Reaction to cold winters breeds revolutionaries Winter babies make hott est revolutionaries

Trotsky, Lenin and Stalin were all born in winter
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The Independent Online
If you want to start a revolution, then it helps to be born during the winter. According to a report in today's issue of the scientific journal Nature, revolutionaries tend to have their birthdays between October and April, whereas May to September is the season for reactionaries.

As it is a scientific journal, the revolutions of interest to Nature are relativity and evolution. Although both are now accepted without question, each subject generated intense controversy at the time.

The theory of evolution even contributed to the suicide of the man who had been Charles Darwin's companion on the celebrated voyage of the Beagle to the Pacific, which led Darwin to develop his ideas.

The theory of relativity was still being denied as late as the Seventies by the late Herbert Dingle, then professor emeritus at University College London.

Michael Holmes, of Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh, looked at the biographies of researchers who "took and maintained a committed position from an early stage" on these scientific controversies.

He discovered that out of 10 famous proponents of relativity, eight were born during the months of December, January and March. All 10 were born during the period October to April.

In contrast, only two anti- relativists were born during the winter season.

But Dr Holmes does not believe his result gives any credence to astrology. Instead, he is more interested in the simple fact that all his subjects were born in Europe and North America, where it is dark and cold during the winter months.

Without electric light and central heating, he points out, "the winter-born revolutionary would have been restrictively swaddled, but with the coming of the summer he would have experienced more freedom to explore on his own initiative.

"On the other hand, the summer-born non-revolutionary would have enjoyed more freedom at first, when less able to use it, but would have been constrained the following winter, when ready to extend his explorations."

Does the effect extend from scientific to political revolutions? A quick check shows that Engels, Trotsky, Lenin and Stalin were all born during the winter months.

But the correlation is not perfect: Karl Marx was born during May; Fidel Castro in August; and the darling of the student revolutions of the Sixties, Che Guevara, in June.