Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Sex Research

Question: Is your sex research from the 1970s still current?

Michael Perelman: Remarkably, actually. I was one of the clinical investigators and the advisors for Johnson and Johnson, who, over the last three or four years, have been attempting to develop a drug pharmaceutical for premature ejaculation in men. While it is frequently the punch line of a joke for late night comics, the fact of the matter is men who have these problems suffer severely emotionally because it has a very negative affect on their relationships, in particular what we found was that these men tend to isolate themselves. In general, in fact, men with sexual problems will withdraw from their partner, so it’s not just that they are not having sex with her, under the heading of who wants to do what they do well, they are also avoiding affection and intimacy for fear that that be mistaken as a sexual initiation. So, having said that, this continues to be a profound problem. So I was doing this research for Johnson and Johnson while they were working on the development of this drug, and as we were talking amongst the other advisors what kind of patient reported outcomes we should use, how do you measure change? What I found is I could actually go back to my doctoral dissertation from, at this point it is 35 years, and be able to find some guidance as to how one might examine these issues. So in that sense, you know, it’s one of these the more things change the more they stay the same stories and the information, because it is so universal remaining problem, quite relevant today as well. And, obviously, the pain caused by, to both men and women, from having sexual problems is something again that has been written about for millennia, and there is very old text describing people’s attempts to cure themselves or other healers, both religious and medical, tends to help facilitate the procreation primarily, and then, later, the notion of how to improve quality of life because we have learned that good sexual health frequently goes along with good physical health and well being in general. Studying sex, you know, I actually started doing it about probably I guess about 1969-70, and it is funny, I was a National Institute of Mental Health Fellow, but I was only 22 years old, and I was very sort of used to the faculty telling, you know, the teacher tells you what to do type of thing. And my first term paper as a graduate student at Columbia, I actually asked permission if I could do a review of Masters and Johnson’s new book called “Human Sexual Inadequacy,” and that book, in 1970, launched sex therapy as a phenomenon, that there really were ways to help people, and direct immeasurable ways, who were suffering from sexual problems. But at the time we were still coming off of certainly an age of rebellion in terms of the “counter culture” of the time and the sexual liberation movements and the identity movements, political identity movements, in terms of feminism developing, homosexuality, racial freedom, freedom from discrimination, all this against the backdrop of the youth rebellion that was taking place, sex, drugs and rock and roll and the protesting of the Vietnam War, so things were in change and in flux, but if you were a graduate student being supported by the government, I felt that I was supposed to ask permission. Nonetheless, they told me, “You are an NIH Fellow; the whole idea is you pick out what you want to study and study it.” So I told my then girlfriend, now wife, this is a riot, you know, they are actually paying me to learn about sex and become a sex expert, I can’t believe this. And so I did.

Question: When did you know you were going to specialize in sex research?

Michael Perlman: It actually gained momentum fairly slowly because I did not really realize at the time how prescient I had been by identifying a new field, and one of the ways to be successful, I would suggest to any young people listening, is identify something new that you are really feeling passionate about and get to know it extremely well.  When I was a little boy there were some really, really smart kids in my sixth grade class and one of them was already taking college math.  And he seemed to know everything there was to know about math, so I went to the library and I thought, well, what can I learn about and I will know everything about that, too.  I was somewhat competitive, so I took out all the ten chemistry books that were there, and, of course, the next week I brought them back unread.  So I had the right idea, that you need to become an expert in something, but it was not until I was in my 20s and began to do these term papers on Masters and Johnson.  And later, Helen Kaplan wrote a book in 1974, called “The New Sex Therapy,” and Helen actually became my mentor.  She founded the program at Cornell that I am now the co-director of, and I was one of her first students.  And the remarkable thing was that that whole field was brand new then, so that provided me an opportunity to present at meetings, participate with the people who were the thought leaders of the day and really be in on this from the very, very beginning.  So when the sexual pharmaceuticals like Viagra came along, and it is the ten-year anniversary right now, March of 1998 is when it was launched and approved by the FDA, I had already been studying this for 20 years.  So in that sense I was very well positioned to become an expert at a time where this whole area went public because of all the commercials that these pharmaceutical companies are doing, and by then I really was an expert.

 

Michael Perelman began his career during a time of upheaval in sexual mores.

Remote learning vs. online instruction: How COVID-19 woke America up to the difference

Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.

Credit: Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
  • Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
  • In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
Keep reading Show less

Has science made religion useless?

Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.

Videos
  • Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
  • This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
  • "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."

Signs of Covid-19 may be hidden in speech signals

Studying voice recordings of infected but asymptomatic people reveals potential indicators of Covid-19.

Ezra Acayan/Getty Images
Coronavirus
It's often easy to tell when colleagues are struggling with a cold — they sound sick.
Keep reading Show less

Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Keep reading Show less

Supporting climate science increases skepticism of out-groups

A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study has found evidence suggesting that conservative climate skepticism is driven by reactions to liberal support for science.
  • This was determined both by comparing polling data to records of cues given by leaders, and through a survey.
  • The findings could lead to new methods of influencing public opinion.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast