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Surprising Science

Hormones Are Not Deterministic

The thought that hormones somehow "control" our moods and behaviors is a falsehood, a popular oversimplification that hinders the understanding of what is actually going on.

There is an inordinate readiness, both within scientific circles and in popular scientific understanding, to ascribe direct causation to the actions of hormones, especially when it comes to moods and behaviors. For example, consider how you’d usually interpret the common expression “being hormonal”. But there is just as little motivation to call a hormone the “love hormone”, the “stress hormone” or the “sleep hormone” as there is calling a gene the “gay gene” or the “god gene” etc. The idea that in fact there is no one gene for property X, Y or Z has become pretty pervasive now, and I think it’s time the same thing happened for the actions of hormones.


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Michael Hartl is the author of The Tau Manifesto, which argues that, quite simply, pi is wrong. He's also a physicist who has previously both studied and taught at Harvard and Caltech.