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Mary Roach - Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Posted: 25 May 2009 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Her writing has appeared in Salon, Wired, National Geographic, New Scientist, and the New York Times Magazine.  Her latest book is Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Mary Roach reveals why she looks to science rather than to religion for answers about death and sex, and why she is interested in such topics in the first place. She talks about the history of sex research, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s anatomical explorations of coitus, as well as 19th century sex research connected to fertility and STDs. She talks about religious opposition to scientific research of human sexuality, and how it affects funding. She describes some on Alfred Kinsey’s research that showed the diversity of sexual activity in the United States. She details various scientific attempts to improve human sexuality, including grafting additional testicles on men, or surgically relocating women’s clitorises. She explores the role of the placebo effect in certain sexual cures, such as for impotence or increased arousal. And she talks about the link between sexual satisfaction and overall happiness. 

http://www.pointofinquiry.org

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Posted: 28 May 2009 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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OK. I’m one of those people you say you can’t understand, and from your interview, I’d call that an understatement. I have the only remaining socially unacceptable sexual orientation. I’m a prude. I believe there is abundant, tremendous evidence for the conclusion that sexual behavior should be very firmly linked to responsibility based on permanent monogamous traditional marriage (responsibility in many senses of the word: to each other, to the children, to society) and that it should be held extremely private. Not perfect, but far better than your way or any others that have been tried. The Victorians were right.
    I’m an atheist, though a Christian sympathizer and a political conservative. I believe in nothing supernatural. I base my opinion entirely on secular empirical grounds. I don’t like hedonists or liberals - a bit of understatement of my own.

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Posted: 28 May 2009 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, rg, I certainly agree with you on two points. 
1)There is no sufficient rationale to believe in a supernatural big daddy.
2) Sexual behavior and responsibility should be, if you’ll pardon the pun, intimately connected.

However, I wonder if we’d both recognize to the same degree that what should be and what is realistic for human beings are almost never identical.  That understanding has great implications for every level of humanity from families to national governments.  Appropriate means of stimulating responsibility are always to be encouraged while understanding that all human beings will fumble that ball from time to time.  Only in that way can the correct balance be struck between compassion, forgiveness, opprobrium, and punishment.

Be that as it may, I have to say that your post strongly evinces both the self-induced myopia and the self-righteousness of virtually all people who paint themselves into ideological corners, whether political, philosophical or religious.  I suggest to you that by doing that, you make a mistake that will, if it hasn’t already, haunt your life in ways that you’ll eventually regret.  In the political realm alone, by harumphing yourself into a “conservative” box (or any other), you multiply your tendency toward confirmation bias, you close yourself off to many potentially good people and worthwhile ideas and indeed to a considerable portion of reality.

And regarding your comment about “traditional marriage,” I’ll bet you don’t know (or don’t think you know) many, or any, gay people very well.  That, too, would be a consequence of the attitude you demonstrate in your post.

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Posted: 28 May 2009 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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rg21 - 28 May 2009 05:14 AM

OK. I’m one of those people you say you can’t understand, and from your interview, I’d call that an understatement. I have the only remaining socially unacceptable sexual orientation. I’m a prude. I believe there is abundant, tremendous evidence for the conclusion that sexual behavior should be very firmly linked to responsibility based on permanent monogamous traditional marriage (responsibility in many senses of the word: to each other, to the children, to society) and that it should be held extremely private. Not perfect, but far better than your way or any others that have been tried. The Victorians were right.
    I’m an atheist, though a Christian sympathizer and a political conservative. I believe in nothing supernatural. I base my opinion entirely on secular empirical grounds. I don’t like hedonists or liberals - a bit of understatement of my own.

The funniest thing about this and, I hope you realize it, is that your predilection to these sexual attitudes, your very orientation on what you believe as the proper way of viewing sexuality, is no different than a Trans-sexual-cross dressing Exhibitionists projection of what constitutes sexuality, and fulfilment. In otherwords, everyone must create their own “libido consciousness” in order to carry about sexual/social identification. Both you and the Transvestite are using the very same mechanics.

