CRITICISM of Sperm Wars

(for praise instead, click here )
New criticisms will be added as found

From Professional Critics

Wikipedia entry for Sperm Wars (as on 25 March 2011)

The book is controversial, both because of its explanations of homosexuality, rape and prostitution, and because several of the hypotheses in the book are not supported by scientific research. … A major focus of the book is a supposed sperm heteromorphism in humans … However, this literal sperm warfare … is considered discredited. … He theorizes about how the timing of orgasm can affect fertility … Other studies have found no connection to sperm transport or fertility. The book has drawn criticism for its portrayal of rape and “rough -and-tumble intercourse” as essentially the same thing … Regarding sexual orientation he states that only 6% of the male population engages in any sort of homosexual behaviour in their lifetime and that 80% of those also have sex with women … Although studies show that bisexual men actually have fewer children than heterosexuals, he maintains that it is still an evolutionary advantage since the children are typically conceived earlier in life. (Anon.)

Times Higher Education Supplement (2 August 1996)

For some readers, disbelief will set in at the start. Others, who grant some influence of evolution on behaviour, will get through quite a few chapters. Only readers with a deeply impoverished view of their fellow humans will stay with Baker to the end. (Jon Turney)

Time Out (10 April 1996)

… Mere bags of plumbing, human beings are portrayed as lacking love, loyalty or morality. Baker needs to show us lots more proof.(Sid Smith)

Venue (29 March 1996)

Entering Dr Baker’s rigidly Darwinist world where free will is a virtually alien concept, is a fascinating if disorienting and often depressing experience. … His brand of reductive logic also seems a little flimsy when dealing with such reproductively aberrant behaviour as homosexuality, bisexuality, prostitution and rape … His assertion that such is the success of this strategy that we all have a rapist in our recent ancestry is by far the most chilling message in a book which manages to be both engrossing and repellent, often simultaneously. (Robin Askew)

New Scientist (17 February 1996)

As Robin Baker probes the innermost recesses of human space in Sperm Wars … a fantasy unfolds. Like all good fantasies it contains enough of the truth to make it convincing, but we must still remember where we are. … as with other life forms, we are programmed to reproduce. What makes us unique is the ability to decide when and when not to. For Baker, however, consciousness merely gives us the illusion of control… While there is no doubt that Baker’s explanations are ingenious and sometimes convincing, the truth is that these are ideas, not facts. Most of these ideas have not been subjected to rigorous scrutiny and those that have, failed to hold up. His “killer sperm”, for example, have been repeatedly squashed… many readers … will treat this book for what it is, a rough guide to infidelity. (Tim Birkhead)

Times (10 February 1996)

It is not the author’s fault that he is an evolutionary biologist … Sperm Wars … not only takes the poetry out of love, it even takes the lyricism out of lust… Darwinian science when applied to human beings can smack of a clinical, rather Hitlerian detachment … I have rarely found sex so depressing … (Ginny Dougary)

New Statesman & Society (9 February 1996)

… you won’t find much in the way of substantiated argument … Singlehandedly, he has pioneered a whole new genre: soft-porn spiced with potted neo-Darwinism … To be fair, Baker does his best to give both sexes equal time. Penises thrust a lot … but cervical mucus has a starring role too. (Gail Vines)

Daily Express (8 February 1996)

Only a man would claim that women are less faithful. … There are some near pornographic scenarios in the book. Arousing to read, I’m assured by one man … (Marcelle d’Argy Smith)

Irish Times (5 February 1996)

… what readers will actually remember … are the inventive new excuses which Baker offers to unfaithful spouses. … A more depressing view of human relationships you will never read. (Kathryn Holmquist)

Mail on Sunday (4 February 1996)

The real problem I have … is that it suggests a thoroughly mechanistic view of sex. … (his) relentless biological deterministic view of sexual relations leads into bleaker and even more morally dubious waters when it comes to rape. He does not seek to excuse or extenuate rape. However, by removing any sex act from its emotional, social or moral contexts … you diminish those contexts to a point where they cease to be of any influence at all … (Matthew Fort)

Daily Express (26 January 1996)

… new academic book with a smutty title … (Jim Parton)

From General Readers

Andreas Gryphius (27 December 2010)

Fantasy and Lies – NOT Science! A book named after something that doesn’t even exist. There’s a reason why the author of this fantasy book avoids citations (no, it’s not the reason the author gives in his book). It’s the same reason why the original subtitle “The Science of Sex” was changed: this book is NOT based on science at all. It’s based on the author’s fantasy. Robin Baker is a mediocre scientist (at best) – he’s even worse as a fantasy author. (

Abe (16 October 2010)

… But other parts are definitely false, like the idea of sperm literally fighting each other, which has been disproved. He doesn’t provide references for anything, so it’s difficult to tell which parts are based in fact and which are just his unjustified speculation. (

Elizabeth Pearson (11 June 2009)

Tabloid science illustrated by made for TV dramas Some interesting ideas, some foolish ideas. A lot of male paranoia about cuckolding…The mating mind is a much better book – it approaches similar topics but in a more balanced and less sensational way (

Leslie Gapter (2 April 2008)

Although I absolutely LOVE this book, don’t waste your money on this version. This version is poor quality (apart from the cover), and an obvious photocopy of the original work. The lack of copyright page is unsettling, and the cost of this book is almost DOUBLE that of the newer 2006 version. ( – click here for an explanation

Katy, Texas (4 November 2007)

… most of the premises upon which this book was written are total crap. Very much of the ‘women are evil cows after our vital essence’ ideology with some penis envy overtones presented as scientific fact. Totally ridiculous book to have been written in this century. (GoodRead)

Robert Harrison (5 January 2006)

The book I received appears a very cheap copy of the original book. There is no ISBN and copyright page, even the cover appears a cheap colour photocopy. What’s the story?? You pay $20 for a book you expect to get a quality printed book. It mentions that it is published by Harper Collins though I am unable to find any reference to it on their website. I believe Amazon and/or the author owe buyers an explanation. ( – click here for an explanation