In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Movie Elsewhere | Main | More Movie Notes »

June 30, 2005

Secrets of Good Loving

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The BBC reports that scientists have succeeded in scanning the brains of people having (and not having) orgasms. Some key findings:

  • Women are indeed good at faking it -- but the brain-scanning machine knows.
  • What seems to help men achieve orgasm is knowing that they'll get the physical stimulation they crave.
  • What seems to help women achieve orgasm is feeling secure and protected, or at least free from fear.
  • Keeping the socks on may violate good taste and classy stylishness. But both men and women achieve orgasm more easily when their footsies are warm.

Me, I've always wanted to know what goes on in the heads of the scientists who study sex. Perhaps we could subject them to the brain-scanner?



posted by Michael at June 30, 2005


"What seems to help men achieve orgasm is knowing that they'll get the physical stimulation they crave." Uh -- this confuses me a little. By the time they have an orgasm, haven't they by definition had the physical stimulation they crave? They can have an orgasm from knowing they're *going* to be stimulated? And what about those who are stimulated . . . and stimulated . . . and stimulated, but still can't have an orgasm? Explain, please.

"both men and women achieve orgasm more easily when their footsies are warm." Well, okay, as long as the socks are any color other than black.

Posted by: missgrundy on July 1, 2005 2:38 PM

And another thing . . . how the heck did they get women to feel "secure and protected" while being brain-scanned during sex?

This topic seems to have . . . uh . . . stimulated my interest.

Posted by: missgrundy on July 1, 2005 2:46 PM

Brain-scanners are the new sex toys, I guess.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 1, 2005 6:30 PM

I love these sex studies and think it as worthwhile an area of research as anything else, but I also find it interesting how people sometimes throw caution to the wind in attempting to analyse the most preliminary results. When I read the part about how socks helped the subjects achieve orgasm, I wondered how comfortable the setting was, and whether the room temperature had been dialed down for the sake of the monitoring equipment more than for the comfort of people. But I couldn't see the issue of footsies as being terribly relevant to the research results.

As for orgasmic women feeling "secure and protected," this seems clearly a case of attempting to read stereotypical views of men and women into the data. The actual research data is much more prosaic: "As the women were stimulated, activity rose in one sensory part of the brain, called the primary somatosensory cortex, but fell in the amygdala and hippocampus, areas involved in alertness and anxiety. During orgasm, activity fell in many more areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, compared with the resting state..." It is a big jump to go from brain activity to emotional states, but even here there are a number of ways to view the data.

As one researcher noted, you don't need to view this as a need to feel "secure and protected," but alternatively "From an evolutionary point of view, it could be that the brain switches off the emotions during sex because at such times the chance to produce offspring becomes more important than the survival risk to the individual. [researcher Gert] Holstege points to the extraordinary behaviour seen in some animals during the breeding season, such as March hares, when the urge to mate seems to override the usual fear of predators."

There is an interesting view among some evolutionary biologists that men, women (and even resulting children) may all at times employ risky or competing strategies in order to maximize their survival prospects. It will be interesting to see how this research unfolds in the future.

Posted by: Alec on July 2, 2005 1:21 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?