[ Edited: 28 May 2009 06:49 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 28 May 2009 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I certainly agree that sexuality is linked to responsibility. However, we need to investigate that link. It is linked to responsibility first and foremost because members who engage in sexual acts are responsible to one another, e.g., not to do things that the other person doesn’t want. Non-consensual sex of any sort is wrong. Secondly, sexuality is linked to responsibility insofar as it creates new life. People who have sex without birth control have to be responsible for their actions if the woman becomes pregnant, whatever they decide to do from that point on, the decisions will be serious ones and have to be considered seriously. It is irresponsible to have sex without birth control without fully considering the issues and being psychologically ready for pregnancy.

However, if sex is entirely consensual and pregnancy is not an issue, then where is the additional responsibility? Why should a person with different interests than yours be responsible for doing things that make you happy, any more than a person who likes chocolate ice cream would have to be responsible for the person who hates it? Your taste may run to conventional forms of sexuality. OK, fine. But not everyone’s does. What you’re doing is asserting that because you like chocolate ice cream, that therefore chocolate ice cream must be the only sort of ice cream available to the public. That’s a form of tyranny. It has nothing whatever to do with responsibility. And the only justification I’ve ever heard against homosexual marriage is that it is in some fashion against Biblical teaching. Well, so too is shaving your head, getting tattoos and wearing clothes made out of two different fabrics. But nobody ever considers outlawing those things, do they?

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Posted: 28 May 2009 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thomas Donnelly - 25 May 2009 10:10 PM

Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Her writing has appeared in Salon, Wired, National Geographic, New Scientist, and the New York Times Magazine.  Her latest book is Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Mary Roach reveals why she looks to science rather than to religion for answers about death and sex, and why she is interested in such topics in the first place. She talks about the history of sex research, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s anatomical explorations of coitus, as well as 19th century sex research connected to fertility and STDs. She talks about religious opposition to scientific research of human sexuality, and how it affects funding. She describes some on Alfred Kinsey’s research that showed the diversity of sexual activity in the United States. She details various scientific attempts to improve human sexuality, including grafting additional testicles on men, or surgically relocating women’s clitorises. She explores the role of the placebo effect in certain sexual cures, such as for impotence or increased arousal. And she talks about the link between sexual satisfaction and overall happiness. 

http://www.pointofinquiry.org

The Mary Roach book “Bonk” was, as all of her books, fast moving and hysterically funny. (I also recommend her books “Spook” and “Stiff”.) She is fearless and fun. She travels the world in her research, doing obscure and strange things in all her books. For this book, she had sex with her husband in a hospital lab while a doctor imaged them in real time. Her ploy to get her husband to agree to this was funny (“Gee honey, you know how you’ve always wanted to visit England? Well an opportunity has come up. We just have to stop by a hospital laboratory for a short time.”) It’s a great summer read, full of fascinating little known facts.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 28 May 2009 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The homosexual legitimization question is none of the things it is made out to be. The arguments are tactics, propaganda, politics - it boils down to lies. The question actually is, should we move the line society has drawn over hundreds of years between normal and deviant. On one side we have the weight of ages of tradition. On the other we have the conceit of modern liberals. The question, again, is not should we have a line, it is should we move the place we draw it. I think the real reasons we are redeeming homosexuals alone among the many varieties of deviants, and why now include the desire of aging liberal baby boomers to relive their youth, and regain the camaraderie, sense of importance and adventure; gain attention, and again stick their fingers in the eyes of their parents. Perhaps a basic pathology among liberals that includes hatred of morality, decorum, and restraint is even more important. Very big, I don’t know just how big, is a desire to reward a group that has enormous utility to the Democratic Party. Basically liberalism is the death wish of Western Civilization. Homosexuality is the ultimate gross out. Forcing awareness and acceptance of it on decent people in all its ugliness and loathsomeness makes life unpleasant and degrading. Crass, crude people instinctively hate those who have more decency and self control.

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Posted: 28 May 2009 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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rg21 - 28 May 2009 08:05 PM

The homosexual legitimization question is none of the things it is made out to be. The arguments are tactics, propaganda, politics - it boils down to lies. The question actually is, should we move the line society has drawn over hundreds of years between normal and deviant. On one side we have the weight of ages of tradition. On the other we have the conceit of modern liberals. The question, again, is not should we have a line, it is should we move the place we draw it. I think the real reasons we are redeeming homosexuals alone among the many varieties of deviants, and why now include the desire of aging liberal baby boomers to relive their youth, and regain the camaraderie, sense of importance and adventure; gain attention, and again stick their fingers in the eyes of their parents. Perhaps a basic pathology among liberals that includes hatred of morality, decorum, and restraint is even more important. Very big, I don’t know just how big, is a desire to reward a group that has enormous utility to the Democratic Party. Basically liberalism is the death wish of Western Civilization. Homosexuality is the ultimate gross out. Forcing awareness and acceptance of it on decent people in all its ugliness and loathsomeness makes life unpleasant and degrading. Crass, crude people instinctively hate those who have more decency and self control.

