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Pheromones a myth in mammals
Pheromones a myth in mammals
Mike Unger
Published by SteveO
November 15th, 2010
Exclamation Pheromones a myth in mammals

Penn Current: Research: Pheromones a myth in mammals

Something just didn’t smell right to Richard Doty.
It was 1976 when the director of the Smell and Taste Center at Penn’s School of Medicine first started raising a stink about the existence of pheromones.



When his latest book, “The Great Pheromone Myth,” was released earlier this year, it reignited the debate over the science of these supposed smells.

Even the definition of the word is controversial. Generally defined as a biological chemical that induces a well-defined response in the same animal, the concept of pheromones in mammals has been around since the late 1950s.


The term has lingered in both scientific circles and pop culture since then. We’ve all heard tales of how pheromones cause sparks to fly between people who almost subconsciously follow their noses even before their hearts toward a potential sweetheart.



There’s only one problem: According to Doty, mammals (in contrast to insects), do not have pheromones.


“The pheromone term seems to have mainly attracted perfume manufacturers and people looking for the fountain of youth,” Doty says. “It’s just not the way things are. It would be like saying a particular color is why we choose a mate. That’s just not how relationships are formed.”
The fallacy of the pheromone is not a position Doty has carved out only recently. He has spent decades researching the chemical senses (smell and taste) from both basic and clinical perspectives.


“We looked at the literature relative to the set of criteria that would distinguish a pheromone from a chemical,” says Doty, a professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology. “In reality, almost everything you could show [illustrates] that almost all the situations of changed behavior were learned. Animals are very good at learning the meaning of chemicals.”


Doty objects to the idea that a single chemical emitted by one mammal can induce a behavioral change in another of the same species, and therefore little or no more scientific study about the cause and effect of the relationship is needed.


“It’s an oversimplification of how chemicals work in the environment and how animals are affected by them,” he says. “People have oversimplified the nature of the olfactory system. It’s the brain that interprets what meaning is. Conditioning plays a very significant role in all aspects of human and mammal behavior.”


Though it deals with a testy topic, Doty’s book generally has been received well.


“‘The Great Pheromone Myth’ is a lovely mural of important developmental questions and phenomena,” reads a recent review in Developmental Psychobiology. “The book is also an excellent guide to a field of inquiry, a conceptual framework and an admirable product of scholarship. It offers much to professionals and advanced students in a wide range of sensory, behavioral, ecological, physiological and even clinical fields.”
Those who’ve criticized Doty’s book range from the militantly pro-pheromone, many of whom Doty says have stated they will not read it, to those who say the whole argument is a tussle over semantics.
“It’s erroneous to infer that all these mammalian behaviors are determined in an invariant way by a single response to a single chemical,” Doty says. “It’s not just semantics, it’s the whole conceptualization.”
Doty has spent countless hours throughout his career working to debunk myths surrounding pheromones. This book may be his crowning achievement, yet the concept seems to never dissipate.


“People want [pheromones] to exist,” he says. “It’s part of our need as humans to have belief in the unknown. We have the need to believe that certain things are happening beyond our senses.”
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  #1  
By Bella on November 15th, 2010, 11:59 PM
Default Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

Yeah, I read this, lol. Doty's book may have been "well recieved" by those who are un/misinformed. Though he actually contradicts himself. Whack-a-do-whack-a-do-whack-a-do.


Bella
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  #2  
By SteveO on November 16th, 2010, 12:06 AM
Default Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

I hope its available on Kindle. I'm interested in what he has to offer
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  #3  
By Vespero on November 16th, 2010, 12:17 AM
Default Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

I don't understand what the problem is. Yes, the brain mediates behavior to a large extent, particularly in mammals with more complex brains, e.g., humans, but that doesn't mean there is no effect. We are not claiming that some pheromone will instantly send a woman into a mating frenzy, but it amplifies or diminishes certain mental states, which may affect the mediating action taken by the conscious mind by presenting it with different levels of stimuli.

Even if these behavioral responses are only learned, it certainly seems they have been learned to the point of being integrated into the subconscious and are employed automatically to an extent. At this point, what does it matter whether they are congenital or learned? They can still be used to send chemical signals.
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  #4  
By AplAy on November 16th, 2010, 12:23 AM
Exclamation Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

I agree that pheromones do not seem to have magical effects, which can be
observed in insects such as ants. But there is clearly something going on
though because when my family's girl-dog is ovulating the male dogs get all
crazy and it's not in their genes to know that "she is in the month", it is in
their genes to being able to SMELL the signals she is sending. Now, not all
male dogs get all crazy about her. She becomes a bitch to our puppy female.

Also if pheromones did not exist in mammals then how would mr Doty explain
discovered chemicals like androsterone, androstenol and androstadienone???

