Are you smart? trustworthy? sober?

Ten random strangers are willing to judge you, based exclusively on your looks, when you upload your picture to The site uses Amazon Mechanical Turk, an automated web service named after an 18th-century chess-playing mannequin, which turns artificial intelligence on its head by making requests of humans. On Facestat, people judge faces. Among other things, they’ll estimate your intelligence, relationship status, and whether or not you were drunk at the time the picture was taken.

I uploaded my picture last week, and people were pretty accurate, guessing I was around forty and married with kids. I felt deflated to find out I look “boring,” “worried,” and only “probably trustworthy,” so I uploaded another picture. The second photo was of a portrait of me artist Chris Kolupski painted as a promotional tool for a public TV auction.

Behold the power of art! My attractiveness ratings shot up, and people thought I looked younger, “serene,” and “good.” Ha!

You can only send one picture a day, so I waited, killing some time by judging other people’s faces, and then I submitted a controversial 2007 portrait of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In the only formal portrait painted of Blair while he was in office, artist Phil Hale portrays him as dark, somber, and aging badly in the waning days of his administration. Facestat judges describe Blair as untrustworthy and “clintonesque.” They also rated him “not bad” in the attractiveness category.

Superficial perceptions can shape careers. Deborah Voigt, one of the greatest dramatic sopranos alive, was dropped from a production of Richard Strauss' Ariadne on Naxos because the casting director deemed her too overweight to play the part of an irresistible fertility goddess. In an amazing public transformation, Voigt underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost 135 pounds, changing not only her face but her entire form.

On Tuesday, May 6 at 8:00 p.m., WXXI-TV will air “Human Face with John Cleese,” the first in a series of programs about facial expressions and the reactions they provoke. In addition to a segment on facial musculature, you’ll hear theories about how facial expressions can imprint your personality on your face.

Test it yourself on, but don’t take the results to heart. What can strangers tell about you?

I’m not boring OR good. Honest!



Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma performed at Nazareth College in Smyth Hall when he was a very small boy before his Juilliard debut