Life as an Extreme Sport

VSS Post-Show: Emily Willingham, PhD

This week on Virtually Speaking Science, my guest was Dr. Emily Willingham. Emily received both her BA and PhD at the University of Texas, Austin; the former was in English and the latter in Biological Sciences.You might be seeing a pattern with my guests. Her dissertation was on the effects of atrazine and temperature on the sex development of red slider turtles; she went on to do a fellowship in pediatric urology at University of California, San Francisco. On academic achievement alone, Emily is impressive, but she didn’t forget her English background when she wandered into science. Instead, she has written for Scientific American, The Scientist, The New York Times, Slate, and Discover; has a regular column at Forbes called The Science Consumer; and is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of DoubleX Science. She was a Shorty Award finalist in 2013, as well as being selected for the Open Lab 2013

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Does How We Lose Our Virginity Shape Our Entire Sex Life? In a Word, No.

This morning’s sensationalist headlines are claiming that new research, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, says that how we lose our virginity will shape our entire sex life. For more than one of us, I’m sure, that’s the kind of headline that makes eyebrows climb and perhaps a slight whispered “oh, god, no.” And certainly, statements that the authors are making about this study seem to indicate that there’s reason to worry: “While this study doesn’t prove that a better first time makes for a better sex life in general, a person’s experience of losing their virginity may set the pattern for years to come,” said author Matthew Shaffer, who suggested that thought and behavior patterns may be formed the first time we have sex and then guide future experiences.Taken from Lindsay Abrams’ coverage inThe Atlantic. Shudder. But, in her coverage, Lindsay Abrams’ notes that there is

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a sponge must have substance to absorb

I’m reading Barrington Moore’s Moral Purity and Persecution in History, having started it as a bit of “light” nighttime reading a few evening’s back. (Yes, I know, I need to work on my ideas of what constitutes good before bed reading, especially since I find myself getting up to grab copies of various Bibles to check references far too often for this to succeed in being relaxing reading.) It’s been an interesting read, in part because Moore appears to rely relatively heavily on Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger. My exposure to Douglas’s work is second-hand, through Elizabeth Grosz, but even then, I feel like I understand enough of Douglas’s theory to be able to answer a question posed by Moore early on in his work. In Chapter One (page eight, so yes, very early), he discusses rules about nakedness in Leviticus. He says Mixed in with the rules about nakedness

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