What’s stealing men’s mojo?

There’s been a lot of bad news for men about plunging testosterone levels. That’s the hormone that makes them manly, and gives them a healthy appetite for sexual activity.


News headlines:

Men’s testosterone levels declined in last 20 years

JANUARY 19, 2007 / 3:32 AM
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – 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.

Modern life rough on men

August 18th, 2011 07:30 AM ET
(CNN Health) Didn’t men use to be more masculine? …studies show that testosterone levels in men have been on the decline for decades.

Today’s men are not nearly as strong as their dads were, researchers say

By Christopher Ingraham August 15, 2016
Washington Post

Why don’t Japanese men like having sex?

By Gareth May11:41AM GMT 22 Jan 2015
(The Telegraph)

The Japan Family Planning Association interviewed 3,000 subjects about their sex lives (both men and women). The study revealed that nearly 50 per cent of those quizzed didn’t have sex in the month previous to the interview. 48.3 per cent of men had not had sex for a month (an increase in 5 per cent from 2012).
Most startling of all, however, was that 20 per cent of men aged between 25 and 29 – the period of a man’s life usually dedicated to the spreading of wild oats – expressed little interest in sex at all.


There is also the probably related problem of plunging male fertility. The same organs that produce most of a man’s testosterone also produce sperm.

Male Fertility Countdown

Dec 8th 2012
Yet another study suggests sperm numbers are falling in rich countries
(The Economist)


The problem is so bad that that it may very well contribute to the demise of entire countries where birth-rates are already well below replacement level. It’s also causing pathological imbalances between the ying and yang of several cultures.

The problem has actually been going on for a long time, but it’s been getting worse at an accelerating pace in recent generations. My geeky personality is not one to let a problem go unsolved if I can help it, not if it might impact me, my sons, or anyone else I care about. So I decided to collect information, follow leads, and come up with a list of lifestyle changes to reduce exposure to the most common known and suspected endocrine disruptors.

Then I wrote up what I discovered into a report. Enter your name and email address, and an answer for the bot trap, and you’ll receive the report and a subscription to our newsletter. Don’t worry, there’s no catch, and no spam involved; the newsletter is just an occasional summary of recent articles from my online magazine. That way, you don’t have to keep visiting to find interesting articles to read; they’ll come to you by mail. If you decide it’s not for you, you can just unsubscribe.

  • Discover how something you probably do every day might be damaging your man-parts (no, not that…).
  • Learn about the class of endocrine disruptors known as phthalates, and what the biggest source of ingesting them is.
  • Find out what to do about the endocrine disruptors in your food and possibly your drinking water.

Disclaimer: this report is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. This report is about lifestyle changes designed to reduce environmental hormone disruption and promote natural hormone production. It’s not about diagnosing or treating any medical condition. Consult with a physician before starting a diet or exercise program.

Your free report should show up within an hour of submitting the form, as an attachment to an email.

Secure your kids’ unfair advantages NOW!

When the media want to express a potentially controversial opinion, they turn it into a question:

Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

What the headline editor actually means is

Having a loving family is an unfair advantage.

This is an opinion piece published by ABC in Australia. Australia, like the rest of the Anglosphere, is culturally messed-up. It’s basically about how families should be abolished because they create “unfair” advantages for children growing up in nurturing families, as if it were the fault of good parents that some other parents can’t or don’t provide as many advantages to their own children.

For the record, abolition of the family has been tried several times. The Communists (you know, the biggest all-time mass murderers on the planet, in all of history) intentionally broke up at least some families in several countries, and the Zionists tried it on themselves on their Kibbutzim (agrarian or semi-agrarian collectives in Israel). Kibbutzim still exist, though collective child-rearing was apparently mostly phased out by the late 1980s. It is extremely taboo to criticize Kibbutzim in Israel, but apparently some people who grew up in one didn’t appreciate the “favor” and would rather have had a nice, normal family.

Back to the editorial:

Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times.

Beware of media references to anonymous authorities. Beware of people who tell you that they’re trying to save something from itself, especially if its none of their business! That’s typically a pretext for a controversial change, or getting rid of it altogether.

So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.

The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

The editorial goes on with some kiss-off suggestions for “rescuing” the family as opposed to just abolishing it outright, that entail parents doing less for their own kids, and more for kids collectively, presumably through government institutions.

  • Why should these people get to decide what’s best for the rest of us?! By what right?! Who died and left the philosophers God?!
  • They claim to be motivated by a desire for equality. If that’s even true, which I doubt, so what? Equality isn’t a value. It doesn’t make the world a better place.
  • People aren’t equal, and you can’t make them equal. Whoever has the power to take away from one and give to another is obviously above the peasants who don’t have that power. That’s presumably rather the point!
  • More likely, they want to abolish families for the same reason that farmers don’t usually let their livestock raise their own broods anymore. This is an assault on your personal autonomy. Do not allow this!
  • Aside from thinking of the rest of us as their livestock, the real reason the rich and powerful are open to ideas like these is that they don’t raise their own children anyway; nannies do. It sounds like a good idea to them because it’s similar to something they’re already doing.
  • These philosophers want to take something away from you. The correct response is to defend what’s yours.

