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?
In Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?, the research psychologist and award-winning columnist Jesse Bering features more than thirty of his most popular essays from Scientific American and Slate, as well as two new pieces, that take readers on a bold and captivating journey through some of the most taboo issues related to evolution and human behavior. 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 astutely covers a generous expanse of our kaleidoscope of quirks and origins.
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 mystique and phallic physique, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? is bound to create lively discussion and debate for years to come.
Jesse Bering, PhD, 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 other publications, and has been featured by NPR, Playboy Radio, the BBC, and more. The author of The God Instinct, Bering is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University, Belfast, and began his career as a professor at the University of Arkansas. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
"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
"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
"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
"These entertaining essays offer a cornucopia of ideas that will reward readers with hours of conversational gambits."
- Publishers Weekly