The Third Leader: Ring of truth

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The Independent Online

I must apologise for a certain satisfaction when the present fails to work out how the past did it, as with enthusiastic experts and heavily breathing volunteers in matching T-shirts having a crack at building Stonehenge. Even less admirable is to cheer when theories and beliefs dismissed by modern knowledge prove to have merit after all. Put it down to fear, ignorance and envy.

And so to the ring finger, which science continues to discover indicates certain characteristics when compared with the index finger. Men with longer ring fingers are more fertile, assertive and musical, for instance; and now research shows that women with longer ring fingers are better at sport.

These findings come with hormone and genetic explanation, but will also be extremely familiar to anyone who has consulted those experts who, before embarking on research, like to have their palms crossed with silver. One, that men are more likely to be gay if they have have longer ring fingers and a number of elder brothers, seems to be taking us into the realm of the seventh son.

Whatever, many cultures have such respect for the powers of the ring finger that they avoid direct reference to it: in Bulgaria, it's known as "the nameless finger", which may provide further problems for European harmonisation.

Meanwhile, to avoid being dragged off to netball, and any other preconceptions, I would advise gloves and shaving between the eyebrows. I should add, too, that, according to more research, any supposed correlation between the size of the nose or feet with any other part of the body is completely baseless. Unless you know better, of course.