Pharyngula

Jerry Coyne carries out an amusing exercise in reasoning like an evolutionary psychologist: why does human semen taste bad? It turns out that it is really easy to invent all kinds of entirely reasonable rationalizations for it: in particular, it’s to promote ejaculation in the orifice that is more likely to result in pregnancy, since women can’t get pregnant by way of their stomach. It’s all deductively logical, but built on premises floating in thin air, with no empirical foundation at all…the usual flaw on which evolutionary psychology fails.

It does open up all kinds of angels-dancing-upon-pins sorts of questions. By the same logic, shouldn’t most women find anal sex extremely distasteful and unpleasurable (there’s another subject for Coyne to use in an informal poll — or maybe not, unless he really wants a reputation as a perv). Would the unusual anatomical arrangement in Deep Throat be evidence against evolution? And say…shouldn’t there be selection against male interest in fruitless pornography? There’s potential for a whole industry to flower around the pursuit of these questions. With illustrations.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Hoo boy. Methinks this thread is going to get rowdy. And just when I started reading Coyne’s new book last night.

    It’s too bad (good?) Rookey isn’t around.

  2. #2 Chris
    April 20, 2009

    My day has been made. There is nothing that can top this. I can’t stop laughing.

  3. #3 Reginald Selkirk
    April 20, 2009

    It turns out that it is really easy to invent all kinds of entirely reasonable rationalizations for it: in particular, it’s to promote ejaculation in the orifice that is more likely to result in pregnancy, since women can’t get pregnant by way of their stomach.

    An alternative adaptation would be for women to develop the ability to become pregnant by way of their stomach. You need to think outside the box.

  4. #4 Hanes
    April 20, 2009

    Now I’m no biologist, but wouldn’t it taist bad because it didn’t need to taist good? And if women, on average, find anal sex pleasureable, wouldn’t that be a sort of biproduct of the rules of thumb our genetics follows to build our bodies? Same with recieving oral sex.

  5. #5 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Jerry Coyne carries out an amusing exercise in reasoning like an evolutionary psychologist: why does human semen taste bad?

    Plus that’s a pretty subjective question is it not?

  6. #6 LtStorm
    April 20, 2009

    I think a better question would be whether it was just the spermine and spermidine that give semen that bad taste, or if there were other factors.

  7. #7 Cappy
    April 20, 2009

    Maybe it’s to encourage men to eat pineapple? I’m told that eating pineapple an hour or so before makes it taste better so maybe it’s a nutritional sort of thing. Or not.

  8. #8 Captain Mike
    April 20, 2009

    The taste of semen is said to be highly variable. I was under the impression that diet was a huge factor.

  9. #9 Shane
    April 20, 2009

    Asparagus.

  10. #10 dirtydennis
    April 20, 2009

    Since when does it taste bad?!?!

  11. #11 Colugo
    April 20, 2009

    If human females fertilized their eggs by orally ingesting semen like some fish species do they would probably perceive semen as delicious. But there has been little selection for that. (Although there might be a maternal-fetal immune tolerance benefit to ingestion of semen.)

  12. #12 The Petey
    April 20, 2009

    in my experience semen tastes pretty good.

    Well except in one case where it tasted just like the sensation of biting down on tinfoil.

    Also, semen is one of the few things that tastes good right after you brush your teeth.

  13. #13 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 20, 2009

    I think the premises of this debate require further investigation, and I volunteer my services for research.

  14. #14 peter
    April 20, 2009

    you have to start the pineapple several hours in advance. interspersing it with regular meals up to a day in advance is recommended.

    for those interested in looking it up there is actually a patent issued in the US for a food specifically designed to make semen taste good.

  15. #15 Ryan Egesdahl
    April 20, 2009

    PZ, as your local prude I have to express my sincere regret that you have stooped to pornography to spread your evilutionist lies. Asking why semen tastes bad, indeed!

    I happen to like the flavor, thank you very much – that is, if he’s fit and has a good diet and no bad habits like drugs or smoking. Otherwise, it *does* taste bad. I think this is more a question of *whose* semen it is.

  16. #16 The Petey
    April 20, 2009

    Diet does affect the taste.

  17. #17 Bill Dauphin
    April 20, 2009

    You need to think outside the box.

    Oh, no, you di’n’t! ;^)

  18. #18 Bad Wolf
    April 20, 2009

    Well from what my girlfriend tells me, fruit does help with the taste. Especially pineapple and strawberries.

  19. #19 delagar
    April 20, 2009

    I am told by an impeccable source (my barfly student) that semen tastes like bleach to remind women to do the laundry.

    I take NO responsiblity for this here theory, which is extant in these here parts of Arkansas.

  20. #20 blueelm
    April 20, 2009

    That is too funny! Not to be gross, but I’ve not found it to taste that bad. As far as body fluids go, it’s definitely better than most! I would assume its taste is irrelevant in terms of evolution because, biologically, who cares how it tases? It has a lot of pressure to be a certain ph and so on and so forth, right? I wonder how Coyne feels about the wide flavor varieties of girl parts?

  21. #21 meloniesch
    April 20, 2009

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s delicious, but it certainly doesn’t taste bad! Does anyone know how long sperm survive in the mouth? I assume they die pretty quickly when they reach stomach acid.

  22. #22 pacoyogi
    April 20, 2009

    Cappy @ 7…

    You are correct. Ingestion of pineapple juice will affect later taste. Then again, since semen contains a fairly high level of fructose (if I remember correctly) ingestion of almost any fruit juice will make it taste sweeter.

    Shane at @ 9….Asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, to much liquor, smoking, etc, will make it taste pretty bitter.

    But taste of semen is secondary to cleanliness/grooming of the recipient of fellatio…what you have to taste long before the final product is, IMHO and experience, what can make it a turn off. Did Coyne account for crotch rot in his survey?? I think not.

  23. #23 Ryan Egesdahl
    April 20, 2009

    Oh, dear. This conversation is going to spin out of control, and I may have contributed to that.

    Isn’t biology fun?

  24. #24 pacoyogi
    April 20, 2009

    @ 23 “Isn’t biology fun?”

    Well, if you’re doing it right….

  25. #25 Mark
    April 20, 2009

    I found that article hard to swallow, and some of these comments leave a bad taste in my mouth.

  26. #26 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    April 20, 2009

    Alright! Who has been inflicting oral sex on women? And men also?

    At least we have moved beyond teabagging.

  27. #27 Mike
    April 20, 2009

    This totally explains why women have not evolved taste buds in their vaginas

  28. #28 Glen Davidson
    April 20, 2009

    I’ve read that semen has cadaverine and putrecine in it, typical metabolic by-products. They also claimed that it had those because the body uses any means to get rid of those harmful substances.

    Well, I have my doubts about that “reason,” both because it seemed without any supporting evidence, and because semen is a very “deliberate” production which might be expected to keep harmful substances out of it (can these be good for sperm?).

    Assuming that it is cadaverine and putrecine which are at least partly responsible for the reputed “bad taste” of semen, it may simply be due to the fact that semen components are held in the body for some time, and these simply accumulate because there are no easy ways to rid the fluids of them. And apparently they aren’t too harmful, so we don’t evolve to rid semen of these.

    I can’t point to any authoritative sources, that’s just what I’ve read, and how I interpret what I read.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  29. #29 Jackal
    April 20, 2009

    Evolutionary pressures would explain why my jaw gets stiff after providing oral stimulation for too long, but not why my opposable digits are so well suited for curving around a penis.

  30. #30 Mark
    April 20, 2009

    I forgot to add that catholicpriest.net has some great tips on how to make semen taste better.

  31. #31 JD
    April 20, 2009

    Weel this one *is* easy to answer. It’s all those damn cheesesteaks that Coyne eats before he gets on the CTA shuttle.

  32. #32 ThirtyFiveUp
    April 20, 2009

    There was a four girl rockband in the eighties named “One Doesn’t Swallow”.

  33. #33 CaptainKendrick
    April 20, 2009

    Good thing my girlfriend likes beer too.

    Total win-win situation.

    Actually, make that win-win-win.

  34. #34 Glen Davidson
    April 20, 2009

    Well, it’s “putrescine,” not “putrecine” as I wrote.

    Anyway, here’s what Wikipedia states under “cadaverine”:

    However, this diamine is not purely associated with putrefaction. It is also produced in small quantities by living beings. It is partially responsible for the distinctive smell of urine and semen.

