A tale of two false estimates?

by on January 22, 2015 at 6:45 am in Data Source, Economics, Food and Drink, Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Toilet paper is shrinking, the size of the individual sheets that is.  (That is probably the closest we will get to hyperinflation.)  Does the average American really use 46 sheets a day?  That sounds like an overstatement.

In contrast to this commodity, I usually want for food portion sizes — especially ice cream — to be downsized.

2. I say both men and women are understating their number of sexual partners.  Contrary to what is portrayed in this chart, I postulate an American male average of about four.  I do not agree with the common claim that American men will overstate their number of partners.

The pointer is via Rayman.

1 soonerhokie January 22, 2015 at 7:33 am

You question 46 sheets per person? That’s odd. Your Wikipedia entry states that you are married.

2 Jim B January 22, 2015 at 7:47 am

Agreed, based on my experience, that sounds about right. I’ll generously say I use 10 sheets/day, and when I was single that probably would have been my guess for the average. Now that I’m married, I know who’s using the other 82. We rented a vacation house for a week, and 1 day in she was like “we have to pick up some toilet paper”. I was like, “When I looked, both bathrooms had a full roll and a brand new backup on the shelf. That should hold us for the week, no?”. Awkward silence. At what point are you comfortable enough in your marriage to have the gumption to drop this bomb: “Seriously, you only went number 1, why is half the roll in there?”. After reading the article, now I can add, “You know that that’s like flushing a quarter every time.”. Maybe that will appeal to her frugal side.

3 charlie January 22, 2015 at 8:01 am

Questions like this will involuntary boost the number of sexual partners.

Bring back the bidet!

4 Chris Purnell January 22, 2015 at 11:05 am

Toilet paper as a substitute for Kleenex?

5 Kalsong January 23, 2015 at 5:08 am

I’ve noticed the same. Toilet paper, water, money… women seem to spend everything more lavishly. I have a theory that being selfish makes them feel safe and valued. I was astounded when I found how women react to selfish conduct. We men usually think “what a prick” and if we are very young, we’ll try to kick his ass. If we’re mature, we’ll respect him less than before. On the other hand women seem to admire how selfishly someone dares to behave. PUA bloggers might be on to something.

6 Axa January 22, 2015 at 7:45 am

#2: The low number may be related to the age of respondent. 15% of respondents are less than 25. http://publicdata.norc.org:41000/gssbeta/GSSVariables_subject.html

When you compared to a survey applied to 30-44 years old the number goes up to 6 for men an 4 for women lifetime sexual partners. Closer to Tyler’s opinion http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/resources/FAQ.html#number

When you look at another survey of 25-44 years old the median is 6.1 for men and 3.9 for women. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/key_statistics/n.htm#number12months

People younger than 25 are bringing the median down or……….I haven’t found about the survey methodology. Perhaps the GSS is made in a room with other 25 people and the other surveys are conducted as private interviews.

7 The Engineer January 22, 2015 at 8:17 am

Agreed. It wasn’t until my midlife crisis that my number of sexual partners increased beyond a couple.

8 Pasha January 22, 2015 at 9:24 am

Third marriage?

9 Al January 22, 2015 at 12:56 pm

I demand an opinion on this subject from Ray Lopez! Paging Ray Lopez!

10 Erick January 22, 2015 at 1:02 pm

An interesting study would be the average number of sexual partners for people who are at least moderately attractive and social. Obviously quantifying those two factors would be somewhat difficult, but you could figure something out. These numbers are probably held down a bit by people who don’t have much choice in their number of partners, or do, but choose to live their life in a way that they aren’t likely to have partners. To properly decide whether I should be ashamed of being a loser or ashamed of being a slut, I need a more comparable population.

11 Tom West January 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm

To properly decide whether I should be ashamed of being a loser

I always assumed that having one partner meant that you hit the jackpot.

You chose the right person first time around, and the right person decided you were the one.

12 Asher January 22, 2015 at 7:45 am

I just calculated the average from the chart, using midpoints for ranges and 100 for 100+. The average is way over 4. Maybe Tyler is thinking of the median, or mode.

“Lifetime partners” can be misleading unless you interview 70-year-olds. Low numbers could just be a function of low ages of the person answering the survey.

13 Art Deco January 22, 2015 at 9:47 am

I doubt many people are putting a mess of notches in their belt between 45 and 70. The mean is going to be dominated by the activities of homosexuals (a small minority), lounge lizards (a modest minority), and sluts (a modest minority), so should be discarded.

