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Bering in Mind

Bering in Mind

A research psychologist's curious look at human behavior
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    Jesse Bering Jesse Bering, at, is the author of The Belief Instinct (2011), Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? (2012) and Perv (2013). He began his career as a psychology professor at the University of Arkansas and is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University Belfast. Bering now lives in Ithaca, New York with his partner, Juan, along with a very big cat and two pathologically friendly border terriers. In addition to his books, Bering is also a regular contributor to many popular magazines, including Scientific American, Slate, New York Magazine, The Guardian, The New Republic, Discover, and more. Follow on Twitter @JesseBering.
  • The Original Cupid Was a Sociopath

    “Winged Cupid, rash and hardy, who by his evil manners, contemning all public justice and law, armed with fire and arrows, running up and down in the nights from house to house, and corrupting lawful marriages of every person, doth nothing but evil.” —Lucius Apuleius, The Tale of Cupid and Psyche (late second century A.D.) [...]

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    Are Straight Women and Gay Men “Natural Allies”? An Evolutionary Account

    Not every gay man has a female best friend, nor does every straight woman have a gay man as her most trusted confidant. But according to a recent article in Evolutionary Psychology, every one should. The authors of this piece, the psychologist Eric Russell and his colleagues from Texas Christian University, claim that the age-old [...]

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    A Baker’s Dozen Old-Fashioned Anti-Erection Gadgets for Men (with Illustrations)

    It should come as no surprise that an archival search of the U.S. Patent Office yields an embarrassment of riches regarding various contraptions for guarding against “self-abuse” (masturbation) and “nocturnal seminal emissions” (wet dreams) in human males. We Americans, after all, have long been unrivaled in both our spirit of entrepreneurial inventiveness and our pathological [...]

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    Darwin’s Morning After Pill: How Couples Who Want Children Can Increase Their Chances

      If you’re desperate for a child but have been having trouble in this area, semen may be the solution to your reproductive woes. That may sound like the most obvious sentence ever written in the history of the English language, but sometimes beneath the most ancient truisms lie remarkable secrets. People have known semen [...]

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    Ian Stevenson’s Case for the Afterlife: Are We ‘Skeptics’ Really Just Cynics?

    If you’re anything like me, with eyes that roll over to the back of your head whenever you hear words like “reincarnation” or “parapsychology,” if you suffer great paroxysms of despair for human intelligence whenever you catch a glimpse of that dandelion-colored cover of Heaven Is For Real or other such books, and become angry when [...]

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    The Lustful Human Animal: Cultural Differences in Sexual Harm and Consent

    Most of us are convinced that we excel at being clearheaded, humane thinkers when it comes to sex. We appeal, and admirably so, to notions such as harm and consent. But since most of us aren’t anthropologists, we W.E.I.R.D. people (the anthropologist Joe Henrich’s apt acronym for “Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic”) often assume [...]

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    Of Cultures Destroyed by Western Sexual Exploitation and Violent Religious Prudery

    H. Laval (1807-1880)

    In working on my latest book Perv, some of the saddest material I came across involved the stormy cross-cultural conflicts erupting between Western ideals of sex and those discovered among other “exotic” societies. The field of cultural anthropology has its own dark history in this regard. For an embarrassingly long time, in fact, some unethical scholars [...]

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    Beware the Ultimate Orgasm: Autoerotic Fatalities

    The recent headlining report of a 70-year-old man who inserted a fork into his urethra in a misplaced effort to obtain sexual gratification—and who, in the process, unleashed a collective wince heard ’round the world once the x-ray image of his sounding went viral online—shines a light on the lengths some people will go to [...]

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    I Don’t Mean to be Forward, but Please Park on my Face?

    For most of us, the prospect of getting injured in a car accident isn’t particularly erotic. But of course, that’s just most of us. When it comes to human sexuality, anything—and I really do mean anything—can become subjectively eroticized in a rogue mind. And, indeed, for the 20-something masochist described by the psychiatrist Martin Keeler [...]

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    Bite Those Nails, Baby: A “Quick” Tale of Fingernail Fetishism

    Suum cuique pulchrum est—“to each his own is beautiful.” For an otherwise normal, 23-year-old male patient described by the Wisconsin psychiatrist Austin McSweeny in 1972, the most arousing sexual fantasy was the image of an obese woman nibbling at her nails. And so be it. One man’s bad habit is another’s erotica. The trouble, however, [...]

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