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Posted December 9, 2004
In The Mating Game, John Gribbins and Jeremy Cherfas take us on an expedition to find the meaning of sex. To shed light on the dark roads of this voyage, they pose thought-provoking questions such as: What is sex? Why do humans reproduce sexually? How does society influence sexual behaviors? How does sex differ between humans and other organisms? By answering these questions, they reveal the intricate relationship between sexuality and natural selection. At the final destination, they pose the ultimate question: Why is sex so prevalent? In their words, sex persists because ¿a species that reproduces sexually exists longer and so is more likely to give rise to a new species than is an asexual cloning species¿ (213). Simply put sexual reproduction offers an advantage, which allows humans to live longer by making them moving targets for pathogenic parasites. This book is written with clarity. Its title is eye-catching, provocative, and scientifically accurate. It is filled with numerous examples that elucidate the age-old question of sex. The use of the Red Queen hypothesis (56) concisely explains the evolutionary significance of sexual reproduction. Additionally, many real-life applications are presented in a clear, easy-to-follow language that virtually anyone with a little background in science could understand and appreciate. For instance the peacock¿s tail (85) is used as and example of why sexual selection was not only relevant, but also straight-forward. Although simple to read, this book is written for a scientifically literate audience. It is strongly grounded in genetics and molecular biology. So without a background in evolution and genetics, one may find the book difficult. However, an undergraduate student conducting research on sexual reproduction or an evolutionary psychologist may find this book indispensable, for it provides a comprehensive review of the evolutionary nature of sex, the role of sex in society, and the theories of human attraction. The authors¿ ultimate claim, that human behavior is deeply rooted in our evolutionary past, appears accurate based on the scientific evidence presented. However, this claim is compromised because all pieces to the evolutionary puzzle are not complete. For instance, making a conclusion about human sexuality based on the mating behavior of chimpanzees may be misleading because of the genetic differences that exist between these two primates (192). Overall, I found this book to be informative and enlightening. While reading this book, I was constantly thinking and applying its concepts to my life experiences. As a woman I have always wondered why men were more promiscuous than women and this book has definitely broadened my understanding of these behavioral differences. Additionally, I have always been curious about societal attitudes towards incest, marriage, and homosexuality. This book clarified my understanding of these issues and provided a biological perspective on many cultural taboos.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.