The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | April 10, 2009 11:54 am

Yesterday Chris invited readers to discuss C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures here at The Intersection.  Of course I’m in favor of the idea having basically had Collini’s edition attached at my hip as we composed Unscientific America.  So not to steal his thunder, but I have an alternative suggestion related to my next book…

37382931.JPGWho’s interested to discuss Mary Roach’s Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex?  Here’s an excerpt from Publishers Weekly:

“Roach’s forays offer fascinating evidence of the full range of human weirdness, the nonsense that has often passed for medical science and, more poignantly, the extreme lengths to which people will go to find sexual satisfaction.”

And so while I’m in no way discouraging a ‘book club‘ about everyone’s favorite lecture from nearly 50 years ago in Cambridge, who wants to explore what the NYTimes describes as a ‘greatly satisfying romp‘?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Media and Science

Comments (17)

  1. Peter Dimitriou

    Just added this to my reading list, sounds like a great romp, oops I mean read:-).

  2. I would like to do that, especially since the book stares me in the face every time I visit Borders

  3. I would also recommend “Stiff” by the same author

  4. OK, just ordered my copy, give it a few days to arrive and a few days for both of us to read it….

  5. I read this a few months ago. I highly recommend it.

  6. Sex sells. So does fear. I think I’d prefer the former.

  7. Sheril, you may be interested in the following article:

    Legal Bedrock for Rebuilding America’s Ocean Ecosystems

    Mary Turnipseed, Larry B. Crowder, Raphael D. Sagarin, and Stephen E. Roady
    Science 10 April 2009: 183-184.

    Summary: The public trust doctrine would provide a powerful framework for restructuring the way we manage U.S. oceans.

  8. Yes, the authors are down the hall from me here at Duke. Mary’s an expert on the PTD…

  9. Kay

    Bonk is a fantastic book, as is her previous book, Stiff. One thing I found particularly interesting was some of the challenges sex researchers face when they write funding proposals. It’s something Roach hints at in her book but never gets fully discussed.

  10. One thing I found particularly interesting was some of the challenges sex researchers face when they write funding proposals.

    That’s something I noticed and have been pondering as well… and how words are often substituted in grants. ‘Physiology’ instead of ‘Sexual Behavior’ etc. Of course, this happens in other fields all the time when words like ‘evolution’ are avoided and others like ‘climate change’ are included even when they are distantly related to the research. Granting agencies have influenced proposal terminology across disciplines.

  11. jope

    Hers was probably the most entertaining book tour appearance that I attended last year. Mary is a fun mix of nervous energy and mildly inappropriate wit. =)

  12. MadScientist

    I’ll have to say that the ‘Publisher’s Weekly’ excerpt is remarkably bereft of information that would encourage me to read the book. So what *is* the book about?

  13. AuntBMo

    Hey, Mary Roach is pretty popular, sure I’ll join the book club =)

  14. So far it’s terrific. Last night I read about the first testicle transplants which sparked an interesting discussion among friends reading along here in Durham.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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