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Genetic Studies Prove Cuckolded Fathers Are Rare In Human Populations 282

HughPickens.com writes: A common urban myth is that many fathers are cuckolded into raising children that genetically are not their own -- a fear fueled by the paternity tests that have become a standard staple of gossip magazines, talk shows, and TV series. Now, Carl Zimmer reports at the New York Times that our obsession with cuckolded fathers is seriously overblown as a number of recent genetic studies have challenged the notion that mistaken paternity is commonplace. It wasn't until DNA sequencing emerged in the 1990s that paternity tests earned the legal system's confidence. Labs were able to compare DNA markers in children to those of their purported fathers to see if they matched. As the lab tests piled up, researchers collated the results and came to a startling conclusion: 10 percent to 30 percent of the tested men were not the biological fathers of their children. There's only one problem with these previous studies: the results didn't come from a random sample of people. The people who ordered the tests already had reason to doubt paternity.

In a 2013 study, Dr. Maarten H.D. Larmuseau used Belgium's detailed birth records to reconstruct large family genealogies reaching back four centuries. Then the scientists tracked down living male descendants and asked to sequence their Y chromosomes. Y chromosomes are passed down in almost identical form from fathers to sons. Men who are related to the same male ancestor should also share his Y chromosome, providing that some unknown father didn't introduce his own Y [chromosome] somewhere along the way. Comparing the chromosomes of living related men, Larmuseau came up with a cuckoldry rate of less than 1 percent. Similar studies have generally produced the same low results in such countries as Spain, Italy and Germany, as well as agricultural villages in Mali. "The observed low EPP rates challenge the idea that women routinely 'shop around' for good genes by engaging in extra-pair copulations," concludes Larmuseau . "The (potential) genetic benefits of extra-pair children are unlikely to be offset by the (potential) costs of being caught, particularly in such a long-lived species as humans with heavy offspring dependence and massive parental investment."
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Genetic Studies Prove Cuckolded Fathers Are Rare In Human Populations

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  • by eggstasy ( 458692 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2016 @06:42AM (#51890269) Journal

    They have kids with the high testosterone alpha males, and then some of them go on to do menial work, turn out to be aggressive, or they simply grow tired of each other after some years. But their first choice is usually some animalistic notion of "good genes".
    And then later when they're older and wiser they marry the type of beta male they had friendzoned before, because they're more peaceful, less risk-taking and often smarter and more successul.
    Read: Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan.

    • by Sique ( 173459 )
      Who are they?

      And the general rule remains the same: In any group of people with about the same amount of sexually active males and females, the average number of heterosexual partners has to be the same for males and females. There is simply no point to play the blame game here.

      • How that relates to cultures favoring polygamous marriage and concubinage?
        • by Sique ( 173459 )
          It's a mathematical necessity. Thus cultural influences don't affect the averages.

          What can happen is that the balance between males and females itself is disturbed, for instance because of a war, where many males fighting as soldiers or warriors died, or because of a famines which seem to affect male children more than female children, or because you have a very troubled neighborhood with many males being prisoners and thus without any contact to women. And it can happen that there are a few entitled alph

          • Note that participating in reproductive activity requires totally different levels of commitment from female than from male. While one female would automatically hurt community as the whole if she desists from childbirth for whatever reason, a male can easily be a bachelor and focus on other activities because another one can always provide the DNA instead of him. So the way human reproduction works forces that more females participate than males thus leading to polygyny. In fact, current monogamous marriag
      • Today, kids, we are going to learn the difference between the mean and the median...

        • Today, kids, we are going to learn the difference between the mean and the median...

          The difference is only 1 (in the exponent).

      • the average number of heterosexual partners has to be the same for males and females.

        The mean, yes, but not the median. In this case, the mean is worthless.
        One man can impregnate 100 women whilst 99 men remain celibate. This produces a mean of 1 sex partner for men, but it clearly is not representative.

    • And then later when they're older and wiser they marry the type of beta male they had friendzoned before, because they're more peaceful, less risk-taking and often smarter and more successul.

      And have a much more vivid imagination.

      Ah, the fantasies of the beta male.

    • they had friendzoned before

      Fun fact: women don't put men in the friendzone, men put men in the friendzone[*].

