Sex at Dawn

Sex at Dawn

The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Book - 2010
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"A controversial, idea-driven book that challenges everything you know about sex, marriage, family, and society"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Harper, c2010
ISBN: 9780061707803
0061707805
Branch Call Number: 306.709 RYAN
Characteristics: xiii, 400 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Jethá, Cacilda

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r
ryner
Mar 23, 2017

By examining physical, cultural, and anthropological data in modern humans, ancient human ancestors, and our closest living primate kin, Ryan presents revolutionary evidence that our prehistoric sexual and relationship dynamic was one involving multiple partners.

One disquieting takeaway is in the chapters speculating upon naturally-occurring violence among primates: it turns out that this supposedly inborn tendency toward violence, observed by anthropologists Goodall and Chagnon, commenced only upon the introduction of food or resources via the researchers themselves! Although somewhat dryly presented at times -- surprising, given the potentially provocative subject matter! -- I have to admit that the argument against instinctive monogamy is fairly convincing. However, if it is true that monogamy is, for humans, entirely a culturally and religiously prescribed practice rather than an innate inclination, where does that leave us? It is one thing to understand or accept the science in one's brain, but what of one's heart? And how to reconcile it with the culture of today?

e
Edmond_6
Jun 18, 2016

This book is not usually my preference for reading, but it was recommended by a friend. I found it used excessive number of examples that didn't contribute anything new to their argument. Many times I felt the book ran on. I could understand the point they were trying to make, but they had not stated it yet. Their writing style seemed facetious and it detracted from the content. It is an interesting point of view about polyamory and worth reading if that subject is of interest to you.

c
Carrie_T
Oct 09, 2015

Such a disappointment. As another friend called it, "A popular science book for people who hate science." The tone is juvenile, the science distorted and cherry-picked, and the writing grating. For a more scientific look, read the rebuttal, "Sex at Dusk."

d
diananock
Jul 13, 2015

This book is filled with insights, ranging from obvious to astounding. A lot of the basic information will be familiar to people already interested in evolutionary biology and social anthropology. It makes good use of recent studies, however, and critiques old assumptions about human behavior to create a book that will make you rethink how you look at the world.

s
stewstealth
Jun 30, 2015

Though interesting, ultimately this book fails being an erudite look at human sexuality. The authors criticize many studies that conflict with their viewpoint but when similar studies ( in non random selection of participants which pretty much render the results statistically meaningless) that confirm their thesis they are happy to use them. Additionally the conclusions that all hunter gathers are happy is not really credible. There is no discussion on why Humanity gave up our wonderful travelling ways with nothing but great sex and infanticide for agriculture. An anecdote in this book and one of Jared Diamond's on traditional societies does cause some doubt if everyone is having a great time with no privacy in these societies.The text includes too many snide and sarcastic retorts to researchers who believe monogamy was how we evolved to take completely seriously.(I don't think monogamy was how evolved just to say my point of view) In addition there were too many declarative statements that were not annotated. As an aside the book claims that the etymology of testes and testify are the same. They are not. This is the 2nd time I have seen a Phd. in psychology make that claim. Must be in some text book. Perhaps this is indicative of the lack of research for other non annotated declarative statements. Worth reading but take with a grain of salt.

s
sinbad64
Mar 27, 2015

Well written, with good research sources, many things in it that make current human activity more comprehensible when cultural biases are stripped away.

s
siklogik
Feb 19, 2015

Unsurprisingly, there's been plenty of fawning praise for this feel-good pop-evo-psych manifesto, but I strongly suggest that a bit of critical perspective is in order. The word "pseudoscience" gets tossed about a bit too casually, but this surely qualifies. Essentially, it serves well to lend a sort of science-y sounding ad hoc for the polyamory crowd—which is fine—but let's not confuse it for anything more than a 400-page Dan Savage article with endnotes. Seriously, if you can read at a high-school level, just go pick up something by E. O. Wilson or whomever, sleep around to your heart's content, but leave the snake-oil science out of it. This is the sort of cultural artifact people will be embarrassed to have on their shelves within five years. Anyhow, didn't Desmond Morris already write this, like, 50 years ago?

l
ldetheridge
Feb 19, 2015

One of the most comprehensive and important books about social-sexual relationships. Fantastic life changing knowledge.

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?SETH R TAYLOR
May 01, 2013

Found this book to be extremely informative and suprisingly fun. I don't often read non-fiction but this won me over!

g
GaryLangrock
Jan 22, 2013

You should read this.

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Aim_for_peace
Feb 08, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

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Aim_for_peace
Feb 08, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.

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Aim_for_peace
Feb 08, 2011

Violence: This title contains Violence.

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