By-blows, paternal age, and all that.

Once upon a time, people often said that ~10% of children had a biological father other than their nominal father, usually called false paternity or nonpaternity. This notion was particularly common in sociobiological circles. There were others who thought the same: Robert Heinlein once said that “casual bastardy is far in excess of that ever admitted.” Of course that was said by a character in one of his novels, but I’ll bet he meant it.

In the places and times where we have good numbers, they were clearly wrong. They’re wrong about contemporary rates, and wrong over the past thousand years or so. Hard to say about the Pleistocene.

Here are some good numbers from recent studies:

Contemporary Germany: 1% From checking for HLA type in medical cases.

contemporary Switzerland: 0.83%

Contemporary Iceland 1.49% (from DeCode)

Contemporary Dogon, in Mali. Mildly polygynous. : 1.8%

Contemporary Bushmen (< 2%) (Original source was intoxicated, as usual. Intermediate source was intoxicated and crazy. )

Patronymics & genealogical studies (gives info over the past few hundred years)

Afrikaner: 0.73%

Ireland ~1.6%

England ~1.3%

Let assume that those West African populations reported average paternal ages of ~46 have 10x higher false paternity than any reliable number ever measured: say 20%. Shit, they might: we don't have any good measurements. I was going to say that I'd probably have a good horseback feel for this if I'd grown up in Ghana, but maybe not: professors who grew up here often don't.

Then average paternal age would be 40.8, still higher than almost anywhere else, other than Australian Aboriginals.

Parenthetically, one might wonder why the ev psych types (and RAH, and Jared Diamond) embraced such inaccurate notions about their own societies.

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72 Responses to By-blows, paternal age, and all that.

  1. Maybe for similar reason why Freud imagined everyone else be obsessed with dongs, yet never allowed for falsifiable tests of his “scientific” hypotheses.

  2. Steve Sailer says:

    Sir, are you implying that RAH would ever contemplate the notion of wife-swapping? I say, sir! Next you’ll be accusing him of sunbathing in the nude!

  3. Steve Sailer says:

    A dozen years ago, I vaguely recall perhaps Henry mentioning a Mexican study that found something like 4% for respectable people and 20% for the lower class.

    • DaveG says:

      Sounds suspiciously biased unless you can prove otherwise being that even bushman are less than 2percent.

      But now that you mention it, I recall hearing somewhere that white upper classes were at 5% and white lower at 30%.

  4. greg kai says:

    Interesting, I was indeed presented the 10% as hard fact coming from random blood testing at birth in the US….So it is not only a vague urban legend, it is false “knowledge” being spread around….:(

    Maybe the original 10% comes from blood testing for paternity test…Then it match with a 1% occurence: the people doing the test are doing it for a reason, if they suspect they are not the father the chance they are right will be much higher that the general occurence. If the 10% comes from this kind of sample, it is in fact incredibly low 😉

    • gcochran9 says:

      Argument by incredulity gets boring.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        I thought that the actual figure was around 5%, because I thought that I read it in Nicholas Wade’s “Before the Dawn”, but obviously I was wrong. I would imagine that people believe that the number is higher because, until recently, the only people testing were those who were suspicious, and suspecious people usually DO have something to be suspicious about. Possiblythe percentage for the subset of people who think that their wives might be cheating on them is around 5-10%, who knows. As for RAH, writers have vivid imaginations…

      • greg kai says:

        yep, that was my point: if the number reported was not obtained by random testing, but came from test explicitely asked by the father….then it explains why the 10% figure was around.
        If anything, I would have expected much more than 10% in those conditions….but then, the info (how many suspecting father are right) is not so interesting, and completely different from how many children have a father which is not the “official” one.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      My impression is that the rate for paternity testing where the purported father pays for the test because he has Suspicions is somewhere around 30%. In contrast, about a decade ago, somebody looked at a study in America of fathers and kids where the father wasn’t suspicious and the figure was down maybe in the 1 to 2 percent range. But there were issues with that figure, too, such as that the researchers think that fathers who have Suspicions but don’t want to know wouldn’t sign up for this study.

      There’s also an intermediate category where the nominal father knows he isn’t the father and accepts that, but doesn’t widely tell others about it. And then there are cases of adoption.

