Thursday, September 08, 2005

Orgasms: Not just for fun?

Via NewsDog, AJ points to a pretty funny, scathing review of Indiana University historian and philosopher (and biologist?) Elisabeth Lloyd's recent book, The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution, which generated a fair amount of press when it came out. For those put off by the review's host publication (Evolutionary Psychology), comments at NewsDog point to a similarly critical review in Nature and Lloyd's response in same.

Lloyd argues that the female orgasm is a developmental artifact, like male nipples, and not an adaptive feature, i.e. that natural selection did not act directly on it, but upon its developmental analogue in the other gender (male orgasm). As far as I can tell, most biologists consider this scenario plausible, but some reviewers of Lloyd's book think she represents it as a slam-dunk case, which it isn't. Furthermore, the reviewers allege that Lloyd throws in a bunch of philosophy-of-science cultural criticism to the effect that chauvinism and ideology are responsible for the prevalence of adaptationist explanations of female orgasm. Lloyd, for her part, claims she's just pointing out that adaptationist explanations don't have much evidence going for them, rather than claiming they're definitely wrong.

I have nothing really interesting to add to all this. I'm just engaging in link propagation, since at least 95% of the human population probably has a fairly intimate reason to care about this subject.


  1. Great link. Amusing (though perhaps a little too sarcastic). But there's a lot of ad hominem (or perhaps ad feminem) attacks here.

  2. (sorry, that was RJ, aka idiotprogrammer).