Monday, November 18, 2013

Nope, not in the NBA, heh heh ugh

This weekend I was in conversation at a wedding with the 6'9'' groom about how dealing with unending comments about his height when out in public must be wearisome. I wonder if after the transgender crusades burn themselves out, heightism won't be the next monster to seek out and destroy. It's about the only attribute remaining that is socially acceptable to comment upon despite the fact that the recipients of said comments don't ever want to hear them. 

While tall people, like lefties, don't naturally constitute easily organized interest groups since they're more-or-less randomly distributed throughout the population, fat people don't, either, and acceptance of the corpulent has become increasingly compulsory in polite society. On the other hand, lacking natural organization, markedly high achievement, and a history of persecution, perhaps 'height privilege' will negate widespread goodwill towards the especially tall.

Though height generally gently correlates positively with some desirable life outcomes, the returns are probably diminishing and might even begin to reverse a couple of standard deviations out above the mean. I suggested my best guess of the ideal for a man to be as tall as possible without his height being the first thing others notice about him, somewhere in the 6'4''-6'5'' range.


Shawn said...

One thing I've noticed is that beyond say 6'1''-6'2'' ish it is very hard for a man to be height/weight proportionate. In other words they look awkward.

The sweet spot for the all-around athlete seems to be around 6'1'' such as decathletes.

Jehu said...

Speaking as a 6'3" man, my take is that the optimum in the US is probably around 6'2". It may be higher for the Dutch---their mean is higher. +2 sigma seems to be the optimum for social status in an awful lot of things honestly, and 6'2" is right around there (6-6'2 I would guess). That gets you nearly all of the advantages of height without triggering many of the disadvantages.

Jokah Macpherson said...

I can't speak for everyone, but if a guy is 6'4" then his height is definitely the first thing I notice about him. I agree with Jehu that 6'2" is probably better.

I hit on a girl who was 6'1" one time (why not) and although she turned out to be taken, she told me she was impressed I didn't ask her if she played basketball (she didn't).

JayMan said...

I'm 6'4"... ;)

Audacious Epigone said...


Pure athleticism and sports' utility aren't always the same thing. Basketball is an obvious example (especially half court, when being as tall as this groom is ridiculously advantageous because he can just sit under the basket and be fed everything), but there are other sports where I, at 6'1", feel like I'm a couple of inches away from dominance.


I usually see one standard deviation in male height reported around 2.5 inches or so, with 6'3"-6'4" being a couple of standard deviations above the mean, but I think we're on the same wavelength in terms of what is optimal and why.


I should qualify that "too tall" is the height at which it's not only the first thing one notices, but also the first adjective one would use to describe a person to others who didn't know him. That is, it trumps non-physical characteristics. Height, weight, clothing, hair, build--there aren't that many first things one can notice about someone else at first glance, but in the case of the groom, it's how he's almost always described by people who are telling others about him.


So is Steve. Gods among men, gods among men!

MC said...

One of my best friends from high school was 6'8'' and played no sports seriously, so I'm always careful not to ask, "Do you play basketball?"

But one time my roommate and I were walking past a house where a small dinner party was taking place, and they invited us in. This was in an apartment complex in Utah that that was full of young single Mormons. My roommate sees a very tall guy, and introduces himself:

"Hi, I'm Cameron."

"Hi, I'm Mark."

"Do you play basketball, Mark?" ("What a jackass" I think to myself).

"Yeah, I do."

"Who do you play for?"


0.8 seconds later, I realize we're talking to Mark Madsen:

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

I suspect short men deal with more flack than the tall.

Audacious Epigone said...


Implicitly, yeah, probably, but it's socially unacceptable to draw attention to someone's lack of height (especially if he's male), while it's pretty much acceptable to talk about how tall someone is.

Anonymous said...

Let's say you have to describe a man to someone who doesn't know him, for example so the person to whom you're speaking can identify the subject at a business convention. Leaving aside a description of clothing, there are some descriptive features it's okay to say and some features that can't be mentioned.

Okay to say:
Tall/average height
Hair color
Shaved head (but not balding)

Not okay to say:
Physical problems or disabilities (unless obviously temporary, like a bandaged hand)

Age can be mentioned only if the subject is unusually young or old for the context. And even then, only general terms can be used; "older" is the only acceptable adjective for anyone past middle age, whether he's 65 or 90.

Race is a tough one. Despite the sensitivity, it may be okay to mention race given that it can be so obvious. It really comes down to the circumstances.

Note all of this is only applicable to a man's description. I'm not quite sure what the rules would be when describing a woman.


Steve Sailer said...

George H.W. Bush at approaching 6'3" was widely considered gawky-looking, even though he was an excellent athlete. Ronald Reagan was a couple of inches shorter and was not a good athlete, but looked fine.

Harold said...

“I suspect short men deal with more flack than the tall.”

Coincidentally the post I read before this one, over at Mangan‘s, contained this link:

Christian Identity Forum said...

People, white people certainly, are getting taller with each successive generation. I'm 5'9". Back in the 70s and 80s that was average height for a white man. Now it's below average. What can I say? I'm a midget!

Steve Sailer said...

The big cutoff is at the point where you start bumping your head all the time. Standard doorframes are 6'8", but they are often a little lower.

Some careers, such as pilot and naval officer, have maximum heights as well. The Navy forced David Robinson, who grew from 6'5 to 7'1" while at the Naval Academy to spend two years in the Navy before joining the NBA as a PR gesture. Everybody else who grows like crazy at Annapolis gets an immediate honorable discharge because ships are no place for the too tall.

Dan said...

The problem with these crusades is that none of the liberal territory stays won. Each 'victory' against human nature or reality just reverts back when people aren't paying attention.

Feminists getting laid the least and getting the least quality? That is enormous lost territory by the standards of earlier feminists, but nevermind, there are new battles!