Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The XX Factor

This morning my favorite morning show cited a very interesting study about natural selection and childbirth. The study, conducted by an independent research firm, found that when beautiful people have children they are more likely to have girls than boys. Furthermore, single mothers who have children are more likely to also have girls rather than boys. I didn't hear the rest of the discussion about this interesting phenomenon, but I have some theories of my own about this study: it's a bunch of elitist bullshit.

The first theory that two (objectively) beautiful people produce girls isn't based on any sort of longitudinal evidence, but rather on self-assessments. But, just because Madhubby thinks I'm beautiful doesn't necessarily mean Joe Smith thinks I am. Get it? So, really it's a subjective standard.

Furthermore, the study doesn't allow for any variations. So, then two, subjectively beautiful people, with two girls and a boy, would be considered an anomaly. The study doesn't specify whether boys are ok (I think they are MORE than ok) or whether the "beautiful people" offspring must be all girls.

As for personal experience, I know a few people who have all girls. While I think they are beautiful people, my standard is a subjective one because I know them. I don't think I could assemble a panel of people who would unanimously consider my friends to be beautiful.

The second theory: single mothers have more girls than boys. Again, not a longitudinal study but rather one based on self-assessments. The radio hosts hypothesized that it would be easier for a single mom to raise a girl rather than a boy, so the study "makes sense." Um. No. I have two girls and one boy, so I am speaking from personal experience here: girls are drama queens whereas boys are a lot more laidback. So, it's definitely not easier.

Also, I would be interested to know whether adoption data, where the mom is single, supports this theory. A counterargument might be that it is not the mother's but the father's status that matters. We all know that the male's sperm determines the sex of children. Well, maybe natural selection is at work, and nature has deemed those men who mate and move on as "unfit to reproduce." Thus naturally selecting certain lineages to continue (male babies) and others to be stunted (female babies). So, babies born to single mothers are not meant to continue an inherently flawed lineage.

Something else to think about are single mothers who chose to be single mothers. I still think my counterargument could apply because men in committed, long-term relationships don't fit the sperm donor profile or stereotype.

I don't fancy myself a scientist but I do believe in Natural Selection. However, further information is needed for these theories to command any authority. But, it does make for good reading and mental exercise!

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