Sex at Dawn: the end (thank the little baby jesus)

Okay here we go. p. 252 – an entertaining romp through history’s mistakes about women’s orgasms, with no claim on science and no need to be comprehensive. If the whole book had been this stuff, I probably would have liked it. p. 254 – And there it is. “If psychiatrist Mary Jane Sherfey was correct when she wrote, ‘The strength of a drive determines the force required to suppress it’ (an observation downright Newtonian in its irrefutable simplicity), then what are we to make of the force brought to bear on the suppression of female libido?” (1) Sex is not

book review: Sex at Dawn

I’ve spent the last 6 weeks reading Sex at Dawn and I can offer this summary of the experience. I started the book skeptical but hoping to be proved wrong, because several people I respect liked the book a lot. But it was far worse than I feared: sloppily reasoned, contemptuous, and ignorant. There are four main things I want to say about the book: 1. I agree with the book’s assertion that there is a great deal to criticize in the science that is typically known as “evolutionary psychology.” Much of that science is bollocks, but beguiling and persuasive

Sex at Dawn, pp. 200-250 (one more week to go, and I’m still not dead!)

5 million years ago I dated a very nice kid who went to St John’s College in Annapolis, MD. From him I learned “Johnny Swing” (an ultra-easy style of swing dancing), the cup game, and this song, sung to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Here is the relevant verse: The state of nature’s character we know from good report To be very solitary, nasty, brutish, poor and short, So we’ll give the sovreign all our rights and all the guns and forts, And then we’ll all survive. Ratify the Social Contract, (3x) And then we’ll all

Sex at Dawn pp 150-200. Week 4

A month I’ve been doing this. Has it gotten better? Well. It’s gotten CONSISTENT, making the same kinds of mistakes over and over, so there’s a nice predictable pattern. Part III (p. 151) begins: A central theme in our argument is that human sexual behavior is a reflection of both evolved tendencies and social context. Thus, a sense of the day-to-day social world in which human sexual tendencies evolved is essential to understanding them. Putting aside for a moment the vagueness (“tendencies”?) of these two sentences, I need to say immediately that a sense of the day-to-day social world in

Polyandry, and what it doesn’t mean about human nature

Twitter showed me this Atlantic article about polyandry, which begins this way: For generations, anthropologists have told their students a fairly simple story about polyandry — the socially recognized mating of one woman to two or more males. The story has gone like this: While we can find a cluster of roughly two dozen societies on the Tibetan plateau in which polyandry exists as a recognized form of mating, those societies count as anomalous within humankind. And because polyandry doesn’t exist in most of the world, if you could jump into a time machine and head back thousands of years,

Sex at Dawn 100-150

4 sentences into this section, on p. 101, we already find an important mistake. “De Waal’s research had demonstrated, for example, that the increased sexual receptivity of the female bonobo dramatically reduces conflict, when compared with other primates whose females are significantly less sexually available.” It is the exceptional sexual PROCEPTIVITY of the females that reduces conflict among males. My naturalist friend Bill many years ago told me one example of a female bonobo just needing a male to get out of her way – the bonobo equivalent of a guy standing in the middle of the grocer aisle –

Sex at Dawn pp 50-75, and I’m still not dead

Thanks for keeping me honest, blog. Writing about it keeps me honest and on task. I’ll split the second 50 pages into two posts because there’s a bunch to say. Here we go: p. 53 This is how they quote Robert Wright: “In every human culture in the anthropological record, marriage… is the norm, and the family is the atom of social organization.” Here is the actual quote: In every human culture on the anthropological record, marriage — whether monogamous or polygamous, permanent or temporary – is the norm, and the family is the atom of social organization The context

in fairness, what’s good about Sex at Dawn (so far)

[UPDATE: I would like to note that I wrote this post last night, long before one of the authors actually commented on my first, highly critical post.] The romantic euphemism points out, fairly, that I shouldn’t *just* write about what aggravates me about Sex at Dawn, I should at least MENTION things that are good about it. So here: 1. If we imagine that they’re not claiming that their “standard narrative” is what “science” says and instead is what “culture” says, then they’re clearly right, and the popularity of the book attests to the resonance of that narrative and the