Wearing glasses may really mean you’re smarter, major study finds

Its not just a pop culture trope a University of Edinburgh study has found intelligent people are 30% more likely to have genes related to poor eyesight

If you wear glasses I’ve got some good news: you may well be smarter than the average person. A new analyse published in the journal Nature Communications has found that needing to wear glasses is associated with higher levels of intelligence. But you probably knew that already.

In the study, the largest of its kind ever conducted, researchers from the University of Edinburgh investigated cognitive and genetic data regarding over 300,000 people aged between 16 and 102 that had been gathered by the UK Biobank and the Charge and Cogent consortia. Their analysis found” significant genetic overlap between general cognitive function, reaction time, and many health variables including eyesight, hypertension, and longevity “. Specifically, people who were more intelligent were almost 30% more likely to have genes which might indicate they’d need to wear glasses.

While being more intelligent may be linked to poor eyesight, it’s also connected with a lot of positive health benefits. Researchers procured negative correlations between cognitive function and a number of health problems, including angina, lung cancer and depression.

Of course, it’s important to remember that these are all simply correlations not conclusive connections. And it’s worth noting that what constitutes intelligence is subjective and can be difficult, if not impossible, to measure. Further, linking intelligence to DNA are to be able to lead into bogus” race science “.

Forget genetics though- there’s plenty of empirical proof that wearing glasses, whether you need them or not, makes people think you are more intelligent. A number of studies have found people who wear glasses are viewed as smarter, more dependable, industrious and honest. Which is why a lot of defense lawyers get their clients to wear glasses at trial. As lawyer Harvey Slovis explained to New York magazine:” Glasses soften their appearance so that they don’t seem capable of committing a crime. I’ve tried cases where there’s been a tremendous quantity of evidence, but my client wear glass and got acquitted. The glasses create a kind of unspoken nerd defense .”

Andy Porwitzky (@ DoktorAndy)

Isaac Asimov’s critique of the “ugly girl with glasses becoming popular” from 1956 is spectacular. pic.twitter.com/ toxMCVRLgA

October 30, 2016

It’s not just defense lawyers who use glass as a stage prop. Glasses are regularly used as shorthand in pop culture to connote that their wearer is intelligent. In the case of women, there’s also a well-worn” ugly girl who removes her glass and is revealed to be beautiful” trope. Isaac Asimov has a wonderful criticism of this in his essay The Cult of Ignorance. In the essay, which went viral when it was tweeted by an appreciative reader last year, Asimov writes:” The glass are not literally glass. They are merely a symbol, a symbol of intelligence. The audience is taught two things;( a) Proof of extensive intelligence is a social deterrent and causes unhappiness;( b) Formal education is unnecessary, can be minimised at will and the resulting limited intellectual developing leads to happiness .”

Justin
Justin Bieber wearing glass and, for some reason, holding a snake. Photo: Christopher Polk/ Getty Images

While America hasn’t changed much when it comes to its suspicion of intellectuals, the symbolism of glasses has begun to shift. Prescription-less glasses have become something of a way accessory, worn by people who want to look sophisticated or cool. Not everyone is impressed though- GQ called wearing fake glass” bottom-of-the-barrel hipster behaviour “. However, that hasn’t stopped a lot of celebs from enthusiastically scraping the bottom of that barrel. Justin Bieber is just one high-profile fan of fashion glass. I’m quite the belieber in his sophisticated-glasses seem, even if some may say he’s making a sight of himself.

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