Now, one thing I think is important now so new member do not get
discouraged by this article is to actually let people who are using
"pheromones" to share their stories because real-life examples are the
best thing ever; after all science tries to discover the real world, not the
imaginationland like south park (LOOOL, luv that episode IMAGINIATIIOON!)

\\\ AplAy ///

P.S. I have already observed facilitating effects in combining AMMO with
Instant Shine so I rest my case to Mr Doty who flashes his PhD-diploma!
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  #5  
By SteveO on November 16th, 2010, 02:32 AM
Default Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

Quote:
Originally Posted by AplAy View Post
I agree that pheromones do not seem to have magical effects, which can be
observed in insects such as ants. But there is clearly something going on
though because when my family's girl-dog is ovulating the male dogs get all
crazy and it's not in their genes to know that "she is in the month", it is in
their genes to being able to SMELL the signals she is sending. Now, not all
male dogs get all crazy about her. She becomes a bitch to our puppy female.

Also if pheromones did not exist in mammals then how would mr Doty explain
discovered chemicals like androsterone, androstenol and androstadienone???

Now, one thing I think is important now so new member do not get
discouraged by this article is to actually let people who are using
"pheromones" to share their stories because real-life examples are the
best thing ever; after all science tries to discover the real world, not the
imaginationland like south park (LOOOL, luv that episode IMAGINIATIIOON!)

\\\ AplAy ///

P.S. I have already observed facilitating effects in combining AMMO with
Instant Shine so I rest my case to Mr Doty who flashes his PhD-diploma!
That's actually why I posted here, in regards to new members. I feel its invaluable for both sides of the coin to be shown and disseminated information for accurate, open and honest discussions to take place. I'd rather a new person read this here than see it in the news and turn away before ever exploring the opportunity as it is presented. I would actually love to read pro-arguments from his view point.
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  #6  
By RisenAlpha on November 16th, 2010, 06:21 AM
Default Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

This is what annoys me: "Doty objects to the idea that a single chemical emitted by one mammal can induce a behavioral change in another of the same species, and therefore little or no more scientific study about the cause and effect of the relationship is needed."

Well that's pretty subjective isn't it? It can't possibly exist, therefore we have no reason to test it. Yet other test show that it does exist and there are changes in behaviors. There are test done with lab rats that prove they use pheromones. Aren't the mammals?
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  #7  
By Vespero on November 16th, 2010, 07:10 AM
Default Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

I also found that line patently ridiculous, especially since it makes it sound as if his opinion is the end-all-be-all. It's as if a scientist were to say "Well, personally I think gravity doesn't really exist. I mean, come on, look at birds. Planes? I know you guys have spent a bunch of resources on this and have your own evidence, but this should about cover it. That's all."

A lot of science is complex, especially while it's still in its formulative stages. Yes, eventually everything might (or might not) simplify down to something as simple as Newton's laws or the everywhere-known e=mc^2, but for most of the process beforehand, everyone is going to be waist-deep in some pretty technical and confusing shit. If we called off scientific investigations anytime someone objected, even if they had substantial evidence to support their side, we would be nowhere. Van't Hoff proposed the tetrahedral bonding scheme of carbon atoms long before a lot of people even thought molecules existed in three dimensions (they thought all the atoms lay in a plane, not that they were actually flat and two-dimensional). People called him ridiculous and in some circles, he lost a lot of credibility. Guess what? Tetrahedral bonding by carbon and other atoms leads to incredible diversity of organic molecules that make life possible. Tetrahedral geometry makes possible chirality and the various properties of molecules that come with it. By Doty's logic, we should have just dismissed the entire thing completely and have a completely skewed view of chemical interactions.

Anyway, I meant to comment on that line initially, as it is completely ludicrous, but I got distracted. It happens.
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  #8  
By Kilekoopie on November 16th, 2010, 10:57 AM
Default Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

Just look at deer season. All the glands they have to rub their scent and mones around during rut, I wanna read this book and see what he says about it. I appreciate you posting this here, it shows how open we are to others ideas and let others have a say so it's not all one sided.
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  #9  
By Vespero on November 16th, 2010, 04:48 PM
Default Re: Pheromones a myth in mammals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilekoopie View Post
Just look at deer season. All the glands they have to rub their scent and mones around during rut, I wanna read this book and see what he says about it. I appreciate you posting this here, it shows how open we are to others ideas and let others have a say so it's not all one sided.
I was going to mention that as well, but wasn't sure of the technical details or validity of that argument, and so didn't want to mention it if it was completely wrong, so thanks. I wonder if you kept a female deer in captivity from birth and away from any agents that could teach her the "proper" response to detecting musk from a male deer, and then introduced the musk to her, would she elicit a sexual response, or some response, even if it wasn't the proper sexual one? If you could ensure that she couldn't have learned such behavior, this would be evidence for chemical communication in mammals, at least of the rucervine variety.
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