When art breeds success in the bedroom

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A couple in bed: researchers wanted to know whether successful artists have more lovers
  • (guardian.co.uk)
    Researchers wanted to know whether successful artists have more lovers.
    Photograph: CTK/Alamy
If you thought the UKGuardian's coverage of Operation Cast Lead and the resulting Goldstone Report based on anonymous witnesses was absurd... this story is going to convince you of the stupidity of this newspaper. The claim is that they can predict how much sex people have based on math.

Yeah... it's pretty funny that no one is there to question them... and I sure as hell wouldn't leave a comment to get trolled by some wannabe cultural elitist.

Ok... get this: The UK Guardian's math supposedly expects people in cultural institutions like art schools to be honest about the sex they are participating in. As an artist myself (oh and yes I was)... and someone who has been on the inside of these systems I can tell you my reputation was horrible. I'm sure many of my classmates had me pegged as someone who didn't have sex at all... but the truth is there were a lot of repressed women who did sleep with me, and could not talk about it... because admitting that they slept with a divisive fellow like myself would hurt their reputation.  (When you  lie with dogs you wake up with fleas! I'm not boasting about this, because I was looking for a public relationship... in an effort to improve my public image.)  Further... I don't know why this newspaper would take the word of people who were sleeping around. It's like as if there would be no social friction that could occur as a result of rejecting one mate and moving on to the next.  That social friction being a very large variable that would make any study impossible.

I can understand the need to prove this. Many grumbling persons have looked in envy at public figures who have met with public acceptance and have complained that they have become dominant to the pool of sexual prey,... dominant to the point where someone wonders why they would be respected... (I suppose we could ask a guy like Jullian Assange what happens when you become way too respectable to the cultural elite).  My point is that there are simply some things that are common sense... and if you reach a situation where the other party doesn't want to believe something as obvious as what this study was trying to prove then you probably shouldn't be around that other person or you have got to accept if you stay around that there are benefits of being around someone who is obviously hostile.  As someone who has had the unfortunate experience of looking into the private records of an artistic institution and suffered the result of the institution and it's sexual environment (yes I was in jail... actually if I had known there were University records I would of not been in jail at all.  Some people out there are still censoring this blog... the state of Washington really thinks they can get away with censorship)... I can say that this kind of conjecture sells newspapers, but it has no substance. If the people around you don't agree to your analysis... it's probably best to just take the abuse or get the hell out of there. Trying to prove what kind of sexual acrobatics go on in a public forum is a messy business. When you dig up dirt you are liable to fall into a hole.
....To deal with their realisation that some artists get a lot of sex while others get little or none, Helen Clegg, Daniel Nettle and Dorothy Miell made use of an ancient tool – a tool that mathematicians count among the sexiest of mankind's inventions. The logarithm.
The trio had joined forces, as they later described it, to "investigate the relationship between mating success and artistic success in a sample of 236 visual artists".
Clegg is a University of Northampton senior lecturer in psychology, Nettle a professor of behavioural science at Newcastle University and Miell the head of the College of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh.
Their report, called Status and Mating Success Amongst Visual Artists, appears in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
The study gives us barely any numerical detail. It says only this: "The distribution of number of sexual partners for these participants was highly skewed with a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 250 (M=10.67). Therefore, the data were converted to a log scale and [we performed our analysis] using this scale."
That "M=10.67" is the median. Half of the 236 artists had had, each of them, fewer than 10.67 lovers. The other artists each had had in excess of 10.67 bedmates. Or so they told the researchers.
Two lovers. Twenty lovers. Two hundred lovers. They seem almost to be from different universes, the collections of five or six lovers, versus the serial harems of 100 or 200. How to talk coherently about a hodgepodge of small and big numbers?
You do it with logarithms. Roughly speaking (I don't have room here to go into much detail), the logarithm of a particular number tells – measures, really – how many extra digits that number has.
The number 1 has no extra digits. Its logarithm is zero. The number 10 has one extra digit. Its logarithm is 1. The number 100 has two extra digits; its logarithm is 2. The logarithm of 101 is ever-so-slightly bigger than 2 (it's about 2.0043). The logarithm of 250 is bigger still (about 2.3979).
The logarithm is a concise, rough way to compare things across vast scales of bigness and smallness. That painter who's got a new girlfriend every few months? About log 2. That lonely graffiti gal whom everyone shuns? Log zero, it seems.
The researchers used logarithms also when they tried to understand a related set of numbers.
They had computed what they call the "mating strategy index" of the various artists. "Each one-night stand gained one point, each relationship up to a month two points, and soon up to each relationship 10 years or over, which gained eight points. The total number of points for each person was added up and divided by their total number of relationships."
After tiptoeing through all their data and computations, the artists-and-sex researchers decided that "more successful male artists had more sexual partners than less successful artists, but this did not hold for female artists".
• Marc Abrahams is editor of the bimonthly Annals of Improbable Research and organiser of the Ig Nobel prize
My grandmother died when I was in college. She told me to turn my tongue three times before saying anything. That was her advice to me. I never took her advice. It isn't my nature. Besides I benefit too much by acting like I know the answer. I can't help who I am, but I know she was smart enough on her deathbed to see that I was falling. She had the funniest personality. At first glance she seemed like Betty White or Victoria Jackson. She never had any presumption of intelligence or knowing things. She knew how to not appear smart... oh did she fool us all. She had all the answers... you had to pry it out of her. She plaid stupid all the time.

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