Friday, July 10, 2009

The Blog of Knowledge

Today is science and research day. Since I am the one with time on my hands and the rest of you are all pretty busy, I thought I would catch you up on some of the latest findings.

The first apple to fall on this little Newton's head this week comes from a couple of Australian researchers who have discovered that tall people make more money than short people. Talking about his study published in The Economic Record called "Does Size Matter in Australia?", Professor Andrew Leigh of the Australian National University said, "Our estimates suggest that if the average man of about 178 centimetres gains an additional five centimetres in height, he would be able to earn an extra $950 per year."

Let me translate for the Yanks. "If a 5-foot-10 guy grows to 6-feet, he could make another $740 a year."

Of course, the reverse will also be true. In these challenging economic times, when businesses are desperate to control costs, I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover companies that have ended up hiring only short people because they can pay them less. And of course, the bosses will look even taller in comparison so they will make even more money.

(And no, the researcher never did get around to explaining how a worker is supposed to be able to grow another 5 centimetres. That's probably the subject of another grant they're seeking.)

The study started out to discover if fat people made less, and it turns out they don't. Which may be because there are so many overweight people now they pretty much constitute most of the work force.

That's fairly good news because the real rub with all of this is that worrying about how much you're making is likely to make you overweight. In a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, a Harvard researcher named Jason Block has discovered that fat people tend to overeat when they're stressed. Jason studied 1355 people for nine years. I think he probably could have discovered the same information by asking three or four fat people at the diner this morning if they ate more or less when they were nervous.

This new research is especially interesting to me because for six months now my WiiFit trainer has been telling me that stress leads to obesity so I am not sure how groundbreaking the discovery really is. And for the sake of Harvard's integrity, I really hope Jason doesn't have a Wii at home.

And our final study today is one conducted in Scandinavia that discovered that people who have long marriages tend to stave off dementia better than those who live alone.

This one, however, may be in dispute. At least that's the case if you listen to Brian Kilmeade the host of Fox News' morning show, Fox and Friends. He complained that the study isn't relevant outside of Finland and Sweden, because ... well, I think it would be best to use his actual words:

"We keep marrying other species and other ethnics. . . . The problem is the Swedes have pure genes. They marry other Swedes, that's the rule. Finns marry other Finns; they have a pure society. In America we marry everybody. We will marry Italians and Irish."

I don't think there's much to say after that. But it's worth clicking on the link to check it out yourself. As one of his co-hosts mused, Brian seemed to be showing the early signs of dementia himself.

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