The Big Idea, and the Rise of the Finger

The Big Idea, and the Rise of the Finger

Until recently, people who did research on fingers either measured them or, if they were broken, repaired them. Then came an idea about what fingers might mean. Here is the idea in a six-part nutshell:

1. The body’s many hormones — chemical messengers — are involved in many things that happen in your body during fetus-hood, childhood and adolescence. These many things happen at various times, in various ways. 2. Each of these hormones has many different effects. Scientists have noticed some of these effects, and understand a few of them at least a little bit. 3. Testosterone is one of the many hormones. 4. Maybe testosterone somehow, at some time, affects how long various fingers grow. 5. Maybe the relative lengths of someone?s fingers tells something about how much testosterone was in the body at some point early in their life. 6. Maybe the amount of testosterone in someone?s body at some point early in their life affects lots of other things.

This simple idea is often credited to Dr. John Manning of the University of Liverpool. Dr. Manning is now one of the world’s great finger research celebrities (see “Finger Celebrities” elsewhere in this issue). The rest of this article is a too-quick look at what researchers have done with this idea, and at some other finger research.

That?s an excerpt from the article “The Meaning of the Finger,” published in AIR 13:5.

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