Jesse Michael Bering
May 6, 1975
Jesse Michael Bering (born 6 May 1975) is an American psychologist, writer, and academic. He is Associate Professor in Science Communication at the University of Otago (where he serves as Director of the Centre for Science Communication), as well as a frequent contributor to Scientific American, Slate, and Das Magazin (Switzerland). His work has also appeared in New York Magazine, The Guardian, and The New Republic, and has been featured on NPR, the BBC, Playboy Radio and elsewhere.
Bering was born in 1975 in New Jersey, the son of a secular Jewish mother and a non-religious Lutheran father. He attended graduate school at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his MA degree (1999) under Daniel J. Povinelli. He then transferred to Florida Atlantic University, where he obtained a PhD in developmental psychology (2002). His doctoral advisor was the David F. Bjorklund. Bering's formal academic research is in the area of the cognitive science of religion.
Bering is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University Belfast and began his career as a psychology professor at the University of Arkansas. After a period as a full-time writer and professor at Wells College, he took up a science communication post at the University of Otago in 2014.
Bering is notable for his frank and humorous handling of controversial issues in psychological science, especially those dealing with human sexuality. His Scientific American blog, Bering in Mind, was named a 2010 Webby Award Honoree for the Blog-Cultural category by members of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. He also received the 2010 "Scientist of the Year Award" from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP), an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He is also a Project Partner in the Oxford University-based 'Explaining Religion' project, a three-year, €2 million project funded by the European Commission.
In his book Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us he argues that paraphilias (so-called "sexual perversions" or "deviancies") should be viewed objectively and judged by the harm they cause, not by moral disgust. His account, in a somewhat light-hearted manner, includes anecdotes of his own experiences as a gay teenager.