Saturday, October 27, 2012

Penis size and infant mortality

As a sort of tribute to the recently deceased Philippe Rushton, let's take a look at the data on presented by Rushton's colleague Richard Lynn in the journal Personality and Individual Differences on average penis size and how that relates to the late professor's embrace of E. O. Wilson's r/K selection theory applied to humans (a framework whose time seems to have come and gone).

Lynn's data collection methods and subsequent transcribing of said data have come in for a fair share of criticism throughout the duration of his academic career, and his data on self-reported penis size--apparently entirely lacking in the way of any controls--aren't devoid of it. But hey, he's working in the inherently incurious and obfuscating environment that is contemporary academia. Don't make the good the enemy of the perfect.

Being the autistic nerdling that I am, I located the full data set rather than just information on the few select countries that showed up in all the write ups about the research when it was announced a month or so ago. Correlating those numbers on average erect male penis size from 119 participating countries with the most recent data on infant mortality rates yields a whopping r-value of .11, p = .23 (that is, the results are not statistically significant).


In other words, there is essentially no relationship between penis size and a population's spot on the r/K continuum, or at least no evidence of such from the data Lynn presents.

7 comments:

Lexus Liberal said...

Would you do a study on penis size and number of offspring sired?

I bet the bigger dick alphas have more children, both legitimate and illegitimate than beta providers who compensate for that shortfall.

Audacious Epigone said...

Lexus Liberal,

I'm not aware of a data set that would let us do that. Among both men and women, those who have fewer reported partners have more children in the US, though that leaves the question of cuckolding in the air. If I recall though, the rate is estimated to be pretty low, around 4% in the contemporary US, but I don't have time to try and look that up atm.

Jason Malloy said...

That penis size paper is an absolute disgrace. The data is simply reprinted from an anonymous hoax website. I checked a random sample of the references early this summer, and almost none of them agreed with the reported numbers. In fact the first reference I attempted to check (with most of the African data) didn't even exist. The website made it up. I doubt Lynn checked any of the papers before reprinting this data.

That paper needs to be retracted.

Anonymous said...

That always seemed to me like rather a random thing that Rushton included in his r-K pattern simply because it fit his Mongoloid-Negroid dimension. I never really understood Rushton / Lynn's rationale for including it.

After all, humans have larger penises relative to body than any other ape, and likely relative to our australopithecine and homo ancestors, yet we would be hard pressed to describe us as more r-selected than them.

Penis size seems to be higher in those primates who do not use violent coercion or large body size to keep mates (e.g. higher in Chimp than Gorilla or Orangutan), not really connected to the number of offspring or frequency of successful mating.

Anonymous said...

I bet the bigger dick alphas have more children


What makes you think that "alphas" have bigger dicks?

TGGP said...

Razib has data on the rarity of cuckoldry.

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