Disregard anecdotes, consider actual statistical data

Statistics are not a guarantee of truth; all data collection is necessarily theory-laden.

In particular, Al Kinsey was guilty of gross scientific misconduct and falsification of data, so when a sex research institute is named after Kinsey, one must regard its claims with utmost skepticism.


I was very pleased to see a good, scientific approach made at the website:

The analyst in question considered a table of data from Kinsey, entitled:
Percentage of Men Reporting Frequency of Vaginal Sex, N=2396.

I take that to mean that the Kinsey is quoting the Indiana University group that polled 2396 men, divided into single, partnered, and married categories.

My first question is – what are N1, N2, and N3, the numbers of respondents in those three groups? The report passed peer review, so I hope those numbers were somewhat sane. I don’t have access to a medical library right now, and my local library doesn’t have a subscription to the “Journal of Sexual Medicine,” so I’m not going to check the details of the study right now.

The exact citation is:

National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB). Findings from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, Centre for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University. Journal of Sexual Medicine, Vol. 7, Supplement 5.

They have a link to the front page of another site,


And one might think that group would give out their data, because they have a nice link labeled: “Download Papers from the NSSHB Download the Supplemental Issue of JSM Here”

but THAT link


goes to a page that says:

Unfortunately this survey has been closed. Thank you for your time.

So if there’s anything messed up about this study, I lay the blame at Indiana University, which did a study on 2396 men and then denied the public access to the raw data.

So I’ll accept the current data provisionally, but I won’t be surprised if a more reputable research team comes along and find that Kinsey’s cultists have been falsifying data, just like their idol, Kinsey himself.

At any rate, “iconicmen” is not responsible for any problems with his source data – he’s just an analyst, and he provides this graph. We don’t know the numbers of men and women reflected in the following graph, but the graph is pretty persuasive:

Unless the sample numbers are wildly skewed, that graph shows that a lot of single men get a lot of sex from ages 30 to 49. That pattern should be huge, and it should show up in other journals. However, that pattern does not indicate that those men are finally earning enough money and showing enough confidence to win the charms of typical women. There could be lots of different explanations. For example, suppose we were to discover that the 30-49 group contained a disproportionate number of “johns,” i.e. men who purchase sexual favors from prostitutes? That would not mean that men of 30 to 49 years were suddenly gaining “market value,” it would mean that they were suddenly deciding to pay for sex. I don’t think that’s the actual case – I just want to point out how difficult it can be to pin down statistical descriptions of human behavior.

We don’t have to rely on anecdotes, and we don’t have to rely on a single finding from the Kinsey Institute; there are entire peer-reviewed journals out there. These statistics have already been analyzed. If we want to be scholarly about this, we should look up the journals in question and replace Rollo’s notion of “Sexual Market Value” with the terminology of the journals. Personally, I’m not going to expend my resources chasing down those journals, because this blog is already far too much like an unpaid job.

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2 Responses to Disregard anecdotes, consider actual statistical data

  1. Handle says:

    The vast majority of these studies were paid for, at least in part, with tax money. It’s frustrating when a normal member of the public cannot access even DRM-protected versions of the documents and data on the internet without being a member of an academic institution or paying a fortune per article. That’s why Aaron Scwartz stole JStor, and I’m sympathetic to his motivating principles.

    Perhaps some clever person will come to a peer-to-peer arrangement with college-students with free and easy institutional access on one end, and members of the public using a public-facing website on the other end, cooperate to route around the system.

    I would be happy if the various national agencies, institutes, and foundations that fund research banned granting money to any researcher who didn’t make all the data and derivative publications available free online.

    But until then, it is not realistic to expect even motivated amateurs without easy access to a college online library to spend their money accumulation publications which they cannot easily share, and which cannot themselves be reviewed by other members of the public without making similar expenditures.

  2. Pingback: Nostalgia Goggles – or, why the Manosphere ought to step up its scholarly description of age at first marriage | vulture of critique

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