Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Of bats, balls and corporate brains

Guys, how many times have women accused you of thinking from the crotch? A new study proves that their question wasn't way off the mark. There is indeed a strong correlation between balls and brains. Scientists have established an inversely proportional relationship between the size of balls(testes) and size of the brain. In short the bigger the brain, smaller the balls and vice versa.

The December 10 issue of the Economist carried this article under the section animal behaviour. The scientists came to this conclusion after studying 334 species of bats, the second-largest group of mammals. (The largest group of mammals comprises of rodents.)

The hypothesis they were testing came in two parts. The first was that in any given species, the average male's testis size as a fraction of body weight will depend on the behaviour of that species' females-in particular, how promiscuous those females are. The second was that, given that brain tissue and testis tissue are among the most expensive to maintain physiologically, and that bats have a very tight energy budget, bigger balls would result in smaller brains.

The team knew, from work done some time ago, that the first part of their hypothesis is true in primates. Greater promiscuity in females does, indeed, lead to bigger testes, presumably because a male needs to make more sperm to have a fighting chance of fathering offspring, if those sperm are competing with sperm from a lot of other males. Gorillas, which discourage dalliances between other males and the females of their harem, have small testes. Chimpanzees, among whom females mate widely, have large ones. Human testes lie between these two extremes.
So guys the next time a woman blames you for thinking from your crotch, immediately shift the blame back on her promiscuous behaviour, which has limited the size of your brain.
Bat testes range from 0.11% of body weight in the African yellow-winged bat, to a whacking 8.4% in the generously endowed Rafinesque's big-eared [sic] bat. (The largest primate testes by contrast, those of the crab-eating macaque, are a mere 0.75% of body mass.) And the small balls were indeed found in species where females were monogamous (though they might be members of harems), while the large ones were found in species where females mated widely.
The most fascinating aspect however is the reason why this happens. It is the tight energy budget available for the body that enforces such trade offs. The word trade offs immediately made me think and triggered an analogy of this situation to a company/corporate setting. Everyone would agree that the Research and Development wing represents the brain while the marketing department is the balls of the company. (My apologies. Please bear with me. It is not my intention to speculate on the brain and testicular sizes of those of you working in marketing and R&D departments). And similarly the consumers are like the female of the species. Given the tight budgets, there is always a trade off between the budgets for the two departments, R&D and Marketing. Interestingly the results of the study can be seen in action in a corporate setting. The more the consumers (more promiscuous the females), the bigger the marketing departments (balls), while lesser the consumers (less promiscuous females), more the R&D budgets. Just think about it. As a company grows bigger, the market demands force it to focus on marketing for growth, while for a smaller company, the best bet to make it big is to focus on its R&D. So even though Microsoft became a leader through its R&D, it shifted its focus to Marketing as it got bigger. Same thing can be seen if you study the history of other technology firms.

This analogy also works in case of blogs. The newspapers are the bigger companies with large number of consumers, so they can afford to overlook their editorial section and focus on the marketing, ala Times of India. Whereas blogs have to exclusively focus on the intellection/editorial aspect to keep their readers hooked. When the scientists carry out the study on humans, I suggest they should study the ball sizes of bloggers. They might come up with some embarrassing results. :) A conversation with my roommate was revealing. I was teasing him for not following blogs. He shot back saying, "how will I find time for porn if I 'waste time' on blogs?"

Jokes apart. This made me wonder how analogous is this relationship between a corporation and a human body? For instance the digestive system can be likened to the production department, the nervous system is just like the corporate communication department. It seems to me that the study of human body may hold some valuable lessons for the corporations and management students. And if we bring Darwinists into the mix, they might shed light on the analogies between evolution of species and evolution of corporations.

Almost every Economist article ends with a tongue in cheek witticism. That is their trademark and which is one of the reasons it ranks as my favourite magazine. At the end of the article Economist poses the question, is it better to be virile and dim, than impotent and smart?

What say you?

