How Google, porn, and the birth of Jesus may explain human reproduction cycles

‘Tis the season to be frisky. According to a new study this week in Scientific Reports, Christmas in the US often sees a spike in Google searches for sexy time topics and a surge in Tweets dripping with language denoting happy, care-free moods. The online frolicking is followed by a seasonal uptick in births about nine months later in September. And the US isn’t alone in this trend: the study shows other majority-Christian countries see similar climaxes in Internet romping around celebrations of the birth of Jesus. And majority-Muslim countries see them around Eid-Al-Fitr, a joyous religious celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

The authors of the study suggest that the online data may show, once and for all, that cultural factors—i.e. happy holidays—explain the yearly cyclical patterns of human reproduction. For decades, researchers have debated whether we’re seduced en masse by such cultural factors or whether collective moods are swayed by biological factors—responses to changes in daylight, temperature, and so on—or if it’s actually some mix of the two.

Global explanations for baby boom cycles have been tricky to figure out. Many countries have spotty data on births, and the study authors note it’s difficult to glean conclusions from things like condom sales and upticks in sexually transmitted diseases. But the advent of Google and Twitter data, they say, is a gift to human reproductive studies.

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Read the original at Ars Technica.