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Why is the penis shaped like that? [Hardcover]

Jesse Bering
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
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Book Description

19 July 2012

Why do testicles hang the way they do? Is there an adaptive function to the female orgasm? What does it feel like to want to kill yourself? Does 'free will' really exist? And why is the penis shaped like that anyway?

Research psychologist and award-winning columnist Jesse Bering takes readers on a bold and captivating journey through some of the most taboo issues related to evolution and human behaviour. Exploring the history of cannibalism, the neurology of people who are sexually attracted to animals, the evolution of human body fluids, the science of homosexuality and serious questions about life and death, Bering boldly goes where no science writer has gone before.

With his characteristic irreverence and trademark cheekiness, Bering leaves no topic unturned or curiosity unexamined, and he does it all with an audaciously original voice. Whether you're interested in the psychological history behind the many facets of sexual desire or the evolutionary patterns that have dictated our current phallic physique, Why Is The Penis Shaped Like That? is bound to create lively discussion and debate for years to come.

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Why is the penis shaped like that? + The Sex Myth: Why Everything We're Told is Wrong[mass market]
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (19 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857520474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857520470
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 372,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jesse Bering, PhD, began his career as a psychology professor at the University of Arkansas and is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University Belfast. In 2011, he left his academic post and returned to the U.S. to write full time, settling in Ithaca, New York with his partner, Juan Quiles, along with their kindly, obese cat and two pathologically friendly border terriers. Notable for his frank and humorous handling of controversial issues, especially those dealing with sex, evolution, religion, and morality, Bering is a regular contributor to Scientific American and Slate, and has written for many other outlets, including New York Magazine, The Guardian, The New Republic, The New York Times, and Discover. The Sunday Times has referred to his work as "deeply thought-provoking as well as shallowly provocative," whilst the New York Observer calls it "equal parts sedulous and silly." Bering's latest book is Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us (Doubleday). For more, go to www.jessebering.com.

Product Description


"His writing is witty, crammed with pop-culture references, and he employs examples and analogies that make his arguments seem like common sense rather than the hard-earned scientific insights they really are."--New Scientist

"Jesse Bering is the Hunter Thompson of science writing, and he is a delight to read - funny, smart, and madly provocative."--Professor Paul Bloom

"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

"Uses science to unsettle our most embedded assumptions. It is deeply thought-provoking."--The Sunday Times

"This is the kind of fact that brightens any dinner party, and Bering delivers it with exuberance. His style is heavy on rhetorical flourishes, facetious asides and cheap puns, but it is always worth the ride."--The Telegraph

Book Description

Everything you ever wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask. Literally.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting... 11 Oct 2012
By pat
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
a surprising book, not for the squeamish or narrow minded people though,full of humour, but also very well researched,good book...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud clever! 29 July 2012
By Marian
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An ideal choice for your Kindle - you might not want to be seen laughing out loud at a book with this title, as I did! Jesse Bering has a very funny take on all sorts of scientific questions, and writes into his essays his own stance as a gay man with no religious belief, so there is an immediate sense of dialogue with the reader which is very helpful. What he gives you is a stimulating introduction to some fascinating research by other people, and there are full footnotes so that interested readers can follow up the questions in more serious detail. The title essay is eye-catching, and there's certainly a lot about sexual anatomy and physiology in the book, but he tackles some other touchy topics too, such as cannibalism and suicide. What he writes about the psychology of suicide is sensitive and constructive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read 6 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've always enjoyed psychology books and this one caught my eye for obvious reasons !

As I understand it, a lot of the book is composed of articles previously printed elsewhere, but it is put together in a very readable way and only in the last couple of chapters did it seem to feel slightly dis-jointed.

Having said that I can't give you any other issues as it is a very readable book written in the authors very clever and off beat style, which sets it apart from other books of this nature. This makes the book very entertaining and great fun to read and I'm left wondering why other authors can't also lighten up a bit and write in a similar vein ! Science can be and is fun !

He approaches human sexuality from an evolutionary perspective and it's one of those books where you find yourself thinking "Oh, I hadn't thought of that" or "Well, I didn't know that" quite a lot.

The author does mention a few times he is gay but don't let that distract you as the subject matter crosses all human genres and perhaps it's his own sexuality that allows him to approach the subject in such a unique and entertaining way.

I'd recommend this to anybody who has a passing interest in their fellow human beings.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Bering tells us in the introduction that he's always been interested - scientifically - in question that others have hesitated to ask (such as the title essay of this collection). This collection of essays in fact covers suicide, the psychological impact of believing in determinism (best to believe in free will), and the impacts of religious belief on human life (you are more likely to behave in line with what your religion tells you on a Sunday, or when prompted) and also covering cannibalism (adaptive in some circumstances for humans). But mostly the love lives of human beings.

Bering tells us that we are not set up altogether for monogamy, but we are certainly set up for attachment and heartbreak, and while most of what we do and what we feel can be shown to arise from evolutionary adaptedness, sometimes things have just gone wrong. Attractions to animals, feet, and asexuality all pose interesting problems for Bering's standpoint - and he enjoys rising to the challenge and finding experimental evidence to bear on the issues from a range of sources.

Bering tells us in the introduction that he is a 'very very very gay man'. And there's quite a lot about this in the book - one chapter tells us never to ask a gay man for directions, for example. Another looks at childhood precursors of adult sexual preference.

Some of this book casts a new light on human behaviour, but sometimes Bering points to a puzzle and admits simply that it hasn't been solved yet. It could perhaps have been shorter, ie just running to those pieces that reach a conclusion...but of course it's always possible to skim-read the less interesting pieces.
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