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February 14 2013

10:00

What we really know about human courtship

Kate Douglas, features editor

PAR11280.jpg

(Image: Leonard Freed/Magnum Photos)

Enjoy what two insightful books have to say about mating intelligence and relationships - but don't park your scepticism just yet

"DO YOU have any raisins? No? Well then, how about a date?" You don't need Mating Intelligence Unleashed to tell you this is a dire chat-up line. On the other hand, you may be interested to learn that men may use "unattractive opening gambits" to "screen out" women seeking commitment in favour of those who fancy a fling. I'm interested, but sceptical.

It's not the only observation to prompt a "really?" Even so, this is a book built on sound biological foundations. Few would argue with the idea that humans possess evolved biases and preferences in courtship and mating behaviour. And, although the field of mating intelligence is relatively new, one thing that is clear in this eclectic overview is just how much research has already been done. The subject is almost guaranteed to entertain. Glenn Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman ask: how is individual mating behaviour influenced by gender, personality, and environment? Why do we find creativity and humour sexy? What does a woman/man want? And do nice guys really finish last?

mating_intelligence_cover.jpg

Attentive New Scientist readers will find little that is new, and some that is laughable; you will marvel at the effort made to discover that "women do not like 'jerks' per se". Still, there are real revelations: intelligence is the second most desirable trait in a sexual partner, funny men are perceived as taller, and flirting doesn't always signify sexual interest.

As well as elucidating research, Geher and Kaufman believe these revelations can improve your love life. But can it help to be aware of subconscious biases underlying sexual relationships? The authors think so, yet even they ask: "How often has your meta-cognitive awareness caused a drop in your ability to accomplish a task smoothly?"

Perhaps it's just sour grapes on my part, having failed to shine on their Mating Intelligence Scale. If you must know, I lack "commitment scepticism", and I should have answered "true" to the statement "my current beau spends a lot of money on material items for me" because this would show that I was good at obtaining resources from my partner. But I doubt that mating intelligence improves through exegesis.

love_2_cover.jpg

Call me old school, but I believe we learn about relationships via trial and error, directed by our emotions, yet Geher and Kaufman barely mention love. Luckily, I had Barbara Fredrickson's book to fill the void. Or so I thought. It turns out Love 2.0 is not a treatise for old romantics, but something far more interesting. For Fredrickson, love isn't the all-encompassing state of bonded bliss most people envisage. Instead, she redefines it as fleeting moments of emotion we feel whenever we make a real connection with another human.

This "positivity resonance" is, she argues, mediated through three physiological channels: a synchronisation of brain activity with a loved person; oxytocin; and nerve impulses that travel between the brainstem and heart via the vagus nerve. This is a virtuous cycle - the more love your body experiences, the more it can experience. Such positivity resonance is transformative, bringing health, happiness, social integration, wisdom and resilience.

Yes, this can be excruciatingly New-Agey. And no, the science doesn't quite stack up. Oxytocin, for example, isn't all about positive relationships, and Fredrickson doesn't mention the link between endorphins and well-being. She also ignores the finding that fear synchronises brain activity at least as effectively as love. Still, her research on the vagus nerve is intriguing, and no doubt her ideas will evolve. If you can stomach "letting the heart of your I resonate with the heart of your we" and other such purple prose, this book may change your life. Really. Give Love 2.0 a chance.

Book information:
Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The role of the mind in sex, dating, and love by Glenn Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman
Oxford University Press
$27.95/£17.99

Love 2.0: How our supreme emotion affects everything we feel, think, do, and become by Barbara L. Fredrickson
Hudson Street Press
$25.95/£18.99

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February 16 2012

16:52

Nature's weird relationships

Flora Graham, deputy editor, newscientist.com

11-NHM-RomanceScience14Feb12.jpgThe fox's penis bone helps protect its tissues when it's locked in its unusual post-coital embrace (Image: Alastair Fyfe)

Nature doesn't do romance. It does love, certainly - heartbreaking images of dolphins and elephants mourning their dead erase any doubts that animals can have deep feelings. But romance, that titillating interface between love and sex celebrated this week on Valentine's day, doesn't get much play among the animals.

But what nature does do is sex. So, when various boffins at the Natural History Museum in London were asked to present the romantic wonders of nature to the public for the Valentine's night "Turn Me On" safari on Tuesday, their thoughts turned to the naughtier side of life.

