real life

Science says perceptions of hotness are contagious. Which explains Ryan Gosling.

Scientists have just proven what we’ve always suspected to be true: Human beings can’t even decide something basic and primal like who they’d like to shag without consensus from their buddies.

Oh, so you think you decide who you fancy on your own? Like some kind of sentient, intelligent being? That’s cute.

Scientists now say that perceptions of hotness are contagious — i.e. If buddies/strangers/nemeses/co-workers/compilers of those 100 Sexiest People lists decide that someone is ‘hot,’ you’re more likely to find them smokin’ too.

We’re like Lemmings holding a popularity contest. If enough people call Cameron Diaz the hottest woman on the planet, it becomes true simply by consensus.

That’s certainly what happened when I was a teenager: It was like a dude-sized game of Dominos; One guy decided Diaz was a total babe, and everyone followed suit. You wouldn’t dare disagree – or, worse – divulge that you’re attracted to someone different than erryone else.

That would basically make you an outcast.

OK, so quick clarification. When I said “scientists,” I actually mean academics working for the website Hot or Not, but given the topic matter, we’ve gotta let them have this one. They seem to have legit degrees and stuff, so let’s go with it.

These guys are world experts in the brutal assessment of someone’s aesthetic appeal based on their photograph – more commonly known as “hotness” or “bangability”. They know what they’re talking about here, and they probably have the greasy beards to prove it.

Watch: Beauty changes throughout history. You’ve just got to find your era.

First, these purveyors of superficiality analysed behaviour patterns on the site Hot or Not, where (you guessed it), you’re presented with a photo of a person and you must click a button to indicate whether they are HOT or NOT. Then they made the following observations:


When people saw ratings after making their own judgment, in subsequent judgments they got closer and closer to other people’s overall average rating of that photo. In other words — and I’m making up the specific numbers — if on the first photo they ranked they were off by 2 points on a 10-point scale as compared to the average, by the 20th photo they were off by, on average, 1.25 points.

In other words, THIS GUY is only really famous and attractive because one person said, “Oh, he’s cute, I’d go there” during The Notebook and it spread like rapidly mutating measles until he was the sexiest man alive.

There’s nothing about Ryan Gosling‘s face or body that makes him physically, objectively hotter than say, Chris Hemsworth or the hot sweaty guy you make awkward sexy eye contact with at the gym. He’s got a goofy glint in his too-close eyes and a jawbone that drops like a sick beat, but the man is invincible because enough women have confirmed his desirability out loud.

Among teenage girls, saying “I don’t find Ryan Gosling that hot” is probably roughly the equivalent of turning up at school naked from the waist down and wearing just a sombrero. Admitting that you find Louis Theroux or Ira Glass or Bruce Willis more attractive than The Gos would probably result in complete ex-communication. The same applies for Harry Styles, Jamie Dornan, Robert Pattinson, and the Jonas Brothers.

If millions of fans didn’t bond over finding the same dudes attractive, would they even have careers?

Read more: Why smart men are hot (AKA “Marry Me, Stephen Colbert”)

As I said, this whole thing confirms what we already know about human nature. That most of us spend our lives adhering to convention and consensus until we close further and further in on ourselves and can only speak in hyperboles like “Sexiest woman alive” and “Hottest man on earth.”

We all want to be desirable. And now it’s easier than ever. All you have to do is get yourself arbitrarily declared ‘hot’ by the majority of people in your social and professional circles.

Good luck.