Parenthood brings about many life changes, some expected and some unexpected.  One observation that Chris has consistently made over the years is that fathers commit some pretty serious fashion crimes, the worst of which is wearing dark dress socks with shorts and/or sandals. Those of you who are familiar with Chris’ fashion sense may scoff at the idea that he is evaluating the clothing choices of others.  In fact, he would make the opposite argument: that exposed dark socks are so egregious that even he will notice, and that when you start receiving fashion citations from him, you know you are in serious trouble.

This observation brings about two questions: are dark socks associated with fatherhood, and if so, can we apply the scientific method to bring about a mechanistic understanding of this phenomenon?  Answers: probably (at least anecdotally), and certainly.  With this in mind, we put forth the following research hypothesis:

All men who wear dark socks with shorts and/or sandals are fathers

While this does not imply a mechanism for how this behavior comes about, it does provide some guidance on necessary/sufficient conditions for fatherhood: dark socks are not necessary, but they are sufficient.  We propose to study this with in person surveys.  Specifically, if you see a man wearing dark socks with shorts and/or sandals, ask him the following questions:

1. Are you a father?

2. If so, why are you wearing dark socks with shorts or sandals?

The beauty of this simple study design is that it could be carried out quickly and easily, and as a result it would be trivial for our friends in the scientific community to setup research sites in other parts of the world, allowing us to determine if this behavior is pan-cultural.  A survey will most certainly be necessary because apparently one co-factor for this type behavior is an inability to accurately self-report.  At least this is our observation of several male friends and relatives, identified here only by the names “Dad” and “dissertation advisor”, who claim that they do not dress this way despite photographic evidence to the contrary.  They are not being dishonest; rather, fatherhood seems to have rendered them unable to make fashion decisions, perhaps because they have too many other more important things to think about.  It remains to be seen if Chris will start behaving this way, and if this change can be attributed to fatherhood.  As with all research, asking questions rarely leads to a definitive answer, but rather begs broader questions, which is why this important work should be funded by a government agency grant such as the NIH or the Annals of Improbable Research.

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