Category Archives: Sex

Academics and sex, or the lack thereof

Via Shellock, there’s a fascinating post at Gene Expression on various findings that show that intelligence is correlated with delayed sexual activity. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the post and I encourage reading the whole thing, but I want to point out the results I found surprising. Not because they go against stereotype—they actually confirm “science nerd” stereotypes, but I had convinced myself that these were just stereotypes without much basis in fact. These numbers indicate otherwise: (emphasis in original)

By the age of 19, 80% of US males and 75% of women have lost their virginity, and 87% of college students have had sex. But this number appears to be much lower at elite (i.e. more intelligent) colleges. According to the article, only 56% of Princeton undergraduates have had intercourse. At Harvard 59% of the undergraduates are non-virgins, and at MIT, only a slight majority, 51%, have had intercourse. Further, only 65% of MIT graduate students have had sex.

I was quite shocked that the numbers were this low; I obviously know a lot of grad students, and though I haven’t polled them on this subject, I would have guessed a much higher percentage. (I’m not chauvinistic enough to suggest that MIT grad students are less sociable than those at Berkeley—I expect the populations are pretty comparable, at least in departments like physics.)
However, I may be thinking too narrowly in terms of the stereotype of scientists who are virgins because they are socially maladjusted. (There are people like this in the community, but it’s a small fraction.) The Gene Expression post lists a number of other possible reasons this could appear as an aggregate effect, and argues for a few of them as contributing factors. (At an individual level, of course, it will be strongly path-dependent.)
One factor that wasn’t mentioned there is culture. This could manifest in at least two ways. The first is that a substantial fraction of grad students in technical fields are immigrants from cultures that are much more sexually conservative. Thus, even if these students themselves don’t hold conservative views, they may be less likely to have had sex. The second is that the culture in academia seems to me to be less sexually charged than in other spheres. This is not to say that it’s sexually restrictive—as the Gene Expression post points out, most academics hold liberal views about sex—but it’s less focused on going out and getting laid than, say, the Late Night Shots crowd. Our lab’s monthly board game nights aren’t terribly conducive to hook-ups (although surprisingly conducive to drunkenness).
Anyway, this might explain the results of the academic polls, but the original post is concerned with correlations with IQ rather than academic achievement. A logical extension would be to look at people in other intellectually-demanding disciplines, like law or medicine. Would the numbers be similar? My guess is no, but I may be stereotyping again.

The true spirit of Easter

Warning: this post is profane and blasphemous. Well, more so than usual.
I rarely promote a religious message on this blog, but today I would like you all to consider the spirit of Easter. No, not Jesus and brightly colored candy; the true spirit of Easter: fucking. After all, it is commonly thought that the Christian Easter was an assimilation of pagan fertility rites, which undoubtedly entailed lots of wild pagan sex. Now, my exhaustive research based on one or two Wikipedia pages indicates that the fertility goddess Eostre was actually invented by some dudes well after the fact. But this just puts it at the same epistemological status as Jesus coming back from the dead, so I don’t see any problem.
So let’s bring Easter back to its apocryphal orgiastic origins, and put the erection back in resurrection. I’d like to encourage everyone to celebrate the day by grabbing a hot specimen of your preferred gender and screwing like (Easter) bunnies. You’re single? No problem, this isn’t goddamn Valentine’s Day. Just go out and find a willing participant for some casual, no-strings-attached sacred springtime rituals. Lots of people will be hanging around churches today so you might start there.
Just don’t take the “fertility” part too literally—if I end up on a plane with a screaming baby as a result of this post, I won’t be pleased. Besides, you can annoy many sects of Christianity even more by using birth control.
And what will I be doing to celebrate the holiday, you so weren’t going to ask? Well, actually… I’ll probably be in the lab. But in the spirit of Easter, I’ll be measuring a pair of coupled qubits. And you know qubit sex is pretty hot, when they can take on all possible positions simultaneously. Don’t think of me as a physicist, think of me as a quantum porn photographer.

Tentacle Porn

Pharyngula has a post on squid sex. With diagrams and photos. Go on, click, you perverts.
The SQUIDs I study never do this, although I have been studying qubit couplings for the past few weeks. The process is somewhat less titillating than actual squid getting it on, but when I have better data I may post about it anyway. (I named the two qubits Angelina and Brad in the hopes of encouraging them to couple; it seems to have worked.)