Humor in Science (Episode 2: storks vs. sex)

Humor in Science

By Claude Covo-Farchi from Paris, France (Une étoile est née) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

As we all know,

Two different theories exist concerning the origin of children: the Theory of Sexual Reproduction (ThoSR) and the Theory of the Stork (ThoS).


[…n]owadays, many people believe in the theory of reproduction, simply because they have been taught this theory in school, although it is a scientific theory, not a truth (Leisti T, personal communication via, 2001),

Höfer, Przyrembel, and Verleger (Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2004, 18(1):88–92) finally provide fresh evidence for ThoS and against ThoSR. The latter is implausible, the authors argue convincingly, inter alia because:

According to the theory of sexual reproduction, children are a result of sexual intercourse. There are however, well-documented cases where sexual intercourse has not led to the birth of a child. To the contrary, in the fundamental Christian work The Bible a case of delivery without sexual inter- course is documented. […] Therefore, this aspect should be amended to read: ‘No scientifically proven absolute cause-effect relationship exists between intercourse and delivery’.

In support of ThoS, the authors present a statistical significant correlation between the stork population in Brandenburg and out-of-hospital deliveries in Berlin between 1990 and 2000. However, they do not find a significant correlation between the stork population in Brandenburg and clinical deliveries in Berlin in the same period. Consequently, they conclude

that ThoS has to be restricted to out-of-hospital deliveries [and that the] ThoS should be further substantiated by rigorous scientific methods.

Höfer et al. must surely be applauded for bringing ThoS back on the table. But their version of ThoS may be flawed. Most likely an artifact of their methodological approach, the authors too easily rule out the possibility that in reality a combination of ThoS and ThoSR could hold. In fact, a recent 1-n ethnographic study by F.G. suggests strong evidence for cases of rapist storks:

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