Elementary, my dear Holmes

We have a paradox. We can measure nonpaternity over the past few hundred years by genealogical studies – do most guys named Sykes have the Sykes Y-chromosome? Most do, so you know that nonpaternity averaged about 1.3% in that lineage. Similar genealogical studies gave similar results for Ireland and the Boers – all under 2%

Last year, a study looked at 971 German kids who needed bone marrow transplants: genetic data on the HLA genes (which are extremely variable and thus highly informative) showed a nonpaternity rate just under 1%.

Yet some people just know that there’s a lot more adultery going on than these measurements find. Not just in West Irian or the Congo, where we don’t have good measurements, but right here in River City.

I can see only one way of reconciling these equally valid kinds of data. Clearly, people are secretly having assignations with people that happen to be genetically identical to their spouses.
Evil twins, mainly. In some cases, women are repeatedly having a secret rendezvous with their own husband without knowing it. Presumably they both wear masks. Maybe they’re furries. This is generally known as the piña colada effect, first described by Rupert Holmes.

I would guess that the husband usually sets up this slightly odd situation, because of the thrill he gets in cuckolding himself. Evidently that happens frequently, not just in French farces.

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108 Responses to Elementary, my dear Holmes

  1. Guess says:

    What’s the point of this series of posts? To support the data on higher paternal ages in some, especially polygynous, societies by showing that the harem-holders aren’t getting cuckolded by sneaky males in the style of elephant seals?

  2. gcochran9 says:

    It started out that way, but the issue is interesting in itself.

  3. j says:

    Do you mean that blogger Chateau \’s thesis that human females marry dull Omega Males but get fertilized by irresistible Alpha Males is a phantasy? If so, I have nothing to worry about 🙂 Thanks.

  4. Steve Sailer says:

    Here’s an anecdotal example where the exception supports the rule: i.e., the case struck me as exceptional.

    Since the coming of the Internet, I’ve read up on a huge number of prominent individuals, but I can only think of one case in the last 5 or 10 years where I found out that Famous Person Y is likely the child of Famous Person X. A few years ago I learned that the great painter Delacroix was likely the son of the diplomat Talleyrand. I can recall thinking A) That’s interesting B) I can’t think of any similar cases that I’ve learned about in the 21st Century.

    The Talleyrand-Delacroix case is one in which both individuals are separately famous, and their relationship is not so well known that I hadn’t already known about it.

    Conversely, I can’t think of any prominent current American athletes who are rumored to be the secret sons of famous athletes of a generation ago. You would think that it would turn out that so and so just found out that he’s not really the son of the man he calls Dad, he’s really the son of Jim Brown or Moses Malone or Dave Kingman or somebody you’ve heard of. But I can’t think of any stories like that, offhand.

    I can remember hearing one in a book review in the Atlantic about 20 years ago, where the reviewer pointed out that the memoir about growing up in a large working class black family in Watts isn’t really as representative as the publisher pitches it since the author reveals toward the end that he doesn’t have the same father as his older and younger siblings, that his father was Dick Bass, the star halfback of LA Rams. I’ve been on the lookout for similar stories ever since, but haven’t heard anybody.

    Googling “secret son” only brings up Ah-nold’s kid in Bakersfield and some rapper who claims Michael Jordan is his father: slim pickings, in other words.

    • That Guy says:

      I happened to see some of that Kardashian show a few months ago and it featured basketballer Lamar Odom having a meal with his dad, and I was struck by the fact that Lamar seemed 1′ taller than him, and their build and facial structure was completely different?!

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Also, there are rumors about the paternity of the one Kardashian sister who is vastly larger than the others (I think she’s the one married to Lamar Odom). Birds of a feather flock together?

    • Cloudswrest says:

      Y-chromosome matching wouldn’t help in the case of Alejandra Genevieve Oaziaza, whose kids are 3/4 siblings from both Randy and Jermaine Jackson.

  5. Steve Sailer says:

    Here’s another celebrity anecdote: actor Alec Guinness’s autobiography begins and ends with the mystery of who his real father was. He was born illegitimate and he assumes that his mother, who had a different last name, picked the name Guinness from the famous beer brand.

    At the end, he reveals that he did a lot of genealogical research and has discovered that his father almost certainly was a rich scion of the Guinness beer family. So, if that is true, then a Sykes-style DNA study would show Guinness as having his father’s surname.

    On the other hand, looking in Wikipedia, I see:

    “It has been frequently speculated that the actor’s father was a member of the Anglo-Irish Guinness family. However, it was a Scottish banker, Andrew Geddes, who paid for Guinness’s private school education. From 1875, under English law, when the birth of an illegitimate child was registered, the father’s name could be entered on the certificate only if he were present and gave his consent. Guinness and Geddes never met, and the identity of Guinness’s father has never been confirmed.”

    So … it’s vague.

