Size and Sighs

By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 25, 2023

How big is it? Sometimes it doesn’t matter. Sometimes it matters a lot more than it should. I’m sorry to say that in most cases, bigger means better. That’s why bigger houses, cars, and diamonds generally cost more. But there has lately been a trend in the opposite direction. Now that so many devices are electronic and so much of the world’s business is conducted in a mysterious sphere called “online,” there are more and more advantages to occupying less and less space. 

The one big exception is ourselves.

For some reason, many of the statistics into which we all somehow fit tend to fall into what’s called a “bell-shaped curve.” In other words, when displayed on a graph, the majority generally cluster towards the middle, while extremes of high and low form minorities which tend to flatten the curve at either end.

As an example, let’s take intelligence. Putting aside the question of whether standardized intelligence tests have any real value, their results neatly ring the classic bell. Most people, we find, are of medium mental ability, while just a few are very high, or very low, on that scale. Forgive my immodesty, but my own rating happens to be at the upper end, which I can verify (if not actually prove) by my membership in MENSA, the organization for people with allegedly superior intelligence. To be admitted, you have to score in the top two percent on a scale measured by a standard test of what some genius labeled Intelligence Quotient – familiarly known as IQ. A quotient is the mathematical result of a division, and I suppose the IQ, at least originally, had something to do with dividing the number of answers you got right by the number you got wrong.

As you might expect, people with larger brains tend to be smarter – and the mighty power of evolution has resulted in people living today having larger brains than those from whom we evolved.

But other aspects of our bodies are also subject to size comparisons. One measurement of note is that of sheer height. Whether being tall is really a positive attribute is open to question. But it’s a fact that most U.S. Presidents have been above average in that particular category. And I don’t know of many jobs in which employers are looking for little people. The main one seems to be the manufacture of airplanes, space vehicles, and similar craft, in which access to certain important areas is limited by the worker’s physical size.

While we are talking about areas of importance, allow me to skim sensitively over the delicate subject of the size of our sexual organs. In particular, the comparative dimensions of the erect male instrument are of legendary significance. In this connection, I cannot resist quoting for you a piece of doggerel which will enable me to demonstrate my own minimal knowledge – not only of this long-standing myth, but also of the Law and its use of Latin:

There was a young lawyer named Rex
With a very small organ of sex;
When charged with exposure
He pled with composure,
“De minimis non cura lex.”

That last line is a legal principle going back to Roman times, meaning “The Law does not concern itself with trivial matters.”

But the size of people in general has, for most of human history, always been associated with prowess. The biggest warriors were thought to be the best, and having a giant on your side was considered a guarantee of victory – unless your enemy’s giant was even bigger. The classic example is the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, as narrated in the Book of Samuel. The defiant Philistines have as their champion a huge warrior who is not afraid to come out challengingly in front of both armies. The Israelites have only a shepherd boy, but two other things are on their side – a weapon apparently little used in combat called a “sling” – and God. That being the case, it is really no contest. 

One other factor, however, does make a big difference in the outcome: although covered with armor, Goliath has one weak exposed area: his forehead. That’s where a well-aimed missile from David’s sling finds its target.

And just to wrap up this discussion of size, let me conclude with one of my own Great Thoughts on the subject:

How can we be made of things so small, yet still be part of things so large?  


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