June 17, 2009

"We are not suggesting that finger length measurements could replace SAT tests."

"Finger ratio provides us with an interesting insight into our innate abilities in key cognitive areas. We are also looking at how digit ratio relates to other behavioural issues, such as technophobia, and career paths. There is also interest in using digit ratio to identify developmental disorders, such as dyslexia, which can be defined in terms of literacy deficiencies."

Okay, everybody, let's see your fingies.

43 comments:

traditionalguy said...

But maybe it's the toes that best shows how people goes. Finger pointing obtains a new meaning here. The latest version of Phrenology arrives to meet this generation's fools.

John Burgess said...

Which one? There's the one I use for politicians that's gotten a lot of airtime lately...

Bissage said...

I greatly look forward to the day scientists discover the link between body parts and devotion to psychometrics.

Flexo said...

Yes, it looks like we need to check these guys for bumbs on the head.

Lem said...

That's why this guy was so good with directions ;)

Chase said...

For guys there's only one measurement that really matters.

Lem said...

Would it make sense that in hunter gathering times if you could point to where food was you were going to be favored in the old “in and out” sweepstakes?

Maybe that explains the connection.

BJM said...

Yow, men's hands can be such a turn on, but I suspect Althouse knew that.

former law student said...

The conclusion seems to be that girls are more verbal while boys are more mathematical, but no one is saying what the baseline is. Would Gauss's ring finger have been longer than his middle finger? What about Emily Dickinson's digits? What am I missing?

Roger J. said...

This sounds a bit like some of the work that the rather eccentric J. Phillipe Rushton (Canada) has done. Unless someone can identify some causal link, I dont think its going to lead to much.

Jeremy said...

When they measured Paladian's and Pogo's fingers they always had to allow for the nose.

Aaron said...

Sounds like craptrap to me. First, the sample was only 75 people. sheesh, that is not science.

Second, it also assumes a binary kind of effect. You can't be mathematically inclined and literary inclined, or so they think. well, i am, so what does that say about me?

And, btw, how exactly do you precisely measure the index finger to ring finger ratio? given that there is a little bit of webbing between our fingers where exactly does one begin and the hand end?

Anyway, i have finger for them. take my index finger, and my ring finger, and then read between the lines.

EDH said...

The results of numeracy and literacy tests for seven-year-old children can be predicted by measuring the length of their index finger and ring finger, shows new research.


Jerry Garcia, unaffected.

At age four, Garcia experienced the amputation of two-thirds of his right middle finger. While vacationing in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Garcia was given the chore of steadying wood while his elder brother chopped, when he inadvertently put his finger in the way of the falling axe. Garcia's father drove him, after his mother wrapped his hand in a towel, over thirty miles away to the nearest hospital. A few weeks later, Garcia, who immediately after the accident never looked at his finger, was surprised to discover that most of his finger was missing when the bandage he was wearing came off during a bath. Garcia later confided that he often used it to his advantage in his youth, showing it off to other children in his neighborhood.

Sy said...

That's not me giving you the middle finger. It's me being a math genius the likes this world have not seen before.

Sy said...

... that or my mother was exposed to an inordinate amount of steroid when she was carrying me.

Crimso said...

"Jerry Garcia, unaffected."

Especially impressive considering his ability on the banjo. He wasn't the greatest of course, but Old And In The Way wasn't exactly a garage band.

So if finger length measurements could replace SAT tests, would anyone with missing digits get extra points in the admissions process?

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

Hmmmm...

My ring finger is longer than my index finger, but have never felt math was worthy of study.

Does their matrix explain THAT?!?

Fred4Pres said...

Ann, here is a finger test you can check out.

Elliott A said...

What about finger thickness? My dad's fingers were so fat he had trouble dialing a dial phone. (He was diminutive in every other respect except the intelligence he passed on to me)

Elliott A said...

What about finger thickness? My dad's fingers were so fat he had trouble dialing a dial phone. (He was diminutive in every other respect except the intelligence he passed on to me)

Elliott A said...

As demonstrated by my double post

Laura(southernxyl) said...

