I just read an interesting article about Native Americans and the Military. According to the article, during the Vietnam War Native Americans were recruited for tracking, they lost their tracking abilities once their hair was cut.
"The mammalian body has evolved over millions of years. Survival skills of human and animal at times seem almost supernatural. Science is constantly coming up with more discoveries about the amazing abilities of man and animal to survive. Each part of the body has highly sensitive work to perform for the survival and well being of the body as a whole.The body has a reason for every part of itself.
Hair is an extension of the nervous system, it can be correctly seen as exteriorized nerves, a type of highly evolved 'feelers' or 'antennae' that transmit vast amounts of important information to the brain stem, the limbic system, and the neocortex.
Not only does hair in people, including facial hair in men, provide an information highway reaching the brain, hair also emits energy, the electromagnetic energy emitted by the brain into the outer environment. This has been seen in Kirlian photography when a person is photographed with long hair and then rephotographed after the hair is cut.
When hair is cut, receiving and sending transmissions to and from the environment are greatly hampered. This results in numbing-out .
Cutting of hair is a contributing factor to unawareness of environmental distress in local ecosystems. It is also a contributing factor to insensitivity in relationships of all kinds. It contributes to sexual frustration."
Here is the link to the article: http://www.sott.net/articles/show/234783-The-Truth-About-Hair-and-Why-Indians-Would-Keep-Their-Hair-Long
Let me know your thoughts!!
I can't answer this question with science, with fact, only with the experience that comes with ultra length...
I have long hair. In our modern culture, "long" hair can mean shoulder length. Depending on where you live, you may not see many people - men or women - with hair that reaches the lower body. It's fairly common where I live, though, with the intersection of Native American and Latino cultures. My own hair passes my waist, my hips, my tailbone. I'm growing until it reaches my knees and will probably reach that goal within a few short years. I may even grow beyond my knees, if my hair has a terminal length beyond them.
The ends of my hair have seen six seasons of love, six seasons of pain. They felt the spring rains that bring the desert bloom, know the months of unrelenting wind and drought that carve mesa and canyon into our land. This Sunday, they will experience the surprise of darkness when the moon passes in front of the sun.
You can tell me that my hair is dead, that it means nothing, that I am the same person with no hair, hair an inch long, hair to my chin, my shoulders, but I won't believe you. I used to wear my hair in a pixie - for three decades, in fact - until I decided on a whim to grow it long. Once it passed my shoulders, I felt different. I felt more alive, sexier, most female, more animalistic. I care for my hair the way a dog cares for her coat. I nurture it, keep ritual with comb and coconut oil. My hair is pampered, has a personality, even has a name.
I keep it up in elaborate 'dos held by fanciful sticks most days, my hair is my secret weapon. If I want to get attention, I simply pull the stick from my hair, and my bun drops, becomes a shiny shroud around my body. Can't do that with a pixie, yo.
I can imagine my hair leading me to prey, to shelter. Sometimes I wear Pocahontas braids. If someone reaches out, touches one with a lightness imperceptible, I whip around. I know. My hair tells me.
Maybe it's all in my head. Or growing out of my head. Heck if I know.
I've run across this article a number of times. At first I simply thought it was hippie hokum and conspiracy theory mumbo jumbo (read the article and you'll understand why). But the more I've learned about human neurology, the more it gives me at least pause to think.
The most salient explanation for the purported loss of tracking ability is that these Native American men were no longer "tracking" (whatever that means) in familiar terrain (the article doesn't address where the loss of ability was discovered, in familiar or novel territory). It's also odd that the article seems to shamelessly play into the stereotype of the "long-haired red-skin hunter." It's certainly the case that not all Native American tribes traditionally wore all or any of their hair long, and few Native American men (particularly those with no mixed ancestry) are capable of growing much, if anything, in the way of facial hair.
On the other side of the coin: mammals' whiskers are indeed sensory organs. Humans retain that same sensory apparatus in the form of the hair in our nostrils (which maps onto the cortex in a grid pattern that matches cats', dogs', rats', etc. one-to-one). At the very least, it's possible that trimming our nostril hair diminishes (in some much smaller way) the ability of humans to "track" something.
As far as head-hair, the fact that humans have it in the fashion they do (naturally long, whereas the rest of our bodies are relatively naked) suggests some sort of evolutionary use: while it's possible that long head hair is a random mutation that never had any negative selection pressure, it's more likely that it was selected for, if only for purposes of sexual display and partnering. And while the shaft of hair is dead, it is connected to a living root, each and every one of which (be it corpus or cranial) is further connected to an erector pilus muscle.
What's further, the skin is packed full of specialized sensory organs of all types (a rough handful of varieties, the exact number depending upon how one classifies them), whose purpose is to translate various varieties of motion into neurological signals, sent through the thalamus and into the cortex for organization. Is it plausible that the accidental motion of hair transmits down to the follicles adjacent to these sensory organs, and that they are able to translate this into valuable sensory input? Could the erector pili also be acting, in this way, as afferent (inbound) sensory input in the same way all other muscles do? Could the excessive growth of hair on the cranium, which is itself the most sensitive to vestibular input (sense of balance), make it evolutionarily feasible that this hair is an adaptation to our upright posture and greater need to coordinate balance with other afferent input?
