Science and Sex Gang Up on Misinformation

Mar 24, 2014 • Lessons, Research, Science, teh inetrwebz, web

#SexBytes with Carin Bondar

Campaigns that have weakened if not reversed our meager attempts at providing new generations with sexual education, far from discouraging sex, are resulting in more pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, to say nothing of the epidemic of pleasurelessness, alienation and fear faced by many people as a consequence of having no safe space or language to discuss their questions and concerns regarding sex.

In the same way that progress toward sex ed was eroded, scientific progress has been halted by a vocal minority who feel it’s important to offer educational “alternatives” to science. The most frequently targeted thing in science is, of course, evolution. A few weeks ago, the Christian organization Answers in Genesis and creators of the Creation Museum demanded airtime in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of the science program Cosmos, to discuss creationism and in so doing, try to encourage viewers to believe that there is lack of consensus in the scientific community when, if fact, there isn’t. But it isn’t just the Christian, conservative right that is pushing for a leap backward. A few days ago, a petition on protesting the “bias” of the site, which refuses to state that holistic medicine (such as “energy psychology” and “thought field therapy”) is proven to work, passed the 7,000 signature mark.

And now, in an effort to kill two birds with one stone, comes Carin Bondar. Bondar, the scientist who brought us the web series Wild Sex about the weird and kinky sex rituals in the animal kingdom, is working on a new show about the wondrous place where sex and biology collide. Called Sex Bytes, this new offering features fast, quirky little weekly videos centered on a specific topic, drawing on scientific literature.

Episode two, which aired last week, touched on the often controversial topic of human pheromones, drawing on findings in the paper “Attractiveness of women’s body odors over the menstrual cycle: the role of oral contraceptives and receiver sex,” by Seppo Kuukasjavi and colleagues, which recently appeared in Behavioral Ecology. Unlike many outlets that discuss the “science” of sex, which so often don’t mention papers and like to stretch biology like an ill-conceived metaphor (pop psychology-based pick-up artistry, anyone?), Bondar is always careful to cite her sources and explain the limits of looking to other species when we want to answer questions about human nature.

Carin Bondar is an advertiser on this blog. She became one at my request — simply, I don’t believe in offering advertising to anybody whose content or products I don’t believe in or would not use. That said, I do have a dog in this fight, and you should know this. Bondar is my first advertiser, but as the list grows I’ll begin putting this information in the Advertise page of this site so you know where to go to check who’s putting the food on my table, and to call me out if you feel that I’m not pulling my weight for you as a reader. Not to give you a big head or anything, but you’re kinda more important to me than a regular meal.