    They didn’t comment on putrescine, presumably because the article is about cadaverine. Nonetheless, putrescine is present at significant levels in the semen.

    I suppose those could be there in order to “taste bad,” but I seriously doubt it. Most animals don’t engage in oral sex, and putrescine and cadaverine are in the semen of some other animals, at least.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  35. #35 hmmmm
    April 20, 2009

    Flawed survey.

    I’ve had a much larger sample size than that and the majority swallowed.

    Of course, it wasn’t a pen and paper survey, but rather an oral exam.

  36. #36 TheLady
    April 20, 2009

    PZ is dispelling all my Raquel Welch inspired ire by slamming evo-psych not once but twice in one day! I am teh happeh!

    It’s much more likely that semen is perceived/advertised as tasting bad because women are indoctrinated into fearing sex and being ashamed of anything other than a passive role in it. Actually enjoying it is slutty slut territory!

    Anyway, to say that we need an “evolutionary incentive” to get semen into the vagina in order to make babbies is to get the whole thing backwards. Evolution already has a solution to make us want to make babbies – it’s called sex. Any “improvements” on that system have at the bottom an assumption that actually having babies is some sort of evolutionary need, and that therefore it makes sense to have an extra mechanism to ensure conception (as opposed to just enabling it, via intercourse).

    To quote a commenter from Pandagon a few months back: saying that there is a biological urge to give birth is like saying there is a biological urge to defecate. There isn’t. What there is is a biological urge to eat – defecation is a by-product.

  37. #37 mothwentbad
    April 20, 2009

    Hmmm. I’m no semen expert, but I’m not sure a reason is needed, if the taste comes from components that serve an important function in the transmission, protection, and sustenance of sperm. If the stuff goes out of its way to taste bad when other solutions should have been possible and likely, then maybe it becomes worth slinging a just so story over.

  38. #38 Pat
    April 20, 2009

    taste or texture or both? and if taste hold your nose – viola no flavor.

  39. #39 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    “This totally explains why women have not evolved taste buds in their vaginas”

    Despite the presence of “lips,” right?

  40. #40 Glen Davidson
    April 20, 2009

    By the way, male dogs don’t seem to mind the taste of their own semen, which you’d know if you’ve ever watched them after ejaculating.

    By the way, I think most animals try to keep their penises away from females’ mouths. First, because they’re instinctually drawn to the rear, and second, because she might indeed take the penis into her mouth, and punctured by her teeth.

    No real chance for natural selection to “decide” on the taste of semen, then.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  41. #41 Menyambal
    April 20, 2009

    Obligatory: The trick is to get it way back behind their taste buds. Oh wait, you can’t do that?

  42. #42 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    “This totally explains why women have not evolved taste buds in their vaginas”

    Despite the presence of “lips,” right?

    I guess this is where I should bring up vagina dentata?

  43. #43 Greg F.
    April 20, 2009

    Ok… I write a lot of stuff about sex and I’m certainly not a prudish person, but this is going into porn territory. However, as long as we’re here, might as well point out that opinions on the flavor of semen are subjective and there are women who love it, hate it and just don’t really care about it. There are some women who will swallow after oral sex because it’s considered erotic as well, nothing to do with taste.

    So I’m going to go with a comment above to drive the point home:

    “…to say that we need an “evolutionary incentive” to get semen into the vagina in order to make babies is to get the whole thing backwards. Evolution already has a solution to make us want to make babies – it’s called sex.”

    Applying evolutionary biology to anything and everything reminds me of late 19th, early 20th century occultist who started applying evolution to spiritual matters and occult esoterica to come up with some very bizarre things. I’d rather not go their route…

  44. #44 Valis
    April 20, 2009
  45. #45 mothwentbad
    April 20, 2009

    Alright, interesting. Apparently, semen doesn’t taste like 7-Up Plus or anything objectively horrible, and can be made to taste better, so it all sounds kinda like fail. Hey, maybe the variable taste of sperm was evolved to impart an advantage on dudes who eat more pineapple! Or something!

  46. #46 AJ Milne
    April 20, 2009

    …hold your nose – viola no flavor…

    Next up: why do violas taste so bad?

    (/Actthually, it’s not tho mutth the tathte… itth all thethe thplinterth in my tongue…)

  47. #47 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 20, 2009

    Why the snubbing of evolutionary psychology? As in every field of science, there are well-reasoned studies and poorly-reasoned ones.

    At it’s core, EP seeks to integrate psychology into the biological and physical sciences. It is not merely an exercise in creating just-so stories. I’ve been to EP conferences in which the types of studies included in presentations ranged from optimality analyses, behavioral/cognitive neuroscience, ethological sampling, computational modelling, pen-and-paper questionnaire, between-species comparisons, archeology, and hunter-gatherer studies.

    Like I said, there are studies in which explanations rest on little more than speculation. But the bulk of what’s out there is not like that. Remember, EP came about in response to the glaring anti-biology bias in the human sciences and humanities.

    Just because Jerry Coyne has a stick up his butt (or ejaculate in his mouth?) doesn’t mean that his caricature is accurate.

  48. #48 Kerry Maxwell
    April 20, 2009

    Because if it tasted like chocolate the laundry would never get done.

  49. #49 Nick
    April 20, 2009

    +1 to the folks who say that the taste of ejaculate largely based on diet rather than anything inherent to the stuff. I imagine that there are differences from person-to-person as well. The same is true of women, by the way. How they smell and taste has some inherent basis, but is affected largely by what they eat and what prescriptions they’re taking.

    One could argue that there’s an evolutionary imperative for oral sex because it results in tasting one another, which can provide an insight into their overall health and compatibility. A partner with a bad diet (and therefore potentially tainted reproductive cells) might be able to hide that behind perfumes or rigorous bathing, but it’s going to come up when I go down on them.

  50. #50 Eric
    April 20, 2009

    Exactly why should human semen taste great?

    I’m curious as to which primate bodily fluids have a pleasing taste?

    There’s the whole Vampire thing and human blood, but I thought that was more the necessity of substance than it was delicacy?

  51. #51 JizzGuzzler
    April 20, 2009

    Ray Comfort would probably agree that, just as god designed the bannana to fit the human hand, he created the penis with a convenient rim to prevent ones hand from slipping off.

  52. #52 Fatpie42
    April 20, 2009

    “Shouldn’t most women find anal sex extremely distasteful and unpleasurable”

    Don’t they?

    (Reminds me of this gem from the movie ‘Mallrats’:
    - “You see, bruce, I like to pick up girls on the rebound from a disappointing relationship. They’re more vulnerable, in much more need of solace. And they’re fairly open to suggestion. And I use that to f*** them some place fairly uncomfortable”.
    - “What, like the back of a volkswagen?”)

  53. #53 Glenn
    April 20, 2009

    PZ, where do you get off with a discussion like this? I mean, cum on!

  54. #54 The Mad LOLScientist, FCD
    April 20, 2009

    “Spit or swallow?” You left out my answer:

    BAAAAAARRRFFFFF!1!1!!!! (For realz.) Funny thing – I’ve never been asked twice. For some strange reason, guys don’t seem to like getting puked on.

    Of course, spitting it back in his face makes your point pretty well too….

  55. #55 Louis
    April 20, 2009

    Ok then geniuses, why does pussy juice taste so good?

    And also, why are there still PYGMIES + DWARVES!!!one11??!?/???

    HAHA! I have Disproofed Teh Evilushun! Jebus winz teh intarnetz. All ur base belong to me etc.

    Louis

  56. #56 Matt
    April 20, 2009

    For your amusement:
    http://www.lulu.com/content/4956212

    And, perhaps the spit/swallow dichotomy is a false one:
    http://www.explosm.net/comics/1626/

    Cheers

  57. #57 Ted Dahlberg
    April 20, 2009

    I’ve learned so much already from this thread. But I’m surprised by the semeng dearth of bad puns. I assume there’s more to come.

  58. #58 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    You know, I hate to say this, but, contrary to popular belief, in this case, he might actually have an expertise on the subject…

    Has anyone asked Ted Haggard’s opinion on this subject yet?

  59. #59 Glen Davidson
    April 20, 2009

    “Shouldn’t most women find anal sex extremely distasteful and unpleasurable”

    Don’t they?