  6. Steve Sailer says:

    Here’s a celebrity family of more direct cultural connection to the question at hand: the Obama family. Barack Obama Sr. is believed to have had children by four women, but the total number of his children has been disputed in an inheritance lawsuit. The Obamas that the President is closest to believe that two other Obamas are not really the President’s half-brothers. From Wikipedia:

    Abo Obama
    Barack Obama’s alleged half-brother, also known as Samson Obama,[106] born 1968. In Dreams from My Father, it is stated that the Obama family doubt Abo and Bernard are the biological sons of Barack Obama, Sr. Abo is a mobile phone shop manager in Kenya.[107] He was barred from entering the United Kingdom after receiving a police caution for a public order offence; he was also accused of, but not prosecuted for, sexual assault. At the time he had been living illegally in the UK.[108][109]

    Bernard Obama
    Barack Obama’s alleged half-brother, born 1970. Dreams from My Father states that the Obama family doubt Abo and Bernard are the biological sons of Barack Obama, Sr. He had been an auto parts supplier in Nairobi, Kenya, and has one child. Bernard converted to Islam as an adult and has said: “I’m a Muslim, I don’t deny it. My father was raised a Muslim. But it’s not an issue. I don’t know what all the hullabaloo is about.”[110] He resides in Bracknell, England, with his mother Kezia.[110]


    • Portlander says:

      You give any credence that Obama’s father is not Obama? The Chicago connection seems reasonably possible, if not completely probable.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        James Fallows hinted in the New York Times last year that maybe he doesn’t believe Obama Jr. is the son of Obama Sr., but I’d bet against that. Crosses between Northern Europeans and Nilotics are so rare that we have a hard time figuring out what they ought to look like.

        Half-brother George Obama in D’Souza’s “2016” documentary looks and has the body language of the President, while remaining extremely Nilotic. It’s a memorable moment on film.

      • That Guy says:

        Take a look at this pic and judge for yourself:

        Then this one:

        Looks like Barry Marshall Davis to me… talk about the Manchurian Candidate…

      • gcochran9 says:

        There was a day when people tried to hide their craziness. That was then, this is now.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Frank Marshall Davis looked very West African. The President looks more delicately East African.

      • Portlander says:

        He does have that “Tall Tree” thing going. But I knew a couple of those types in high school and they weren’t of recent immigration stock. So, tall-skinny isn’t completely unique. Albeit, he kept his for far longer than typical for most, which would indicate towards Nilotic genes.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Frank Marshall Davis looked a lot like Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, whose election inspired Obama to abandon his career path in international relations and move to Chicago to become a Chicago politician. Maybe Harold Washington was Obama’s real dad!!! (Of course, I gather that Harold wasn’t the fathering type.)

  7. Matt says:

    A Sykes-Y Chromosome check wouldn’t be able to tell if non-paternity were especially high with the father’s” more handsome, successful brothers (or paternal cousins, or other patrilineal members of a “clan sykes”).

    But I don’t see that anyone can really make a case that this is especially common, so this is small complaint.

  8. Steve Sailer says:

    Can anyone find that 1999 study of paternal misattribution in Mexico that Greg and Henry and I kicked around lo these many years ago? It showed a steep gradient by class.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “It showed a steep gradient by class.”

      If you think about it from a male-female point of view and divide socio-economic layers into top, middle and bottom then based on anecdata i think you’d expect to find

      – women at the top are unlikely to have an illegitimate kid with a man from the middle or bottom

      – women in the middle are unlikely to have an illegitimate kid with a man from the bottom

      – men at the top are more likely to have an illegitimate kid with a woman from the middle or bottom

      – men in the middle are more likely to have illegitimate kid with a woman from the bottom

      – women at the bottom are unlikely to have an illegitmate kid with a man from the bottom unless they’re on welfare and it doesn’t matter

      so i think a class-based pattern – mirrored in the marriage vs cohabiting pattern – makes sense

      • Steve Sailer says:

        It’s probably a U-shaped curve. People at the bottom are often impulsive and bad decisionmakers, which is one reaston they are at the bottom. People at the very tippy-top have lots of leeway in life. Was Winston Churchill’s younger brother a full or half brother? It’s still argued about, in part because Lady Randolph Churchill had a lot of options in life, many of which she tried out.

  9. whatever says:

    > Yet some people just know that there’s a lot more adultery going on than these measurements find.

    It’s almost as if large groups of people started putting some sort of barriers to conception and yet kept having sex.

  10. Steve Sailer says:

    I haven’t looked at all the methodologies used in these studies, but Sykes’ pioneering study in the 1990s in which he sent out swabs and test tubes to all the men named Sykes he could find in the British Isles may have had a significant class bias in the response rate.

    In my experience, men who become interested in genealogical questions tend to be from upper half or so of society. For example, my father, who came from a respectable Swiss family, became fascinated by genealogy after his retirement, and traced his ancestry all the way to the shadowy but evocative “X Seiler, Patriot from Lucerne, born c. 1290.” In contrast, my mother, who came from the less respectable half of society, had negligible interest in exploring her ancestry. She probably sensed that it would be a difficult task and most results unedifying.

    As Henry pointed out back in 1999, certainty of paternity is both an effect and a cause of being from the respectable (i.e., high paternal investment) classes.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I guess everyone in Germany is respectable. Either that, or bastards are immune to leukemia, which would be worth knowing.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        I don’t know about Germany, but in America today, if you count up all the children whose genetic ancestry and whose surname are out of alignment (e.g., second husband adopts his wife’s child by her late first husband), it comes out to several times one percent. It’s not a huge number, but it’s a few percent. In a large fraction of those cases, the surname father knows he isn’t the genetic father, so he has little incentive to participate in a medical study predicated on the assumption of a genetic relationship.