The answer to all of these is "yes, it's plausible." To date, I haven't found any good research on the topic, but I'd like to see it. I shave my hair yearly to raise funds for children's cancer research, and I'm unlikely to change that habit no matter the results, but this certainly seems a fruitful area of research.
If I'm missing something and someone has more or better science behind this, please pass it on.
I've kept my hair to varying degrees of short my entire life, with the exception of five years when I didn't cut it at all except to trim off split ends. With hair half way down my back, I did not experience any kind of esoteric extrasensory woo. When I finally got tired of all the hassle of caring for long hair and had it cut short, everyone, without exception, told me I looked from 10-20 years younger. And, that was 11 years ago, when my weight was ballooning upward. Now, at age 50, with the excess weight gone and in the best physical shape of my life, I'd much rather look boyish and well groomed than look like a geriatric hippie.
I've found the opposite to be true. For many years I had really long hair down to my waist, and it made me kinda klutzy, I'd get it caught in car doors and windows, I'd sit on it, or accidentally hurt my neck if I tried to sit up too fast in bed and my elbow was on it. I loved the way it looked, but it was a big curly liability.
Then I got to an age where utility somehow trumped looks, and I started cutting it shorter and shorter, each time I felt a little less "separate" from the world. I finally started shaving it down to about 1/2" every so often just to feel the vulnerability and connectedness with the world. Every time I start to grow it back out I get to a breaking point where I feel too cut off, like it is dampening my intuition, and find myself pulling into the first cheap haircut place I drive by to take it back down to a pixie.
Well, here's one comment: http://www.skepticblog.org/2011/12/22/hair-of-samson/
Through the Skeptic Blog I learned of a group called the Shadow Wolves (fabulous name!) http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/shadow-wolves.htm and am checking to see if these guys (gals?) cut their hair.
From the photographs accompanying this article, it looks like at least some of the Shadow Wolves do cut their hair: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/wolves.html?c=y&page=1
Finally, nothing in the original article gives any indication that having longer hair would have any impact (if the article is to be believed) on anything but tracking. I don't need to track anything. Therefore, why would I grow my hair longer?
Also, I actually have longer hair, but I typically wear it pinned up. Does that cancel out the effect of having longer hair?
I guess I'm not feeling the love for this concept. I have a very hard time getting past the statement that hair is an extension of the nervous system. Hair itself IIRC is dead. The root from which the hair grows is not, but that's another matter.
If I would be left alone in the forest or something for years, I would be good in tracking too (or died trying), and wouldn't bother cutting my hair, but I don't think the long hair would add much to my acquired skills..
A psychologist from Harvard in the 1920's, McDougall, experimented with rats who had to escape a water maze, and he checked how fast they learned. He also checked the learning of the offspring of those rats. Suprisingly, the offspring learned faster than their parents. And their offspring learned faster too, etc. It is called morphic resonance, which is researched now by Rupert Sheldrake (and it's a very controversial subject). This would suggest that if I got children in the forest, they would learn tracking skills faster than me, and their children too, etc, etc. It would give you perfect skills after a while.
But not being forced to track, not a life depending anymore, people just happen to focus on other skills, and this one got lost a bit. I wouldn't blame it on the hair, but it's a funny idea though.
In order to hold water, someone needs to explain what feedback having long hair provides that aids in tracking, and that's not done by the article. (How does electromagnetic eneergy in the hair help with tracking?)
Here "tracking" presumably refers to scouting, which heavily utilizes visual and auditory feedback to analyze the environment. While I've heard other theories about how we determine direction, nothing about having hair seems to suggest a greater ability to navigate in the wild.
From an evolutionary perspective, it would suggest that those who were most hairy, would have been most successful in tracking prey, and therefore more likely to survive. Yet, do we actually see the most hairy hunters be the most successful? Wouldn't this also somewhat imply that male pattern baldness would be less prevalent in societies that more recently had to rely on tracking abilities to survive?
I have a friend who is an archaeologists and she was working on a special nomad tribe lived around IX B.C.. She mentioned that they traveled not from one valley to another (they migrated all over East Asia), but along magnetic field lines. Just figure - how would they even know about magnetic field lines around 11,000 years ago? Did they feel them?
What an interesting discussion.
interrobung's remark about the length of hair being directly proportional to follicle drag resonates with me.
In certain types of instrument building one encounters the idea of "soundboard loading". To simplify, the more force a taut string (e.g., guitar, violin) puts a sounding board under, the more excitable it becomes......more volume, overtones, sustain, etc.
On the other hand, lack of or insufficient soundboard loading leads to no sound at all, low-volume, dead sound, etc.
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