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I have. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

...Name the book?

Darrell said...

"The Housewives' Guide To Anatomy" by Shirley Jackson.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"The Housewives' Guide To Anatomy" by Shirley Jackson.

Er, no. Got the Shirley Jackson part right, though.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If only they could tell me what my hairy palms correspond to.

Jason (the commenter) said...

What does it say about the intelligence of the researchers that they picked fingers to measure? They could have measured any body part they wanted. Of course, maybe they have a hand holding fetish.

Zach said...

What does it say about the intelligence of the researchers that they picked fingers to measure?

It says they read the literature. Index/ring finger ratio is a proxy for testosterone levels in the womb, when the brain is developing.

I would think you would want to look at boys and girls separately for a study like this, and see whether the higher testosterone predicted (say) higher math scores for boys alone and girls alone, as well as for the population as a whole. Then you could argue that it's testosterone affecting the brain development, rather than some other thing related to sex (since testosterone should correlate with practically anything associated with being a boy).

Big Mike said...

@Laura, I seem to remember that Merricat Blackwood is the heroine of "We Have Always Living in the Castle." Am I right?

Er, you don't live in a castle, do you?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Big Mike - bingo.

No, I don't live in a castle.

I've given that book to several little girls over the years ... my daughter, my niece, my daughter's friend's little sister who was in the hospital ... they all loved it. As did I when I was a girl.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Sort of reminds me of that study that claimed gay men are more likely to have longer index fingers than middle fingers . . . or was it their ring fingers that were supposed to be longer? Though I suppose Jerry Garcia would have confounded the data.

Freeman Hunt said...

I agree with Aaron; literary or mathematical inclination is not an either/or thing, so why the emphasis on ratio?

Steven said...

Hmm.

"When they looked at boy's and girl's performance separately, the researchers found a clear link between high prenatal testosterone exposure, as measured by digit ratio, and higher numeracy SAT scores in males.

"They also found a link between low prenatal testosterone exposure, which resulted in a shorter ring finger compared with the index finger, and higher literacy SAT scores for girls."

If that's a complete and accurate report of the results, then it means that index finger length does not predict literacy in boys, and ring finger length does not predict mathematical proficiency in girls.

The Mother said...

Can you say "phrenology?"

Anyone?

How does this stuff get published.

And what's the point in looking for in utero explanations for gender bias when it's clearly cultural, and disappears in sexually egaliarian society?

(http://www.pnas.org/content/106/22/8801.abstract?sid=1799e868-052c-469b-86fe-6dd047845ae4)

Big Mike said...

@laura, if you're still checking in, it must be a gender thing. I don't recollect finishing the book -- I think Merricat sort of weirded me out.

I never read The Lottery but saw it produced in high school theater on more than one occasion. I thought Jackson must come from a very strange place.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Oh wow, you should have finished it.

At the end the house is a partly burned ruin and the two girls are living in it like goddesses in a shrine, with the villagers bringing offerings of food to placate them.

...You never read "The Lottery"? I thought it was, like, a national law that everybody has to read it. Here it is. And here are Jackson's comments on it:

I had written the story three weeks before, on a bright June morning when summer seemed to have come at last, with blue skies and warm sun and no heavenly signs to warn me that my morning's work was anything but just another story. The idea had come to me while I was pushing my daughter up the hill in her stroller - it was, as I say, a warm morning, and the hill was steep, and beside my daughter the stroller held the day's groceries - and perhaps the effort of that last fifty yards up the hill put an edge to the story; at any rate, I had the idea fairly clearly in my mind when I put my daughter in her playpen and the frozen vegetables in the refrigerator, and, writing the story, I found that it went quickly and easily, moving from beginning to end without pause. As a matter of fact, when I read it over later 1 decided that except for one or two minor corrections, it needed no changes, and the story I finally typed up and sent off to my agent the next day was almost word for word the original draft. This, as any writer of stories can tell you, is not a usual thing.

