President Donald Trump last week bragged that he had a "very, very large brain" -- but Dartmouth College anthropology professor Jeremy DeSilva says that this boast was not nearly as impressive as the president likely imagines.
Writing at Scientific American, DeSilva explains that having a large brain is not a sign of higher intelligence, while also pointing out that Neanderthals had larger physical brains than humans despite not being as intelligent.
"Over the course of the last 30,000 years, human brains have not gotten larger," he writes. "They have actually gotten smaller."
Why have human brains gotten smaller? DeSilva admits that there is no conclusive answer at this point, but he does offer up some theories that scientists have batted around over the years.
"Some scientists hypothesize that this decrease was about efficiency," he says. "Brains take up only 2 percent of our body weight, but they exhaust 20 percent of our energy. They are quite expensive to run—stealing every fifth inhalation of oxygen and every fifth swallow of food. But, what if they ran more efficiently at a smaller size? Computers used to be the size of rooms and now they fit in our pockets."
Regardless, DeSilva says that having a physically large brain is nothing to brag about -- and, he notes, it might be indicative of someone who has a primitive outlook on society.
"Perhaps then we shouldn’t brag about our large brains, but marvel at the more compact brain we have inherited from ancestors who likely had to work together to survive," he writes. "Our world faces real problems, and these problems are not going to be solved by one guy with a self-reported large brain."