What would really happen if these philosophers got their way would be:

  • The wealth gap would INCREASE, not decrease, because you wouldn’t be allowed to make choices for your own benefit.
  • The winners would be cheaters and sociopaths, like in the former Soviet Union where a few high-ranking members of the Communist party ended up as billionaires through mafia activity, and everyone else was a peasant living in squalor.
  • This scheme creates a backwards dependency chain. Quarks do not depend on electrons to maintain their integrity. Electrons do not depend on atoms to maintain their integrity. Atoms do not depend on cells to maintain their integrity. Individuals should not depend on collectives to maintain their integrity; that’s not sustainable. This scheme and others like it are already destroying the integrity of the system.

Obviously, don’t feel guilty giving your children every advantage that you have earned through your own effort!

Coming soon: tips for subscribers from a book about how to help your children, and yourself, survive in the post-employment economy. It’s full of ideas about how to learn marketable skills faster and cheaper than conventional ways.

 

Stop calling heart-attack food “paleo”

I keep seeing on social media where some guy will post photos of his ribs-and-booze supper, someone else will chime in warning him that his diet is unhealthy, and he insists that “no, no, food pyramid is all wrong, this is the way you’re supposed to eat. It’s paleo.”

The USDA food pyramid might very well be wrong, but so is the idea that prehistoric people ate “lots of meat and no carbs”. Exactly how they ate depended on where in the world they were; they ate what was available locally. Most of them would have eaten a high ratio of foraged wild vegetables.

It would have some carbs too—just not as high a ratio, not refined, not fried, and not necessarily year-round. Simple sugars—like the ones found in that barbeque sauce those ribs are drenched in—are worse than starches, because they hit the bloodstream so fast. In excess, they trigger insulin desensitization. The ratio of carbohydrates increased once humans were civilized, because carbohydrates are easy to store, and stored food is what makes predictable processes possible. Those were mostly starches; until historically fairly recently, refined sugar was a luxury reserved for the rich.

This is closer to “paleo”, but balance probably not optimal.

Carbs supported the calorie-intensive heavy-labor lifestyle associated with farming and construction. Carbs are not as calorie-dense as either fat or protein, but they burn more efficiently. Hunter-gatherers don’t do heavy labor; by definition they don’t do farming or heavy construction. They spend their work hours foraging and sneaking up on prey, and a lot of their time is spent resting and playing. As people living in urban and suburban areas have shifted into more sedentary lifestyles, their need for carbs has shifted back down again.

To put this into perspective, life is all about maintaining homeostasis, or in other word, a balance between deadly extremes. Too hot, and you die of heat-stroke. Too cold, and you die of hypothermia. Too wet and you drown. Too dry and you die of thirst. As soon as your diet starts getting extreme, suspect that you are getting too much of one thing and not enough of another. Our ancestors knew this, but fat Americans, and increasingly Europeans, are falling for food fads.

“Diet”, by the way, is a noun, not a verb. Diet is what you eat regularly, not something you do only after you get fat again. Eat sensibly all the time, instead of starving yourself or eating fake diet foods to compensate for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle.

  • Whatever else you eat, eat a high ratio of green veggies to slow down your digestion and clean out your guts.
  • That’s not a serving of veggies, it’s a garnish! Most Americans should eat about 2 or 3 times as much green veggies as they actually do.
  • Watery, quick-growing vegetables like cucumbers, zucchini, and lettuce are insubstantial. Eat hearty cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage or collards, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, daily, every meal. Generous daily servings of bok choi (and fish) are how people in Hong Kong live so long despite extreme urban stress.
  • Green veggies, not corn or potatoes, both of which are loaded with carbs. You can eat carbs but don’t count them as your serving of veggies.
  • Avoid fried carbs. Some of them are carcinogenic. Avoid potato chips and french-fries (chips in UK).
  • Favor low-sugar fruits like blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, and tomatoes over sugary fruits like grapes and pineapple.
  • Avoid processed foods and especially fast-food. Especially avoid sodas, even diet sodas.
  • Don’t eat preserved meat! It’s full of nitrates associated with heart disease and cancer. I’m looking at you, mein deutscher Junge! I’m aware that a lot of publicity has come out recently claiming that nitrates and nitrites are good for you, but I suspect that’s PR, not real science.
  • Don’t eat hydrogenated fats (“trans-fats”); your body’s mechanisms to get them out of your arteries can’t handle their broken structures. Not realizing that trans-fats were the real culprit was what triggered the anti-fat hysteria of the 1970s and 1980s. Fast foods are loaded with these; they’re created when oil is used for deep frying over and over again. Avoid deep-fried and breaded foods generally. Use coconut oil in lieu of shortening for baked goods; you’ll get used to and eventually start liking the flavor.
  • Polyunsaturated oils (like sunflower oil or safflower oil) are suspect; they go rancid easily and might be doing that in your body. Eat them in moderation and preferably in natural rather than refined forms. Use olive oil for salad dressing, and sauté in cold-pressed canola.
More of these, please

The problem with making generalities is that they obscure some important details. Diets are often grossly classified in terms of ideologies rather than in terms of optimal health.

