Breaking Down Science, Step by Step

Today we celebrate the miracle of Jesus's birth to the Virgin Mary. Are virgin births really so uncommon that they should be celebrated for two millennia? Especially when a paper published in the British Medical Journal suggests they may be more common than we thought.

A group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill noticed that we have been blessed with a plethora of virgin births after examining records going back to the nineties.

The Evidence

"Add Health" was a survey performed in 132 schools, selecting a representative sample of the school aged population. These children were given a questionnaire at regular intervals over the next 10 years, tracking their progress to adulthood.


This questionnaire was confidential, and performed by a computer rather than a person. Because you wouldn't lie to a computer, would you?

Female participants were asked whether they had vaginal intercourse at all points in the study, and to also report whether they were pregnant or not.

This was when something odd happened.

They noticed that there were 45 pregnant women who didn't report any history of vaginal intercourse. Surely… it couldn't be? Who were these virgin mothers, and what can we learn about them?

  • Religiosity.Virgins in general tended to be more religious than non-virgins. But the women who were blessed with immaculate conception were no more religious than other virgins.
  • Purity Pledges: Here's something weird. Virgins who made purity pledges were more likely to suffer through a pregnancy than those who did not.
  • Sexual Education: Virgin mothers said they had more knowledge of birth control methods than their normal virgin counterparts, but still knew less than the women who had experienced sex.
  • Parents: The parents of these virgin mothers were less likely to have talked about sex with their children.
  • Youth: These virgin mothers tended to be a lot younger than mothers who claimed to have had sex before marriage.

I'm sure there are cynics amongst you who will suggest that some of these girls are lying. They'll point out that the purity pledge isn't set in stone. That 1210 non-virgins made the purity pledge as well, 801 of whom became pregnant. Some of the girls might not have been entirely truthful on the questionnaire.

I'll be like.. stop being rude.. I don't have to listen to you if you're rude.

They'll then draw my attention to the 244 women who were eliminated from this study because they started off reporting as non virgins, and then suddenly started reporting as virgins. That it's not beyond the realm of possibility that different people have different views as to what constitutes virginity.


And I'll say to you.. like well.. shut up.

They could also point out that self-report studies are not always reliable, and that you can very easily lie to a computer.


I'll say to you.. come on, don't be that person. Get in the Christmas spirit !

Then they'll say that Christmas is about more than just worshiping the birth of a deity who'll only really become important during Easter. It's about family, about childhood, about togetherness. They'll then point out that I've been scooped by Jezebel. They've got a whole mass of historical evidence from multiple sources as well.


Stop it with your lies ...... oh bugger.


Like a virgin (mother): analysis of data from a longitudinal, US population representative sample survey, BMJ, 2013

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