Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

Matt Beckwith (
15 Aug 1996 01:54:25 GMT

John Savage <> wrote:
> (Lee Rudolph) writes:
>>In brief, Diamond's claims are that "between 5 and 30 percent of
>>American and British babies [have been] adulterously conceived",

By the way, the subject line of this thread is mis-stated. Adulterously
conceived children and bastards are not equivalent sets (though they do

>This was discussed on a recent episode of the ABC Science Show, but
>as so often happens, I'm afraid I paid less attention to the program
>than it rightly deserves.

You must have been engaged in a somewhat more interesting activity at the
time. Might I speculate as to what that activity was? Did it have
anything to do with the subject of this thread?

>Anyway, I think the ballpark figure they used
>was that around 10% of children do not belong genetically to the man
>they believe to be their father.

Let us be clear about what this horrifying statistic really means. What
is the population which is represented here--the U.S., the civilized
world, or the entire world?

We should also understand that it does not mean that there is a
ten-percent chance that any given person was conceived adulterously.
Contrary to popular belief, statistics do not apply to individuals.

>It was an incidental issue which arose out of a discussion of the
>ramifications around a recent discovery that a boy's intelligence is
>inherited from his mother, not from his father ... the gene for
>intelligence (but don't ask me to define the term) having now apparently
>been established as being carried on the X chromosome.

This I find difficult to believe. Perhaps they found a gene on the
X-chromosome which determines IQ to a certain extent. But I bet there
are others on other chromosomes. It just wouldn't make sense to have a
person's intelligence only determined by inheritance from the mother.
And nature usually evolves life forms that make sense.

>If I may condense it into a few words, it was basically this: a woman's
>childbearing instinct is to successfully raise genetically sound >offspring.
>To this end, it's advantageous to her and her offspring that she choose >a
>husband according to criteria such as ability to provide, interest in
>assisting with child rearing, reliability, and compatible personality. >And
>then the separate issue of choosing her child's genetic makeup is made
>according to other criteria and values. Often, the two sets of desirable
>qualities are, in her estimation, evidently not found in the same male.

Now this actually makes sense. But I doubt that it really applies very
much to women's decisions to have sex outside of marriage. That decision
is more probably based on things like how neglected she feels by her
husband, how sexually fulfilled she feels with her husband, and how
attractive she finds the passing stud.

>BTW, am I correct in saying that the only trait known to be carried on >the
>Y chromosome is a gene for hairy ears? If I'm completely off beam here,
>what might I be confusing this with?

Actually, there's a second trait known to be on that chromosome, but I
forget what it is. Of course, leave us not forget the trait of being


Matt Beckwith