      Being friends with an awesome person is not a consolation prize. If you want to be a friend then actually stick around and BE a friend[+]. If you want an relationship instead of a friendship and she doesn't, well, then tough and now you have to go elsewhere, find other people to pork and don't hang out.

      Or to rephrase (since Matrix symbology seems so popular in this sort of topic):

      Do not try to escape

      • Fun fact: women don't put men in the friendzone, men put men in the friendzone[*].
        So you recommend both parties be honest about expectations and what is likely to happen in the future? Something like [dude bro]Hi, I am only being nice to you on the off chance you agree to copulation? [lady friend] I will probably never copulate with you, but will allow you to believe there's a slim chance so that you will help me move and fix my tech toys when they break. Is that what you think would be best, oh wise arc
        • So you recommend both parties be honest about expectations and what is likely to happen in the future?

          If everyone was honest about everything then things would be great.

          On the other hand no one has a duty to explain things to you. If the answer to the question "oi love, fancy a shag?" is "no"[*], then the person saying "no" does not have a duty to explain the "no"ness in any further detail.

          Is that what you think would be best, oh wise architect?

          Well, no because the two people are being asshats. Hanging arou

        • I wouldn't say either example you give is being "honest", whether spoken out loud or not.

        • by flink ( 18449 )

          So you recommend both parties be honest about expectations and what is likely to happen in the future? Something like [dude bro]Hi, I am only being nice to you on the off chance you agree to copulation? [lady friend] I will probably never copulate with you, but will allow you to believe there's a slim chance so that you will help me move and fix my tech toys when they break. Is that what you think would be best, oh wise architect?

          No, just don't remain friends with shitty people who try to manipulate you using sex. And for your part, don't be a jerk who uses friendship as a pretext to try to sleep with someone. Also, many adult friendships involve a component of playful flirtation with no real sexual intentions implied. Learning to tell the difference between playful banter and real sexual overtures is just part of being a social human being. If this is too hard for you, then maybe forgo friendship with the opposite sex altogethe

    • True... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tom229 ( 1640685 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2016 @09:38AM (#51891239)
      There's some truth to the notion that monogamous species are attracted to two types of mates: alpha, and provider. This is due to monogamy evolving only when two parents are needed to care for the offspring in order for it to survive. There's also evidence that the female in the monogamy will often attempt to be seeded by an alpha in secret. If her provider mate finds out he will abandon the nest. Yes, I'm mostly talking about birds. While humans have evolved monogamy as well, we have this pesky little thing called "a high level of consciousness". This makes it very difficult to throw around generalisations and make assumptions.
  • Selection bias (Score:2, Insightful)

    by k.a.f. ( 168896 )
    So in other words, pretty much the entire publishing caste, as well as the majority of the population, does not understand selection bias. That is a serious problem, but it's hardly surprising. An awful lot of the scientific studies that someone trumpets around as a confirmation of their pet worldview suffer from similar problems.
  • Until now...
  • ...or rather Thea Merlyn :)
  • Put it to rest (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ThatBeDank ( 4493649 )

    Lets put this awkward question to rest and do a paternity test on children immediately after they're born. If the mother lies on the birth certificate saying that the father is so and so and the test says otherwise then the husband is free to leave the wife. While taking the majority of the resources (and house) if he so desires

    The crime of paternity fraud is on the same level as violent rape and should be prosecuted as such. There is no greater shame than knowing that the child you've been raising isn't

    • Re:Put it to rest (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gryle ( 933382 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2016 @09:55AM (#51891403)
      I agree with your first paragraph, in so far as men not being forced to provide for children that aren't theirs. Your second paragraph is, in a word, nuts. Paternity fraud is nowhere near the same level as violent rape, nor should it prosecuted as such. Paternity fraud is equivalent to pyramid schemes, long-term cons, or any other form of white-collar fraud, and that is the level at which it should be prosecuted. When we begin to prosecute white-collar crime with the same force we prosecute murder, assault, or robbery, you might have something approaching a point. I can think of at least three things that would bring me greater shame than knowing the child I've been raising isn't mine.
      • I can think of at least three things that would bring me greater shame than knowing the child I've been raising isn't mine.

