- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 6.3.2012 edition (July 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780374532925
- ISBN-13: 978-0374532925
- ASIN: 0374532923
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #610,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human 6.3.2012 Edition
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“This book could fuel a score of dinner-party conversations…this is more than some scientific stocking-filler: it uses science to unsettle our most embedded assumptions. It is deeply thought-provoking.” ―Sunday Times (UK)
“Excellent in its entirety, woven of Bering's rare tapestry of scientific rigor and a powerful, articulate social point of view.” ―Brain Pickings
“You must buy [Bering's book] to be both entertained and the life and soul of cocktail parties from now ‘til the end of the world.” ―Jezebel
“Bering's jokes about the things that make us most squeamish invite us to share his joyful curiosity about human sexuality, to see the world through his eyes...As Bering describes it, the complex interplay between biology, psychology, and culture suggests that what makes us most human--empathy--is also what makes us the most complicated beast of all.” ―Bookforum
“While remaining strictly true to the scientific facts of any given issue, Bering keeps readers on their toes with his signature salacious quips and stray, juicy peeks at his personal life.” ―Carl Hays, Booklist
“Anyone familiar with [Bering's] columns knows the goofy, self-deprecatory way he has of digesting lofty concepts. This book . . . is a prime specimen.” ―Newcity Lit
“These entertaining essays offer a cornucopia of ideas that will reward readers with hours of conversational gambits.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Anyone interested in reading about the latest developments in sex research told with a generous dose of self-deprecating humor will enjoy this essay collection.” ―Library Journal
“An accessible, lively, thought-provoking book for anyone curious about what it means to be human.” ―Kirkus
“Bering has a well-researched, erudite response that teaches more about whatever sex-related topic is at hand than quite a few books I've come across. I have yet to come away from reading one of his essays or responses to reader questions and not feel considerably better informed than I was just minutes before. Be sure to also check out his latest book…” ―David DiSalvo, "Six Writers Who Know More About Sex Than You Do (So Read Them)" on Forbes.com
“Jesse Bering is the Hunter S. Thompson of science writing, and he is a delight to read--funny, smart, and madly provocative.” ―Paul Bloom, Professor, Yale University, and author of How Pleasure Works
“Jesse Bering is the intellectual spawn of Helen Fisher and Oliver Sacks, and Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? is brainy, informative, compassionate--and hilariously naughty.” ―Amy Dickinson, New York Times bestselling author and NPR personality
“If David Sedaris were an experimental psychologist, he'd be writing essays very much like these. Bering's unique blend of scientific knowledge, sense of humor, intellectual courage, and pure literary skill is immediately recognizable; no one writes quite the way Bering does. Read this book. You'll learn, laugh, and then learn some more.” ―Christopher Ryan, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Sex at Dawn
“Nothing sacred is spared in Jesse Bering's deft, rivetingly informative, and relentlessly hilarious new book. Bering's addictive curiosity and wry, dexterous humor make this a collection that's as funny as it is impossible to put down.” ―Violet Blue, award-winning author and sex educator
“Bering has an uncanny way with words, an incisive capacity for logical thinking, and a stunning talent for breathing new life and enthusiasm into science.” ―Gordon Gallup
About the Author
Jesse Bering, Ph.D. is a frequent contributor to Scientific American and Slate. His writing has also appeared in New York magazine, The Guardian, and The New Republic, among others, and has been featured by NPR, Playboy Radio, and more. The author of The Belief Instinct, Bering is the former Director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at the Queen's University, Belfast, and began his career as a professor at the University of Arkansas. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
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Top customer reviews
"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.
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.
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".
I was not familiar with Mr. Bering. But now I'm a fan. His writing style is very accessible and personal; his gayness pervades his point of view, in a friendly way.
To answer the title question: the penis says Bering and others works as a sort of sperm remover, helping insure the last male to inseminate the female is the parent of her offspring.
This is not a prurient book, nor is it totally about homo sapiens sex. The mix is more like 50/50%.