I Must Be REALLY Dumb

Researchers at Princeton University recently released the results of a study that attempts to explain why tall people earn more money than their shorter peers. Earlier studies have attributed this phenomenon to social discrimination - taller people are perceived as more powerful and authoritative and therefore get better jobs. The new study says it's more basic - taller people are smarter.

Their findings indicate that as early as age 3 (presumably before societal pressures start affecting the outcome), taller children do better on cognitive tests. Ergo, taller people are inherently smarter.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am 4'10". According to the study, I should be as dumb as a bag of hammers. But I'm going to assume for a moment that I'm somewhat intelligent while I take a critical look at their study.

  • Relative height at age 3 does not necessarily correspond to height in adulthood. I was much higher in height percentile until about age 8. I've also known several people who had a massive growth spurt, going from being one of the shortest kids to being one of the tallest kids.
  • On a related note, exactly HOW do you assess the intelligence of a 3-year-old? Three is an age where kids are sticking things up their noses, eating dirt, and consistently putting their underpants on backwards. Not exactly smart behavior to begin with.
  • They included a CYA statement that, since the data included only people in the US and UK, their conclusions "could not be applied to other regions". Presumably because they have no way of explaining why, for example, the Japanese are kicking our asses in the realm of intelligence, since the Japanese are, on average, shorter than Americans.
  • Finally, and this is a biggie, how does one objectively measure the intelligence of a person? Ask ten people to define "intelligent" and you'll get ten different answers. And for each answer, you can probably come up with at least one reason why the answer does not necessarily indicate intelligence. If we can't even agree on what constitutes intelligence, how can we measure it?

On the other hand, the study findings may explain the following conversation I had with a coworker the other day:
Coworker: "Where are you from originally?"
Me: "Little Rock, Arkansas."
Coworker: "How did you end up here?"
Me: "I went to graduate school here and stayed after I graduated."
Coworker: "Which school did you go to?"
Me: "Duke."
Coworker: "Oh, so you ARE smart."
I love back-handed compliments.

In knitting news, I am getting ready to start a pair of mock-cable socks. Assuming, of course, that I'm not too dumb to count to eight reliably.

[Listening to: "The Pageant of the Bizarre" by Zero 7]

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