XFire PrePostMortem

I’m just decompressing after one hellaciously frenetic hour answering questions, along with Mssrs. Vinge and Stross, on XFire. The way it worked was, attendees asked questions in one chatroom; XFire staff selected some to paste in a separate room; we authors selected the ones we wanted to answer from that room, and posted said answers in a third room. Plus there was a separate room for “unofficial chatter”. The questions were flying thickly enough in the high-graded zone that I never once got a chance to look in on Unofficial Chatter or The Raw Question Room (Charlie did — just once — and caught sight of a question about whether we supported gay marriage, which sadly never got high-graded.) So I grabbed everything in all four before logging off, to glance at later.

Man, there were a lot of questions directed at me that I never even saw, either because I just didn’t notice them in the hi-graded blizzard or because they never got hi-graded in the first place. And some of those questions were pretty damn good, and I feel bad for having not answered them. The official transcript will be posted back on XFire before too long, but because those won’t include unanswered questions, I will be answering those here in dribs and drabs over the next little while.

So if any of you guys have come over from XFire and didn’t get your questions answered, watch this space; I’ll rectify that shortly.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday August 13 2007at 01:08 pm , filed under public interface, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

9 Responses to “XFire PrePostMortem”

  1. More “Not believing everything Peter says”:

    The Myth, the Math, the Sex

    “EVERYONE knows men are promiscuous by nature. It’s part of the genetic strategy that evolved to help men spread their genes far and wide. The strategy is different for a woman, who has to go through so much just to have a baby and then nurture it. She is genetically programmed to want just one man who will stick with her and help raise their children.

    Surveys bear this out. In study after study and in country after country, men report more, often many more, sexual partners than women.

    One survey, recently reported by the federal government, concluded that men had a median of seven female sex partners. Women had a median of four male sex partners. Another study, by British researchers, stated that men had 12.7 heterosexual partners in their lifetimes and women had 6.5.

    But there is just one problem, mathematicians say. It is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women. Those survey results cannot be correct.”

  2. Actually, this would probably be better down on the previous posting, but…

    When exactly did I say any of this stuff? The whole “philandering-men-faithful-women” paradigm was in vogue ten, twenty years ago, and it’s still very much true if you only look on the surface — but now that female researchers have come up through the ranks and are doing their own studies, we know that women are just as slutty as men. They just hide it better (I would guess, to keep from getting beaten up by jealous spouses). Random genetic surveys in the UK recently revealed that somewhere over a third of all offspring produced in the course of a marriage were not fathered by the husband (and the husband generally didn’t know this). We’ve also learned that women have two search images for sexual partners: they tend to marry men with more feminine features, then fuck more typically-masculine bad boys on the side. The thinking is,they get to have their cake and eat it too; both genetic diversity and a stable childrearing environment. But they do it by fucking around, just like the men.

    There are loads of differences in the way men and women approach pair-bonding, and they pretty much all hail from differences in the cost of reproduction for each sex. Women do tend to invest more in “relationshipy” stuff than men; that much is true. But *both* sexes fuck around, and if I ever said differently on this ‘crawl I’d like someone to point it out to me because I don’t remember doing that.

    So by all means, Brenda, don’t believe everything I say — but at least make sure I actually said it first…

  3. Folks,

    On the general issue of children born out of wedlock (or within wedlock but by a different dad than the one thought to father the child) and how much we all stray, I have some tangential experience.

    My ex worked in genetics and part of her work was tracking the incidence of retinitis pigmentosa (spelling please from any experts) at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto … a disease of the eye that, as I understand it, is pretty strictly genetically regulated.

    She had to contact families and take DNA samples from the tested subjects and found — surprise! — that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 25-30% of kids were not fathered by their putative father.

    I only know this by hearsay, so I can’t attest to its accuracy to any degree of certainty, but if anyone out there has more certain or accurate figures from a similar situation I would love to hear about it. Always kind of wondered how much the postman was in the mix. If you have data, let me know.

    N

  4. Would anyone be able show me where I’d find one of those surveys that showed “…that somewhere over a third of all offspring produced in the course of a marriage were not fathered by the husband (and the husband generally didn’t know this)”. This is worrisome information.

  5. As Watts quoted in Blindsight, “Mothers are more fond of their children than fathers because they are more certain they are their own.”

    Considering the source, this, like the atom, isn’t an entirely revolutionary idea. We just have more proof now.

  6. To answer the questions of Nas and Iskander, the technical term you’re looking for is “non-paternity event” and yes, it’s surprisingly common in genetic screening tests or genealogy research. If any of you subscribe to The Atlantic, you can read an article about it here. Where this fits into the common conception of male-female relations is beyond me, though.

    Ar quoted Peter Watts, saying:
    “Mothers are more fond of their children than fathers because they are more certain they are their own.”

    That certainty is probably why Jews have defined their ranks by matrilineal descent since Babylonian times.

  7. Actually, the quote itself is from Aristotle.

  8. Iskander said…

    Would anyone be able show me where I’d find one of those surveys that showed “…that somewhere over a third of all offspring produced in the course of a marriage were not fathered by the husband (and the husband generally didn’t know this)”. This is worrisome information.

    My source for that paper is out on the west coast now, and tends to be a bit scatterbrained when it comes to checking her e-mail — but I’ve sent her one anyway, and shall report back with the proper citation.

  9. Huh. From what I’d randomly picked up previously (likely from http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/A/Kermyt.G.Anderson-1/papers/abs_patconf1.html ), I’d thought “non-paternity events” were much less common. (The paper found that fathers who thought the kid was theirs were right all but 1.7% of the time.)

    However, it seems that Child Support Analysis has gathered a big pile of statistics (http://www.childsupportanalysis.co.uk/analysis_and_opinion/choices_and_behaviours/misattributed_paternity.htm) that show 1/3 isn’t a particularly outrageous proportion.

    Thank you, both Pharaohmagnetic and Mr. Watts.