Book Review: Testosterone Rex

twitterlogoBRBook review by Mary Manning.

Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society (W.W. Norton, 2017) presents a premise that is bold in both its ambition and its execution.  Testosterone Rex is Fine’s shorthand for the set of scientific premises of the brain, hormones, and other bodily phenomena that have been used to justify or excuse masculine behavior and undermine equality between the sexes. With a Ph.D. in Psychology and a professorship at the University of Melbourne, Fine’s academic credentials are strong, and this is her third science book for mainstream audiences.  Her humor and her ability to distill complicated scientific studies into prose for non-specialist readers makes this book an important foray into unpacking the actual science of gender as opposed to the preconceptions that have accumulated over time in our society.

30231724Fine divides Testosterone Rex into “Past,” “Present,” and “Future,” with the intent to chart scientific perceptions of gender over time.  She begins by showing how, in the past, science predicated on incomplete data suggested a definite split in gendered behavior.  For example, Angus Bateman’s 1940s studies on sexual selection using fruit flies supposedly demonstrated that male reproductive success increased with promiscuity.  Yet Fine demonstrates that Bateman selectively interpreted the data he gained by breeding the fruit flies, and had thus obscured the notion of female agency in reproduction.  The “Past” section continues by arguing for the flexibility of human behavior against the stereotypes of men, able and willing to pursue any and all sexual encounters, and women, more cautious about their coupling because of the high risk of choosing a poor mate.   Continue reading “Book Review: Testosterone Rex”

CFP: Sickness and Health in the Era of Trump

This Monday — August 7th, 2017 — marked the 200th day of the Trump administration. Since January we have seen the steady erosion (chronicled by Amy Siskind and Matt Kiser among others) of our national — and international — well-being under the destructive leadership of a GOP-led federal government. We have also seen citizens and residents in all corners of our nation mounting a steady resistance against the erosion of progress made under the Obama administration. Progress toward better access to healthcare, environmental sustainability, deescalation of violence, and the recognition of human rights for all people living within and without our national borders.

Here at MedHum | Daily Dose we would like to hear from our readers about how your lives, your communities, and your research has changed since inauguration day. Do you have an idea for a post? Please send us a brief pitch — two or three sentences — to our series editor Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook at We look forward to hearing from you.

Editor-in-Chief Journal of Medical Ethics

The Institute of Medical Ethics and BMJ are looking for the next Editor-in-Chief who can continue to shape the Journal of Medical Ethics into a dynamic resource for a rapidly evolving field. Candidates should be active in the field, keen to facilitate international perspectives and maintain an awareness of trends and hot topics. The successful candidate will act as an ambassador for the journal supporting both pioneering authors and academics publishing their first papers. The candidate will also actively promote and strengthen the journal whilst upholding the highest ethical standards of professional practice. The editor will work with IME to promote research and scholarship in medical ethics and attend IME board meetings regularly.

International and joint applications are welcomed. Interviews will be held in December 2017. Term of office is five years; the role will take 12-15 hours a week. Contact Richard Sands ( for more information and to apply with your CV and cover letter outlining your interest and your vision for the future development of the journal.

Application deadline: 31 October 2017; Interviews: December 2017

Start date: 1 June 2018 (handover from February 2018)

About Journal of Medical Ethics

Journal of Medical Ethics launched in 1975 and has since become a leading international journal that reflects the whole field of medical ethics. Publishing Original Research, Extended Essays, Current Controversies, Feature articles, Review articles and more, the journal is relevant to health care professionals, members of clinical ethics committees, medical ethics professionals, researchers and bioscientists, policy makers and patients.

The journal regularly publishes special collections on current hot topics and key conversations in the field including: Circumcision, DSM-5, Stem cell derived gametes and Withholding artificial nutrition & hydration.

Journal of Medical Ethics also offers an interactive blog with analytical discussions from various scholars and regular updates on @JME_BMJ further contributing to the latest debate and dialogue.

Being an Editor for a BMJ Journal

As Editor of Journal of Medical Ethics you will benefit from the following:

  • Competitive Annual Honorarium
  • Free online subscription to the journal for you and your Editorial Team
  • Access to exclusive BMJ content, including The BMJ and BMJ Learning
  • Full training and support; from publishing processes to social media
  • The chance to shape the field and play a role in the development of the field
  • Have a positive effect on the careers of fellow researchers
  • Interact with the latest research from all over the world

About the Institute of Medical Ethics and BMJ

Journal of Medical Ethics is co-owned by the Institute of Medical Ethics and BMJ. IME is a charitable organisation dedicated to improving education and debate in medical ethics. BMJ advances healthcare worldwide by sharing knowledge and expertise to improve experiences and outcomes.

Book Review: Phenomenology of Illness

twitterlogoBRReview by Niclas Hundahl.

When we think about the human body, what role does illness play? Should it be awarded only minor attention, given that it can be considered an “irregular” state, something that is out of the ordinary? No, argues Havi Carel in Phenomenology of Illness (Oxford University Press, 2016), we must study illness and the particular embodied experience it brings to those who fall ill. For “the experience of illness is a universal and substantial part of human existence” (1). She makes a distinction between disease, the scientific understanding of physiological dysfunction, and illness, how disease is experienced by the individual.  

30211747Havi Carel is professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol. Having examined illness in much of her previous research, she wanted to bring the full force of phenomenology to bear on the concept, because scientific inquiry is not enough. To fully understand illness, we must see and examine it as lived experience. And what better method to use than phenomenology, the philosophy method most specialized in studying lived experience. Carel focuses on severe, chronic and life-changing ill health, because these have the ability to permanently change how we experience the world, and therefore can reveal much about how we experience the world before illness. Continue reading “Book Review: Phenomenology of Illness”