14 Lord Action January 22, 2015 at 10:58 am

Also professionals and people who utilize professionals. I remember reading that the percentage of the female population that had spent time in that business was surprisingly high (like a couple of percent), and someone’s buying their services. I don’t have a source, so I might be wrong or it might have been wrong.

And when making a lifetime count you have to remember that people don’t need a high rate right now, they just need to have had a high rate at some point in their life.

15 JC January 23, 2015 at 3:29 pm

“like a couple of percent”

That sounds about right. Many of the women who engage in the sex trade do not seem to stay in it for long.

And to reply to Art Deco – I expect that men who are using professionals rack up large numbers between ages 40 and 60.

16 Peter Akuleyev January 22, 2015 at 11:06 am

After my grandfather was widowed while living at their “assisted living” resort, I bet he put 10 or 12 more notches on his belt. Seems he was having dinner with a different 80 year old everytime I would go to see him. It’s not like people in assisted living homes have all that much else to do anyway.

17 Bill Harshaw January 22, 2015 at 7:53 am

A factoid from the depths of memory, possibly wrong: British troops during WWII had an 8-sheet ration, US troops a 24-sheet ration. The writer was using it to illustrate the difference in material between the two armies.

18 Ryan January 22, 2015 at 8:00 am

46 sheets / 2 poops a day / 4 sheets a wipe = 5-6 wipes per poo

Not unfathomable

19 Daniel January 22, 2015 at 8:16 am

2 poops a day

Either there’s something wrong with your digestion, or you eat waaaayyy too much.

20 Skip January 22, 2015 at 8:51 am

2 is nothing. I’d say 4 is about my average per day and I eat like a bird. But I also don’t like carrying a lot of crap around with me.

21 Cliff January 22, 2015 at 9:17 am

Same. Maybe something is wrong with YOUR digestion

22 dan1111 January 22, 2015 at 10:15 am

It’s interesting that lots of people seem to know what the average must be, based on a really low observed sample size. What does that say about human nature? Someone ought to do one of those bogus psychology studies on this.

23 Doug January 22, 2015 at 11:07 am

Wow, 50% of your weight every day? I guess that explains it.

24 HL January 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

Anywhere from 2-3 a day to to 2-3 a week is normal I think. The digestive system is amazingly robust and hardy.

25 Careless January 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Twice a week? you’d be crapping a couple of pounds, at least. Well, that would help explain complaints about newer toilets not flushing well enough

26 HL January 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I had a roommate who could clog the toilet with his stool. He went 2-3 times a week.

27 Steve-O January 22, 2015 at 5:35 pm

I’m guessing this would be my average. More sheets/wipe if I’m using the TP at work. As my dorm’s RA said of the university-issue TP, “It’s like John Wayne: rough, tough, and won’t take shit of nobody.”

28 EricFM January 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm

I imagine the once-a-day poopers are as skeptical of the multi-poopers as those of us who have had 1 sexual partner are of the sluts.

29 max January 22, 2015 at 8:26 am

I easily use >46 per deuce.

30 AndrewL January 22, 2015 at 8:30 am

I’m unfamiliar with this unit of measure: “sheets”. I measure TP use in yards.

31 walk this way January 22, 2015 at 8:33 am

Reminds me of that joke…

Krugman orders a pizza. Guy on the phone asks if he wants it cut in 6 or 8 pieces.

“8 please. I’m very hungry today.”

32 The Other Jim January 22, 2015 at 10:13 am

Funny, but I doubt Krugman would say “please” to a lowly servant, if he ever dared speak to one at all.

33 Cooper January 22, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Then Krugman throws the first pizza on the ground and smashes a few plates for good measure. Waste means jobs! All hail GDP!

34 AB January 22, 2015 at 8:09 pm

*insert Greek plate-smashing joke*

35 Andrew M January 22, 2015 at 8:35 am

People use toilet paper for other purposes too: mopping up spills, cleaning the sink, etc. I imagine some women use it for makeup removal too.

36 JonFraz January 22, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Don’t forget cleaning up after untidy pets. My cat has a habit of stepping in the litter box, but leaving the deposit just outside.

37 anon January 22, 2015 at 8:45 am

Many paper towels now have fewer sheets, too.

The person who does the shopping and stocking at home notices.

38 Bryan Caplan January 22, 2015 at 9:43 am

Axa, I checked the age thing. One partner remains the mode if you look at 30+ or 40+ for both men and women.

39 Axa January 22, 2015 at 10:44 am

Yes, I read that part too. That’s why I kept wondering about the GSS methodology since other surveys tell a whole different story.

