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essays on many themes, some much more interesting than others...
on 19 August 2012
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.