Fact-checking tonight’s GOP debate: Do men with smaller hands actually have smaller penises?

End of debate.
End of debate.
Image: Reuters/Rebecca Cook
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Just minutes into tonight’s (Mar. 3) Republican presidential debate, the topic turned to penis size.

Addressing Marco Rubio’s recent mocking of the size of his hands, Donald Trump held them up and said “Look at my hands. Are they small?” to laughter from the audience. Rubio, Trump said, implied that if his hands were small, then “something else must be small.” He told the crowd “I guarantee you there’s no problem.”

There has long been rumored to be a link between the size of a man’s hands (and his feet) and the size of his penis. But is it true?

Fortunately for American voters, someone has done actual scientific research on the topic, at least tangentially. Published by the Asian Journal of Andrology, the 2011 study ”Does digit ratio (2D:4D) predict penile length?” looked at 144 men over the age of 20, and compared the length of their penises to the ratio of their index to ring fingers. A commentary on the study (pdf) explains:

The researchers measured right hand digits directly with calipers, averaging repeated measures to calculate digit ratio. Flaccid and stretched penile lengths were measured in anesthetized patients with a rigid ruler, by a second researcher blind to the digit measurements. Digit ratio was strongly (negatively) correlated with stretched penile length.

Based on that evidence, the study’s authors concluded that “digit ratio can predict adult penile size.” The effects of prenatal testosterone may in part explain the differences in adult penile length, they added.

In other words, while the report doesn’t conclude that men with short fingers have short penises, men whose index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers may have longer penises, as Reuters explained. Conversely, men whose index fingers are longer than their ring fingers may have shorter penises.

Trump was dubbed a “short-fingered vulgarian” by editor Graydon Carter decades ago in Spy magazine and never forgot it, Carter wrote last year.

To this day, I receive the occasional envelope from Trump. There is always a photo of him—generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers. I almost feel sorry for the poor fellow because, to me, the fingers still look abnormally stubby. The most recent offering arrived earlier this year, before his decision to go after the Republican presidential nomination. Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: “See, not so short!” I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, “Actually, quite short.”

So far in this presidential race, no one has measured the ratio of the candidate’s index fingers to their ring fingers. There are, however, months left to go.