Dr. Helen Fisher on How Brain Chemistry Determines Personality and Politics

Is the libertarian mind a product of elevated dopamine and testosterone?


If libertarians are bold, impulsive, quick witted, adventurous, analytical, and willing to ignore social norms, is that because we have especially active dopamine and testosterone systems in our brains?

That's the hypothesis of the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who has developed a pioneering framework for classifying human temperaments. She categorizes her subjects by having them take a personality test that's used by online dating sites Match.com and Chemistry.com to better link potential mates. To date, her questionnaire has been taken by more than 14 million people in 30 countries.

Barack Obama, according to Fisher, is high in dopamine, accounting for his optimism, and also in estrogen, which explains the Oval Office rug covered in inspirational quotes. Mitt Romney is in some ways the opposite of a libertarian, high on the serotonin scale, which accounts for his respect for authority, rigidity, and loyalty.

Fisher is a senior fellow at the Kinsey Institute and she's the author of six books, most recently Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage and Why We Stray. She spoke at the Reason Foundation's annual donor weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Edited by Ian Keyser. Intro by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Jim Epstein.

"Sphunx" by Sk'p is licensed under CC BY NC ND 3.0

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This is a rush transcript—check all quotes against the audio for accuracy.

Helen Fisher: Anyway, I study the brain. I and my colleagues have put over 100 people into a brain scanner and studied the brain circuitry of romantic love, people who have just fallen happily in love, people who've been rejected in love, and people who are in love long-term. It's possible to be in love, not just loving, but in love long-term but you got to pick the right person. In 2005, a couple of days before Christmas, my phone rang in New York and it was Match.com. They called me and they said they wanted to meet with me two days after Christmas to talk. Nothing happens in New York City at Christmas-time so I was astonished and I walked into the room with them and 11 people piled into the room and I had no idea who they were. I thought maybe this was a think tank and there were other academics, I didn't know.

Anyway, in the middle of the morning somebody, it ended up being the CEO, turned to me and he said, "Why do you fall in love with one person rather than another?" I said, "I don't know. With all kinds of cultural reasons that you do," but I began to think people will say we have chemistry or we don't have chemistry. Could it be that nature has evolved some natural personality styles that are drawn to one another? I began to think to myself that I would look into the biology of personality and see if I could understand the human mind.

There's two parts of personality, there's your culture, everything you grew up to believe and say and think, and there's your temperament, your biology, your predispositions. I study your temperament, your nature. Epigenetics is the most important thing actually that's ever happened in my life. It's the combination of how these temperament and culture interact with one another, but basically I'm going to talk today about your temperament, particularly the temperament of the libertarian mind.

There's all kinds of things that evolved. We now know that a good 40 percent to 60 percent of who you are comes out of you biology, and one of them is how you feel intimacy. Women tend to feel intimacy from face to face talking. We swivel until we're face to face, we do what's called the anchoring gaze, and we talk. That's intimacy to women. It probably comes from millions of years of holding your baby in front of your face, cajoling it, reprimanding it, educating it with words. Men tend to get intimacy from side by side doing. When he looks up he'll look away. They can watch a football game all Sunday afternoon and say almost nothing to each other, and get a great deal of intimacy out of it. It probably comes from millions of years of sitting behind a rock on the grasslands of ancient Africa trying to hit that buffalo in the head with a rock. You can't be talking to your neighbor when you're doing that kind of job.

The problem of course is this, they both are different. I'm in the business of trying to find those differences. I've never met two people who were alike. I'm an identical twin, even she and I are not alike, entirely alike. She's actually a hot air balloon pilot, I'm an anthropologist. She takes people up in a tiny little basket, I walk on major podiums and talk about the evolution of adultery. They're very different things but they both require a certain personality style. Anyway, people are different and in fact there's a lot of new data that a political scientists now think that politics is at least 40 percent to 50 percent comes out of your DNA, and they've actually coined a new term called genopolitics.

That's my hypothesis began with this morning at the Match.com, and I decided I wanted to find out if we're naturally drawn to one person rather than another. I decided what I would do is go through all of the academic literature looking for any trait at all, linked with any biological system. For example, SNPs, single-nucleotide polymorphism, there's a lot of genetic differences and I would collect data on that. L-DOPA, if you give L-DOPA to a Parkinson's patient you're driving up the dopamine system in the brain, and with that it's actually linked with creativity. I wish I had it, I've never been able to find it since, but I was once talking with a woman who studied this and she was studying a woman who had Parkinson's and that woman was drawing stick figure dogs. Then after giving this woman L-DOPA she was literally drawing dogs that looked like Rembrandt dogs, it was quite remarkable.

Antidepressants, particularly the serotonin boosters, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, all of them, they actually reduce curiosity and exploratory behavior. LSD dries up the serotonin system in the brain, the serotonin system is linked with religiosity. This is one reason that people will get a religion high, I'm told, when they take that drug. Estrogen replacement really helps with the memory, there's a lot of estrogen receptors in the hippocampus linked with memory and if you take ERT, estrogen replacement you're likely to actually to boost memory and get greater linguistic skills. By looking at all of these things I began to find that there were four basic brain systems that was each one of them linked with a constellation of personality traits.

Now there's all kinds of systems in the brain, most of them keep the heart beating or the eyes blinking, they're not linked with personality traits. These four are all linked with each one of them a constellation of personality traits. What I decided I would do is make a questionnaire to see to what degree you express the traits in each one of these four basic systems. Now for example I know that people who are very expressive of the dopamine system tend to be unpredictable, so I created a questionnaire I find unpredictable situations exhilarating. I figured the high dopamine type would say yes, I do, I like them. Should behave according to established standards proper conduct. People who are very expressive of the serotonin system I figured would be particularly gravitate to that and say they strongly agreed and on and on. Competitive conversations is linked with the testosterone system, and I knew from other academics that people who they carry their emotional feelings with them for hours, days, weeks, or even months or years, link with the estrogen system.

By constantly putting questions in, taking the ones out that don't work, I established a questionnaire that has now been taken by 14 million people in 40 countries. About 30,000 people take it every two or three weeks and so I keep on perfecting it. At the end of this I want to give you the most recent and actually better version of this questionnaire because my hypothesis is that you are all going to be quite expressive of the traits in the dopamine system and in the testosterone system. You're not going to have any serotonin in you at all, it's my guess, and some of you are going to have some estrogen, we'll see about that.

Anyway it's a nice scientific experiment for me and a hypothesis. This is only one person. When you take my questionnaire, as Katherine said, we're not only just one thing, this is one of the problems with all of these personality questionnaires, the brain is not buckets, the brain is systems, they're constantly interacting in all kinds of ratios. This particular individual is very expressive of the traits in the dopamine system and in the estrogen system. As I say I've got 14 million of these things and I'm studying people. Because I was working with a dating service I had to name them and so I named people who were very expressive of the dopamine system explorers, academic term is curious energetic. Those people very expressive of the serotonin system I called builders, not a great term but I'm stuck with it now. Cautious, social norm compliant, that's not you? Those who are very high of the testosterone system I call them the director, analytical and tough minded. Those particularly expressive of the estrogen system I call the negotiator or pro-social and empathetic.

This next slide is only for me. It's one of the most important things in my life and it is because what I did is after I made this questionnaire from looking at the brain literature, I made the questionnaire, and then I went on to do two brain scan studies to prove that the questionnaire actually measures what I say it measures. There's no other questionnaire in the world that has been able to do that because the Myers-Briggs and all the rest of them they started from linguistic studies, and you can't go from linguistic studies to make a questionnaire and then go back to linguistic studies to prove it. I've been able to prove that you are very expressive of the dopamine system on my questionnaire, you're going to show more activity in the dopamine system in the brain, etc., etc.

