Maybe younger siblings aren't less intelligent, but simply too head shy to test well. (Disclaimer: I come from a large family. As the seventh of nine kids, I'm so far down the birth order that, according to this study, I'd be classified as nonhuman.)
Often scientific findings tell you more than researchers intend. A study that's gotten a lot of press these days is the recent finding that curvy women (women with, shall we say, more "generous" rear ends) may be smarter than skinny women, and will have smarter kids, as well. First, this study proves conclusively that scientists are pretty smart themselves, as evidenced by their insistence on calling heavier women "curvy" rather than the scientifically correct, but possibly dangerous, "large bottomed."
Secondly, the results were a foregone conclusion. No woman in the world, except, perhaps, Jennifer Aniston (and so very, very rightfully so), is happy with her rear end. I doubt very seriously that if the study had found the opposite to be true, they'd even publish the findings.
Were scientists to say publicly that women with larger rear ends were also dumber, the scientists wouldn't even make it out of the parking lot before being attacked by hordes of angry, insecure women with poor body images. All they'd leave behind would be a bloody trail of pocket protectors and wire-rimmed glasses.
One of the most common of these studies is the one they conduct on the effects of moderate drinking. Moderate drinking is almost impossible to define because every single person out there - whether they limit themselves to half a glass of wine at Christmas or drink themselves into a coma every night - considers themselves a "moderate" drinker. Admit it: Anybody who drinks less than you do is a no-fun stick-in-the-mud, and anyone who drinks more than you do is a lousy drunk.
But scientists (sort of) agree that "moderate" drinking is defined as no more than one drink a day, or seven a week. These experts (or, as I like to call them, stick-in-the-muds) say that moderate drinking raises your good cholesterol levels, lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes, acts as a blood thinner, and might even ward off dementia.
It's clear that there's more going on here than meets the eye. Of course drinkers have fewer heart attacks. Heart attacks are often brought about by stress, and it's hard to get stressed when you're basking in the buzz of a cold beer. Diabetes often comes from eating too much. It's hard to buy too much food when you have to remember to set aside money for beer. And dementia is often described as having a distorted view of reality. That, of course, is the whole point of beer. Moderate drinkers probably experience dementia at the same rate as teetotalers; it's just that they don't notice it so much.
Given that our scientists release a new report on the effects of moderate drinking approximately every 36 hours, I think what these studies really prove is that scientists really, really like to hang around with moderate drinkers. Moderate drinkers, unlike large-bottomed women or people who sit up straight, are pretty easygoing folk.
And because they are, by definition, only moderately interested in alcohol, they probably won't try to drink all your beer either.
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Copyright 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.