Get Smart 

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A lot of things are supposed to make you smart — going to school, doing crosswords puzzles, listening to Mozart, watching Oprah, aromatherapy, hosting a radio talk-show. Any of these may do the job, as far as I know; my personal favorite is the smell of new shoes.

But now we have scientific proof of something that really does make you smart. Unfortunately, this activity can be engaged in only by half the population. The activity in question is getting pregnant. So us guys are out of the loop as regards getting smart, at least until gene splicing and bioengineering give us the capacity to bear children. That women get smart by getting pregnant just adds insult to the male injury of being dumber than the opposite sex to begin with.

Proof that women get smart by getting pregnant comes from the Society for Neuroscience in Los Angeles, Calif. The scientists went out and got a lot of female mice pregnant, then took pictures of their brains, presumably after they were put out of their misery. The brain pictures showed that the number of dendrites and glial cells increase two-fold in pregnant mice. From what the brain scientists say, these dendrites and glial cells must be like tiny telephones that hook up to let neurons talk to each other.

The doubling of dendrites made the mice bolder, more curious and energetic, at least while they were still alive. According to a neuropsychologist who studied the mice, pregnancy, a perfectly natural biological experience for the female, appears to mark the brain for a lifetime.

Actually, the results of the Society for Neuroscience experiments come as no great surprise. For several years now, I’ve employed pregnant mice to answer my phone, clean up around the house, scour the tub, and do the grocery shopping. I’ve also discovered that a real mouse (it must also be pregnant to get the proper ergonomic grip), does a much better job pointing and clicking on the monitor than a plastic mouse with a fake tail attached to the motherboard.

But my experience of the intellectual enhancement enjoyed by pregnant females is not just limited to rodents. When I was breeding poodles and Rottweilers, one particular bitch in heat could recite the first 100 lines of Dante’s Inferno. Spoilsports point out that it was a translation, not the original Norwegian. That just shows that you can’t please everybody. I also want to point out that once impregnated, the poetic poodle could discuss quantum physics as well as any professor.

The most convincing evidence that childbearing makes you smart is near at hand. The TV critic — no slouch himself in the brain department — for The Salt Lake Tribune, the Official Newspaper of the 2002 Games, recently anointed the top female anchors in our market. It’s no coincidence that two of the top three ladies have a combined total of 23 children.

But we don’t need rankings or experiments to prove a universally acknowledged truth. I always ask a new psychiatrist how many children she’s had; I don’t trust an unpregnant lawyer; and I won’t let my groceries be rung up by any cashier who has borne fewer than five children.

But us guys can be grateful that God has a way of balancing the ledger. And She also has a wacky sense of humor, as evidenced by how smarts pass from generation to generation. A couple of years ago, a Harvard study found that boys inherit their brains from Mom, while girls get their smarts from Dad. Since men are dumber than women, this prevents women from getting too smart. If they were too smart, of course, they wouldn’t get pregnant in the first place.

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