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It pops up a few times a year: "This country has the biggest penises in the world!" And it always falls back on the same source: the list of penis sizes by country. Most recently it was "The Member Measure" (by the already gone "From Mars") and an article by the NY Post that caught attention for the wrong reasons.

There's just one problem, and it's a doozy: there's no data to back up the vast majority of these assertions.

Every time this comes up, it can always be traced back to (again, these are bad sources) a list posted on World Data or a table on Github. But the bulk of their claims fall under two categories: sources that don't exist, or notoriously unreliable self-reported measurements.

The only trustworthy data comes from published studies where researchers actually measured the penises themselves, of which there are more than 100. But all of those are concentrated in just 28 countries — not the 100+ claimed by these studies. Moreover, none of the top 10 countries on the World Data list even have had studies done in them, and the one study actually published from #11 France (Bondil 1992) actually clocks in a touch higher than claimed on the list.

Of the top 50 countries on the World Data list, only 10 have had penis size studies conducted in them — and most don't match up with the data on the list.

To make things worse, when you dig into the Internet Archive to find an archived version of the "everyoneweb" source cited, almost all of the studies that can be found aren't even about penis size.

In short: most of this list was either made up from thin air or sourced from unreliable sources like online surveys. In fact, one of the sources that World Data cites is online survey tool SurveyMonkey. It's almost all lies, and that which isn't lies is inaccurate.

Why make up statistics?

People want to know how they measure up, and tribalism plays into the desire to want to know how they stack up against other groups. These lists are also a play for search engine optimization, since "penis size around the world" is a fairly common search term. It gets traffic, and it garners engagement, and that's why soon after "The Member Measure" was put live the story was picked up by publishers all over the globe without any critical eye towards the provenance of their data.

Why make up statistics like this?

The hard truth is that there's a fair amount of racial stereotyping going on here. While penis size statistics do point to some variation between different populations, the difference is always small and nowhere near what the popular stereotypes say. Yes, Asian men on average have smaller erect penises than Black men, but the difference is less than a centimeter — far less significant than the stereotypes would have you believe.

But it's more than just innocent stereotypes. A lot of this misconception comes from the flawed research of J. Philippe Rushton in the 1980s. His theory was that penis size was related to cultural family sizes and intelligence — Asians had smaller families and thus smaller penises and higher intelligence, while Africans procreated more frequently, leading to larger families and lower overall intelligence. Obviously this is blatantly false, but to justify his beliefs Rushton called on flawed and dismissed past research on eugenics and even Penthouse magazine. And, of course, in his estimation the perfectly medium White man's penis was the right balance with decent family sizes and smart-enough brains. This is, of course, not grounded in reality at all.

One would hope that Rushton's work had been left to the past, but unfortunately that's not the case. It's been revived time and again, including a recent regrettable study from Richard Lynn that pulled on the same flawed and bogus data that fed current lists.

Sadly, it's racism plain and simple.

What country actually has the largest penises?

We can't answer that with any certainty. The vast majority of countries around the world do not have any penis size data at all. And in most of the countries that do have data, there's not enough to draw conclusions about the entire country. For example, of the 28 countries with legitimate size studies that were mentioned earlier, only China, Egypt, Italy, South Korea, and the USA have at least five separate studies.

I know it's disappointing to not have a clear answer, but that's the simple truth. But given the insignificant variations we tend to see between populations, it's highly likely that the average in your country is pretty near the average everywhere else.