An Epidemic of Low Testosterone
EDIT November, 2014: at the present time, AndroPlus seems to have gone offline, and they’re not responding to emails. I’ve been in touch with colleagues such as Matt Forney, and we’re a bit worried about what’s happened to the company we gave our voices to. Early on there had been minor issues which I attributed merely to the disorganization of any new business, but the present state of affairs is far more worrying.
The post below remains unaltered (I believe it contains a lot of valuable information outside of the product recommendation), but as things stand I would have to recommend that you purchase any testosterone supplements elsewhere.
By this point I’m sure you’ve read something about the dropping testosterone levels amongst modern day men; Heartiste has written about it, Danger & Play has written about it, Bold & Determined has written about it, and now it’s my turn. A while back the gents at Andro-Plus.com were kind enough to send me a sample of their topical cream, and Good God – it’s like waking up without a hangover for the first time in months.
But enough of that for now, I want to write about the low-testosterone phenomenon.
If you read Vox Day, then you’re familiar with the fact that only 1 out of 9 gold-standard medical studies can ever be replicated; researchers have a bias towards publishing something, anything!, and Science that has yet to become Engineering is perpetually tentative (even many Engineering standards are ad hoc and arbitrary). Nonetheless, as a God Fearing Bayesian this shouldn’t trouble you; it’s a simple matter of priors.
- The immediate evidence in front of your own eyes
- The bias against men and testosterone
- The mounting Scientific evidence
Let’s take these one at a time.
1. Your Own Eyes
While I dislike using profanity, there’s simply no better way to put it: there is an incredible amount of faggotry in modern society:
word of origin faggot
Definition 4, noun; Overly theatrical, whiney, effeminate behavior
Whiners, sensates, man-boys, excuse-makers, snowflakes – they abound. Weak-jawed and weak-willed, men who white knight and allow women to walk all over them. Men who tolerate – even endorse – feminism, who thus fail to make women feel secure (let alone make them feel like a Real Woman), both allowing and driving them to seek the protection of government socialism. Men who vote socialist themselves, begging the government to take their guns away. A pop-culture of effeminate pretty boys, spawning a culture where you can put on a pair of women’s jeans (crushing your testicles) without immediately getting your ass kicked.
Not to mention a Corporate and Educational culture which is profoundly anti-masculine and effeminate.
Sure, this is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg problem – did culture emasculate men, or did emasculated men allow this culture? – but at the end of the day, it’s a moot point.
Heck, forget all that, and simply look at the jaw-lines from Heartiste’s Then And Now photo essay:
Compare and contrast our noble ancestors with modern Americans.
Then: Poor, yet dignified, with strong family and community bonds.
Now: Overfed, government assisted trash who look like shambling monsters.
This is not wistfulness, this is not worship for an imagined golden age, this is a fact: our grandparents were more masculine than we are.
2. The Bias Against Testosterone
What is the climate in which this evidence (see Part 3) of dropping testosterone levels is appearing? Is it one which is overly-focused on male health, and celebrates the masculine virtues? Or is it a culture which only allows the female imperative, and denigrates not only masculinity, but testosterone itself?
To ask the question is to answer it, but let’s roll with this for a bit.
We’ll start with the Ultimatum Game. It works like this:
The ultimatum game is a game… in which two players interact to decide how to divide a sum of money that is given to them. The first player proposes how to divide the sum between the two players, and the second player can either accept or reject this proposal. If the second player rejects, neither player receives anything. If the second player accepts, the money is split according to the proposal. The game is played only once so that reciprocation is not an issue.
The UG is the ur-experiment of societal trust and baseline moral consideration; the first player is more likely to offer a 50/50 split with somebody whom they are close to, than a stranger. The higher the social trust levels within a society, the more equitable the splits are in general – in other words, high social trust = treating strangers as if they were friends.
All pretty hum-drum so far; where it gets interesting is when we start looking at the second player, the one who decides to accept the split, or reject it for both of them.
In a low-trust society – think a region with major ethnic conflict – it doesn’t matter how inequitable the split is. Make it 95/5, and the second player will still accept it. In such societies there is no expectation of decent behaviour, whereareas in high-trust societies we find it downright offensive. I would rather deny you $95 for the cost of $5, because you’re acting like a jerk!
So how does this intersect with testosterone? We all know that testosterone is correlated to aggression, but what does this mean?
The expected result – and the one “demonstrated” by this study(1), – is that high testosterone reduces generosity. After all, Alpha Males are all jerks, right? Right?
Allow me to break down why this study can be roundly ignored.
- The participants all “knew” that they were getting testosterone, thus re-framing the experiment due to their new expectations. Certainly, there was a control group receiving a placebo – but that doesn’t change the fundamental shift of the experiment. It was no longer about societal trust and the UG, the UG was simply a format for a competitive game of strategic, hierarchical combat: even the placebo group approaced this as a strategy game, over-thinking and becoming analytical. They might as well have been measuring aggressiveness and chess-playing – you can forget about the UG entirely!
