A recent study by the Psychology Department claims that there are only 50,000 truly distinct faces in the world. This means that many people have “virtually indistinguishable traits.” At a school the size of Texas A&M, that means that there are at least 6,000 people walking around that have no individual identity and have a visual double somewhere on campus.
The study looked at both small liberal arts colleges and large state universities finding that at the smaller schools there was a wide range of facial traits, while at the state schools, it was not uncommon to run up to a friend only to realize he or she was not your friend but a perfect approximation nearly indistinguishable by modern science.
Critics of the study point to the largest anomaly known in existence, the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, because despite the odds, every single member has “virtually indistinguishable traits.” Psychologists have not been able to explain this, but do acknowledge that even they have mistaken a cadet in the study with another cadet, who was in fact mistaken for his roommate in the first place.
What some have rushed to call the “ambiguous feature effect” is nothing short of a doppelganger effect. In short, because of the size of our university, you are statistically likely to mistake someone for your friend, once or possibly even several times per day.
At small schools like Rice, you know who your friends are and can recognize people across campus, but at Texas A&M, the odds are stacked against you.
As the old adage goes, you don’t always know who your friends are.