The hirsute of higher intelligence


Glenda Cooper
Friday 12 July 1996 00:02 BST
Keith Lemon, played by Leigh Francis, flaunts his hairy chest
Keith Lemon, played by Leigh Francis, flaunts his hairy chest

Tom Jones has long been a symbol of raunchiness, tight trousers and Cuban heels. But, according to new research, his excessive body hair could also mean he has high intelligence.

It seems we have been wrong to write off medallion man. Dr Aikarakudy Alias, a psychiatrist, who has been working on the relationship between body hair and intelligence for 22 years, told the eighth Congress of the Association of European Psychiatrists yesterday that hairy chests are more likely to be found amongst doctors and the highly educated than in the general population.

His research amongst medical students in America found that 45 per cent of male trainee doctors were "very hairy", compared with less than 10 per cent of men generally. In Kerala, southern India, research among medical and engineering students and manual labourers showed that both groups of students had more body hair on average than manual workers.

In addition, "When academic ranking amongst students was examined, the hairier men got better grades," said Dr Alias. The top six engineering graduates had more hair than the bottom eight.

And a study of 117 Mensa members (who have an IQ of at least 140) were also found to have a tendency to thick body hair. Some of the most intelligent men appeared to be those who had hair on their backs as well as on their chests.

Dr Alias, who kept his shirt firmly buttoned up yesterday, cited Robin Williams, Peter Sellers, the chess player Garry Kasparov and Charles Darwin as hairy men of high intelligence. In comparison, he said, "Look at Muhammed Ali: boxers are not at all hairy."

He did hold out some hope for the smooth-skinned, however. "Men with plentiful body hair tend to be more intelligent, but there are also very intelligent men with little or no body hair. Albert Einstein had no body hair."

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