Critical Thinking on “The Ugly Are Vanishing But With Them Goes Talent”

Introduction

This critical thinking essay focuses on analysing the writing style of the article “The ugly are vanishing but with them goes talent” written by Luck Kellaway in the Financial Times newspaper in 2015. In the article, the writer concludes that organisations and recruiters are faceist. Furthermore, the author implies at the end of the article that a faceist culture is deeply embedded in our mindset. So much so, that website author who has posts where people engage with comments are on average “prettier”. The present study would further identify the flaws of the article and point out the nature of flaws and the basis of the limitation. The author claims to have gathered relevant effective information for the article by working with several organisations. Through the title “The ugly are vanishing but with them goes talent”, the author wanted to highlight the fact that recruitment decisions of the organisations are influenced significantly by physical appearances.

The article provides various examples drawn from personal experiences. Indifferent claims are made by the author in the article, therefore, the present study would effectively scrutinise the claims raised by the author. The major foundation of the article is that the author believes that organisations today intentionally adopt faceist practices, where recruitment thoughts and decisions are based on how we look and how we conduct ourselves. Therefore, the present study will examine the claims made by the writer in the article.


 

Body

Throughout the article, Lucy Kellaway has tried to explain the fact that the contemporary organisations actually warm towards the physical attributes of a candidate more than talent. In the opening paragraph, the author has discussed a personal experience from an accountancy firm. In the same paragraph, the writer expressed – “No one with badly pockmarked skin”.  The author has used emotive language with the phrase “badly pockmarked skin”.  The writer claimed to have conducted a casual survey in a room of an accountancy firm, where the author has found that none of the employees had asymmetric features. The second flaw identified in the paragraph is that the author has not mentioned the name of the firm where the casual survey session was carried out. As a result, it is not possible to judge the evidence the claims. Neither has any information regarding the sample size or the analysis of the data were provided by the author. Thus, it can be deduced that inauthentic evidence is provided by the author. As per the opinion of Andó (2009), it is essential to justify information and statements provided with respective sources to prove the credibility and acceptability of the information and corresponding analysis. The absence of the relevant sources adversely affects the authenticity of arguments. In the present paragraph, the author has neither mentioned the name of the organization and has not supported the claims with any relevant citation. The arguments are expressed with emotive language, which considerably degrades both the quality of research and the weight of the statement. Thus, the particular arguments cannot be declared relevant for the study.

A further flaw is identified in the third paragraph where the author has just explained the experience gained from one personal experience. The author has expressed a line, “If I think of the friends of my children who have landed jobs in accountancy, banking, consulting and the law, all are of far above average appearance.” The argument is made out personal experience. The author has just given an example to clarify individual perception. The claim could have been relevant if the author had managed to provide a proper sample size, a questionnaire and responses of the respondents. No proper understanding is derived from the previous statement as to how many friends does the author’s children have and how many have been surveyed to gather relevant information for the article. Therefore, it has been identified that the writer has placed an illogical argument in the present paragraph, which is not backed up with any valid questionnaire. Since there isn’t any data collected, as a result, the authenticity of the analysis itself remains doubtful.

Lucy Kellaway has placed a further claim that “of making a radio documentary and all the producers are gorgeous, and even the sound technicians — who commune with buttons all day”. From the statement, it can be assessed that the writer does not have a proper understanding of the industry. According to Boyd (2013), it can be deduced that the radio stations work closely with different brands and various other stakeholders in mass-media for promotions. Therefore, several interviews and discussions with opinion leaders, brand representatives and popular figures are conducted in radio stations. Therefore, the organisations are already providing personal development training to employees of every department to supplement the current skill sets with other skills to encourage positive body language. The research work conducted by previous authors show that producers are required to attend various media interviews, thus, it is equally important for producers to maintain a positive appearance, professional image and body language. Therefore, a clear understanding has been gained from the previous statement that the writer has not conducted any research work on the radio industry. Due to which an arbitrary claim has been used as an argument.

In the latter part of the article, the author has written an argument “While the studies don’t prove faceism is getting worse, my eyes tell me it is”. The statement indicates that the writer acknowledges that current research studies show that a faceist culture has not increased. In the same statement, the author also negates the finding without any critical evaluation of new research to contradict the existing studies. In fact, the author mentions, that despite dedicated studies to identify the spread of faceism, the author would rather rely on personal observations. As such, this statement sets the tone for the rest of the article, during which the author tries to use a deductive approach to proving the initial premises with justified arguments. Furthermore, in the following sections of the article, the author bases arguments on individual judgement which are prejudiced with personal observations and socially-perpetrated concepts. According to Cameron and Green (2012), the arguments placed by the author need to be on the ground of proper facts and evidence. Cameron and Green (2012) further claimed that statements that are supported without research leaves an impression on the readers that there is lack of objectivity in the article and the medium is being used to further personal judgement. Therefore, in reality, the article fails to create a positive impression on its readers.

