Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sciences say heads of white people in America are actually growing.

By Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Anthropologists regularly assert that larger skulls hold larger brains, and that larger brains tend to depict greater intelligence. So, when I read that forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee found that Americans of European descent have shown skull growth over the last one hundred years, I got curious.

It's True... heads are getting bigger!

Forensic anthropologists at the University of Tennessee looked at 1,500 skulls from the 1800's to the mid 1980's. Because they needed a large sample size they only looked at skulls of Americans of European ancestry. The numbers are interesting. The researchers reported that skull size increased 6.8 percent, while body size increased 5.6 percent, and femur (thigh bone) length has increased almost 2 percent.

The forensic anthropologists made a point to say they didn't know for sure why the heads of Americans of European ancestry were growing so much.  (You can fill in your own joke here: ______________) They did speculate that it was likely because of better nutrition, better health care, less physically demanding work, and/or intermarriage.

My thought on the subject... that it is most likely better nutrition overall and, more specifically, better nutrition in the first five years of life. Other research has shown the importance of early childhood nutrition on overall adult body health and height.

Unfortunately, I don't think there is any evidence that our cranial size increase has lead to any societal increase in intelligence... but maybe I'm just being flippant.


The findings were presented on April 14, 2012 in Portland, Oregon, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, by Lee Jantz, coordinator of the University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center (FAC); Richard Jantz, professor emeritus and former director of the FAC; and Joanne Devlin, adjunct assistant professor.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where to get safety recall info?

By Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Almost everyday you hear that something is good for you or bad for you. Caffeine is a life saver, or shortens your life. One research article says this, another says that.

Most of the time I have low expectations for the accuracy of the information as reported in the major media. I expect that most of the time the data will be misinterpreted and reported incorrectly. I am surprised when they get it right.

But in the area of product safety I need correct reporting. I trust one source above all others and consult their website regularly. This website brings together valuable information from many government departments such as:

  • drugs 
  • vaccines 
  • medical devices 
  • other biologics 
  • blood and plasma products 
  • veterinary products 
  • appliances 
  • clothing 
  • electronic / electrical 
  • furniture 
  • household 
  • children's products 
  • lighting / lighter 
  • outdoor 
  • sports / exercise

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation provides recall information including vehicle and equipment campaigns from 1966 to present. The campaigns include motor vehicle products which experienced a safety-related defect or did not comply with federal motor vehicle safety standards:
  • motor vehicles & related equipment 
  • child safety seats 
  • tires

  • provides the latest information on all food recalls and alerts as well as food illness outbreaks
And others...

The site is

recallsdotgov banner

The website has a wealth of information concerning dangerous products and food. You can get daily emails concerning all the areas they cover, or you can specify which ones you are interested in - for example, maybe you only want recalls concerning infant and children, or school buses.

If you have an Android Smartphone you can get an app that allows you to put in a product by name and see if it has any safety issues. This mobile app is great for garage sale buyers. Before you buy that gently used crib, make sure it is safe for your pride and joy.

Look for in the Android app store. Or learn more and download the app at: - Android Apps on Google Play

To my surprise, I could not find this app in the Apple app store. Hopefully it will show up soon.