What the 'Ideal' European Man Looks Like, Country by Country
Do these facial composites merely represent national averages, or are they national "ideals"?
This map is slightly disconcerting. Cartophilia is a form of voyeurism; a benign form, I'd like to think — but all the same, it would be nice if the map didn't stare back at its reader (1). And yet here we have a map of Europe reflecting our impertinent glances more than two dozen times over.
What makes these 29 pairs of eyes even more unsettling is the fact that these are not real people. Each face is a composite, assembled from the mugshots of between 10 to 24 male athletes from each of the 29 European countries represented here. This gallery of facial averages is like a collection of artist's sketches of usual suspects pinned to the bulletin board of a police station.
Who are these imaginary men? What are their faces trying to tell us? As averages of random but comparable samples by country, these faces are uniquely "national." The French face is the Frenchest face possible, and the German face couldn't be any more German, et cetera. Does that mean these faces are merely average? Or are they in some way "ideal"? Or — and this is even more disconcerting — could it perhaps be that to be facially average is ideal?
This map was produced by Dienekes Pontikos, who runs an anthropological blog dedicated to human population genetics, physical anthropology, archaeology, and history. Genetics is fascinating but complex, and general knowledge of the field is superficial and anecdotal — hands up anyone who knows what the acronym DNA stands for (2). Hence this mugshot map of Europe, a clever and simple way to demonstrate the principle of genetic variation.
Unfortunately, Mr. Pontikos does not reveal exactly how he went about assembling the portraits for this map. It would be interesting to know why these nearly 30 men, despite each being put together from apparently different national databases, look so eerily alike.
It casts the mind back to The Seven Daughters of Eve, the book in which genetics professor Bryan Sykes posits the theory that almost all native Europeans are descended from no more than seven prehistorical women. Are these their "Twenty-Nine Average Descendants"?
Beyond the obvious resemblance, there are equally noticeable differences. Although none of these guys is as blonde as suggested by the Blonde Map of Europe (#214), the northern fellows are generally lighter-skinned and -haired than their southern cousins. But not by all that much.
And yet... looking at each of their faces, it's hard to escape the subconscious conclusion: But of course, look at those eyebrows, that nose: That's what a typical (insert nationality here) looks like.
That's how insidiously our brain confuses "average" with "ideal." Perhaps it's just as well that this map stares back at us, giving us pause to consider the automatism of our facial feature-based prejudices. Because when it comes to looks, nobody is average.
Not all of Europe's countries are represented on the map, by the way. There's no average Andorran, no median Monégasque. The Vatican, Liechtenstein, San Marino, and Malta apparently also don't field enough male athletes to produce a composite mugshot (3). But it's not just the mini-states that are missing. Some medium-sized nations also lack representation: Ireland, Denmark, Moldova, Albania and Macedonia. Also missing are Kosovo and Montenegro, not yet independent at the time this map was produced, in early 2006.
Mr. Pontikos offered to complement the map: “If your country is not listed here, and you know of a good source of facial athlete pictures, e.g., the website of soccer team(s), drop me a line.” But of course, that was nine years ago. It would be interesting to update the map in its entirety, though: The faces staring back at us would probably be less white than back then.
Strange Maps #745
(1) It does occasionally happen, though. See #684.
(2) Deoxyribonucleic acid. But what does that mean? And so on.
(3) One imagines a mashup of 10 to 24 popes' faces. And then one wishes one hadn't.
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According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.
Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.
By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:
Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.
Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.
McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.
It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.
But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.
Read more at LinkedIn.
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