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When discrimination is good

The ticker is moving fast on Youtube for Susan Boyle, 47, unemployed. 50 million is just too many hits. Naturally we see lots of interest, involvement and a lot of analysis as to why she is such a big hit.

Then there are few who feel that people like Susan Boyle are discriminated because of their looks. That we expect good singers to be good looking.


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May be not, if you are a good singer, may be great looks do not compliment. The cases of Susan Boyle and Paul Potts are great examples to explain how our brain works. This is the power of contrast and context. Our brains are hard wired to evaluate everything in context. At an absolute level 100 means nothing, but in contrast to 10, it’s a lot and in the contrast to 10000 it’s too little. A good singer who is not so good looking makes much more impact than a great looking good singer.

Everyone expected Susan Boyle and Paul to sing badly, they wanted them to fail and when they sang well, the contrast was so much that both of them have become media phenomena.

This is what the judges had to say to Susan Boyle after her rendering of I Dreamed a Dream:

“Biggest surprise in 3 years… I’m still reeling from shock” “I am so thrilled, because I know everybody was against you…” “I honestly think we were being cynical, and this is the biggest wake up call ever” “The biggest Yes ever in the history of BGT”

Now imagine if they were good looking. You would expect them to sing well, they would have met your expectations and may be the ticker would have read a couple of million views as against 50.

A hundred rupees in the hands of a rich man has little value, the same in the hands of a poor man in debt has much more value. A good singer who also looks good offers no surprise, no contrast. Where as Susan and Paul offer extreme contrast.

So may be, Susan and Paul being discriminated on the basis of their looks works in their favor and not against.

#SusanBoyle #PaulPotts #brain #contrast #BGT

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