode.

    correlation != causation c'mon guys. Mod me up. You know you want to see it, too.

  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:33PM (#32256848) Homepage

    Agreed. I propose that Slashdot start scanning for people tagging stories with "correlation!=causation", and automatically insert "I'm a fucking moron!" into their signature line. Or the like.

  • by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:34PM (#32256876)
    No, it's because most of us wish we had teachers like that.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:44PM (#32257010)

    The study was done with students at Cornell, who were asked to give their verdict after reading the closing arguments from the trial. The pictures of ugly and non-ugly people were inserted into these case studies, so that the same facts were presented as though they were about two different people.

    The students read the closing arguments.

    They were shown a picture of the "defendant."

    They did not spend days or weeks in a courtroom. Listening to testimony. Viewing exhibits. Making their decision. They did not spend days or weeks observing the defendant - perhaps hearing him testify in his own defense.

    Not everyone photographs well. "Ugly" is subjective. Body language matters. Speech matters.

    The student may half the age of the average juror. With all that implies in experience and perspective. Does "ugly" have the same meaning to a combat vet as it does to an eighteen year old kid?

  • I believe it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:44PM (#32257022)

    A woman at a grocery store near here was in charge of counting money from the tills and putting it in the safe. Over the course of a year she managed to steal over $100,000 in cash by doctoring the electronic sales records. The managers noticed, but she was too hot, so they routinely fired+blackballed the ugliest cashiers for stealing. Well, she finally got caught. The judge gave her a stern warning, no jail time, no probation. And she didn't have to pay back, she got to keep the $100,000. Judge even called her a wonderful person, said she has no chance of reoffending, and has a bright future as a university student and it would be wrong of him to get in the way of her! Left implied is that she gives good head, I guess.

    I wish I was hot enough to steal 100 Gs and get to KEEP IT ALL with no other punishment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:56PM (#32257182)

    In reality beautiful people are more likely to have more money, which means they can probably afford better lawyers too. Humans (and not just humans) are suckers for beauty, such is life.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:59PM (#32257224)

    Not to mention that crimes are not random atomic datum particles. Just because person X and person Y both committed the same crime doesn't make the facts of the case equally compelling. Maybe X was clearly guilty and Y was not so clearly. Even if the stats are really unbalanced, probability says that's going to happen sometimes.

  • by TruthSauce ( 1813784 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:21PM (#32257538)

    Your sarcasm is misplaced and disingenuous.

    "Real" scientists welcome factual challenges.

    However, the GP stated inaccurate facts in order to claim theories that have obvious personal relevance.

    If researchers had to answer to every quack who thought they had a clue, they would never get any research done, which, confoundingly, often makes the quacks think they're correct. :-)

  • Re:I believe it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:28PM (#32257628)
    You're assuming quite a bit there. Perhaps she just had big tits.
  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:37PM (#32257716) Homepage

    Yes, maybe this doesn't matter at all. You go ahead and prove that. Meanwhile, the evidence suggests that looks do matter, just like we already know race and gender matters.

  • by Sentrion ( 964745 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @05:35PM (#32258332)

    Maybe because people are cruel to ugly people so they lash back at society more often. People choose to surround themselves with good looking people, so ugly people miss out on opportunities, friendships, jobs, advancement, and other facets of social life. Not feeling good about life makes them not want to smile, which just makes them uglier.

    When was the last time to saw an ugly CEO, politician, salesperson, or "employee of the month"? Ugly people could be famous musicians, but that was before MTV. And without success people sometimes resort to crime.

    So there is probably a greater proportion of guilty ugly people, but the innocent ugly definitely have a tougher battle than the good looking ones. The charming crooks tend to evade suspicion from the beginning, so more "ugly" suspects will get picked up off the street, possibly just because the forensic artist lacks talent and all his sketches look ugly. Crime victims tend to describe their assailants as "ugly", because, let's face it, even good-looking people look ugly when they're trying to strangle you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:24PM (#32258766)

    Really ? Because rational minded people tend to win debates when engaging emotionally minded people ? You're either
    1)not a rationally minded debater but thinks you are
    2)very good at debating
    3)too inexperienced to have noticed that reason never win any debate.

    (usually 1 and 2 go together)

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:40PM (#32258940) Journal
    Ugh, what a horrible test. It's loaded with an astonishing amount of implicit cultural bias. It asked me to put a load of pictures into either 'white american' or 'black american' categories. Since I'm not American, the 'American' part of those labels means very little to me, so I was just categorising the people based on skin colour. When you come to dark-skinned hispanics, where should you put them? I picked black, because that's how most of the people of that ethnicity of my acquaintance (who are not Americans of any kind) describe themselves. Apparently this is wrong, but the test is clearly designed by people with no understanding of psychology because it told me that this was wrong, which meant that I got it 'right' the next time. Not because it was measuring how I perceive these people (I perceive them as Spanish or Portuguese with some Moorish ancestry, not as Black or White Americans), but because - over the course of the test - I had learned that the people designing the test perceived them as 'White Americans'. I stopped doing the test at that point. It is so far away from being scientific that it's not even funny.
  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:32PM (#32259316) Homepage

    It might be possible that the people taking part in this study have developed a discrimination bias which leads them to think "criminals are more likely to be ugly".

    It's a "class" thing. If you're at Cornell, chances are you're around a lot of people who are "well bred". Your type doesn't commit crimes, obviously - but people "below" you do. Because they did not have a coddled upbringing (or for whatever reasons) they're more likely to exhibit traits that are found "ugly": yellow teeth, overweight, bad complexion, asymmetrical faces, no gym bodies, etc.

    It'd be similar to the whole "black people commit more crimes" cultural bias that leads many people to instinctively avoid sketchy black people on the streets.

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