It had simply never occurred to me that these millions and millions of people might be so far from being uplifted that they would sit down and write me letters I was downright scared to open; of the three-hundred-odd letters that I received that summer I can count only thirteen that spoke kindly to me, and they were mostly from friends. Even my mother scolded me: "Dad and I did not care at all for your story in The New Yorker," she wrote sternly, "it does seem, dear, that this gloomy kind of Story is what all you young people think about these days. Why don't you write something to cheer people up?"

Curiously, there are three main themes which dominate the letters of that first summer - three themes which might be identified as bewilderment, speculation, and plain old-fashioned abuse. In the years since then, during which the story has been anthologized, dramatized, televised, and even - in one completely mystifying transformation - made into a ballet, the tenor of letters I receive has changed. I am addressed more politely, as a rule, and the letters largely confine themselves to questions like what does this Story mean? The general tone of the early letters, however, was a kind of wide-eyed, shocked innocence. People at first were not so much concerned with what the story meant; what they wanted to know was where these lotteries were held, and whether they could go there and watch.

Methadras said...

I read a study once that purported to claim that homosexuality could be determined by the middle finger length of known homosexuals as a control group against the middle finger lengths of heterosexual men.

Methadras said...

Wait. Or was it thumbs. I can't remember.

Big Mike said...

Sorry, Laura. I went back to the library just last night and tried again. Still can't get into it.

Back in high school days I only read "literature" when it was assigned in class, otherwise my reading material was Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and -- since I was transitioning myself from a skinny son of a white collar father regularly beaten up by the sons of the quarry workers in my home town into a muscular athlete -- Robert Howard. Then in college I discovered real mathematics, computers, and bridge.

Big Mike said...

Sorry, Laura. I went back to the library just last night and tried again. Still can't get into it.

Back in high school days I only read "literature" when it was assigned in class, otherwise my reading material was Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and -- since I was transitioning myself from a skinny son of a white collar father regularly beaten up by the sons of the quarry workers in my home town into a muscular athlete -- Robert Howard. Then in college I discovered real mathematics, computers, and bridge.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Well, I guess I won't beat you up.

We Have Always Lived In the Castle is a chick book, I guess. Funny that a boy won't like books like that but a girl might actually love Hatchet and books of that kind. I wonder why that is.

My story about SF and science here.

Big Mike said...

@laura, I don't dismiss all books written by and for females. I've read several Georgette Heyer books, and from what I can tell she gets the Regency Period (and preceding periods) right, down to how the people of the upper crust talked and their slang. Regency Buck combines a nice mystery with the Regency Romance theme. I enjoy most of what Janet Evanovich writes, except for the Plums that aren't numbered and centered on holiday themes (e.g., Plum Lucky stinks). I like J.J. Vance.

That made me try some other Romance novels, but all I could think of is that Romance novelists have an exaggerated notion of what a man's stamina is or ought to be.

(Yes, I know J.J. Vance isn't a Romance author, but she is a woman writer and sherrif Brady is entirely female.)

Big Mike said...

@laura, I followed your second link. I agree with what Feynman wrote about his experience evaluating textbooks for the state of California. The books would have to come up a long way just to be rated "terrible."

Once upon a time the textbook writers could rely on talented female scientists who were stuck with elementary and high school education as their only career path to fill in the gaps, but that hasn't been the case since the late 1970's, very early 1980's at the latest.

My wife is a scientist, BTW, and I know the crap she had to take as a graduate student in the early 1970s. No professor could get away with that stuff today, but this is now and that was then.

I have no sympathy for today's young women. They turn in BS to their professors and make accusations of discrimination when their trash doesn't get an 'A.' No, sweetie-pie, real discrimination is when your professor won't give you time to run your experiments on the cyclotron because "you'd just be taking a job away from some guy who needs to feed his kids." That's what she and her contemporaries went through.

Sorry about the rant. You accidentally opened an old and not well-healed wound, but that's not your fault.

Maureen said...

I got extremely high SAT scores in both verbal and math, though my verbal was significantly higher. My ring finger is quite long, and I am female.

I suspect this is the sort of thing where "unusually short" is meaningful, but no other result means much.