Nell Greenfieldboyce:

Science has some bad news for the bearded: young children think you’re really, really unattractive.

A new study suggests that, until they reach puberty, kids are strongly anti-beard — although children with bearded fathers did feel more warmly toward facial hair.

Scientists going all the way back to Charles Darwin have pondered the purpose of beards.

How is this bad news? What self-respecting man wants to be attractive to children anyway? (I’m not even going to make the obvious joke.) Let the little imps fear me so long as they stay quiet and obey, that’s what I always say. With any luck, maturity will bring them glimpses of wisdom, but until then, the bewhiskered have great deeds and pressing duties to occupy them. As for the “purpose” of beards, well, yes; let the scientists puzzle over it, as if theory can ever fully capture raw, hairy experience. To quote Thomas Gowing from The Philosophy of Beards again:

Though there are individual exceptions, the absence of Beard is usually a sign of physical and moral weakness; and in degenerate tribes wholly without, or very deficient, there is a conscious want of manly dignity, and contentedness with a low physical, moral, and intellectual condition. Such tribes have to be sought for by the physiologist and ethnologist; the historian is never called upon to do honor to their deeds.