While Enya is one of my favorite musicians, on the rare occasions when I see what she looks like, I find myself surprised that she is so pretty. Why? Perhaps her handlers have done a great job of making an ordinary woman look extraordinary, but I don’t think so.
We should expect a weak correlation between beauty and musical ability in general due to assortative mating, and we should expect music labels and customers to select for musicians who excel on both criteria, producing a stronger correlation for professional musicians. And I think I do expect these things for the typical musician. But …
But I fear that I succumbed to the temptation to idealize my favorite musicians, e.g., expecting them to be primarily people with exceptional musical ability mainly motivated by their love of music. But of course there is little good reason to think better of the motivations of the best vs. the typical professional musician. And relative to the pool of talented musicians, I should expect successful professional musicians to be prettier, more charismatic, harder working, more desirous of fame, and more willing to accommodate the demands of today’s music industry. I should expect that there are people with even better musical ability out there than I never hear of, because they didn’t have as much of these other features. But to admit this makes it harder to idealize my favorite musicians.
I should also admit that if I have had some success as an academic, it is probably because I am some combination of prettier, more charismatic, harder working, more desirous of fame, or more willing to accommodate the demands of today’s academic industry. There are probably non-academics out there more able than I to generate interesting intellectual insights, but rating lower overall on these other criteria.
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