Sniffing out the truth (New Scientist Opinion)
My colleague, Richard L. Doty provides a synopsis of his book “The Great Pheromone Myth.” Does anyone else think that mammalian pheromones are a “myth”? Knowing the truth when we see it (comment #20)
Minimally, using Doty’s logic, we must wait until someone details which combination of visual cues affects what part of the brain that links the stimuli to the elicited behavior. If not, how can we say we are visually attracted to the visually appealing physical features of other people when we don’t know what features elicit our response or how they elicit any endocrine or behavioral response?
Dr. Doty has responded to my comments and implied that I have an undeclared conflict of interest because I have developed pheromone-enhanced products for sale. Claiming a conflict of interest is a common tactical maneuver that is used to cast doubt on dissenting opinions, and it should work in many cases. Commercial ventures are for profit, when scientific research typically is not. However, Dr. Doty neglected to mention his involvement in the commercial development and marketing of smell tests, where his research and academic status may provide some additional income. Unfortunately, he has planted his his financial feet firmly in the science of conscious odor perception. This appears to present a conflict of interest when he discusses my area of research, publications, and expertise: the pheromones he says don’t exist. In contrast, a recent publication from the Sense of Smell Institute presents what may be a less biased view of what is currently known about mammalian pheromones, including human pheromones.
“In non-human mammals both primer and releaser pheromones have been discovered and identified…” The full text is available on line. Human Pheromones: What’s Purported, What’s Supported
This article begs the question of whose commercial interests, if any, are most likely to be behind the claim that mammalian pheromones are mythical. The answer to the question is research-based. I may formally announce human study results soon.
Meanwhile, I’m working on writing a review of “The Great Pheromone Myth.” Page after page details how reports of pheromones and their effects are actually reports of something else; odors perhaps; chemical stimuli, scent. Dr Doty states “Some critics will view my argument as simply one of semantics.” He’s right about that! ~ James Kohl, a critic.