Kennedy, Nixon, and the confirmation bias

In 1960 an interesting theory was approved by the Kennedy – Nixon debate.

The scientific phenomenon of the confirmation bias suggests that we look for information which confirms our hypothesis, and ignore falsifying information relationship between events that doesn’t exist.

In the example of the Kennedy – Nixon debate this means that people who watched the debate on television were biased by Kennedy’s more appealing appearance and as they wanted him to win they started focusing on his positive points. The radio listeners, in contrast, for the most part considered Nixon to be the winner of the debate.

Even if our inner idealists want to deny the following fact, this case again shows, how important our appearance (with hair being a major part of it) is in making a statement and influencing others.

Does a politician’s hair matter?

The ideologist in us is likely to deny this statement, drawing attention to far more important concerns. However, it isn’t quite that easy. Our looks influences how other people think about us, especially if you are in the public eye. In recent years female politican’s hair-dos have become a subject of public debate and Susan Evans argues that

“how we present ourselves to the world is a distinct form of communication.”

With his or her look a politician has to appeal to its voters. Consequently, Evans concludes thatYulia Tymoshenko’s braided crown is appropriate for her constituency but would not work in the US, where women rather identify with the coifs of Michelle Obama or Hilary Clinton. With the burden of finding the right cut one does not wonder about the spendings of the Senate Hair Care shop anymore…

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new hope for “queen” Tymoshenko

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Yulia Tymoshenko, known for her trademark blond braid, entered the international stage when leading protests against a presidential election in 2004, known as the orange revolution. In 2011 she was sentenced for 7 years because of a disadvantageous gas deal with Russia, thus criminally exceeding her authority.

According to her the charges of abuse of power are a tissue of lies, however, and the EU supports the view that the jailing was politically motivated.

Due to health problems she already asked the authorities to transfer her to a German hospital in 2011, leading to no result. In April this year the European Court of Human Rights stated that her pre-trail detention was “arbitraty and unlawful

This week, however, President Viktor Yanukovich signaled new hopes for Tymoshenko, saying that he would sign such a legislation if it was passed by parliament. -A move that might be made under pressures from the EU, whose leaders will discuss a possible agreement with Ukraine in November.

Even tough in jail, Tymoshenko embodies the idea of a strong, powerful woman.

Wearing a traditional braid together with a wardrobe that’s conservative yet feminine, traditional yet modern, professional yet soft tells the public that she expects the world to respect her as a leader. -Pia Vivas

hair is legend

Dennis Rodman is a basket ball legend. His hair is as well.

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Rodman himself states:

“I was 32 years old before I found out who I really am. From then on I just did it, whatever it was. If not for that I would have been more subdued, just an athlete.”

Meanwhile Dennis Rodman does not only have a fan blog on his hair, he also has his own hymn and even got invited by Kim Jung Un, who usually fears the influence of western hair styles. Whether this should be considered a diplomatic rapprochement you better decide on your own. Rodman at least thinks that the North Korean leader was a “cool guy“.

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hair is communist

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Whereas many people want to escape from uniformity by having an extraordinary hair style, North Korean citizens now can choose in which way they want to be pigeonholed.

Kim Jung Un published a “menue of sample hair cuts” that are adequate to prevent the bad influence of capitalism. While men can choose from a variety of 10 hair dos, (the dictator’s hair style is not available) women can choose from even 18 different hair styles. Yet, with the following limitation: The younger, the longer the hair might be, wives, however, should have short and practicable hair.

With these restrictions and his resistance to Western hair dos it astonishing, however, that Kim Jung Un invited no other than hair legend Dennis Rodman for a visit to North Korea.

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hair cuts // budget cuts

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While the Government shutdown lead to closed National Parks, landmarks and museums, more than 800,000 furloughed federal employees and conflicts about budget cuts it seems almost ironic that “since 1997 the Senate Hair Care shop has consistently run deficits of about $340,000 annually, a taxpayer subsidy that is growing rather than shrinking”.

In her article Lynn Hulsley argues that besides generous incomes, health care and pension benefits this is another example of how distant members of Congress are from their constituents.

Although the money-losing hair salon is only a small piece in the budget, Hulsley claims that “it carries symbolic value at a time when members of Congress are targeting defense and domestic programs for $1.2 trillion in across-the-board sequestration cuts over 10 years and also taking aim at entitlement programs serving the elderly and poor.” Instead of being hypocrites, members of Congress should make an example of seriousness and morality by also pointing the finger at themselves.

hair over gold

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It is still perplexing how gymnast Gabby Douglas‘ hair got almost more attention than her gold-medal winning performance during the Olympic Season 2012. After her win a twitter toll of people stating their opinions on the gymanst’s hair was unleashed:

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This unbelievable wave of popular outrage gives evidence for the fact that the way we style our hair is a statement – whether we want to or not, society will make a statement out of it.

However, it is important how we deal with this: Will we conform to what we [as a gymnast, an artist, a manager,…]  are expected to look like? Will we simply not care about what other people say and silently endure their  „know-it-all manner“ or will we go on the offensive like 16-year-old Gabby did?

“I don’t know where this is coming from. What’s wrong with my hair? I just simply gelled it back, put some clips in it and put it in a bun. Are you kidding me? I just made history. And you’re focusing on my hair? I just want to say, we’re all beautiful inside out. I don’t think people should be worried about that. Nothing is going to change.”

Luckily Gabby Douglas got big support not only from the twitter community but also from bloggers like Monisha Randolph who brings some perspective into the issue an emphasizes that many of us “are still missing the point on where true beauty, strength, and health lies.

love, race, hair

„Is hair a conversation?“

„It’s a political thing“ the award winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie replied in an interview with the Channel 4 news.

„I don’t intend to [make a statement] but I do. By walking in somewhere with my hair people make assumptions, they make immediate assumptions. If my hair isn’t straight, people can assume that you’re either, you know, they might think you’re an angry black woman or they might think you’re very soulful or they might think you’re an artist or they might think you’re a vegetarian.“

Reason enough for the Nigerian writer to link the power of hair to issues such as love, race and immigration in her latest novel Americanah.

And reason enough for me to take up the challenge of examining how hair influences and is influenced by our society during the next weeks!