Let's study all these studies


A recent study led by a psychologist at the University of Bath reveals that the lengths of children’s fingers can give an idea on how they will fare when it comes to the College Board’s Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). Mark Brosnan, who led the study, said that children with ring fingers longer than their index fingers are more likely to test higher in the math part of the test, while those who have longer index fingers figure to do better in the verbal area.

I’ll pause for a second while everybody compares their finger sizes.

Better now? Good. According to an article listed on LiveScience.com, “Exposure to testosterone in the womb is said to promote development of areas of the brain often associated with spatial and mathematical skills ... That hormone makes the ring finger longer. Estrogen exposure does the same for areas of the brain associated with verbal ability and tends to lengthen the index finger relative to the ring finger.”

And all this time I thought fingers were just for typing insipid columns, reaching for coins stuck between my couch cushions and greeting inconsiderate drivers on Route 26.

Brosnan believes that further research on finger lengths could lead to other issues, such as technophobia, career paths and, possibly, dyslexia. By simply measuring the fingers of children, parents could begin to strengthen perceived weaknesses of children, and begin nurturing strengths. It could mean an improved future generation, one that excels because of that small tidbit of information garnered from the child’s phalanges.

Or, it could just mean your kid has a freaky finger.

To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of some of the research being done at various universities and think tanks. Oh, I’m a fan of academia, and am always interested in seeing the results of practically any test — regardless the subject matter. But when you take into account that much of this research is being done with the aid of federal grants and tuition increases, it would appear that many of these studies are a bit superfluous, if not downright goofy.

While I’m all for spending whatever money is necessary to solve diseases, or further improve the quality of life for future generations, I’m not so sure I need to see us spend so much money on studies that don’t directly impact ... anybody.

Last year, The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education put out its annual report card on higher learning. The report stated that the median family income in this nation has risen 127 percent since the early 1980s. During that same time period, college tuition and fees have risen 375 percent. Steve Urquhart, who wrote a blog on the subject, said that medical care has risen 223 percent over that same time period.

Does this all seem a bit skewed to you?

The socio-economic divide in this nation continues to increase as housing prices, medical care and tuition rise disproportionately to income. While a college education has certainly never been a given in this nation, it is even less so today — particularly for the middle class.

Yes, just like for research into the ability of long-fingered people to count faster than those with stubby digits, there are grants available for students to go to college. But many of these grants are earmarked for people of lower economic brackets. It’s terrific that it’s there, but it stinks that there aren’t an equal amount of grants for the middle class. Hence, the difficulties for many families to send their kids off to college. Of course, there are loan programs, but the interest rates and time for complete pay-offs are absolutely ridiculous in most instances, and it’s nearly impossible for a new graduate to both pay back loans and live anywhere other than their parents’ couch for the next few years while they deal with starting salaries.

Can any parents of teenagers please put up your hands right now if you look forward to your children moving back into your home after four years of college? Mom, put your hand down. I’m not a teenager anymore, and I can’t live on your couch. Of course, I did always like that chicken you made, as well as the endless supply of Hostess treats ...

But I digress.

Look, it’s great that universities are utilizing their faculty to conduct research and try to improve life for the rest of us, but shouldn’t there be some kind of filter, particularly when utilizing public monies?

Go on, raise your finger if you agree. The long one.