Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Crazy Science 101

Posted on November 17, 2007 by jimparedes


I am a big fan of science. I marvel at new inventions and cutting-edge technology, read about the latest gizmos and can talk about them for hours. But unashamedly, I must say that while good, solid science may impress me, what fascinates me more are the pseudo-sciences, conspiracy theories, exceptions-to-the-rule types of things and folk wisdom — the strange science that you hear from older people, or while shooting the breeze with friends, or from those with street smarts who spend their time observing other people and spinning personal theories about human behavior.

These are theories and conclusions that are astounding not only because they seem to be true but more so because they are so off-the-wall. How on earth they came to such conclusions may comprise even bigger mysteries than the theories themselves.

Oftentimes, these theories may not be airtight true, but could possibly be true. But if solid science requires 100-percent proof, a 50-50 probability is good enough for me. These are the kinds of theories that people send to the Myth Busters show on TV for verification. Here are some of them.

1) The strange but seemingly accurate theory that the size of one’s neck is half the size of one’s waist. And you can supposedly test this by zipping up a pair of pants and, while holding the waist end to end, you wrap it around your neck. If both ends touch at the back of your neck, then that’s your pants size.

I remember shopping a few years back at a department store in the US for a pair of trousers. A saleslady approached me as I was wrapping the folded waist of the pair of pants around my neck to see if it would fit me. The sales lady gave me a quizzical look and immediately asked what I was doing as she pointed to the dressing room. I explained that I did not have to try it on since I already knew the pair I was holding was too small. She looked at me in total disbelief. As I explained, I had her attention, which turned to fascination even as she laughed at the crazy science of the whole thing.

I am currently in Australia which, according to the radio news I heard awhile ago, now carries the dubious distinction of being “the fattest nation on earth.” Obesity is rampant here and this has me reexamining the pair-of-pants theory. Lately, every time I see any person who falls within the medical classification of “morbidly obese,” I automatically look at his waistline and then his neck to see if the theory has universal application.

It’s hard to tell, and in most cases, it could go either way. If anyone can prove or disprove this theory by actually measuring the trousers of a very fat person vis-à-vis his neck, I would appreciate it if you could share your findings with me.

2) When two people offer to pay the bill at a café counter, the one standing closest to the cashier ends up paying most of the time. This is a theory that my daughter offered for this article. She said she has observed this while watching people at the café where she works. This is good, valuable knowledge to know if you want to be politically correct and appear gracious (by offering to pay the bill) but not part with your hard-earned wages (by staying as far away from the cashier as possible). This way you save both face and money. I am assuming this is not just an Aussie trait but a universal one. It’s worth testing even just to debunk it.

3) Aussies, Brits and New Zealanders kiss tilting their heads to the right while Americans and Canadians tilt to the left. That’s according to Little Theories of Life by Peter Fitzsimons. Why is this? He claims it has something to do with whether the country where you learned to kiss (and drive) has the steering wheel on the left or the right side of the car. His theory assumes that most first kisses happen in the front seat of a car. When I told an acquaintance about this, she burst out laughing as she swore she noticed this the first time she was kissed in Australia.

Considering that we drive on the right, like the Americans, I am assuming we Pinoys probably kiss the same way. Unless of course your first kiss was in the back seat of a car… in which case you might have gotten more than a kiss!

4) The length of your forearm is the same length as the soles of your feet. This is true for me and for the members of my family here in Sydney. And if you want to know whether a pair of socks will fit you, wrap the part from toe to heel around your fist. If it covers your fist, it’s a sure fit. Please check and write me if this is true for you or not.

5) Here’s another theory from Fitzsimons: “All else being equal, the dominant partner in any sexual relationship will always sleep on the side of the bed closest to the most likely source of danger.” He notes that the exception to this is when there are young children. In such a case, the dominant partner will pass the job to the submissive one who will sleep beside the crying babies.

For couples who aren’t sure where they stand vis-à-vis one other, observe. This practice could settle once and for all who the dominant partner really is.

6) People with long ears will have long lives. This Filipino belief is supposedly proven by the number of old people with pronounced earlobes.

