Vol.VIII No.XI Pg.8
January 1972

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

I see by the papers that Americans are growing up. Thats a little hard to believe, since there are so many who still act like children. But our statistics will not be denied, and immaturity or no immaturity, we are growing up.

According to the records the average adult male has grown two inches in height, and added 23 pounds in weight since 1920. During W.W.I, the American male averaged 67.7 inches and weighed 142 lbs. By W.W.II, his height was up to 68.4 inches, and his weight to 155 lbs. In 1970 he averaged 69.7 inches, 165 lbs.

Remembering Mark Twains jab at the scientist re. the Mississippi river basin, I did a little mathematicing myself. Running our growth rate backward, I found that in 1870, just after the Civil War, the average male in America was 69.7 inches tall, and weighed 119 lbs. In 1770, he was only 61.7 inches, weighing 73 lbs. It is really surprising we whipped the British. But the most amazing facts are yet to come. Our ancestors who landed on Plymouth Rock (1620) were about 55.7 inches tall, and weighed only 4 pounds. (Skinny little sailors werent they?)

If it were not for my absolute trust in statistics, I would stop here. This thing begins to get just a little bit ridiculous. The Americans male ancestors were no height at all in 230 A.D., and would not weigh anything until 1612. Of course there could be some truth in that. It does seem that history says we began to shove our weight around in the early seventeenth century.

One possible solution for this dilemma is to remember that the records said nothing about women. We could use a bit of scientific supposing here, arid assume that our early history (while the men were so small) was made possible by the inverse ratio of growth on their part: they have been getting smaller while men were getting larger. But — that is such an embarrassing thought lets not go into that.

it is also barely possible that we are prone to put too much reliance in what may have happened, so many million years ago, if the present observable rate of growth or deterioration was maintained, etc., etc.

Anyhow, we try to live up to the heading on this page.