        Similarly, I suspect that participating in Dr. Sykes’ experiment probably appealed more to people who come from a long line of respectables ancestors named Sykes, while those who have good reason to assume that Grandma Sykes slept around, which is why Grandpa Sykes vanished leaving nothing to me poor Pa, may have been more likely to toss the envelope from Dr. Sykes in the trash.

        • gcochran9 says:

          In that German study, every parent gave a sample. The only way the real fraction in the general population is substantially different from 1% is if leukemia preferentially strikes kids of straight-arrow parents. it would be silly to believe that.

          You’re back-projecting adoption. It used to be rare in Europe. It was illegal in England until 1926. The Netherlands passed its law in 1956. Sweden made adoptees full members of the family in 1959. West Germany enacted its first laws in 1977.

          About the Sykes study: you’re obviously wrong. Only a small fraction of the possible nonpaternity events would have happened in the last generation or three, close enough in time for people today to have a good chance of knowing about them. We’re talking over 700 years. In order for your model to work, contemporaries Sykeses who had a nonpaternity event 200, 300, 400, 500 years ago would have to be aware of that event and then choose not to participate. Impossible, before DNA testing.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Speaking of the Sykes study, I think we can tie it together with the Mexican studying showing a class gradient by applying Gregory Clark’s “A Farewell to Alms.” In Clark’s study of English wills in 1200-1800, he found the highest numbers of descendants among successful farmers, the rural equivalent of the bourgeoisie. Farm laborers had a hard time getting married, married late, died young and so forth. Top aristocrats killed each other in battles. Thus today’s English, such as Dr. Sykes, tend to be descended from respectable non-aristocrats: the kind of landowners who married carefully, lived carefully, and took care to pass on their property carefully including taking care to make sure their heirs really were their heirs People who lived chaotic lives, in contrast, were more likely to die out.

        Sykes believes the name “Sykes,” unlike, say, “Smith,” originated just once in England about 700 years ago. But now it’s a pretty common name, suggesting that the ancestors of today’s Sykes did well at surviving in a quasi-Malthusian environment, probably by being careful about their lives and their families.

        Other unique English names have died out. Obviously, sheer luck plays a huge role, but Clark’s study suggests that following bourgeois codes of conduct, including perhaps marrying for love and staying faithful, imparted Darwinian fitness in England in 1200 to 1800. Thus, by a selection effect, surviving examples of unique names would tend to be descended by those who lived better ordered family lives.

        • gcochran9 says:

          In a static population, you would lose Y chromosome lineages (and surnames) all the time – even if fertility was the same for everybody and paternal uncertainty was zero.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “You’re back-projecting adoption.”

        Okay, that explains why English literature is full of “wards” rather than adoptees. Fielding’s Tom Jones (1751) is the ward of Squire Alworthy, not the adopted son, even though the good Squire treats him like a son.

        The infant Jack / Ernest in “The Importance of Being Earnest” was famously discovered by a rich man in a handbag in a train station. He was given the last name not of the rich man who effectively adopts him, but of “Worthing,” the town to which the man was traveling. This suggests that adoption, with a change of surname, was not part of the cultural or legal system in England before the 20th Century.

        But, of course, these dangers of back-projecting 20th Century American family systems to pre-20th Century England shows the difficulties of us modern Americans projecting to what West African family systems were like hundreds of years ago.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Yeah, it’s not as if we can look at the ratio of the Y-chromosome variance/ mtDNA variance and deduce high long-term levels of polygyny among African farmers.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Here’s another example from England: Isaac Newton’s father, also named Isaac Newton, died before he was born. His mother married a man named Smith, but Isaac never took the name Smith. On the other hand, he lived with his grandmother, not his stepfather, so it probably wouldn’t have come up.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Greg says: “In that German study, every parent gave a sample.”

        The sample size is almost 1000, so I would expect that this is something of a “managed” sample to come up with 100% participation. Presumably, nonparticipants, such as dead fathers or men who had disappeared or whatever, just weren’t counted.

        Anyway, I suspect that doctors and nurses are pretty good by now at making clear to mothers exactly what they mean when they tell them that you must bring in the child’s biological father to give a sample. If so, 0.94% might be a better estimate of the mother’s misattribution rate, not the father’s misattribution rate, or the child’s misattribution rate.

  11. HerewardMW says:

    You would not believe the crap my evil twin has pulled.

  12. BB says:

    I expect numbers to rise in the next ten years. Women keep getting more loose. Roissy and his crowd call it hypergamy.
    The thing is marriage numbers are down. If we looked at children conceived outside of marriage, we might find their paternity isn’t what the mothers are reporting. Making their children double bastards.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “I expect numbers to rise in the next ten years. Women keep getting more loose. Roissy and his crowd call it hypergamy.”

      That doesn’t follow because sex and reproduction have been partly separated.

      It would only happen for those reasons if contraception and abortion were successfully banned – and if that happened then women’s behaviour would change.

      I expect the numbers to rise in the next ten years as well but for different reasons i.e. as the middle class is withered away but while the the welfare system is still viable. However in the long-term those two things are mutually incompatible so eventually things will go back the same way because they were that way for logical reasons.