I finally, having looked at this, and this is only the second time I've ever shown this slide, it only dawned on me very recently is what I've really stumbled on is two basic aspects of all living mammalian, avian, reptilian creatures. The degree to which an animal expresses the trace in the estrogen versus the testosterone system and the degree to which they express the traits in the dopamine versus the serotonin system. What I call the stay and go. You can see a fish, the bigger fish comes by and the fish will step back into its hole because it's going to stay. Another fish is going to come out and take a look at the other fish and he's going to go. It's this push pull of two basic biological systems of staying, of protection, of tradition, of conservative, as opposed to curiosity, creativity, and exploration.

I'm going to maintain that you are going to express a great deal of activity in the go system, the plasticity system and a great deal of expression in the male system. There's a lot of women who have high testosterone and I say that, I'm going to show you why, because I think these people are logical, and the one thing I do find about libertarians is that you're logical. I would imagine there's going to be some libertarians who fall within here and I'll be surprised if there's anybody in the room who's high on the stay system, the serotonin system, but we'll see.

Anyway, I'm going to go through these four broad styles of thinking and behaving linked with the dopamine system. The academic term is they're sensation seeking, novelty seeking, risk taking, they're willing to take a risk, they're curious. As I say, I've got 14 million of these things. They're the most curious, they have the most interests, they're the most likely to make it through school, through college and graduate school. They make the most money, they also lose the most money because they're so impetuous, energetic, restless, exploration, and it's not just jumping off mountains, it's mental exploration also. Reading, the opera, the theater, movies, conferences, etc., etc. They happen to be enthusiastic and optimistic. Actually I think that Obama has quite a few of these traits also. After he first won the first election The Onion, the humor magazine, the lead line was Black Man Given Worst Job in the World, and indeed I think he was optimistic about it. I don't know if he's optimistic today but I would imagine that he's more optimistic than he should be.

Independent, that's you, that's your middle name is independent. Self-reliant, spontaneously generous, these people will walk into a bar and buy everybody a drink, spontaneously generous. Mentally flexible and open minded, I'm thinking that that is you. The biggest part of it is idea generation, the dopamine system is linked with idea generation, verbal and numeric creativity. They're also tactically intelligent, they're fast, most of the people on TV are going to be high on the dopamine scale. You got to be quick in the media and I think the vast majority of them are going to be high dopamine.

They can also be susceptible to boredom, that's me. I don't get onto an airplane without at least … I was thinking of what I brought down here. I brought three book. In case I'm on that tarmac for one month I got something to do. Reckless, they can be reckless. Unreflective, they look out not in. I give a lot of speeches to the therapy community, couple therapist particularly and once I said to myself … I mean there was about 600 people in the room and I said, "Well you know I'm not interested in who I am." Some guy from the back of the room screamed, "You want to talk about it?" I didn't. They can be manic, insincere, opportunistic, and unpredictable.

I did a study of 178,000 people. It comes out of the 1930s, it's called the Lexical hypothesis, and that hypothesis is that you say words that reflect who you really are. I wanted to know whether you use words that reflect who you are biologically. I collected 178,000 of these profiles from Match.com and another site Chemistry.com, and I wanted to see people who are very expressive of the traits in the dopamine system, the top 10 words they use in describing themselves and what they're looking for. Adventure, venture, spontaneous, energy, new, fun, traveling, outgoing, passion, and active. One of the things that I say when I talk to a business group is listen, not only to the content of a person's conversation but the words they use as they are expressing that conversation. It can say a great deal about the basic wiring of your brain.

Richard Branson's a good example. I've always thought rules were made to be broken. I don't know how libertarians feel about that but I've always had the urge to live life to it's full. He ran across the Atlantic in a hot air balloon without knowing how to sail it. They all had to jump out over Ireland and the other guy jumped out first and he's floating around in the sky in a small basket for God sakes. Lang Lang the concert pianist, flair, dazzling, charisma, bravado, daredevil, extremes, a very different man, very different part of the world he grew up in, a very different occupation but the same basic brain temperament. Certainly Peter Thiel, a real entrepreneur. One of the first outsider to invest in Facebook. Bitcoins, now that's out of the established coinage system. Funds all kinds of radical new ideas. Really supports any kind of individualism, that's all the kind of thing that you would see in a high dopamine temperament.

He was also a math whiz and a chess prodigy and that's testosterone. If I don't know the man at all, also he's got a face that shows quite a bit of the testosterone. The very square jaw, the high forehead, the heavy brow ridges are all built by testosterone. If I had to guess, educated guess I think, he would be very high on my scale of the dopamine and testosterone scale, and certainly a libertarian.

In love these people go for people like themselves. They want somebody who's going to leap off the couch and go over to the Met at 7:30 and try and get into the opera that night. They get bored easily and they want a partner who will play ball with them. The people who are very expressive with the serotonin system, this I think is your opposite, it's my hypothesis anyway, we'll find out when you take my questionnaire. This is straight out of the brain. We know the genetics of observing social norms, they follow the rules, they like the familiar, they go to the same place every summer for summer vacation, they go to the same restaurants in the evening, they hang around with the same groups of friends, they're cautious. They're not scared, the academic term is harm avoidance, they're not scared. I've got a friend in New York who's very high on the serotonin system and when we walk towards the corner of the street he steps back. I'm likely to run across the street and he steps back.

Self-control, this is why you take Prozac or Paxil or Lexapro or one of them. You're driving up the serotonin system and creating the calm, the self-control. They're also modest people, and in fact when I work with Match.com and I work with some of these people one of the things you've got to do in love is not be too modest. Courtship is not about honesty even, it's about winning and they can be too modest. They like plans, rules, schedules, they follow the rules, they're orderly, they're persistent, they're very good managers by the way. Concrete thinking and I learned my lesson with this one. I had written a book on this for love and it's called Why Him? Why Her?, and I happened to be in Seattle. There was a woman interviewing me for the Seattle Times or The Washington Times, whatever it is called. I was telling her about my hypothesis and these personality styles and love and everything, and the more I spoke to her the more I realized that she couldn't stand me, she really couldn't stand me.

I became more flamboyant, that's what I generally am, and it didn't work at all. The following morning I read the newspaper and I was right, she couldn't stand me, and I went to the airport. On my way to the airport in this taxi cab I said, "Helen get with the program here." What I should have done with this woman is poured details on here, the Cronbach's alpha, the eigenanalysis, all of the math of everything. I should have poured the details on her and she would have liked me. It was at that moment that I began to realize something that I've long held, which is I don't believe in the golden rule, do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. I believe in the platinum rule, do unto others as they would have done unto themselves and you will win.

They're literal, detail oriented, I like details but they got to add up to something. They like details just for details. Very good with numbers, got to belong, you take Prozac or Paxil and you end up having more close friends. Respect authority, follow the rules, religiosity is in the serotonin system, and loyal. Every time I do the math these people have got to have loyalty. I don't remember the question on the questionnaire at the moment but you'll see it soon enough, but it's something like would you rather have interesting friends or loyal friends? Now we all want interesting friends and we all want loyal friends, but this type cannot tolerate unloyal friends and the other three types, including me, cannot tolerate uninteresting friends. It's a real math difference in hundreds of thousands of people. Conscientious, dependable, on the downside they can be close minded, controlling, that's a big one controlling, rigid, stubborn, and moralistic.

Top word they use is family, honesty, caring, morals, respect, loyal, trustworthy. I did that one twice, and values, really big on the word values. Mitt Romney I think is the perfect example. For Newsweek before when he was running against Obama, I certainly read his book, I don't know if you did. Anyway he's an orderly guy and I read an awful lot about him. Loves daily schedules, loves them, you can't be a Mormon without respecting authority, it's a very hierarchical religion, religious guy, etc. You can also see the testosterone in him, the heavy brow ridges, high cheek bones, very squared jaw, and the high forehead. Once again but very high I think on the serotonin scale.

