Friday, August 28, 2009

Jessica Alba is going to have more babies than you

My thesis with this blog is that everything in the world is getting better. Well, now we know that the human race is even getting more beautiful. In a valiant effort to verify our superficiality, researchers discovered that women rated as "attractive" tended to have 16 percent more children than everyone else, and more girls than boys. This adds up fairly quickly.

My most-likely-wrong math tells me that if we assumed 1% of the population was beautiful at some point in the past (a very conservative estimate) and reproducing at 1.16x the rate of everyone else, after 46 generations, you'd have more than 90% of the population beautiful. Let's say it's 25 years per generation, which means this would take a little more than 1,000 years. But, in the meantime, the most beautiful people out of the now slightly-more-beautiful pool are still reproducing faster. I would need some sort of statistics or calculus class at this point, but suffice to say, I imagine women are much more beautiful now than they were 1,000 or even 100 years ago. (And that's even ignoring the fact that everyone now is healthier, taller, bathes regularly, and has all their teeth.) Isn't this solid proof that the world is getting better?

And what about the other half of us humans? Handsome men showed no difference in their reproductive rates in the study, thus proving that no one really cares what men look like, and that we should just go ahead and wear sweatpants into the office every day. I laugh at the guys on Mad Men, with their slicked-back hair and their fancy ties. Suckers.

photo: Jessica Alba on her way to having 16% more babies than you.

source: "A planet full of Angelina Jolies," The Week, August 14, 2009, p. 22.

If anyone is gooder at math, chime in.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More good trends than you could possibly imagine fitting in only two paragraphs

Many alleged dangers in the West are secretly trending toward peace, despite everyday worries and media scares. Deaths by fire have declined 50 percent in twenty years, thanks to smoke alarms and other building safety measures. Teen pregnancy is way down in America, which is mostly due to increased birth control, not abortions; the teen abortion rate has been dropping significantly too, as has the overall number of abortions. In fact, the percentage of teenagers having sex has actually decreased over the years, and teens are waiting longer before having sex, not that you'd know it from a panicky media. As reported by The New York Times:

"There's no doubt that the public perception is that things are getting worse, and that kids are having sex younger and much wilder than they ever were," said Kathleen A. Bogle, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at La Salle University. "But when you look at the data, that's not the case." … "I give presentations nationwide where I'm showing people that the virginity rate in college is higher than you think and the number of partners is lower than you think and hooking up more often than not does not mean intercourse," Dr. Bogle said. "But so many people think we're morally in trouble, in a downward spiral and teens are our of control. It's very difficult to convince people otherwise."

The rates of teens dropping out of high school, smoking, and drinking have also been declining for a decade. For example, the percentage of 12th-grade boys who reported binge drinking (having five or more alcoholic beverages in a row in the past two weeks) dropped from 52 percent in 1980 to 29 percent in 2007; girls’ rates during that time dropped from 30 percent to 22 percent. Methamphetamine use in the U.S. has dropped significantly in the past few years; the proportion of 18-year-olds using the drug in the past year dropped by two-thirds since 1999, thanks mainly to education efforts. This success surprisingly curtailed a well-publicized growing crisis with crystal meth in rural America. The number of chronically homeless people in the U.S. dropped 30 percent in just two years, from 2005 to 2007, thanks to a new government “housing first” strategy. Traffic accidents—the leading cause of death among young adults—are dropping precipitously. Around 42,000 Americans died in car crashes in 2002, compared to 52,000 in 1970, even though the population density and number of cars rose dramatically. Workplace fatalities are down, too. Safer technology helps prevent accidents, and then our healthcare advances allow a higher number of those who do have accidents to pull through.

And trust me, there's a lot more good news where this came from!

PS. I have sources for all these, of course. If anyone's interested, let me know.