Return of the Oxycautioner

By Ed Yong | July 17, 2012 2:58 pm

Following yesterday’s Twitter rant about oxytocin, the hype hormone, Laura Helmuth from Slate contacted me to do an extended cut. That piece is now up. I elaborate on my problems with the hype, what the current state of oxytocin science is, and why it’s damaging, at greater length. If you’re a fan of science, snark and conjunctions, check it out.

Imagine a molecule that underlies the virtues that glue societies together. Imagine that it brought out the better angels of our nature with just a sniff and could “rebond our troubled world.” Imagine that it was the “source of love and prosperity” and explained “what makes us good and evil.”

Well, carry on imagining. This is a story about oxytocin, and oxytocin is not that molecule.

And thanks to everyone here and on Twitter for the supportive comments. It seems there’s been a simmering undercurrent of frustration over this, among neuroscientists, physiologists and science writers particularly. Happy to help. And thanks to Laura too – I always like it when bloggy hype-busting rants get a chance to go mainstream.

Image by Samout3

Comments (2)

  1. Epidemiology, in general, tends to be way overhyped, so it’s little wonder that many “drugs” (be they statins, anti-depressants, sleep aids, pain relievers, etc.), not to mention vitamins, supplements, and the like, tend toward overhype on a routine basis. Oxytocin has lots of company.

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