Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bad math

A study found that "39.1% (95% CI 36.6–41.7%) of men's partnerships were ‘not (yet) regular’ vs 20.0% (95% CI 18.2–21.9%) of women's partnerships." and "[s]ex occurred within 24 [hours] in 23.4% (95% CI 19.7–27.5%) of men's and 10.7% (95% CI 8.3–13.6%) of women's partnerships."

But here's the catch, which is not reported in the paper's abstract, the real percentages have to be the exact same for men and women. For each male who is in a partnership that is "not (yet) regular" there has to be a female to complete the partnership. There was a big debate between mathematicians about this a few year back, but I think everyone eventually agreed on this point.

So what do the data really say? Well, since the first CI's don't even overlap, we have significant evidence men and women view their relationships differently, women viewing things are relatively more seriously. The data also show that either men significantly inflate the amount of casual sex they have when surveyed, or that women do the opposite. You can guess which is more probable.

Both of these findings are sure to shock no one.

But one possibility I left out is shocking. Perhaps the 19.1% of irregular partnerships men have and women don't are between men. Maybe 50% of the casual sex men have is with other men. As it turns out that the study only included heterosexual partnerships so we can rule out that hypothesis.

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