      The ideal study for this purpose would be one without Informed Consent, but those aren’t done as much anymore.

      In general, it seemed like a difficult methodological problem to get down to a very precise level.

      • gcochran9 says:

        The genealogical studies are unambiguous, at least about the past few hundred years. The rates in the Western world are low, under 2%. No ifs, ands, or buts.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        I suspect there are differences at the top and bottom of the social scale. Among the lumpenproles, uncertainty of paternity is high, and perhaps among the aristocrats, at least after the wife has delivered the heir (and maybe a spare). For example, William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill says that Churchill’s younger brother, a lifelong non-entity, was probably not the son of Lord Randolph Churchill.

        It was not uncommon in America for children of widows who remarry to be given their stepfathers surnames. My cousins were known by their stepfather’s surnames when I was a boy, but changed them back to their mother’s first husband’s name when they reached legal age.

        Was think kind of renaming common in England? Certainly there were a lot of widows in the old days …

  5. Steve Sailer says:

    And, how do we know how old these guys really are? Remember 130 year old Charlie Smith who attended the awesome night-launch of Apollo 17 in 1972? If society rewards really old guys, you get more of them.

  6. Steve Sailer says:

    I heard that 30% of men who want testing have their worst fears confirmed.

  7. j says:

    I have heard that in England it was 40% a decade ago, based on alimony/divorce cases, and it was not their fears that were confirmed but their hopes.

  8. j says:

    Men know. Natural selection must have necessarily equipped us with an almost infallible sensor. Where is Prodigy, who could calculate if it is so or not.

  9. dearieme says:

    “one might wonder why the ev psych types (and RAH, and Jared Diamond) embraced such inaccurate notions about their own societies”: some people have realised that there’s a good living to be made by disparaging their own societies.

  10. aisaac says:

    I’ll bet a fair number of those cases are actually cuckoldry fetishists who know about it.

  11. Jaim Jota says:

    Men know, Natural selection has equipped us with fine tuned cheater sensors (the high percentage of positives for the men who suspect cuckoldry means exactly that: we know. Where is Prodigy to prove it with statistics?

    • Cloudswrest says:

      “If it’s a legitimate cuckoldry, the male has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

    • bruce says:

      There was a 19th century US Presidential case-‘Blah, Blah, where’s your Pa?’ ‘Gone to the White House Ha Ha Haaa!’ The President (who got elected after everyone knew) wasn’t sure if the father was him or a couple other guys seeing the same lady, so they all chipped in to offer some support for the child. More civilized than today’s DNA testing plus lawsuits to force the man to fully support his bastard at the expense of any legitimate heir, while the rest of her Camillia slides out unwept, unhonored, unhorsewhipped.

  12. SDL says:

    Off topic . . . but your Taki article was the funniest thing I’ve read in months. Well done.

  13. Seattle says:

    “some people have realised that there’s a good living to be made by disparaging their own societies”

    You’re one quarter to talk, boyo.

  14. Solon says:

    Because these men are losers with women and such wickedness from the Rejectors is believable?

    Your posts on advanced paternal age resorting in a higher mutational load haven’t exactly been burning up the evo-psych world for the same reason.

    This esteemed writer did feel compelled to address those particular thought crimes, though did not call you out directly:

  15. More generally, people who want the social censure for some sexual behavior relaxed (or any behavior, I suppose), with often use a strategy of exaggerating its commonness. The earliest Kinsey reports. for example, or current claims that 10% – I have even heard 15% – of the population is homosexual or bisexual.

    You’ve heard it from your kids saying “everyone does it.” Even though there are ready answers for that, the fact that such strategies persist suggest that they work.

    • greg kai says:

      what’s the correct number, btw? I’ve heard the 10% also, in fact it is the only number I’ve ever heard mentioned…but that has always seemed too high, based on my personal experience. Even if personal anecdoctes are especially non trustable for estimating how many homosexual there is (different friend circle and all), I would have expected to encounter homosexuals much more often that I do, for 10% occurence… Pity it is not the case, in fact, would make a surplus of available females 😉

      • Anthony says:

        True figure is between 1% and 3%, depending on your definition of “homosexual”, and whether you’re looking at men or women or both. If I recall correctly, Kinsey’s 10% was something along the lines of “ever had sexual contact with the same sex”, which, depending how the question is posed, might catch activity which is competitive rather than cooperative. Kinsey’s samples were also pretty non-representative, and his adjustments to obtain general population estimates may have been wrong.