    Actually, I’ve wondered if the large human penis might have evolved in order for women to object to “unproductive sex,” once men found out that inserting into one hole instead of the other left them with far fewer dependents. Well, none.

    Just speculation. But I’d give it a much higher probability than this nonsense about semen tasting bad. How hard is it to spit anyhow?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  60. #60 IST
    April 20, 2009

    hmm… tastes good in ev. terms = full of sugar and/or fat= highly nutritious.

    semen= a bunch of protein and live cells that have largely been stripped of their sugars and fats.

    So yea, we haven’t evolved to find the things that compose semen tasty. It doesn’t require a whole lot of premises floating in the air at all, it simply requires asking the question the right way ’round.
    I rather agree with Moth on this one.

  61. #61 PD Misto
    April 20, 2009

    “With Illustrations” Made this post.
    Thanks for a cheerful wake up, PZ!

  62. #62 Noam
    April 20, 2009

    Is it wrong to laugh out loud on a science/skepticism/atheism blog? This day is almost over in my neck of the woods – I just got back from work – but it cannot possibly get any better! In fact – I will laugh from this post all week! Thanks, PZ

  63. #63 Marcus
    April 20, 2009

    Well maybe this is true for biologists, but if you ask any of the hoards of women hanging around us geologists it supposedly is some kind of magical nectar.

  64. #64 Louis
    April 20, 2009

    Also, I am not biologicamician, nor do I play one on TV, but I really want to design this experiment. Broad outline of procedure:

    1) Open mouth.
    2) Insert penis.
    3) Perform blow job.
    4) Note taste of ejaculate.
    5) ????
    6) Profit.

    Steps 5 and 6 might need to be left out due to zoning laws or some such thing. Suggested improvements?

    Louis

  65. #65 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    “Shouldn’t most women find anal sex extremely distasteful and unpleasurable”

    Don’t they?

    Do they? It’s not in my experi….

    nevermind.

  66. #66 Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    Bacon!!!

  67. #67 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    @65

    Louis,

    If you get 1 through 4, that is profit.

  68. #68 Steve LaBonne
    April 20, 2009

    @#48:

    But the bulk of what’s out there is not like that.

    How many publications in the field even get as far as proposing reasonably dispositive, practically performable tests of evo psych hypotheses, let alone actually performing them? I certainly don’t pretend to have made a broad survey but my impression is “not all that many”. I’m willing to be corrected, though.

  69. #69 catsnjags
    April 20, 2009

    something we all need to share with the females we know:

    Study: Fellatio may significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer in women

    http://tinyurl.com/pmfk6

  70. #70 Louis
    April 20, 2009

    @KemaTheAtheist #68:

    Profit? No. That’s standard equipment according to Dan Savage.
    ;-)

    Louis

  71. #71 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    @ comment #69

    Failure to use post number properly.

  72. #72 blueelm
    April 20, 2009

    “Shouldn’t most women find anal sex extremely distasteful and unpleasurable”

    Don’t they?

    Depends. Some do some don’t. Just remember the common courtesies and all…

  73. #73 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    @71

    How do you fail to see the profit of getting paid to “perform” and/or participate in such an experiment. I say perform because such experiments, imo, should be video taped for postarity… and sold to the highest bidder.

  74. #74 Samphire
    April 20, 2009

    My favourite tee shirt slogan: “I choked Linda Lovelace”.

    Many years ago the then Prime Minister (not our current disaster) came to my Hall of Residence during a seamen’s strike to inspect it for his son who was proposing to come up to university. Above the main entrance some wag had placed a large banner reading “Have you got seamen on your hands?”.

    I understand that the son did not take up his place.

  75. #75 MosesZD
    April 20, 2009

    I’ve met enough “swallowers” and “spitters” in my time to know it seems to be a matter of taste.

  76. #76 flaq
    April 20, 2009

    it’s to promote ejaculation in the orifice that is more likely to result in pregnancy, since women can’t get pregnant by way of their stomach.

    Following that logic, is it safe to assume that at some point male humans will evolve ovaries in their hands?

  77. #77 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 20, 2009

    guys don’t seem to like getting puked on.

    Well, actually, there’s this one guy I know…eh, never mind.

  78. #78 plum grenville
    April 20, 2009

    “Shouldn’t most women find anal sex extremely distasteful and unpleasurable?”

    Shouldn’t most men too?

  79. #79 Louis
    April 20, 2009

    @KemaTheAtheist #74:

    Ahhhhhhhh! My apologies, I thought you meant some other kind of profit.

    I, personally, think that these experiments should be performed on me by a variety of highly attractive women. My wife has a different opinion and my testicles in a vice, so I’m going to go along with her understanding of the situation. She seems to have the right idea and I am persuaded by her rhetoric.

    Louis

  80. #80 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    April 20, 2009

    Completely OT but the author, J G Ballard just died.

    Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan
    JG Ballard

    RONALD REAGAN AND THE CONCEPTUAL AUTO DISASTER. Numerous studies have been conducted upon patients in terminal paresis (GPI), placing Reagan in a series of simulated auto crashes, e.g. multiple pileups, head-on collisions, motorcade attacks (fantasies of Presidential assassinations remained a continuing preoccupation, subject showing a marked polymorphic fixation on windshields and rear trunk assemblies). Powerful erotic fantasies of an anal-sadistic surrounded the image of the Presidential contender.

    Subjects were required to construct the optimum auto disaster victim by placing a replica of Reagan?s head on the unretouched photographs of crash fatalities.

    In 82% of cases massive rear-end collisions were selected with a preference for expressed fecal matter and rectal hemorrhages. Further tests were conducted to define the optimum model-year. These indicate that a three year model lapse with child victims provide the maximum audience excitation (confirmed by manufacturers? studies of the optimum auto disaster). It is hoped to construct a rectal modulous of Reagan and the auto disaster of maximized audience arousal.

    Motion picture studies of Ronald Reagan reveal characteristic patterns of facial tones and musculature associated with homoerotic behavior. The continuing tension of buccal sphincters and the recessive tongue role tally with earlier studies of facial rigidity (cf., Adolf Hitler, Nixon). Slow-motion cine films of campaign speeches exercised a marked erotic effect upon an audience of spastic children. Even with mature adults the verbal material was found to have a minimal effect, as demonstrated by substitution of an edited tape giving diametrically opposed opinions…

    INCIDENCE OF ORGASMS IN FANTASIES OF SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH RONALD REAGAN. Patients were provided with assembly kit photographs of sexual partners during intercourse. In each case Reagan?s face was super imposed upon the original partner. Vaginal intercourse with “Reagan” proved uniformly disappointing, producing orgasm in 2% of subjects.

    Axillary, buccal, navel, aural, and orbital modes produced proximal erections. The preferred mode of entry overwhelmingly proved to be the rectal. After a preliminary course in anatomy it was found that the caecum and transverse colon also provided excellent sites for excitation. In an extreme 12% of cases, the simulated anus of post-costolomy surgery generated spontaneous orgasm in 98% of penetrations. Multiple-track cine-films were constructed of “Reagan” in intercourse during (a) campaign speeches, (b) rear-end auto collisions with one and three year model changes, (c) with rear exhaust assemblies…

    SEXUAL FANTASIES IN CONNECTION WITH RONALD REAGAN. The genitalia of the Presidential contender exercised a continuing fascination. A series of imaginary genitalia were constructed using (a) the mouth parts of Jacqueline Kennedy, (b) a Cadillac, (c) the assembly kid prepuce of President Johnson…In 89% of cases, the constructed genitalia generated a high incidence of self-induced orgasm. Tests indicate the masturbatory nature of the Presidential contender?s posture. Dolls consisting of plastic models of Reagan?s alternate genitalia were found to have a disturbing effect on deprived children.

    REAGAN’S HAIRSTYLE. Studies were conducted on the marked fascination exercised by the Presidential contender?s hairstyle. 65% of male subjects made positive connections between the hairstyle and their own pubic hair. A series of optimum hairstyles were constructed.

    THE CONCEPTUAL ROLE OF REAGAN. Fragments of Reagan?s cinetized postures were used in the construction of model psychodramas in which the Reagan-figure played the role of husband, doctor, insurance salesman, marriage counselor, etc.

