Posted by: CJ | November 11, 2010

From the mouths of undergrads

Yesterday I was working in a tutoring center. It’s a giant free-for-all, where the tutors come around to try and help students with their homework, but only spend 5-15 minutes per student before moving on to the next.

Anyways, while I was working with a student, one of the other students said, in a not so soft voice, “Scientists say an orgasm is worth the same as two cheeseburgers.” I gave her a look, but I wasn’t sure what look I was giving her. Mostly because I was too baffled at all the possible implications of that statement.

For starters, what kind of cheeseburger are we talking here? From McDonald’s 99¢ menu, or an amazing $15 cheeseburger with sauteed onions and mushroom, bits of bacon, mozzarella cheese, and angus steak from a free-range grassfed cow on a toasted brioche bun?

Next, should I be jealous or not of someone for whom an orgasm is worth two cheeseburgers? And should I be jealous of the orgasms or of the cheeseburgers?

And what’s the standard deviation of these? What’s the 95% confidence interval? So on average an orgasm is worth two cheeseburgers, but does that mean it’s the same for almost everyone, or is it only 1 cheeseburger or less for 5% of the population and 8 cheeseburgers or more for another 5% of the population? These isn’t nearly scientific enough.

Finally, suppose we’ve nailed down the amount of happiness in terms of cheeseburgers an orgasm is worth. Does that mean, once we’ve specified a specific cheeseburger as the unit of cheeseburgers (such as a Burger King cheeseburger, say), that all we’ve done is specified how much money an orgasm is worth? Or is there a deeper cheeseburger-orgasm connection than the money connection? The obvious way to test this is to see how many chicken nuggets, fries, milk shakes, cigarettes, etc. an orgasm is worth and see if it comes out to the same amount of money. There could be follow-up studies on the price of an orgasm in different communities, cultures, and across time. We could see if the price of an orgasm rises faster, slower, or the same as inflation. As well as how the price varies with age. We could measure GDP in terms of orgasms per capita.

So yes, I had no idea what sort of look I gave that undergrad. My mind was whirring too much with all the possible science that could be conducted as follow-up studies.

(And no, I have not googled this. Some things just don’t deserve to be googled, and some things you just don’t want in your google history. This is a prime example of both.)

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