    • MaMu1977 says:

      Define “bisexual”.
      For the most part, the qualifications for bisexual status in the original questionnaire involved proximity, not contact.

      Have you ever jacked off while camping? Were other guys there (different tents, down by the lake, whatever)? Bisexual.
      Have you ever spent regular periods of time surrounded by naked men? Bisexual, even if your “naked time” was at a communal bath (Scandinavian/Russian/Asian style) or as a function of government (basic training and forward operations are situations in which everyone’s taking showers as available).
      Do you know what other mens’ erections look like? Bisexual. Porn viewage counts as evidence. So does walking in on Mummy and Father. Work in a hospital and see a man’s dying erection without warning? That counts too!

      It carries over to the artificially inflated rates of incest in the original files. Stretch your definition far enough (pre-teen boy who experiences his first erection at the sight of Mommy’s or Sis’s breasts, share a bed with a cousin and learn about wet dreams the hard way, etc.), and incest becomes “normal”. Fringe elements of eroticism don’t equal actual contact in real like, but for kinky old Al…

  16. dave chamberlin says:

    This reminds me of the difference in what percentage of the public considers themselves to be homosexual and what the public is led to believe is homosexual. When asked what percentage of the public is homosexual most people throw out numbers like 10, 15 percent. One of the latest studies asked people if they considered themselves to be homosexual and the percentage was 1.7 percent. In both cases abnormal sexual behavior was assumed to be rediculously more common than it actually is. There is a media distortion going on here. On the one hand real news giving real quantitative analysis bores people. So they are never told the facts because they aren’t interested. On the other hand sex and violence sells. I don’t have to tell you whats’ on the boob tube every night. Steven Pinker laid out a ton of convincing evidence that violence has dramatically decreased in modern times in his latest book “The Better Angels of our Nature.” But did people get the message? Naaa, they would far rather fill their idle time watching TV shows built around horny vampires.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      But of course, violent crime really did increase significantly in the U.S. for the period 1964 – 1994, and all most people care about is what’s going on in their lives. If you were mugged in 1979, it’s pretty cold comfort that things were worse back in the Dark Ages.

  17. Rob King says:

    It is possible (but very rare) to have multiple paternity in humans (Ambach, Parson, & Brezinka, 2000). E.P.C.s are far more common in contemporary industrial and traditional societies. Figures range from 7% to 41% males and 5% to 27% females (Simmons, Firman, Rhodes & Peters, 2004). Obviously such figures are tough to verify
    OK.–but what about actual cuckoldry. Figures of 30% are almost certainly the upper boundary and come from already disputed paternity cases (James, 1993; Anderson, 2006). Folk like Satoshi Kanazawa like to throw figure like that around for shock value. Far more realistic figures are in the 2-5% regions (Simmons et al, 2004; Andersen, 2006). Note that the lower figure is plenty large enough to drive anti-cuckoldry adaptations-as Greg C has himself repeatedly pointed out in relation to homosexuality (in kinda reverse). Modern human testicle (Short, 1979; Smith, 1984) size argues for some sort of ancestral degree of sperm competition–although that could have manifested itself in more than one way.

  18. Solon says:

    Dave, et al.,
    Everything you say about the public and misperception is true.
    In our case here, though, we are talking about people who should know better. Worse, and especially with the amateurs, they see themselves as members of the science or reality-based community.
    Further, insularity is a big problem. Cuckoldry gets talked about a lot in the evo-psych world, but nobody seems to be aware of Michael Gilding’s definitive article from 2011 about the subject. He not only traced down the origin of the high cuckoldry rate myth, but even cited groups, among them evolutionary psychologists, as being responsible for the perpetuation of this myth.

    Steve Sailer himself is surprised by what Mr. Cochran has said and I doubt he’s alone.

