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Math(s): It's all in the fingers

  1. Jun 2, 2007 #1
    According to a study carried out on a few 6-7yo children in England, psychologist Mark Brosnan thinks that boys with a smaller ring finger length to index finger length ratio are likely to be better at mathematics.

    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2007/525/1
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2007 #2
    That's ridiculous.
     
  4. Jun 2, 2007 #3

    radou

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    Well, according to this, all you need in order to become a good mathematician is a cutting device and some courage. :rofl:
     
  5. Jun 2, 2007 #4

    Kurdt

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    Quite interesting. Would be more interesting to see the ratios of the people on physics forums seeing as most are in the trade so to speak.
     
  6. Jun 2, 2007 #5
    My ring and index fingers are near identical and I'd say I'm aweful at math!
     
  7. Jun 2, 2007 #6
    If they want to know how good I am at math, they'd better measure my toes as well.
     
  8. Jun 2, 2007 #7

    loseyourname

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    Your poor math performance is exactly what the study predicts! But hey, you're only one data point. Let me add myself, though. My ring finger is way longer than my index, and I've always been good at mathematical reasoning.

    I wonder what ever happened to hitssquad. He used to post about stuff like this all the time. It's been known for a while that boys tend to have a smaller ratio - longer ring fingers relative to index fingers - and it's thought by the crazy guys that study these esoteric correlations that it has something to do with testosterone levels in the womb, which also impact brain development, resulting in better mathematical reasoning in the more "male" brain (which doesn't necessarily mean the person is male; just that the brain developed in a higher testosterone womb environment).

    In fact, if testosterone levels in the womb could actually be linked to homosexuality, that might answer the question always leveled by critics "what is the adaptive advantage of a homosexual gene?" Well, it wouldn't be a gene at all; it would be an immune response of sorts by the mother's body to the fetus, which isn't a trait heritable by males. Of course, as mentioned, the correlation known so far is only to finger length ratios, which have never been correlated to womb testosterone levels, so it's all speculation at this point. Interesting speculation, but still nothing to get excited about.

    Although, if hitssquad was still around, I'm sure he'd been in here within a day with about eighty links.
     
  9. Jun 2, 2007 #8

    honestrosewater

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    Yeah, I remember hitssquad talking about 2D:4D digit ratio too. I also remember an article posted by Ivan here that was a study on mathematically talented boys -- they didn't study the girls because
     
  10. Jun 2, 2007 #9
    My ring finger and index finger are very close in length; however, I have aced enough math classes to get a B.S. in math.
     
  11. Jun 2, 2007 #10

    hypnagogue

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    Actually, an important factor in the preponderance of boys showing more math ability may just be the effect of the pre-existing societal stereotype that boys are superior to girls in math. There is a literature in social psychology regarding a phenomenon called "stereotype threat" in which activating a negative stereotype about a group's typical performance on a task can inhibit the performance of members of that group on the task. So, merely being exposed to the stereotype that girls are mathematically inferior to boys can suppress girls' performance on a math task. It would be foolish to start looking for biological correlates of boys' superiority in math performance without first controlling for potential social causes of the phenomenon.
     
  12. Jun 2, 2007 #11

    turbo

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    Darn! I'd better ask that my math SAT score be reviewed. My ring fingers are noticeably longer than my index fingers. Must have been just luck...
     
  13. Jun 2, 2007 #12
    :surprised What happened to everyone's avatar? (apart from the Admin's who still seems to retain it). I should be apologetic for hijacking a thread I started, but the absence of those avatars was the first thing I noticed. :redface:
     
  14. Jun 2, 2007 #13

    turbo

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    I can see them all. You're just tired. Go to bed. :rofl:
     
  15. Jun 2, 2007 #14

    honestrosewater

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    Thank you! (Yeah, I wasn't agreeing with them. I just remember that being their excuse for not testing the girls. I actually remembered it because it annoyed me.) Everybody knows girls can't do math!
     
  16. Jun 2, 2007 #15

    arildno

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    Well, Emmy Noether was a great mathematician, but I'm not sure she classified as a female.

    So, theory of girls can't do maths still holds. :smile:
     
  17. Jun 2, 2007 #16
    Sophie Germain, aka Monsieur Le Blanc, comes to mind.
     
  18. Jun 2, 2007 #17

    Chi Meson

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    I feel like telling this study to measure my middle finger length.
     
  19. Jun 2, 2007 #18

    loseyourname

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    The thing, these studies haven't demonstrated any male superiority over females because they've omitted studying females altogether. The studies have only shown a correlation in which boys with a smaller 2D:4D ratio outperforming boys with a larger ratio. There is definitely no stereotype regarding male finger lengths. I'd be willing to bet most boys don't even know what their ratio is and have never thought about it until they're told of something like that. I never had any idea what mine was until hitssquad brought it up. Perhaps the stranger thing still is that the digit difference on my left hand seems to be much greater than the digit difference on my right hand.

    What in the hell does that mean?
     
  20. Jun 2, 2007 #19

    honestrosewater

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    Freak.....
     
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