Daily Archives: December 11, 2009

Woo Begins in the Womb

Are you a bit girly?

Did you know that the ratio of length of your ring finger to your index finger is a marker for the amount of testosterone you were exposed to as a foetus? Testosterone is part of the process that turns little girls into little boys (that’s one of the reasons that men have nipples!). In males the ring finger is typically longer than the index finger and the larger that ratio, the more butch you are. It also turns out that the more butch you are, the less likely you are to believe in the supernatural.

recent study of  over a thousand Austrian men and women found that  a correlation between the digit ration and supernatural belief. Martin Voracek, a psychologist at the University of Vienna, found that the ratio of length of the ring finger to the index finger predicted belief. Voracek found that “higher feminized” digit ratio in men correlated with stronger paranormal and superstitious beliefs, even when controlled for age, education, adult height and weight, and birth length and weight. Shorter feminized digit ratios in women correlated with more superstitious beliefs, as did a woman’s lighter weight at birth. So it would appear that there is some biological basis for individual differences in supernatural beliefs as I have pointed out in SuperSense.

When I wrote a guest article for the Skepchik Blog, about why there are more female believers in woo, I got slammed down by a whole bunch of naysayers, (especially one sarky commentator) claiming that it was all to do with environment. Well, of course, there is usually some role of environment but if you haven’t figured by now, there is a little bit of the nativist about me.


Filed under Research, supernatural