  19. Solon says:

    I almost forgot. A year before Gilding’s article, Razib Khan discussed this myth at Gene Expression:

    He then added why from an evo-psych point of view this myth is just bizarre:
    “By the way, if misattributed paternity was very common in the past because men didn’t care one would assume that evolutionary pressures would have selected against it until it was rare. So if the urban myth figure was correct, it would be relatively new, or, there’s no heritable trait associated with getting cuckolded and it happened in a scattershot fashion across the population.”

  20. Jason Malloy says:

    Contemporary Bushmen (< 2%) (Original source was intoxicated, as usual. Intermediate source was intoxicated and crazy. )


    “Henry Harpending (personal communication) has gathered biochemical data on the Kalahari Bushmen showing that about two per cent of the children in that society do not belong to the father to whom they are commonly attributed.” (Trivers, 1972)

    Unfortunately, Harpending is the only scientist to ever try and measure nonpaternity in a forager population (go figure). However he did not publish this research or place any high confidence in it (methods were quite crude at the time).

    If Greg and Henry have any access to forager DNA, I recommend publishing a modern analysis. This is important stuff.

    • Rob King says:

      2% sounds like a plausible figure and fits with other studies–see above. 30% is absurdly high and would be likely to only come about from those population who already have reason to suspect. However, in the rush to give evo psych a kicking (sometimes deserved one has to admit) a key point seems to be being overlooked here.
      2% is a hell of a lot. If a behaviour had a 2% chance of killing you would you do it happily and knowingly? Would you likely evolve mechanisms (like jealousy) to guard against it?
      Well, genetically cuckoldry is at least as bad as death, arguably worse–unless its your siblings kid you are raising (ewww).

      • Anonymous says:

        seems to me that, even from the pure gene point of view, nothing is worse than death. except maybe earlier death , or death together with your relatives. As long as your are alive, there is a chance of future reproduction…when dead, not so much 😉

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Yeah, considering that, as GC has pointed out, human females don’t deliver live offspring all that easily, 2% is pretty high. So is 1%, when it gets right down to it.

    • harpend says:

      As I recall (vaguely) there were something like 3 paternity and 2 maternity errors. We had something like 8 or 10 loci at the time. I figured, and still do, it was not worth much as data and that it likely reflected labeling errors. One of the paternity exclusions was a kid who looked like a clone of his dad. The samples were collected by me squatting in the sand with vacutainers in one hand, a swab in the other, tape to label tubes in my pocket, a ball point that went dry often, and so on. I was pretty surprised that Bob reported our “conversation.”

      I agree with Jason that it is important stuff. The samples are still, I presume, in a freezer in Johannesburg. On the other hand I frankly would not be very comfortable doing it. I do hate to sound like a despised “bioethicist” but those guys are my friends, rather their parents were.

      This also brings up the classic question we all have about Malloy: does he ever sleep?

  21. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    I imagine that there was/is an arms race between females and males. Since females benefit from obtaining genes from various males, they would evolve behavior that helps in that endeavor. In addition, since they have what men want, sex, they can exploit that.

    However, males that are susceptible to cuckoldry fail to pass on their genes, you would expect selection for preventing cuckolding to occur, and it would settle down to a low level.

    It is interesting that “cuckold” is essentially a technical term in the English language, but that Chinese has a more common expression for it: Literally, Wearing a Green Hat, 带绿帽子。

    I suspect that this is because, with their more uniform features (hair and eye color) Chinese women more easily get away with cuckoldry compared with Caucasian women who have to worry about different hair color, eye colors, etc.

    • tractal says:

      Unlikely. “Cuckold” was not long ago a common term and theme in the West. I don’t know why it has become somewhat obscure but I would rule out deep cultural constants.

  22. Rob King says:

    Incidentally, Pinker (2007) cites sources saying that there have been over 2000 synoyms for “wanton woman” in English. And people made a fuss when they thought that Eskimos had 50 words for snow.

  23. Greying Wanderer says:

    “Because these men are losers with women and such wickedness from the Rejectors is believable?”

    That doesn’t necessarily follow as if female infidelity was as big a deal as some claim then the men with the least regard for female fidelity would be those with personal experience of getting lots of offers from already attached women.

