Don't Press My Whorl: a hairy superstition in Japan

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/25/dont-press-my-whorl-a-hairy.html

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Are hair whorls like bathtub drains? If you’re born south of the equator do they swirl in the opposite direction? Is the direction different for folks who are left or right handed? The bald thing doesn’t worry me but the push button diarrhea is a concern. So many questions!

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Amanojaku sounds like a solid candidate for the patron demon of the BBS.

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It’s said if you push on a person’s hair whorl, they’ll either go bald or come down with a bad case of diarrhea.

And you casually dismiss this as superstition? Have you ever tested this hypothesis?

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Mirror image twins often have opposite-spiraling hair whorls: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin#Mirror_image_twins

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Uzumaki: Lovecraftian spiral horror manga

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In Spanish the word for it is Remolino, aka swirl. And is used frequently

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In fact, as a matter of mathematical necessity, they always occur on any hair-covered three-dimensional object with the topology of a sphere (the “hairy ball theorem”). Though, for that to be strictly correct, you also need to count tufts and hairless areas as “whorls”. Another well-known consequence of the theorem is that there must always be a cyclone at some point on the Earth.

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Another superstition about hair whorls (“cowlick” is the term I hear more often in the southern US) is that the direction of the whorl determines or reflects handedness. That is, a clockwise whorl indicates right handedness, while a counterclockwise whorl indicates left handedness.

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Also, to be strictly correct, you need the surface to be topologically a sphere. Humans are at least genus 1, what with our digestive tracts. (There are similar theorems for surfaces of genus >= 2, but it is false for genus 1.)

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It’s said if you push on a person’s hair whorl, they’ll either go bald or come down with a bad case of diarrhea.

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> Here’s a word I learned in English today: hair whorl.

President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet: … “Unfunded mandate” is two words, not one big word.

Perhaps Gov. Ritchie was also referring to the Japanese translation.

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I know, that’s why I said it. But for most vertebrates, the arrangement of hair is such that you can elide the “handles” represented by their mouths / butts / noses etc. without operating outside of the bald patches, and thus treat them as a perfectly spherical cow. It’s true, though, that you can comb digestive-tract cilia flat, for the reason you mention.

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Also, Japanese tradition states that if a kid has multiple whorls, they’ll be lucky.

(Personally, as a person with multiples, I think it’s just a way of consoling kids who are doomed to have crazy unmanageable hair, who have the choice of super short - so it all stands up, crazy, or super long, so it all lays flat.)

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I have two whorls - one on either side.

Well, I should say had two whorls before I started balding out from that area. I guess any luck didn’t extend to me having a good head of hair.

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Sorry, I’m not a mathmetician. Does the comb go in through a stoma?

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Whorl challenged individuals can take comfort in modern hairstyle technology

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:astonished: Someone must have pressed on your hair whorl!

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Exactly! I think the saying is just a consolation prize for upset kids.

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Anybody ever have a good case of diarrhea?

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