Constant exposure to beauty - would it make someone numb to beauty?

This thread is inspired by the CRISPR thread in which we have found a drastically simpler way to modify genetic structures.

Putting aside the moral objection and practical application, let’s just say that we decided to manufacture ALL new humans to be beautiful. They’d maintain their differences in skin tone and facial composition, but they’d all be defined by our generation as beautiful people. My question would be - would there be some sort of loss of perspective in terms of desire? Our base instincts naturally signal that someone is extremely attractive. Does this get lost if everyone is extremely attractive? Or does this generation walk around in constant awe of how beautiful everyone is?

What if this advantage is applied to another trait, one that is not immediately apparent. If everyone is built to be super smart, would they still consider the lower end of the spectrum to be unintelligent? Or would they recognize the inherent intelligence of everyone? How about personalities? What if everyone exhibited various degrees of kindness? How long would it take in each of these situations for a social order to be reassessed and reapplied?

Mods - feel free to move this, as there may not be an academic answer, but I would assume that there has been some sort of research and experimentation on at least a portion of this notion.

My impression is that part of beauty is relative. Relative to the kind of person you think you can get, and relative to the competition. If everyone were beautiful we’d probably just become a bunch of neurotic assholes who ranked people over things we today consider trivial. That is my impression. We would still have rankings. It reminds me of American psycho when Patrick Bateman was talking to his girlfriend. He was saying so and so is handsome, has a good body, is rich, etc and she said big deal, everyone is those things. We’d just take it for granted and worry about traits that today seem trivial.

As far as intelligence we already have seen iq shoot up due to the Flynn effect. A smart person 100 years ago would be mildly dumb by today’s standards. I have wondered what happens if you create a country where the mean and median iq is 140,how does that change the culture.

We evolved from creatures that were dumber than us and (at least by our standards) uglier than us. If you somehow transported a Homo eregaster, say, into the modern world, he would be amazed by how smart and beautiful everyone was.

I’ve thought along these lines with regards to male pornstars. A lot of guys are really huge horndogs, but to these performers who’ve worked for years in the industry and have “known” in the biblical sense so many sexy women of varying body types and ethnicities, a woman probably has to really stand out to make them take a second glance.

Hugh Hefner says no.

I doubt that’s really true. Isn’t the Flynn Effect more concerned with standardized tests, not actual intelligence? Even if it’s actually concerned with intelligence, it could very easily be attributed to some combination of better nutrition and early education bringing up the lower-end of the scale.

So your smart guy 100 years ago might not be any dumber than today’s smart guys, but the dumb guy of 100 years ago might be considerably dumber than today’s dumb guys.

Enough about that though… I think that people do calibrate their scales by what’s available- drink enough gas station coffee, and merely ok coffee seems ambrosial by comparison. Similarly, drink nothing but artisanal roasted freshly ground coffee brewed by a professional, trained barista, and you’ll view mass market coffee like Maxwell House as akin to roasted, ground and brewed wood chips.

To use a pertinent personal example, back in the day (early 1990s) I went to a sci-fi/gaming convention and all the guys were fawning over this one “hot” girl. She wasn’t hot by any stretch of the imagination, but she wasn’t unattractive either. Relative to the other girls at the con, she was incandescent though.

There is another phenomenon that I’ve seen, and that’s the “Eh… it’s all the same” train of thought when confronted with a lot of really good and really bad stuff. My father-in-law has had ghastly Army coffee, the crap he brews himself at home, the stuff my wife and I drink, and high-end coffee from world-class hotels and restaurants all over the world. He doesn’t give a shit. Coffee’s just coffee to him. I suspect many porn stars subscribe to this one; while a lot of their co-stars are attractive, a lot of them are… strange looking when you stop and think about it. Yet they do their jobs anyway. I can’t help but think that this sort of takes the sex aspect of a prospective relationship down several notches in what’s important to them.

True beauty is rare, it cannot be common.

I really doubt this; at least the beauty part. Smart, maybe (though we would probably more than anything seem obsessed with totally useless stuff like filling pages with squiggles) but I don’t think our hairless bodies, small jaws, bulbous foreheads and lack of eyebrow ridges would strike the ergasters as beautiful (we might appear kind of cute, maybe, as we would probably remind of their babies).

If we get bored with everyone being beautiful, it should be a simple matter to start mixing in alcohol with fetal blood surrogate, in order to create the required degree of uglification.

Remember, we look the way we do largely as a result of H. eregaster and their like spending umpteen generations selecting for their standards of beauty.

Yes; but they certainly didn’t look umpteen generations ahead and think “this is what I would really want to look like!”

I suppose that we might look like over-exaggerated beauties, to them. Like Jessica Rabbit, say: She’s sexy in the abstract, but if you ever actually met a real physical woman shaped like her, you’d probably consider her grotesque.

Or like the Asgard.

I don’t think so…take urban areas. Most towns in the USA have pretty ugly downtowns…mismatched buildings, signs jutting out at all angles, and broken sidewalks, with trash blowing around. I visited a town that was really beautiful (Corte Madeira, CA)…it was really pleasing to be in an area so nice and well kept-flowers everywhere and nice, harmonious buildings.

I would dispute that.
I doubt that we somehow evolved a standard of attractiveness that was radically different from anything we saw around us at the time.
Put it this way: let’s say male eregasters have a more pronounced brow than females. So this is something a female might notice. A female eregaster in our time might, at least at first, find all men somewhat feminine. And this is just one feature.
(I say at least at first because I suspect what we find attractive is rather plastic and her standards will change, rather than she just remains unattracted to everyone forever).

Having said that, some things I would guess are fairly objective; I’ll bet we’ve always preferred healthy-looking skin to obviously diseased skin. But this is not a known difference between eregaster and sapiens…it’s a difference in environmental conditions.

Responding to the OP, yes, I think our standards of beauty would change.

I think it might be similar to the phenomenon we’re seeing with fashion models. The most successful models are of course pretty but also have some quirky feature like bushy eyebrows or big front teeth. A flawless face is somewhat boring to us now.

An interesting question is what would happen if we could change our faces at will. There’s maybe a game theory problem there, as no doubt everyone would try to be beautiful first, then cool (e.g. in a world where virtually everyone has chosen to be wrinkle-free, an older face may well be “cool”), and then just chaos. And at least some proportion of the population would go for ever more extreme faces to always stand out.

Most of us can’t chip a knife to skin our own kills, how smart can we be? And the people we think are pinnacles of beauty would not be able to survive the next famine, what’s attractive about that? I’m sure our H. ergaster would appreciate the looks of Melissa McCarthy or Amy Schumer, though :wink:

Re: Constant exposure to beauty - would it make someone numb to beauty?, I live in Montreal, and visit Quebec City a few times a year. The province of Quebec’s gene pool for females is quite solid and there is no shortage of eye candy on a daily basis both in Montreal and Quebec City.

And in the summer (30 degrees Celsius) it only gets better:cool::slight_smile:

The only challenge is to not look like I’m ogling.

Numb to beauty I am not.

I don’t know, but I’m surrounded by a-holes everyday in Florida and I haven’t been numbed by them yet, they still annoy me.

Beauty is subjective imo.