Tag Archives: Penis

Another two stories for my penis and sperm lecture !

20 Mar



I’ve written before about a could of penis and sperm stories that have been really useful in engaging students with rational thinking. I’ve talked about both a very odd celebrity sperm bank and an even stranger peer-reviewed journal article about penis size. Now I’ve come across another story that looks like I may be able to put together a whole lecture based on male genitalia !

This week the Daily Mail have printed the above story suggesting that men’s sperm is healthiest in winter and earlier spring, and thus this is the best time to conceive a baby. The story is based on a study conducted at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The irony of the Mail’s coverage is that the reporting is pretty accurate, however the original study makes no mention of the best time of year to conceive even though this exactly what the Mail’s headline says ! A lot more detail about this study can be found on the NHS Choices website, but it seems like an excellent way to encourage students to read beyond the headlines.


Whilst I was looking up the material for this post I came across another Daily Mail ‘Sperm’ story published this week. Headlined ‘Bad news for the 220-mile high club: Researchers find sex in space could lead to life-threatening illnesses’, the story is strange in that whilst the headline mentions ‘sex in space’ the article itself focused on the effects of zero-graviry on plants. Again, this is a great way of getting students to read beyond the headlines.

I’m going to put all of these odd ‘sperm and penis’ stories into one lecture next year. Should encourage student enagement 😉

More questionable penis research

17 Feb

A few months ago I wrote about a frankly ridiculous penis size study that somehow made it’s way into a respectable peer-reviewed journal. I shall now be expanding by ‘penis’ lecture, having come across another  questionable piece of penis research. In the last week a paper called ‘ Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort’ published in BJU International has produced media interest around the world. The briefest of Google searches produces stories about this paper from as far afield as Singapore, India, UK and Canada.

At first sight this paper is less obviously ridiculous than Richard Lynn’s recent penis size paper, but as soon as you start to delve a whole range on flaws become apparent. Sadly,  the Male circumcision paper is behind a paywall (and my own institution doesn’t subscribe to the journal), so I’m only working from the abstract but even with that the difficulties are fairly apparent.

The study recruited participants via ‘leaflets and advertising’ and collected data via self-report on-line. The first question I shall be asking my (predominantly female) psychology class is what might drive a man presented with a leaflet about penis sensitivity to log on to a web site and answer a series of personal and intimate questions ? Hopefully my students will recognise that the very characteristics of the population likely to respond to ‘leaflets and advertising’ on this topic might well skew the final results. Secondly, and somewhat more subtly, it would be fascinating to know if the study looked at demographic differences between the circumcised and non-circumcised groups. In a European sample (the researchers seem to be based in Belgium) it seems reasonable to assume that the circumcised group are likely to have come from particular ethic groups. You’d like to think that the non-circumcised control group would be ethnically matched (but somehow I doubt it !).

All in all these ‘penis’ studies look like a really good way to engage students with a couple of components of my rational thinking curriculum / syllabus

P.S. If anyone does have access to a copy of ‘ Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort’ I’d be delighted to get it

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