    However there’s a big difference between offers of sex and offers of reproduction. If you’re a particular kind of man with a middling spot in the socio-economic spectrum but a sexy uniform then you might find yourself getting lots of offers of sex from women married to investment bankers but they wouldn’t dream of having your kid.

    It seems to me the high numbers bandied about could only ever make sense in a population that hadn’t gone through a stage where male provision wasn’t necessary for survival. In every other population the level of actual female infidelity would be low and the level within that of careless infidelity would be extremely low.

    • Rob King says:

      The lowness is not an issue–its the skew that matters. Folk that catch the ladies eyes–pleistocene Mick Jaggers et al–get more than their share. Like Greg Cochran has repeatedly said as regards homosexuality–a behavior that results in even a 1% fertility drop-off will be selected out. Well, the reasoning here is no different. Say the rate of non-paternity is 1%, for arguments sake. Still plenty to drive counter-adaptations and arms races. Way more than enough. As it happens I am not at all convinced by the arguments about jealousy myself–but that’s another issue entirely.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “a behavior that results in even a 1% fertility drop-off will be selected out”

        Isn’t that the point though? The idea of an arms race seems to suggest that infidelity is somehow advantageous from a female point of view but it seems to me that as soon as a a population moves into an environment that requires male provisioning then female infidelity produces a risk of 100% fertility drop-off *from the woman’s point of view* so i think it’s less about men developing defences to female infidelity and more about women developing defences to their own paleolithic urges for macho men in sexy uniforms.

  24. Greying Wanderer says:

    “as soon as a a population moves into an environment that requires male provisioning then female infidelity produces a risk of 100% fertility drop-off *from the woman’s point of view*”

    Hence things like this from

    “The estimated rate differs widely according to the marital status of the mother. For the offspring of married women, the rate is between 0.3 per cent and 0.6 per cent. For cohabiting women, it is between 1.1 per cent and 2.7 per cent. For other women – single, divorced, separated or widowed – it is between 2.3 per cent and 8.1 per cent”

  25. Hugh Mann says:
    “People often quote a figure of one in ten for the number of people born illegitimately,” says Professor Jobling. “Our study shows that this is likely to be an exaggeration. The real figure is more likely to be less that one in twenty-five.”

  26. Steve Sailer says:

    Here’s a 2003 Census bureau study that says that 92.3% of the 83 million children in the U.S. are officially biological, 5.2% step children, and 2.5% adopted.

    Click to access censr-6.pdf

    So, there are a lot of guys out there provisioning for children who are officially not their’s, and it’s hard to count the number provisioning for children who aren’t their’s but they don’t particularly want to talk about it.

    Another category are sperm-donor children. Plotz’s 2005 book said about a million Americans had been conceived by sperm donations. So, that might be between, say, 0.5% and 1.0% of current children.

    And yet another category are individuals who are told that their grandfather and grandmother are their mother and father and that their mother is their big sister. Jack Nicholson and Bobby Darrin were raised like this, and Thomas Sowell somewhat like this (it wasn’t his grandmother, though, more like his great-aunt). Andrew Sullivan got very worked up in 2008 accusing Sarah Palin of doing this.

    There are probably other categories like this. Whether they would strengthen or weaken the hypothesis that African society’s with high nominal paternal ages really have them would have to be thought through on a category by category basis.

  27. Steve Sailer says:

    When I stop and think about examples from my own extended family, I can come up with a number of complicated situations involving paternity. I can’t think of any where everybody says, “That poor old fool, how does he not notice that that child isn’t his?” but I can make up a list of fairly comparable situations. I won’t go into details about my relatives because these are private, but there are some pretty interesting stories.

    If you are interested in this statistical question, I’d suggest you corner an older female relative who likes to gossip at a family gathering and see what she can come up with. You might be surprised at what you’ll hear.

    • albatross says:

      Intuitively, I would expect birth control and abortion to be big factors in these false paternity situations. Having a baby by the other man is a pretty classic way for the whole affair to be caught, and has a good shot at ending up somewhere between family scandal and the wife and other man ending up shot, while the husband heads off to prison. It is difficult to imagine a stronger incentive for both using birth control and having an abortion, as needed.