    The failure of these roles to express any meaning reveals the nonfunctional character of Reagan. Reagan?s success therefore indicates society?s periodic need to re-conceptualize its political leaders. Reagan thus appears as a series of posture concepts, basic equations which reformulate the roles of aggression and anality. Reagan?s personality. The profound anality of the Presidential contender may be expected to dominate the United States in the coming years. By contrast the late JFK remained the prototype of the oral subject, usually conceived in pre-pubertal terms. In further studies sadistic psychopaths were given the task of devising sex fantasies involving Reagan. Results confirm the probability of Presidential figures being perceived primarily in genital terms; the face of LB Johnson is clearly genital in significant appearance–the nasal prepuce, scrotal jaw, etc. Faces were seen as either circumcised (JFK, Khrushchev) or uncircumcised (LBJ, Adenauer). In assembly-kit tests Reagan?s face was uniformly perceived as a penile erection. Patients were encouraged to devise the optimum sex-death of Ronald Reagan.

    ==================================================

    Annotation & Commentary by the author, J.G. Ballard, to “Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan”, published in The Atrocity Exhibition, 1990:

    “Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan” prompted Doubleday in 1970 to pulp its first American edition of The Atrocity Exhibition. Ronald Reagan’s presidency remained a complete mystery to most Europeans, though I noticed that Americans took him far more easily in their stride. But the amiable old duffer who occupied the White House was a very different person from the often sinister figure I described in 1967, when the present piece was first published. The then-novelty of a Hollywood film star entering politics and becoming governor of California gave Reagan considerable air time on British TV. Watching his right-wing speeches, in which he castigated in sneering tones the profligate, welfare-spending, bureaucrat-infested state government, I saw a more crude and ambitious figure, far closer to the brutal crime boss he played in the 1964 movie, The Killers, his last Hollywood role. In his commercials Reagan used the smooth, teleprompter-perfect tones of the TV auto-salesman to project a political message that was absolutely the reverse of bland and reassuring. A complete discontinuity existed between Reagan’s manner and body language, on the one hand, and his scarily simplistic far-right message on the other. Above all, it struck me that Reagan was the first politician to exploit the fact that his TV audience would not be listening too closely, if at all, to what he was saying, and indeed might well assume from his manner and presentation that he was saying the exact opposite of the words actually emerging from his mouth. Though the man himself mellowed, his later presidency seems to have run the same formula.”

    Joy Division- Atrocity Exhibition

    I am out to seek Vaughan, the scientist-thug.

  81. #81 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Well, actually, there’s this one guy I know…eh, never mind.

    Is his name Jeff?

  82. #82 warreno
    April 20, 2009

    I’ll concur with the others who’ve come out (!) in defense of semen’s flavor. It genuinely is subjective, for starters; and the flavor is variable, even with a specific individual.

    Semen can seem nearly flavorless; or it can be rather salty; or it can be bitter; or it can have a spicy, almost tingling quality. (Sometimes it can have more than one of these properties.)

    Semen might be an acquired taste. But to suggest it tastes bad is to be naive, I think — or at the very least possessed of limited to no experience in the variability of flavors.

    Thus even the premise of Coyne’s paper is utterly preposterous. His assertion (in the form of a question) is nonsense; the conclusions he’ll have reached from it are equally nonsense.

  83. #83 Jane
    April 20, 2009

    Who says it tastes bad ?

  84. #84 Hairhead
    April 20, 2009

    Ah, #55, your responses, i.e. “puking”, and “spitting in his face” seem a bit extreme, and, well, sexist to boot.

    I mean, if a man went down on you, how would you feel if, after you came, he either spat in your face, or frantically ran to the bathroom, gagging and spitting.

    I’m not saying that swallowing is required, but giving the recipient of your oral skills the same post-orgasmic treatment you would expect might be a bit . . . nicer.

  85. #85 shonny
    April 20, 2009

    The next step in digression here would be the little Swedish rhyme:

    Osten ńro som flickans lilla, smacker gott, men dofter illa.

    That from one who loves muff-diving!

  86. #86 Ponder
    April 20, 2009

    I’m sure there’s some academic literature on this. If not PZ might be able to produce the seminal work on the subject.

  87. #87 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 20, 2009

    Don’t spit, just force the guy into a tongue-kiss right away. Worked on me. (Yeah, yeah, TMI.)

    And no, his name is Dan.

  88. #88 Barry
    April 20, 2009

    Just give it a little more time. Evolutionary psychologists will eventually create a just so story that you like, and that a majority of you will accept. After all, what other option could you possibly have?

  89. #89 cicely
    April 20, 2009

    Kerry Maxwell @49:

    Because if it tasted like chocolate the laundry would never get done.

    …and men would be withered, dehydrated husks. Possibly with big, big smiles on their faces.

  90. #90 Hairhead
    April 20, 2009

    Naked Bunny, your technique wouldn’t work on me. Why? Well, for decades, after I have climaxed, I have gone down on my partner. I’ve tasted my come lots of times. What? Aren’t there any generous, considerate men here? (I’ll bet there are, but they just haven’t copped to everything that goes with cunnilingus.)

    Anyway. Fun thread. And, BTW, as a scientist, there is no such thing as TMI.

  91. #91 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    …and men would be withered, dehydrated husks. Possibly with big, big smiles on their faces.

    Sounds similar to the episode of Futurama with the large amazonian women: death by broken pelvis caused by “snoo-snoo.”

  92. #92 Hairhead
    April 20, 2009

    Zap Brannigan: “Ladies,ladies, spirit is willing but flesh is bruised, and spongy . . . ”

  93. #93 Flip van Tiel
    April 20, 2009

    Thus far the only meaningful comment on this issue is #48 (I have some doubts about #54). All others make me think that PZ is engaged in a little experiment, although it escapes me what he wants to find out. His point makes no sense, it isn’t funny and neither are any of the comments. And worse, none appears to have anything to do with evolution at all – biological or behavioral.
    What is the point? Perhaps, time to quit for a while to let PZ and the regular contributors to cool down a little and refocus? What a pity, really, but for some time now I have lived under the impression that something is not quite right. When even minor and trivial issues invite a response of several hundreds of replies, one is likely to get bored pretty quickly, especially if the comments turn out to become increasingly puerile (especially in this case) and off-target – a frequent and not seldom eventually pernicious phenomenon. PZ, please think again!

  94. #94 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Thus far the only meaningful comment on this issue is #48 (I have some doubts about #54). All others make me think that PZ is engaged in a little experiment, although it escapes me what he wants to find out. His point makes no sense, it isn’t funny and neither are any of the comments. And worse, none appears to have anything to do with evolution at all – biological or behavioral.
    What is the point? Perhaps, time to quit for a while to let PZ and the regular contributors to cool down a little and refocus? What a pity, really, but for some time now I have lived under the impression that something is not quite right. When even minor and trivial issues invite a response of several hundreds of replies, one is likely to get bored pretty quickly, especially if the comments turn out to become increasingly puerile (especially in this case) and off-target – a frequent and not seldom eventually pernicious phenomenon. PZ, please think again!

    How long since the humorectomy?

  95. #95 TMI
    April 20, 2009

    There are three groups, “spit”, “swallow”, and “hell no”. The breakdown in my experience is 40, 50, 10% respectively. I’m told that flavor varies widely even in the same person. A very experienced acquaintance of mine said that with some it was always good, and with some always bad, and others varied with what they ate. As for my own, I’m with Hairhead on that-though it is modified with her contribution. Here’s a poser for the psych evolution folks: present girlfriend has her own orgasms while performing oral sex. Reliably. Where would that fit in the scheme of things? And I’m keeping her, so forget it guys.

  96. #96 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    Does anyone else think the proper response to #94 is “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.”?

    Seriously, we’re just having some fun with the subject matter. PZ states,

    “It’s all deductively logical, but built on premises floating in thin air, with no empirical foundation at all?the usual flaw on which evolutionary psychology fails.”

    What do you want to see in the comments? A bunch of “You’re right, PZ. This is bunk” kind of quotes? Where’s the fun in that?

  97. #97 You
    April 20, 2009

    “Here’s a poser for the psych evolution folks: present girlfriend has her own orgasms while performing oral sex. Reliably. Where would that fit in the scheme of things? And I’m keeping her, so forget it guys.”

    I may as well be the first.

    *ahem*

    “Faked”.

