Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Study: If you tweak results, you'll eventually prove your dumbass hypothesis

One of my (many) pet peeves is the annoucements of studies that either 1) are so obvious you actually roll your eyes when they announce the results or 2) studies that are just plain stupid.

This one falls in the latter category.

This is the headline I saw on Yahoo's homepage:

Um - correct me if my 5th grade science is wrong but doesn't the father's sperm determine the sex of the child? Mom has XX and dad has XX can only give an X and XY is the one that determines the sex of the child.

All this is doing is helping the whole "men are not accountable for anything" or "women are to blame" arguments. I'm actually so annoyed by this article, that I'm going to do an ongoing commentary for those of you who do not want to click on the link for it. (Its like my own MST3000!)

PARIS (AFP) (Please don't blame the French, I heart them)- Oysters may excite the libido, but there is nothing like a hearty breakfast laced with sugar to boost a woman's chances of conceiving a son, according to a study released Wednesday.

Likewise, a low-energy diet that skimps on calories, minerals and nutrients is more likely to yield a female of the human species, says the study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Britain's de facto academy of sciences. Fiona Mathews of the University of Exeter in Britain and colleagues wanted to find out if a woman's diet has an impact on the sex of her offspring. So less calories, minerals, nutrients equals weak woman?
So they asked 740 first-time mothers who did not know if their unborn foetuses were male or female to provide detailed records of eating habits before and after they became pregnant. The women were split into three groups according to the number calories they consumed per day around the time of conception. I have issues with this part of the study. First of all, they had to talk to women who were preparing to become pregnant because otherwise how would you have this detailed record of eating habits. I barely remember what I ate last week.

Fifty-six percent of the women in the group with the highest energy intake had sons, compared to 45 percent in the least-well fed cohort. LEAST WELL FED COHORT

Beside racking up a higher calorie count, the group who produced more males were also more likely to have eaten a wider range of nutrients, including potassium, calcium and vitamins C, E and B12. The odds of an XY, or male outcome to a pregnancy also went up sharply "for women who consumed at least one bowl of breakfast cereal daily compared with those who ate less than or equal to one bowl of week," the study reported. Gives a whole new meaning to "make sure you eat your Wheaties".

These surprising findings are consistent with a very gradual shift in favor of girls over the last four decades in the sex ratio of newborns, according to the researchers. Because this article is screwing with my head so much, this sentence doesn't even make sense to me.

Previous research has shown -- despite the rising epidemic in obesity -- a reduction in the average energy uptake in advanced economies. The number of adults who skip breakfast has also increased substantially. Why is this even in this article? "This research may help to explain why in developed countries, where many young women choose low calorie diets, the proportion of boys is falling," Mathews said. Its a stretch but still not buying it. The study's findings, she added, could point to a "natural mechanism" for gender selection. Wait, so now Darwinism is getting brought into this?

The link between a rich diet and male children may have an evolutionary explanation. For most species, the number of offspring a male can father exceeds the number a female can give birth to. But only if conditions are favourable -- poor quality male specimens may fail to breed at all, whereas females reproduce more consistently. HAHAHAHAHA

"If a mother has plentiful resources, then it can make sense to invest in producing a son because he is likely to produce more grandchildren than would a daughter," thus contributing to the survival of the species, explains Mathews. I have to say, that in my family this is true - Oscar 3 Melissa 1

"However, in leaner times having a daughter is a safer bet." So there....

While the mechanism is not yet understood, it is known from in vitro fertilisation research that higher levels of glucose, or sugar, encourage the growth and development of male embryos while inhibiting female embryos. I think they may have to redo that nursery rhyme, since Girls are supposed to be made with sugar 'n spice.

1 comment:

kamor said...

To quote that DirecTV commercial by Christopher Guest, "90% of all statistics can be made to say anything... 50% of the time."