  13. Sandgroper says:

    “Women keep getting more loose.” Evidence?

    If the data show that not much is happening, and has not been happening for at least hundreds of years, Occam’s Razor suggests that not much is happening and that not much is probably going to continue to happen, no matter how much you persist in wishing to believe your preferred mythology.

  14. j says:

    I’ll have to stop singing my favorite bathroom aria “La Donna E Mobile…”

  15. Ken Hirsch says:


    Am J Phys Anthropol. 1999 Jul;109(3):281-93.

    Estimation of nonpaternity in the Mexican population of Nuevo Leon: a validation study with blood group markers.

    Cerda-Flores RM, Barton SA, Marty-Gonzalez LF, Rivas F, Chakraborty R.

    División de Genética, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.


    A method for estimating the general rate of nonpaternity in a population was validated using phenotype data on seven blood groups (A1A2BO, MNSs, Rh, Duffy, Lutheran, Kidd, and P) on 396 mother, child, and legal father trios from Nuevo León, Mexico. In all, 32 legal fathers were excluded as the possible father based on genetic exclusions at one or more loci (combined average exclusion probability of 0.694 for specific mother-child phenotype pairs). The maximum likelihood estimate of the general nonpaternity rate in the population was 0.118 +/- 0.020. The nonpaternity rates in Nuevo León were also seen to be inversely related with the socioeconomic status of the families, i.e., the highest in the low and the lowest in the high socioeconomic class. We further argue that with the moderately low (69.4%) power of exclusion for these seven blood group systems, the traditional critical values of paternity index (PI > or = 19) were not good indicators of true paternity, since a considerable fraction (307/364) of nonexcluded legal fathers had a paternity index below 19 based on the seven markers. Implications of these results in the context of genetic-epidemiological studies as well as for detection of true fathers for child-support adjudications are discussed, implying the need to employ a battery of genetic markers (possibly DNA-based tests) that yield a higher power of exclusion. We conclude that even though DNA markers are more informative, the probabilistic approach developed here would still be needed to estimate the true rate of nonpaternity in a population or to evaluate the precision of detecting true fathers.

    DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199907)109:33.0.CO;2-3

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Thanks. I recall Henry suggesting that the lesson of this study is that bourgeois classes tend to live more orderly family lives, with higher certainty of paternity and higher norms for paternal investment, while lower classes have more disorderly family lives, with less certainty of paternity and less paternal investment.

      • publishedpapers says:

        The simulations some people have done have a much simpler tradeoff than the risibile orderly/disorderly divide: wives of rich, powerful men are both more afraid of the consequences of being discovered, and happier with the genetic material of their husbands.
        Wives of middle income or low income average men don’t lose as much when discovered, and hve much more opportunity to find a better genetic donor. For women it is a ruthless game: get the best genetic material donors for their children, possibly more than one to spread the risks, while running the risk of discovery from the main provider in her life.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        I’m mostly familiar with English social history, but my guess would be that cheating wives were more common at the very top of English society in the 18th and 19th Centuries, where there was more margin for error and where dynastic marriages were expected, than in the upper middle class, where there was fewer resources and love matches were the norm.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      By the way, thanks, Ken, it’s always a pleasure having you around!

  16. nameless37 says:

    There’s an adultery rate and then there’s a nonpaternity rate. In a modern Western society, the two have no reason to be even approximately equal. The GSS survey estimates that, in any given year, 10% of married American adults have sex outside marriage. Then you need to multiply that by the share of sexual encounters that the person has outside marriage (if this person has sex, say, 3 times/week, twice with the spouse and once with a lover, divide 10% by 3.)

    And then there’s contraception. In Germany or Switzerland, where contraception is brought to such a level that the total fertility rate falls below 1.5 children/woman, women evidently are very skilled at avoiding undesirable pregnancies, and getting impregnated by a lover is an epitome of “undesirable.”

    • Anonymous says:

      In modern times, perhaps, although I am hardly convinced. Historically speaking, absolutely not. The genealogical records speak for themselves.

  17. BB says:

    ” Evidence?”

    I´m still collecting the data personally. You should get out more.

    • Sandgroper says:

      Some would suggest that in my youth I got out quite a bit more than I should. Doesn’t change the fact that the data, such as they are, do not support your contention, for which you offer no evidence. I’m not saying you couldn’t find some, but you haven’t provided any, and people just opinionating or exercising fertile imaginations is of no interest, especially where the data do seem to contradict the imaginings.

      Wild unsupported claims about human sex habits happen tediously frequently, invariably unbacked by any kind of reliable data.It’s boring and pointless – we can all make up lurid stories to entertain the idiocracy, but what’s the point?

      • BB says:

        My contention was merely that nonpaternity could rise in the near future. As such it’s unprovable. It’s merely an educated guess based on current trends in female sexual behaviour. Promiscuity is rampant and no longer shamed. By law husbands are forced to support children not their own. Time will tell.

      • Sandgroper says:

        A couple of years back, an American blogger called Agnostic published online some comparative data which showed that the current teens/20s generation of young American women is *less* promiscuous in terms of actual sexual behaviour (as opposed to public signaling via dance styles or whatever) than their parents’ generation.

