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Logic & Scientific Philosophy

Jennifer: Pretty People

Imagine a future world in which everyone undergoes an operation at 16 to become “pretty” and thereby be granted the “good life.” This disturbing society is detailed in the well-known series Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, which delves into the possible repercussions of an appearance-based outlook. To truly understand how the characters in the novel decided to place everyone under the knife, we can break down their thought process in the perspective of inductive reasoning.

Approximately three centuries before the story takes place, “Rusties” exploited the Earth and fought with one another on a global scale, ultimately leading to the destruction of their civilization when an “oil bug” broke loose. Still, some people survived the catastrophe, and struggled for life with the conviction of “never again.” In the regular pattern, these humans branched out of their secluded groups and formed an alliance dedicated to finding the best preventative measures. What they found was a previous study documenting the “halo effect.” Simply stated, “beautiful people were treated better than their peers, got into less trouble, and were more happy and successful” (Bogus to Bubbly, p. 34).

With this specific evidence came the general conclusion that all should be pretty. It would even the playing field, giving everyone an equal opportunity in life. The power of pretty, it was thought, was enough to stop hatred in its tracks. Work on a surgical procedure to put this conclusion into action was started immediately. Eventually, all people were “opened up, [their] bones ground down to the right shape, some of them stretched or padded, [their] nose cartilage and cheekbones stripped out and replaced with programmable plastic, skin sanded off and reseeded” (Uglies, p. 97)

But it still wasn’t enough. The reasoning of the “Pretty Committee” was unreliable because the evidence was so. On the surface, pretty people can more easily enter superficial high-paying jobs and even tip the balance in the general job market, presumably leading to happiness as a result of wealth and the possession of the upper-hand. Though I do not know the statistics on just how much appearance influences employment and median income, I do know that just because you project the described image does not mean you are free from abuse and satisfied with your life. How many stars have ended up in jail?

The Pretty Committee realized this too when “human beings still competed, still rebelled, and still sometimes hated one another” (Bogus to Bubbly, p. 35). The real secret to peace: bubblehead surgery. Frightening, but no less true, the Committee observed waring pretty people to discover that clueless individuals who must confront no challenges are the least likely to get into trouble, and the happiest, because they don’t know what else to think. This time, their conclusion is more probable, because it builds on previous experience and moves from the superficial to the neurological. When people’s brains are engineered to allow “no more controversies, no disagreements, no…demanding [of] change” (Uglies, p. 267), the result is vapid peace.

The Pretty Committee didn’t succeeded on its first try at induction, with an unreliable statement and consequently unreliable conclusion.

Pretty people are well-treated, less-troublesome, happy and successful.

If everyone was pretty, we would all be well-treated, less-troublesome, happy and successful.

On their second try, however, they hit the ball.

People have different thoughts, which leads to fighting.

If we all have the same thoughts, there will be no fights.

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