May 25, 2010

9/11 and the death of unborn boys.

This is strange:
A study in BMC Public Health found 12% more male babies were lost in September 2001 after the 20th week of pregnancy than in a "normal" September.

Data says fewer boys were born in all states three to four months after 9/11....

Dr Tim Bruckner, who led the research at the University of California, Irvine... said: "Across many species, stressful times reportedly reduce the male birth rate.

"This is commonly thought to reflect some mechanism conserved by natural selection to improve the mother's overall reproductive success."

21 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

Freaky.

Charlie Martin said...

Makes evolutionary sense -- doesn't take as many boys as girls to keep the herd populated.

JAL said...

Fred4, I came in to say "weird."

Maguro said...

I would be interested to know what the standard deviation was. Is 12% above or below the average really unusual? Kind of hard to know if the findings are meaningful without more information.

Original Mike said...

Fascinating. Though Maguro's right, what's the natural variation? Presumably, Bruckner knows this and wouldn't be reporting these results if a 12% variation was unremarkable. On the other hand, a remarkable number of scientists display an appalling ignorance of basic statistics (e.g., Michael Mann, et al., a.k.a. The Hockey Team).

Fred4Pres said...

You still need boys to defend the tribe. But from an evolutionary sense, women usually got picked up by victors and absorbed--so genetically that makes sense.

PatCA said...

Yes, it is strange, but I think they need a bigger sample.

What I also find strange is the continued use of language like "lost their lives" and "jets were flown into" to describe 9/11. It all seems so passive.

AlphaLiberal said...

Evolution! Isn't it time for conservative freakout?

Filaments said...

Maguro: Why not read the whole thing?


http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2458-10-273.pdf

dbp said...

IIRC boys normally have a slightly higer rate of miscarriage than girls. Having only one X Chromosome, there is no back-up copy to blunt the effects of a bad mutation.

PatCA said...

Alpha,

Are you bored? Please mock and attack us for real, not hoped for, transgressions against dogma.

Fen said...

Heh. Alpha thinks the two are mutually exclusive.

Irony: God would keep Alpha around despite his genes. Evolution? Not so much.

edutcher said...

Have to agree with Fred. You'd think Ma Nature would want enough hunters and warriors around to protect the tribe.

Of course, there's always that monument in New England of the woman who came home from the settlement to find her family had been murdered by the Indians, who were still dancing around, celebrating. She picked up the axe from the chopping block and killed every one of them. So it may be an intensity thing Nature uses to compensate.

jimspice said...

And to really piss off the Christian right, you could combine their two biggest bugaboos, evolution and homosexuality, by noting there exist data supporting the conclusion that stress during pregnancy, presumably including the stresses of overpopulation, increase the incidence of male homosexuality, thereby providing a natural population density correction.

rocketeer67 said...

AlphaLiberal: Ever vigilant and ready to defend against the cartoon conservatives that live in his imagination.

Stand tall, AL! Stay on your toes! It's always the strawman you don't see sneaking up on you that gets you in the end.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If Obama keeps up his less than stellar performance as a President and we descend into WWIII (as seems pretty likely at this point).....things will be so dire and stressful that we will probably be able to achieve parthenogenesis.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Males compete more for resources in order to be noticed, females generally don't. Each female can procreate less offspring than can each male.

Abundance favors more males competing for more resources and more spawning, hardship, not so much.

Nothing to see here.

Doug Wright said...

There had been some views during the 1950s that more boys were born after a war to replenish that supply. This latest study refutes that but still the 1950s view seemed realistic back then.

Bruce Hayden said...

And to really piss off the Christian right, you could combine their two biggest bugaboos, evolution and homosexuality, by noting there exist data supporting the conclusion that stress during pregnancy, presumably including the stresses of overpopulation, increase the incidence of male homosexuality, thereby providing a natural population density correction.

I have always taken this as evidence that at least male homosexuality is more a function of nature than nurture.

But you miss that the "Christian Right" doesn't necessarily believe that male homosexuality is innate, but rather, that practicing it is what is of questionable morality.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am not sure whether more numbers would be that useful. I am not a statistician, and don't play one on TV. But I suspect that 10% here is statistically significant, given the numbers involved.

I should also note that other (esp. here mammalian) species adjust their male/female ratios based on food supply, and that translates to some extent into stress levels. So, if this study bears out, it shouldn't be all that surprising.

jamboree said...

Evolutionary strategy to avoid the draft, of course.