Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Garbage Science: Giving Birth To Boys Lessens Life Expectancy

I love it when mainstream periodicals publish junk. During a coffee break today I visited MSN and saw that they had a little article talking about life expectancy on their healthy living page. Now I know that much of what comes out of MSN when it comes to studies is just consumer garbage, but I decided to take a look anyways. The article in questrion was about what effects your life expectancy. Right off the bat I saw something that, if it had been in relation to women, would have never been published or met with a howl of rage.

The second slide shows that women who give to birth to a boy can expect up to a one year decrease in their life expectancy. I continued on to see if there was any mention on giving birth to girls, nope there was no mention.  Anticipating that this was junk science, I quickly googled the term and came up with Yahoo article talking about a study saying that having boys could take months of your life.  A study had indeed been done on the subject but here is the kicker. This little tid bit of information, that was being written about as if it were fact, was extremely circumspect.  The study, by Dr. Samulii Helle was using data from pre-industrial Finland.

So here we have a mainstream periodical publishing a little infographic with information that is not only not pertinent in modern society, but also where even the researcher Dr. Smaulii cautions about reading too much into it. I don't expect the major periodicals to do a very good job of reporting science or geopolitical events, but you'd think some editor would see the first slide and go 'hmmm...that first slide is a pretty controversial claim. We should look into this.'  Nope, it looks like that would be expecting too much.


  1. Well, the average was six sons in the 'study'.
    I'd say even if true (unlikely), 18 months difference divided by six is negligible. Few people have that many children these days, and if asked they'd all say it's worth it anyway (I think so, and I am a mom with only sons...can't live forever and boys rule girls drool!).

    1. My issues are

      a) Specific focus on gender, how exactly is giving birth to 6 sons any more taking than 6 girls? I've heard claims about boys being more vigourous breast feeders but I call bullshit on that.

      b) The study I saw covers a period of human history that wouldn't apply today.

      Ultmiately, I am mostly frustrated because people, like the journalists who published this study, treat this as a scientific fact even though it isn't. And frankly the entire field isn't real science in the way say physics is a science.


Disagreements and countervailing views are welcome, however, comments will be deleted if:

-They have emoticons.
-If it is obvious that you have not read the post.
-Obvious Spam, and it takes me about a quarter second to determine if it is spam since you all write your comments the same way.

About Me

My photo
Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.