  28. Steve Sailer says:

    Speaking of the uncertainty of ages, I was struck by the scene in “Zero Dark Thirty,” where James Gandolfini, playing CIA boss Leon Panetta, says to Jessica Chastain,

    “So you’ve been chasing bin Laden for 12 years, ever since we recruited you out of college”?

    And Jessica Chastain’s character jumps in and says, “The CIA recruited me out of high school, but the reason is so secret that even I don’t know.”

    My reaction was “Huh? The CIA recruits high school kids for reasons that the CIA Director can’t know? Really?”

    But a simpler explanation is that Jessica Chastain, or her agent, didn’t want audiences to know she’s actually 34, not 30. The dialogue in the movie is kind of an elaborate joke.

  29. Greying Wanderer says:

    “If you are interested in this statistical question, I’d suggest you corner an older female relative who likes to gossip at a family gathering and see what she can come up with. You might be surprised at what you’ll hear.”

    I dunno. There are rumours like that in my family from various time periods, usually over one of 3-4 kids not looking the same as the others but when you look at family photos there’s usually a great-uncle somewhere who looks just the same. I think that’s how a lot of this starts.

    I do think there’s an awful lot of non-paternity among certain populations at the more chaotic end of the social spectrum especially in the welfare underclass – which (imo) mimics one version of the ancestral environment – but i’d say 90% of the women descended from populations with a long history of male providing will have developed lots of defences against their paleolithic cravings for violent men when they’re ovulating – and of the 10% who cant always control it at least 90% of them will make sure it doesn’t result in a kid.

    That’s populations with a long history of male providing though. It might be different in populations who don’t have that history.

    • albatross says:

      I wonder how much impact homosexuality has on these rates. If you have substantial numbers of men in marriages of convenience to cover up their scandalous tastes in lovers, you may well have a lot of those men indifferent to their wives’ sexual partners, as long as there is no scandal.

      I have a family anecdote along these lines. When my mom was in high school in a small farm town in the Midwest, one of her male friends’ parents apparently tried everything including offering a lot of cash to get her to marry their son. I don’t know if she knew he was gay back then, but I gather it became rather unambiguous later on. Had she unwisely taken them up on this offer, I imagine he would have been quite unconcerned with any attentions she received from male friends, the mailman, or the pool boy, as long as the children that resulted were the right color and not otherwise scandal-inducing. He might even have been grateful for a plausible-looking grandkid or two to keep the heat off him, and the grandparents might not have looked too critically at them either.

  30. Dahlia says:

    Every “uncertain paternity” case I’ve seen involved an out-of-wedlock conception.
    In all cases the man’s family saw the woman as extremely beneath the man.
    With one exception, the man profoundly did not want to be the father and was under great
    psychological stress.
    All cases were resolved in time by the looks of the child and the named men were the fathers.
    Maury Povich, though, has taught me that this isn’t always the case 🙂

    Given that the bastard rate is very high and a large number of these children are accidents, it stands that many men, and their families, find themselves in situations where they’ve been told they’re a father and don’t want to be.
    Thus, this large number would like to believe in an inflated cuckoldry rate. Hey, it’s possible and when one is despondent, one will latch onto any and every sliver of hope.
    Their gossip would also add to the collective conscience a “feeling” that cuckoldry rates are higher than is really the case.
    Other commenters have pointed out other people who have incentives to believe in higher cuckoldry rates.

    Anyway, great work as it is important. As Steve Sailer says, from one truth flow other truths.

  31. Dahlia says:

    The cases that grip the popular imagination are those involving a long-married man who loved his wife, married her for love, and was blind-sided.

    I’ve personally never, ever, never heard gossip questioning the progeny of any such man, personally known to me. Nor have I heard such a man express doubts himself; and the idea sounds preposterous because it is.

    My point is that many people, for various reasons, would like to believe in a higher cuckoldry rate and it usually is because they, or a loved one, has messed up or wants to mess up (abandon a family by citing newfound doubts). They themselves pollute the others with bad information which is compounded by some evolutionary psychologists who have their own reasons for believing in a high cuckoldry rate.

  32. publishedpapers says:

    In countries that allow testing, 50-60% of paternity tests, which are nearly all done by fathers who are already suspicious, show the mother’s official partner is not the father.