  98. #98 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 20, 2009

    @97…No I don’t think that’s the proper response, only the typical one. Is it too much to ask on a science forum for some substantive conversation about this blog entry? I mean, I thought I responded to the post with somewhat of a rebuttal, and everyone just went on talking about cum swallowing. Well, as fun of a topic as that is, I had hoped that maybe a few more serious responses either to the entry or my rebuttal would’ve been entered.

  99. #99 Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    I’d say it tastes bad just because it doesn’t have to taste good. Piss doesn’t taste good, sap doesn’t taste good, blood doesn’t taste good, stomach acid really doesn’t taste good. Its just something created by our bodies for a purpose, one that’s far away from culinary.

  100. #100 Non Compost Mentis
    April 20, 2009

    @ 73

    Would “common courtesies” be something like “knock before entering”?

  101. #101 anonymous (this time)
    April 20, 2009

    I have always enjoyed the taste of semen. It reminds me of an excellent Brie cheese…

  102. #102 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    Is it too much to ask on a science forum for some substantive conversation about this blog entry?

    On an entry that was supposed to be humorous after PZ said all that needed to be said on the subject of trying to apply Coyne’s logic to the matter? Yes it is.

    There isn’t any substantive conversation to be gained on a subject of evolutionary philosophy as applied to seman flavor… it’s like having a “substantive conversation” about a 6,000 year old universe. It’s just not there.

    Enjoy the humor here (or leave and ignore it), and look for the “serious” science on a future post.

  103. #103 TMI
    April 20, 2009

    You:

    *ahem*

    “Faked”.

    Understandably skeptical-I would be (was) too. We were both pretty surprised the first time. Remember, the largest sex organ in the body is the brain, so psychology (the topic of this thread sorta) plays a big role. She’s not the only person I’ve heard make the claim-the other has never been involved with me.

  104. #104 Epikt
    April 20, 2009

    TMI:

    present girlfriend has her own orgasms while performing oral sex. Reliably. Where would that fit in the scheme of things?

    She has a very special uvula.

  105. #105 Mike in Ontario, NY
    April 20, 2009

    Flip @ 94:

    Your concern is noted. And laughed at.

  106. #106 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 20, 2009

    @103…Either you missed the point, or I did. I took the point to be that Evolutionary Psychology (not philosophy, btw) is premised on “thin air” and has “no empirical foundation at all”. The rest of the post, as I saw it, was just sarcasm denigrating the logic used by evolutionary psychologists. How exactly did you see it?

  107. #107 Inky
    April 20, 2009

    Variance is high between individuals. Swallowing can be tolerated when it’s mild, but quite honestly, if it’s strong, even the scent of that damn stuff makes me gag and have a headache when ingested. Be it psychological or not, I don’t care, those are the results.

    Then again, while we’re on the topic: what about how women taste? I’ve heard that there’s a wide variability there, too. From highly acidic (“actually hurt my tongue”) to faintly sweet.

    I’d say that the functionality of both fluids is independent of taste. But, more importantly, I’d say that the importance of semen “tastiness” is largely irrelevant because for most of history women didn’t really have that much of a choice. Most societies cordoned women off until they were sent off to mate–I mean, marry–and strong consequences were handed to those women that tried to increase their individual semen sample size.

  108. #108 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Then again, while we’re on the topic: what about how women taste? I’ve heard that there’s a wide variability there, too. From highly acidic (“actually hurt my tongue”) to faintly sweet.

    Some variability for sure but the most important determinant is, at least from what I can tell in my experience, cleanliness. A factor that may have some effect in male “taste” but has a HUGE factor in female “taste”.

  109. #109 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    a e crap

    affect

  110. #110 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 20, 2009

    @Hairhead #91:

    your technique wouldn’t work on me

    I’m not sure what you mean by “work”. I just tossed it out as an alternative to the spit/swallow dichotomy, not as some sort of punitive measure.

    Oh, and how the hell am I supposed to get any work done if you all keep me thinking about oral sex all day? Try having a substantive discussion about this substantive post, people! This is science! It’s not supposed to be fun!

  111. #111 blueelm
    April 20, 2009

    Flip van Tiel @ 94– I’m pretty sure this blog is about liberalism and religion as well as evolution. Personally I think people sharing some open info about sexuality from time to time is healthy, especially in a society that is so hung up on repression and control of other people’s sex lives. Sex is an area where religion’s loathings collide, and even a lot of research on sexuality is made more complex by our social stigmas. So really, I just don’t see the harm in people talking like this. At the end of all of these comments is a person some where in the world interacting with a machine. As far as I’m concerned these kinds of conversations remind me of that and make me chuckle a bit at some shared experiences.

  112. #112 TMI
    April 20, 2009

    Inky:

    Factors that seem to matter (sampled in a single individual and in multiple) :

    Diet-red meat or no seems to make a difference. Probably some other things. Chardonnay vs Red as a regular preference in one case.

    Hygiene-of course.

    Level of arousal, age, what part of their regular cycle you catch also seem figure into it.

  113. #113 eddie
    April 20, 2009

    “Why does human semen taste bad?”

    What? As opposed to horse semen?
    Because your priest is into ass2mouth?

    Any intelligent designer would, of course, have given women a second tongue..

  114. #114 PennyBright
    April 20, 2009

    The diet is a *huge* aspect of this, and there’s some degree of basic guy to guy variation as well. Same applies to women, although it seems to be a lot milder.

    I spent several years in an active poly community, and this was a regular topic of conversation, and study. We actually did some controlled experimentation to figure out what made which folks yummy/not yummy. Pineapple was an all around winner for guys, and milk turned out to be a big no-no -associated with bitter/sour tastes.

    For the women, spices seemed to really carry through — especially garlic. And there’s a definite difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian women. The veggie ladies seem “lighter” in taste, somehow. Really, though, we found out that deciding factor with women was more hygiene then anything else. Fresh = good, stale = bad.

    Of course, YMMV.

    And that “faintly acid”, hurt my tongue woman — probably some kind of douche — those can be pretty foul tasting, and frequently are mildly acidic (vinegar, usually).

  115. #115 Watchman
    April 20, 2009

    There’s potential for a whole industry to flower around the pursuit of these questions.

    Or to deflower, as it were.

  116. #116 mikecbraun
    April 20, 2009

    My question is, why would anyone even expect semen to taste anywhere close to pleasurable? Is there a reason we make the correlation that because something is issued during acts of love, sometimes involving the mouth, that it should therefore be yummy? Its function, biologically, is to impregnate. Why there should be an expectation of deliciousness is beyond me.

  117. #117 flaq
    April 20, 2009

    present girlfriend has her own orgasms while performing oral sex.

    She’s not the only person I’ve heard make the claim

    Wait… you mean there could be more than one woman out there who knows how to fake an orgasm? But that would mean that…

    Noooooooooooooooo!

  118. #118 mercurianferret
    April 20, 2009

    @111 – I concur. I’m having the damndest time trying to concentrate while thoughts of oral sex fly though my mind, and now that 108′s asked about the taste of women, I’m thinking about both the receiving and the giving.

    Aaaahh!! And I was supposed to be having a productive work-day!

  119. #119 Nangleator
    April 20, 2009

    #94: “Other people are enjoying themselves! Grrrrr!!”

  120. #120 Steve LaBonne
    April 20, 2009

    Aaaahh!! And I was supposed to be having a productive work-day!

    So then what were you doing here in the first place? ;)

  121. #121 Drosera
    April 20, 2009

    Perhaps we should ask the Hookers for Jesus.

  122. #122 Michael Fonda
    April 20, 2009

    Um, has anybody thought about conducting a survey of gay men to see what they think of the taste of sperm? If gay men like it and women don’t what would be the evolutionary significance of that?

    Yours in Ker-heist,
    Michael Fonda

  123. #123 Mike V
    April 20, 2009

    I often hear this type of thing as if it’s a damning argument argument against evolutionary psychology. While that might be a convenient claim, the simple solution is just to apply adequate tests/controls. To paraphrase someone famous whose identity I’ve forgotten, “evolutionary psychology is easy to do poorly.” Great. This doesn’t disprove evolutionary psychology; it just reinforces the need to do it well.

  124. #124 Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    #94: Thus far the only meaningful comment on this issue is #48 (I have some doubts about #54).

