Top positive review
Detective Diamond Investigates Human Sexuality
Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2016
This great little book shows us how science really works. It's like a series of detective stories - following clues (generating hypotheses) until you run into walls (counterarguments) until eventually a more or less satisfactory theory emerges (subject to the next scientist’s new evidence or argument). In this case it's all about how evolution has shaped human sexuality, much of it by comparing us with other primates and examining our evolutionary history as best we know it.
The first big question, referred to in the title of the book, is why we can enjoy sex throughout most of our lives, often daily, unlike many primates, even though women are infertile most of that time and it takes time and energy away from other pressing activities. It's not as obvious as you might think. From one mystery to another, detective Diamond just whets your appetite for more.
Yet there is a question that I've wondered about for many years, a question that I think needs to be more fully addressed: Why are male and female sexuality so badly matched? He does explain (p. 100) that the "hunter-gatherer lifestyle involves a classic conflict of interest": "A woman is best off married to a good provider, but a man is not best off being a provider". Then he proceeds to note that "Conflicts of interest between people closely related by blood or marriage are the commonest, most gut wrenching tragedies of our lives." Then why hasn't evolution found some way to make our lives less tragic? Is it that we are just too young as a species or has this actually contributed to our evolutionary success?