Eleventh Hour: Funky Pheromones

By Eric Wolff | March 16, 2009 1:17 pm

Eleventh Hour LogoOh, Dr. Jacob Hood, how do you manage to be such an non-nerdy nerd? In the last episode of Eleventh Hour, Hood and FBI Agents Rachel  Young and Felix Lee are asked to investigate rage killings during New York Fashion Week. Hood has no idea who any of the super models are, but he is hip enough to know that they might drink appletinis. Actually, appletinis are so 2002. Maybe he is a big geek after all.

Anyway, the models in question had made the tactical blunder of wearing an expensive perfume that turned out to be laced with a cocktail of pheromones and neurotransmitters. Men gathered round the runway who smelled the perfume lost all control and assaulted the models. Seems that a side effect of this particular compound is that it incites violence. Oops!  But while animals definitely use chemical signals to communicate with other members of the heard, the role of pheromones in human behavior is far, far less well defined.

At best, the current science indicates that pheromones have some influence on our behavior, but nothing so dramatic as mad lust. In 1971, Dr. Martha McClintock kicked off the study of pheromones when she discovered that women who live together will find themselves on the same menstrual cycle.  In 1998, McClintock established a chemical basis for the syncronicity when she took fluids from the underarm of one woman and applied them to the upper lip of another woman (yuck). The second woman’s menstrual cycle began to shift to match the first woman’s.

Since then, there’s been research on a wide variety of chemical indicators between people. A 2008 study showed that when one member of a crowd becomes stressed, they emit chemical signals that increase the heart rates of nearby members of the same crowd. And in 2007, a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience said that male sweat can trigger the release of cortisol in some women, leading to feelings of stress and anxiety.

But can pheromones drive you wild with uncontrollable desire? Well, let’s ask the private sector, shall we? Ah yes, the Athena Institute has a nice pheromone perfume for us. And look a whole Human Pheromone Store with pheromone candles,cologne, and oil (Ew. Oil? Maybe it’s to help cars love each other. Would that be autoerotic?).  But really, there’s little evidence that any of this stuff works. And what it won’t do is drive someone into lust with you against their will. As Dr. McClintock put it in a Monitor on Psychology (published by American Psychological Association): “It’s like saying that if you see a red light, you cannot control yourself from stopping no matter the circumstance,” says McClintock. “Human behavior just isn’t like that in any domain.”

Maybe Hood was right, and really we should just go back to seduction by appeltini. They worked sometimes, at least.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biology, TV

Comments (7)

  1. Not only will Athena products (which are pure pheromones and not perfumes by the way) not drive anyone into lust with you against your will, but women who’ve used them specifically say they increase romantic interest of a very respectful sort.

  2. Shelby

    I experience the power of pheromone firsthand. I was skeptic just like you. But my mind was changed when i received a free sample of Alphaero at http://www.alphaero.com after seeing an ad on TV. The stuff worked. I’m not saying I had crazy sex with supermodels, but women did start paying attention to me. The listen when I speak. The stand next to me in the elevator and make small talk. i can’t explain it – but I’m a believer in scents. The next step is to stop using deodorant and see if i can produce them naturally.

  3. Erica

    Yes, the “right” pheromones make help people relax and feel comfortable with one another.BUt they don’t tuen people into lunatics. i was at NYC fashion week and there were pheromones at one of the shows. There was no madness – just a great night.

  4. The Eleventh Hour is a great show. Although I do like using pheromone candles. They really get people in the mood. I do believe that pheromones really do work to benefit couples in relationships.

  5. pheromones do work. I use them all the time.

  6. The submit is actually the freshest on this treasured topic. I concur together with your conclusions and will eagerly sit up for your future updates. Saying thanks is not going to just be enough, for the fantastic lucidity in your writing.

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