Running next to anti-romantic "Turn Me Off" safari, this was a three-hour tour of the wonderful weirdness that passes for relationships in the wild. After a gentle intro via dancing seahorses, we were introduced to an angler fish couple, where the female is a toothy, enormous predator and the male a tiny, shrivelled parasite that feeds off her blood.

05-NHM-RomanceScience14Feb12.jpgAn angler fish and her husband (Image: Alastair Fyfe)

And forget the languid embrace of Emperor penguins mating for life. Instead, we learned that male Adélie penguins are in the habit of shagging dead females that happened to expire in the penguins' favourite come-hither position. The Natural History Museum initially suppressed this gruesome observation, which was gathered during Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition. But the news that to penguins, a sexy pose trumps élan vital didn't do much to put me and my date into a Valentine's mood.

You can't argue with a personal tour of the world's most stunningly beautiful museum of natural history, and I did learn plenty. Animal penises are correctly called "pizzles", apparently, although rap artist Snoop Dogg may have already clocked this fact. Human men are the only male primate, besides lemurs, who lack a baculum, or penis bone - and I've seen a whole collection of pizzles to prove it.

There was even a portion of the evening dedicated to something other than nature's mind-boggling sexual adventurousness. In the vault, a high-security room in the museum dedicated to priceless Mars rocks and enormous emeralds, we were allowed to handle a tiny vial of dust-like diamonds. They were formed before the birth of the sun and distilled from a meteor that dates from before the concretion of the planets. Even if you don't consider diamonds a symbol of romance, the wonder of a universe filled with jewels forged before history is worth a sentimental sigh.

But, in the end, the night safari taught me more about scientists' relationship to their subjects than romance in the natural world. It was a joy to see one of the museum's ichthyologists cheerfully pop open the tops of enormous formaldehyde-filled glass jars to pluck out the dripping corpses of deep-sea fish and praise the sparkling illuminations that they have when living. A biologist's matter-of-fact presentation of the mysterious role of various penis bone shapes - the otter's may be particularly stocky because they tend to hit each other in the family jewels, apparently - almost dared the crowd to giggle. And what could be more fun than the sight of an ornithologist re-enacting the mating dance of a greater bird of paradise using dead specimens - complete with a honking, tail-shaking male and an approving female, and topped off with a perfunctory two-bird waggle that indicated a successful, if brief, conclusion.

16-NHM-RomanceScience14Feb12.jpgThe vault's collection of coloured diamonds glow under ultraviolet light (Image: Alastair Fyfe)

Three hours walking the tiles of the Natural History museum, with only a brief recess to stuff ourselves with a Valentine's meal of sandwiches and pricey wine, wasn't the rocket ride to romance that I had hoped. But if you're a fan of late-night prowls around beautiful temples of learning, and you fancy getting a personal insight into the wonders that lurk in the glass cases, the next Natural History Museum night safari could be the perfect evening out.

To find out how the Natural History Museum managed the flip side of Valentine's Day, read how ripped shark fins and sneaky spiders made for a decidedly unromantic "Turn Me Off" tour.

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January 13 2012

12:00

Sex, brains and a frustrated reader

Rowan Hooper, news editor dirtyminds.jpg

TOWARDS the end of this detailed but frustrating book, there is a Yoda-like pronouncement from Semir Zeki, a neuroaestheticist at University College London: "There is a relationship between love, beauty and desire. Hate too. Beauty often leads to desire, which can lead to love. Love may lead to hate."

The inconclusive nature of this statement pretty much sums up why Dirty Minds made me want to turn to the dark side. Kayt Sukel was pressing Zeki to say whether there is a thin line between love and hate, and he was reluctant. It's not surprising. In this book Sukel makes admirable attempts to find scientific answers - but is thwarted from the outset by the fact that she doesn't start with any clear questions.

Sukel takes us on a thorough tour of the scientific work on the brains of people in love - what hormones may be involved, and what role genetics plays. It's fascinating stuff, even if much of it may be familiar to New Scientist readers (and Sukel could do with being a bit more critical of fMRI studies). But to my mind the more interesting biological questions are functional, why questions. Why do some animals have monogamous bonds? Why is it that sometimes the paternally derived versions of genes are turned on, and sometimes the maternal versions? What is the function of the orgasm?

These are questions that can't be answered without reference to evolution, but Sukel doesn't go there. It's a shame, because she is a writer willing to push boundaries with her research - including writing a great first-person account of having an orgasm in a brain scanner. If only we could get as much pleasure out of reading her work as Sukel gets from researching it.

