Now I'm going to be staring at people's hands

Kinda interesting headline on WebMD last week - is there a correlation between relative finger lengths and athleticism?  They say that "for women whose second and fourth finger lengths translated into a low ratio, there was greater likelihood the women played sports at higher levels, the researchers report. A low ratio would result if the index finger is shorter than the ring finger."

First of all, terminology question: isn't the index finger the first finger, the middle finger the second, the ring finger the third, and the pinky the fourth?  Don't remember that from Aberdeen.

Second, a negative number is a "low ratio"?  They need to be a little more clear/precise, here.


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"O Whisky! soul o' plays and pranks! Accept a bardie's gratfu' thanks! When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks Are my poor verses! Thou comes-they rattle in their ranks, At ither's a-s!" Robert Burns - "Scotch Drink" 1785

2 thoughts on “Now I'm going to be staring at people's hands”

  1. um, wow. that seems fishy. those wacky brits.

    yeah, the "low ratio" sounds real vague. i'd like to see the original paper, as things often, but not necessarily here, get lost in "translation" to non-geek speak.

    i was going to list my measurements, but it all depends on how i hold the ruler, so i won't bother. but my index fingers seem to be a few sixteenths of an inch longer than my ring fingers. for the record, i played organized (AYSO) soccer for 3 years, and i ski recreationally. though, really, i don't understand what they're trying to show. just because i only ski recreationally doesn't mean i'm a bad skier. i just don't like to race. are they trying to say that the "low ratio" is more competitive then? or are they just saying, "low ratio correlates with high level of competition, well, isn't that odd. hmm."

  2. One of Kirsten's professors at HBS (kind of a nutjob, taught "negotiations") thought that you could completely predict someone's success in business by measuring finger lengths. It turns out that a person's testosterone level affects the relatives lengths of your fingers, so by measuring the lengths you're really getting a measurement of testosterone. Of course, he always held himself up as an example of how great you can be with super high testosterone. (We'll ignore the fact that, in business, the really ambitious people aren't trying to be professors.)

    Anyway, I assume it would be the same way with sports. Higher testosterone might equate to a greater ability to put on muscle and a higher level of competitiveness.

    My thumb is definitely my first finger! Not!

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