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By Jeff S.
If one discusses gun restrictions online, one frequently encounters the assertion that gun owners purchase their firearms to compensate for having small penises.
This is apparently not intended to be derogatory, since many of the same people making the claim take the position, in other circumstances, that nobody should be shamed for how they look or for any physical deficiency or abnormality they may have. These comments are obviously intended to be a sympathetic expression of understanding for why gun owners cling bitterly to their weapons of war and destruction, and are not intended to belittle gun owners or imply that they should have any reason to feel inferior.
While the association between gun ownership and small penis size is frequently made, it has so far lacked the support of scientific evidence. The current study is intended to fill this gap by comparing data on penis size with gun ownership to confirm that the claimed relationship exists.
For information on gun ownership rate by state, the research team used data from a 2015 Columbia university study that assessed gun ownership rates based on a 2013 survey, providing a percentage of residents of each state who own guns.(1)
For determining penis size, the research team used the results of a 2010 study by Condomania.com, which bills itself as “America’s first condom store” that “has been selling condoms since 1991, We have sold tens of millions of condoms from the largest and smallest brands.” The study ranked the 50 states in order of decreasing size, based on their condom sales to each state.(2)
Plotting penis size as a function of gun ownership rate clearly reveals a correlation, with the penis size ranking of a state decreasing as the percentage of gun ownership increases; note that a low rank indicates larger penis size, ranking from #1 (largest – New Hampshire) to #50 (smallest – some poor state that isn’t New Hampshire). Based on the data, a state such as Alaska with a gun ownership rate of 61.7% can expect to be ranked 61 out of 50, compared to the top-ranking New Hampshire with a gun ownership rate of only 14.4%.(3)
It should be noted that the study only shows a correlation and does not prove a causative effect. That is, while the data clearly show that small penis size is related to gun ownership (4), one cannot say for certain that compensating for small penis size is the motivation for owning a gun. Further research might be helpful in supporting such a causative relationship.(5)
(3) – The result that any state could rank 61 out of 50 may strike discerning readers as ridiculous. This is a result of using relative rankings (from 1 to 50) in the graph as if they were real numbers. Attempts to find the actual size data of Condomania’s study on its website, rather than relative rankings, were unsuccessful (this investigation on the website was, however, sufficient to change the character of the advertising seen on every other website viewed by the research team). While an implausible result may be viewed by some as diminishing the scientific validity of a study, with over 30,000 Americans dying from gun violence every year, this issue is too important to dismiss research merely because the indicated results defy any reasonable standard of credibility. See, for example: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/10/health/gun-laws-background-checks-reduce-deaths/
(4) – Some reviewers may question whether the correlation shown in the graph is statistically significant, in view of the high degree of variability in penis size rank between states with similar gun ownership rates. Further research might use statistical methods to reduce this variability. One approach to concealing the variability would be to simply group the states into four quartiles and only analyze those four data points, rather than analyzing fifty. See, for example:
(5) – One further avenue of research would be to try to establish some connection — any connection at all — between the two populations (online condom purchasers and gun owners) other than just living in the same the state. The data in this case were selected based on their convenience in being attained off the Internet rather than out of any attempt to provide a representative sample or to reflect any actual relationship between the two populations. There is no clear evidence that the individuals in a state that purchase mail-order condoms are likely to represent the same individuals who own guns. For example, female gun owners are a demographic that might be expected to have significantly lower-than-average representation among online condom purchasers.
(6) – Some reviewers may question the validity of the data on gun ownership, since it is based upon survey data. One particular area of note is New England, where Libertarian-leaning New Hampshire (ranked #1 for penis size, it should again be noted) is cited as having a significantly lower gun ownership rate compared to surrounding states (including restrictive Massachusetts). This may cause some to question whether New Hampshire residents are merely less likely to respond candidly to the survey question than residents of Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts.
(7) – Reviewers (particularly those in North Dakota) might question why Condomania’s 2010 data were used, rather than their 2013 ranking which would match the year of the gun ownership survey. The research team (exclusively male and living in NH) reviewed both sets of data and felt that the 2010 data were more representative and scientifically rigorous than the 2013 data (which rank North Dakota #1 and New Hampshire at a dismal #36). http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/12/03/which-state-is-the-biggest/