Re: Current Signals of Increases in Testosterone

Aliza R. Panitz (
4 Oct 1996 21:02:08 -0400

In article <52ogp3$>,
James Howard <> wrote:
>"I am a theoretical biologist; my work contains an explanation of
>increased violence in our society. I suggest violence results directly from
>an increase in numbers of individuals of higher testosterone, who arrive
>at puberty early. increased testosterone and early puberty increase the
>probability of impulsive actions.

>This is why there is so much black on black and white on white violence;
>these are impulsive actions, not premeditated, thoughtful actions. These
>are thoughtless actions that happen quickly, without forethought.

I suspect that social factors provide a simpler explanation...

>This change increases with each generation. Not everyone is affected,
>but more children are affected now than in the past.

If this change is taking place only in the U.S., as you imply below,
then there should be some correlation among testosterone levels,
violent behavior, and number of generations living in the U.S.
Have you tested this?

>My work suggests a cause of this change. The hormone, testosterone, is
>rising rapidly in our society.

Do you have any proposed mechanism by which this change would be
happening? Do your theories also predict increased testosterone levels
in our farm animals? Our household pets? Rural vs. urban dwellers?
Carnivores vs. organic vegetarians?

Some actual data would make your arguments much more believable...

>It is fact that, on average, the behaviors mentioned above, occur in
>higher incidence in the black population. That is, on average, black
>children have more problems with math and English, score lower on
>standardized tests, exhibit more aggressive and sexual impulse activity,
>and experience family disintegration more than white children. The
>reason, I suggest, is that, on average, blacks, as a group, produce more
>testosterone than whites, as a group.

Do these traits show up before or after puberty? If they show up before
puberty (i.e. black first-graders lagging behind white first-graders of
similar socioeconomic status on standardized tests), how is your
theoretical testosterone effect responsible?

Also, do your effects hold true when applied across the diversity of
ethnic/racial groups in this country? You extensively cite black vs.
white as if it were a binary division of the American population, which
it is not...

>I have suggested that increases in testosterone in our society are causing
>the overall problems, i.e., increases intestosterone are causing problems
>for both blacks and whites. Therefore, the rate of teenage births should
>be higher in blacks than whites but increased in both, compared to other
>advanced coutnries. This is the case.

You have not shown any data that testosterone levels are higher in
our country than in other Western countries with similar dietary and
exercise habits.

>"The rate of teenage births is especially high in the black population. An
>international comparison around 1980 revealed that the black U.S.
>teenage fertility rate was 2.3 times the white and 3.2 times the average of
>30 advanced countries. [...] Nonetheless, even white
>teenage birthrates were 40% higher than the average for other advanced
>countries." (Science 1986; 234: 554).

You failed to cite any corresponding evidence that testosterone rates
were higher among U.S. teenagers than among the "other advanced
countries" to which we were being compared.

In addition, I fail to see anything in your letter which proposes any
solution, or makes you appear to be anything other than yet another
racist crackpot with a vaguely "scientific" theory. I can't blame
your elected representatives for ignoring you.

- Aliza