I have rarely seen so much hate and misinformation spewed out in one posting. I hardly know where to start. Tell us what you really think!!! smirk Are you perhaps acquainted with S.U.M.?

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Posted: 28 May 2009 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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rg21 - 28 May 2009 08:05 PM

The homosexual legitimization question is none of the things it is made out to be. The arguments are tactics, propaganda, politics - it boils down to lies. The question actually is, should we move the line society has drawn over hundreds of years between normal and deviant. On one side we have the weight of ages of tradition. On the other we have the conceit of modern liberals. The question, again, is not should we have a line, it is should we move the place we draw it. I think the real reasons we are redeeming homosexuals alone among the many varieties of deviants, and why now include the desire of aging liberal baby boomers to relive their youth, and regain the camaraderie, sense of importance and adventure; gain attention, and again stick their fingers in the eyes of their parents. Perhaps a basic pathology among liberals that includes hatred of morality, decorum, and restraint is even more important. Very big, I don’t know just how big, is a desire to reward a group that has enormous utility to the Democratic Party. Basically liberalism is the death wish of Western Civilization. Homosexuality is the ultimate gross out. Forcing awareness and acceptance of it on decent people in all its ugliness and loathsomeness makes life unpleasant and degrading. Crass, crude people instinctively hate those who have more decency and self control.

So you base your moral code off of tradition? Blacks have been slaves for centuries, witch burnings were common place, marriage was a property arrangement in which the women were the property ... etc. Homosexuality has been a tradition through ages as well, in some cultures it was openly accepted such as Rome, Greece, and Japan. There is even a depiction of homosexual couples on the pyramids. Not to mention that humans are not the only homosexuals, it is well documented in animals as well.

Perhaps being moral is being normal? Also, not conforming is deviant? Are homosexuals deviants because they make you feel uncomfortable? I suppose moral sex must be with an uptight christian woman, lights off, man on top, clothes on, sheets covering you, quietly, for reproduction, you shower afterward, and feel guilty; is that about right?

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Posted: 29 May 2009 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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rg21 - 28 May 2009 08:05 PM

The homosexual legitimization question is none of the things it is made out to be. The arguments are tactics, propaganda, politics - it boils down to lies. The question actually is, should we move the line society has drawn over hundreds of years between normal and deviant. On one side we have the weight of ages of tradition. On the other we have the conceit of modern liberals. The question, again, is not should we have a line, it is should we move the place we draw it. I think the real reasons we are redeeming homosexuals alone among the many varieties of deviants, and why now include the desire of aging liberal baby boomers to relive their youth, and regain the camaraderie, sense of importance and adventure; gain attention, and again stick their fingers in the eyes of their parents. Perhaps a basic pathology among liberals that includes hatred of morality, decorum, and restraint is even more important. Very big, I don’t know just how big, is a desire to reward a group that has enormous utility to the Democratic Party. Basically liberalism is the death wish of Western Civilization. Homosexuality is the ultimate gross out. Forcing awareness and acceptance of it on decent people in all its ugliness and loathsomeness makes life unpleasant and degrading. Crass, crude people instinctively hate those who have more decency and self control.

Where is the argument here? All I see are a bunch of bigoted assertions about “deviance”. And the claim that liberals hate “morality, decorum and restraint” is simply a slur. One might with more reason argue that it is bigoted people who hate morality.

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Posted: 29 May 2009 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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All this hatred of “homosexual liberals” is quite funny. There is just as much homosexual activity amongst conservatives. Someone drank the the conservative kool-aid. And might you get back on topic of the book, and Mary Roach? It was very rude to hijack a thread about a book for a personal agenda.

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Posted: 29 May 2009 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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rg21 - 28 May 2009 08:05 PM

The homosexual legitimization question is none of the things it is made out to be. .

