Improbable Sex

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

(Image credit: Tommy Wong)

Improbable, stimulating investigations
compiled by Marc Abrahams, Improbable Research staff

Shoehorn Data
“Can Shoe Size Predict Penile Length?”, J. Shah and N. Christopher, BJU International, vol. 90, no. 6, October 2002, pp. 586–8. (Thanks to Edward Crutchley for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, who are at St. Mary’s Hospital, and Institute of Urology, University College Hospitals, London, U.K., confirm the work of 1998 Ig Nobel Prizewinners Jerald Bain and Kerry Siminoski. Shah and Christopher summarize their work thus:

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Two urologists measured the stretched penile length of 104 men in a prospective study and related this to their shoe size.

RESULTS: The median stretched penile length for the sampled population was 13 cm and the median UK shoe size was 9 (European 43). There was no statistically significant correlation between shoe size and stretched penile length.

CONCLUSION: The supposed association of penile length and shoe size has no scientific basis.

Detail from the study “Can Shoe Size Predict Penile Length?”

Balls, Brains, and Nurturing
“Testicular Volume is Inversely Correlated with Nurturing-Related Brain Activity in Human Fathers,” Jennifer S. Mascaro, Patrick D. Hackett, and James K. Rilling, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 110, no. 39, 2013, pp. 15746–51. (Thanks to Rufus Chatelier for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Emory University, explain:

[We measured] aspects of reproductive biology related to mating effort, as well as paternal nurturing behavior and the brain activity related to it. Both plasma testosterone levels and testes volume were independently inversely correlated with paternal caregiving. In response to viewing pictures of one’s own child, activity in the ventral tegmental area—a key component of the mesolimbic dopamine reward and motivation system—predicted paternal caregiving and was negatively related to testes volume.

Menstrual Cycle Effects on Attitudes toward Romantic Kissing
“Menstrual Cycle Effects on Attitudes toward Romantic Kissing,” Rafael Wlodarski and Robin I. M. Dunbar, Human Nature, vol. 24, no. 4, December 2013, pp 402–13. The authors, at the University of Oxford, U.K., explain:

Using an international online questionnaire, results showed that women in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle felt that kissing was more important at initial stages of a relationship than women in the luteal phase of their cycle. Furthermore, it was found that estimated progesterone levels were a significant negative predictor for these ratings.

Detail from the study “Testicular Volume is Inversely Correlated with Nurturing-Related Brain Activity in Human Fathers.”


This article is republished with permission from the May-June 2014 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

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