With that qualification, “pescatarians” average the greatest longevity (all other factors being the same), followed by strict vegans. That makes sense, because pescaterians are getting more (preferably cold-water) fish oil, and therefor a more nearly optimal ratio of omega fatty acids. Eating a lot of fish is probably what contributes to Japanese longevity despite a lot of other bad habits. The vegans are probably getting more fiber, and they are probably more conscious of everything they eat; in other words, it’s probably not eschewing animal products altogether that contributes to their longevity; it’s all that brown rice, quinoa, and kale that they do eat.

If meat-eaters avoid preserved meats, the longevity gap between themselves and vegetarians narrows, which is why I am wary of preserved meats.

One of the world’s healthiest cuisines

“Vegetarian” doesn’t mean much; it’s a diet defined by what is not eaten rather than what is. It’s a diet defined by ideology, not optimal health. It could be very healthy or unhealthy. I would guess that roughly the healthiest vegetarian diet on the planet would be that of southern India; that and the relative rarity of vices among Indians (drugs and booze less common than in Europe and the Americas; satellite porn usually the worst of it) are why southern Indians live longer than most people who live at same level of poverty, and even longer than many people who are more affluent but have unhealthy habits.

Additional reading:

I’d post some cookbooks if I didn’t think they would probably be faddish, and the authors not lousy cooks. Maybe someone else can recommend one, and I’ll post it later. I think I eat healthy but my diet isn’t mainstream enough to recommend to a broad audience. You probably already know what is healthy; if you just do more of your own cooking, and stop eating processed foods and fast foods, that would be enough to get you back to the trimmer physiques of your recent ancestors.

This is worth reading to understand some of the mechanisms, even if you don’t have heart disease or cancer yet. It’s sort of like needing to buy insurance before your house burns down. It’s also worth mentioning that the author is a bit of a shady character, but that doesn’t bother me. He’s recommending a low-inflammation diet because he thinks it works, not because he’s trying to be a goody-goody.

Meditation works just fine for men

Professor Jordan Peterson tweeted a link to this article:

Mindfulness meditation helps women but not men, first study suggests

Researchers have found that mindfulness meditation doesn’t work as well to treat depression in men as it does for women.

That’s an interesting result, but it needs to be put into perspective:

Curing depression is not the primary purpose of meditation. Mindfulness meditation has been found to relieve symptoms of depression in at least some people, but that was not the purpose for which it was developed.

By the same token, it’s worth noting in passing that it wasn’t developed as a relaxation technique either. Relaxation is part of the process, but it’s a means, not an end.

A man who meditates is likely to develop something usually translated as “equanimity”उपेक्षा (upekṣā) in Sanksrit. It’s when you don’t respond to your experiences with strong (and especially negative) emotions. We know that meditation promotes equanimity in men because nearly every guru or pandit who has weighed in on the subject is a man, and that that was his experience.

Equanimity takes longer to develop than the typical short-term clinical research study. Modern medicine as a child of Modernity is  fixes that don’t require commitment: “here, take this pill”.

I would conjecture that equanimity reduces the risk of stress-induced depression.

The article conjectures that the reason that meditation “doesn’t work” (that is, doesn’t give instant gratification) for men is because men tend to deal with their problems through distraction.

I don’t think that’s universally true; back when I had problems, I never felt sufficiently in control of my life to come up with ways of distracting myself. Luckily though I have a naturally resilient personality; I sprang back quickly after falling apart.

That said, I know that a lot of my buddies do in fact distract themselves from problems. It keeps them from over-reacting to their problems long enough to keep them from doing something rash, but it also leads them into temptation to develop an addiction to whatever they’re distracting themselves with, plus problems that are not dealt with don’t usually just go away.

Meditation is a perfectly worthwhile activity for men. It has a lot of interesting side-effects, including helping you train your attention so that you’re paying attention to what is important, instead of wasting your life channel-surfing while bored when you could have been organizing your life to save time for things you really care about. It can also lead to something called “Enlightenment”, but if you don’t know what that means you’ll have to wait until I have enough bandwidth for a complicated explanation.

Meditation is also a good way for a man to learn how to stabilize his mood, as long as he understands that it’s not a quick cure for depression. Instant cures usually involve popping pills, but then you pay a high price later.