        I’m not American/don’t live in America, so I don’t have a dog in the fight, but in the absence of anything to support your assertion about “current trends” (assuming you are referring to America), I have to say, without wishing to be a dick about it, that it’s an uneducated guess, not an educated one.

        One data point I know about for sure, having seen it recently published – out of wedlock pregnancies among black American teens are down substantially on past numbers. That does not suggest a trend of increasing promiscuity.

      • greg kai says:

        Agree on that. My own, completely uneducated guess but still backed by personal experience, is that in the western world, there is a lot of talk about promiscuity, and a lot of bragging about how much more sex is had compared to previous generation. Because it has become socially rewarded to brag about number of sex partners for both sexes. But in practice, people are much more quiet than they say. Maybe even quieter than before….I do not have any hard facts to prove it, but hey, what did you expect about an assertion on human sexual behavior? :p

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “which showed that the current teens/20s generation of young American women is *less* promiscuous”

        That’s vaguely my impression, too. Kids these days are pretty mildly-behaved.

  18. bob says:

    Pregnancy at the best of times is only about 30% likely, which means even without contraception the adultery rate could be at least three times higher than the cuckoldry rate. I wouldn’t be surprised if adultery is as common as the 10% quoted above by nameless37 and only 10% of those assignations produce children.

    • nameless37 says:


      Look at the variable “evstray”. “Have you ever had sex with someone other than your husband or wife while you were married?” 3089 “yes”, 14318 “no”. Breaking down by gender, men are 23% “yes” / 77% “no”, women are 14% “yes” / 86% “no”.

      This somewhat understates the lifetime occurrence of adultery, because some of the “no”‘s simply did not have time to engage in adultery yet. In the subset of 45-65 year olds, “yes” shares are 28% (male) and 17% (female).

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “In the subset of 45-65 year olds, “yes” shares are 28% (male) and 17% (female).”

        And some of those (i’d say many) it will have happened – or only half-happened before they lost their nerve – once. Another larger segment it might have been 3 times or 6 or a dozen so it’s not like they’re having sex with another person every week over the course of their fertile years.

        Even if the overall infidelity number is 10-20% at some point over the course of their married life there’s no reason to expect the paternity rate to be close to that even without contraception and abortion.

  19. Steve Sailer says:

    Here’s the complicated paternity story of another recent President, Gerald Ford:

    Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., on July 14, 1913, at 3202 Woolworth Avenue in Omaha, Nebraska, where his parents lived with his paternal grandparents. His mother was Dorothy Ayer Gardner, and his father was Leslie Lynch King, Sr., a wool trader and son of prominent banker Charles Henry King and Martha Alicia King (née Porter). Dorothy separated from King just sixteen days after her son’s birth. She took her son with her to the Oak Park, Illinois home of her sister Tannisse and brother-in-law, Clarence Haskins James. From there, she moved to the home of her parents, Levi Addison Gardner and Adele Augusta Ayer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dorothy and King divorced in December 1913; she gained full custody of her son. Ford’s paternal grandfather Charles Henry King paid child support until shortly before his death in 1930.[4]

    Ford later said his biological father had a history of hitting his mother.[5] James M. Cannon, a member of the Ford administration, wrote in a Ford biography that the Kings’ separation and divorce were sparked when, a few days after Ford’s birth, Leslie King threatened Dorothy with a butcher knife and threatened to kill her, Ford, and Ford’s nursemaid. Ford later told confidantes that his father had first hit his mother on their honeymoon for smiling at another man.[6]
    After two and a half years with her parents, on February 1, 1916, Dorothy married Gerald Rudolff Ford, a salesman in a family-owned paint and varnish company. They then called her son Gerald Rudolff Ford, Jr. The future president was never formally adopted, however, and he did not legally change his name until December 3, 1935; he also used a more conventional spelling of his middle name.[7] He was raised in Grand Rapids with his three half brothers from his mother’s second marriage: Thomas Gardner Ford (1918–1995), Richard Addison Ford (born 1924), and James Francis Ford (1927–2001).

    Ford also had three half-siblings from his father’s second marriage: Marjorie King (1921–1993), Leslie Henry King (1923–1976), and Patricia Jane King (born 1925). They never saw one another as children and he did not know them at all. Ford was not aware of his biological father until he was 17, when his parents told him about the circumstances of his birth. That year his father Leslie King, whom Ford described as a “carefree, well-to-do man who didn’t really give a damn about the hopes and dreams of his firstborn son”, approached Ford while he was waiting tables in a Grand Rapids restaurant. The two “maintained a sporadic contact” until Leslie King, Sr.’s death.[5][8]

    Ford maintained his distance emotionally, saying, “My stepfather was a magnificent person and my mother equally wonderful. So I couldn’t have written a better prescription for a superb family upbringing.”


