Sunday, December 10, 2006

Paternity Confidence

ThisNYT's Magazine article repeats the conclusion of a meta-study on what percentage of children have been fathered by someone outside the couple. The standard answer has been 10%. Dr. Anderson believes it is much lower.

Anderson . . . examined every paper . . . in which men with few or no doubts about their paternity learned that they weren’t related to one of “their” kids. . . . studies were mostly designed to explore genetically linked traits in fathers and children. Presumably, if you or your wife suspected you were unrelated to a child, you’d find an excuse not to take part in a genetic study like that, so Anderson determined that these men had high paternity confidence. Collectively in these studies, only 1.7 percent of men learned they were not the true fathers.

. . . a second set, of 31 studies, done at paternity labs . . . largely to resolve paternity disputes, so Anderson classified the men involved in these studies as having low paternity confidence. . . . 30 percent of the children tested in these studies turned out to be children of other fathers.

These two studies establish a rough estimate of the links between confidence in paternity and actual paternity. . . . for the [10%] figure to hold, men would have to have strong doubts about one in four of all children. . . . drawing on a survey of 1,325 men in Albuquerque, found that even when granted total confidentiality, they expressed doubts about only 1.5 percent of the 3,066 pregnancies in which they were involved.

I call bullshit. In the high-confidence studies, the women -- the person who has the best knowledge of who is the father -- determine whether the study will go forward. In the low-confidence studies, women did not have the option of not participating. Thus, the studies do not present a "rough estimate of the links between confidence in paternity and actual paternity" in studies where women have an opportunity not to participate.

This study looks like a waste of time. I'm I wrong?

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