    The average number (in “modern” societies) is of children fathered by someone else than a woman’s official partner is around 20%, with up to 40% for the working class and poorer. Upper classes tend to have 10%, but they are much fewer, so the most common rates are 20-40%.

    Some researchers did a simulation involving the benefit from genetic diversity and the cost of being found out, and the best rate of extra-pair paternity for the mother was around 20%, which matches the results from most surveys, so women “instinctively” choose the optimal rate.

    One reliable source is the scholarly book “Oxford Handbook of Sexual Conflict in Humans” recently published by Oxford University Press which reports on page 295 (available from Google Books):

    “Current estimates of extra-pair paternity in humans are between 1%-20%, with most estimates at about 10% …. A survey conducted in 1999 by the American Association of Blood Banks reported that as many as 30% of children are fathered by extra-pair copulation“

    The numbers are supported by a vast survey of academic literature. The lower estimates above are supported by absolutely nothing.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Total crap. Is something wrong with you? Look, we have plenty of piping-hot genetic results on this: you’re wrong, wrong, wrong! Wrong now, wrong yesterday, wrong tomorrow.

      We have heaps of good evidence: If I hear one more loon explain that solid evidence of a rate < 2% – including long-term historical evidence from genealogical studies – means that the rate is really much higher, I’m going to go ape.

      As for pretending that some dipshit ev psych argument about what the rate ought to be is evidence of what it actually is, shit, my dog is smarter than that.

      • publishedpapers says:

        You are calling loons the authors of dozens of academic peer reviewed papers who have done extensive genetic surveys, from serious universities, in a book published by a very reputable academic house. Your only argument is the indisputability of your words.

        • gcochran9 says:

          They’ve never done representative studies. I doubt that they could. Do I call them loons? Of course!
          Gladly !

          Here’s a recent example of a real study: Low nonpaternity rate in an old Afrikaner family, Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 33, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 268–273

          They look at the Y chromosomes of an old Afrikaner family, compared them with what you’d expect from genealogical records. You can figure out the number of nonpaternity events (which include adoptions, etc) from the number of discrepancies. In some cases, you have to make an educated guess at generation lengths, which means that your mileage may vary, but in this case all the dates are known. They get 0.73% nonpaternity per generation. So yes, all the ev psych papers about the high level of paternal uncertainty are wrong, at least for Afrikaners, Englishmen, Germans, Swiss, Irish, Icelanders, Dogon, and San – today and over the past few centuries.

        • gcochran9 says:

          By the way, I’ve written chapters for books published by Oxford University Press. They’re just folks, not the secret masters who hold close the mysterious wisdom of the Occident.

    • gcochran9 says:

      That 1999 study is the fraction among guys who had paternity tests done – not in the general public, you maroon. That’s like estimating the fraction of murderers in the general population from the fraction of actual murders among those formally charged with first-degree murder.

      Personally, these results have been a big disappointment to me, since I was thinking of marketing a home paternity detection kit built into the butt of an AK-47. But the market’s just not there.

    • publishedpapers says:

      BTW BTW, a lot of extra-pair affairs by women are intended to result in extra-pair conception, because a powerful motivator for those extra-pair affairs is the desire of women to have children where the official partner is unwilling or unable, or simply not good enough for her as genetic parent.

      This happens the lower the value of the official partners; therefore the lower extra-pair paternity rate among better off couples and the higher one among poorer ones. The wife of a rich, powerful, often charismatic or domineering man will be both more afraid of being discovered and losing him, and more satisfied with him as genetic material donor, than the wife of a middle income or working class “meh” man. The best thing that a woman can do for her children in her view is to give them the best genetic father she can, whether that is her official partner or not.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “The best thing that a woman can do for her children in her view is to give them the best genetic father she can, whether that is her official partner or not.”

        Only in certain environments. For most populations most of the time since agriculture and for at least some populations (those where hunting was most neccessary imo) for possibly *very* much longer then being that way could dramatically reduce the chances of her children surviving.

        In those kind of environments a 20% boost in her children’s fitness from having a kid by Brad Pitt instead of by hubby Danny De Vito would need to be balanced with the maybe 99% drop in their fitness if Brad Pitt wanders off afterwards and Danny De Vito throws her out.

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