thelastpsychiatrist.com - Are Certain Behaviors -- And Jobs -- More Masculine? And Out Of Our Control? Adnotated.
There are many reasons to think testosterone affects behavioral outcomes. Just on semantics, high testosterone would be expected to correlate to virility, aggression, and leads in action movies.i
But what is the effect of brief, intra-uterine testosterone?ii Do people who were exposed to higher testosterone in the womb become/behave different/ly?iii
An example: fraternal twins. Does the girl's stewing in the boy's testosteroneiv make her a better athlete, President or serial killer?
In an attempt to answer that, there's been considerable research on the effects of intrauterine testosterone on later life outcomes.v
I. (This is how you construct a lie: don't answer the question that was asked, answer the question you want to answer.)vi
An example, a somewhat famous study. Researchers examined a group of financial traders:
(Introduction) We therefore formulated the hypothesis that higher prenatal testosterone exposure would improve a trader's performance.
(Discussion) The finding that a marker of prenatal testosterone levels predicts a trader's long-term profitability...
The success and longevity of traders exposed to high levels of prenatal androgens further suggests that financial markets may select for biological traits rather than rational expectations.vii
And from Time:
Earlier studies indicated that prenatal exposure to testosterone... increases a person's sensitivity to the effects of the hormone much later in life.viii The greater the exposure as a fetus, in other words, the higher the levels of confidence, vigilance or risk appetite triggered by testosterone in an adult.
It's not hard to see why financial traders exposed to testosterone might be better at trading.ix And now you have to think about society: maybe there are real sex differences in performance in the workplace. It's perfectly ok to select a lingerie model on the basis of femininity. Is it -- should it -- [be] okay to pick options traders the other way? And how can we level the playing field for those with a slight biological disadvantage?x
First Principles: what do the authors want to be true?
None of the studies linking biology to behavior are about either the biology or the behavior, they are only about the link.
The question that they are answering isn't "does environment matter more than genetics?" It's a more subtle, sneaky, social-policy question: "since we now know that genetics isn't as deterministic as we hoped, is there something else that we can focus on which is equally out of our control? What about the goings-on in utero? So that the environment factors matter only at that time, not later? Then we can safely say that behavior is "innate" and out of our control, while still leaving us the door to intervene in people's lives for their benefit."
No one in the behavioral sciences discovers something, and then constructs policy recommendations. "We learned that people are like this, so..."
It's the other way around. The policies come first; the money is spent on the research that supports them.
In questions about evolutionary psychology and behavior, the question they want to answer is always of the form, "how is it not the individual's fault, but we can meddle anyway?"xi
Back to testosterone. In order to tell if trading is related to that brief in utero burst of testosterone, we need a proxy: the ratio of the index finger to the ring finger. Bigger ring finger (and smaller 2D:4D ratio) = more testosterone in utero.xii
There are many such studies, of very different behaviors: aggression, lesbianism, athleticism, success, risk appetite -- and they are all surprisingly robust, there really does appear to be some kind of link.xiii And it helps that the behaviors all have an intuitive connection to "masculinization" -- (which was the whole point of the testosterone.)
And the associations are just as revealing when they're absent. A recent study found no association to ADHD: "These findings challenge the hypothesis that fetal testosterone exposure plays a prominent role in the aetiology of ADHD." So it must be something else...
The problem isn't the data, but the words.
None -- read it again, none -- of the studies found any link between the behavior and fetal testosterone. All of them found the link between the behavior and finger lengths, which are proxies for fetal testosterone.
But what if finger ratios aren't actually proxies for testosterone?
"Then those studies are crap. Another example of science overreaching. All that research money wasted."
Oh, no, Murdock, it's much worse than that. The studies are valid, the data are solid -- finger ratios do indeed correlate well to these behaviors -- but all of the inferences you've invented about them are wrong.
A recent article discovered that in birds, the correlation was between digit length and estrogen receptors. If that turned out to be true for humans, what are you going to do with all the stories about "masculine" traits? You can't simply say, "oh, it doesn't have to do with testosterone after all." You must now explain why it does have to do with estrogen. Are these feminine behaviors? What?
There are other studies which similarly find the testosterone/finger story to be suspect or even backwards.
So the data aren't wrong -- they're right; they're just about something else. The social implications of the studies-- the very point of doing the studies -- are wrong. You can't dismiss the studies because they're still true -- you have to go back and explain how you got it backwards.xiv
Anyone who had taken a moment to look at the whole hypothesis -- masculine--> testosterone--> finger lengths--> behaviors would have said, "there are way too many loose connections to take this seriously." But no one would have taken you seriously.xv "Science" is three dimensional: "look at the stack of studies that find a relationship between testosterone and behaviors!" No one questions the intervening proxy (digit span) because to do so is perceived to be unrigorous. When you say, "I don't believe this testosterone link" they politely say, "look at the stack!" but if you say you don't buy the digit length, they roll their eyes: another amateur who doesn't understand how science is done.xvi They do this because there's no other argument to make.xvii "This is how we've been doing it for decades, and it's a quite satisfactory method." Yeah. That's what they said about missionary, too.xviii
Because there are so many researchers, and so many in the public willing to run with it, and so much time in between, there's no one to point to as responsible.xix You can't blame Cambridge University for the obviously preposterous notion that masculine traits make for better traders any more than you can blame the head of BP for the oil spill. Both situations are your fault. You wanted what they were offering, even though it was bad for you.