Hu Jintao, former President of China, the current one I think is very high testosterone. This guy I think is very high serotonin. By the way, there's a gene in the serotonin system linked with social norm conformity. Where in the world do you think that that gene is most prevalent? Shout it out. China, China and Japan. I've been in, I'm sure you have too, I've been in the train station in China and you can see 40 little boys lined up waiting for the train. You can't get 40 little boys in New York City to line up for a train. It's the high serotonin style. I think Mike Pence is very high on the serotonin scale. These are the words he chose, that he's a principled conservative and a common sense conservative. I don't think Mr. Trump was going to say he's a common sense conservative. Controlling guy, wants to restrict a lot of things, Evangelical Christian, etc., and real nationalism. Very high I think on the serotonin scale.

High serotonin people are also drawn to people like themselves. I think Mitt Romney and Ann are really a perfect example of serotonin meets serotonin. The third of the broad styles of thinking and behaving, don't forget we're all a combination of all of them, high testosterone. These people shoot for the stars, analytical, logical, good at math, engineering, computers, or music. Music, I think Beethoven was high on the testosterone scale. Music is very structural I'm told. I'm high dopamine, I don't hear any structure at all, I'm just swinging to the beat, but the bottom line is these people see the structure of music. Experimental very definitely, inventive, rank oriented. You inject testosterone into a dove or a lizard and they're going to fight, they're going to be in a fight for rank. High testosterone people indeed are a very rank oriented, and in fact it's called dominance matching and it's an academic term.

I learned my lesson, one night I was at a club in New York City, it was a black tie event and I was standing there with four men. One of them was a guy from The Wall Street Journal and he was taking me to the cleaners, he was dining out on Helen Fisher, just dining out. The other three were watching. I got smaller, and smaller, and smaller, this two basic animal postural gestures throughout the animal kingdom looking little and looking big, it's called crouch and loom. Lobsters will do it, they'll walk high on their walking legs. Guppies will put their fins out and arch their backs to look big or they'll look little. I was getting smaller and smaller, this man was going, attacking me, and all of a sudden I turned around to him and I said something vicious. I don't remember what it was, but it was also funny.

All of us went like that, it was called a barred tooth display. Chimpanzees do it too, you do it when you're just terrified. We all stood there looking at him and I thought to myself, "Oh if he thinks like a woman he's never going to forgive me. If he thinks like a man I will have matched him in dominance and he will like me." This long pause and then he turned, he throws up his hands says, "Helen," he starts to laugh, that let all the rest of them laugh, and that man has respected me from that day to this. One of the things that I say to people is with this kind of a person attack back. It's a little hard to do. The second in command at Match.com, she's the only person that did take my advice, she's the only one that attacked the CEO. This was a guy who ate rocks for breakfast, this guy and eventually she was the only person that made friends with him. Actually she finally got his job so that did it.

Emotionally contained, I have a girlfriend who said to me some time ago, she told me the story about her husband. She said to her husband, she said, "Sweetheart, you haven't told me that you loved me in a month." He said, "I said that last month and nothing's changed." Emotionally contained, decisive, bold, tough minded, and direct. These ones get to the point. On the downside they can be uncompromising, impatient, demanding, mind blindness, it's an academic term for the inability to read other people, read posture, gesture, tone of voice. In fact that may be the evolution of why women cry more than men do. We both cry but women cry more tears and it may be just saying, "Hey buddy, got to get the drift here, there's something going on." They're less sympathetic. Americans love empathy, but when you really think about it for millions of years, I'm an anthropologist, for millions of years on the grasslands of Africa men had a job that did not require empathy. They had to catch that baby gazelle, slit its throat, and bring it home for dinner. They couldn't start weeping and let it go or bring it home as a pet.

There's different kinds of altruism. Men will rush into a burning building and save people that they don't know. Women won't do that, so it's not that men aren't empathetic, we got to break down the understanding of what that word means and under certain circumstances. Men are going to be much more, what we would call empathetic, or maybe it's perhaps just heroic. Nevertheless, on scales of empathy the high testosterone … As they get older levels of testosterone actually go down and men become more and more empathetic. Women become more tough minded after menopause as estrogen goes down, unmasking levels of testosterone. These are volatile systems, but on average high testosterone type tend to be less empathetic, and aloof, they do not suffer fools gladly. They get bored easily with it.

Top words they use, a lot of different kinds of intelligence but this is the sort of knowing a lot about a subject, debate, geek, nerd, ambitious, driven, politics, challenge, and real. They're the least likely to be religious or even spiritual. Steve Jobs is a perfect example. You can really see the testosterone in that face. The high cheek bones, the very squared jaw, the heavy brow ridges, and the high forehead. Self-discipline, brash, prickly, demanding, brutally honest, these are the honest ones, perfectionist, exacting, demanding, impatient, and focus. All very high testosterone traits. Margaret Thatcher, they called her the Iron Lady for some reason and here we got the epitome of it. I've never shown that slide before. I don't generally discuss psychotic people, but he's testosterone on steroids this guy. I could say a lot more about him but we all could.

In terms of love they go for their opposite. High testosterone people tend to go for the high estrogen type. In business I would guess that they probably are much more comfortable with people like themselves. High estrogen, the last of the four broad styles of thinking and behaving. Plato called them philosopher kings. I coined that term web thinking. In the womb estrogen and testosterone wash over and build the brain. What estrogen does, if you got the genetics for it, it builds more pathways between the two sides of the head and more pathways between the front and the back. It's a better connected brain. It's not to say that it's any smarter, it's just able to pull out data almost simultaneously from different parts of the system. I call it web thinking. It enables people who are high estrogen to be very good at contextual holistic and long-term thinking.

They're imaginative because they can create a whole pile of different concepts, very good at tolerating ambiguity, which I think libertarians are extremely good. I think this is actually one trait, it's my hypothesis, that libertarians would excel on, and mental flexibility. Very good at what we call executive social skills, linguistic, reading posture, gesture, tone of voice, etc., intuitive. They can get into your head. We now know the biology of intuition. It's not magic, what they're doing is they're pulling data out all at the same time and so they're leaping over sort of systematic thinking to come of the global concept. A Nobel Prize was won for understanding that. Empathetic, nurturing, trusting, that's a strange one trusting. Anthropologists have long wondered why could we have evolved the concept of being trusting? You trust the wrong person and you're screwed.

The reason I like that so much is because you can begin to see that this type of person who's trusting is also good at reading posture, gesture, tone of voice, thinking contextually in the long-term, tolerating ambiguity in the system, and getting into people's heads. You can begin to see how a constellation of personality traits can evolve together. Introspective, everything has meaning. Just the way he slices that lemon for the drinks tonight means we're not having sex tonight. Everything has meaning and you've got to be aware of that when you're working with them. They're seeking, they're going in. They seek harmony, tend to be agreeable, emotionally expressive, and what I call diplomatic intelligence. On the downside they can be scattered, they don't think they're scattered, but the collective data from here and there and the rest of us think they're scattered.

Indecisive, as I say I have an identical twin sister, I'm very high on this estrogen scale. Where do you want to go for dinner? I don't care we can go here, we can go. Well where do you want to go? We can go here, we can go here, we can be really … I'm not in my work but very indecisive otherwise. Placating, they want to please, they want to level the playing field. Ruminating, they can think over and over and over about something. There's some sort of business meeting and there's a fight during the business meeting and afterwards all the men go out and have a beer and the women go home and think about it for three weeks, ruminating. Gullible, they can be too trusting, hypersensitive, backstabbing, not going to hit you in the fact, going to stab in the back, and unforgiving, they remember. High estrogen remembers what you didn't do five Christmas' ago. They remember. I think it's a bit of a blight for both sexes, and effusive.