A similar perception is drawn from the previous example of the author. The irrelevant evidence supports the article with no proper information, but only increases the length of the article. A further statement is provided in a similar paragraph, which states “because my eyes are 56 years old, and to them, anyone in their twenties seems beautiful”. Here, the writer is confusing age with symmetry. Cottrell (2011) states a significant fact that the human brain always identifies symmetry with beauty, which increases the confusion of the premise. Considering the opinion of Cottrell (2011), a clear idea can be generated that any individual in the age range of 50 can be equally termed beautiful. In the article, the writer has confused age with symmetry. As a result, such arguments can be termed as an invalid premise.

In a similar manner, the writer has created an argument, “Another possible reason accountants are getting better looking is that the whole world is becoming prettier as it gets richer and more obsessed with grooming.” The writer has not provided any authentic evidence against the statement that can validate the claim. The author has also used emotive language like “accountants are getting better looking”, and the author has not placed any proper justification of the phrase “better looking”. It might become difficult for readers to understand what symmetries can be kept under the category of “better looking”.

The author mentions in the article that “the number of ugly workers a company employs says a lot about the sort of place it is”. This statement provides two fallacies in the argument. First, this would indicate that the organisation discriminates against good-looking candidates. As such, this would be contradictory to the original premise of the article itself, since the article looks to establish that faceist culture. Secondly, the author has assumed that there is a direct correlation between being “ugly” or “pretty” and being “talented” and “not-talented”. In fact, if there has been such a correlation, the author would have needed to prove the correlation with the help of due data collection and corresponding data analysis or secondary sources. However, the use of the assumption that the “ugly” is “talented” and vice-versa indicates the presence of stereotypical perception and assumptions that are not supported by evidence.

Towards the end of the article, the writer has expressed a statement, “if you are trying to rob a bank it is good if you look a bit scary. It can also help you get hired over someone handsome”. Here, the author has placed an illogical statement. It is an obvious fact that a person planning to rob a bank would not do so, without using a mask. Therefore, the author’s statement does not appear to be logical. The specific statement is not required to justify the essence of the present topic. The primary motive of the article is highlighting the fact that organisations are influenced by physical appearance rather than purely talents. It is true that the author has not backed up the arguments with correct evidence. But the line “if you are trying to rob a bank it is good if you look a bit scary” is not found to be necessary for the article.

A diagram is presented below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Figurative Presentation

(Source: Created by Author)

Conclusion

After due review of the article, it can be stated that the some of the views expressed by the author seem logical, while others are absent of valid premises. As per existing studies, faceist practices occur as part of the human brain’s natural processing ability (Harpaz, 2011). McMillan and Weyers (2012) noted that the ability to distinguish features forms a primal ability of the human brain. As such, the conscious use of the practice has disintegrated over time (Md. Auzair, 2010).

In the article by Lucy Kellaway, the author lacks a proper research methodology and use of scientific data analysis tools. Though some of the arguments are deductive in nature, the author fails to justify the original premise with logical arguments, since the arguments themselves are generalised and laced with personal prejudice, instead of thoughtful and structured thinking.

 

 

References

Andó, I. (2009) ‘Individual values for organizational success’, Competitio, 8(2), pp. 37–51.

Boyd, D. (2013) ‘Using events to connect thinking and doing in knowledge management’, Construction Management and Economics, 31(11), pp. 1144–1159.

Cameron, E. and Green, M. (2012) Making sense of change management a complete guide to the models, tools, and techniques of organizational change. 3rd edn. London: Kogan Page.

Cottrell, S. (2011) Critical thinking skills: Developing effective analysis and argument (Palgrave study skills). 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Harpaz, Y. (2011) ‘Back to knowledge’, Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines, 26(3), pp. 39–46.

McMillan, K. and Weyers, J. (2012) How to improve your critical thinking & reflective skills (smarter study skills). Harlow: Pearson Education.

Md. Auzair, S. (2010) ‘Organisational life cycle stages and management control systems in service Organisations’, International Journal of Business and Management, 5(11), pp. 89–102.

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