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The sexiest man living!

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Forget that other list. We pick the men who really set our hearts aflame -- and there's nary a pretty-boy actor among them.

Nov. 17, 2006 | That big bland celebrity flip book's annual celebration of the Sexiest Man Alive isn't valuable because of its dazzling spreads of razor-sharp abs. It offers tangible proof that women (and gay men, and anyone else who casts a vote in that process) can be just as drably one-dimensional as any straight man who ogles Pam Anderson. In its 20-plus years documenting hot, they've been about as imaginative as a Whitman's Sampler, about as adventuresome as a 10-minute roll with the lights off, about as mentally stimulating as Matthew McConaughey.

Sure, McConaughey, the 2005 winner, is easy on the eyes, and his cleavage is every bit as remarkable as Anderson's. But he's the latest in a long line of vanilla eye-candy actors (Ben Affleck, Mark Harmon, Patrick Swayze, Harry Hamlin -- seriously, in 1987, Harry Hamlin) whose shiny good looks fuel a fantasy thought or two before we wonder how much product they put in their hair. (And really, quit selecting George Clooney already. He's the zenith of sex appeal -- picking him is cheating. Get some guts over there, girls, or else turn the poll over to the interns.)

Tired of that array of pretty boys, we came up with a list of guys who really rattle our chains. Warning: There are no abs ahead. But sometimes a good lyric, a good laugh, a well-articulated theory on the existence of man ... yowza, let's just say not all turn-ons start with a spray-on tan.

Losing our religion (#7 on the list)

dawkinsWho: Richard Dawkins
Age: 65
Know him as: Evolutionary scientist and author, most recently of "The God Delusion."

Wonder is sexy. Knowledge is sexy. And embodying both as much as any man in the world today is a man in a tweed jacket riding his bike around the Oxford University campuses, the damp English breeze sweeping a curtain of silver hair from the delicate bones of his face. Yes, those cheekbones, those piercing eyes, that pursed bow of a mouth -- but that brain, oh that brain, oh, god, that brain -- is what makes Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and the most famous atheist in the world, the sexiest man around.

Dawkins is the professor I never had an affair with, whose very sentence structure threatens to weaken my concentration on the content of his words. Call me deluded: I ache for his atheism; I reel from his reasoning. He is my James Bond, a well-attired, fearless seeker of truth in the face of nihilism.

I dream of his perfectly-accented voice -- Oxbridge softened by a childhood spent in, sigh, East Africa -- whispering to me from his latest book, "The God Delusion," a defense of endless curiosity in the face of omnipresent theism. "If the demise of god will leave a gap, different people will fill it in different ways. My way includes a good dose of science, the honest and systematic endeavor to find out the truth about the real world." Take me with you, Richard: You put the "sex" in sexagenarian. Let us clinch in a godless embrace, crying out to what we know does not exist, searching, searching evermore.

-- Lauren Sandler



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