- Their methodology prevented face-to-face confrontation, which is the whole point of the UG: “All participants were asked to make proposals as DM1s and to identify their minimum their acceptable offers as DM2s. At the end of the experiment, payment was determined by randomly assigning each person to the role of DM1 or DM2 for each decision.” This again turns things towards the strategy element, rather than the trust element
- To further reduce trust “the sample was ethnically diverse (Asian 44%, Caucasian 36%, Hispanic 8%, Other/no data 12%).” A properly run UG either tests for inter-racial behaviour, or controls for this factor by running it with a mono-racial group.
- They refer to the opening bids as measuring “generosity”, when they could equally well be labelled as “fear of reprisal.” A Ukrainian peasant might offer a Mongol warrior a 50/50 split – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s generous.
Long story short, you really must admire the author’s cleverness: they got exactly the result they wanted.
So in our Quest for Truth we must reach a bit further. Certainly, testosterone is going to affect the UG – but how? To find the answer we turn to Terence C. Burnham(2) (even if he also tends to vilify our Precious Bodily Fluids).
For subjects with above-average testosterone, 45% rejected the $5 offer versus 7% of the men with below-average testosterone. Of the seven men with the highest testosterone levels, five rejected $5, whereas only one of the 19 men with the lowest testosterone levels rejected $5.
It is also possible to examine the relationship between ultimatum game offers and testosterone levels. Table 2 summarizes the finding that men who offered $25 out of $40 had higher average testosterone levels than those who offered $5 out of $40, but this difference is not significant at the p=0.05 level.
In other words, if the second player is high-testosterone, he is definitely less likely to put up with rudeness from player one. But when player one has high testosterone… there is no measurable difference in his behaviour.
To bring this all together, high testosterone men are the rule-enforcers of society. They’re the ones who call out people on their shenanigans – who chase down the criminal, or tell the idiot to shut up. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re more aggressive, as it’s typically understood; they’re more likely to enforce the rules, yes, but they’re not more likely to violate them. They’re less “generous” – in other words, they’re less likely to suck-up to strangers – but they are not more likely to violate norms and standards in the first place.
Try explaining to a feminist, the next time she complains about “Rape Culture”; that the solution is higher testosterone amongst the majority of decent men.
Finally – the Social Wonders of testosterone established – let’s look at how it’s generally perceived… by women (bold emphasis added).
Christoph Eisenegger from the University of Zurich tested this folk wisdom by enrolling 60 women in a double-blind randomised controlled trial. They were randomly given either a 0.5 milligram drop of testosterone or a placebo. He only recruited women because previous research shows exactly how much testosterone you need to have an effect, and how long it takes to do so. We don’t know that for men.
Overall, Eisenegger found that women under the influence of testosterone actually offered more money to their partners than those who received the placebo. The effect was statistically significant and it’s exactly the opposite of the selfish, risk-taking, antagonistic behaviour that stereotypes would have us predict.
Those behaviours only surfaced if women thought they had been given testosterone. Those women made lower offers than their peers who believed they had tasted a placebo, regardless of which drop they had been given. The amazing thing is that this negative ‘imagined’ effect actually outweighed the positive ‘real’ one. On average, a drop of testosterone increased a proposer’s offer by 0.6 units, but belief in the hormone’s effects reduced the offer by 0.9 units.
You read that right, people; women think that testosterone is what makes people unpleasant, but it turns out that it’s testosterone’s deficit which leads to the misery of the modern workplace.
Shoot – how often have you heard a woman say how much she hates working with women? Despite the perceptions, testosterone=teamwork.
[Edit: No Ma’am wrote about the social effects here.]
3. The Mounting Evidence
With all of that, we have a couple of priors that will influence how we treat any studies claiming low testosterone:
- There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of society-wide low-testosterone (the plural of anecdote may not be “fact”, but it is “Bayesian Prior”).
- There is a cultural prejudice against testosterone – that it leads to violence, that lowered rates of it would somehow be good for society – thus a lack of interest in studying it.
I could also add “3. There is generally more interest and funding for women’s health than men’s health,” but I think I’ve done enough already. So what do we have as evidence?
Well, paywalls, mostly.
A new study has found a “substantial” drop in U.S. men’s testosterone levels since the 1980s, but the reasons for the decline remain unclear. This trend also does not appear to be related to age.
The average levels of the male hormone dropped by 1 percent a year, Dr. Thomas Travison and colleagues from the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, found. This means that, for example, a 65-year-old man in 2002 would have testosterone levels 15 percent lower than those of a 65-year-old in 1987. This also means that a greater proportion of men in 2002 would have had below-normal testosterone levels than in 1987.
In the summer of 2006, Travison attended an Endocrine Society meeting where another researcher, Antti Perheentupa M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Turku, in Finland, presented evidence of a similar decline. The Finnish results suggested the change was happening among younger men, too. A man born in 1970 had about 20 percent less testosterone at age 35 than a man of his father’s generation at the same age. “When I saw another group reproducing our results,” says Travison, “that was convincing to me that we were seeing a true biological change over time, as opposed to just some measurement error.”
