Science 10; Popular Assumptions 0

Laurie and Debbie say:

Everybody knows that teenagers are having sex at younger and younger ages.
Everybody knows that marriage is bad for your sex life, and within a year you’re dueling with the TV remote rather than nuzzling each other’s private parts.
Everybody knows that people who have lots of sexual partners are a bad risk for STDs.

And guess what? Everybody is wrong.

One of the basic reasons to do science in the first place is that our intuitive sense of how anything works, whether it’s gravity, cooking, or human behavior, is suspect. We don’t all have the same intuitions, and when we’re in a relatively unified cultural context, we probably share the same underlying beliefs that skew our “intuitions.”

So the new metastudy of global sexual behavior, just published by The Lancet, is extremely gratifying. The researchers collated the results of over 200 studies over the last ten years, covering 59 countries, and they discovered that:

“There is no evidence that young people are engaging in sexual intercourse at earlier ages–the first instance of sexual activity for both genders generally occurs at between 15 and 19 years of age globally.”
“Married individuals–which constitute most people studied–have the most sex. ” a
“There is no firm link between promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.” (from a different article reporting on the same study)

We look forward to much more detailed and informative reporting on this study, which promises to have lots more surprises. Even though there are some problems with meta-studies collating various non-identical reports, this remains the first major global sexual behavior study in history. Lots more of the “everyone knows” beliefs are likely to be shattered here.

sexuality, science, intuition, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, STDs, Body Impolitic

2 thoughts on “Science 10; Popular Assumptions 0

  1. I love it when what is “obviously true” is shown not to be, even when it’s I who think the thing is obvious. It reminds me to pay attention to life instead of coasting.

  2. Fascinating stuff. The one place I suspect the results are … not wrong but misleading … is that, while I’m not at all surprised to see that there’s no particular link between “promiscuity” and STDs, I’ll bet there’s a strong negative correlation between monogamy (provided it applies to both partners) and lack of STDs. STDs being, you know, sexually transmitted and all that…

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