40 Mike January 22, 2015 at 9:54 am

One thing that influence the number of sex partners and disparities: they don’t interview sex workers, women whose number of partners tend to be, for obvious reasons, much higher than the “typical” woman.

41 Anon January 22, 2015 at 12:46 pm

The “sex worker” effect doesn’t have as big of an impact as one might think. The bigger impact is that people just completely lie on these kinds of surveys. Despite what Tyler says, men have been shown to overstate to a small degree and women have been shown to understate to a great degree.


42 Art Deco January 22, 2015 at 5:52 pm

No, they just forget because they were blotto.

43 The Other Jim January 22, 2015 at 10:08 am

Let’s not forget the nose-blowing and other miscellaneous cleaning applications of toilet paper. Those have to be factored into any serious academic study of per-person TP consumption.

44 Anon. January 22, 2015 at 11:10 am

People ITT need to start eating more raw veggies. If you eat right, 90% of poops are single-log no-wipers.

45 HL January 22, 2015 at 11:44 am

The easy out is to take some HUSK daily. A couple glasses a day is a 1 way ticket to pleasant poop paradise.

46 YZ January 22, 2015 at 11:17 am

I’ve always wondered about the economics of cheap public/workplace washroom toilet paper. I find I have to use at least 3 times as much (and it takes 3 times as long) so I’m doubtful if there is much cost savings over the cheapest decent consumer stuff.

47 HL January 22, 2015 at 11:41 am

You’re probably right that the savings for actual usage is not as high as one would expect, but I imagine one of the thoughts in the process is to take into account scallywags who would do something like pull out all the TP and throw it into the toilet bowl for fun. There’s less of an emotional cost to finding cheap toilet paper maliciously wasted than expensive quality TP.

48 HL January 22, 2015 at 11:41 am

And also perhaps less incentive for the scallywags to destroy cheap TP than good TP.

49 JonFraz January 22, 2015 at 3:04 pm

My high school had an obnoxious roller devise that only allowed one sheet at a time to be dispensed. However it was possible to unroll the paper in reverse and get more. I have no idea what the school system thought it was accomplishing. A secret intelligence test maybe?

50 YetAnotherTom January 22, 2015 at 11:19 am

In know several guys who racked up 40+ sexual partners in college. It seems like it’s kind if winner take all in that age group for men. I know others who barely dated at all. With loosened sexual mores, highly extraverted benefit the most. 4 sounds too low for average, But It may be ok for

51 derek January 22, 2015 at 12:56 pm

A wildlife biologist told me about a population of grizzly bears in the interior of British Columbia. About 38 individual, and almost all of them the descendants of one boar. May explain the grouchy nature of some bears.
A nearby population showed a large hole in the genetic analysis of the population until an old boar was trapped inadvertantly. (They were targeting a female with cubs that was wandering around town last year) This male was unknown to the biologists but known quite well by the females and probably the odd unfortunate male that crossed it’s path.

52 YetAnotherTom January 22, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Doesn’t surprise me. I don’t completely buy the alpha male stuff for humans. I do believe for men, this adage “hungry don’t get fed”. is true. It’s why men lie about their sexual partners. They want potential mates to think they have options.

53 Jonfraz January 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Just because someone has sex with another person does not mean that person is exclusively theirs forever after. Hook-up culture doesn’t work that way. It’s basically “Love ’em and leave ’em” (I’d replace “love” with something cruder but I have standards to maintain). The top guys– and yes, the top women– may get their pick of the newbies, but after that everyone has their chance, hence the sarcastic phrase “sloppy seconds”.

54 HL January 22, 2015 at 11:42 am

This is clear evidence that the nofap movement is inconsequentially small and has failed.

55 Anon January 22, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Hate to break it to you but the fact that men overstate their sexual partners in self-reported surveys has been proven numerous times by bogus pipeline studies.


Hell, men even overstate infidelity in self-reported surveys


However, the bigger factor is that women tremendously understate sexual history. To the point where self-reported studies in this subject are pretty much completely meaningless.

We know, however, that humans are mammalians where the female invests more heavily in the offspring. In virtually every single example of such a species, it has been observed that female reproductive success clusters fairly closely to the mean, while male reproductive success is much more right-skewed (e.g. small number of males have access to majority of females). Several epidemiological studies have confirmed that this is largely also the case in humans. (Note this means that, unlike what self-reported studies claim, the female median must be higher than the male median).

