Trig's vs Ruffles' Ear: What are the Odds of Similarities Due to Chance?
Here is the overlay I posted a few days ago:
"Ruffle's" ear is to the far left, Trig's ear around age 1 is next to it, and the third and fourth pictures show Trig's ear halfway and then all the way on top Ruffle's ear. I wrote that there was a remarkable correspondence of elements that aligned in the two pictures. Some folks wrote they did not see the similarities.
So what I would like to do now is try to make clearer what the elements are that I see in common in the two ears, and then ask if chance can account for the similarities. First, here are the two ears side by side:
Next, here are the same two ears with sections highlighted or darkened to show the shapes that I see in the ears:
What I called Y-shapes the other day I have covered over with triangles. Directly under the triangles are trapezoids. And under those, batwing (or boomerang) shapes.
Note that the position of the top two elements in relation to each other stays relatively constant in each picture (although that pair of elements on the right side seem to have been rotated counterclockwise, as compared to the pair on the left). The batwing shapes in the two pictures are of different sizes and are not positioned in the same way relative to the top pair of elements.
My hypothesis again is that the top of the helix in the left-hand picture is pulled down and buried under the scalp (a condition known as cryptotia) just above the batwing shape, causing the distortion in the size, shape and location of the batwing shape. My guess is that releasing the buried portion of the ear caused the entire ear to rotate counterclockwise, which would allow the elements in two pictures to align even better and allow the batwing shape to enlarge and be repositioned. However, the resolution of the photo on the left is such that pinpointing the cause of the malformation is dicey; I'll gladly concede that something other than cryptotia may have caused the malformation.
Still, if we can assume that the three elements highlighted on the left-hand picture belong to an ear (rather than say, the lower shape being a hole in the scalp), then a fair question is: How likely is it that you would find (from top to bottom) a triangle, a rectangle and a batwing shape in any ear selected at random? One commenter said that he (or she) had been looking a people's ears after reading my earlier post, and his view was that we are dealing with fairly common-looking ears; in other words, even if those similar shapes exist in the two ears above, perhaps we are still dealing with two different babies since chance can account for the similarities.
To "test" that idea, I found the following illustration of 30 male ears, essentially chosen at random, from people arrested in New York City (flipped to put ears in same orientation as those above):
To my eye, not a single ear in this collection has the same three elements. No doubt if we looked at enough ears selected at random, we would find an ear similar to the two above. But I think it is safe to say the odds of getting, by chance, two ears that match up the way the two above do is less than 1 in 30. Which means we can have a high degree of confidence we are dealing with the same baby.
Let me know if you see flaws in my analysis.