  20. dearieme says:

    The accidental president was one of the best since Ike. There must be something wrong with the election system.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Ford was a man without major flaws. He was the best athlete ever to be President, before he lost his hair he was a male model, he graduated from Yale Law School, his first stay in the hospital was in his 90s, even with the cares of the Oval Office he fell asleep ten seconds after putting his head on the pillow, and so forth. He’s like Greg’s plan for error-checking genomes come to life.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      No, Ford wasn’t all that bad. He always struck me as a more or less high-average guy, decent and patriotic, dropped into a terrible, unprecedented situation, and he got us through it fairly well. No, he had no idea what to do about the Commies or inflation, but neither did anyone else in 1976, except possibly Reagan, and the country wasn’t ready for him yet. Ford wasn’t a great president, but he deserves to be remembered as something better than a punch line on “Saturday Night Live”…

  21. albatross says:

    Checking Y chromosome against last name is testing the whole line of male ancestors, and I wonder how that changes the meaning of the results. It’s definitely not the same thing as the HLA study. My intuition is that they ought to be pretty close, maybe within a factor of two or so, but I think that requires some extra assumptions. (If we assume a stable population, then I think we expect most fathers’ male lines to die out in a couple generations–half the time, you have only daughters this generation.) But it seems like the results might also be affected a lot by random events early in the descent tree. (Suppose the earliest male ancestor in the line had two sons whose lines survive to today, and one of those wasn’t his.)

    One confounding variable in this case is that in England, I think the first son usually got the best deal in terms of inheritance, and that presumably led to higher fitness, and so more surviving males way back. So if the first son was usually by Dad, but the later sons were more often by his best friend or the local minister or the stableboy or something, that might not show up as well. I’m not sure this would matter much–maybe I’ve just read too many old novels where son #1 gets the manor, son #2 gets an education and becomes a minister, and son #3 goes into the Royal Navy.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      The Heir and a Spare philosophy of aristocratic marriages. Princess Di provided Prince Charles with two fine young heirs to the throne, and then, dynastic duty done, they drifted off to more compatible mates.

    • publishedpapers says:

      ” I think the first son usually got the best deal in terms of inheritance, and that presumably led to higher fitness, and so more surviving males way back. So if the first son was usually by Dad, but the later sons were more often by his best friend or the local minister or the stableboy or something, that might not show up as well. I’m not sure this would matter ”

      I think that you are reading this backwards: in the past men men insisted on the bride being a virgin on marriage (up to the 1950s 95% of brides were virgins), precisely to be more confident that at least the first would be theirs, and then they left most of their inheritance to the firstborn, precisely because he/she would be the most reliably theirs. And the preference for male firstborns is because men can more easily double check paternity by looking for facial and other similarly, which works best for male offspring. A firstborn born 9 months after the wedding with a virgin who was a male resembling his putative father was the greatest assurance of genetic paternity a man could get, and attractive, rich and powerful men demanded that, and women who wanted to marry one tried really hard to remain virgins to have that opportunity.

      All this obession with not being a cuckold was most important for attractive, rich, powerful men; because it is attractive, powerful, rich men who end up knowomg very well how eager women are to cuckold their husband to secure a better father for their children, because so many of those women throw themselves at them.

      • albatross says:

        The fact that a lot of people are obsessed with some imagined threat doesn’t mean it exists or is actually a very big threat. Plenty of times and places, people have been seriously worried about hostile witchcraft used against them. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that they weren’t really at much risk of harm from this, even in places where they spent a lot of money on anti-hexing charms, or where they burned or hanged the suspected witches.

        Without DNA tests, you can imagine legitimate kids who don’t look that much like dad being assumed to be someone else’s kid, with all kinds of nasty mistreatment of them and their mother as a result.

  22. albatross says:

    Thinking about a rather different kind of fitness: false paternity makes for good stories, and our brains tend to remember and highlight good stories. So that probably makes it easy to mislead yourself into thinking there are all kinds of children of the milkman and poolboy walking around, in the same way that people usually overestimate the fraction of the population that’s gay or the risk that a stranger is going to murder them.

    • Steve Sailer says:


      Part of the problem is that we’re talking about small absolute differences. I mean, if Greg said X happens 20% of the time and I say it happens 60% of the time, that absolute difference of 40% is large enough that it would be easy to find evidence one way or another. But if Greg bets on 1% and I bet on 3%, even though the relative difference is the same as 20% versus 60%, the absolute difference is so small that it’s hard to get a feel for what’s more plausible.

      Another problem is that we haven’t defined precisely what we are trying to measure. For example, 29% of American Presidents since 1975 have had different surnames at some points in their lives. (Obama was known as Soetoro for a number of years, and Ford was known as King early in his life.) But, what are the implications of that curious statistic?

      We started off talking about African cultures with older fathers, and then got into the question of how do we know if the 80 year old guy who has been married 50 times really has 75 children like he says he does. The best way is to test directly giving DNA tests in Africa. But that would be expensive and would run into informed consent issues involving getting a representative sample.

      In the meantime, we can draw analogies to Western family structures, which, whether or not they have implications for understanding African family structures, are inherently interesting. But the more celebrity examples we consider in depth, the more complex it seems. The topic of “misattributed paternity” turns into a maze because different people can attribute different paternity.

      For example, I was surprised to learn last year that many of little Barry Soetoro’s teachers and classmates assumed that while his mother was clearly white, they assumed his father was an Indonesian with Ambonese heritage. Ambon is an Indonesian island near New Guinea, where some of the locals have a Papuan look of wooly hair and dark skin.

      Bizarrely, two of the President’s stepfather’s siblings were born on Ambon and they look rather like their former step-nephew, causing one of Obama’s Indonesian step-uncles to mention that Lolo’s siblings tend to look like whatever the people on the island where they were born look. (Their father was a top geologist and the family moved from island to island frequently.) This inspired the step-uncle to come up with a vaguely Lamarckian theory of inheritance. Less charitable speculations about their mother might occur to the reader. (See “Barack Obama: The Story” by David Maraniss for quotes.)

