Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Echidne Asks Questions...

About this ring finger thing. One of the articles I linked to says this:

According to some self-style 'finger experts', the relative lengths of ring and index fingers can signify a host of different attributes including sexuality and predisposition to disease.

A longer ring finger relative to the index finger tends to mean a foetus was exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb which is why men usually longer ring fingers.

Even the Washington Post writeup contained this:

Those exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb tend to have relatively longer ring fingers.


When the researchers looked at 14 of the traders in the original study, they found that those exposed to the most testosterone in the womb were the most likely to make more money on the days when the amount of the hormone in the blood was highest, indicating that their profitability was driven by their sensitivity to the hormone as well as the amount of it.

I am trying to figure out the source of this testosterone exposure argument. How do researchers measure the testosterone exposure of a developing fetus? And if it can indeed be measured, how is that correlated to the ring finger length? How are family genetics controlled for? It's hard to see how such studies could be done given the ethics guidelines about human subjects. But perhaps there's some simple testosterone measure that can be used with pregnant women. So if you can educate me, please do so.

That's the first question of the day. The second one has to do with some of the conclusions of the Washington Post article:

But Coates warned against trying to use the findings to screen potential traders, saying it would be difficult to apply the findings to individual traders. And there are always exceptions. But Lo said that if the results are confirmed and other biological traits that affect behavior are identified, they could lead to screening tests for traders.

"At this point that's still science fiction, but at some point science fiction will become reality," Lo said.

So someone measures your ring finger and your forefinger and a door closes forever? Wouldn't that be weird? Especially given the way this particular article at least mentions the possibility that the so-called good earners may in fact be rather dangerous creatures when markets are volatile. Women probably couldn't even apply for the test, what with those stumpy fingers n all.

Except that women don't necessarily have shorter ring-fingers, in comparison to forefingers. So what made the long ring-fingered women? That would be my third question about all this business.