Top words is passionate, real, heart, kindness, says reader, they're the big readers of the world learning random, they like random. High testosterone doesn't mind random as long as they can make a pattern out of it. High dopamine can do random, but the high serotonin needs order, they need order. Obama I think is very high estrogen. In the Oval Office he had a rug with inspiration quotes on it. My goodness, that's high estrogen. He's about to do a TV program. I was reading this on the plane and I can't remember, I should have read that this morning, it's something almost a self-help kind of program, that's high estrogen guy. Bill Clinton, whole world knows he can't stop talking. He's got good people skills, his books I don't know. His book is something like 963 pages. I think it's important to have a synthesizing mind, that's what he said. Emotionally expressive, he feels everybody's pain, very soft face of high estrogen.

We've been wondering for some time when we are going to have our first female president. I think we've had our first female president. Certainly Charles Darwin, that man put together all living things and also very dopamine guy, went around the world for five years, etc. Very different people, very different backgrounds, very different interests, but the same basic temperament.

The high estrogen tends to go for the high testosterone kind of person. This is a map I've never shown, I mean I've never gotten it published, of America's … As I say I've got 14 million of these things. High serotonin I know that should be red but it's royal blue because I think that's the appropriate color, all over the South and Midwest. They are all much more republican, as I say I've got all that data, and much more religious. High estrogen is in the Northwest and Northeast where most of our universities are, which is educational and reading. Everything that's loose rolls into California, that's the high dopamine. All around Washington is testosterone where they are trying to run the world, or in Alaska where they're trying to shoot the animals, or Nevada where they're gambling, so it's a very high. You can begin to see not only how America sorts itself biologically, but actually if I were to look at the world it would sort it's own.

I'm very interested in migration patterns now where people will go to areas where people think the way they do. You're going to see pools of genes, of certain biological and temperament styles. I think these things all evolved together. There's a hunting and gathering group. As an anthropologist we think about early hunting and gathering bands were about 25 individuals, maybe 10 or 12 children, and 10 or 12 grownups. They're all going over a hill and they suddenly see some mushrooms. Well you can't have all the high dopamine people say, "Ah, let's try the mushrooms." You're going to have some of the high serotonin people say, "It's not in our tradition to try these mushrooms." You got to have some high testosterone people who say, "Let's have an experiment. Let's feed the mushrooms to the dog and see what happens." You got to have some high estrogen people who say, "Let's sit down and pool our data about these mushrooms."

I think that these four broad styles evolved together sort of to the push and the pull of society's around the world. Once again, I think what I've stumbled on is these basic styles of thinking and behaving. There's centrist certainly, the go versus the stay, stability, plasticity, male, female, libertarian I think, authoritarian, I'm using Nolan's chart, and liberal, and conservative. Indeed libertarian are taking from these estrogen, personal freedom, and from the testosterone scale economic freedom. This is it. Here is the questionnaire. I'm going to give it to you. You've got to take it on an app. When you do take it you're going to get this. I'm breaking these scales down. Nobody's just one, they're not buckets, and I have found actually a lot of men who are very empathetic but they're not contemplative, they don't ruminate.

I've found quite a few women who are very good at systems thinking testosterone, particularly women in big business, but they're not tough minded. We are all a combination. As I mentioned, I've studied 100,000 people and no two people took this questionnaire the same way. I've never in my life met two people who I thought were alike, and as I say I'm an identical twin. There's patterns to nature, there's patterns to culture, and there's patterns to personality. I'm going to leave this up while I tell a story and then go.

The story is I was in Japan and I was with Match.com and they were starting Match Japan. I was hired to go for the week and talk to the press and explain these four personality styles. Then the last day came and my wonderful little handler, I said to my handler, "So what am I doing tonight?" She says, "Well we're going to have a little party Helen." I said, "Oh okay." She said, "What we're going to do," and we pull up to this place and it looks like the White House. Big columns and I walk into this room, this huge ballroom, twice the size of this room. Mannequins with wedding dresses on them, six foot high flower arrangements, etc., and she said, "Well Helen, what we're going to do is we've invited the first four people who have taken your questionnaire on Match Japan to come to this party tonight." I said, "Well that's okay, that's great." She said, "Well what you got to do is you got to explain the four biological styles of thinking and behaving and then we're going to have a little ice breaker." I said, "Oh okay, that's cool."

She says, "Well what we're going to do is everybody's going to take your personality questionnaire and they're going to wear a rubber band around their wrist." People who are very high on the dopamine scale are going to wear a bright yellow one, energy, fun, exploration. People who are very high on the serotonin scale are going to wear royal blue, stay. People who are very high on their testosterone scale are going to wear a red one, what I call power tie red. Then tree hugger green for people who are high on the estrogen scale. They're all in there, they're all mixing, they're all wearing one of these bands, and I get up and I explain it. Then what happens is she said, "Well what we're going to do next is we're going to roll out the bottom layer of a wedding cake, four wedding cakes, just a two foot by two foot, bottom layer of a wedding cake. Four of them, and the four broad styles of thinking and behaving are going to go to different parts of the room and decorate the wedding cake and you're going to comment on it."

I said, "Holy shit, this is the nadir of my scientific life." Anyway I hoped they would do it a little differently. This is what I saw. The first thing I did is I went over to the people who were doing the estrogen cake. That cake was smiling at me. Let's be friends, love they write on the side. It's very emotional, charming, I don't think you want it on your wedding cake, but it's emotional, charming, let's connect, empathetic wedding cake. Then I go to the high testosterone cake. There's no emotion in that cake, none, but they decorated around the cake. They thought outside the box. Then I went to the high serotonin cake. It's a formal, orderly wedding cake. One kiwi, one cherry, one kiwi, one cherry, one kiwi, one cherry, organized wedding cake. Kind of person you want.

Then I go to what I'll call the libertarian cake, the dopamine cake. The first thing I see, the crow parts, there's 500 people in the room and first thing I see is three men pitching fruit at the cake. Then they look up to me and one guy was standing there, he looked at me, he took one look at me, he took some flowers out of a vase that was not part of the wedding decorations and plunged it into the middle of the cake. Here we have the libertarian cake.

I will conclude with this. As I said, I don't agree with the golden rule treat others as you would want to be treated. I believe in the platinum rule, understand who they are, talk to them so that they can hear you, and you will win. Thank you.

NEXT: Jeff Sessions' Plan to Put Strict Limits on Painkiller Manufacturers Will Only Make the Opioid Crisis Worse: Reason Roundup

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  1. Is the libertarian mind a product of elevated dopamine and testosterone?

    It would certainly explain the dearth of male dopes.

    1. We’ll always have Tony.

        1. We could always vivisect Tony to see what’s wrong with his brain.

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            1. You get paid that much to vivisect Tony’s brain?

              1. It does require jeweler’s tools and a microscope, after all.

              2. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

                This is what I do… http://www.jobs63.com

  2. “If libertarians are bold, impulsive, quick witted, adventurous, analytical, and willing to ignore social norms, is that because we have especially active dopamine and testosterone systems in our brains?”

    No. Next question.

    1. “Care to elaborate?”
      “No, and get off my lawn!”

  3. If libertarians are bold, impulsive, quick witted, adventurous, analytical, and willing to ignore social norms, is that because we have especially active dopamine and testosterone systems in our brains?

    That is one HUGE ‘if’.

  4. So, we libertarians are drained of our melancholy humours.

  5. Following this up …. docs should start asking political questions so they can track your changes, just as they ask if you’ve changed your medications, your exercise regime, eating habits, etc.

    1. A lot of the major healthcare networks already ask if you own guns. This is the next obvious step.

  6. Barack Obama, according to Fisher, is high in dopamine, accounting for his optimism, and also in estrogen, which explains the mom jeansOval Office rug covered in inspirational quotes.

    1. Obama never struck me as optimistic. In fact, he was Debby Downer: “You didn’t build that”, etc. He was a robot who uttered platitudes to get elected.

      1. Obama always struck me as a dour scold. Trump is an optimist, to the point of pollyannaism.

        1. And perhaps polyamory.

        2. Really? Obama’s campaign slogan was “Hope,” and he wrote a book called The Audacity of Hope, but he was a “dour scold”?

