Introducing the study of: Physiotypepathopsychognomy

There are so many ‘ologies’ in this piece one need only preface. (Sorry for the pun on Physiognomy.)
       The survey question asked: Do you feel it more important to place importance on the environment or on what is good for big business?
       
       The response was: tilt!
       
       The question was a comparison that leads to a conclusion on its own and imparts meaning in the comparison far greater than the meer joining of two distinctly different concepts.
       
       Regardless if one considers big business to be a bad thing and the environment to be a good thing; big business, as a whole needs a good environment or its natural resources would dry up. Environment is good business for big business. But to imply that big business is not good for the environment is to instill the desired response upon a question seeking opinion. It creates its own answer.
       
       Introducing the study of: Physiotypepathopsychognomy.
       
       Loosely translated, the study of Physiotypepathopsychognomy is the study of physical types based in emotionally contrived mental disasters.
       
       Practitioners thereof are known by the term ‘QUACK’.
       
       The latest such practitioner arises from the otherwise prestigious halls of the University of Alberta. Dr. Peter Hurd, a psychologist (of course) has a fixation with following in the footsteps of such scientific giants as Johann Kaspar Lavater, Franz Joseph Gall, Johann Spurzheim, Giambattista della Porta, Sir Thomas Browne and Religio Medici.
       
       Brown, writing in ‘Christian Morals, circa 1675’ esposed, “Since the Brow speaks often true, since Eyes and Noses have Tongues, and the countenance proclaims the heart and inclinations; let observation so far instruct thee in Physiognomical lines….we often observe that Men do most act those Creatures, whose constitution, parts, and complexion do most predominate in their mixtures.” [1] The jokester, he.
       
       Hurd, with absolute seriousness, studied surveys and hand measurements of 300 U of A undergraduates. He published the results in Biological Psychology.
       
       “‘More than anything, I think the findings reinforce and underline that a large part of our personalities and our traits are determined while we’re still in the womb,’ said Dr. Hurd.” [2]
       
       So what ‘parts’ is Hurd talking about?
       
       Fingers. “Physio”.
       
       In a completely non-politically correct examination, Hurd studied the lengths of index and ring fingers of males. “‘Finger length [type] can tell you a little bit about [patho] where personality comes from [psychognomy], and that’s what we are continuing to explore.'” [2]
       
       “It has been known for more than a century that the length of the index finger relative to the ring finger differs between men and women, says Hurd.” [2]
       
       Well by golly, then there must be some relationship to why it differs. Right?
       
       And that must have something to do with, ah… well… personality? Why not?!? We might as well have concluded that foot size matches something else; arm length means something else; neck width means something else; nose length means something else; the width of the eyes means something else; the bumps on the head mean something else; the list goes on and on. And it did.
       
       “Notions of the relationship between an individual’s outward appearance and inner character are as old as time, and are occasionally reflected in early Greek poetry. The first indications of a developed theory appear in fifth century Athens, where one Zopyrus was said to be expert in the art. By the fourth century, the philosopher Aristotle makes frequent reference to theories of the sort, and also to some sort of literature.” [1]
       
       “The first systematic treatise on physiognomy to survive to the present day is a slim volume Physiognomica (English: Physiognomics), ascribed to Aristotle, but probably of his “school” rather than by the philosopher himself. It is divided into two parts, conjectured to have been originally two separate works. The first section passes over arguments drawn from nature or other races, and concentrates on human behavior. The second section focuses on animal behavior, dividing the animal kingdom into male and female types. From these are deduced correspondences between human form and character.” [1]
       
       “The principal promoter of physiognomy in modern times was the Swiss pastor Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) who, for a short while, was a friend of Goethe. Lavater’s essays upon physiognomy were first published in German in 1772 and gained great popularity. His essays upon physiognomy were translated into French and English and were highly influential. The two principal sources from which Lavater found ‘confirmation’ of his ideas were the writings of the Italian Giambattista della Porta (1535-1615) and the English physician and philosopher Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), whose Religio Medici Lavater read and praised.” [1]
       
       “The popularity of physiognomy grew throughout the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century. It influenced the descriptive abilities of many European novelists, notably Balzac; meanwhile, the ‘Norwich connection’ to physiognomy developed in the writings of Amelia Opie and the traveller and linguist George Borrow, besides a host of other nineteenth century English authors, notably the highly descriptive passages of characters and their physiognomical appearance in the novels of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy.” [1]
       
       One thing in common between a leading poll question and a pseudoscience lies in Characterology.
       
