The future is digital. So says Professor John Manning, a psychologist and self-styled “finger expert” who has developed an unsettling academic obsession with other people’s hands. He claims that he can inspect a stranger’s fingers – specifically his index and ring fingers – and instantly know whether or not they have an aptitude for running or football.
Manning is the author of The Finger Book which theorizes that in the early stages of pregnancy, fetuses are bombarded with sex hormones (testosterone and oestrogen) that affect the way they develop. Fetuses that are exposed to more testosterone, for instance, have a much better chance of becoming athletically superior to their less testosteronised contemporaries. Manning compares the length of the ring and index fingers and the ratio is the key. Finger ratios are calculated simply by measuring the index finger of the right hand, then the ring finger, and dividing the former by the latter The average man's ratio is about even or 0.98. Men with a ring-to-index lower than that, the author says, are better athletes.
NewScientist adds another dimention to the finger ratio phenominom: financial acuity.
Successful financial traders may be born, not made. That's the implication of a new study which found that traders who excel at short-term or "high-frequency" trading may have been exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the uterus. Last year, John Coates at the University of Cambridge, UK, and his colleagues found that traders who started their days with elevated testosterone made more money than those who didn't.
Again, the finger ratio is the key and, as with athletic prowess, the larger the ring-to-index ratio, the better the financial wizardry.
Previous studies have also suggested a link between a low index-to-ring-finger ratio and autism. They have found children with the disorder tend to have unusually long ring fingers, compared to their index fingers. This physical feature is associated with high levels of testosterone in the womb. Manning and his colleagues studied 49 children with full-blown autism and 23 with a milder variant of the condition, known as Asperger's syndrome. Manning's team found that children with autism had extremely long ring fingers compared to their index fingers, and children with Asperger's were not far behind.