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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?
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on 3 June 2014
I loved this book and apparently so did the guy laughing on the coach reading it over my shoulder! :'D Bering's books are the type that leave you asking you friends wierd questions at innappropiate times ("did you know.....?") and giggling loudly on the train. whilst I may be slightly biased due to an interest in sexual physiology, evolution and dimorphism, but this is not just a book of cleverly pulled together papers, Bering takes about his own life as a gay man and doesn't forget us ladies too. Funny, relaxed worth the read! :)
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on 29 July 2012
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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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.
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on 6 October 2012
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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on 11 October 2012
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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on 18 January 2013
This collection of essays on the human condition is fascinating and, with the exception of some topics which are perhaps a little too dry and off-beat, is a true eye-opener. It's a great learning experience and highlights some areas where there has been all too little scientific research, but nevertheless the questions are asked and cause one to ponder some of the answers, although not out loud for fear of being ostracised!
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on 23 April 2016
Good to give as a slightly amusing present,
The content is not very weighty, but it makes sense.
Briefest possible summary..it's shaped to pump back out whatever the previous guy deposited, which is why we are designed to stop promptly, to avoid doing it to our own. And yes, they experimented to prove it.
Suggests much sperm competition back long ago, hopefully not so relevant now ?
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on 24 August 2013
Series of short pieces on a range of topics, such as the eponymous penis, various other genitalia and behaviours. Clearly and entertainingly written but doesn't form any coherent whole, other than to suggest we humans are wrong about a lot of things we believe about ourselves. With such material at the tip of his tongue, I'm sure the author would be a great dinner party guest.
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on 19 July 2014
Funny, (difficult to read on a public bus) but has made me understand and not judge quite "weird" sexual preferences that we can't really control.
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on 15 December 2014
A good summary of some basic factual information, good for further refernces.
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