In his wonderfully titled book, The Trouble with Testosterone and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament, author and researcher Robert Sapolsky makes an admission about men that can’t be said enough, really.
“We males account for less than 50 percent of the population, yet we generate an incredibly disproportionate percentage of the violence.”
Violence is just one manifestation of this hormone and how it changes behavior. Another one is selfishness. Today’s big idea is how testosterone changes behavior in powerful, and somewhat predictable, ways.
Scroll down to read all about a novel experiment involving testosterone and how it dials up how selfish people can become in a controlled test.
But first, one more passage from Sapolsky’s 1997 book of essays:
“A dozen millennia ago or so, an adventurous soul managed to lop off a surly bull’s testicles and thus invented behavioral endocrinology. It is unclear from the historical records whether this individual received either a grant or tenure as a result of this experiment, but it certainly generated an influential finding — something or other comes out of the testes that helps to make males such aggressive pains in the ass.
“That something or other is testosterone.”
I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse. Let’s dive into today’s essential reads and recommendations.
But first, a quick Q — Let me know your favorite video game by sending an email to newsletter at inverse dot com with “VIDEO GAME STORIES” as the subject line. The reasons could be emotional or counterintuitive. In fact, the more unlikely the story, the better. I'm collecting my favorites for a new project. I'll publish a few responses in an upcoming edition of Inverse Daily.
The minds of men — Suggested headline from Inverse Slack: “Being a selfish jerk might just be a biological imperative.”
That’s the takeaway from a fascinating new study reported by staff writer Katie MacBride. There’s a strong association between increased testosterone levels and anti-social behavior, the study shows.
We know that testosterone is produced in the testicles or from the adrenal glands, but its effect on behavior links back to the brain. These newly identified neural mechanisms can, in turn, influence how an individual behaves.
More like this:
- Study reveals crucial way hormones in puberty alter men's brains
- Men's testosterone levels vary depending on where they live, say scientists
- Why lower testosterone levels might actually make you a better father
Sunshine of your life — Springing an hour ahead is an annual rite of passage into a more favorable spring season.
Look, winter is often the worst in March, so keep your boardshorts tucked away. But, the extra sunshine has a powerful effect, writes Senior Science Editor Sarah Sloat in her latest column for Sunday Scaries, a chill Inverse series for not-chill people.
Daylight interacts with opioid receptors in the brain, and that has a significant effect on our mood. Those opioid receptors are known to be linked with emotional functions of the brain.
More like this:
- Why we have Daylight Saving Time
- Perineum sunning is a viral joke that has science behind it
- In winter's endless dark, our brains are too confused to stay awake
What to watch — You need to watch the best sci-fi noir movie on HBO Max before it leaves next week. Released in 2019, Detective Pikachu broke the video game curse and got honest about its aging audience.
The movie is wildly impressive, not just as a live-action Pokémon movie with resonant themes (loss, innocence, estrangement) and a clever twist on noir film tropes, but also as a metaphor for its adult audience’s relationship to Pokémon.
While its 21-year-old protagonist is categorically a member of Generation Z, he is an ideal stand-in for anyone who spent their prepubescent years “catching ‘em all.” Like many of us who haven’t kept up with all things Pokémon in the past 25 years, its protagonist knows Pokémon in and out but refuses to let that be known.
More like this:
- Scene Stealers: The best character debuts of 2020
- You need to watch the best sci-fi mystery movie on Netflix ASAP
- The most important superhero movies of the century are finally back on Netflix
Sludge report — Rounding out this Tuesday edition of Inverse Daily is a surprising story about... sludge.
Here’s a snippet from the story by contributing writer Sarah Wells:
“Rotten food scraps and vats of sewage typically do not make the cut when it comes to the list of what makes a glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle. But researchers say that transforming these otherwise discarded ‘wet waste’ materials into biofuel could be the future of environmentally friendly flying.
“In a study published Monday, a team of researchers led by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory describe how to convert organic waste into paraffin, a combustible hydrocarbon used in aviation fuel.
More like this:
- This futuristic lab-grown steak may solve 1 major problem with meat
- Is bitcoin mining bad for the planet? Here’s the truth
- 3 transformative technologies that will revolutionize the planet
Special thanks to longtime reader Pearse, who spotted a typo in Monday’s email. Monday was not National Nappy Day, but National Napping Day. I’d like to blame the error on being a new dad, but it’s just not great proofreading.
It’s National Freedom of Information Day. This one is advocated by the American Library Association, but it really should be endorsed by anybody paying attention to the government — local, state, federal — and what information it is sharing and choosing not to share.
It is held on or around March 16 every year, in honor of James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution and the original advocate for an open government.
It’s why meetings are held in public, why you can see public records information online, and why many government operations that are taxpayer-supported are available for public inspection. It’s an ideal of America, but it’s been under perpetual threat since inception.
If you think this is a stale issue, know that the fight to rightfully release information is as urgent and necessary as ever.