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The foundations and ideology of incels: Pseudo-biology, the black pill, and the Chad circumference

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Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a three-part series within Thelonious Goerz’s weekly (Guy)necology column focusing on incels, their unique threat to women, and the mental health effects on the members of the hate groups. The first article can be found here.

A notable trait of incels is their use of pseudo-biology and selective sources to validate and reaffirm their worldview; coupled with a philosophy anchored in dogma, incels mix this into a dangerous cocktail.

As discussed previously, incels’ ideology is corrosive and dangerous to women and themselves. Additionally, there are many erroneous claims that incels use to anchor their worldview. They believe these arguments to be infallible, and use them as a way of silencing their critics.

By doing this, they resign themselves to defeatism and use it as a crutch to mask hate and bigotry; they also use it as a way to self-hate and degrade each other. The three claims I want to highlight are the following: the Chad circumference, which is basically phrenology; the red and black pill theories; and incels’ use of unethical data interpretation to affirm their beliefs.

Phrenology is a wholly discredited pseudoscience that purported to link mental intelligence and inherent ability with the size and shape of the skull. Incels use a variation of phrenology that focuses specifically on the skull to affirm their belief that they are, in fact, biologically predetermined to be incels.

According to Natalie Wynn of ContraPoints, a YouTube channel that focuses on transgender issues and internet bigotry, incels specifically subscribe to a theory known as the Chad Circumference. The Chad Circumference is a measure of the brow ridge multiplied by a figure of pi to get a measure that is unclear, but biologically predetermines whether one is an incel or not.


Initially, phrenology was used to validate modern scientific racism, but the incels have readopted it to try and add validity to their arguments. Additionally, the skull allows the incels to subscribe to defeatism and futility because, without major surgery, the skull is unchangeable (until now). Using this, incels frequently compare their inferior skulls to those of Chads, who have more robust skulls and are not suffering from the issues the incels believe themselves to face.

However, while incels try to convince themselves that their skulls are the sole determiners of their destiny, we know this to be untrue. Yet, incels still spend an excessive amount of time obsessing over Chads and their bone structure.


On top of this discussion of predetermined celibacy, incels widely believe that because of their looks, they are not attractive to women, who in their minds are completely superficial. While some incels may purport that women are only attracted to traditionally masculine-looking men, anthropological studies would suggest otherwise.

In a study from 2017, it was discovered that, statistically, there was no way to predict a woman’s preference for hypermasculine-looking men. However, it was only in irregular hormonal periods or during menopause when women were shown to have a stronger masculinity preference. Over the course of their lives, however, women showed little preference one way or another. While there was a positive preference for more masculine features, the correlation was weak, the study noted.

On another level, Slate notes how these beauty standards that incels subscribe to sound similar to the argument for the inherent racism of white beauty standards. In fact, incels simply use them to validate their victimhood.

Finally, the overarching and potentially most dangerous piece of incel ideology is the Red Pill, the Blue, and the Black Pill theories, which are derived from “The Matrix.”

The Blue Pill is one rung on the hierarchy of incel ideology. The ideology follows that men who believe the Blue Pill theory believe that their personality and kindness are most important, according to r/braincels. These men are normies, men unenlightened to the world from an incel’s point of view.

The Red Pill is the next step, which is where men are considered to be more self-aware. Red Pill Believers, as they are called, believe that asserting oneself and displaying alpha-male behavior are important to winning the attention of women. Incels who believe the Red Pill theory also believe that in some ways, women can be attracted to them; they also believe that they are living in a reality that people who believe in the Blue Pill are not, according to r/braincels. Frequently, men who believe in the Red Pill theory think the only way to gain attention from women is to become pickup artists.

The final theory and the most extreme in the incels’ system is the Black Pill. Incels who believe in the Black Pill believe that the world is governed by a sexual caste system where love and/or being with a woman is impossible. These incels have no hope and believe that all women will ever be attracted is white, tall Chads, according to r/braincels.

Wynn points out how this is particularly corrosive and dangerous. The Black Pill is an extremely dogmatic ideology that resigns its members to futility and sadness. This is not only dangerous to incels’ mental health; it is also dangerous to women who receive their misguided anger.

Reach columnist Thelonious Goerz at Twitter: @TheloniousGoerz

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