       “Characterology is a method of character reading developed in the 1920’s that attempted to combine revised Physiognomy, reconstructed Phrenology, and amplified Pathognomy with ethnology, sociology, and anthropology. Designed by L. Hamilton McCormick, it was an attempt to produce a scientific, objective, system to determine character of an individual. Characterology attempted to fix problems in the phrenological systems of Dr. Francis Joseph Gall and Spurzheim. McCormick tried to distance himself from those systems, and wrote extensively about how his system differed and improved upon their systems. McCormick suggested that uses for characterology included guiding parents and educators, guidance in military promotion of officers, estimation of the kind of thinking patterns one has (whether a reasoner, or a memorizing brain), a way to judge commercial associates and competitors, guide to hiring, and a guide to marriage selection.” [3]
       
       What you see must be what you get. What you get must be what is causing what you see. Right?!?!
       
       But “Personology, is a recent “New Age” variant of the ancient pseudoscience of Physiognomy, which is closely related to the disproved study of Phrenology. It is a system of face reading that purports to show a correlation between a person’s physical features and appearance, and the person’s behavior, personality and character. Mainstream science considers personology to be a wholly false pseudoscience.” [4]
       
       Back to Hurd.
       
       “In their study, they found there were no correlations between finger lengths and people who are prone to exhibit verbally aggressive, angry, or hostile behaviors, but there was a correlation to physically aggressive behavior. Hurd is conducting ongoing research in this area, including a study that involves measuring hockey players’ finger lengths and cross referencing the results with each player’s penalty minutes.” [2]
       
       Pause for a moment to recover.
       
       When will the study begin on other sports that are to Hurd, aggressive?
       
       “Personology is said by Naomi Tickle, the founder of the International Centre for Personology, to have been developed in the 1930s by Edward Vincent Jones, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Jones purportedly noted the behavioral patterns of those who appeared in his court, began taking notes and eventually convinced himself that he could predict people’s behavior from observing their facial features. Fascinated by his apparent discovery, Jones dropped his judicial work and began “researching” the field using earlier literature published about the subject by notable authors such as Johann Kaspar Lavater. Jones is said to have compiled a list of 200 different facial features, which he later narrowed down to 68. There is no evidence that Jones conducted any controlled scientific experiments in attempt to eliminate influences of self-deception or confirmation bias. After seeing Jones perform a cold reading on his wife, Robert L. Whiteside, a newspaper editor, became an ardent supporter of personology and is said by Tickle to have ‘done the science’ proving the validity of personology in an experiment that “used 1,068 subjects and found the accuracy to be better than 90%”. Whiteside’s alleged study appears nowhere in any of the scientific literature.” “There is nothing known to medical science or any of its subdivisions such as neuroscience, which support any of the claims of personology or its supposed explanations.”[4]
       
       “‘Finger lengths explain about five percent of the variation in these personality measures, so research like this won’t allow you to draw conclusions about specific people,’ says Dr. Hurd. ‘For example, you wouldn’t want to screen people for certain jobs based on their finger lengths,’ he notes. ‘But finger length can tell you a little bit about where personality comes from, and that’s what we are continuing to explore.'” [2]
       
       Pause for a moment to recover.
       
       Apparently, Hurd [5] wants the ability to see causes so badly that he imposes the result on what he sees, as if what he sees is the cause of what he sees.
       
       Too bad. Such process results in the motive, results in the process, results in imposing the cause upon the motive.
       
       Hurd is a member of the Comparative Cognition and Behaviour group of UofA. “Researchers in this area attempt to understand the fundamental aspects of cognition in nonhuman animals. Areas of investigation include attention, memory, learning, visual-spatial processing, songbird acoustic communication, object recognition, navigation and timing.” [6]
       
       Tilt!
       
       
       References:
       [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physiognomy
       [2] http://health.dailynewscentral.net/content/view/000467/51/
       [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Characterology
       [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personology
       [5] http://www.psych.ualberta.ca/~phurd/
       [6] http://www.psych.ualberta.ca/research/cc.html