Matt Perryman

I live in the Land of the Amazons

By Matt Perryman

I walk around in Auckland in terror of the giant women in New Zealand.

This is no joke. It’s common to see teenage girls clearing 6’1. My wife thought I was making it up until we went to my niece’s 21st last night.

From a sample of around 60, roughly 70% of the ladies were above six feet tall. The same rule applied to the fellas, on the other hand, so maybe it isn’t that weird. There’s a lot of tall genes circulating down here.

This is a timely reminder that the “average value” of anything is a serious drop from the top 20%. Power laws are pitiless.

It goes to show you how your judgment of normal is always relative to a standard, whether you like it or not.

You can’t measure the length of the ruler that you use to measure length. There’s always a context.

This is one of the major problems — and strengths — with making judgments of character.

Some psychologists opine that there are no stable character traits. The way you act varies from situation to situation, with your behavior changing according to factors that don’t rise to conscious awareness.

One famous experiments suggests that you’ll be more helpful to a person in need if you find a dime in a phone booth slot (remember those?)

Nobody is actually kind or courageous or disciplined. Personality traits are determined by the situation.


Personality varies because personality expresses itself differently from context to context.

Not only that — what counts as the good, right, excellent, and noble action varies.

A despicable murderer and a hero can both put themselves in danger to achieve their goals.

We only call one of them courageous. Same action, different situation.

This doesn’t mean there’s no facts about courage.

Ditto for the scientist with his clipboard judging what counts as a morally-correct choice while observing at a distance.

The facts about good and right can’t be handed down from a universal theory, without paying attention to the circumstances.

If you care about such things, you’d best be sure that you’re not looking for the average in a room full of Amazons.

Matt Perryman 

You know what?

This article was sent to my faithful readers as an artisanal hand-crafted email. If you enjoyed this article and want more like it, you should sign up for this newsletter.