    As the author of #54, let me assure you it was meant fully tongue-in-cheek. Oh wait, that’s a different sex act.

  125. #125 Steve LaBonne
    April 20, 2009

    While that might be a convenient claim, the simple solution is just to apply adequate tests/controls.

    If only it were that simple. But the most common problem in evo psych- as pointed out by Coyne- is the prevalence of untestable hypotheses. Which are fun for bullshitting at the bar after work, but not so useful for doing science.

  126. #126 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 20, 2009

    So then what were you doing here in the first place?

    Foreplay, as it turned out. o.o;;

    *watches the clock*

  127. #127 Glenn
    April 20, 2009

    Oops, #125 was me, I swear.

  128. #128 eddie
    April 20, 2009

    Back when new scientist was OK, they had this story;

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17823971.900-we-hear-that.html

    In which two studies showed a link between i) male attractiveness and semen quality and ii) female attractiveness and voice quality.

    The conclusion seems to be that semen was good for a woman’s voice. An example of putting 2 and 2 together to make 69.

  129. #129 mercurianferret
    April 20, 2009

    @ 131:

    So then what were you doing here in the first place?

    I was – originally – taking a short break from writing. Now, I’m taking another short break from taking a short break from writing. :P

  130. #130 tim Rowledge
    April 20, 2009

    I’ve had girlfriends whose response to both activities ranged from “Yuck, no” to “Wow! Do it again!”, including one that liked both at the same time, requiring the help of an assistant.

    It’s all a matter of taste. ;-)

  131. #131 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    Um, has anybody thought about conducting a survey of gay men to see what they think of the taste of sperm? If gay men like it and women don’t what would be the evolutionary significance of that?

    Yes. I suggested that they ask Ted Haggard. He would know.

  132. #132 Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    PINEAPPLE HELPS TO CHANGE THE TASTE OF A SEMEN.

  133. #133 Glenn
    April 20, 2009

    PINEAPPLE HELPS TO CHANGE THE TASTE OF A SEMEN.

    Yeah, but it’s hard to give a blowjob with pineapple chunks in your mouth.

  134. #134 Peter Ashby
    April 20, 2009

    this thread reminds me of the lecture in 3rd year Physiology where in one fell swoop we did:

    -Coughing, hiccuping and vomiting
    -Urinating
    -Defecating
    -Erectile tissue
    -Clmaxing

    The control of and physiological event sequencing of.

    We had a good lecturer for that one and it was great fun. Must have been for me to remember it from 23 years ago . . .

  135. #135 KemaTheAtheist
    April 20, 2009

    @107

    @103…Either you missed the point, or I did. I took the point to be that Evolutionary Psychology (not philosophy, btw) is premised on “thin air” and has “no empirical foundation at all”. The rest of the post, as I saw it, was just sarcasm denigrating the logic used by evolutionary psychologists. How exactly did you see it?

    I know it said “psychology” and not “philosophy.” I called it philosophy on purpose as a joke because of the statement “built on premises floating in thin air, with no empirical foundation at all.” I feel is much more descriptive of a philosophic point of view than a psychological one.

    I see this post as humorous… hence why the subject is labeled as both “evolution” andweirdness.”

    It wasn’t meant to spark a serious discussion because the entire premise that the flavor of semen or the fluids of the female counterpart is simply asinine… again as stated by PZ when he said, “It’s all deductively logical, but built on premises floating in thin air, with no empirical foundation at all?the usual flaw on which evolutionary psychology fails” is pretty much the end of any argument you could make about the taste and sexual fluids.

    So, please, sit back, take a load off, enjoy an “indecent,” conversation, make a joke using some double entendre (did I spell that right?), and quit being so uptight. Everyone else here is joking about oral sex, and you actually want to have an asinine discussion about the asinine psychological premises.

    As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Unless you have the power to reach through the screen and beat someone (be sure to ask their permission first or that’s sexual assault), either you’ll just have to keep quiet and just beat yourself (or if you’re into whips maybe ask Naked Bunny for some help, though I expect with whips it would be anything but quiet…), or join in the conversation that everyone else is enjoying.

  136. #136 Somnolent Aphid
    April 20, 2009

    damn now i’m going to get turned on every time I think of pineapple. damn you pharyngulites. damn you all…

    oh… hmmm… pineapple bacon…

  137. #137 Somnolent Aphid
    April 20, 2009

    Hey Peter Ashby – you must have gone to Northwestern.

  138. #138 Kraid
    April 20, 2009

    “Shouldn’t most women find anal sex extremely distasteful and unpleasurable?”

    Shouldn’t most men too?

    Not necessarily. Men have a prostate that can be stimulated that way.

  139. #139 Heatherly
    April 20, 2009

    Glenn @ #134:

    Thank you, I needed that laugh today! :)

  140. #140 aratina cage
    April 20, 2009

    There are three groups, “spit”, “swallow”, and “hell no”. The breakdown in my experience is 40, 50, 10% respectively.

    Don’t forget “snowball.”

  141. #141 Derrick
    April 20, 2009

    I feel it’s more parsimonious to simply look at it like this.
    1–Semen has a (staggeringly complex) job to do, none of which entails tasting good.
    2–There are many more ways something can taste bad than to taste good.
    3–The dexterity for fellatio is pretty much an exaptation of the muscles and nerves used for speech, which is a very recent trait to have evolved.

    With no selection pressure towards bad or good, we would expect bad. Selection pressure, for or against good taste, is relatively recent, so I wouldn’t expect it to have moved very far on this front in either direction.

  142. #142 Tulse
    April 20, 2009

    She has a very special uvula

    I saw a documentary about this condition.

    sap doesn’t taste good

    You’re definitely not from Canada (or Vermont).

  143. #143 Somnolent Aphid
    April 20, 2009

    Hey, if it smelled like flowers you’d have bees buzzing around it all day, and wouldn’t that be distracting?

  144. #144 'Tis Himself
    April 20, 2009

    flaq #118

    Wait… you mean there could be more than one woman out there who knows how to fake an orgasm? But that would mean that…

    Noooooooooooooooo!

    Remember, there are four types of female orgasm:

    1. The religious orgasm: “Oh god oh god oh god!”

    2. The positive orgasm: “Yes yes yes YES!”

    3. The negative orgasm: “No no no don’t stop no no!”

    4. The false orgasm: “Oh flaq oh flaq….”

  145. #145 RobertDW
    April 20, 2009

    There’s an old joke about the perceived taste of semen.

    The punchline is that the location of your taste buds is important as well.

  146. #146 Aquaria
    April 20, 2009

    damn now i’m going to get turned on every time I think of pineapple. damn you pharyngulites. damn you all…

    oh… hmmm… pineapple bacon…

    A great appetizer, by the way. Try it sometime, and after dinner you might–

    Well. We’ll leave that up to you.

    I’m in the “taste bad” camp, unless something is done to change it (pineapple does help), and I rather resent being considered brainwashed into thinking I’m shameful or dirty about sex just because I do not like the taste of semen. It just tastes bad, like turnips taste bad to me. Or radishes. Blech. Some of us just have the taste buds that don’t like certain things. Heck, I don’t like the taste of potatoes–how’s that for weird?

    My taste system doesn’t stop me from giving oral sex, something I enjoy doing. But often it was either deep throat it or not get mad when I spit it out immediately. Most guys seemed to go for the deep throating it. Not a difficult skill for me to learn, everyone’s happy. Someone up thread pointed out that not all guys can reach. Let’s say I never had to worry about that. Life is too short to waste it on someone who can’t even reach the accelerator.

    Anyway, nobody would get mad if I spat out poison. Or turnip juice. Or sour milk (something semen often tastes like with guys who drink lots of milk or beer). Don’t take your dick stuff so personally.

  147. #147 Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    @70

    How’s that for a pick-up line?

  148. #148 Ron Sullivan
    April 20, 2009

    Illustrative examples exist to counter or supplement, in a just-so fashion, anything mentioned so far:

    Someone’s already mentioned Serious Cheese, which is right up there with bacon IMO.

    Smell like flowers? Amorphophallus titanum, Stapelia spp., and for you size queens, Rafflesia whatevertheheck, the world’s largest flower.

    Shriveled happy husks? Male anglerfish.

    Et cetera. Are they “successful” species? Well hell, they don’t even have to wear pants.