          1. His sloganeering and the impression observing his persona had are not the same thing.

            1. I wasn’t old enough to vote for him, but I remember finding him quite inspirational. How can anybody watch this clip and not be hopeful for the future of the planet?

              1. I think It’s gonna be hilarious when OBL starts to really believe in his troll persona.

              2. How can anybody watch this clip and not be hopeful for the future of the planet?

                You’ve gotta wear the glasses.

            2. Sounds like you are projecting.

          2. He didn’t write that.

            1. Who did, then? Bill Ayers? That’s such a weak conspiracy theory.

              1. At this point, you’re either a parody or Will Wilkinson

              2. It really isn’t. Obama hung out with lots of treasonous subversives. The media did a good job of covering for him. Obama should be executed for treason, based on his many crimes against America

          3. Yup. He ‘hoped’ other people would behave as he wanted them to, but was prepared to force them into ‘compliance’.
            Utterly selfish, in O. Wilde’s sense of the term, not A. Rand’s.

  7. Whatever scientific merit her research has will be washed away by folks using the ideas to invent new ways to insult others.

    1. Well, yeah.

    2. Shaddup, you estrogen-Xer.

      1. Hey, at least I’m human.

        1. Not me. I identify as a hybrid kryptonian gallifreyan. So the government owes me a TARDIS and yellow,sun fueled superhuman powers.

          1. Okay, but the relevant part is do you have a baculum? Humans don’t.

  8. So it all comes down to hormones. If you are high on testosterone you’re pretty much an overbearing asshole, and too much estrogen you’re a bitch. Maybe even a slutty bitch. Did I get that right?

  9. So if it is all set by hormones then persuasion and reason are useless because no one arrived at their beliefs by rational thought and consideration.

    1. You didn’t think that.

    2. There are many books on that topic.

    3. Which nicely rebuts any argument she makes from the premises of this reductionist bs.

      1. But what about her data? You’ll take a priori reasoning over observ’n?

    4. Influenced by, not set by.

      Similar to how the best predictor for someone’s religion (as an adult) is the religion of their parents. Doesn’t work every time, but it’s one of the big influences.

    5. I don’t think that’s a good conclusion to draw. But it does help explain why reason and persuasion are so rarely successful at changing people’s political beliefs.

    6. That horse left the barn 100 years ago. Say when Edward Bernays joined the Creel Committee during WW1. And realized that his uncle’s (Sigmund Freud) ideas were not just applicable to neurotics lying on a couch. But were applicable to every form of public mass communication from advertising to PR to politics.

      Add a whole bunch of knowledge since then about how the brain itself works – and yeah. The notion that ‘man is rational’ is purely one of the two remaining conceits/delusions of the Enlightenment Era. The only ones who still believe that are themselves purely deluded about their own rationality. And any academic discipline – like say economics with homo economicus – that assumes rationality is just wrong and will fail to the extent that it requires that assumption.

      1. Oh – and libertarians would be well advised to understand that reality pronto. Because that reality IS understood by those who are more than happy to use that knowledge and their control of the institutional forms of communication to sell very anti-libertarian ideas. And that’s why they are winning.

      2. People are perfectly rational. They just look irrational to you because they are reasoning from different assumptions. To say they are “irrational” is to assume you know their values and perceptions, which you can’t. Or it is to assume that rationality is objective, it is not. Logic is objective.

        1. If by ‘perfectly rational’ you mean ‘as rational as they can be given the limits of their often faulty knowledge and limited perceptions’ then yes.

        2. No people are not rational. IDEAS are rational. People are animals. And like all other animals, we respond to – and act because of – a combo of stimuli, prexisting neural connections in very different parts of the brain, a soup of chemicals – and yes new neural connections created by exposure to a new ‘rational’ idea.

          The notion that people are rational is actually quite reductionist. We are FAR MORE than that.

          1. No people are not rational. IDEAS are rational. People are animals.

            It would appear this is true of you, at the very least, since your claim here amounts to the notion that idea’s exist separately from human minds. Are you trying to prove your own point by personal example?

            1. Are you trying to prove your own point by personal example?

              Are you trying to pretend that the entirety of metaphysics in philosophy doesn’t even exist? That it is so self-evident that there was never any eg problem of universals.

              Must be fun to be so arrogant. But I can guarantee you that the source of that arrogance is probably some chemical in your brain (maybe serotonin from this article) or some prexisting neural connection of yours – NOT some rational idea that you could point me too.

              1. Just pointing out that if idea’s are rational, that one could claim that the person that had the idea was also rational. Idea’s do not exist somewhere outside the human consciousness. I guess that if you believe in a god, maybe that would make sense.

                It’s not arrogance, it’s rational.

                1. if idea’s are rational, that one could claim that the person that had the idea was also rational.

                  They presumably had a rational THOUGHT. That’s all. Maybe just a brain fart. Maybe something that becomes quite meaningful to them and changes their own behavior via neural connections. But it is hardly ‘reasonable’ to then reduce all of the rest of them to that one thought. Once it is expressed/communicated; then it does also exist outside them. But there is then also no neurological ‘reason’ why a subsequent person encountering that thought will form the same neural connections re that thought.

                  So either the label ‘rational’ is meaningless – or it applies only to the thing outside both of us.

        3. John, what of the progtard, and it’s innate cognitive dissonance? Clearly, they are not rational creatures. In fact, an argument can made that they are not truly human.

      3. Good short bio re Edward Bernays.

        This connection of psychology, neurology/biology, and mass communication is at the heart of a lot of stuff today. Cambridge Analytica collected psychographic info from Facebook. Psychographics is nothing more than Maslow’s hierarchy of needs made actionable and self-correcting. Which means everyone on Facebook is implicitly consenting to be irrationally manipulated and ain’t nothing ‘rational’ they can do about it.

        1. Garbage in, garbage out.

    7. The question being addressed is, regardless of what persuasion & reason can achieve, why do some people use them a lot more than other people do? If rational thought & consider’n were the sole ways people arrive at their beliefs, & the facts we have to reason about are the same, why do people have different beliefs? You’d expect everyone to arrive at the same conclusions from the same facts, yet they don’t, so something else is going on.

  10. Next thing you know Reason will be talking up the wonders of evolutionary psychology.

    1. Their inner neo-Darwinist will not be denied!

  11. So Libertopia will never exist since their won’t be enough people with the correct brain chemistry to conduct a Libertopia in any one area?

    Unless they have mandatory drugs that get everyone to have the correct brain chemistry, like Fluoride in the water system or maybe contrails in the air?

    1. New and improved Soma.

      1. Or Equilibrium.

    2. So Libertopia will never exist since their won’t be enough people with the correct brain chemistry to conduct a Libertopia in any one area?

      Seems pretty likely to be the case. For the same reasons why no political ideology ever really gets its way.

    3. “So Libertopia will never exist since their won’t be enough people with the correct brain chemistry to conduct a Libertopia in any one area?”


  12. Well it’s certainly true in my case. I’m High T baby.

    1. I’m High T baby.

      A fellow member of the hairy ass, big bag club?

    2. Sorry about your hair and gut.

  13. I will happily cede the thinking of estrogen to someone else.

  14. I haven’t watched this yet, but I think this is the same researcher who found that leftists and rightists tend to smell different, and sort themselves accordingly. Pheromones, you know…

  15. “Biology is destiny” sure is a libertarian thing to believe.

    1. It is all the transhumanist nonsense. You see we have free will except when we don’t. It is complete rubbish. Either biology controls us or it doesn’t. If it does, then it does so in every case and there is no such thing as free will. If it doesn’t in every case or we can somehow ignore it, then it doesn’t matter. It is one or the other. But these people refuse to accept that. So they dream up what amounts to fantasies about how biology sort a kinda explains our behavior.