    • Steve Sailer says:

      “false paternity makes for good stories”

      Another aspect of this is the hunger among the young for more glamorous paternity. There’s the whole trope of the Orphan of Destiny who has a hidden but powerful real paternity: Moses, Jesus, Luke Skywalker, Strider, and so on.

      As Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro fell out of love with her second husband, she came to resent that her son and his stepfather got along well, so she made sure to pound in to her son that his real father was a great man from a great race doing great things in a far off land.

  23. Toddy Cat says:

    Actually, somewhere between 1-5% sounds about right to me, as a long term average. Most women aren’t THAT slutty, at least not over time. Why someone would estimate that number as high as 10% (!) simply baffles me. Although 10% looks like a pretty good estimate as to what percentage of women are unfaithful to their husbands at some point – maybe that’s where the number came from. Just goes to show, people have really vivid imaginations when it comes to sex.

  24. Sandgroper says:

    Greg, while I think of it – Australians also married young men off to older women. I guess that would not result in a similar long term accumulation of mutations, but it might not be irrelevant in minimising adultery between young men and young women married to old men.

  25. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    While governments and politicians are notoriously stupid, it seems that France has banned paternity testing and Germany is said to be going to do the same.

    • namae nanka says:

      raising your statistics by a factor of a few hundreds can work wonders, like in the case of rape but it might lead to even stricter laws in the case of cuckoldry, it’s for the family after all!
      strange creature that equality.

      “French psychologists suggest that fatherhood is determined by society not by biology.”

      Daniel Amneus would concur, but not for the reasons that psychos do.

      • Sandgroper says:

        At my university, the students who were too stupid to study anything else did psychology. Sadly, those too stupid even to do psychology did anthropology. I have sympathy for behavioural psychologists who work in prisons – it must be one of the worst jobs in the world. As for the rest of them, the world would be a better place if they kept their idiotic theories and unreproducible experiments to themselves and worked as garbage collectors. I suppose it’s a bit of a comfort to know that French psychologists are no less stupid con-merchants than all of the others.

        Small minorities capture excessive public attention, often by exaggerating their numbers and making out that (i) their problems are bigger than everyone thinks and (ii) their problems are ‘society’s’ problems, when in reality they are deviants in the tail of the distribution. Judith Rich Harris found that for parents, biology is far more important than environment, except negatively – she has yet to be shown to be wrong.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “raising your statistics by a factor of a few hundreds can work wonders, like in the case of rape”

        Feminists want to use rape to attack men as a whole so they want 1000 rapes to equal 1000 rapists however imo (impossible to prove without blah details blah but anyway) in k-type populations rape is mostly either young &drunk or serial rapists who are like a diluted version of serial killer so 1000 rapes is actually 200 young&drunk and c. 40-80 serial rapists with 10-20 victims each.

    • publishedpapers says:

      The main official rationale for banning paternity testing is to protect the financial wellbeing of wives by avoiding a lot of husband-initiated divorces. The other is to reduce the potential for domestic violence against wives who exercise their right to make their own sexual choices.

      In practice such laws are the result of an alliance between conservatices who want to keep taxes low by avoiding welfare payments to divorced cheaters, and of women who want to continue enjoy their right to the benefit of being married to a dumb provider while having at least some children with better fathers.

      Regardless of motivation these laws are clearly based on the realization that extra-pair fatherhood is a very common situation, probably impacting 20-30% of marriages.

      • albatross says:

        Given the rest of the thread, shouldn’t you provide some kind of evidence for an extraordinarily high claimed number like that? The fact a law was passed to deal with X does not make X common or imply that it’s a serious problem. See the war on terror, the child sex abuse panic, and much of the war on drugs for examples.

      • gcochran9 says:

        You’re wrong. Shut up already.

      • misdreavus says:

        You only ever see statistics that high in cases where the paternity of the child is in serious dispute, which is only a small percentage of total cases. The women who make regular rounds on the Maury Show aren’t anywhere near as common as you think.

        You see, evolution punishes women who are cavalier about their sexual choices — or at least it did in historical times. You wouldn’t know that by reading pick up artist blogs.

  26. Pingback: Elementary, my dear Holmes | West Hunter | DNA Testing

  27. nameless37 says:

    According to the article, 27% to 61% of African men and 21% to 51% of women acquire AIDS through sex outside marriage.

    That’s huge. For men, one could explain this through sex with prostitutes. There are good reasons to expect that the HIV transmission rate can be orders of magnitude higher if one of the partners (e.g. the prostitute) is infected by an unrelated STD that results in genital sores. But that does not explain the 21%+ share of women getting AIDS outside marriage. Either the extramarital intercourse rate is several times higher in Africa than in the U.S., or the study is missing something.

    • misdreavus says:

      The article says no such thing. It says the percentage of married women who acquire the virus _while married_ happens to be within that range — not the total percentage of women in the population!

    • misdreavus says:

      If only two out of ten thousand women in, say, Malawi got infected while married or cohabiting, and one of the cases could be attributed to philandering on the part of the male partner, that would be consistent with the facts reported in the article.

