Sunday, 1 March 2009

Godwits - various

There's been a response of blank incomprehension to my reference yesterday to godwits, so a word of explanation for those of you who were never members of the Young Ornithologists Club (YOC). Godwits (bar-tailed and black-tailed) are migratory wading birds, of the same family as the sandpiper; they can be found on estuary mudflats, including the Thames, digging in the mud for worms and snails. Imagine a tawny chicken with a long straight beak, on stilts and with the appropriate appendage at the back, and you'll get a rough picture. The RSPB has the following on its website: "Help the Black-tailed godwit - We need to take urgent action to secure the future of this species. Become a member today and help us continue our vital conservation work."

I read recently that over 70% of research at Cambridge University was rated world leading or internationally excellent (according to the UK's Research Assessment Exercise 2008) leading to its being dubbed the 'top university'. So presumably we can take seriously the research of Cambridge scientists which indicates that bankers' success may depend as much on their biology as their rationality. Apparently the most successful financial traders have a relatively long ring finger compared to the index finger on their right hand. Huh? Well, that's, I learn, an indicator of having been exposed to high levels of prenatal testosterone. On average, traders with longer ring fingers made six times the profits of short fingered ones. So, check out your right hand. My right ring finger? Well, it's longer.

However John Coates, lead author of the research paper, warns that 'the traits that benefit high-frequency traders may prove a hindrance in poositions involving more long-term investments'. Shame... Maybe that's explains a lot. Less godwit, more nitwit.

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