>Western Tribune column January 6, 2010 Testosterone

>Waiting on snow and Alabama football (that’s hard for an Auburn fan to say) and wondering why homophobic hatred is replacing racial hatred in Birmingham.

I had so much fun writing this column and love sharing the information.

Western Tribune column

Now we understand anti-Obama frenzy

After Barack Obama took the oath of office it didn’t take long before those who voted against him to ramp up the rhetoric in opposition. Led by their leaders Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, they reached a frenzy during the summer with wild accusations hyped at “tea party” rallies.

Now we know why, extrapolating from a report in the January, 2010 issue of Scientific American.

Biologists from Duke University and the University of Michigan have determined that male voters who back a losing candidate experience a rapid drop in the hormone testosterone following a loss. Specifically, levels of testosterone remained stable for males who voted for Obama, while those who voted for John McCain and Robert Barr had a decline.

One of the effects of testosterone is increased libido, and when levels decrease, well, a man might get frustrated and angry as a result.

The study also showed that women’s levels of testosterone levels did not change significantly after a win or a loss by their candidate. But I suppose they might react to a decrease in affection by their mate.

The research team admits that there are many factors that influence testosterone levels and they controlled for many of these during their election night sampling. They do not know how long the effects due to the election loss will last, but they conjecture that since the dominance held by a winning presidential candidate lasts at least four years, it’s plausible that testosterone levels could remain suppressed in males for that long.

That’s a long time to do without, so don’t expect any taming of the rhetoric anytime soon.
And while my conclusion about libido and anger was not among the conclusions expressed by the researchers; they did state that the McCain voters reported feeling significantly more unhappy and unpleasant after the loss.

The researchers now want to focus on spectator sports to see if fans, lacking a direct influence on an outcome like voters do, exhibit similar changes in testosterone after a loss.

That makes me wonder if outcomes of policy battles (health care) might lead to fluctuating testosterone levels among members of congress that will be voting but also among the supporters and detractors of reform.

And I wonder as well just how much of how we act and what we do is controlled by hormones and chemicals in our body and not by our minds as we would like to believe.

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