Quite the substantial effect… and yet so little information in the public sphere. As for the cause of this dropping testosterone? Nobody quite knows. From a journal discussing study (4), amongst others:
This population-level declinein testosterone concentrations in men is not explained fully by the usual suspects: increasing body mass index and prevalence of obesity, certain other co-morbid conditions, or decreasing incidence of smoking…
Speculation ranges from CFCs, to plastics, to women’s birth-control being urinated into the water supply. Culture and evolutionary pressure may provide partial answers, but given the seemingly worldwide incidence of this phenomenon (I was only able to confirm Finland and the United Staes), something more is likely at play.
This is both a real phenomeon, and a dangerous one – not only for the health of individual men, but for society as a whole. And yet we live in a world where a woman who wants to be a man is more likely to be on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) than a man who actually needs it.
So what are you going to do about it?
It turns out that there’s quite a bit you can do in your personal life. [Edit: Heartiste does a better job here.]
1. Fix your diet.
Soy – if you didn’t already know – is chock full of estrogen, and it’s in just about every pre-processed food, thanks to those vegetarian loonies. Not to mention dozens of preservatives chemicals, most of which we didn’t evolve with. Furthermore, the high rate of carbs in the modern diet lead to obesity, which leads to decreased testosterone. Speaking of which…
3. Work Out
And by this I mean weightlifting – not endless marathons (though there’s nothing wrong with a good jog). Quite frankly, you should already be doing this, so I won’t harp on it.
Vtiamin D, Calcium, Zinc, and Ginseng are supposed to help, but I am not an expert.
It is a basic fact of reality that the way you behave determines the way you feel, and testosterone levels have been shown to correlate with major events in one’s life. Something as simple as smiling for thirty seconds will have a noticeable improvement on your mood. And if that can have an effect, what do you think being stoop-shouldered and kowtowing to Corporate Masters is going to do to you?
Same thing goes for the people you associate with. There’s an old saying, “You are the average of your five closest friends.” Hang out with winners, and you’ll be a winner. Hang out with a bunch of potheads who never accomplish anything, and, well…
But while all this will help, it’s impossible to live perfectly “naturally” – Bold & Determined pointed out in the above link. If you are a North American or European man living in the 21st Century, then you have abnormally low testosterone, given your genetic makeup… even if you were lucky enough to be born with high innate levels.
Let me tell you a story.
Back when I lived in Hamilton, the city where my family originally immigrated to, I was walking down the street one day and an old man stopped me. I was wearing my Commissionaire Uniform at the time, and he pointed at my name tag.
“Aurini?” he asked, “Are you by any chance related to Leo Aurini?”
“Leo – he was my great grandfather! He was a huge part of the reason I joined the military, he served as a Chief Petty Officer during World War 2.”
“I used to work for him at the steel mill,” he mused, “He was a very scary man. A very fair man. But a scary one.”
I’ve been blessed genetically. I like to think I’m pretty badass – but I don’t hold a candle up to my ancestors. My great-grandfather was hard.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that I’d received a sample from AndroPlus; I’d been meaning to look into TRT for a while, and they contacted me at the perfect time. Now, I am not a doctor; I haven’t done independent testing, and I am not an expert on body-building. But I can tell you the following:
- I am more alert; I feel braced for action.
- I sleep better.
- I have more energy for working out.
- I am less prone to depression.
- I am more cheerful.
- Both my sex-drive and acne have returned to where they were at 25.
TRT may not be a youth-serum exactly, but it’s pretty darned close.
Andro-Plus is a topical cream – slow release – with a 5% mixture. You may qualify for TRT with your medical plan, but from what I understand they’ll usually start you on a lower dosage (the good stuff is reserved for the aforementioned FtM transsexuals). 5% is effective, but it is not a body-building dosage – in other words, you shouldn’t have to worry about damaging your natural testosterone, or amplifying your estrogen production (both risks of steroid abuse – while steroids can be done safely, they require a great deal of scientific background). From my experience, Andro-Plus is safe, it is effective, and it, or something like it, is necessary for your health.
I heartily endorse this product (and yes, it shipped to Canada without problem); $100 may seem pricey, but that’s for a six-month supply. Click the image below to check out Andro-Plus now.
1. Testosterone Administration Decreases Generosity in the Ultimatum Game
Paul J. Zak mail, Robert Kurzban, Sheila Ahmadi, Ronald S. Swerdloff, Jang Park, Levan Efremidze, Karen Redwine, Karla Morgan, William Matzner
2. High-testosterone men reject low ultimatum game offers
Terence C. Burnham
3. A Cohort Effect on Serum Testosterone Levels in Finnish Men
Antti Perheentupa, Juuso Mäkinen, Tiina Laatikainen, Matti Vierula, Niels Skakkebaek, Anna-Maria Andersson, Jorma Toppari
4. A Population-Level Decline in Serum Testosterone Levels in American Men
Thomas G. Travison et al. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism January 1, 2007 vol. 92 no. 1 196-202