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Pin-Heads vs. Fat-Heads


Broca's Brain on the North Dateline CC Meeting Field Trips: Cephlomorphometrics as an indicator of mental prowess has slipped out of fashion (see Gould's The Mismeasures of Man). But contemporary fashion, the baseball cap with the little 7-button plastic fastener on the back, permits observations of cranial perimeters in an unobtrusive manner. Such a survey was taken of members of the LTER coordinating committee and fellow travelers at the LTER CC Big-Alaska Shootout!

Here is how it works (the methods section of this little report). You count the number of buttons on the hat fastener that show. The possibilities are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Twenty cap wearers were approached from behind by this reporter (N=20) and tabulated on the spot! The mean was 2.4 beads showing plus or minus 1.273 (kurtosis -.582; skewness .151). Better run to the closet and check your hat to see where you fit. The histogram below gives the frequency distribution. Not bad for N=20. Y=frequency of buttons showing.

Cap size frequency histogram

Cap Buttons Showing

The NSF leadership on the field trip was approached from behind and tabulated as well. Results: smaller heads than the total population (mean = 2.0) and a variable lot (SD = 1.581). They have a large coefficient of variation compared to the total population 79.057 vs 53.050. But have zero skewness. Surprise! The NSF leadership group had the only 0 button subject (pinhead?) and the only 5 button subject (fathead?) Organizers of the CC meeting and field trips were also isolated and tabulated. 1.333 +/- .577 with a coefficient of variation of 43.301 (on the pinheadish side). It is noteworthy that the graduate student minions at Toolik lake scored a robust 3.667 +/- .577 with a 15.746 coefficient of variation. A number of the field trip participants were sans billed baseball cap. Observations indicate considerable cranial girth and a dullness of eyes thus indicating that a hats-that-don't-have-buttons hypothesis that would merit study. Statistics on gender or subfield of ecology were not taken (not PC), nor on family-way status. Because individual egos are involved, the data base for this study will not be put in network archives. You will have to live with the "meta data" in this report. As to the significance of the findings your really should read Gould's The Mismeasures of Man.

Reply: Pinhead or Fathead?

One of the Alaska CC meeting participants passes on this to all concerned about the hat-button classification. "I looked at all the hats in my closet and found that the number of buttons showing varied a lot." My. My. Here are some explanations.

  1. The hats are a long-term data base (the 6th core area of an LTER!) and should be viewed in their proper chronological sequence (a chronosequence). It is possible that the sequence will show a succession from fathead to pinhead or pinhead to fat head!
  2. Like the diameter of a tree there may be variations in head diameter proportional to the level of scientific production when the hat was last used.
  3. Graduate students, they come in all cephlometric dimensions, have had access to the hat collection and have used them in the mistaken belief in the osmosis theory of education.
  4. Graduate students, they come in all cephlometric dimensions, have had access to the hat collection and have used them in the mistaken belief in the theory of reverse osmosis.
  5. Hat button size on a specific day my be a function of days since last trip to the barber shop. Academics are notorious for stretching out the time between haircuts!
  6. Hat manufactures do not follow Hatcher-Capson-Dunce Baseball Cap Size Control Act of 1988. Violation of this federal law requires that the breacher run for the office of Vice President in the next available election. There was only one law breacher in 1992! There is a substantial rush to the old, non-plastic-fastener, baseball cap. This may be due to the now recognized and feared pinhead to fathead scale that was a product of LTER research. The old style hat had a small white hat size tag inside with a hat-size resolution in eighths like the stock market. These hat sizes are not visible to the public. The return of the old style caps may also be because they cost a lot more and the marginal profits are better. Who would pay $22.75 for a baseball cap? LTER, thick-skinned cheapskates will probably continue to wear the size-detectable, plactic-fastener, style cap they have come to depend on.

All Scientist Meeting: Cephlometric Survey

The CED cephlometric survey taken on the Alaska Pipeline Highway and in the environs of Toolik Lake has been called into question. The question comes from a closet survey. An intrepid CED reader went to his closet and found ballcaps for all occasions. His caps with the plastic cephlometer for the one-size-fits-all cap-attribute were not identical. He found that some of his cap gave a cranial estimate of three hole others said as much as six hole. As a result it will be necessary to bring to Estes Park an official CED cephlometer. It will be displayed in the poster hall and all can come, measure and rejoice. Results will appear in the following CED.

LMER Hu? = 0.052 #!!@$&^ @#*!

