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Tonight I’d like to give all the listeners who don’t want to hear about the iPhone the finger. Well, a finger primer, that is. We’ll get to why
it’s important in a moment…

For the purpose of this BarretTime, we’ll count the thumb as the first finger. Ours is opposable, though contrary to popular belief, we’re not the only species with this trait. The Bornean Oranguan has them, as do Gorillas, chimpanzees and the lesser apes. The opposable thumb has helped the human species develop more accurate fine motor skills.

The next finger is the index finger, aka the pointer finger, forefinger, digitus secondus or digitus two.

Next up we have the middle finger, the third digit of the human hand. It is also known as the third finger, digitus medius, digitus tertius, or digitus three. In western culture, extending the middle finger is, more often than not, construed as offensive, because, according to wikipedia, it symbolizes a certain part of the male anatomy.

The fourth digit of the human hand is the ring finger.

The names of the ring finger in many languages reflect an ancient belief that it is a magical finger. It is named after magic or rings, or called nameless. In Old English, it was called the Leech Finger. In japanese, kusuri-yubi, or the medicine finger. In German, it’s the Doctor’s finger.

Many cultures avoided the true name of a powerful entity, and referred to this finger indirectly or, as I mentioned before, nameless. This holds true for the Bulgarian, Cantonese, Finnish, Persian and Russian languages.

And lastly, we have the little finger, often called the pinky in American English, from the Dutch word pink, meaning little finger. It is also called the anti-thumb, the fifth finger, the baby finger, or the fourth finger. A pinky promise (also known as a pinky swear) is made when a person wraps one of their pinky fingers around the other person’s pinky and makes a promise. Traditionally, it’s considered binding, the idea being that the person who breaks the promise must cut off his or her pinky finger. In a similar vein, among members of the Japanese yakuza (gangsters), the penalty for various offenses is removal of parts of the little finger (known as yubitsume).

Also in Japan, holding up a pinky while speaking of two people signifies that they are in a relationship. This pinky substitution is considered vulgar and old-fashoned, however, and in some anime scenes is intentionally used to enhance its silliness.

The importance of this is that you now know the difference between your index and ring fingers.

A survey of academics at the University of Bath has found that male scientists typically have a level of the hormone oestrogen as high as their testosterone level.

These hormone levels are more usual in women than men, who normally have higher levels of testosterone.

The study draws on research which suggests that these unusual hormone levels in many male scientists cause the right side of their brains, which governs spatial and analytic skills, to develop more strongly.

The study, which has been submitted to the British Journal of Psychology, also found that:

-These hormonal levels may make male scientists less likely to have children.

-Those men with a higher level of oestrogen were more likely than average to have relatives with dyslexia, which may in part be caused by hormonal

-Women social scientists tended to have higher levels of testosterone, making their brains closer to those of males in general.

The study drew on work in the last few years which established that the levels of oestrogen and testosterone a person has can be seen in the relative length of their index and ring fingers. The ratio of the lengths is set before birth and remains the same throughout life.

The length of fingers is genetically linked to the sex hormones, and a person with an index finger shorter than the ring finger will have had more testosterone while in the womb, and a person with an index finger longer than the ring finger will have had more oestrogen. The difference in the lengths can be small – as little as two or three per cent – but important.

So here is the big broad stroke: If you’re a male and your ring finger is longer than your index finger, you are predisposed to be better at math and spatial relations. IT departments everywhere will slow down tomorrow as they all compare finger lengths…

That’s it for your finger four one one and that’s that for BarretTime.

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