September 11, 2008 | 23 Comments
Global warming doesn’t cause baldness in men. At least, I haven’t seen anybody claiming this. Yet.
No, I’m talking about the little-known theory of intelligence and hair length. For a long time, really since biblical times and the legend of Sampson, scientists thought that with hair came power. A full head of hair was associated with sophistication, creativity, and brilliance. Look at Einstein, scientists used to say, full of hair and clever ideas.
Leading scientists of our own time know about this theory, of course, and carefully tend to their tresses in an attempt to maintain their intellectual prowess. Think of Stephen Pinker or that guy who wrote Blink.
However, it turned out that the theory was only mostly true. It was discovered in 1982 that men who possessed a variant of the gene arylacetamide deacetylase-like 5 would lose hair as they aged and that, surprisingly, hair loss was directly associated with intelligence because of quantum physics. As pattern baldness developed in these men, their heads would, naturally, become less protected from a specific kind of cosmic radiation.
This radiation, no longer blocked from getting inside the head, seeps in and impacts synaptic junctions, breaking them down. The effect is cumulative: the more radiation you are exposed to, the dumber you get. Men with this gene literally lose their hair and their minds.
A case study is the following scientist. To preserve his anonymity we will call him “Dr. X.”
You can see that he has lost most of his protective covering. This man, when he had his hair was an eminence in his field and one mean physicist. However, with the parting of his hair, came the inevitable.
For example, one of his colleagues relates the story that he went looking for Dr X after a seminar but he couldn’t be found anywhere. The colleague admits that it was his turn to watch after Dr X and that Dr X would occasionally wander off if not supervised, but he was as shocked as everybody else when, several days later, Dr X turned up in an English courtroom! Even more bizarre was that Dr X was there to support six Greenpeace members who vandalized a building of a private company they didn’t like (many Greenpeace members are also bald).
The story doesn’t end there, unfortunately. In the courtroom, Dr X was able, by painting a bleak and apocalyptic scenario, convince the jury that the criminals, while guilty, should go free. Sadly, the jurors did not know about the relationship between hair and intelligence were frightened by Dr X’s tale of woe. They thought it better to give him what he wanted lest they upset him unduly.
This saga becomes personal because it turns out that my friend Anthony Watts knows Dr X and has publicly called for Dr X to be fired. If you know Watts, you know he is a perfectionist and wants everybody to perform at top level, so his plea is understandable.
But I think firing is too harsh. After all, what has happened to Dr X is not his fault; he is not responsible for his actions. Certainly, his colleagues should pay closer attention to where Dr X goes and what he tells outsiders, but he has done a good and long service and so should be taken care of because of this. Besides, Anthony, while you still have your hair, you might also possess arylacetamide deacetylase-like 5, so look out!
Oh yes. Those men who have another variant of the gene—about 1% of the population—might also experience male pattern baldness, but in their cases the cosmic radiation actually strengthens their brains. I think this is happening to me, but just in case, I always wear a hat.
Update: A person whom I respect chided me, as he probably should have, and asked why I was being so hard on certain people.
My friend deserves an answer. This is what I told him
Most probably [I am too harsh because of] a character flaw or some other weakness in my personality.
In this case, maybe not. Dr X testified for the defense in a criminal trial. A trial of admitted criminals, that is. He did not testify that the accused were not at the scene of the crime, or that witnesses were mistaken in their identify, or that the six were out of their minds. He instead excused their crime because the earth might get too hot.
Since Dr X believes these six should be allowed to get away with their crime, it is only natural to ask what other crimes would he excuse. Defacing private property? Destroying public or private property? Physical intimidation? Violence?
My view is that Dr X, who is aware of his celebrity status, acted inappropriately. If he wanted to use the trial as a means to promote his views without actually taking part in the proceedings, then I would not have objected—I have nowhere said that people should not express their opinion on this or any topic. But his views on global warming are absolutely irrelevant to whether the six were guilty or innocent.
Dr X opened himself to ridicule by overstepping his bounds. I have never said, and do not say, that Dr X’s theories are mistaken or outside the bounds of possibility. I do say, and often say, that he is too certain of himself, as are many other experts and scientists. Naturally, these scientists do not think themselves too certain. Ordinarily, this would not be especially harmful, but in the case of global warming, well, people are beginning not to be able to see straight.
But if I hurt Dr X’s feelings, then I apologize.