Valentine’s Day: Special Report

(February 2017 — Salt Lake City, UT) If you’re looking for the sweetest spot to be on this day for lovers, you couldn’t find a better place than Mormon country. A University of Kansas study, released last week, rated Mormon men as the most potent in the country.

As part of a survey of several different ethnic groups, U Kansas researchers asked American men about their ancestry, progeny, and sexual habits. The researchers followed up the written survey with a physical inspection and detailed investigation into the sex lives of over seven hundred volunteers taken from four different ethnic groups.

Men who reported descent from at least two Mormon grandparents led the rankings in sexual activity, number of children fathered, and physical prowess, outranking Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, and Southern Baptists.

Mormon leaders, when asked to comment on the study results, credited their success to healthy living and “following the counsel of the living prophets and honoring their priesthood.” They also noted their own longevity. Average age in the all-male Quorum of Twelve Apostles, the leading body of the Church, is 69, and nearly all the members are still active and strong.

That Mormon men are well-endowed comes as no surprise to Mormon leaders or members. In an interview last year, Mormon Church President Thomas S. Monson said that for the Mormon church size really does matter, and deviations from this are just “a blip here and a blip there.”

The university researchers, however, credit the study results to history and natural selection. “The practice of polygamy among the early Utah settlers for three and more generations,” said Dr. Ryan Bontoff, “led to heightened selection pressures on males. It’s a case of sexual dimorphism like with the peacock’s tail,” he explained. “Those males with bigger displays and more aggressive courting patterns ended up with more females, more mating opportunities, and more offspring, thus passing on their traits to the next generation.”

So are Mormon male leaders like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, who had several dozen wives each, like the showy peacocks strutting their stuff? “The analogy that comes closer to my mind,” said Dr. Bontoff, “is probably something more like the bull elephant seal or the silverback gorilla.”

“Both [the elephant seal and the silverback gorilla] are very territorial and jealously guard their harems,” Dr. Bontoff added. “Though of course you can’t extrapolate from animal behavior to humans.”

The U Kansas study is a breakthrough in demonstrating such a rapid rate for human evolution. “Though fifty years [of polygamy] is a very small time span on the ecological time scale, it was already enough to show some effects,” Dr. Bontoff concluded.

If Dr. Bontoff and his colleagues are right, it is perhaps fortunate that Mormon polygamy ended when it did. Continuation of the practice for a few more generations might have led to a male membership of prodigious proportions.

“Breeding experiments among human beings is, obviously, prohibited by moral considerations,” notes Dr. Heidi Lindorff, co-author of the study. “So we don’t get many chances to study effects like this. But there is no mistaking it: the Mormon man is the proto-Uber-Mensch,” or super-man.

It is not known whether the mates of these super-men appreciate their good fortune. They do produce more children than average, and that fact now has a biological explanation in addition to a possible cultural one. “The Mormon men in the study were just more fecund,” said Dr. Lindorff. “When it came to impregnating females, they had a noticeably higher ‘hit’ rate.”

Researchers from the University of California -San Francisco Mobile Sperm Collection Unit noted similar results during a visit to Mormon-owned Brigham Young University last fall. “The samples we received were clearly among the best we had ever got,” said Dr. Howard Beinman, head of the Reproduction Research Laboratory, which is the home base of the Mobile Sperm Unit. “They’ve just got better juice.”

So do Mormon men make better lovers? “We would have to do a survey of their mates to find that out,” said Dr. Bontoff. “Of course, with a question like this you can’t rely on the opinions of the men themselves, and we wouldn’t want to come to any conclusions prematurely.”

Another upcoming study would focus on Mormon women from a different angle. “If we can already see selection pressure on Mormon men towards a ‘peacock’ response, we wonder if we might see a reciprocal pressure on Mormon women,” said Dr. Lindorff. “The peahen, as you know, is really a drab little bird. And that might explain some things.”

Of note in the U Kansas study is also what it did _not_ show. Neither the Catholic Polish-Americans, renowned for having large families, nor the Italian-Americans, famed as the lady-killing Don Juans of the world, showed such sexual prowess. Also interesting to note is that Southern Baptists showed no such harem tendencies which might offer Bill Clinton a biological scapegoat for his reputed sexual adventures.

The Utah Board of Tourism has just learned of the study, and is eager to make use of the results to tout Utah’s unique attractions. “Especially with the Olympics coming up” in 2002, said Don Wiley of the Tourism Board. “We think we could come up with a new slogan. ‘Land of Adventure’ and ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’ have had their day. We think we can come up with something new and exciting.”

Would he be willing to give us a hint?

“Well, how does this grab you: ‘Utah: Bigger than You Thought.’ ”

Credit: C. K. Woodworth