Ipso Factoid: *insert gratuitous sexual pun here*


More from this author

Call for participants: Belief and Causality Relating to Accidents

Andrew Bober, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Strathclyde is seeking respondents for his survey about “Belief and Causality Relating to Accidents”. Bober...

Going Soul-o: one young atheist’s week at Christian camp (Day Seven)

Day Six It’s done. I’ve been home from Soul Survivor twenty-four hours, and I’ve now more or less recovered emotionally and physically. I won’t deny...

Going Soul-o: one young atheist’s week at Christian camp (Day Six)

Day Five Today will be my last day at Soul Survivor. Having witnessed the main meetings at this festival, with their cheering, praying and orgies...

Going Soul-o: one young atheist’s week at Christian camp (Day Five)

Day Four The tallest building in Germany, the Fernsehturm or TV tower, stands next to Alexanderplatz in the centre of Berlin. It's impossible to miss,...

Going Soul-o: one young atheist’s week at Christian camp (Day Four)

Day Three As the festival's third day starts, I'm better rested than the previous morning - the boys camped next door seem to have quietened...

In a wonderful opportunity (duly ignored) to prove our maturity as a society, both the Times and Daily Mail had headlines declaring “What an anti-climax” in relation to a study about the apparent non-existence of the female G-spot. The Register website settled for the far more restrained “In-depth probe fails to hit the G-spot”. As with any article relating to (whisper it) sex, this gave both journalists and commentators alike the perfect opportunity to wheel out every joke they could remember about vagina’s, orgasms, and men being crap in bed.

The article these wonderfully witty headlines refer to appears in the Journal of Sexual Health. The study asked 1,804 female twins (both identical and non-identical) aged between 22 and 83 to fill in a questionnaire reporting whether they had a G-spot or not. Both the Mail and the Times claim that if the G-spot actually exists, one would expect there to be a correspondence between identical twins reporting they had one. The papers report that no such pattern was shown.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of Ipso Factoid that in fact this study does not prove that the G-spot does not exist. The results are, in my humble opinion, far more interesting than the media would make out. The Times mentions some criticism of the results, quoting Prof. Emily Whipple, a rather big name in the world of female sexuality, as saying that “The biggest problem with their findings is that twins don’t generally have the same sexual partner”. In other words, just because a women hasn’t reported having a G-spot, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Lead author of the paper, Andrea Burri of King’s College London is happy to admit that this may in fact be correct, and that maybe “partner differences do play a role”. The subtlety the media failed to pick up on, however, is that “that is exactly what we [the research team] are saying, basically that the G-Spot is almost entirely due to unique environmental influences, so partner differences or performance is taken into account”. Importantly “That still doesn’t mean that it is an anatomical phenomenon, it could be an entirely subjective thing”.

The article never claims to prove the non-existence of the G-spot, it simply shows the lack of heritability of the self-report of a G-spot. The authors go on to postulate that this may prove the G-spot is a social rather than a physiological construct, but they are clear that more research is much needed (Ms Burri herself said she found it fascinating that the existence of the G-spot was widely accepted based on a handful of very small studies). The BBC website gets closest to covering this study properly, but they still missed the subtleties.

To be fair, it’s not necessarily immediately obvious. I’ll happily admit to being no expert when it comes to female genitalia. But in the space of about 20 minutes, spread over an afternoon exchanging e-mails with the extremely helpful Ms Burri, I was able to get even my feeble mind around the general idea. Would it be so much to ask the towering intellects of our media masters to invest similar time themselves? Ms Burri summed it up nicely when she said “Never trust the media. As soon as they start cutting information down the true message gets blurred”. Wise words indeed.

- Advertisement -

Latest articles

Time Team’s archaeologists showed us how experts can ruthlessly unpick a hoax

Channel 4's archaeology show Time Team's quiet destruction of a would-be hoaxer was a glorious illustration of the power of calm, patient expertise

The COVID-19 Vaccines are a sign for cautious optimism – but it is still early days

Three COVID-19 Vaccines have shown some very promising results, and we should rightly feel optimistic, but we aren't at the finish line yet

How Religion Trumped Science in America’s Coronavirus Response

There's a lot of blame to be apportioned when it comes to America's Coronavirus response - and religion needs to take its share

Real in What Sense? Consensually torturing skeptics over the nature of ‘realness’

Even a skeptic's sense of what is real can be less black and white than we think - and can lead to some surprisingly uncomfortable analysis

Four Perspectives On Peer Review: why it goes wrong, and why we need to fix it

The peer review process is vital, but it is riddled with errors and issues; the quality of future science depends on trying to improve it

More like this