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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Irreverent Review, July 5, 2012
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This review is from: Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human (Paperback)
Why is the Peni$ Shaped Like That? And Other Reflections on Being Human by Jesse Bering

"Why is the Peni$ Shaped Like That?" is the irreverent, thought-provoking and rather sensational book of essays on human sexuality. Dr. Jesse Bering takes us on a journey of surprising and even shocking peculiarities of being human. Using the latest of scientific research in psychology, neuroscience, biology and a naughty sense of humor Bering succeeds in enlightening the public on fascinating issues pertaining to human sexuality. This entertaining 320-page book is broken out into the following eight parts: Part I. Darwinizing What Dangles, Part II. Bountiful Bodies, Part III. Minds in the Gutter, Part IV. Strange Bedfellows, Part V. Ladie's Night, Part VI. The Gayer Science: There's Something Queer Here, Part VII. For the Bible Tells Me So and Part VIII. Into the Deep: Existential Lab Work.

Positives:
1. A fun and informative book for the masses.
2. The fascinating topic of human sexuality in the irreverent hands of Jesse Bering.
3. A frank conversational tone. Bering holds nothing back to the point of being uncomfortable but when it is all said and done you are thankful that he did.
4. This book is anything but boring. The pages turn themselves. The ability of Bering to immerse science, anecdotes, sound logic, personal experiences, pop culture and humor into an engaging narrative is what makes this work.
5. This book will at times surprise, inform, disgust and educate you. In short, it's thought provoking.
6. Understanding the male reproductive anatomy. The activation hypothesis and yes an evolutionary-based explanation for the title of the book.
7. Interesting facts and findings throughout the book. Let me share one because I can't contain myself, "In fact, frequency of erotic fantasies correlates positively with intelligence".
8. Curious oddities of the human body.
9. Cannibalism...bite me.
10. The correlation between brain damages and behavior. One of my favorite essays.
11. Dirty brain science. Some very uncomfortable topics...but I couldn't look away. Fetishes...
12. Understanding the female anatomy. It's the ladies turn.
13. Unflattering stereotypes...understanding straight women who gravitate toward gay men.
14. Interesting studies on homosexuality. The differences between men and women. The roles and preferences. Educational.
15. Wonderful use of evolution. "Right is irrelevant. There is only what works and what doesn't work, within context, in biologically adaptive terms..."
16. Burial practices that need to change. A very interesting essay.
17. A hard look at suicide and a unique take regarding suicide as adaptive and from an evolutionary perspective.
18. A look at free will and one of the most thought-provoking statements, "If exposure to deterministic messages increases the likelihood of unethical actions, then identifying approaches for insulating the public against this danger becomes imperative". In general, I disagree with the statement but talk about a conversation ice breaker.
19. Comprehensive notes section.

Negatives:
1. I didn't like the title of this book. Sure, it reflects the author's irreverent and humorous side but for one I can never remember the title. It's like an entertaining commercial where you can never remember the product being promoted. Secondly, the title alone might keep some people from reading it and these are perhaps the ones who need to read it the most to begin with. How about a title like, "Naughty Science: Reflections on Human Sexuality"?
2. This is not so much a negative on the book but on the lack of scientific research on human sexuality. Such a fascinating topic yet it's clear that for whatever the reasons the science of human sexuality is its infancy.
3. A lot of the findings in the book are tentative. In truth, all science knowledge is tentative but it seems to me that the some of these studies require much further research. Enough there to whet the appetite but not enough to reach strong conclusions.
4. No direct links to notes on the kindle version, a real shame.
5. Some of the findings will cause cognitive dissonance. I don't agree with everything in this wonderful, thought-provoking book. As an example, I disagree with the general notion that a person who believes in supernatural punishment may be more trustworthy than one who isn't. In the fantastic book, "Society without God", Phil Zuckerman makes the compelling case that those societies without religious beliefs (or less of) are more successful, better functioning and happier places to live in. As a personal example, if was looking for a babysitter and a member of the clergy were to ring my doorbell, I'd probably be more inclined to call a policeman.
6. This book whets your appetite for more, more, more.
7. No formal bibliography.

In summary, what a trip this book was. First of all the topic of human sexuality is fascinating and rarely dealt with at the scientific level. I'm glad that for once an author has the guts in lieu of another word, to get a book like this out for the public. This book will make your cringe, laugh, disagree, concur, and ultimately think. The only thing that limits this book is the fact that the scientific research on human sexuality is still in its infancy. Be that as it may, I learned so much from this book while having fun with it. I highly recommend it!

Further suggestions: "The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life" by the same author, "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior" by Leonard Mlodinow, "Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment" by Phil Zuckerman, "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths" by Michael Shermer, "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" and "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined" by Steven Pinker, "Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain" and "Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique", by Michael S. Gazzaniga, "Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality" by Laurence Tancredi, "SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable" by Bruce M. Hood, "The Myth of Free Will, Revised & Expanded Edition" by Cris Evatt, and "The Brain and the Meaning of Life" by Paul Thagard. All books have been reviewed by me, look for the tag "Book Shark Review".
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 9, 2012 10:55:28 AM PDT
Fred Forbes says:
Excellent review - nice balance between the topics and the analysis.

Posted on Jul 14, 2012 6:34:48 AM PDT
Great review! I look forward to reading this book. And thanks for the suggestions at the end! I also read Pinker, Shermer and Bering (his first book).

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 12:25:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 16, 2012 12:25:37 PM PDT
Nimitta says:
Good review! I'd also add Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman...

Posted on Aug 5, 2012 9:15:05 PM PDT
thames says:
You can write penis. Anyway grade A+ review.
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