Thursday, February 06, 2003

Shave and Get Horizontal, or Die

In what's sure to inspire a new advertising campaign for razor blades and shaving cream, scientists--and I'm using that term loosely for reasons that will shortly become clear--have made the following momentous discovery:

Men who don't shave every day enjoy less sex and are 70 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than daily shavers, a new study shows.
My first thought upon seeing this was "What the ...!?"

My second thought was "Crikey, I'm a dead man!" (Infer what you will.)

My third was again "What the ...!?"

My final thought is that the study is a textbook example of the non causa, pro causa fallacy, i.e., the fallacy of taking X to be the cause of Y when X is not likely to be the cause of Y. One would think that epidemiologists would be especially aware of the problem of confusing correlation and cause, but alas, this study made its way into the American Journal of Epidemiology. If you think the correlation between shaving, sex, and strokes is tenuous, hang on:

The findings show that men who don't shave every day are less likely to be married and are more likely to be blue-collar workers. They also have fewer orgasms, tend to be shorter, and to suffer from angina.
Researchers also note that these men live on planet Earth, wear pants, and require daily intake of H20 to survive.

[Professor Shah] Ebrahim told Reuters the link between circulating sex hormones and beard growth was first established when a man on a remote island in the Hebrides noticed that his beard grew vigorously when he was about to rejoin his girlfriend on the Scottish mainland.
One story about a hot-to-trot Gilligan establishes a link between hormones and beard growth? Isn't this frowned upon as anecdotal evidence? By the way, this has all kinds of implications for Gilligan's Island. Why? The men were always clean shaven. Discuss.

He said the low frequency of orgasm in men who did not shave regularly might be because they had low levels of testosterone or might simply reflect the fact that they were unmarried and had less opportunity for sex.
So now there's a correlation between not shaving and not being married? Does this professor just not like bearded men? And what about women who don't shave? What are their chances for amour with hairy 'pits and legs that a brillo pad would find abrasive? Discuss.

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