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Recent posts

Monogamy On The Rise (If You’re Just Measuring Monogamy)

According to this report, monogamy has been rising in a period from 1975-2000, based on a study of 6,864 straight and gay men and women… who live in monogamous couples. What the study really seems to be measuring is the rate of fidelity, as in, how often partners reported cheating. Coupla problems here: first, with self-reporting a stigmatized phenomenon like cheating it is tough to gauge accuracy; and second, the study didn’t seem to look at non-monogamous formations (in order to have something to compare monogamy to), ranging from singles to polyamorous folks to swingers. So if there’s less cheating happening in monogamous relationships, great–it just doesn’t necessarily mean that the phenomenon of monogamy is increasing. Continue Reading →

Evaluating Sex Research On The Internet

How reliable is the internet as a tool for sex research? This write-up on a new book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, summarizes the research and asks some questions about the methodology. In my opinion, though, the study is not as sound as it’s made out to be. The authors let themselves be guided by the most popular internet queries about sex, and from there conducted some interviews and hung out in topical web forums. However, the authors had some shady strategies, as detailed in this Neurocritic article on the study. The authors did not have Institutional Review Board approval for the study of human subjects, which is basically mandatory for scholarly research that involves living people. Continue Reading →

Mice, Serotonin, Sexual Preference, And You

A recent study found that male mice are less choosy about the sex of whatever mice they mount when their serotonin levels are low. Male mice that genetically have less of the neurotransmitter serotonin are as likely to mount other male mice as they are to mount female mice, but injecting them with serotonin increases their likelihood of mounting females with greater regularity. So serotonin is clearly linked with sexual preference in male mice in some fashion… but what does this mean for the rest of us? Continue Reading →

Evolving American Attitudes Toward “Family”

Research by an Indiana University sociologist, Brian Powell, indicates that more Americans feel that gay couples count as “families” when they have children, and that more respondents counted pets as family than counted gay couples as family. This survey-based research, which has been ongoing for nearly a decade, reveals that the idea of the “family” can change quite rapidly, and is shifting to be more inclusive. Go check out the link for some fascinating statistics! Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →

Sugar And Spice And Everything Nice (Plus Autoimmune Disorders?)

New research by Sharyn Clough, a philosopher of science, demonstrates that contemporary American gender roles may have a very real effect on the health of children. According to her reviews of scholarship on autoimmune disorders, gender, and cleanliness, adult women suffer from many more autoimmune disorders than men do (such as Krohn’s disease, asthma, and so on). However, this ratio is reversed in early childhood. Continue Reading →

Rape, Evolution, And Untenable Hypotheses

The hypothesis that rape is a hardwired human behavior is not a new one, and it remains controversial. One new take on the situation, though, is the hypothesis that women have evolved to protect themselves from rapists. At first glance, this is an interesting idea–but sadly, it relies on fragmentary evidence and misogynistic premises. First, the author’s narrow definition of rape as “the use of force, or threat of force, to achieve penile-vaginal penetration of a woman without her consent” ignores the spectrum of sexual assault that does not involve intercourse, and which is no less damaging to a woman (whether we’re talking emotionally, psychologically, or in terms of her reproductive worth or ability to select a mate, as this author seems most interested in the Darwinian effects of rape). The author, to his credit, acknowledges that studying the history of rape in human evolution is not the same as condoning the behavior… Continue Reading →

Interpreting Studies On The “Slut Gene”

The media has dubbed a certain gene, DRD4, the “slut gene,” interpreting limited scientific evidence to claim that this single gene is responsible for certain people’s inclinations to have lots of sex (especially if it’s adulterous sex). One neuroscientist questions these claims, explaining why trying to trace complex human behavior to a single gene is difficult and far-fetched at best. Continue Reading →

Sixth Sense For Couples?

Just when I thought I was done talking about how your partner can’t read your mind,  science had to go and say that in some ways they can. It isn’t exactly mind reading or telepathy though. They have found that in many cases, people who are very close with each other start exhibiting the same brain activity. This synchronicity of their nervous systems helps them understand each other better. I wouldn’t give up on talking just yet though. Continue Reading →

Porn, Addiction, And The Brain: Neuroscientists Weigh In

When Dan Savage and our own Debby Herbenick discussed porn addiction, among other fascinating sex topics, they agreed that porn addiction is not, in fact, an actual addiction (meaning there is no physical component making one become addicted to porn, though it can become a compulsion). An essay by a neuroscientist evaluating scholarship on the topic backs up their claim, stating that there is no peer-reviewed scientific work proving that porn addiction occurs at the chemical level in the brain. The differences between an addiction and a compulsion may be slight, but hopefully more research is forthcoming. Continue Reading →

Linking Fellatio and Cancer Risk: Sex Science Or Satire?

This “study” claims to have found that heterosexual men fellated by gay men had a lower risk of prostate and testicular cancer… or did they? Follow the link for an entertaining, but untrue, account of this research. Some people, when coming across the study, spread it across the internet as it if were true. Some clues to the study’s phoniness include the head researcher’s claim to be a test subject himself, the made-up term “innate body resonance,” and the study’s tangled sense of causality–not to mention how difficult it would be to get a university board to approve and then fund the study! (Or how difficult or unethical it would be to recruit a bunch of men to receive oral sex from other men who may be strangers to them.) These are just a few things to keep in mind if you want to critically read and evaluate the claims of sex research for yourself. Continue Reading →