56 Anon January 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Just to add: In my opinion the results of the second study say everything you need to know about human nature

Men will admit to non-existent infidelity to implicitly boast about their sexual prowess.

From that, we can conclude that women put more weight on a man’s sexual status than his fidelity (which I would say is almost certainly true for short-term relationships, and probably true for long-term relationships).

Really, really interesting stuff.

57 Jim Glass January 22, 2015 at 4:38 pm

“Men will admit to non-existent infidelity to implicitly boast about their sexual prowess.”

I just read the new biography of Napoleon — and although he wasn’t particularly interested in pursuing women, was happy enough having his one true love Josephine waiting at home for him, he took a succession of high-profile mistresses to enhance his public reputation for political reasons.

” From that, we can conclude that women put more weight on a man’s sexual status than his fidelity”

Also, Josephine cheated on him at the start, and politically it was much better for Nap to be seen as a husband with many mistresses than as one who was true to his wife and cuckolded. (Seen by the entire public that way, not just by women.)

Later Josephine actually did fall in love with him and became true to him, not caring about the mistresses.


58 Jonfraz January 23, 2015 at 3:28 pm

In the late 18th century, among the upper classes, affairs were almost expected, among both men and women. Louis XVI was considered a dullard for not taking a mistress. Napoleon’s domestic arch-enemy, Mme de Stael, was a neurotic bed-hopper, four of her six children fathered by men other than her husband, but her reputation never suffered at all, and she was acclaimed the Conscience of Europe for opposing the Bourbons, the Jacobins and Napoleon in turn.

59 Jonfraz January 23, 2015 at 3:16 pm

From that, we can conclude that women put more weight on a man’s sexual status than his fidelity (which I would say is almost certainly true for short-term relationships, and probably true for long-term relationships).

In long-term relationships it is not so true: women generally do not want the guy that cheats. They expect his attention– and resources– to be all about them and any children they have. This can be problematic as many (not all) women are attracted to bad-boy types initially who may be fun in the early phase of the relationship, but make poor husbands in the long run.

60 Art Deco January 22, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Results suggest that some sex differences in self‐reported sexual behavior reflect responses influenced by normative expectations for men and women.

Pretty tentative conclusion, and derived from a soft science survey. Interesting if true.

61 Clover January 22, 2015 at 12:55 pm

I would think that most of the lefty chattering classes, and many MR commenters as well, come from a sector of society where promiscuous behavior is more common than among the American population as a whole. It’s also much more common on TV, where even the sexual market losers have a large number of partners. Based on my own experience I don’t see the distribution of sexual partner numbers as hard to believe. There are lots of religious people out there, lots of nerds out there, lots of low SMV men who are too stupid to be nerds out there, and lots of men who find one woman and stick with her. Add up all these categories and you have a substantial minority of American men.

62 Cooper January 22, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Some people mate for life. Most of the Mormons I know, for example.

Then there are the guys who spend every waking moment swiping right on Tinder. I’ve got a buddy who has mastered the rapid swipe technique. Only after he gets a match does he determine whether the prospective “lady” is worth talking to…

63 JonFraz January 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Mormons sometimes get divorced too.

64 Pat Boyle January 22, 2015 at 1:45 pm

As to the toilet paper issue, I believe you are overlooking season variation. This was best explained many years ago by Ezio Pinza.


65 Zach January 22, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Ice cream sizes at the grocery store are one of the very few things that have seen reduced sizes in the past decade in America… typical size reduced from 2 to 1.5 pints for a box of ice cream; Ben & Jerry’s advertise “Still a pint!” on the lid to contrast with other manufacturers that’ve dropped from 16 oz to 14 oz or less.

66 Willitts January 22, 2015 at 9:27 pm

The select a size paper towels are great. I think the larger sheets were wasteful. I’m not sure though if the price per square foot is higher.

Judging from American eating habits I wouldn’t be surprised if we also had horrible digestive disorders.

67 JasonL January 22, 2015 at 10:00 pm

I’d expect high standard deviation in number of sheets consumed. Not only is the number of movements going to vary by dietary preference, so is, er, viscosity.

68 Artimus January 23, 2015 at 5:24 am

4 sex partners for men? Good god I must be a friggin’ slut.

69 MGBRoadstar January 23, 2015 at 6:27 am

#2 The questions are completely different:-
Men’s Reported Lifetime Number of Opposite-Sex Partners
Women’s Reported Number of Lifetime Opposite-Sex Partners

I’ve had many opposite-sex partners in my lifetime, but only one lifetime opposite-sex partner.

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