      What biology explains is our desires. You can’t control what appeals to you. What you can control, however, is whether you act on those desires. And biology has nothing to do with that.

      1. Agreed, except that transhumanism is ultimately about taking control of one’s biology regardless of whether or not biology is in full control of behavior.

        1. Yes. But to take control of ones biology is to assume that biology encompasses all of the self. If it does not, then overcoming and controlling my biology doesn’t really transcend anything.

          1. Not necessarily. It’s about transcending physical (and maybe mental) limitations, which do exist, even if they don’t define what makes you John and me Citizen X. For instance, one of the major goals of transhumanists is figuring out ways to extend life. That is taking control of biology, but has fuck all to do with determining the selfhood of people who might undergo it.

          2. Of course biology encompasses all of self. What else would there be? Some kind of immortal soul that is separable from the body? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. You have none.

            1. Are you currently drinking a bottle of rum in a Mexican whore house? No?

              If there is no soul, then there is no point to not just going full on hedonist.

              1. That doesn’t follow at all.

                1. You can’t prove or disprove the existence of a soul, but demonstrably humanity is different from animals because of something that we refer to as a soul. A humanist or atheist might refer to it as ‘thinking’ or some other less loaded term, but observably we are above the animal and both atheists and theists generally agree on that point.

              2. If there is no soul, then there is no point to not just going full on hedonist.
                That you think so says more about you then it does about atheists.

                1. What it says is that, if true, there is no valid basis for your own judgement that (at least some) atheists are ‘better’ than what he thinks of them.

                  At that point there is, and cannot be, and moral higher ground.

                  1. What it says is that, if true, there is no valid basis for your own judgement that (at least some) atheists are ‘better’ than what he thinks of them.

                    You’re assuming judgements not in evidence.

                    At that point there is, and cannot be, and moral higher ground.

                    You’re assuming morality relies on a “soul”.

        2. ” taking control of one’s biology regardless of whether or not biology is in full control of behavior.”


          You are either tied to the wheel of biology (full control), in which case all is inevitable consequence of biology; or you already have control and it only varies in the degree of control exerted.

          1. Determinism is a bitch.

          2. False, see below.

            1. You were the one who said ‘full control.’

              So not false.

              1. Nuh-uh.

      2. Why does it have to either complete control or no control at all? Why can’t you accept that brain chemistry influences behavior, without completely controlling it? Free will is not an either-or proposition either. There are different degrees of our ability to control our behavior, just as there are different degrees to our ability to control our body. A concert violinist has great control of his or her fingers, and a free diver has great control of his or her ability to hold breath under water. This does imply other people have the same ability, but only that they have the potential to develop such abilities with training. The same goes for any efforts to control behavior despite a particular brain chemistry.

        1. “Why can’t you accept that brain chemistry influences behavior, without completely controlling it?”

          For the very reason that you assume a particular cause and effect, rather than the latter.

          1. I’ll make it obvious for you.

            Maybe brain chemistry is as predictive of behavior as exhaust fumes are predictive of automobiles.

            1. Do you understand how statistics work? You can’t predict an individual’s behavior in a particular situation based on their brain chemistry, but you can predict how a certain percentage of people with a particular brain chemistry will act.

              1. “You can’t predict an individual’s behavior in a particular situation based on their brain chemistry, but you can predict how a certain percentage of people with a particular brain chemistry will act.”

                You still don’t get it. The assertion is that brain chemistry is causative. Which makes me question whether you understand how statistics work. Or, more importantly, how they don’t work. Have you even stopped for a second to consider that the differences in brain chemistry are a consequence of the behavior?

                Absent that all you are arguing is that there will be a different response rate between Lagos and Boston if you ask all the redheads in the room to raise their right hand.

                1. It seems like you are arguing that I am claiming that brain chemistry is the ONLY cause of behavior. No one is making that claim. But it is causative. To argue otherwise is foolish.

          2. Don’t be absurd. We know that behavior influences your brain. That’s why behavioral therapy works. We also know it works the other way around. That’s why alcohol works.

            The mind is a plaything of the body is a plaything of the mind.

            1. “We know that behavior influences your brain. That’s why behavioral therapy works. We also know it works the other way around. That’s why alcohol works.”

              I don’t think any of that proves what you think it does. Unless you consider alcohol a neurotransmitter. At which point we must ask the question where does self end and everything else begin.

              1. At which point we must ask the question where does self end and everything else begin.

                You can if you want, but you have to ignore my point to think I’d care?.
                ?We have plenty of way to affect behaviors thoughts, behavior and actions by fucking with their brain chemistry.

                1. No, I was politely explaining you don’t have a point.

                  “We know that behavior influences your brain…”

                  What precisely does that even mean? What is meant by ‘behavior’? The overt things you do?, the things you think? How do those things occur?

                  Ditto for ‘brain.’ Do you mean the physical organ, or the mind (whatever you choose to think that is) or some unspecified combination of the two?

                  And, having answered those questions, how do you propose to establish which is (if any) is causative of the other?

                  1. “behavior influences the brain’ is at best an empty platitude. It tells us nothing of the nature of our existence. At worst it is gibberish.

                    1. What precisely does that even mean?

                      I didn’t go nearly deep enough in psychology to get precise. But to put it simply, it means you can treat depression with both drugs and talk therapy.

                      Ditto for ‘brain.’ Do you mean the physical organ […]

                      Yes, obviously. You don’t talk about “brain chemistry” when you don’t mean the brain that’s presumably between your ears.

                      how do you propose to establish which is (if any) is causative of the other?


                      It tells us nothing of the nature of our existence.


        2. I either do something or I don’t. What does it mean to influence behavior? You can’t tell me because no one can. What you are saying is “well sometimes it causes you to do it and sometimes it doesn’t’, which is a complete fantasy. If I cannot ignore what my brain chemistry tells me, then I have no free will. If I can, then I have free will and am responsible for the times I don’t ignore it and give into my base desires. If I can ignore it, then it is me making the decision, not my brain chemistry. So brain chemistry isn’t explaining behavior, it is explaining desires.

          1. Do you have six-pack abs, John? Why or why not?

            1. Because I choose not to make the sacrifice to have them. Other people do and they have the same brain chemistry I do. Why do some people like wine and others find it vile? Some things just are. Pointing to some chemical reason for why I find wine good tasting and others don’t does nothing to explain why I choose to drink wine or choose to be a teetotaler. Desires are not the same as behaviors.

              1. I thought you would make this argument, that you are in complete control of all aspects of your behavior. You will forgive me for being skeptical.

                1. I am in control of all aspects of my behavior. If I was not, you could not hold me responsible for my choices. I choose what I eat and whether I work out. If you offered me enough motivation to have six pack abs, I would have them. The fact that I don’t have them just means that while they are desirable, the sacrifice necessary to get them is too great for me to choose to have them.

              2. So you are fat because you choose to be fat, John? Ok, got it.

                1. First, I am not fat. Second, to the extent I am fat, it is because I choose to be. If someone offered you a million dollars to achieve six pack abs, are you telling me you couldn’t do it? I guarantee you you would. Just because we give into our desires doesn’t mean we are not in control of them. It just means we don’t always choose to be in control of them.

          2. Do you and drunk-you make the same decisions?

            1. “A drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts” is a witticism that readily springs to mind.

            2. Sometimes. Drinking changes the things I desire. And thus changes my behavior because the desires I give into are different than when I am sober. That being said, it doesn’t always change my behavior. It depends on how much I want to give into my desires.

          3. What does it mean to influence behavior? You can’t tell me because no one can

            It means to induce a behavior in others that is known and predictable to the one trying to influence.

            eg Yell fire in a theater. The behavior in others is highly predictable. And it doesn’t mean the persons remaining in their seats are exercising their free will. It may just mean they’re deaf.

    2. “Biology is destiny” sure is a libertarian thing to believe.

      Yet it may well be true.

