Saturday, January 12, 2013

As Plain As The Nose On My Face

There has been a raging debate online over the past several years among the scientifically-minded. Both PhD’s and kitchen doctors around the globe have been weighing in on the age old question of whether or not our ears and nose grow as we age.  Everyone, from Arthur Perry, MD, blogging on The Doctor Oz Show’s website, to Philster and Master Wang-Ka, posting on The Straight Dope’s message board, has an opinion on this topic.
But opinions are not facts, and consensus is not truth. The only thing that can sway this debate, the only thing that can answer this primordial conundrum, is science. Perhaps we can look to studies by British physicians, or papers published by Japanese doctors, or investigations by German scientists, all cited in an April 25, 2011 article in the online edition of The Guardian (UK). Maybe we can consult the troublingly anonymous Medical FAQ website. As authoritative (or otherwise) as some of these sites may seem, their scientific reliability pales in comparison to the tried and true method of observation and comparative physiology known as looking in the mirror and comparing your face to your grandfather’s.

According to Krogh’s principle, somewhere in the world there is some animal upon which any problem that affects humans can be studied. Were this true, someone somewhere would be using National Institute of Health grant money to accurately measure the size of mouse and pig ears over an animal’s lifetime, or trying to grow a nose of immense size in a Petri dish.  (Wasn’t there some such scene in Woody Allen’s The Sleeper? A dream sequence with giant noses on legs?  Or am I imagining that? Digression!) There may very well be a poorly publicized slave of science toiling away at his ever-growing nose study, but, at the present, we have no information to prove it. And so, we are left only with the tools of science at our disposal, our eyes, our memory, a poorly-lit mirror, and our slowly expanding facial characteristics.

For we stood before the mirror this week and were struck by the ridiculous size of our own ears. In a slight panic, we looked to our nose and noticed that perhaps it is growing a bit more bulbous. We scoured our memory for that face, that face of our grandfather, a man born in America of Polish immigrant parents.  We are aware of the fate of the Polish men (and not a few of the women) in our family. First, they are born with feet wider than any human should have.  And, as time goes on, the feet widen.  Next, the ears and nose grow in length. The cartilage continues to grow, and, in the case of the ear lobes, gravity plays one of its crueler tricks. The lobes seem to drip down toward the ground, pendulous flaps of opaque skin, swinging unattractively in the breeze.

It is unmistakable that this is indeed happening to me. As a matter of fact, if one observes the following artist’s renditions, one can plainly see the growth in both the nose and the ears on my face.

Here is a pretty accurate crayon on napkin sketch of me as a young child. Note the relatively small facial features.

Here is a current depiction of my features in the same media. Note the marked change in the size of certain aspects.

Thus, as we used to say in Geometry class, “QED, bitch!” It is proven. The nose and ears do grow throughout life. I am proud to have committed myself once again to the scientific method. It is an honor to have sacrificed so much in the way of dignity in my search for the truth.

And, Doctor Oz, if you ever need a blogger on your highly regarded scientific website, I am your man!

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