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18-May-2017 03:37

But Sales addressed this study solely to brush it aside in a parenthetical paragraph noting that the authors told her “their analysis was based partly on projections derived from a statistical model, not entirely from direct side-by-side comparisons of numbers of sex partners reported by respondents.” Well, no — there are plenty of side-by-side comparisons in Twenge and Sherman’s research, since the study is based on a survey in which the same question is asked in the same way over the years.

As for the “projections,” that just refers to the fact that the authors can’t provide lifetime numbers of sexual partners for millennials who are still very much alive, so they projected that one category.

It doesn’t bear on the overall finding that there’s no sign of an explosion in promiscuity.

(To be fair, the paper’s data ends in 2012, which was pre-Tinder, but well into the era of OKCupid and other online dating services that opened up a whole new world of sex and datingpartners.) Twenge told me that when she spoke with Sales, the journalist seemed to have arrived with some preconceived notions of what the real story was here, and was therefore very skeptical of Twenge’s data.

Reading Sales’ article, you’d think Tinder had wiped out all these millennials like, well, that aforementioned asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs.

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But it’s probably changing their behavior in all sorts of different, sometimes conflicting ways.

In that town over there, or in that state on the other side of the country, things might be very, very different, and it would be a mistake to extrapolate from our little slice of the world.

This is worth keeping in mind whenever a new moral panic is Sales’ account is loaded with anecdotes: There’s the finance guy who claims to have slept with 30 to 40 women off Tinder in the last year; the 23-year-old male model who insists that women want guys to send them dick pics (cool story, bro); the sorority sisters bemoaning the fact that college men, drenched with easy access to sex, are so bad at it; and the 26-year-old guy — think of him as a Tinder-era Walter Sobchak — who assures Sales that if he wanted to, he could find someone to have sex with bymidnight.

For the article, Sales conducted “interviews with more than 50 young women in New York, Indiana, and Delaware, aged 19 to 29,” as well as many men, and it adds up to a series of sleazy, depressing stories.

And she’s hardly the first journalist to raise this alarm: Over the last few years, reports on “hookup culture” — some focusing on alcohol and campus culture, some on technology, and some on both — have become a thriving genre.

Later in her email to me, Sales referenced Twenge’s argument in her paper that the fear of could explain the fact that while acceptance of casual sex is going up, there hasn’t quite been a commensurate rise in the number of people’s sexual partners.