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Sex and science and promiscuity

November 14, 2018

Most bad-mouthing of the millennials is no more than the trite complaints made about every new generation by those from generations past, especially by those who simply haven’t adapted to new times. But I worry a bit when I read that young adults are not having sex. Come, my millennial friends, what is wrong with fuck?

Betsy Mason writes a cute summary on the fuzziness in how scientists label animals promiscuous. Those my age learned the rule as undergrads: someone is promiscuous when they are having more sex than you. Like those uninhibited bonobos shown. Shown for the sake of my millennial friends who perhaps need example.

I would be more worried about millennials allegedly falling behind on that if I were more confident of that data. I’m a bit leery that scientists are much better at measuring the sex lives of people than they are of birds. What they likely are seeing, if anything, is just a shift in pattern of the sort that often occurs with this kind of social data. It always looks dire when it first shows up in the young, from all sorts of extrapolations for their entire future, not yet known and measured, and amplified from failing to see other changes in pattern that might make that one seem less worrisome. Despite the ribbing of my millennial friends, I am not yet panicked that they have given up on sex.

Maybe scientists will be more free to explore sticky topics if they could publish academic papers under pseudonym? Some academics are proposing a new, peer-reviewed journal for that. I suspect they will find that the social inhibitions it will skirt are not necessarily the political ones they expect. Still, it is a good idea. It will be interesting to see the results.

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