        Who says it's about shame?

  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2016 @08:02AM (#51890547)

    the radical difference between these results and bloodbank studies - which have universally agreed with the results from paternity tests despite having a random sampling.
    It also does not factor in Kinsey's findings about adultery and child-conception which strongly supports the idea that most children conceived from affairs would be conceived with somebody closely related to the legal husband, that is to say, somebody likely to share his Y-chromosome.

    • I did notice that their method would leave out hooking up his dear husband's brother. Do you have a link to any interesting bloodbank studies?
    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      A friend of mine had a child with her neighbour. Her husband didn't know.

      She didn't know until he was 14.

      She figured it out when she learned about pregnancy complications due to blood type. The doctors didn't say a word about it despite her complex pregnancy and its impossibility with her husband.

      Point is that it was common enough that the doctors didn't even feel the need to inform the mother.

  • The myth only had currency because it's "supposedly scientifically proven" result was so contrary to what one would guess at a gut level.

    That, and it speaks directly to the deep-seated fear men have (since women started concealing estrus) of being cuckolded.

  • Cuckoldry is not the same as mistaken paternity. Especially not now that birth control is common, but even in the past women had substantial control on what time of month they were unfaithful. The face that the mistaken paternity rate is only around 1% does not imply that cuckoldry is not *much* higher.

    Also, the 1% result was for the average mistaken paternity rate per generation over the past 400 years or so. I wonder how it has changed over time?

  • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2016 @08:14AM (#51890625)
    Submitter says cuckoldry is "rare" and "Larmuseau came up with a cuckoldry rate of less than 1 percent," with a link, but if you actually on the link it says 1-2% (from the abstract).

    ::sigh:: I can answer my own question here. In the "results" section it gives, "rate of 0.91% (95% CI: 0.41–1.75%)." Note to submitter: this does not mean less than 1%. This means 1-2%, as given in the abstract. This is part of why abstracts exist - to give results in an unambiguous manner, so that they're not misinterpreted. Maybe it's not a big deal here, but it can be sometimes.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      ::sigh:: I can answer my own question here. In the "results" section it gives, "rate of 0.91% (95% CI: 0.41-1.75%)." Note to submitter: this does not mean less than 1%. This means 1-2%, as given in the abstract. This is part of why abstracts exist - to give results in an unambiguous manner, so that they're not misinterpreted. Maybe it's not a big deal here, but it can be sometimes.

      Wow, this much hubris and you don't understand confidence intervals worth shit. The most likely value is 0.91%, that is to say it's more likely <1% than >1%. With 95% confidence it's between 0.41% and 1.75%, so it's almost certainly below 2% but it may be as low as 0.5%

  • The first study is studying modern day cuckolding.
    This new one is very clearly studying cuckolding over the past 4 centuries.

    These are not really the same thing. And the differing results are not mutually exclusive.

  • All these nerds fantasizing about banging the hot blonde MILF next door, and nobody points out that DNA sequencing was a labor-intensive, manual, thus *extremely* expensive process in 1970, and that technological growth [wikipedia.org] reduced the human labor required per sequencing, thus making DNA paternity testing a viable option after 1990 by reducing the number of wage-labor hours paid out per sequencing (cost, thus price)?

  • Some ultra liberal people scoff at the idea that we should stick to certain core values in society. They even go so far as to question some pretty fundamentally held beliefs about murder and paedophilia.

    I’m not one to dictate what people do. I think everything should be questioned, even if it’s “fundamentally held.” I don’t think that your values have to be “Christian.” (Christianity at large has some pretty messed up ideas.) And while I favor monogamy, in the

  • A friend of mine was dating a woman who said to him one day, "I'm pregnant and it's yours." He said, "Yeah, well, I had a vasectomy years ago." And that was all she wrote.

  • The various links seem to define cuckoldry as a father raising a child that isn't his, but the study is measuring children who have a father that don't have the expected father. Common sense tells me that's not the "cuckoldry rate." Fathers can have more than one child, but children can't have more than one father. I mean if 1 in 100 children have this unexpected paternity, if a father has three children, wouldn't it seem likely that he has about a 3% chance of being a cuckold? Maybe the false paternity ten

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