Dr. Richard L. Doty's logic

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.

About James V. Kohl 1308 Articles
James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones. Recently, Kohl integrated scientific evidence that pinpoints the evolved neurophysiological mechanism that links olfactory/pheromonal input to genes in hormone-secreting cells of tissue in a specific area of the brain that is primarily involved in the sensory integration of olfactory and visual input, and in the development of human sexual preferences. His award-winning 2007 article/book chapter on multisensory integration: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences followed an award winning 2001 publication: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology, which was coauthored by disinguished researchers from Vienna. Rarely do researchers win awards in multiple disciplines, but Kohl’s 2001 award was for neuroscience, and his 2007 “Reiss Theory” award was for social science. Kohl has worked as a medical laboratory scientist since 1974, and he has devoted more than twenty-five years to researching the relationship between the sense of smell and the development of human sexual preferences. Unlike many researchers who work with non-human subjects, medical laboratory scientists use the latest technology from many scientific disciplines to perform a variety of specialized diagnostic medical testing on people. James V. Kohl is certified with: * American Society for Clinical Pathology * American Medical Technologists James V. Kohl is a member of: * Society for Neuroscience * Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology * Association for Chemoreception Sciences * Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality * International Society for Human Ethology * American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science * Mensa, the international high IQ society


  1. Mr. Doty’s article claims “Another problem with the pheromone concept is that it forces complex behaviours and stimuli into two categories – pheromonal and non-pheromonal, essentially innate and learned.”
    Based on the research I have done on pheromones I have seen that the most respected web sites, and proponents of pheromones, do not force complex behaviors into pheromonal and non-pheromonal categories. JV Kohl specifically states on his website https://scentoferos.com/pheromones/new/
    “Marketing claims that guarantee you will get more sex are unscientific and unrealistic. If you are unappealing, human pheromones cannot magically make you appealing. Human pheromones can help because nearly everyone is somewhat appealing, and human pheromones enhance that natural appeal.”
    What I read into Mr. Kohl’s comment is that there are a number of factors that can/will affect an individual’s behavior. Pheromones alone can not affect that behavior. There is also another article at [broken link] that delves into this same theory.
    I actually have what I believe to be practical evidence that supports Mr. Kohl’s comment. I have a lady friend, I will call her Marie. Marie and I have known each other for going on 19 years now, I am 44 and she is 35. We have been great friends and have a very close connection. Several years ago Marie’s husband (ex husband now) violently raped and beat her. Now, of course psychology plays a part in Marie’s scenario. However, I have seen first hand the effects of pheromones on her.
    Marie and I started a relationship in May 2009. Marie and I had an awesome relationship, very open, honest, and loving. However, knowing of the incident with her ex I knew to be careful when it came to sex. I wanted to try and “coax” Marie back into enjoying sex again. I happened upon an article about pheromones and read up on androstenone. The information I read claimed androstenone can help in making females become sexually attracted to men. I purchased an androstenone product and used it in my efforts. Almost immediately Marie began to act very differently around me when I wore the androstenone product.
    I did more research on pheromones and androstenone in particular. I found that androstenone signals high testosterone, sex drive, aggression, and dominance. Quite contrary to the information I received from the seller of the androstenone product. I immediately knew the problem once I learned more. I knew the signals Marie was getting from the androstenone were most likely causing her to now associate me with her ex and his actions.
    I decided to test my theory. There is only one other male friend of ours that Marie trusts as much as she does me and is as comfortable around as she is with me. I’ll call him Edward. One night at a dinner party I got Edward to try a new “cologne” I said I purchased which was actually the androstenone product. I refrained from wearing it. Within 15 minutes of Marie being exposed to Edward and the androstenone Marie became agitated and uncomfortable around Edward. She asked me if we could leave the party early and we did so. She later told me she didn’t understand why but she got very nervous about Edward and actually a little scared. She said she felt the same way about me at certain times and specifically mentioned the times I was wearing the androstenone.
    I later purchased products that contained Androstenol and Androsterone. The research I did on these two pheromones claimed that they can give a female the feeling that you are a protector, and make women feel comfortable around you. Whenever I used the Androstenol and Androsterone products around Marie she did indeed become even more comfortable with me and commented that she “felt safe with me, like nothing could hurt her”. Our relationship did indeed get better and she did indeed become more comfortable with sex with me.
    Now I didn’t want to rest on just these results so I tested further. I had another friend, I will call Andy, use the Androstenol and Androsterone product a couple of times. Marie normal was pretty uncomfortable around Andy. He is a very sexual and dominant type of male. Marie would never stay in the same room alone with Andy. However, when Andy was wearing the Androstenol and Androsterone Marie became more comfortable with him and would even stay in the same room talking with him alone. I ran this test with other males Marie felt uncomfortable with and obtained the same results. I even did a test where I sprayed Marie’s cousin who is also her best friend (I’ll call her Karen) with androstenone and saw Marie become very uncomfortable around Karen.
    Marie does not know of my use of pheromones to this day, nor the tests I ran. In my opinion this is practical evidence that pheromones not only exist, but do indeed work. However, I do concede that there are unscrupulous individuals out there just looking to make a buck who do not fully understand the complexities of pheromones. In the same token though, there are indeed those out there who have done the research and understand these complexities. I feel Mr. Kohl and and Garry Nelson from [broken link] are very reputable and have done the research and legitimately understand pheromones and their complex nature.

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