How I Became a Godless Gay Evolutionary Psychologist
I’ve always been deeply curious and interested in human behavior and also felt a close affinity with that evolutionary explanations.
Jesse Bering, Ph.D., is a frequent contributor to Scientific American, Slate, and Das Magazin (Switzerland). His work has also appeared in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The New Republic, and has been featured on NPR, the BBC, Playboy Radio and more. Bering is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University, Belfast and began his career as a psychology professor at the University of Arkansas.
What really encouraged me to look at human sexuality is not necessarily a discrete concrete moment in my past, but I think the fact that I’m gay. I’ve always been deeply curious and interested in human behavior and also felt a close affinity with that evolutionary explanations.
But I think that one of the more important moments in my past in terms of leading me in this course was working with chimpanzees. When I was a graduate student, I worked at a sanctuary with orphaned infant chimpanzees and orangutans that had been separated from their mothers for different reasons. And I began seeing human beings walking around as bipedal apes, these sort of naked bipedal apes like Desmond Morris says.
It struck me much more vividly after actually having an encounter with chimpanzees. I was a caretaker for a six-month-old infant and would change her diapers and play with her. She was like my daughter. It struck a chord with me. I was 19 years old, and it really led me on this particular scientific path in trying to understand humans and human behavior from an evolutionary perspective.
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