Weird Science: The Generic Human Being

Back in March of last year, National Geographic created an image of the averagest human face. They came up with this ghostly image made out of 7,000 tiny human figures, each representing a million people. Check out the National Geographic site and zoom in to see the little people that make up the image.

I have no clue how they did it, what it means, or if it can be classified as science. It is, however, weird and that’s why it’s here.

So who is the generic human being? He speaks Mandarin, is Chinese, is Christian, works in the service industry, lives in a city, and can read.

And yes, the generic human is male. According to Wikianswers, there are 101.3 males for every 100 females in the world. Since we have to pick one, we’ll go with the majority.

And if he looks at all like his picture, he’s an unfocused individual.

Science fiction authors, take note, as the world globalizes further and we cross-breed like rabbits, we will all come to look like this man. Keep that in mind when describing your lead character. And for reality’s sake, please, make him be a bellhop or something. None of this space invader stuff. Too unrealistic.

Thanks for reading.

Sue Lange

This essay was first posted on December 22, 2011 at the Singularity Watch blog

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Weird Science: The Generic Human Being — 2 Comments

  1. The idea of a ‘pure’ ethnic group was always fantasy, but it is rapidly becoming as dated as Allan Quartermain visiting a hidden kingdom of scantily-clad white women in Central Africa. And there is a powerful hybrid vigor in the melting pot. Mixed-race people are a handsome bunch.

  2. My “junk science” detector went off at the explanation that their generic human being is male because men represent a hair over 50 percent of the world population. That made me question the whole process. I gather they took a series of characteristics and used the one from each category that got a plurality or bare majority, no matter how close some of the others were. I don’t think that gives you a generic human being. I think it tells you that there are a lot of Chinese people, slightly more men than women, more service workers than any other kind, more native speakers of Mandarin than those of other languages, more urban dwellers than rural ones, and more literate persons than non-literate.

    Seems to me that it would be hard to tell if a generic human being was male or female and that they would represent a mixture of skin color, etc.

    I agree with Brenda about the beauty of mixed-race people. That’s another reason why I find this generic person so unsatisfying.