a bumpy guide to mate selection & other life choices
June 9, 2013 6:47 PM   Subscribe

"Young ladies, indelibly fix this shape of head in your memories. Any man who will make a natural, kind and true husband will have a head in outline from a side view like this." Phrenology Diagrams from Vaught's Practical Character Reader (1902). Full 268-page book available in the LOC's Internet Archive.
posted by madamjujujive (26 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a good thing we're so enlightened these days, and no one falls for stuff like this any more.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:53 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I plan to carry a tape measure on my next date.

Two tape measures, actually. And disposable gloves.
posted by discopolo at 7:21 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Excellent, I now have complete slides for my next presentation.

(To clarify, the book is from the Library of Congress, but the Internet Archive is an independent entity.)
posted by nev at 7:22 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looking forward for the 23andMe Book of SNPs in a hundred years.
posted by benzenedream at 7:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Never trusted Cyclops.
posted by arcticseal at 7:25 PM on June 9, 2013


I love the noses.
posted by gjc at 7:27 PM on June 9, 2013


Thanks for the clarification, nev!
posted by madamjujujive at 7:27 PM on June 9, 2013


Every single page of the original is solid gold crazypants.
posted by nev at 7:28 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The "I am sure man is spirit" one kind of looks like Michael Stipe.
posted by 4ster at 8:07 PM on June 9, 2013


THE TORRID ZONE OF HUMAN NATURE.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:10 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is totally crazy and also sublime.

I especially like "What We See Ghosts With."
posted by my favorite orange at 8:12 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


i love these illustrations.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 8:12 PM on June 9, 2013


I wonder how Stephen Fry feels about the fact that he is apparently an unreliable father.
posted by koeselitz at 9:26 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is why I wear a paper bag over my head.
posted by mazola at 10:28 PM on June 9, 2013


Wow, that book is full of racist stereotypes. Look at page 55-56. Apparently having a sticking out hooked nose makes one secretive and acquisitive, but having sticking out lips (illustrated with a black man) makes you impulsive, sentimental, voluptuous and sensuous.

Not wholly surprising for that date, but interesting how the author never explicitly talks about race yet manages to uphold those ideas nonetheless.
posted by lollusc at 12:39 AM on June 10, 2013


Every single page of the original is solid gold crazypants.

Of course you‘d say that! You have the brainpan of a stage coach tilter!
posted by Jughead at 1:12 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is pretty interesting with respect to confirmation bias, in that sometimes even "at least fifty thousand careful examinations" and "more than a million observations" are not enough to overcome it.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:14 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there a character in one of the Discworld novels who was a practical phrenologist?

Carried around a hammer to make sure the bumps were in the right place?
posted by JB71 at 5:14 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Somehow I feel that man is matter.
posted by Flunkie at 5:43 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, no. Natural, kind, OR true. Pick two.
posted by jfwlucy at 7:15 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I especially like "What We See Ghosts With."

We actually have *two* phrenology busts in my house - I had to pick up a second after I broke the first during our entertaining evening of phantasmagoric spiritualism and spectre-conjuration. Now the first bust is mostly repaired, except for some jagged holes and cracks throughout the cranium which, combined with the faint residue of the bloody tears the head wept while we called up the departed, gives the whole thing a spectacular aura.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2013


Sure it's practical but how do you get the guy to tattoo 'LAZINESS' in large letters across his forehead in the first place?
posted by Erasmouse at 9:46 AM on June 10, 2013


It's a good thing we're so enlightened these days, and no one falls for stuff like this any more.

The thing that struck me about it was the breadth of things they attribute to head shape and the precision by which they supposedly can identify the particular area of the head associated with a particular characteristic. I am very curious as to how they came to these conclusions and what sort of process led to the apparent certainty on display here. It gets more and more bizarre the longer it gets.
posted by Hoopo at 11:02 AM on June 10, 2013


Well no wonder I've never seen a ghost.
posted by HotToddy at 11:41 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


This strikes me as fascinating and whatever kind of -ist you got, including racist. Thanks!
posted by thinkpiece at 12:42 PM on June 10, 2013


Find your reliable husband with this one weird trick!
posted by shortyJBot at 2:33 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


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