  149. #149 Nils Ross
    April 20, 2009

    So, if I apply Coyne’s reasoning to what God thinks about Cunnilingus, I reach the suggestion that God wants us to do it because it tastes pretty good down there.

  150. #150 eddie
    April 20, 2009

    Re Aquaria @147;

    “Or sour milk (something semen often tastes like with guys who drink lots of milk or beer).”

    Note to self – I need to stop with the cafe latte.

  151. #151 Michael W Simpson
    April 20, 2009

    So, if PZ hasn’t done enough to piss of the religious right, he found a whole new level to taunt them. I’m pretty certain there was a Sex and the City episode about this topic. It probably wasn’t as scientific as Coyne’s treatise on the subject.

  152. #152 Tristan
    April 20, 2009

    A recent study found an inverse correlation between how attractive women found the smell of a man’s armpit sweat, and how similar their major histocompatibility complex (MHC) was to that man’s. The reasoning was that a bigger difference in MHCs between parents leads to offspring with a more well-rounded immune system – thus, we’ve evolved to be attracted to differences in this case.

    A study looking for a similar relationship with the taste of semen would be interesting, but very difficult to set up.

  153. #153 Scott Hatfield, OM
    April 20, 2009

    (sigh)

    It’s all deductively logical, but built on premises floating in thin air, with no empirical foundation at all?the usual flaw on which evolutionary psychology fails.

    Actually, PZ, it’s the flaw upon which ANY sort of adaptationist explanation unconnected to experiment typically fails. Are your spandrels showing? The idea is to generate hypotheses that can be tested. As long as we don’t treat these ideas too seriously up front, speculation is useful.

    And, frankly, the presumption of selection for some function seems to be a more fruitful research strategy than the presumption that such-and-such is a spandrel. Did Gould realize that, from a functional perspective, his proposal that ‘such-and-such a feature is merely a contingent fact of history’ is difficult to distinguish from ‘goddidit’? So I definitely prefer starting with the premise that a structure has a function, and that human behavior might be amenable to such explanations. Doesn’t mean I’m right: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar….:)

  154. #154 Ichthyic
    April 20, 2009

    Selection pressure, for or against good taste, is relatively recent, so I wouldn’t expect it to have moved very far on this front in either direction.

    all of this discussion about the actual composition, chemically, of semen to alter its taste is irrelevant.

    think about honey and why it tastes good to us.

    It’s the SENSE of taste that evolves, not the chemical constituents of honey. Otherwise, you’d have to put up the very silly hypothesis that for some reason, bees were making honey taste good to everything that wants to eat it.

    If there were any selective pressure for humans to think semen tasted good, it would, regardless of the chemical composition.

  155. #155 Alex Deam
    April 20, 2009

    Evolutionary pressures would explain why my jaw gets stiff after providing oral stimulation for too long, but not why my opposable digits are so well suited for curving around a penis.

    God wants us to masturbate?

  156. #156 Tristan
    April 20, 2009

    Another point I’ve noticed with oral sex vs. vaginal sex is that it’s really not an either/or situation. After the latter, there’s usually a significant “down time” before I’m ready to go again. If there’s fellatio involved first, not only is there no down-time, but the subsequent vaginal sex generally turns out much, much better for both parties.

  157. #157 Ichthyic
    April 20, 2009

    damn now i’m going to get turned on every time I think of pineapple. damn you pharyngulites. damn you all…

    hmm, that might explain my current SO’s sudden rise in interest in having me make pi˝a coladas for desert so often…

    or maybe it’s just to counter the taste of all that bacon.

    :p

  158. #158 Ichthyic
    April 20, 2009

    God wants us to masturbate?

    no, no.

    God wants us to eat bananas.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGMuIyBK5P4

  159. #159 Ichthyic
    April 20, 2009

    doh!

    should have checked the actual link you provided.
    :P

  160. #160 Mark Kernes
    April 20, 2009

    I work in the porn industry. All the performers will tell you that the taste of semen depends on what you’ve eaten in the last day or so. Beer, apparently, makes it taste sour; pineapple sweetens it. Other foods have other effects.

  161. #161 Krystalline Apostate
    April 20, 2009

    I’ve always maintained that there should be a market for pills that change the taste of semen.
    Kinda like edible panties.
    Then you could have a kind of Baskins Robbins 37 flavors, & girlfriends telling their guys, “Oh, so you think you’re getting THAT tonite, do you?”

  162. #162 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 20, 2009

    So I should get my girlfriend pineapple-flavored edible undies, and them make sure I eat them a couple days before sex?

    This is so confusing! I need a day-planner.

  163. #163 Alex Deam
    April 20, 2009

    doh!

    should have checked the actual link you provided.
    :P

    Lol! To be fair though, the vid you linked to was a better version than the one I linked to. Stupid Google.

  164. #164 KWombles
    April 20, 2009

    Aww, come on. Here I’ve gone and read all these responses and I have that taste in my mouth! :-)

  165. #165 Pankaj Singh
    April 20, 2009

    For the first time, my girlfriend was actually interested in reading pharyngula with me!
    Thanks Dr. Myers, :)…..you made my day

  166. #166 mr.ed
    April 20, 2009

    Golly gee, when I saw the headline, I thought baseball. Then the name Hungry Helen “came” to mind.

  167. #167 Sutton
    April 20, 2009

    I guess this is where I should bring up vagina dentata?

    Damn. You beat me to it.

  168. #168 John Scanlon FCD
    April 20, 2009

    Someone saidThere are many more ways something can taste bad than to taste goodwhich is fine as a humorous paraphrase of Richard Dawkins, but now think about it: rilly? I think the opposite is the case. Something tasting ‘bad’ means that it elicits avoidance: not much information is received, just a turn-off. Medical diagnosticians, vulcanologists, soil scientists and field taxonomists use taste and smell to distinguish things that they don’t plan on eating, but that don’t just ‘taste bad’; but the vocabulary of taste and smell used to describe wines, cheeses, and all the other things that are good to eat is much larger (at least, there are many more ways to describe something tasting good than tasting bad). Professional tasters spit when they’re on the clock, but it’s an option at other times too.

  169. #169 SocraticGadfly
    April 20, 2009

    All we need to do now is hook Coyne up with Randy Thornhill and produce “The Evolutionary History of Fellatio.”

    Other thoughts…

    It’s OK to be salty as long as it’s caviar?

    Reminds me of an old Mad Magazine six-photo joke, where it looks like a guy, who you think is naked, is trying to get the young woman to “service” him, until…

    In the last panel, he’s trying to get her to eat oysters raw.

    More seriously, folks like Coyne give ev psych, or Pop Ev Psych to be proper, such a bad name that it’s a good name.

  170. #170 Hank Roberts
    April 20, 2009

    DOI 10.1023/A:1015257004839
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/wrkl9lc5ueu43rh8/

    Semen acts as an anti-depressant – 26 June 2002 – New Scientist
    The question many people will ask is whether oral sex could have the same mood-enhancing … So seminal fluid delivers chemicals that cause happy feelings, …
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2457-semen-acts-as-an-antidepressant.html

  171. #171 chuckgoecke
    April 20, 2009

    Around or somewhat before that article Hank referred to, there was a fake CNN formatted article that went something like that they had discovered that swallowing semen can greatly reduce the rate of breast cancer. The depression thing is true, BTW. Given that releasing all that pent-up semen also significantly reduces the occurrence of prostrate cancer(also true-personal experience here) and since one one has ever proven that swallowing semen does not help prevent breast cancer, why not just assume it does reduce breast cancer, a little at least, in ones future endeavors.

  172. #172 BeccaTheCyborg
    April 20, 2009

    It’s pretty agreed on that semen tastes different from person to person, and even day to day depending on things like diet. So why hassle the people who just don’t like the taste in general? Tastes vary in more ways than one.

    Diet really makes a difference for either gender. Both partners remarked positively after I went vegetarian. Some partners I’ve had have been tasty, some very much not.

    And as far as the debate over women having orgasms while giving oral sex? It’s possible. *raises hand* Not to mention, people can come from anal stimulation, nipple stimulation, tickling, and, in one interesting anecdote I recently heard, from the little hammers used to test reflexes. Or from being frightened in just the right way, if you want something completely psychological.

    Excellent post, PZ.

