Friday Weird Science: You're not getting bigger, your tie's just getting smaller

Nov 02 2012 Published by under Friday Weird Science

Today's Friday Weird Science comes courtesy of the always fantastic Ivan Oransky, who covered this paper over at Retraction Watch (while the paper has not been retracted, it DOES have retraction in the title, which I'm sure counts for something).

When I saw this paper I was reminded forcefully of something my mother once said to my father. At one time in my childhood, my parents were joking about my dad going a little thin about the hairline. Dad said "I'm going bald". "No!" quoth Mom "You're just undergoing cranial expansion".

This paper takes that around and reverses it. You're not getting a pot belly. You're just undergoing tie retraction.

Geerling et al. "the tie Retraction syndrome" Orbit, 2012.

The authors note that tissue retraction is a major problem in some diseases. Tie retraction, on the other hand...is probably just silly. But it does EXIST:

The tie retraction syndrome is a slowly progressive
pseudo vertical shortening of tie length due to a hori-
zontal extension of girth length (Figure 1).

Not only does tie retraction syndrome exist, it has clear epidemiology, being far more common in men than in women, increasing with age, and correlating with increased taxable income (also, I imagine, it is limited to those who, you know, wear ties).

But of course, what CAUSES tie retraction (otherwise known as "psuedo-shortening of tie length)? The authors propose two methods: 1. increased girth, and 2. increased torso length (but they fail the mention the obvious 3rd possibility, which is the unwillingness to buy a new, longer tie).

Being that most of us are not gumby, the second option seems out, leaving the first option, which has its own equation, known as the "Neppert" equation.

where g = girth;
d = diameter; dʹ = horizontal growth; Xfr
= frontal projection of tie; l = length of tie and dbasic
= constant

i. g = π d
ii. d = dbasic + dʹ
iii. dʹ= d − dbasic
iv. ltie2 = dʹ2 + Xfr2
v. Xfr2 = ltie2 – dʹ2
vi. Xfr2 = ltie – (d − dbasic)2
vii. Xfr2 = ltie – (g/π − dbasic)2

While all these equations are handy, the authors note that the best diagnosis of tie retraction syndrome (TRS!) is probably with a ruler. Though just in case, they also recommend CT scan, ultrasound, and maybe an MRI. You never know. They even include a handy photo guide and rating system, so you can diagnose your own degree of TRS.


(Note the differentiation between type 1, which abdominal girth only, and type two, the "stuffed shirt" variety, since that looks like NO body type I've ever seen)

They also note that TRS should not be confused with other pseudo-forms, like people with really long torsos, or people with really odd posture. As an example, see figure 3.

But of course the real question is how to PREVENT this distressing condition. One could, of course, buy a new tie, but that's clearly too simple. The authors propose more extreme measures, including switching to bow ties (extra benefit of being hipster!), or possibly hitching your belt up to make the distance look shorter. They also note that pinning the tie down with the forearms (see figure 3) can help with tie placement, but also note that if you stay like that...you can't use your arms for anything else, and that can get awkward. So clearly the best options are:

1. Lengthening your tie. Do not do this by this method:

While it WILL make your tie appear longer...it will also result in your tie appearing longer because it's on the floor.

2. Artifically raising the belt. Of course this results in your belt being up ridiculously high, and you might end up looking like this:

Use with caution.

And of course, there's the never-discussed third option:

Don't wear a tie.

But that would be too easy.

Geerling G, Neppert B, & Hemmant B (2012). The Tie Retraction Syndrome. Orbit (Amsterdam, Netherlands) PMID: 23088329

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