The question mark in the title of this piece is to help facilitate the pronunciation of Hu. With the ? (interrogative) the pronunciation of Hu becomes Huh!

Hu stands for the Hobbie Unit.

#!!@$&^ @#*! on the other hand is a Pacific Northwest peculiarity.

Some explanation is obviously required. The Hobbie Unit is measured in radians and was determined at the 1993 LMER annual meeting to be 0.052 radians. This yet-to-be-proved constant is one-half of the difference in baseball cap sizes required by John Hobbie when he is

  1. Thinking hard
  2. Thinking about LMER administrative stuff.

It is a measure of radial deformation and is equal to one post unit in a Portland Trail Blazers baseball cap. The Portland Trail Blazers are not a baseball team. CED readers of my writings on cephlomorphometrics at the All Scientist Meeting in Estes Park will recall that some LTER participants refused to wear the University of North Carolina baseball cap I used in that cranial survey. The reasons had to do with hubris and chauvinism and Duke's recent national championships in basketball.

At the LMER annual meeting in Seaside, Oregon (that is near Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River) there was concern about wearing any baseball cap at all. It didn't matter what logo rested above the brim. In Ecotopia the baseball cap has become very not-PC! Apparently, loggers have been seen wearing them! In Ecotopia it is not green to be seen wearing our national hat. The greener-than-Thou types in Ecotopia call our national hat the #!!@$&^ @#*!

(Cryptographers. The last "! " is real, a punctuation mark, while the first two stand for letters used by literate people in constructing words).

For non-cryptographers, Stephanie Martin, Si Simenstad and all the Columbia River LMER graduate students know the solution to this little puzzle because they found the time, wearing aren't-we-bad grins, to tell me about the lexicon of this homegrown Ecotopian bigotry.

It was my good luck that the actual cranium-fitting and size-recording took place in the basement of the Shilo Hotel at Seaside and LMER participants from the northwest were not likely to be seen wearing the national hat. John Hobbie, who commissioned this cephlomorphometry, on setting his eyes on the Portland Trail Blazer baseball cap and contemplating his own fitting, said, "This isn't going to be big enough." It was. John's head was 0.1560 Hu? smaller than he thought it was. I continued my work. Measurements were taken, statistics were calculated, overheads were made and an after-dinner cephlo-talk given.


A good time was had by all at the Hobbie Roast.

The Carolina and Blazers hats were subject to the tape measure and caliper and were cross-calibrated. The Blazers Hu? of 0.052 was matched against a Carolinian Hu? of 0.055. Hobbie in the Blazers cap locked in on the third post. My records indicate that Hobbie in Carolina locked in on the 5th post.

With these constants I converted LTER Estes Park truth into LMER Shilo truth. I have been contacted by the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N. J. to submit this math-teaser for the 1994 edition of the SAT. Any of you have juniors in High School this year? LTER graduate students had on average 0.01265 Hu? smaller heads than PIs. LMER graduate students also showed pinheadedness relative to their PIs. Our best data is for the Columbia LMER site. They were the home team and brought lots of van-driving graduate students. These upstarts were a big 0.1040 Hu? smaller than their mentors! No LTER had such a cap-gap for the student-mentor chasm. It seem clear that there is a yet-to-be-consumated brain-filling marathon needed in Spotted Owl country. The Andrews LTER site was the most fatheaded of all the LTER sites and were deemed obvious candidates to fill Washington NSF posts where they would feel at home. LMER's fatheads were the folks at the Columbia River site. The Pacific Northwest is clearly the home of the fatheads. Andrews graduate students came in at a 0.0760 Hu?, a significant but not worrisome cap-gap. CDR's LTER won the pointed contest for most pinheaded among sites with 0.0183 Hu? smaller crainal deformation than the next most small-minded of sites Arctic Tundra. Please remember that these numbers are relative to John Hobbie's head. It is sort of a departure from Hobbieness.

Two LMERs were locked in a dead, pinhead heat: Chesapeake Bay and Waquiot Bay both came in 0.0728 Hu? smaller than John Hobbie. It should be noted that John Hobbie was only 0.0208 Hu? more fatheaded than the average 120 guests sampled at the Estes Park All Scientist meeting. This means that LMER heads relative to LTERites, with the exception of the Columbia River site, could audition for Saturday Night Live Cone-Head skits. This pinheadedness of LMERhood can only mean that streamlining is selected-for at marine sites.



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