Not about everything

February 8, 2009

Did the Romans have digital cameras 2000 years before our era?

Filed under: history,mystery — takaita @ 11:59
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December 11, 2008

Promiscuity of males and females

Filed under: biology,mystery — takaita @ 20:49
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Sometimes a magazine makes about poll with a question involving the promiscuity of its readers.  Such a poll is of course only meant to write an interesting headline for one of the issues of the magazine. And an interesting headline is of course that there are differences between the promiscuity of the two human sexes.

Differences in promiscuity between males and females are however non-existent, at least when it comes to heterosexual partners. That is because the amount of males and females on this world are about the same. In every heterosexual contact, both a male and a female are involved.  To make the math a bit easier, let’s simply divide humanity in two pools: one of females, and one of males. With every heterosexual contact, each pool gets a point. There is no other way, because a heterosexual contact always involves both a male and a female.

After a certain period of time, the average number of heterosexual contacts per individual can be calculated by dividing the total number of points of a pool by the number of individuals in that pool. The math is easy. Both pools have the same amount of points and both pools have the same amount of individuals. Ergo: the average male has just as many heterosexual contacts (and partners) as the average female.

The really interesting thing is why polls sometimes show otherwise. The first thing that comes to my mind is that for magazines it does not make an interesting headline if males and females are just as promiscuous.  Magazines might “interpret” the poll results  just to make an interesting headline.

Other things might play a role. Maybe some very promiscuous individual are excluded from the polls, for example  prostitutes. If males count their contacts with prostitutes, but the prostitutes do not participate in the poll, then the poll would say that males are more promiscuous than females.  Also other non-representative samples are thinkable. Maybe the readers of the magazine (=respondents to the poll) do not form a representative sample of the population.

Another source of bias can be in the minds of people. Maybe women remember more of their sexual partners. Males don’t count those they have forgotten about, maybe they were not important enough to remember. Such a thing would result in females giving a higher amount of sexual partners than males. Or maybe it is the other way around. Another thing might be that males count something to be sex, which females do not count to be sex. How far do you go before you call it sex?

Anyway: if polls show a difference between the promiscuity of males and females, then the conclusion that males or females (whatever the outcome was) are more promiscuous is false. The really interesting question is why such a difference is reported.

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