Body Beat

Size, Smell
& Foreskin

Thanks to scientists at the Improbable Research, we now know for sure that the length of your fingers is not a good way to predict whether your body stinks. They also went ahead and determined, before anyone asked and after exhaustive experiments, that men’s ears grow bigger than women’s, as both genders age.
Oh, and since we got your attention, some company wants you guys to know that there’s no reason to apply moisturizer all over your body but skip your penis. To be frank, they consider that a serious oversight, since such a delicate skin is designed to endure a variety of experiences throughout your life that justifies plenty of extra care.
It’s all in a scientist’s day work, and for the publishers of the Annals of Improbable Research magazine, fun and knowledge are pursued in equal parts. They’re the folks behind the annual and hilarious Ig Nobel Prizes, and their motto is to “make people laugh and then think.”
But before you dismiss the whole thing exactly because of its humorous slant, it’s good to know that they do follow accepted scientific standards and their research is considered sound. They’d just rather not take themselves too seriously, lest the inquisitive attitude, crucial to any exploration of knowledge, be obscured by too much self-aggrandizing.
Open for research covering subjects that are either too far out or deemed not serious enough by the scientific establishment, they wind up being a refreshing umbrella for relevant inquiries of the left field. Their attitude to both research and the way they publish their conclusions verges on the childlike.
Take the studies about the length of the fingers, for example, and their relation to a surprisingly wide variety of subjects. From finger ratios and number of sex partners, to the prediction of who will become a good doctor, or succeed as a financial trader, the research is long and full of interesting observations.
It’s almost natural then that it led them (research may be conducted by members of the organization or simply incorporated from other sources and published on the magazine) to the relationship between finger ratio and facial attractiveness, voice quality and… body odor.
The conclusions are equally unusual and exciting.
Often research is a corroboration or dismissal of long held beliefs. That’s the case, for example, of the almost old-wives tale that ears grow as men age. Granted, science has already proven that different parts of the human body grow at different rates, and so do ears.
What few were expecting to find is that this is a gender issue. Proportionally, men ears grow bigger than women’s. Which doesn’t mean that their listening skills improve with age, but that’s for another type of research to determine.
They also found out that there’s a correlation between height and ear size, but more research is needed to get a better picture about that.
Improbable Research has nothing to do with the next unusual topic, one that’s often heavily tainted (and never scientifically corroborated) by size considerations. A skin care company claims, with undeniable bias, that men all over should be more, well, careful with their foreskins.
They list the stress caused by friction, heat, chemicals, the age-old enlargement and retraction process, and age, as factors that justify the need to use a protective cream on such a delicate area. If possible, of course, one of those they sell.
We’re not sure whether the studies they may have conducted to support the company’s claim went beyond consumer trends among the urban and the affluent, etc. So we doubt it’ll be featured any time soon among the selected, rigorously scientific subjects Improbable Research chooses to cover.
The reality is that we, not being in any way co-opted by either side, can’t help but being slightly sophomoric on our own, biased, and very much slanted coverage. We just think that there must be a couple of good jokes around there somewhere.
Feel free to find them, tell them to your friends and don’t forget: if you really want to avoid somebody else’s B.O., we don’t recommend getting too close to the point you may measure the length of their fingers. Also big ears may be just that, big and distracting, not a precondition for longevity.
Oh, and about the moisturizer, which by the way, is a chemical too, we don’t think we can improve on your own joke about it at this time.

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