15 years of studying shopping cart safety, and going strong
and now, ladies and gentlemen, a new feature: Fun With Press Releases. this particular press release is brought to you by the good people at Population Research Lab at the University of Alberta, where they definitely do not engage in eugenics.
A researcher at the University of Alberta has shown that parents are more likely to give better care and pay closer attention to good-looking children compared to unattractive ones. Dr. Andrew Harrell presented his findings recently at the Warren E. Kalbach Population Conference in Edmonton, Alberta.
ok. i have to know: where the hell can i get some tickets to the Warren E. Kalbach Population Conference? honestly, what goes on at these things (aside from corny jokes with punchlines relying heavily on puns on "Malthusian" and, of course, incredibly awkward extra-marital dalliances among deranged eugenicists)? i am betting the keynote address, if you're able to focus through the haze of your work-conference hangover, is a doozy, what with it's provocative title: "Physical Attractiveness of Children and Parental Supervision in Grocery Stores: An Evolutionary Explanation of the Neglect of Ugly Kids." folks, i couldn't make this shit up if i tried. read on, the press release continues:
Harrell's findings are based on an observational study of children and shopping cart safety. With the approval of management at 14 different supermarkets, Harrell's team of researchers observed parents and their two to five-year-old children for 10 minutes each, noting if the child was buckled into the grocery-cart seat, and how often the child wandered more than 10 feet away. The researchers independently graded each child on a scale of one to 10 on attractiveness.ok, so it's nice that harrell got the approval of 14 different supermarkets, but what about the parents? did they just sneak around, behind mom and dad's backs, and say shit like "Dr. Goebbels, i believe that brown child over there registers a two on our scale of attractiveness. Why don't you follow her unsuspecting mother (who is ugly and therefore probably stupid) to see if she buckles her child in. I will be following this beautiful blonde child and its exceptionally buxom mother over here."
Findings showed that 1.2 per cent of the least attractive children were buckled in, compared with 13.3 per cent of the most attractive youngsters. The observers also noticed the less attractive children were allowed to wander further away and more often from their parents. In total, there were 426 observations at the 14 supermarkets.
readers! a question! who actually buckles their children--unsightly or not--into grocery carts? do people do this? i was never buckled as a child. should i infer something about my looks from this? i was also a wanderer! although, i am told that i was allowed to wander not because i was "ugly" but because i was "smelly."
Harrell, who has been researching shopping cart safety since 1990 and has published a total of 13 articles on the topic, figures his latest results are based on a parent's instinctive Darwinian response: we're unconsciously more likely to lavish attention on attractive children simply because they're our best genetic material.
that's why i married me a good breeder. if'n she makes me an ugly whippersnapper, we's gonna try again. also, i figger this is a better argument for polygamy that the mormons ever came up with. and wait a second, did i read that correctly or has this poor person really been "studying shopping cart safety since 1990." only 13 articles published in 15 years? pretty weak, dr. harrell. and finally, can you imagine bumping into this guy at a cocktail party:
unsuspecting small talker: so, what do you do?
dr. harrell: actually, i study shopping cart safety.
unsuspecting small talker: i'm sorry, did you say 'shopping cart safety?'
dr. harrell: it's really quite fascinating. why, did you know that the great shopping cart riots in saskatoon (i am of course referring to the terror of 1997 and not the minor kerfuffle of 1993) could have easily been avoided if only enough shopping cart wheels had been properly aligned. only in saskatoon!
unsuspecting small talker: hmm, interesting. oh dear, look at the time. i am sorry, i hate to interrupt, but i really must go pour drano directly into my eyes.
"Attractiveness as a predictor of behaviour, especially parenting behaviour, has been around a long time," said Harrell, a father of five and a grandfather of three. "Most parents will react to these results with shock and dismay. They'll say, 'I love all my kids, and I don't discriminate on the basis of attractiveness.' The whole point of our research is that people do."
dr harrell is subtly telling us that not only was HE attractive enough to be raised a doctor, but he had attractive children as well ... after all they were well-cared for enough to produce three grandkids. although i wonder: only three grandkids out of five children sets off an alarm bell. clearly one of the harrell tykes didn't rank quite as high on the attractiveness scale as the others.
well, mrs nice guy and i have about a 50/50 chance then of being good parents. if the child inherits my wife's genes, it will be beautiful and well cared for. if it looks anything like me, it will be doomed to wander the halls of Food Giant for all eternity. either that, or we will sell it to the gyspies for beer money.
so all of this is interesting. but the real reason i want to attend the Warren E. Kalbach Population Conference is this: what the hell is up with the penultimate lecture, vaguely titled, "Same Sex Relationships: The Question?" i am actually dying to know what the question is, because i already know the enigmatic answer: "only in saskatoon."