Book Information
Dirty Minds: How our brains influence love, sex and relationships
by Kayt Sukel
Published by: Free Press
$25

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December 06 2011

00:38

Sexuality and the Bible: What the Texts Really Say

Sexuality and the Bible: What the Texts Really Say
Three biblical scholars discuss the role of sexuality in the Bible and answer questions about men and women and their places in ancient society according to the texts.

What does the Bible tell us of the roles of men and women in ancient society and about the importance of gender? From a literary standpoint, do the texts necessarily condemn or condone certain behaviors and lifestyles? In conjunction with the Annual Conference of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, swissnex San Francisco invites top scholars to discuss the role of sexuality in the Bible and answer some of these questions.

The evening features Thomas Rmer, Professor of Hebrew Bible at the Faculty of Theology and History of Religions at the University of Lausanne. His book Lhomosexualit dans le Proche Orient ancien et la Bible (Homosexuality in the Ancient Orient), focuses on the Bible as a historical source for analyzing how ancient societies viewed relations between men.

Konrad Schmid, Professor of Old Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Zurich and author of Genesis and the Moses Story: Israels Dual Origins in the Hebrew Bible (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2010), presents the Paradise Story in Genesis 2-3 and its view of sexuality and immortality. And Sarah Shectman, author of Women in the Pentateuch: A Feminist and Source-Critical Analysis (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009), looks at the varied attitudes toward womens sexuality in different parts of the Bible, such as the laws in the Pentateuch that treat womens sexuality as a possession, belonging either to a father or husband, versus the freer view in the Song of Songs where the protagonist appears more in control of her own body. Steven McKenzie moderates the discussion.
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 18:30:00 -0800
Location: San Francisco, CA, swissnex, swissnex San Francisco
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2011/11/17/Sexuality_and_the_Bible_What_the_Texts_Really_Say

July 14 2011

09:33

Stealing moon rocks from NASA

sex-on-the-moon.jpg

Jonathon Keats, contributor

RETURNING from vacation in the summer of 2002, NASA geochemist Dr Everett Gibson learned that a 275-kilogram safe had vanished from his lab. Situated in one of the most secure buildings on the planet, the lab was an implausible target for even the world's greatest crime syndicates - despite the fact that the Apollo lunar samples were stored there and the street price of moon rocks was estimated at about $5 million per gram.

The theft of the safe, which contained 101.5 grams of material, including samples from every lunar landing, was in fact stranger and more pedestrian than anyone could have imagined. Late one night, three NASA interns wheeled the safe into a borrowed Jeep, planning to hawk the material to a Belgian buyer they had found online. Within days they were caught, turned in by the Belgian and arrested in an FBI sting.

After serving a six-year prison sentence, Thad Roberts - the "mastermind" of this unmasterly crime - called Ben Mezrich, bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires, seeking to reveal his side of the story. Trumped up by Mezrich as "one of the biggest heists in US history", Sex on the Moon is the entertaining yet unsatisfying result of that collaboration.

Mezrich relates Roberts's life as a thriller. Cast out by his Mormon family for premarital sex, Roberts finds direction by resolving to become an astronaut. He studies hard and lands a coveted internship at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where he impresses fellow interns with pranks such as sneaking into the space shuttle simulator. In his third semester, he falls in love with a new intern. "I want to give you the moon," he tells her.

So far, so clichéd. Yet Roberts has trouble in the Romeo role. He seems less interested in giving her the moon than in selling it - or as much of it as he can get - for an improbably low $100,000, which he persuades her will provide them with the opportunity "to be scientists". Apparently she falls for it.

"Apparently" is the key word here. Neither she nor the third intern involved in the heist would talk to Mezrich. Without their perspectives, the book is as superficial as Roberts. Even if Roberts's riveting depiction of events is accurate - hardly certain since he has previously given different versions to other journalists - Sex on the Moon has neither the investigative breadth nor the literary depth needed to elucidate the motivations underlying the self-destruction of three promising careers.

Nor are the consequences of the heist adequately explored. In the same safe as the moon rocks were Gibson's notebooks, containing 20 years of research, permanently lost when the cracked safe was dumped. Roberts doesn't remember seeing them, and Mezrich nearly ignores them because they don't fit his story arc. But in a tale about value - and values - the fate of Gibson's notes speaks volumes: the true worth of those rocks is to be found in the research they generate.