Either we're going to kill Iraqis, or we're going to kill ducks. It's the world's one and only truth, the law of equivalent exchange. For every barrel of oil, you need to replace it with a barrel of blood.
But they are to blame, because when they presented you with their products, they knew exactly what you were going to do with them.xx
I'm telling you this not because I care about finger lengths, but because you are being corrupted.
The article doesn't even have to spell it out for you: they just have to write "there's a relationship to testosterone " and we'll make the cultural/social value judgments ourselves. But they leave nothing to chance; thus Time Magazine.
That's not an unfortunate, unexpected by product of science -- it is the very point of it. In order for you to obtain this knowledge, you have to lose some other knowledge of equivalent value.
Once it's happened, once you've allowed this into your brain, there is no escape, ever, any more than there is an escape from oil.xxi No matter what else they discover, you will always have the suspicion that trading -- and lesbianism and risk taking and hand eye coordination -- are masculine traits.
Until, of course, new guys come in with a new story to tell. "Thanks Dr. Kohut, we'll take it from here."
The science error of our generation is this: If A is strongly associated with B, and B is strongly associated with C, then A is strongly associated to C.
That's not just wrong, it is extremely wrong.xxii If that seems counterintuitive to you, then you are the problem. Not in the way Robespierre was the problem, but in the way the French were the problem. "Sounds about right to me. And there's a guillotining at 6:94!"
It's not your fault, you weren't trained to understand this, indeed, you were trained specifically not to understand this.xxiii "Let's look closely at the statistics" (not the words.)
Science in the service of social policy is all about giving you everything you need to lie to yourself.
I repeat: I have enough rum to get through what's left of my life, but the rest of you should heed my warning: if you do not rein in your social scientists, your civilization is doomed.xxiv———
- In other words, stupidity.
Why exactly this expectation, outside of Anglo rehashes of Soviet era stereotypes on the Belgian Congo ?
It is prime bunk, for the record. There is no significantly higher testosterone expression, concentration, total production or metabolization in the tall, clunky, Caliban-like stereotypical sub-Saharan male, either as a naturally occuring population or visually selected to satisfy the stereotype. Meanwhile in actual microbiology, testosterone is a growth regulation hormone, expressed in both genders, working differently in each gender according to complex and on the whole poorly understood mechanisms, and in either case carrying a significant portion of the burden in neurological development (though not necessarily in the same way).
The whole "semantics" argument is a lot like taking "vit-amines" in the original sense, as dreamily contemplated back when the concept was introduced. God knows the testes-sterone stands with reality in about the same relationship as the vital amines of yore (actually, it was conceptually born in the same pre-systematic period of artesanal biochemistry cvasi-research). What would you say, are amines more feminine than sterones ? Is polystyrene inherently male and should little girls go around in aniline-stained clothing ? Should you offer tris at a bris ?
What the fuck nonsense is this! [↩]
- The effect of brief peri-penile lipstick is that I'll explain the aniline section of the joke. It's a pigment alright, but it smells like rotting fish, see ? You'll figure out the rest, I'm sure. [↩]
- Differently from what!
The fundamental fucking problem with tit floor washers masquerading as "thinkers" engaged in "intellectual inquiry" is that they're titfloorwashers! They set out to "measure" putative distances between impossible ends, such as in this case, where the damned thing necessarily can't possibly exist, as only one end can, as per the fucking definition, be present at any given time.
There can be such a thing as "the distance between Moscow and Paris", because, and only because both Paris and Moscow are definite things that exist at the same fucking time! There can't be such a thing as the distance between Paris and Pompeii, because Pompeii no longer fucking existed by the time they invented Paris into the world ; there can of course be measured the palliative "distance between Paris as it stands and the place where Pompeii formerly stood", of course, but this isn't the same fucking thing! At all! And the reciprocal, distance between Pompeii and the place where Paris will in the future stand, was never measured!
But be all that as it may : there can not possibly be any discussion of "the difference between people this way and people that way", strictly because if people are this way, then they're not that way, and therefore there can be no difference! This is what difference is, 8 - 5, not 7 - ? nor ? - 3, and especially not A - !A. This latter bit's just as good as division by zero, anything you come up with on its poisonous basis is sheer rot, to be discarded out of hand before it discards your brain out of your head for you.
