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3.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 53.8 out of 5 3.80 (20 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jesse Bering Narrator: Jesse Bering Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2012 ISBN: 9781427227232
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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
  • 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
  • “This book could fuel a score of dinner-party conversations…this is more than some scientific stocking-filler: it uses science to unsettle our most embedded assumptions. It is deeply thought-provoking. Sunday Times (UK)

  • Excellent in its entirety, woven of Bering's rare tapestry of scientific rigor and a powerful, articulate social point of view. Brain Pickings
  • You must buy [Bering's book] to be both entertained and the life and soul of cocktail parties from now ‘til the end of the world. Jezebel
  • Bering's jokes about the things that make us most squeamish invite us to share his joyful curiosity about human sexuality, to see the world through his eyes...As Bering describes it, the complex interplay between biology, psychology, and culture suggests that what makes us most human--empathy--is also what makes us the most complicated beast of all. Bookforum
  • While remaining strictly true to the scientific facts of any given issue, Bering keeps readers on their toes with his signature salacious quips and stray, juicy peeks at his personal life. Carl Hays, Booklist
  • Anyone familiar with [Bering's] columns knows the goofy, self-deprecatory way he has of digesting lofty concepts. This book . . . is a prime specimen. Newcity Lit
  • These entertaining essays offer a cornucopia of ideas that will reward readers with hours of conversational gambits. Publishers Weekly
  • 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
  • An accessible, lively, thought-provoking book for anyone curious about what it means to be human. Kirkus
  • Bering has a well-researched, erudite response that teaches more about whatever sex-related topic is at hand than quite a few books I've come across. I have yet to come away from reading one of his essays or responses to reader questions and not feel considerably better informed than I was just minutes before. Be sure to also check out his latest book… David DiSalvo, "Six Writers Who Know More About Sex Than You Do (So Read Them)" on Forbes.com
  • 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

  • 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

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ana | 2/14/2014

    " Strange thing is: I haven't read the book itself, but I read all the articles included in it, prior to publication. Awesome, funny, thorough and with sound scientific bases. Go for it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charity Becker | 1/25/2014

    " I'm getting a huge kick out of this book. It's funny and informative, and the author is just so darn adorable. I'm a big science and psychology buff, and I have always been interested in human sexuality; this book covers all of that, and more. I'm about halfway through, and I'm almost dreading the end, yet I find it hard to put down so I can get some actual work done on my OWN books! Not for the squeamish or prudish--you have been warned. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yeedle | 1/24/2014

    " Humorous and entertaining. I'm not a big fan of evolutionary psychology, and as the author calls it, it's "backwards engineering", using what we know to explain it from an evolutionary perspective, a process that is highly speculative at best and downright absurd at worst. Another problem with evolutionary psychology is that one can probably do the same while taking the creationist perspective. I admit, though, that in some instances such explanations only work within an evolutionary framework and don't go well from a creationist perspective. For example, on the question why the penis is shaped liked that, the answer that God created it so it should flush out the sperm of a competition, is absurd because it means that God allowed for promiscuity, and he cares who one will win the impregnation war, an absurd position. But from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense that natural selection should favor a design that helps you wash out the competition's sperm when you insert yours. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy | 1/18/2014

    " Very interesting and often humorous book about human sexual behavior, evolutionary biology and psychology. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 1/8/2014

    " Clever, snarky and insightful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily Sours | 1/7/2014

    " the title says it all. this book is extremely fascinating, it's too bad i didn't have a hard copy because i would've loved to see people's reactions to the title!! you need to read this!!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josee | 1/5/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book. Jesse Bering's writing is witty and the content in this book will give you something to chew on for a long time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 SA | 1/5/2014

    " Entertaining, funny, well-researched; at times horrifying and at other times hilarious. It was a good summer read, though it took me forever to get through as I just read a chapter at a time with wanders in between. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fred | 12/1/2013

    " My son liked the talking walnuts on the cover. He can handle anthropomorphism - talking walnuts? No problem! - but it has to be *plausible*. So he wanted to know, where are the mouths? Fortunately he found one on the left walnut, and also cannot read yet. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott Steele | 11/26/2013

    " Bering is a masterful writer who brings science and evolutionary psychology to life. He is a multidimensional thinker and a great wit. Most highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Davida | 11/11/2013

    " Nothing like reading a book mainly about sex by a sassy gay man. This book was funny and insightful and perhaps too personal at times, but Bering seems to know his stuff. I love his curiosity. He is not afraid to address any topic. I would recommend it! Interesting reading. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 10/31/2013

    " Meh. Ok to skim through and not terribly written but not great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tegan | 10/29/2013

    " Quite entertaining read, with a mix of speculation and actual study data. I would have liked a little more concrete information, but fun regardless. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Todd Cumpston | 10/11/2013

    " Good solid book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arlene | 9/26/2013

    " interesting facts y'all should read it "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 9/18/2013

    " Somewhat interesting... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mohammad | 1/1/2013

    " Interesting book, lots of weird stuff, regardless to the title, it has many more shocking parts "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robin | 12/6/2012

    " This is a fun popular science collection of essays, mostly on human sexuality. Good for the airport, but I kept wanting more details and analysis. It made me want to learn more about nearly all the subjects it addressed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 ✓ali | 12/1/2012

    " Don't give that look, it's a scientific book with a funny title.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danielle T | 9/26/2012

    " A collection of Jesse Bering's essays, mostly about our sexual bits both physical and mental though there's additional ones on cannibalism, religiosity, and suicide. It's both entertaining and informative, with personal and historical anecdotes sprinkled throughout the science. "

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About the Author

Jesse Bering is the author of The Belief Instinct and Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? His writing and research have appeared in SlateScientific AmericanNew York magazine, Cosmopolitan, the Guardian, and the New Republic, among other publications, and have been featured on NPR, Playboy Radio, and more. He 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.