Book Information
Sex on the Moon: The amazing story behind the most audacious heist in history
by Ben Mezrich
William Heinemann/Doubleday
£11.99/$26.95


July 12 2011

12:48

Perils of baby sex preference

Angela Saini, contributor

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(Image: Keren Su/Getty)

In her book Unnatural Selection, Mara Hvistendahl argues that when a culture prizes baby boys over girls, the result is a dangerously lopsided world

IN SOME places, there's no greater danger to a baby girl than her own parents. For decades now, in swathes of Asia and pockets of eastern Europe, millions of female fetuses have been aborted and infants murdered for no other reason than their families wanted boys. In Unnatural Selection, science journalist Mara Hvistendahl explores the scale of this shocking phenomenon and questions why it exists.

It's a gripping read. Expensive dowries, honour and maintaining the family name are the main drivers behind the increasingly skewed sex ratios, but Hvistendahl makes clear that these factors alone don't capture the complex cultural and social environment that has created such a huge problem. It's so widespread, she writes, that by 2013 there will be six Chinese men for every five Chinese women. And the same will be true in parts of India by the 2020s. She meticulously unpicks the alarming statistics in other countries too, from South Korea as far west as Albania and Armenia.

unnatural-selection.jpg

Coming from a family of sisters with our roots in India, as I do, Hvistendahl's book was a particularly disturbing read. At every stop in her journey she comes across entrenched sexism and violence against women, manifesting itself not only in infanticide, but also in tougher lives for women in regions where they are outnumbered. Rather than scarcity making them more valued, they increasingly fall victim to trafficking, kidnap and forced marriage.

Much of the book is also devoted to the part played - mostly inadvertently - by the west. She argues that US policies to control population growth in Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, aggressively implemented by organisations like the World Bank, created an abortion boom that exacerbated the problem. By 1977 in Seoul, for example, doctors were performing a record 2.75 abortions for every birth, partly because couples choosing to have smaller families wanted only boys.

Hvistendahl is slightly less convincing, though, when she starts drawing parallels between uneven sex ratios and mass social unrest. Although it's true that millions of bachelors who can't find wives might drive up crime figures, there isn't really enough evidence that this will spark testosterone-fuelled wars or some kind of societal breakdown in quite the ways she suggests. The reality isn't so bleak. Indeed, there is some comfort to be drawn from the fact that South Korea, which once had a depressingly poor birth ratio of 117 boys to every 100 girls, has returned to a near-even balance now that the country is wealthier and more women are entering the workplace.

Economic development does appear to help. But the story doesn't end there - advances in genetics may allow the wealthiest among us to select for desirable traits in the future, such as height, good looks or intelligence. For parents who think this might be a good idea, Hvistendahl's book beautifully explains how trying to conceive the "perfect" child will only lead to a more imperfect world.


Book Information
Unnatural Selection: Choosing boys over girls and the consequences of a world full of men
by Mara Hvistendahl
PublicAffairs
£17.99/$26.99


March 11 2011

23:55

Glenn Wilson: Sex Wars

Glenn Wilson: Sex Wars
Why do the "selfish genes" of men and women sometimes create conflict? How do monogamy, polygamy and infidelity stack up in terms of adaptive value? Is sex addiction a real disease or just an excuse for bad behaviour? The distinction between explanation and moral justification. Reconciling the discrepancy between male and female instincts.
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2011 00:00:00 -0800
Location: London, UK, Museum of London, Gresham College
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2011/02/22/Glenn_Wilson_Sex_Wars

March 08 2011

00:08

I Am An Emotional Creature: An Evening with Eve Ensler

I Am An Emotional Creature: An Evening with Eve Ensler
Playwright (The Vagina Monologues, Necessary Targets, The Good Body) and author (Insecure At Last) Eve Ensler is the founder of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that has raised more than $75 million to date and funded over 12,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic Of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Her newest work, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, is a celebration of the authentic voice inside every girl and an inspiring call to action for girls everywhere to speak up, follow their dreams, and take agency over their minds, bodies, hearts and curiosities.
Date: Wed, 02 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0800
Location: San Francisco, CA, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2011/03/02/I_Am_An_Emotional_Creature_An_Evening_with_Eve_Ensler

March 05 2011

00:46

An Evening with Eve Ensler

An Evening with Eve Ensler
Playwright (The Vagina Monologues, Necessary Targets, The Good Body) and author (Insecure At Last) Eve Ensler is the founder of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that has raised more than $75 million to date and funded over 12,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic Of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Her newest work, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, is a celebration of the authentic voice inside every girl and an inspiring call to action for girls everywhere to speak up, follow their dreams, and take agency over their minds, bodies, hearts and curiosities.
Date: Wed, 02 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0800
Location: San Francisco, CA, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2011/03/02/An_Evening_with_Eve_Ensler