      Of course, I have no reason to believe that is true. But it alone tells you nothing about the rate of infidelity among Africans.

      • nameless37 says:

        More accurately, what the article says is that, if you take 1000 married HIV-positive African women, 210 to 510 of them got HIV through an extramarital affair while being married to current husband, and the rest got it before marriage or from the husband.

        The real counterargument is that HIV-positive women could be HIV-positive because they are, as a group, more inclined towards adultery than general population.

      • misdreavus says:


  28. Lukeskywalker says:

    I would like some hard numbers on this. I am seeing everything from 1.3%-10%. I would appreciate a full blown anthropological emit/etic analysis with blind DNA samples of about 150,000 people here in the U.S. I did not know my true identity until I was 42. It was a devastating revelation. I am lucky though. My father turned out to be more like Obiwan Kanobi rather than Darth Vader. He did not know of my existence, nor I of his. I am his first child, and his only son. Since my discovery, I have found many people like myself and have begun speaking on the subject (certainly my father’s son in this regard, as my first introduction of him was delivered via television as he was being interviewed.)

    I know, and have interviewed so many who share similar circumstances such as my own, that I think the number has to be closer to the 10% range. However, within that 10%, I would speculate that 90% of that population will never know their true identity. This will certainly change, now that DNA testing is so widely and inexpensively available.

    One of the reasons I think it is so important to see this number become a solid reference is because I think that the “cuckold” phenomena, whether it results from paternity fraud, infidelity, or simple carelessness, has a huge cost to society in general. Never mind the personal harm to the child (which is very large in most cases.)

    One survey I would like to see, is DNA testing for all children who enter into The department of Social Services (foster care or worse.) I know, that if I were given that test when I entered state custody, the sate would not have had to pay for, or even have any custodial responsibilities for me. My father would have had me flown to the Virgin Islands, and have me start prep school, rather than allowing me to languish in a substandard, lock & keyed environment. Indeed, the contrast is large.

    This is why I speak on the subject. If the number is closer to 10%, then the cost to society is in multiples of billions. I often open by asking my audience to look at their hands. I then ask them to look at the other people in the auditorium. Then, I quote the number in attendance. It goes something like this.

    “There are 420 of you here today. Forty two of you do not know who you are.”

    Obviously, I advocate DNA testing.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I have the same problem: I just know that a surprisingly large fraction of the population are physicists, far more than the official stats say. I had a cousin who worked at Livermore, used to run their computational division. My brother-in-law studied physics at Caltech, as did his daughter. My daughter is a first-year grad student in physics. Alex, my oldest boy is a second-year physics major. Roddy is making ominous comments about becoming a physics major. Two ex-girlfriends were physics majors. Several of my old friends are physicists. The head writer of Futurama is a physics major. Christ, they’re everywhere.

    • misdreavus says:

      Unless you believe that German bastard children have developed a mysterious immunity to leukemia, in a country where ALL people are enrolled in the national health care system, you are dead wrong. You don’t need a sample size of 150,000 individuals to confirm an obvious fact of biology.

      As for single motherhood and misattributed paternity resulting in negative outcomes for children, of course they do.

      But only because people with crappy genes are more likely to indulge in sexual profligacy, to begin with.

      • Lukeskywalker says:

        I disagree. My mother’s father essentially owned a section of Dennis port, Cape Code, MA. It was an entire neighborhood with 55 houses. A construct that took decades in the making, and profited upon in multiple ways. Obvious that this is a wealth that never reached my generation.

        The correlation of this phenom is not rooted in economic substance. The phenom is concurrent in all classes and cultural spectrums,

  29. Lukeskywalker says:

    My thing, is I want this number to be a real reference. A trusted number. A hard reference so when I start demanding mandatory DNA testing, I can simply show the numbers.

    • Lukeskywalker says:

      And no, I am not kidding.

    • misdreavus says:

      Look, man, you need to stop projecting your personal experiences onto entire groups of people.

      And that goes for all you other purveyors of silly propaganda from the MRA blogosphere (sorry, Heartiste) — no, the vast majority of American women are not whores, they generally don’t cheat on their husbands with alpha male paramours, and it is impossible for them to sneak out-of-wedlock children under the nose of an unsuspecting husband to the tune of ten percent or more. Jesus.

      There are, of course, instances where group differences are so profound that they are informative of behavioral propensities at the individual level. For instance, you can bet your breeder ass that the nice “monogamous” homosexual couple you met at a friend’s dinner party is anything but chaste! If you happen not be a “persyn of colour” [sic], young black men in inner city districts really are that dangerous, and you should be wary of every Tyrone and Quantavious past sundown. Nationwide crime statistics from the BJS attest to this sorry state of affairs.

      As for rates of misattributed paternity, all of the robust studies on record confirm that they range from 0.5 to 2 percent in the industrialized world. A far cry from ten (or thirty to forty– wtf!) percent, if you ask me. No matter what you may have seen or heard, your experiences aren’t very common, and it is very unlikely that they ever will be. Now doesn’t that make you feel extra special?

  30. federico says:

    Ciao! Vorrei solo dire un grazie enorme per le informazioni che avete condiviso in questo blog! Di sicur diverr un vostro fa accanito!

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