Larger-brained humans will only lead to swollen heads

Guess WHAT DAY it is?! (For those who are hung over, it comes after Saturday in most major U.S. cities). That’s right — It’s Flashback Sunday! (Again, to those who are hung over, I’m not yelling but merely whispering loudly.) This week’s Flashback is one of my first posts, heralding a time before my discovery of “tags,” and when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was a website for wrinkle-free cosmetic surgery…

A gift from a reader helps me demonstrate the possible size differential in the human head within the next generation. (Hint: I’m the one on the left
As if we didn’t have enough problems already, according to a report in the journal Science the human brain is getting bigger. In fact, from what I understand (based on my in-depth analysis of a five-word headline in the New York Post), there’s a good chance yours may be outgrowing your skull right now. Signs this may be occurring include: vomiting, nausea, dizziness, frequent headaches and bleeding from the ears. If you suffer from any or all of these symptoms, DO NOT PANIC! They may only be the side effects of your current FDA-approved medication for acid reflux.

Then again, your brain might have actually gotten bigger since you started reading this column. And not just because of the sheer quality of writing — which is always a possibility (keeping in mind the same symptoms may apply.)

Before we go on, I should, as a responsible journalist, take a moment and actually read the article. In the meantime, I’d suggest applying equal amounts of pressure to both sides of your head, just to be safe.

… OK. Sorry — false alarm.

After reading the article it has become clear the threat of spontaneous brain enlargement is actually very slim. In fact, the only documented case appeared in the National Inquirer, which reported that a young boy’s head spontaneously grew three times its normal size during the Arkansas State Spelling Bee. Amazingly, nine-year-old Reggie Sims survived the incident and now lives in Southern California, where his oversized head goes virtually unnoticed. But for those of us living outside the Los Angeles basin, spontaneous head swelling remains extremely rare. However, researchers say the human brain is getting larger, albeit very slowly, through a process of evolution. At first, larger brains sounded like a good idea since bigger brains means a smarter gene pool, hence leading us toward a Utopian society free of want and suffering.

Or at least free from telemarketers.

The down side is that our great-great-great grandchildren could end up looking like one of those bigheaded aliens from a 50s science fiction movie. True, this could happen anyway — possibly even in my own lifetime — if I don’t meticulously screen each one of my children’s potential spouses. However, assuming neither my sons nor daughters marries anyone whose head fits snugly into a standard tractor inner tube, there’s still the matter of future generations to worry about. The journal Science article I read doesn’t mention anything about other parts of the human anatomy growing in proportion along with our enormous brains — which, as I’m sure many woman would attest, would double the male IQ. Biologists tell us that any “improvement” in the human anatomy is the direct result of evolution’s attempt to meet the changing needs of mankind. For example: Our opposable thumbs. This uniquely human trait distinguishes us from other primates, most notably through our ability to use all three holes in a bowling ball.

Following that line of thought, larger brains is likely the result of our need as a species to absorb and process more information at a younger age. This was evident last night, when my four-year-old nephew whipped my behind in PlayStation 2 football.

He cannot read.

He cannot understand the tactical decision making required for offensive line formations.

He doesn’t even know how many yards are in a first down.

Yet he can complete a Hail Mary pass and run a bootleg while I — with my larger and ultimately superior opposable thumbs — push buttons and move toggles as my defensive line is left picking grass from its teeth. I can’t say for sure if this has any connection to the evolutionary process. But if his head gets any bigger, I swear:

He’s moving to California.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR. 97439, or

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

20 thoughts on “Larger-brained humans will only lead to swollen heads”

  1. Well maybe someday we will all look like refugees from Easter Island. I think these scientists are just bloggers, but they don’t call it a blog. They call them “Research Journals” I’ll bet they are just sitting around laughing together as they compare notes on which one one of them was able to sell the biggest load of BS.

    Ned between the two of us i think we should have our own new “Research journal Website” the two of us can be pictured in Doctor coats and we can both co-write and article about how stupid this country is becoming. We will then wait until we get 100 likes and/or 30 comments, at which time we will present that as our evidence.

    Great post Ned. I really loved your arrogance in the beginning (not kidding ned, i loved it)

    1. LOL! I never though about the Easter Island connection. Maybe it was a society that eventually died off because of its giant heads. It could also explain our inexplicable fascination with bobble heads. That could be out first Research Journal Website topic 🙂

  2. Actually, Ned, the thing women have to worry about isn’t whether the size of your “other parts” is growing but how we are suppose to squeeze an even bigger watermelon out of an opening the size of a plum. Speaking as someone who has produced three watermelons (they had to go in after number four because there was just NO WAY she was going to make it through), I can honestly say that the human race is f****d if heads get any bigger.

    1. LOL! You know, being a man, I naturally didn’t think about that part of the equation. It’s an excellent point, and another example of how we males think with our … well, you know.

  3. Entertaining as always, Ned. So was the Los Angeles basin already on the list of places where Ned isn’t appreciated or did you decide to expand your list? (There could be some pithy joke about expanding heads with that, but it’s too early and my head hasn’t grown yet.

    1. Hahaha! I feel I can speak with some authority on the subject because, until I was 14, I lived outside of LA, in the Redondo Beach area, before moving to Oregon. Even back then, some swelling was beginning to occur… 😉

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