February 14 2011

17:40

Partygoers waylaid by the science of sex

Kat Austen, CultureLab editor

DSC_0346.jpg

(Image: Dan Wilson)

A drizzly Sunday evening, and I find myself huddling under a broken umbrella next to a steel fence outside a recycling centre. Suddenly my phone starts to ring, prompting me to turn towards a desolate gravel pathway behind the barrier where I see a bubbly woman coming towards me. Decked out in a sharp hat, beglittered eyes aglitter with excitement, this is Zoe Cormier from Guerrilla Science, who is here to escort me into the iconic, imposing building that is Battersea Power Station for The Lost Lover's Ball.

Guerrilla Science is a group of scientists and science communicators who have decided to bring science to the masses by catching them unawares. In the present case, they have set up camp inside the ball, a winter extravaganza put on by renowned festival organisers Secret Garden Party.

Following the theme of The Lost Lover's Ball, a timely chance to celebrate (or berate, as you so could choose) love just prior to Valentine's day, the Guerrilla Science tent provided a platform for the nuts-and-bolts science behind all things romantic and sexual. Kicking off on Sunday evening with a life drawing class, seven-months-pregnant Zuzia Meyers posed for the lucky audience, exposing skin covered with work by body painting artist Elle Bundy. Anatomically motivated, a cartoon of the little foetus curled over the model's belly underneath energetically executed representations of her heart and lungs. The audience were encouraged in turn to draw their own representations of the model and of Bundy's illustrations.

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In conjunction with the life-drawing class was the opportunity to ask charismatic neuroscientist Zarinah Agnew of University College London everything you've ever wanted to know bout sexual chemistry. The audience pondered love at first sight, the neurochemical basis of missing someone and whether, chemically speaking, Freud was onto something with the Oedipus complex. Agnew answered the latter question by discussing oxytocin, a chemical with which New Scientist got up close and personal this time last year. This cuddle chemical, said Agnew, is responsible for "romantic, maternal and paternal love", so there might be some basis for Freud's postulates but, warned the guerrilla scientist, it is also responsible for "the pleasure you get from eating a cheese and Marmite sandwich". Be mindful of your motivations next time you head to the fridge.

The motivations for love were also examined. The role of adrenalin in initial attraction was outlined, along with the cognitive contribution to a longer-lasting attraction, or "love at first conversation" as someone interjected from the floor.

DSC_0432.jpg

(Image: Dan Wilson)

Indeed, the audience seemed to be having a right old time, the atmosphere far more boisterous than the same discussion would have been had it been staged in a university lecture hall rather than a life-drawing class at a festival. It was interesting to see what the audience made of this surreptitious science of sex. Some measure of the success of the Guerrilla Science team was reflected in the annotation to one of the life drawings left behind at the end of the session. Next to a sketch of the model were scrawled the words: "I love you but you are a bank robber so I shall steer clear."

We all know that sex sells. Now we know sex sells science... especially in unusual locations.




Tags: Events sex

February 11 2011

11:42

Hedgehog sex, penis bones and other mating mysteries

Kat Austen, CultureLab editor

Sexlead.jpg

(Image: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty)

I entered a dimly lit room draped with black gauze curtains, and was greeted by one word writ large on the wall in red fluorescent tubing: Sex.

No, I wasn't in some seedy boudoir - I was in a large gallery space at the Natural History Museum in London.

With their new temporary exhibition, Sexual Nature, the Natural History Museum will show you everything you ever wanted to know about sex - be it in plants, animals, birds or humans. Answering questions from why we have sex (probably to maintain genetic diversity) to why some species don't (asexual reproduction is twice as efficient), the exhibition guides you through the wondrous ways in which creatures of all kinds get down and dirty.

See more: "At it like rabbits: Bizarre animal sex in pictures"

You may already know many of the facts and figures, but there are a few surprises along the way. I, for one, didn't know that hermaphrodite leopard slugs dangle from mucus threads so that they can exchange sperm by entwining their penises, or that male hedgehogs use solidifying semen to plug up the female's tubes and ensure that no other male's juices will be in the running for fertilisation.

