Over at the always interesting and entertaining Philosophy in a Time of Error (which reminds me, I owe him an email! the answer is “yes!” Peter) I came across this interesting link regarding politics and testosterone. As the article remarks,
As polls closed on election night, researchers at Duke University and the University of Michigan had 183 men and women chew gum and spit into test tubes and analyzed their hormones.
A few hours later, as Barack Obama supporters began celebrating, they tested hormone levels again, and then later, at two more intervals.
Men who voted for Obama maintained stable testosterone levels, while men who voted for McCain saw those levels drop more than 25 percent.
I watched a documentary related to this last year or the year before. Truly fascinating stuff with disturbing implications. Similar tests were conducted with men engaged in competitive sports with one another. Over the course of the game testosterone continues to rise. When the game is over the testosterone of the losing team falls precipitously, while the testosterone of the winning team remains constant. Presumably all of this has to do with our biological history. Given that competitive activity is basically a form of inter-tribal warfare over who gets to mate it makes sense that testosterone would decline if you lose. Since testosterone is related to both sexual desire and aggressivity, the decline of testosterone after losing would function somewhat like a thermostat, allowing the members of the losing team to withdraw from battle so that they might live to spread their seed another day.
I wonder whether somewhere, deep in the bonobo monkey or reptile portion of the male brain there isn’t some tacit awareness (biological or thinly conscious) of these stakes, i.e., that losing means losing testosterone and therefore reproductive opportunity. When I think of some of the truly idiotic blog and email fights I’ve gotten in here I’m completely baffled as to why, in certain instances, I continue the debate despite the fact that it’s clear that it’s not going anywhere and, additionally, it’s over something completely trivial, unimportant, and of no significance. Perhaps my hooting and howling bonobo brain region is telling me that if I lose the argument then I lose my testosterone and then I lose reproductive opportunities. This is, of course, absurd as clearly being a philosopher ruins all your mating opportunities anyway! I wonder, however, how big a role these sorts of things play in stupid investment behaviors among stock brokers, gambling addiction, international affairs, military policy, road rage, etc., etc., etc..