Tag Archives: testosterone

Tan Those Genitals!!

The American Right just keeps getting crazier. Don’t take it from me; Dana Milbank, among several others, is reporting on Tucker Carlson’s current wacko campaign. 

As Milbank points out, now that the “hoax” of the pandemic is fading, “there are fewer occasions to swallow ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine or to inject oneself with bleach.
So what’s a Trump-loving, conspiracy-obsessed Fox News-viewing guy to do?”

He should stand naked and spread-eagle on top of a large rock at twilight and gaze heavenward as a red laser illuminates his genitals.

Believe it or not, Milbank is not making that up. Carlson is advocating “testical tanning” to address the problem of waning testosterone levels in men. If that “cure” seems….crazy….Milbank agrees.

To the extent declining testosterone levels are a problem, the correct solution would be to address a major cause: rising obesity. Instead of shining a red light on your private parts, dear Fox News viewer, turn off Tucker Carlson, get off the couch and go exercise…

Carlson sees testosterone collapsing in “American men” (it’s a worldwide phenomenon). There’s paranoia about the government: “The NIH doesn’t seem interested in this at all,” Carlson says, impersonating some presumed official from the National Institutes of Health saying “it’s not a big deal” (the topic is widely studied). There’s paranoia about the media: McGovern claims the benefit of red-light therapy “isn’t being picked up on or covered” and says “there’s a lot of people out there that don’t trust the mainstream information.”

Gee–I wonder why trust levels are even lower than testosterone levels…Could Fox “News” have something to do with that?

Milbank points out that Carlson’s recent obsession has a great deal in common with Trumpism: the celebration of a masculinity defined as aggression–a definition that has lately been promoted by Sen. Josh Hawley and former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka–and an unwavering belief in and celebration of junk science.

Actually, sketchy data makes sweeping conclusions suspect. But there’s little doubt testosterone levels are falling — and there’s no doubt obesity can contribute to this by facilitating the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.

Maybe Carlson will encourage his viewers (including one particular Florida resident who favors Big Macs and eschews exercise) to pursue healthier lifestyles. So far, his greenlighting of red-light therapy seems to be telling them that what they really need to be true men is more testosterone. And though testosterone supplementation will indeed increase a man’s “manly” aggression, it will also reduce his fertility.

Millions of Tucker Carlson viewers unable to reproduce? Maybe junk science isn’t all bad.

That last sentence does seem hopeful…

On the other hand, as a report for The New Republic put it,

“There is a real connection between these male supremacists and white supremacist networks,” says Kristen Doerer, managing editor of Right Wing Watch, a project that tracks extremist activity for People for the American Way. She points to Carlson’s concern for faltering manliness as just another version of the Great Replacement theory. “These men are concerned about the white race being destroyed, and part of that concern involves the need for controlling women and particularly white women, and an investment in them having white kids.” She warns that the manosphere is fertile soil for red-pilling, recruitment, and general crosspollination. “It’s not too hard to go from one scapegoat to another: ‘I’m going to blame all Jews, or all people of color.’”

Whatever the cause and/or cure of reduced testosterone levels, I am considerably more concerned about the evident, massive reduction in sanity levels and the associated growth in the credulity of the American public, exemplified by the tribalism and White Nationalism of the Tucker Carlsons of our world.

It isn’t just the “Big Lie.” Nearly half of self-identified Republicans in recent surveys say they believe that top Democrats in government are pedophiles. (I couldn’t find data on the percentage of GOP voters who believe that George Soros financed Jewish Space Lasers, but I’m sure it’s a non-trivial number.)

We are living in an extremely difficult era. We have all kinds of real problems, economic and social, all exacerbated by the very real possibility that climate change may decimate much of humanity. Rather than engaging in concerted, evidence-based efforts to solve those problems, a significant portion of our population has opted to reside in cuckoo land.

Maybe Milbank is onto something when he suggests that the crazies will adopt a worldview that will prevent them from reproducing. The other possibility, of course, is that their growing  numbers and influence will prevent all humans from reproducing–that their “solutions” and political preferences will end up erasing that thin veneer we call civilization and /or eradicating humanity altogether.

 

 

Testosterone And Government

Okay, today’s post is a bit “off the wall,” so indulge me…

 I was fascinated to read the results of a recent study linking testosterone to aggressive behavior and selfishness. The results confirmed previous research findings  that associated selfishness with testosterone. Evidently, testosterone acts to decrease activity in the brain’s temporoparietal junction, which is a region associated with generosity, and “reduces consideration of the needs and desires of others, which leads to more selfish behaviors.” 

The more testosterone, the greater these effects.

The researchers are careful to note that their findings don’t necessarily suggest testosterone inherently makes people selfish, but that testosterone “reduced concern for the profits of others.”

While this study only looked at healthy, young adult males — and thus may or may not apply to other ages and genders — it does add to the pile of studies suggesting increased testosterone can lead to decreased consideration for the needs of others. What this study also reveals are the neural mechanisms by which that happens.

These results encouraged me to consider a number of (highly speculative) theories.

In early human history, men who produced ample amounts of testosterone were undoubtedly advantaged–their aggressiveness would have paid off in the hunt, and more successful hunters would be advantaged in the competition for the most attractive and fertile women.

Early men were thus socially dominant, and that male dominance continued–undoubtedly assisted by high levels of testosterone that gave business “movers and shakers” an aggressive edge, and contributed to the high status enjoyed by warriors of various types.

Women, of course, were disadvantaged for eons by our fertility; without the ability to control our reproduction, women have been relegated to a homemaking role and hampered in efforts to enter the workforce.

These roles were cemented into society through the various cultural influences that accepted them as givens: religions that preached about women’s submission, social mores that stressed expected aspects of femininity and masculinity.

That all began to change with the invention of reliable birth control and the development of economies that no longer rely on workers’ brute strength. When the value of an individual to the workforce depends primarily upon intellect and the ability to work well with others, enhanced aggressiveness and “decreased consideration for the needs of others” are no longer assets.

The metrics by which we evaluate the competence of government are also undergoing change. Those of us who believe that good governance requires compassion and unifying social policies look longingly at the Jacinda Arderns and Angela Merkels of the world, and view blustering bullies like Vladimir Putin, Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump as unfortunate–and dangerous– throwbacks.

Perhaps–on balance– women are better equipped to govern the world we currently inhabit.

That said, these speculations are obviously far too broad-brush. There are plenty of belligerent and selfish women and I encounter increasing numbers of thoughtful, caring men. Furthermore, testosterone is only one small element of nature in the still-hazy relationship between nature and nurture. 

Still, it is interesting to step back and view the arc of history and social change through a biological lens–and to consider whether the development of methods to balance people’s hormones would lead to world peace or, in the alternative, to an unintended dystopia…