From the book The Red Queen by Matt Ridley:
In an astonishing study recently undertaken in Western Europe, the following facts emerged: Married females choose to have affairs with males who are dominant, older, more physically attractive, more symmetrical in appearance, and married; females are much more likely to have an affair if their mates are subordinate, younger, physically unattractive, or have asymmetrical features; cosmetic surgery to improve a male’s looks doubles his chances of having an adulterous affair; the more attractive a male, the less attentive he is as a father; roughly one in three of the babies born in Western Europe is the product of an adulterous affair.
Shocked? Wait... the quote goes on:
If you find these facts disturbing or hard to believe, do not worry: The study was not done on human beings but on swallows, the innocent, twittering, fork-tailed birds that pirouette prettily around barns and fields in the summer months. Human beings are entirely different from swallows: Or are they?
After some more paragraphs, one finally finds some data on humans:
(…) [Baker and Bellis] have tried to measure the extent of cuckoldry in human beings. In a block of flats in Liverpool, they found by genetic tests that fewer than four in every five people were the sons of their ostensible fathers. In case this had something to do with Liverpool, the did the same tests in southern England and got the same result.
I posted the first paragraph above because immediately after I had read it I was about to post it here... Then I read the next paragraph which explained that they were talking about swallows.
These are my questions:
- Are the Baker & Bellis statistics credible? That is, are there other sources with similar results?
- The Baker & Bellis studies are from the 1980s. Given that they are credible, do the same statistics hold today?
- Is there a website or something that keeps statistics of this sort, perhaps about other places besides Liverpool?