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June 22-June 26, 2020

 

a look back at this week’s essays…

 

Does Sex Hormones Determine Our Thoughts?

Let’s talk about hormones.

I have just come up with a theory. But before I present it, you should know this…

Click here to read more.

 

 

Why It’s Okay to Fall in Love With Your Investible Art*

Passion is a popular emotion these days. We are encouraged to be passionate about our careers, our hobbies, and even our ideas. Like most popular ideas, this one is mostly wrong. On the risk/reward scale, it ranges between dumb and dangerous. But there are some noteworthy exceptions.

One of them is art. Let’s talk about that.

Click here to read more.

 

 

The Unpleasant Truth About Asking for Favors

You have to be careful when you ask for favors. Because the person from whom you are requesting the service may not think of it the same way as you do. Such was the case with the favor my partner was about to ask in the memo I intercepted.

Click here to read more.

 

 

 

quick quiz

 

  1. How much do you remember about this week’s “Words to the Wise”? Use each of these words in a sentence:

 

*  strident (6/22/20)

*  prescind (6/24/20)

*  lethological (6/26/20)

 

  1. Fill in the blanks in this week’s quotations:

 

* “Testosterone is a rare ­­­­_____.” – Germaine Greer (6/22/20)

 

* “They say you cannot argue _____. Of course you can. It is one of the most rewarding conversations two people can have.” – Michael Masterson (6/24/20)

 

* “Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further ­­­­­_____.” – François de la Rochefoucauld (6/26/20)

 

  1. Are these statements True or False?

 

*  People that have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic are significantly more likely to transmit it than people that have symptoms. (6/22/20)

 

*  The name for the CoBrA avant-garde art movement was derived from the last names of its most important artists. (6/24/20)

 

*  Paul McCartney was recorded munching on celery on the taping of the Beach Boys’ song “Vegetables.” (6/26/20)

 

 

 

recommended links from this week’s blog

 

* A report on Motor City from my colleague Tom Dyson – to read it, click here.

 

* “A study on infectivity of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers” – to read it, click here.

 

* (“Father Absence: The Biggest Issue Facing Black America”) Here.

 

* “COVID-19 Never Grows Exponentially” – Watch it here.

 

* The skill level required to do this is beyond belief… (“Carving a Bird in a Cage on the tip of a Pencil”) Here.

 

* This video says more to me about what is wrong and idiotic about racism than a dozen essays I’ve read…here.

 

 

 

Q&A

 

Your Question:

 

What do you think about real estate, given what seems like an inevitable recession and possibly worse?

– P.J.

 

My Answer:

 

Good question. I am certainly concerned about the real estate investment market going forward, and I have given it some thought – but not nearly enough to give you a good answer. Here’s what I have so far…

 

The Corona Crisis has impacted the future of the real estate investment market in two important ways:

 

* The economy has crashed in a serious way. Forget Wall Street. We have huge unemployment and record levels of small businesses shutting down for good. That’s bad for a good swath of real estate.

 

* The extended shutdown has given tens of millions of American workers and thousands of companies the opportunity to experience business with an office-less office. This could prove deadly for many large and high-end commercial real estate investments.

 

I’ll keep working on this, and I will answer your question at length tomorrow. Look for it.

 

Have a question for me? Submit it on our Contact Us page.

 

 

 For a look back at the stock market, click here.

 

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“Testosterone is a rare poison.” – Germaine Greer

 

Do Sex Hormones Determine Our Thoughts?

Let’s talk about hormones.

I have just come up with a theory. But before I present it, you should know this:

It’s well established that testosterone is the primary hormone that generates the emotions that have been traditionally described as masculine: confidence, competitiveness, aggressiveness, and even arrogance. Countless studies show that men with higher-than-average testosterone levels tend to exhibit these characteristics regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in and regardless of their chosen careers.

Likewise estrogen, the “female” hormone, generates emotions such as cooperativeness, compassion, and the nurturing instinct.

Both men and women produce testosterone and estrogen. But, typically, the average adult man has about seven to eight times more testosterone than the average adult woman.

Here’s an interesting fact: Testosterone levels change after a win or a loss. They drop during and after a loss and rise during and after a win. But the degree and the duration of change differs with the individual. Some experience a great and longstanding drop or rise. Some experience a change that is less dramatic and enduring. By measuring those changes through blood tests, researchers found they could predict what a competitor would likely do about the next competition. Losers that had large drops in testosterone were less likely to compete again, compared to those that had more moderate and less enduring drops.

