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THE BIG BUTT THEORY OF INTELLIGENCE: THE GLUTEUS MAXIMUS AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO INTELLIGENCE

Notes from and emergency room doctor: The media has been busy roiling up controversy over the scientific research that authors Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein outlined in their book, "The Bell Curve." The book discusses the correlation between intelligence and success in life. That's not a shocker. But it goes on to declare that this nation's population is divided into a "bell curve" with a small ruling "intellectual elite" at one end, a huge middle class of mid-intelligence and, at the other end, an intellectual underclass of 12.5 million Americans who lack the gray matter to make any headway up the social ladder.

Many are wagging the naughty finger of racism at the authors because they place the majority of American blacks into this inherently disadvantaged intellectual underclass. The debate over the merits of the book has also boiled over from science into public policy. Many are questioning whether social action programs like welfare and affirmative action serve to lift up the disadvantaged or serve to merely encourage reproduction by dullards and put the intellectually inferior into leadership positions.

I prefer to think of success in life as more of a "turtle and the hare" contest. It's not who's smartest or fastest that always wins. More often it's the one who perseveres the most. No one should allow a number on an IQ test or any statistician's theories to dictate one's goals in life. And as for our many social action programs, there are plenty of criteria around to debate their worthiness without concerning ourselves with bell curves. Nevertheless, I would like to add to the controversy of who among us is most intelligent by expanding upon a scholarly article about evolution and intelligence written by Dr. Alfred Jay Bollet, Professor of Medicine at Yale University. Dr. Bollet discussed "The Relationship of the Gluteus Maximus to Intelligence." In layman terms, the "gluteus maximus" is our rear end, our butt.

The greatest evolutionary change in intelligence came with bipedal motion, that is, when man began to walk upright. Chimpanzees have brain sizes of 325-650 cc; Java man had a brain 800-900 cc; Neanderthal man reached 1100 cc; and Modern man ranges around 1200-1500 cc. Anthropological evidence shows that increased brain size and intelligence corresponded to anatomical changes in the rest of the skeleton, particularly the shape of the pelvis and the growth of the gluteus maximus, the main extensor muscle of the hip, which allowed the hip joint to extend and support the trunk upright. This evolutionary change permitted full-time bipedal motion, freeing up the hands to use tools instead of assisting in walking. The use of hands in turn led to the development of more sophisticated intellectual achievements like writing and art with corresponding development of the cerebral cortex, the thinking part of the brain.

Just as Dr. Murray's "Bell Curve" contains scientific hypothesis, I don't think it's unreasonable to make a hypothesis of my own. Since development of the gluteus maximus was an important part in man's intellectual growth, perhaps as we become more dependent on our interaction with computers, those that are able to tolerate sitting longer in front of video display terminals will of necessity develop larger brains and greater intelligence. Obviously, those that are able to sit longer will have larger butts. Hence, a "big butt" will be the advantageous characteristic for "future man." I'm sure, however, there will be plenty of controversy about Dr. Pollack's "big butt theory" of intelligence.