Hedghog.jpg

(Image: Tony Kyriacou/Rex Features)

Visually, the exhibition isn't stunning but, alongside a glut of pieces that would make any kinky taxidermist's day, it also boasts audio of various mating calls and the fantastic olfactory treat in which you can sample some pheromone-rich scents for comparison against a unisex perfume. I learned that a stag smells unsurprisingly musky, and the valuable lesson that it's inadvisable to breathe too deeply around horny jaguars.

The walk through nature's animal urges is rounded off with a visit to human sex. You can ogle images of various attributes that have the potential for floating your boat, and then you can have a bit of interactive fun. Don't get too excited though - while it involves pressing buttons, it's only so that you can vote on a survey about your attitudes toward sex and love. During my visit, the majority of museum goers were displaying their soppy side, with 75 per cent of them professing to believe in true love. Whether this can be trusted is undetermined: I commented to a stranger who had voted that way that the survey was making me feel like a real cynic, to which he replied, "Well maybe you're just more honest than the rest of us".

Just in case the exhibition makes you a little hot under the collar, reading the visitor-generated sound-bites of bad dates and bad experiences on the wall before you leave will act as a cold shower before you step out into the museum's less raunchy corridors.


Exhibition Information
Sexual Nature
Natural History Museum, London
Until 2 October 2011


January 25 2011

00:55

IQ2: Feminism Has Failed

IQ2: Feminism Has Failed
Here, as part of Melbourne's IQ2 Debate Series, six very passionate feminists, including one male, go head to head.

After generations of effort, it's still very much a man's world. Women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of domestic labor, are under-represented in the senior ranks of politics, business and the professions, and they're still often denied equal pay for equal work.

But do women really only have themselves to blame? Is it female acquiescence that has prolonged male domination rather than macho-suppressive tendencies? Or should we be taking a different perspective altogether and instead be celebrating a wider victory, where concerns for equality have less to do with gender and are more driven by a concern for justice for all?

Regardless of the competing arguments, one thing both sides agreed on: there's much more work to be done.
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Location: Melbourne, VIC, City Recital Hall Angel Place, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2010/09/22/IQ2_Feminism_Has_Failed
00:06

Cordelia Fine: Delusions of Gender

Cordelia Fine: Delusions of Gender
If you thought sexism was a thing of the past, then think again says psychologist and writer, Cordelia Fine. In this often highly amusing talk, she argues that the notion that there is an immutable biological difference between the male and female brain is just another form of sexism: neurosexism. And Cordelia's on a mission to discredit the science behind it.

After her excoriating attack, Cordelia goes on to warn of the dangers such ideas can have on the path to greater equality between the genders.

Cordelia Fine appeared at the 2010 Festival of Dangerous Ideas, presented by the Sydney Opera House and St James Ethics Centre. The discussion was chaired by Edwina Throsby.
Date: Sat, 02 Oct 2010 00:00:00 -0700
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2010/10/02/Cordelia_Fine_Delusions_of_Gender

January 12 2011

01:01

Tim Ferriss: 'The 4-Hour Workweek' and 'The 4-Hour Body'

Tim Ferriss: 'The 4-Hour Workweek' and 'The 4-Hour Body'
Want to work just four hours a week? Ferriss believes he can show you how. This Jack-of-all-trades has done it all, from becoming the National Chinese Kickboxing Champion and the Guinness World Record-holder for tango dancing to working for education reform. In his controversial book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Ferriss advocates throwing out old ideas of retirement and deferred-life plans. His latest sensation, The 4-Hour Body, is a choose-your-own-adventure guide to the human body, covering topics ranging from fat loss to sex, and he says it's all been tested.
Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2011 00:00:00 -0800
Location: San Francisco, CA, The Commonwealth Club of California, Commonwealth Club
Program and discussion: http://fora.tv/2011/01/06/Tim_Ferriss_The_4-Hour_Workweek

January 10 2011

12:10

The mysteries of kisses

In The Science of Kissing, Sheril Kirshenbaum approaches the kiss through biology, history, culture, psychology, even zoology – but some secrets remain


November 19 2010

15:00

Rosalind Franklin and sexism in the theatre of science

Named after Rosalind Franklin's breakthrough X-ray of DNA, the play Photograph 51 does little to resolve arguments about how much credit she is due


September 06 2010

13:30

Fighting back against neurosexism

Are differences between men and women hard-wired in the brain? Two new books argue that there's no solid scientific evidence for this popular notion


June 21 2010

10:35

Bonobos have a secret

In Bonobo Handshake, Vanessa Wood comes to the realisation that these apes have a vital lesson for us humans


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