Many will point to this phenomenon as incontrovertible proof that the ear theory is correct. But think about it. Anyone who has lived, say, 80 years or longer, has had a greater share of the ravages of the earth’s gravitational pull, causing the sagging of their body parts. Thus, anything elongated without bone support will hang and look longer. We are, of course, talking about ears here.

7) In another of Fitzsimons’ tests to determine who is more dominant without having to be a voyeur in a couple’s bedroom, he states that between two right-handed people who are holding hands, the dominant person is the one who will be using his or her right hand to hold the partner’s left hand. According to Fitzsimons, this is because the dominant one will assume he can use his more comfortable hand to hold anything and the submissive one will give way.

8) Here’s something that many people swear by. It has really gone beyond theory and has solidified into belief: the notion that washing one’s hands after strenuous activity will cause the shakes, or pasma as we call it. Thus, people will wait a few hours after a hard game or a massage before taking a bath.

During my short but memorable stint working in an ad agency, we were looking for a creative pitch for a company that was marketing rubber gloves. How do you convince people to wear rubber gloves? And on what occasions? Our first instinct was to exploit the fear of pasma to get people to wear the gloves for certain activities like washing dishes. But when we researched the phenomenon of the shakes, to our surprise, we found no scientific evidence at all to back up this almost universally-accepted theory.

9) Finally, there is a theory, origin unknown, about sex in Australia. It says that if a newly dating couple puts a jelly bean in a jar every time they have sex, and once married continue to do so for the first 12 months, and then take out one jelly bean each time they have sex from thereon, they would never reach the bottom of the jar.

I don’t know about Aussies but I am sure this would not apply to Pinoys! We would be scratching the bottom of the jar in just a few weeks!

0 to “Crazy Science 101”

  1. Mabel says:

    Hi Jim,
    I like this post “Crazy Science 101″…gave me a grin and a lot of ideas to try and prove, harharhar. How was I first kissed? Hmmm…. curious now to find out how Aussies or Kiwis kiss. Should have read this before I accompanied a group of Kiwis to Pinatubo last week.

    Have a good day.

    Mabel

  2. menchiem says:

    true, true about the dominant partner and the right hand, my husband is the dominant one when it comes to our sleeping arrangement, and many other things. In a wedding at the altar though, I have forgotten – who gets to use the right hand?

  3. angel says:

    hi tito jim…i enjoyed this entry a lot. i’ve heard some of the theories you shared…like the one about the big ears. i do have huge ears and whenever i get my hair cut as a kid, parloristas always comment on them…that i will live a long life

    i want to share this theory i heard in college: clasp your hands together, and then see which thumb is at the top, if it’s the left one, then the right part of your brain is working more than the other, which also means that you’re more of an artistic person. when it’s your right one, then you’re better at the sciences.

    and here’s another thing i want to share with you all: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/. i chanced upon it while reading a magazine and got curious. it features experiments and gift ideas for the scientifically-inclined (in time for Christmas, eh). the site is basically for kids, but hey, shouldn’t we all be like kids to learn new things?hehe

    that’s all…have a good life.:)

  4. Mabel says:

    Hey Angel, when I clasped my hands together, the left thumb is over the right thumb…hmmm, now I’m thinking am I in the wrong career as a scientist? Hehehe It’s not too late then to take that voice or guitar lesson.;-P

  5. jimparedes says:

    Mabel, when I got married, I was on the left side but my wife insists I was on the right. ha ha. In other words, according to her, I am the dominant one. Who am I to argue? Have to dig up theose thirty year old pics.

    angel–according to your theory, I am an artist. Hmm..

  6. angel says:

    haha…good to know u tested my theory…:D

    btw, i’m more of a scientist daw…but i’m not so sure. i like to see myself as an artist. feelingera eh. 😀 that’s why i place my left thumb over my right one, on purpose, whenever i clasp my hands.:D

  7. Dawn says:

    Could you tell me who this Fitzsimons is and where to get some info on him?

  8. i always listen to radio news every morning in the same way that i always read the dail newspaper ~



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