14 March 2011

Does Prenatal Testosterone Make You Smart?

Prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone turns out to be a relatively easy thing to measure because it manifests in a person's second to fourth digit ratio on their hands. Previous studies of digit ratio have suggest that this exposure may increase one's likelihood of being homosexual. A new study suggests that it may increase one's odds of having an IQ over 130, adding to prior work showing connections to primate social behavior, math test scores of seven year olds, and sports performance in women, to name just a few.

Scientists have also discovered a type of cell in the intestines that produces opium-like substances called tuft cells.

Also, in proof that probably dubious seeming experiments can produce good results, Japanese scientists have discovered that soaking superconductor material in Sake dramatically increases the rate at which the superconductors are produced. Further experimentation determined that superconductor materials prefer red wine to whiskey, suggesting that the alcohol itself is probably not the critical factor.


Alkibiades said...

This worries me very much. I have two recent male ancestors who were high-achievers and notably intelligent. Both of them were apparently masculine by measure of the visible, morphological correlates of low r2d4d. One of them was an accomplished pilot who retired with a fair amount of wealth, thanks to prudent investment. The other was less financially accomplished (perhaps in part due to a disagreeable personality), but had a notable career and was accepted to a prestigious school. In the case of the latter, one of his male siblings was even more successful, implying a genetic package of intelligence-boosting alleles.

Neither of my parents were very achieved, or exceptional. However, in the case of my father, he has significantly outperformed both of his siblings in earnings and career trajectory. My mother is far less capable, in almost all respects.

I've clandestinely measured the r2d4d of both of my parents, and have also measured my own. I'm disappointed to say that mine is very high, at 0.976. For a male child, this is quite an uncommon number; well beyond the mean for women. While I have always been very modestly gifted with words and memory, I am incredibly deficient in mathematics and logical performance. I have previously had my IQ tested, and though I know the number is above 120, I requested not to be given an exact number, out of a fear that it would haunt me. My assumption is that this floor was given because the score was quite close to it.

For a long time I have been bitter over my intellectual circumstances. The balance of my cognitive aptitudes is extremely (and uncommonly) unequal. Those natural skills which are most economically useful are also the very same that I am lacking. Because of my high verbal intelligence, I have spent my life befriending people who are much smarter than me, buoyed by my deceptive ability to converse with limited eloquence. Inevitably they all grow distant for my lack of achievement. Educated women rapidly reverse their enamored state when they realize that I'm incapable of matching my verbal wit in any other domain.

Ever since I first fell down the hole of reading studies like that which you have linked, I've wondered whether perhaps I do carry the genetic material for some of the traits I sorely lack, but have been robbed by the hormonal environment of my prenatal incubation. I'm really not sure how to proceed. I've become obsessed with the notion that I am unforgivably flawed, and that by chance I was denied a more fulfillingly illuminated conscious experience. To have two separate individuals of great ability and repute casting their shadow upon you, knowing that it is possible that you are carrying their unexpressed bounty, is too much to bear.

I can actively observe my gears grinding as I struggle to internalize complex concepts in programming, and philosophy. Higher maths are almost entirely out of the question for me. My moment-to-moment conception of life is noticeably incomplete. Most of the careers I hold in high esteem are things I am constitutionally incapable of pursuing (Law, STEM, etc. All I can do is observe, measure, and cry about my frustratingly tangible horizons.

Alkibiades said...

Of course, this is all without touching on the other measured benefits of having an r2d4d at or slightly below the mean (for a male). I lack initiative, I'm abominably effeminate in physical appearance, my sports and general physical abilities are embarrassingly poor, I'm obsequious and depressive. Worst of all, I am overwhelmed with a very guttural and non-abstract empathy, which frequently puts me at a competitive disadvantage. Statistically, it is likely that my fertility is reduced.

In consideration of all these setbacks, I'm not really sure what to do. For a long time I had hoped that PGS and careful management of my career and hypothetical parenthood could allow me to, in a sense, iteratively improve on who I am through a child; my end goal being to directly or indirectly contribute to bettering the world. At this point I realize that my fitness is so low that I'm not sure I'd ever be able to convince any sexual partner to participate. Meanwhile, my earnings may never reach the point necessary to fund such a venture.

What do I do? What would you do? Frankly, I'm on the verge of suicide. That's why I'm commenting here at 2:47 AM on a post nearly a decade old.