Unattractive Scientists Are Viewed As Dull But Talented
Scientists have to be able to effectively communicate their findings to the public. It advances their careers, and makes sure a paper called "Experimental Liver Cancer Treatment In Rodents Produces Potential For Further Research" doesn't get reported by CNN as "Scientists Cure Cancer In Mice, Human Cure For All Cancers Ever Soon To Follow!" But most people aren't scientists, so how can we tell which ones are good at their jobs and which seemingly are just working to prove a link between climate change and the decline of ska? Well, we usually can't, so we judge them based on their looks.
A 2017 study found that people are more likely to be interested in research performed by scientists who are deemed "competent, moral, and attractive." So Dr. Honey Goodbody, who looks like she just stepped out of a Bond movie, will draw more interest than the wizened hunchback Dr. Cornelius Coughsalot, even if the former is looking into aardvark arthritis while the latter has a $500,000 grant to study why it feels good to eat ice cream and hug puppies.
Where it gets weirder is that when judging "good" science rather than "interesting" science, there's a bias toward "less sociable and more physically unattractive individuals." We like the hot scientists, but assume that deep down, they're maybe a little ditzy. Again, these judgments are being made by people who aren't scientists. They have no real idea what "good" science is. We just want our science to be taught to us by hot people, even as we believe that the scientists who fit the stereotype of a socially awkward troll unfit for the camera are doing the real work. Sure, they might one day cure ALS, but Christ, we don't want to look at them.
Gheorghiu, Callan, Skylark/PNASThey never outright say they're studying why no one on the research team can get a date, but it's pretty clear between the lines.
Aside from our natural inclination toward attractive people in, oh, every aspect of society, this also seems to be because most of us view science as another form of entertainment. When someone says that they "love" science, they don't mean they're poring over the latest issue of The Lancet. They mean they half-watch Neil deGrasse Tyson's latest Netflix show while they fart around on their phones. This can create a bias in what issues are considered to be of public importance, which in turn affects research funding, with money going to whoever can make their subject seem fun and interesting, rather than objectively useful. Of course, all this raises a potential paradox: How hot were the scientists who conducted this study?
If You're Attractive, You're Less Likely To Get A "Boring" Job
Being attractive generally gives you a boost in the hiring process. It's reasonably well-established that if two candidates are otherwise equal, then most people, consciously or not, are going to hire the one who's easy on the eyes rather, than the one who reminds them of the genetic lottery's many misfortunes. But this trend reverses if it's an "undesirable" job, like housekeeping, customer service, or warehouse work. So if you want a boring job, don't clean yourself up before the interview, because you'll have better odds than someone who looks like they should be starring on a TV drama called Hospital Doctors or Police Cops.