Frontier Psychiatrist Election Special: “Another bad election for bald people”

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A time of writing the early results suggest that the May 6th UK general election will produce a slim Conservative victory. Time then to address an issue that has rarely been touched upon in the mainstream election run up: bald men have an unfortunate record in British politics. Indeed, if one thing unites the three candidates for Prime Minister it’s that none appear to have any hair loss. Granted Brown does wears his fringe long which raises the possibility that he is wearing a toupee. If this is the case, I suggest that he remove it.

The last bald Prime Minister of the UK was Jim Callaghan, beaten by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Since then we’ve John Major (full head of hair), Blair (thinning yes, but not actually bald) and Brown (full head of hair). In elections the bald man consistently loses – Hague and Howard were seen off comprehensively by Blair. Hague in particular was pilloried for his appearance, regularly being compared to a Mekon – the bad guys in Dan Dare, pilot of the future. Iain Duncan Smith was never even allowed to contest an election.

Leaders aside, if the Conservatives do form the next government then William Hague could hope to become Foreign Secretary.  An achievement indeed, but considering that 25% of men are balding by the age of 30, bald men are still poorly represented in both the current (probably) outgoing Labour cabinet and Conversative shadow cabinet. The Labour cabinet has 3 (out of 22, 3 women) the Conservatives 4 (out of 32, 7 ladies). Bald men have as poor a representation in the higher echelons of power as women. Quite an achievement.

It’s worse for bald Americans.  It was during the 2004 election the Democrat Candidate John Kerry was quoted as saying “We’ve got better vision, better ideas, real plans. We’ve got a better sense of what’s happening to America and we’ve got better hair”. “There goes the bald vote,” Teresa Heinz Kerry told her husband. Kerry lost the election and may still be reflecting on his insensitive comments.

It’s difficult to place the last bald President of the United States. It was actually Gerald Ford, who was never actually elected as either a President or Vice President. He ran for President in 1976 and lost to Jimmy Carter (full head of hair) and only one bald man has run for president since. Carter lost to Reagan (full head of hair) in 1980. Reagan vs Mondale (full head of hair) in 1984. Bush Senior (full head of hair) vs. Dukakis (full head of hair) 1988. The Bush Senior vs Clinton (full head of hair). Then Clinton vs. Dole (full head of hair), Gore vs Bush Jr (full head of hair), Bush Jr vs Kerry (full head of hair), and most recently Obama (full head of hair) vs. McCain. McCain was balding and lost.

It’s Russia, a country otherwise untouched by sense, were that a more enlightened approach prevails when it comes to recognising the virtues of bald men. Very fairly the bald and non-bald take it turn about: Putin (baldish), Yeltsin (hair), Gorbachev (no hair), Chernenko (hair), Andropov (no hair), Brezhnev (hair), Khrushchev (no hair), Stalin (hair), Lenin (no hair).

And does anyone think that, on the BBC coverage, Andrew Neil’s thatch was somewhat unlikely…..

Links:

Bald truth about attracting voters
Can bald men win elections

Addendum 7 May 1415hrs.  Tories may form a minority government with Lib Dems.  I’ve received no reponse from those in politics to the above.

2 Responses to “Frontier Psychiatrist Election Special: “Another bad election for bald people””

  1. Neuroskeptic says:

    It’s even worse than you suspected: the leader of Britain has two heads of hair…

  2. A. Wik says:

    The most common form of baldness is male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia. As the latter term implies, the condition is associated with the action of androgens on the skin, so this type of baldness is a form of virilisation. One might, therefore, speculate as to whether hypervirilisation also extends to other organs, such as the brain. The most effective drugs for the treatment of male pattern baldness inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase (5AR), which converts testosterone into the more potent androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The high efficacy of these drugs suggests that enhanced activity of 5AR may be a component of the pathophysiology of baldness. If that is indeed the case, then an interesting question follows: is 5AR activity increased in other organs as well? 5AR is not distributed evenly throughout all tissues, but its concentration or at least activity varies between organs and even within a single organ. It is more abundant in the scalp and upper lip than in otherwise similar adjacent skin. Fatty tissue is more prone to converting testosterone to the primary oestrogen oestradiol than to DHT, through the action of another enzyme, aromatase. Both aromatase and 5AR are expressed in the brain, so testosterone will produce both androgen and oestrogen effects in the central nervous system. So, if the presumed increase in 5AR activity in bald men also extends to the brain in addition to the scalp, not only will the androgenic effects of testosterone be exaggerated, but oestrogen activity will be reduced due to diminished availability of testosterone as a precursor to oestradiol. Thus, bald men may have a hypervirilised brain as well. It is interesting to note that some people believe that Asperger’s syndrome is a manifestation of an “extreme male” brain, lacking in empathy and preoccupied with technical detail. Empathy is not merely the capacity for sympathy or compassion, but also a tool useful in optimising one’s social interactions to achieve a higher rate of success in interpersonal matters. In other words, even an egocentric politician might have a use for empathy, for example in adjusting the tone of their voice in speaking to the masses or with reporters. One might speculate whether the reduced success rate of bald politicians reflects not only a reduced ability to live up to cultural ideals of appearance, but also diminished interpersonal and social skills.

    In any case, disease processes involving excessive androgen activity can be manipulated. Male patten baldness can usually be prevented, and the treatment need not be as drastic as castration, or even the use of oestrogen supplements. It may suffice merely to make regular use of products based on finasteride or dutasteride, which both have highly benign side effect profiles.

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