A Chinless Villain

Do Chins Matter in Assessing Villainy?

A Cladistic Apomorphy?

We don’t tend to know much about chins, except that we are the only hominid which seems to have one. (Elephants have chins, but it is by no means clear why.)

Chins are classified as a cladistic apomorphy, according to Wikipedia, “partially defining anatomically modern humans as distinct from archaic forms.”

Now there are several myths extant about chins which result in our being prejudiced against males who are deficient in the size or shape of their chins. We tend to emphasize a strong chin with overall strength and decisiveness.

Which brings us to the subject of this blog, the embattled President of Syria—for the time being anyway—who is responsible for the deaths of some 60,000 of his people in an attempt to hang on to his power. Every time I see a picture of him, such as the one above (which makes him look somewhat like an ostrich), I keep saying to myself, “There’s something wrong here: The man has no chin whatsoever.”

We tend to hold many superstitious beliefs about people based on their superficial appearance. Because of the size of her Adam’s apple and her hands, I would naturally infer, for example, that Ann Coulter is actually a guy in drag. If so, that would explain a lot of things; but I am not absolutely sure that I’m right. Another example: American corporations like to choose as CEOs men who are taller than the average, perhaps because their size makes them look stronger and more decisive. But then, many of the CEOs who have been vilified for their role in fomenting the current recession fit this profile.

Maybe being tall doesn’t really make you stronger. Take Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler, and Josef Stalin for example. The tallest of the three was Hitler at 5 feet 8 inches.

It would be interesting to make a study bringing together all these superficial observations and our myth making based on our perception of them. None of us are immune, particularly when it comes to choosing a mate. But then that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.