      1. I can’t see how it is. If it were, people’s behaviors would be predictable. And they are clearly not.

        1. That’s not entirely true. There is a whole industry in profiling and conning people that is devoted to knowing what people will do in certain circumstances. Granted it isn’t perfect knowledge, but it’s better than shot-in-the-dark blind guessing.

          1. People’s behavior can be predicted in the aggregate. But that is just a result of people generally going along with their desires unless they have a reason not to. Predicting people’s desires is not the same as predicting their behavior, though it can be a good stand in for it.

            Also, I think that industry’s effectiveness is limited. It is limited to people not realizing they are being manipulated. Once people realize that, then the game is up and the manipulation doesn’t work anymore. If biology were destiny, that wouldn’t be true. If you pushed the right buttons, it would always work even if the people knew they were being fooled. The fact that it no longer works once people are told or understand they are being manipulated is pretty strong proof biology is not destiny.

            1. I don’t entirely disagree with you, but I think you’re being overly absolutist. I don’t think this is an either or situation.

              1. It is a complex thing. I do not believe in true dualism. So you are right, it isn’t this simple. But it isn’t biology is destiny either. And it is close enough to dualism for it not to be very productive to contemplate the odd ways it is not.

            2. Also, I think that industry’s effectiveness is limited. It is limited to people not realizing they are being manipulated. Once people realize that, then the game is up and the manipulation doesn’t work anymore.

              Really? The average person sees/hears/etc 5000+ messages per DAY that are deliberately created to sell you something and to do so by manipulating you.

              ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. That phrase was created to sell cereal.

              40 hour work week with a weekend off. Thank Henry Ford in 1926 – Why I Favor Five Days’ Work With Six Days’ Pay who was looking to sell cars.

              Wonder why everything seems to be framed as War on A/B/C. Because that is a phrase that links the testosterone induced instinct of pugnacity with the emotion of anger. The phrase may not work on you – but if it doesn’t it won’t be because of some choice you make.

          2. ” but it’s better than shot-in-the-dark blind guessing.”

            Yes, but mainly because it largely consists of iterative blind guessing with subsequent correction.

            Like walking artillery onto the target.

        2. No, I wouldn’t really say that biology is destiny. It is obvious (to my mind) that people make all kinds of choices about how to behave. But people also have stable personality traits that manifest in tendencies to behave in certain ways. And unless you are a strict social constructionist I think you have to accept that a lot of that is biologically determined. None of this stuff about correlating political views and personality is supposed to be strictly deterministic. People can and do choose to go against their inclinations all the time. But in the aggregate, I tend to thing it’s true. Libertarians, conservatives, liberals, progressives, etc. do seem to tend toward certain personality types.

    3. ‘ “Biology is destiny” sure is a libertarian thing to believe. ‘

      Reality is determined by our wishful thinking.

  16. How in the world does this even purport to be science?? There are so many missing steps in the “evidence” for the assertions being made that I’d take it for an April Fool’s spoof . . . No doubt she’s got data from surveys, but no actual data on how the people that filled out those surveys actually tested on the hormone levels or brain activity.

    Grab-a-headline guesswork, pah!

    1. Lucrative book deals come from celebrity, not science.

      Stephen Hawkins taught them that.

    2. It is also dangerous.

      They can’t help it, it’s their brain chemistry.
      You will report to your local testing center and submit a sample.
      Your results are in. Please report to cattle car 3.

      1. Take it one step further. What is it that they think they will accomplish with those cattle cars? And what ever gave them the impression that they were in a position to judge?

    3. Not of all the people surveyed, but didn’t she say that the test findings were normed to a sample of persons whose hormone levels were known?

      1. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe she did. I think she took Fact A (different people show different traits and preferences on various written personality tests) and separate Fact B (there are observable changes in traits where individuals are given or otherwise are subject to high concentrations of particular specific chemicals) and leaps to NON-FACT C (the different traits in the written personality tests correlate directly with higher concentrations of a chemical associated with that trait under different circumstances). Not science.

      2. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe she did. I think she took Fact A (different people show different traits and preferences on various written personality tests) and separate Fact B (there are observable changes in traits where individuals are given or otherwise are subject to high concentrations of particular specific chemicals) and leaps to NON-FACT C (the different traits in the written personality tests correlate directly with higher concentrations of a chemical associated with that trait under different circumstances). Not science.

  17. The brain’s primary function is to concoct increasingly elaborate and incoherent justifications of why every other brain is defective. As will now be demonstrated:

    1. Sigh. Pretty much.

  18. If libertarians are bold, impulsive, quick witted, adventurous, analytical, and willing to ignore social norms, is that because we have especially active dopamine and testosterone systems in our brains?

    What a load of horseshit. Libertarians as a group are some of the most ordinary and normal people on earth. The typical libertarian is a middle class or upper middle class educated professional. He or she is the kind of person whose favorite color is plaid and lives a boringly productive and reasonable life. They are about as far from the stereotype of the pot smoking excentric Burning Man attendee as one can be.

    Indeed, their reliability and reasonableness is their downfall. Libertarians fatal flaw is that they are so reasonable and tend to think that everyone else is just like them or can be if only the government would leave them alone.

    1. Contrast them to those who feel they need government otherwise they would all turn into rapists and murderers spontaneously.

  19. omfg Libertarians are doing Ted Talks now?

    1. If Libertarianism was ever cool or in any way subversive, the fact that Libertarians are now doing Ted Talks means those days are long gone.

      1. Check out General Gross Grammar over here.

        1. I don’t know what that means.

  20. Libertarians love to be collectivized.

  21. Wow, that interview is one ugly mess of pseudoscience.

  22. when you start linking political beliefs to medical conditions you can then sensor those belief on a medical basis. Be wary of such tactics to use science to silence those they disagree with.

    1. They’re controlled opposition at this point. They do as they’re told.

    2. That is a great point Ron. It goes to the heart of the problem that people who embrace the biological explanation for behavior ignore; if human beings are just biological machines, then there is nothing special about them and no way to stop people from just declaring anyone they don’t like to be defective and less than human.

      1. If the “party of science” wants to use neuroscience to start labeling libertarians or conservatives as mentally ill, then they must also accept that such science that shows that a certain ethnic group who is one of their core supporters is also more prone to aggressive or violent behavior. I don’t necessarily agree with this “science” in either case, but they love to say that science=facts…

        1. They Fucking Love Science right up until it says something they don’t like. The entire thing is insane.

    3. Damn your fast fingers.

    4. But what if it’s true? It’s not an obviously absurd proposition.

      I agree that there are dangerous possible consequences, but what is the appropriate thing for an honest scientist to do in such a situation?

      I’m not saying that it’s great science right now that we should all believe completely, but it is something that could conceivably be scientifically understood some day.

      Do you think that the entire study of psychology should be abandoned? It seems to me that any study of personality leads to similar possible problems. People do have inherent traits and inclinations.

      And looking at things this way isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could also help people to understand that people don’t disagree because someone is wrong necessarily, but because different people naturally see the world differently and have different priorities and values.

  23. bold, impulsive, quick witted, adventurous, analytical, and willing to ignore social norms

    I’m also so handsome that it makes women uncomfortable.

  24. Does this also predispose us to rejecting a materialist reductive view of existence?

    From what objective vantage point does Dr. Fisher claim to make these sorts of determinations?

    1. From what objective vantage point does Dr. Fisher claim to make these sorts of determinations?

      From the same vantage point as Dr. Mengele, Dr. Walter Freeman, and Madison Grant.

  25. I thought we already determined that Libertarians are the result of autistic people getting an education? Now you’re telling me it’s also because of toxic masculinity?

    Gosh, there are just so many reasons why libertarians are wrong that have nothing to do with their actual arguments!


    1. there are just so many reasons why libertarians are wrong that have nothing to do with their actual arguments!

      Heh, well, yeah.