Though I suspect we might be too late. What's the difference between nonense and the sense one'd have written had one had the brain they miss ? [↩]
- This is fucking insane, the mother's own production overwhelms the little boy's by a degree of magnitude. [↩]
- Rather, in an attempt to produce spurious justification for "research grants" ; much like a privately-held dependopotamus might carefully circle, underline and generally mark each edition of the TV Guide, in an activity very superficially reminiscent of "study", the publicly-held dependopotami copy/paste nonsense into "research papers". You can probably stack the years' worth of TV Guides on a shelf somewhere just as well, for all the good it'll do anyone. [↩]
- No, this is how you end up confined to a small room in the darkness, in between beatings. Ask anyone. [↩]
- Except for the part where "biological traits" in the sense of being male are actually the very rational expectations in question, seeing how males are actually better than females at the edges of human activity and experience. All this "morons unhappened some portions of reality and are now wanking impotently & waxing poetically around the ruptured margins where '''some portions of reality appear to have once stood''' but, supposedly, '''can't be seen any longer''', hear us roar" psychotic behaviour is fucking unseemly.
For the exact same money all those involved could individually buy a shotgun, load it with buckshot, check into a motel, shoot a hole in the vinyl siding passing for a wall, decide the hole never happened and then "examine things carefully", with the predictable results that "there appears to be some buckshot damage around the edges of where a portion of the wall still stands untouched by anything like a shotgun blast, tee hee". What in the actual fuck. [↩]
- Ye olde "global warming" magic trick, where supposed data of dubious origin and ever more doubtful quality is put through some kind of massive amplifying process -- because there's simply no other way to match the inflationary substance of the pantsuit world into "results".
You understand this, do you ? These are some a) believers in a Monochurch whose doctrine is that "all things are the same one thing" whose b) life continuation depends on a very specific dream process, whereby ever larger portions of imaginary future revenues accrue to them on the basis of unavoidable foregoing of consumption today (unavoidable by necessity, imaginary wealth can not be consumed). That this runaway process is unavoidable for very good reasons makes it "invisible", and then because of a) they're c) stuck "discovering" the same pattern everywhere.
Global temperatures have to be in a runaway pattern when regarded by pantsuit eyes, because the supposed "economy" of the pantsuit empire is in a runaway pattern and the pantsuit has to believe this is natural, and therefore all other natural phenomena will have to, for his own peace of mind, get retconned into displaying the same exact behaviour, as if an unseen FED was orchestrating each and every thing that happens.
A world composed of runaway processes, notwithstanding how simply and directly impossible it is, and how utterly contrary to any sort of systematic observation -- think about it, if life on Earth consisted of positive, rather than negative feedback loops, how would it even be possible at all in the first place, for more than a few minutes at the time ?! -- is then the necessary pantsuit perception of its environment, made necessary not by anything in the environment, but by the shit they rubbed in their own eyes. [↩]
- Especially if you're one of those morons that keep seeing things. Pro tip : what you're "seeing" here is the same thing you're "seeing" when you explain away why you can't walk up to a girl and say "Hi!" ; it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone or anything besides yourself -- to be specific, with your own attempts at not noticing the holes you buckshot out of your own head. [↩]
- Bwahahah, who said the disadvantage is slight ? And, for that matter, who said anything about "levelling the field", holy shit pantsuit monomania, not everything must end up the same one shithole!
It's a wonder all these schmucks don't move into Alabama, Indiana et all, it should be flat enough for their needs. What the fuck are they doing in California, Oregon, Washnigton etc, all the mountain states ? [↩]
- This'd be the core of the psychological process involved, yes, splitting and disavowal. [↩]
- Obviously, the indirection layer, the militant idiot's best friend. [↩]
- Almost looks like there's a hole right through the wall there!!! [↩]
- No, it's explained. What you have to do is go back and cage a bunch of old women. [↩]
- This is no spurious comment ; during the heyday of Maddof, most serious players on Wall Street at least suspected (to the standard of, being privately persuaded on strength of heuristic, and thereby for lack of incentive not bothering to formally establish the matter) the guy's running a Ponzi ; but "nobody" took them seriously, in the sense of, the chumps didn't. Similarily throughout, the chumps are the chumps specifically for this reason. [↩]
- Well, "science", at any rate. [↩]
- No, they do this because they like to eat, and being fucking stupid lack any other preoccupation. [↩]
- And other things. [↩]
- Cage. Old. Women. [↩]
- This is exactly what blame is not. Always, in all contexts and under all circumstances the "victim" is to blame. [↩]
- If this were in fact true, no such thing as a scholar were possible. But it's not true, just more of the same pantsuitist theoretical amplification at work. [↩]
- Or rather, not-even-wrong. [↩]
- This reads exactly like fault to me. [↩]
- This was never a civilisation ; as Frenchman living in London put it last night, "the shittiest Italian village is still better than whatever the Brits managed to do with all their profits from supposedly running the world for a while". [↩]