Another interesting fact: According to Business Insider, testosterone levels can predict how people in the financial community will fare. Traders and financiers with higher-than-average testosterone levels – both men and women – tend to rise faster and make more money than those with lower-than-average levels.

Studies have shown that CEOs – both men and women – tend to have higher testosterone levels than is typical for their sex. (There’s even a rumor that Wall Street companies search out women with higher-than-average testosterone levels because it means they’re more likely to take on risk.)

In one study, researchers found that “young male” CEOs (younger than 45) were “more likely than older [male or female CEOs] to both initiate and kill M&A deals.” They noted, “Young male CEOs appear to be combative… [as] a result of testosterone levels that are higher in young males. [Average testosterone levels drop significantly as men age.] Testosterone… has been shown to influence prospects for a cooperative outcome of the ultimatum game. Specifically, high-testosterone responders tend to reject low offers even though this is against their interest.”

Some other facts:

* High testosterone levels are common among those that advance in other professions, too, such as politics, the military, and even academia.

* There is evidence that testosterone levels are higher in individuals with aggressive behavior, including prisoners (male and female) that have committed violent crimes.

* Researchers found that men with increased testosterone “were 27% less generous towards strangers with money they controlled.”

Neuroscientists generally agree that emotions and thoughts are not biologically distinct. One affects the other. And both exist in specific areas of our brains that are stimulated by our sex hormones.

So my theory is this: Testosterone and estrogen affect the way we think and the sort of thoughts and ideas we prefer.

One example…

My fellow book club members and I were having a discussion about the sort of books we like to read in our club as compared to the books that our wives like to read in their clubs. There is an obvious difference. Our wives prefer to read fiction, and they read only fiction in their clubs. We read half fiction and half non-fiction, though a good third of us read the fiction selections grudgingly.

On those occasions when we and our wives have read the same books (fiction), we preferred the darker novels like Heart of Darkness and No Country for Old Men, whereas the women preferred novels like Vanity Fair and The Goldfinch.

When it comes to genre fiction, the women preferred historical fiction like Wolf Hall, whereas we preferred crime stories like The Killer Inside Me.

Of course there are exceptions and degrees. Within our group, there was a stark divide between those that liked Where the Crawdads Sing and those that abhorred it. Those that liked it were generally more accepting of literary conventions. Those that disliked it saw it as a thinly disguised romance novel.

I was thinking of the people that write for my publishing companies, and I could see a difference there, too. The male writers tend to be more contrarian and confrontational when they write advocacy pieces, and they gravitate to subjects like economics and investing, where conflicting opinions are common. The women tend to be more compassionate and consensus seeking in their writing, and they gravitate towards subjects like travel and natural health, where the emotional content is less volatile.

Again, there are exceptions.

But it does seem that an imbalance in the testosterone/estrogen ratio in favor of testosterone stirs up contrarian, unconventional, even strident, trains of thought and a preference for non-fiction writing that emphasizes such thinking. And an imbalance in the other direction stimulates ideas that are more conducive to consensus and a preference for non-fiction writing that is more accepting of conventional norms – even if those conventions are presented as radical or revolutionary.

I’m generalizing, of course. Some of the best women non-fiction writers I know are contrarian thinkers. And some of the most successful male writers I know advocate ideas that are mainstream and conventional.

But does that refute my theory or support it?

I remember reading a book by Deborah Tannen, a linguist, about the way men and women talk about their experiences. According to Tannen (based on a bunch of studies she did), men tend to present their experiences as examples of how well they fare in competition. Women tend to present them as opportunities for bonding.

One chapter of the book looked at the way husbands and wives talked about vacations they had taken together. The men overwhelmingly reported them as successful, whereas the women told stories about problems they’d encountered. Tannen theorized that the reason for this discrepancy was that, for men, any admission of problems with a vacation they had spent time and money on was tantamount to admitting failure. For women, it was a way to evoke sympathy.

I’m sounding terribly misogynistic, so I should probably drop this theory right now. But I’ll end with a question…

Since we know that the sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) have a proven effect on emotions, and we know that emotions are inextricably connected with our preferences in many areas (career choices, leisure activities, etc.), why wouldn’t these same hormones also affect the way we think – our preference for certain kinds of ideas?

But before you answer that… have your bloodwork done and compare your hormone levels to the averages.

 

 

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