Faber's perfect pairing conjecture states that the tautological ring $R^*$ of the moduli space $\mathcal{M}_g$ of curves of genus $g$ behaves as if it were the rational cohomology of a closed, oriented manifold of dimension $g-2$. Specifically, $R^{g-2}$ is rank one, and multiplication into this degree gives a perfect pairing between $R^k$ and $R^{g-2-k}$.

My understanding is that it is known (through work of Looijenga, Faber, and Pandharipande) that $R^{g-2} = \mathbb{Q}$, but the perfect pairing part hasn't been proven (though it has been verified in low genus cases). I'd like to know:

Why might Faber have conjectured this to be the case? What is it about $R^*$ that suggests that it might satisfy Poincare duality?

If true, what sort of applications does this have (to our understanding of $\mathcal{M}_g$, for instance)?