  173. #173 Marcie Dietrich
    April 21, 2009

    It tastes fine to me.

  174. #174 Tanuki
    April 21, 2009

    A quick study shows that the majority of those in this comments section who claim to not dislike the taste of semen self-identify as male. Sure, it’s not a controlled study, and it’s most definitely a nonrandom, self-selected, sample of the population. But it does lead one to wonder…

  175. #175 The Mad LOLScientist, FCD
    April 21, 2009

    @ #85: OK, I was being over-the-top with the “spit it in his face” line… (chalk it up to how grossed-out I get by the whole business – I’m the one who barfed, remember?) But I do think sometimes that guys who get too insistent need a taste of their own medicine, as it were, so they know what they’re asking for. I’ve been told that a nice big sloppy extra-wet smooch immediately afterward will do the trick without seeming “mean.” (Gee, honey… [innocent look] I just wanted to share… Let’s go hop in the shower and get us both cleaned up… [lather, rinse, repeat]…)

    Oops, now I’m gonna get kicked out of the XX’s Union for blabbing a Deep Dark Guild Secret. Oh well…. ;-)

    By me, it’s not sexist. If I seem to be picking on men, it’s just that men are sloppier. Either partner in any relationship ought to be able to say “Not the face [or whatever]!” and let that be that. No arguing, no nagging, no sulking. No one has a right to expect their partner to do something they themselves wouldn’t do – or conversely, to resort to the “you should do it to me because I do it to you” bull$#!+. It’s called mutual respect – and anyway, there are plenty of other ways to have fun without grossing anyone out.

    My 2 brass farthings’ worth. But wotthehell do I know? At 55, I’ve been happily unattached for 5 years and don’t even feel like dating, much less hopping into the sack with anyone. Life is a lot less complicated this way. YMMV; AWYSB.

  176. #176 Azkyroth
    April 21, 2009

    A quick study shows that the majority of those in this comments section who claim to not dislike the taste of semen self-identify as male.

    That’s news to me. How did you determine that?

  177. #177 Azkyroth
    April 21, 2009

    No one has a right to expect their partner to do something they themselves wouldn’t do

    True.

    – or conversely, to resort to the “you should do it to me because I do it to you” bull$#!+. It’s called mutual respect

    I’m having a little difficulty reconciling these two clauses.

  178. #178 Jake
    April 21, 2009

    An alternative adaptation would be for women to develop the ability to become pregnant by way of their stomach. You need to think outside the box.

    Oh ho ho. You truly are master of the double entendre.

    -=clap=-

    -=clap=-

  179. #179 Mary
    April 21, 2009

    Its probably too late to get a response to this question, but can anyone lead me in the direction of a couple of good books, or academics/articles that are critical of evopsych?

    My instinct tells me that it’s ‘on the nose’ – it seems to be a very deterministic theory that is based on next to nothing – but I know of very few arguments against it, even though there seems to be a large community that is sceptical of evopsych.

    Any advice would be much appreciated!

  180. #180 rasp
    April 21, 2009

    Years of knowing.

    Tastes awful if you drink lots of beer.
    Tastes OK if you find a spirit or liqueur that suits.
    Tastes fantastic after Indian food.
    Always good after French Champagne.
    Best after strawberries and mango.

    Awful after beer no bullshit

  181. #181 Rorschach
    April 21, 2009

    @ 173,

    Not to mention, people can come from anal stimulation(check), nipple stimulation(check), tickling(check), and, in one interesting anecdote I recently heard, from the little hammers used to test reflexes(say what???).

  182. #182 nat
    April 21, 2009

    #173 : and just by dreaming, especially when pregnant…

  183. #183 Rorschach
    April 21, 2009

    and just by dreaming, especially when pregnant…

    Ahem.
    That reminds me.
    ex g/f used to be able to orgasm on the snip of a finger,no stimulation needed.Them were the good ol’ days….:-) Had a sensitive uvula too,but we worked around it lol
    Ok,TMI I guess…

  184. #184 Anonymous
    April 21, 2009

    Since wrenching my shoulder a week or so ago I have been on regular painkillers (Ibuprofen and Codeine mostly). I have it on reliable uxorial authority that semen tasted sweeter than usual.

  185. #185 Samphire
    April 21, 2009

    “present girlfriend has her own orgasms while performing oral sex.”

    Perhaps she could have another one for me while she is at it. I am rather busy at the moment.

  186. #186 blueelm
    April 21, 2009

    And as far as the debate over women having orgasms while giving oral sex? It’s possible. *raises hand* Not to mention, people can come from anal stimulation, nipple stimulation, tickling, and, in one interesting anecdote I recently heard, from the little hammers used to test reflexes. Or from being frightened in just the right way, if you want something completely psychological.

    Not downplaying the psychological (there was an anti-depressant that triggered orgasms in somme patients), but don’t forget that some women can have orgasms from muscle contractions in the groin/hip flexors/ abs etc because they stimulate the same nerves you’re after with a finger. Things that triggered those contrctions, or the proper movement while giving oral could also account. Finding these things out for yourself can lead to amazing fun :P

  187. #187 Open Wide
    April 21, 2009

    Umm…am I missing something here? Neither spitting or swallowing is an effective way to avoid the taste, making the taste the most irrelevant factor in the decision to spit or to swallow. A more relevant factor would be whose side of the bed you’re in. Or whose car.

  188. #188 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 21, 2009

    A more relevant factor would be whose side of the bed you’re in. Or whose car.

    Or behind whose dumpster in whose back alley

    wait

    was that out loud?

  189. #189 cicely
    April 21, 2009

    Glenn @ 34:

    Yeah, but it’s hard to give a blowjob with pineapple chunks in your mouth.

    Leaving you blowing chunks?

    *runs away laughing*

  190. #190 Anon
    April 21, 2009

    It’s known to be problematic

  191. #191 SocraticGadfly
    April 21, 2009

    @ Mary @180 — Anything by Richard Buller is good..

  192. #192 Watchman
    April 21, 2009

    Let’s ask Scarlett Galabekian what she thinks.

  193. #193 Tim
    April 21, 2009

    If taste has something to do with the prevalence of oral sex, and if diet influences the taste either positively or negatively, then this could be tested by polling individuals in different cultures on their oral sex behaviour and correlate it with diet. If one culture eats a lot of pineapple, say, and another a lot of asparagus or pungent curries, then perhaps this could be a predictor of oral sex frequency. And hey, there’d only be about a million other confounding to account for (like a diet high in pungent curries might not mind curry-flavour semen), but that’s no barrier to a true evolutionary psychologist!

  194. #194 fyngyrz
    April 22, 2009

    It’s kind of fascinating to me that none of the fellows here seem to be hooked up with a person who finishes fellatio with a deep throating. Nor do I see any of the ladies mentioning it. With such an ending technique, very little semen ends up on the taste buds. This is a very pleasurable method, both easily learned and easily performed.

    Another thing I didn’t see mentioned is that for both ladies and gentlemen, various lubes or food substances (diced strawberries and whipped cream, for instance) applied during sex will go quite a distance towards addressing taste issues, presuming only that the participants were clean in the first place.

  195. #195 Ichthyic
    April 22, 2009

    All we need to do now is hook Coyne up with Randy Thornhill and produce “The Evolutionary History of Fellatio.”

    hmm, that reminds me.

    Here’s a book that the perusers of this thread might be interested in:

    http://www.amazon.com/Bonk-Curious-Coupling-Science-Sex/dp/0393064646

    definitely worth a read.

  196. #196 Pikemann Urge
    April 22, 2009

    Well psychology itself can be trite and useless on occasion. Evo-psych can be much more so. I am sure though that there is something valid about it.

  197. #197 blueelm
    April 22, 2009

    It’s kind of fascinating to me that none of the fellows here seem to be hooked up with a person who finishes fellatio with a deep throating. Nor do I see any of the ladies mentioning it. With such an ending technique, very little semen ends up on the taste buds. This is a very pleasurable method, both easily learned and easily performed.

    Really! I find it horribly painful, often resulting in bruising and bleeding in the back of my throat. Maybe what I understand this to mean and what others do is different. But the times I have done this (my SO had a real thing for it) I was unable to sing for a couple days after, not to mention feeling like you’re going to be killed and the occasional puke that works it’s way up into the nose in the brief gasping interims. I’ll leave it to the porn stars.

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