Anatomy And Physiology

Anatomy Physiology

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There are times when I'm exploring the topics here at Helium when I run across something that really makes me scratch my head in astonished wonder. This is one of those topics.

Before I get snippy in dealing with this "issue", let me make one thing abundantly clear - there is absolutely NO association between the size of a person's ears and their intelligence. None. Zero. Nada. Trust me on this - I actually went to Medical School and now devote my life to studying the human body and how it works.

If there was a link between ear size and intelligence, some professor would have lectured on it, given me a two foot tall stack of single-spaced notes written in a 6-point font, complete with references to the appropriate research, and tested me on it until I could estimate a person's literacy level by taking a specially designed micrometer and measuring the diameter of the pina to a thousandth of an centimeter. Alas, no such device exists.

The hypothesis put forth relating ear size to intelligence states that larger ears are better able to pick up sound, which is essentially a form of data. The increased data input to the brain in turn makes a person more intelligent. There are so many problems with this idea that it is hard to know where to begin in addressing the flaws.

First let's address the anatomical issue. Larger ears simply do not allow a person to hear better. The organs which process sound are found inside the ear. The external part of the ear which is visible and subject to being punctured with numerous tiny holes, that are then used to dangle shiny pieces of metal from the ends, is by-and-large purely cosmetic. The size of the external ear cartilage may vary about 10% from person to person. Certainly you don't see some people with ears measuring only on inch, which others drag around two feet of floppy ear tissue hanging precariously from the side of their skull. At least not without surgery.

This minor variation in size means that the very limited parabolic dish effect created by the shape of your external ear is virtually assured to have no effect on the wide variety of sounds entering the ear canal.

The next problem is distinguishing between audio input to the brain and intelligence. Even IF there was evidence that larger ears allowed more sound to enter the brain, there is little reason to suspect that this would raise a person's intelligence. Just because Little Timmy "Dumbo Ears" Johnson can hear a dog barking two hundred miles away while he's sitting in the eye of a Category 5 hurricane, does not mean that he's going to win a Nobel Prize for discovering a cure for lung cancer. In fact, you could argue that the enhanced sensory perception of sound would make Little Timmy a bit crazy. I mean, who really wants to hear a symphony in New York when you are trying to have a quiet dinner in Los Angeles?

Now, just to play the Devil's Advocate, let's again assume for a moment that the relationship is real. If this were the case, there would be quite literally millions of parents around the country who would go to great lengths to increase the ear size of Little Jenny Microears.

Websites would begin popping up offering natural ear enhancements. "Larger, stronger ears can be yours for only $49.99! Call Now!"

"Don't let your child fall behind in school! Give him or her the advantages the other kids have with the revolutionary, scientifically tested, wall-mounted Ear-Stretch-O-Matic! Just 30 minutes a day hanging like a bat from the ceiling can add inches a month to their ear size! Hurry while supplies last!"

For people who are unlikely to purchase a commercial your enhancement product, there are always homemade solutions. Here's a clever and cost-effective way to get more sound into the ears of our youth. Get two of those plastic cones they put on dogs next to keep them from licking themselves. Small ones work better. Used tape, staples, or a hot glue gun to stick a small opening of the plastic cone over the ears of the child. This provides a fantastic lateral acoustic enhancement, at the expense of being constantly mocked for looking like a complete idiot. But hey, every medical treatment has its side effects, right?

If you'd like to go more high-tech, get one of those parabolic dishes used on the sidelines of sporting events to hear what's happening on the field. With a little creative sewing, addition be mounted on the front of your child's sweaters and shirts. Headphones connecting the 2 foot wide plastic dome to your years round out the solution. Audio input can be increased by at least 4000%, virtually assuring your child an acceptance letter to Harvard. Warning: rain, snow or water of any kind is likely to electrocute person wearing such device.

Some of this may seem a bit silly, however it is no sillier than the idea of your site is being associated with intelligence. There are many factors which go into making and a person intelligent, but your size is not one of those factors.

More about this author: Erich Rosenberger M.D.

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