I've received this email before, and tracked down a requote online:

Annually you will shake hands with 11 women who have recently masturbated and failed to wash their hands.

Annually you will shake hands with 6 men who have recently masturbated and failed to wash their hands.

I'm wondering if there's any evidence to support this. At the very least, I'm surprised by the ratio, given the fact that men seem to masturbate with higher frequency than women:

Similar results have been found in a 2007 British national probability survey. It was found that, between individuals aged 16 to 44, 95% of men and 71% of women masturbated at some point in their lives. 73% of men and 37% of women reported masturbating in the four weeks before their interview, while 53% of men and 18% of women reported masturbating in the previous seven days. (Cited source in Wikipedia)

  • 11
    The domain of the unreferenced statistic is so large and vague, it seems meaningless. Consider the difference between a politician and someone who works from home. The number of handshakes they make annually probably varies by three orders of magnitude. Calculating averages in such circumstances is largely meaningless - the precision given seems out of whack with the variance. And that's assuming it is an an accurate average, which I highly doubt.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 11, 2011 at 2:02
  • 2
    Another claim (or one very similar) in that link has already been addressed and debunked here.
    – Flimzy
    Dec 11, 2011 at 5:58
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    I suspect one big reason the numbers could be "out of whack" may be clearer with a little perspective that's rooted in social taboos: Do people wash their hands after picking their noses? Do many people truthfully admit to doing that? On a similar "vein," I wonder if many people truthfully admit to masturbating. Dec 12, 2011 at 5:22
  • 4
    Why should I care? If this is proven to be true, how is it dangerous for me?
    – Suma
    Dec 12, 2011 at 14:08
  • 8
    @Suma: is that really your criteria for good questions? looking to the right, how will you act different depending on effectiveness of Nielsen TV ratings, if Cathy the Great died from horse injuries, or how many languages people have created? I probably won't act differently either; I was just curious if the claim had any substantiation whatsoever.
    – Hendy
    Dec 12, 2011 at 19:04


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