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This is just sad

Daniel Lakeland writes:

You may be astounded that people are still reporting 26% more probability to have daughters than sons, and then extrapolating this to decide that evolution is strongly favoring beautiful women… Or considering the degree of innumeracy in the population perhaps you wouldn’t be astounded…. in any case… they are still reporting such things.

If anyone out there happens to know Jonathan Leake, the reporter who wrote this story for the (London) Sunday Times, perhaps you could send him a copy of our recent article in the American Scientist. Or, if he’d like more technical details, this article from the Journal of Theoretical Biology?

Thank you. I have nothing more to say at this time.

7 Comments

  1. Jeff Lax says:

    More on Huff Post and Fox 5 Chicago:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/27/scientis

  2. Jimmy Jin says:

    I believe the link is broken to your article, FYI.

  3. Keith Ng says:

    OH NOES. You mean women *aren't* getting logarithmically hotter? Thanks for telling me that *after* I blew all my cash buying a cryogenic freezer.

  4. JTT says:

    After reading the article in Evolution and Human Behavior, it seems that many newspaper articles are somewhat misleading. For example, Jokela does not report a significant sex ratio difference between attractive and not attractive women (or men). However, it does seem that attractive women (or men) tend to reproduce more than women (or men) who are not attractive. Putting the effects into context is slightly demanding though, since the article does not report the number of observations in different classes of attractiveness.

    And Keith, don't consider your investment wasted just yet. According to the article, the average attractiveness was reported to increase by about 0.02 standard deviations per generation.

  5. Daniel Lakeland says:

    I can certainly believe that on average beautiful women have somewhat more children. This is not hard to grasp. But if beautiful women also had 26% more girls, this would be a rate of evolution not seen outside of bacteria.

    As Andrew says in his article in American Scientist, the credible size of sex imbalance is on the order of 3% during extreme famine so 26% is like 10 times larger than the largest effect anyone's measured.

  6. Megan Pledger says:

    The interesting thing is that 28.2% respondents thought themselves very attractive while the raters only thought 11.2% of the respondents were.

    IMO the person themselves is a better judge of their attractiveness since they have had a lifetime of feedback. The rater makes a one-off judgement when coming into the person's home.

    So the question is, does having a boy child or a girl child change how you present yourself to a stanger who comes into your home.

    Boys *tend* to have messier play with bigger objects leading to a more disordered household. The rater's perception of a disordered home may effect their perception of a person's attractiveness. (There's some adage, which I can't remember properly, about no women being beautiful in a slovenly home.)

    Girls *tend* to be more interested in fashion, clothes and make-up meaning their parents (even unwillingly) are too. Do the parents, especially the women, take a more personal interest in their own clothes and make-up because their kids are? I.E. do they appear more attractive because they are more fashionable/wear more make-up?

    And, as the girls get older, especially amongst the attractive women, do the women feel the need to compete/keep up with their offspring? Same as the way men feel a need to outdo the physical prowess of their growing sons.

    It would be interesting to repeat the analysis using the person's perception of their own beauty.

  7. Markus says:

    Some clarifications on what the study found, how it got reported in the news, and the differences between the two:

    http://blogs.helsinki.fi/mmjokela/women-are-getti