Friday, November 23, 2012

BC2012: Why Is The Penis Shaped Like That? by Jesse Bering

This book, subtitled "...And Other Reflections on Being Human", is a mildly titillating collection of articles discussing evolutionary psychology and biology. It begins with the racy bits as promised, contemplating the evolutionary explanations for things like pubic hair, masturbation, female orgasm, and even cannibalism. Some chapters left me thinking, Wow, scientists really have investigated everything! Later topics include religion (Bering explains why he trusts religious people more despite being an atheist himself), suicide, and free will.

Although it doesn't fit into the book all that well, the chapter about being buried sans preservatives under a tree to fertilize it as one's legacy has inspired me. I'll have to look into this especially "green" burial practice. Fun fact: Did you know that over 90,000 tons of steel are buried annually in the U.S. in the form of caskets?

Why Is The Penis Shaped Like That? is a very interesting, thought-provoking read for the layperson. Generally, Bering reviews the existing body of research for each topic, providing endnotes for further investigation. He also brings his own experiences and wit into the narrative, making some of the drier clinical stuff more lively.

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