P.S. (When I told an American friend about this study, he shrugged and was surprised that a study was actually needed to prove this. He said, going by the scene in American college campuses, everyone knows that the brainy types hardly receive any attention, while the dumb football players have all the fun.)
I have edited this sentence out of the post as it adds no value to the point being considered and as anonymous in the comment section has pointed out, my American friend wasn't being logical. A footballer uses different aspect of his brain. I stand corrected.


anangbhai said...

Sir, I am deeply insulted by this article. Shame on you and these foreign funded economists.
My brain is hung like a horse.

Artful Dodger said...

Sorry Chetan,

Forgot to give my name in the earlier comment. My aplogies.

Manasi said...

That was some innovative analogy. Though I dont understand what such studies and researches help one achieve. Sincerely who cares about it all?

Suyog said...

"how will I find time for porn if I 'waste time' on blogs? "

-- How compeletely true! And to think you wrote up such a post - sigh, just think how much and what you could have seen and done! But NO - you had to write this post! Tch Tch!!

Jokes apart - I think this nation is facing a serious crisis in surveys and studies - no wonder they come up with such dumb studies about balls and brains. I mean, so who cares!

"I suggest they should study the ball sizes of bloggers. They might come up with some embarrassing results. :)" - ROFL @ that!!

Keep inking such interesting pieces man!!



Chetan said...

Ananhbhai: Sorry if the post offended you. It was meant to be sarcastic and funny, not offensive.

Artful Dodger: For some inexplicable reason your first comment seems to have vanished. I think blogger deleted it all by itself because of the length of the title. I am not exactly sure what happened, but I for one haven't had anything to do with it. It was a nice comment and I agree with what you said about Kya yaar tu bhi's remarks and will let him know your admiration for him if he ever emails me.

Manasi and Suyog: Thanks. I am glad you liked the post. I would differ with you regarding the need for such studies. Lots of reasons, won't go into them. But I will tell you one reason I am all for such research. It draws guffaws. I have suh fun at their expense! Did you ever imagine science to be funny? This proves it can be that and much more.

Yogesh Bhatt said...

Better to be virile and dim than impotent and smart.


Happiness is the goal for most of us.

When you are smart you know what you are missing by being impotent,
a dim person will never know what he is missing by not being smart enough(smart in the sense of intellectually smart).This leads to the
dim person being more happy.

Anyways,great analogy.


anonymous said...

Your post is full of prejudices, .....why dont I leave one in the comment. You say dumb footballers, I bet u neither have the balls to play that game nor the brains to comprehend it. Some little brains will tell u that brain is not a general commodity. A footballer might use as much brain as a a scientist, but entirely differently/different parts. And yes bats may be on tight energy budget, but I doubt if humans are.
I would say the research on bloggers would give out a equally embarassing result on their brains and understanding.

Chetan said...

Yogesh: That another way of saying ignorance is bliss. I totally agree with you.

anonymous: This is a blog and by its very nature of being a personal medium, prejudiced. And I share your enthusiasm for researching bloggers. That was a good joke you cracked at my expense. Liked it. However, the quote on dumb football players was by my American friend and not mine. And the Economist article mentions that the study applies to mammals in general and not bats and primates in particular. Besides, I am sorry you took this all so seriously. Also next time I hope you leave your name and blog address. You sound smart and I would like to read your blog.

Dreamweaver said...

So as a corollary do we take it that any given female will always have a bigger brain than even the brainiest male because there is no tradeoff in the maintanence:)

Suyog said...

ROFL @ Dreamweaver - super analogy!

anangbhai said...

Dude Chetan, I'm not really offended. It was a joke.

Anirudh said...


Navin Harish said...

Interesting research. Did the research mentioned anything about the number of balls as well like what is the size of brain if a person has a ball missing or has one extra?

J said...

guys (most) are so full of #$@!. first, "we stray cos we need to "spread the seed".", and now, well, women flirting make me think with my d***. ye sab researches itni guys-have-more-sex oriented kyun hoti hein?

Abhay said...

Dude you write very well
Keep it coming !

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