You aren’t conservative. You’re reactionary. Reactionaries are defined as the political group that wants social regress. You don’t want the status quo, you want to go back.. but here is your problem, aside from the uncontrollable puritan hatred, the past you yearn for never existed. The Victorians quietly churned out porn at a time when making porn was an arduous undertaking.. victorian leaders of church and states were horrifically corrupt and sexually depraved (by your standards). The only difference between then and now is a veneer of hypocrisy.

What a sad, pathetic cell you have consigned yourself to. Incapable of lust but for an imaginary world that never was and never will be.

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Posted: 29 May 2009 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Spare me the breast beating. Revulsion, disgust, disapproval, contempt - all lost vocabulary to the passion driven dichotomous polemicists of the activist left. For them it is conservatives hate - bad; liberals outrage - good. And the homosexual agenda activists have themselves confused with the people who ended slavery - and they so want us to similarly confuse them. The issue isn’t the existence of homosexuality, it is approval or disapproval. It is still driven by liberal conceit and other non-rational motivations and it is still, as the examples here well illustrate, advanced by dishonest, non-rational propaganda techniques.

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Posted: 29 May 2009 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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rg21 - 29 May 2009 05:37 PM

Spare me the breast beating. Revulsion, disgust, disapproval, contempt - all lost vocabulary to the passion driven dichotomous polemicists of the activist left. For them it is conservatives hate - bad; liberals outrage - good. And the homosexual agenda activists have themselves confused with the people who ended slavery - and they so want us to similarly confuse them. The issue isn’t the existence of homosexuality, it is approval or disapproval. It is still driven by liberal conceit and other non-rational motivations and it is still, as the examples here well illustrate, advanced by dishonest, non-rational propaganda techniques.

You still have yet to advance a single argument for your position. How is your disgust any different from the disgust that GHW Bush felt for broccoli?

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Posted: 29 May 2009 07:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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And what the heck does this fictional “homosexual agenda” have to do with Mary Roach’s book? Has anyone else here read Mary Roach’s books? They are great.

Bonk is the science of sex, and the history of scientific interest in sex. It’s fascinating even from a historical perspective. It’s so funny and witty, there is nothing awkward or uncomfortable when reading it. It’s a very lighthearted yet interesting perspective.

Her other book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, is great. Did you ever wonder about the different things that happen to a human body after death? What happens when your body is donated to medical research? How did embalming come to be?

And Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife is a funny collection of debunking quests she undertook herself, and the history of scamming mediums, which was interesting enough to have been its own book. How people tried to weigh the soul at death, setting up shop with large scales in TB hospitals and waiting for a patient to die. Weird and interesting facts in a humorous package.

And for those of you who are comfortable with the topic of sex in a humorous manner and would like to see the video clip, here is Mary giving a lecture “10 things you didn’t know about orgasm.

[ Edited: 29 May 2009 07:12 PM by Jules ]
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Posted: 29 May 2009 07:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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The question actually is, should we move the line society has drawn over hundreds of years between normal and deviant.

centuries ago women were property owned by their husbands, unable to own property, and until less than 100 years ago, unable to vote. Slavery was legal less than 100 years ago, and blacks were counted as 3/5ths a person.
50 years ago it was legal to prevent blacks from voting by legal insurmountable roadblocks. Women could not control their own fertility until the 1960s when birth control pills became legal. Until very recently you could discipline your children by beating them black and blue, and no one would think it was not your right, and if your wife objected, you could legally beat her as well. Men who killed their wives could get off on a ‘crime of passion’ defense, but of course women would be convicted for killing their abusive husband, because everyone knows women have no passion!
When women worked outside of the home, they were paid 50% of what a man was paid. If a woman was raped, it was obviously her fault, because everyone knows she was ‘asking for it’. If you were white in the 1850s like my great great grandfather, and fell in love with a black woman, you could not have gotten legally married and your children couldn’t inherit your life work, if the white family objected. As a matter of fact, you could not legally marry in all 50 states until 1969. Until the 1920s it was deviant behavior for a woman to show her legs in public, and for a woman to be seen unescorted with a man she was not related to!
Yes, I think I want to go back to the mores of the early 19th century!!!It sounds like a wonderful society! grin

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