I saw a news article the other day that took the journalistic angle of “peak beard” (think “peak oil”, except they weren’t talking about running out of beard, but running out of motivation to grow one). A quick search traced the original to the Kansas City Star website.
The article didn’t come to any conclusions about whether or not beards were now passé, but its basis was some research at the University of New South Wales that measured whether participants found bearded or clean-shaven men more attractive. The study (discussed by one of the authors on theconversation.com) didn’t present an answer either, instead suggesting that the attractiveness of a feature was related to its scarcity.
So, if (like I did), you read the news, mentally discarded the slant, and concluded that “beards are not attractive, features that make you stand out from the crowd are attractive”, you’ve come to pretty much the same conclusion as the researchers. It would just be nice if it was a little more obvious (or even, say, if the article had included a link to either the study or the author’s comments).
(Mind you, this is probably coming from my own university experience, where “cite your sources” was emphasised.)