Sunday Times - - ARTS & OPINION -

OU know what the in­ter­net has al­most more of than cats knock­ing glasses off ta­bles? Sex sur­veys and in­fo­graph­ics.

We are ob­sessed with sex data. I think it’s be­cause in our hearts we all just want re­as­sur­ance that we’re nor­mal. Even if we like to get peed on, or at­tach jumper ca­bles to our nip­ples, as long as some­one else likes to do that too, we’re OK. Even bet­ter if they like to do it in a Pi­lates re­former, or while eat­ing a bag of Flings.

For a more re­al­is­tic ex­am­ple, if some­one is cheat­ing on me, and I find out that 74.5968% of mar­ried men cheat, I feel a lit­tle bit bet­ter about it. Or if I only want to have sex with my part­ner on days not end­ing in Y, as long as some source I’ve never heard of be­fore with lots of as­ter­isks, tells me that six­ty­nine-point-ten-nine-six per­cent of other peo­ple feel the same way, I’ll be OK.

Is pe­nis size im­por­tant? Do we still mas­tur­bate when we’re in a re­la­tion­ship? Do women look at porn? These are just some of the things we will al­ways want to know the num­bers on. Sex stats are like the ex­pen­sive avos, we will still al­ways want them.

But here’s the prob­lem, has any sin­gle hu­man be­ing, in the history of the uni­verse, ever told the whole truth and noth­ing but the truth, when telling some­one else about their sex life, even anony­mously? And it’s un­likely that the re­searchers take that into ac­count and add a few, drop a zero, or round it all up a bit be­fore they pub­lish it, just to cover off any in­ac­cu­ra­cies. So that means the facts and sta­tis­tics we base our idea of what’s nor­mal on, are all just a steam­ing pile of fake news.

Ask­ing a bunch of guys if they worry their John­son is too small, and ex­pect­ing the truth, would be the equiv­a­lent of ask­ing a bunch of 53-year-old di­vorcees how old they are and ex­pect­ing an hon­est an­swer. If you added up all the left-off dig­its from the lat­ter sur­vey, you’d have the num­ber of men in the for­mer sur­vey who lied about their pe­nis size, or how many part­ners they’ve had, or how of­ten they re­ally spank their mon­key.

Re­search says that in sur­veys, men aged 18 to 60 say they have sex 1.5 times a week, but then data sci­en­tists say these men over-re­port by 50%. Women of a cer­tain age (or the age they’ll ad­mit to) say they have sex four times a month. Data sci­en­tists say they over-re­port by 200%. And who’s to say how much the data sci­en­tists have sex or over-re­port by.

So the bot­tom line is, you should never be­lieve ev­ery­thing you read, even if it’s a fancy-look­ing in­fo­graphic with vec­tor images of peo­ple do­ing a 69, and quoted sources.

Dam­nit, now I want a bag of Flings. LS amil­lion­miles­from­nor­mal @gmail.com; On Twit­ter @paigen

Paige Nick’s lat­est novel is Un­pres­i­dented: A Comedy of Er­rors (Book­storm, R200)

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