      As I’ve said before, I vote Libertarian, support some Libertarian ideas, and am sympathetic to most of the rest. But because of Libertarians, I will never ever be a Libertarian.

      It’s similar to that infamous Ghandi quote about Christians.

      1. As I’ve said before, I vote Libertarian, support some Libertarian ideas, and am sympathetic to most of the rest. But because of Libertarians, I will never ever be a Libertarian.

        I actually sort of agree with this, although probably not for the same reasons you do. Which is fine, of course.

        I suspect libertarianism is a utopianist philosophy that’s more of an ideal than something that can actually be achieved, or at least that’s how I approach it.

  26. I can understand the argument that libertarians are high T. We tend to be direct. To paraphrase a Camille Anna Paglia lecture, straight men will be blunt, but women and gay men will talk like drug dealers. You know what I’m saying?

    1. That was kinda wordy.

    2. You know what I’m saying?

      You’re saying that you’re a gay man?

  27. Conservatives love this biology-is-destiny shit. Anything bad that happens to anyone else is destined due to genetics so trying to help anyone is a waste of time.

    Also, men love anything that indicates they might have high testosterone despite all physical evidence to the contrary.

    1. Sarcasm?

      Biology is destiny has been a hallmark of the modern left since there was a modern left.

      Conservatism has always been about responsibility. Absent free will there can be no meaningful responsibility. This goes back to the classical period and was picked up and carried by Christianity through to the early enlightenment. After that is when things turned well and truly south.

      1. Asking if it was sarcasm is wishful thinking. Your comment is spot on.

  28. The subheading “Is the libertarian mind a product of elevated dopamine and testosterone?” misses the point (as do most commenters, but that goes without saying). The speaker argues for elevated SENSITIVITY to dopamine and T, not absolute levels.

    The good news is – traditional Rs are forced to struggle with admitting “high sensitivity”, but at least it’s to something akin to Budweiser and Hoppes 9. The traditional Ds are forced to struggle with the idea that estrogen sensitivity isn’t a social construct.

  29. That’s like the test where they give people greater and greater electric shocks.

    At first they say, “let me out of this shocking machine or you’re gonna wish you had!”

    Then they say, “I’ll write my Congressperson!”

    Then they say, “I’m really mad at the other political party for making you do this!”

  30. Sounds like gobbledygook pseudoscience.

  31. Baloney! Some people are more rational than others, and many factors influence that, but life experience coupled with information are the main ones. Hormones, genes, chromosomes . . . all those kinds of things also influence people, but life experience coupled with information are the major factors. If it were possible to isolate a huge population of leftists (wishy-washy small-s socialists, Marxists, and Fascists, the people who make up the Democrat Party and vote Democrat today) and compare them with the same size population of small-c conservatives here in America, the reliable Republican voters today, we would conclude that leftists form emotional and irrational political beliefs based on life experience coupled with poor information. The reverse would be true of small-c conservative voters. Because we cannot gather a huge population to test, the best example of this phenomenon is how the young vote and think compared to how older, more experienced adults vote and think. Someone summed this up by noting that there’s something wrong with you if you’re not liberal when you’re young and conservative when you are old. The differences between youth and age is life experience and better information.

  32. Helen Fisher, like most psychologists, completely misses the source of thought in humans. Note to Ms Fisher, the brain doesn’t do any thinking, no matter how many brains you study and no matter how long you study them, regardless of how many foolish colleagues you convince to do your study with you.

    Thought is done by the spirit, which most psychologists are totally unaware of. Note the origin of the word “psychology” – Greek psyche meaning soul or spirit + ology meaning study of. So psychologists and Ms Fisher should go back to the origin of their subject and start over.

    Psychology as it’s practiced today is fraudulent as it concentrates on the brain. The brain is just a piece of meat, which operates as the nerve center of the body, but it doesn’t do any thinking If you don’t believe me, go get some brains at a morgue and see if you can get them to do some thinking. Likely not, as the missing element is the spirit, which is what really does the thinking

    It’s a spirit that knows that 2 + 2 = 4. It’s a spirit that decides whether to wage war or peace. It’s a spirit that decides whether to grant or accept welfare. It’s the spirit that does all the thinking, as the brain is just a piece of meat that has no capability to do any thinking, let alone decide whether to be a socialist or a libertarian.

    1. But does spirit influence the hormones?

  33. This nonsense about “brain chemistry” is what leads to psychiatric drugging in a foolhardy attempt to “restore” or alter the chemistry of someone’s brain. Ms Fisher is indeed a very dangerous person for this reason, as her study may convince some foolish people to check with a psychiatrist to see if their brain chemistry is balanced. Of course the psychistrist won’t do any testing to determine such a balance, but he sure will convince such a foolish patient to take some psychotropic drug in a misguided attempt to balance their brain chemistry.

  34. I’m skeptical of the formulation, as the axes are not built from opposites, but *different* axes.

    The opposite of high testosterone isn’t high estrogen, but low testosterone.

    Why can’t you be high dopamine *and* high serotonin?

  35. I would ask Ms Fisher if she actually took a tissue sample from Obama’s and Romney’s brains to determine their dopamine and serotonin levels. How else would she know their levels of their neurological tissue? By reading news articles and / or biographies? And she would call herself a scientist? What an idiot.

  36. It’s fascinating to see all the knee jerk hysteria to the idea that your biology has an effect on your temperament, values, and politics.

    Of course it does. Duh.

    Of what do you think your temperament is made, pixie dust?

  37. My Buddy’s mom makes $77 hourly on the computer . She has been laid off for five months but last month her check was $18713 just working on the computer for a few hours. try this web-site

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  38. Barack Obama, according to Fisher, is high in dopamine, accounting for his optimism, and also in estrogen, which explains the Oval Office rug covered in inspirational quotes. Mitt Romney is in some ways the opposite of a libertarian, high on the serotonin scale, which accounts for his respect for authority, rigidity, and loyalty. Fisher is a senior fellow at the Kinsey Institute and she’s the author of six book

    Dr. Fisher’s profile, however, shows her to be off the scale in narcissism and deception, and is particularly admired for her work on craniometry and social Darwinism.

    Why is this pseudo-scientific jerk on Reason?

  39. So if I overdose on testosterone boosters I’ll convert for minarchism to an-cap?

      1. It is pop neuro psycho bio anthropology.

        Very entertaining.

        1. I took a whole bottle of Nugenix and now I can’t stop calling egoism a spook

  40. Dr. Helen Fisher said that she would give the survey to the people in the audience, who are presumably self-selected libertarians. What were the results? I don’t see this mentioned in the video.

  41. This article feels a little bit like a cold read.

  42. We can officially draw the curtain on the influence of Thomas Szasz and free will on Reason.

  43. Yeaaah, people are basically biologically destined to come out roughly a certain way. I’ve done a lot of reading on this subject in recent years. There are strong correlations for virtually EVERY personality trait, musical tastes, etc etc etc with your genetics.

    It’s not just hormones either. They’ve found different wiring in different brains. I believe 8 basic types is what some of the newer science says IIRC.

    But between wiring and hormones that basically accounts for 50%+ of how almost everything about a person will turn out. Will you be outgoing, or shy? Happy or grumpy? All mostly genetics. You can learn about your natural disposition and consciously fight it to some effect… But if you’re a grump, your first inclination will always be to be a grump. Even if you know this and go out of your way to think happy thoughts it will never make you as happy go lucky as a naturally happy person.

    This does seem to all effect political leanings too. People are wired to have a leaning, and while how extreme that expression is changes with time, the leaning doesn’t.

    1. Think a bleeding heart liberal in 1975 versus now. They had the same tendencies, but the expression was objectively less extreme positions.

      If you really accept this stuff it HAS to change how you think about politics. I think the trick is to shift the acceptable liberal positions overton window back a few decades. Then the world might become sane again! But we’ll never make those people conservative or outright libertarian. You just have to give them a level of bleeding heart that is acceptable to everybody else.

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