CuddleKill: or, Liz Cheney Explained

Well, I warned you all. A shower of oxytocin, to fill all you bickering hordes with trust and mutual love.

Except, wouldn’t you know it, it’s never quite that simple.

You may remember oxytocin by one of its cutesy pseudonyms (“the cuddle hormone”, “the morality molecule”) if not by its technical handle. It’s the hormone that subverts the usual mammalian propensity for fucking around and turns meadow voles into lifetime monogamous pair-bonders. It’s the neurotransmitter that increases feelings of trust between individuals. (Vassopressin, oxytocin’s kissing cousin, made a brief appearance in Blindsight, when Siri Keeton’s dad snorted a noseful of the stuff to help him remain faithful to a wife whose own charms were not quite up to the task.) According to an interview with one Carsten De Drew it’s even been put forth as a tactic for calming violent crowds: just spray everyone with a mist of the ol’ cuddle compound, and watch the mob dissolve into a puddle of Woodstockian bliss.

There’s just one problem with this. According a recent Science paper by De Drew et al, oxytocin also makes you hate.

Context matters, of course. Oxytocin does make you feel more protective and altruistic towards kin and kind: friends, relatives, the so-called “in group” we all develop over time. But De Drew et al have now shown that it also increases your hostility towards to outgroups: the guys from the other tribe or the other school, at least when you’re worried about the security of your own group. The phrase they use to sum up oxytocin’s impact is “tend and defend”.  It makes you love your neighbour all the more, sure — but if there’s the slightest chance some stranger might pose a threat, oxytocin urges you to bash his skull in before that threat materialises.

What’s especially interesting about all this, though, is the ease with which these responses are provoked. There were no Thunderdomes in this study. Nobody was threatened with physical harm, no competing groups of blood relatives were pitted against each other. Payoffs and conflicts were over trivial amounts of money. The participants in these interactions never even met face to face; everything was mediated via computer. People were arbitrarily assigned to groups without knowing anything about their fellows beyond the fact that they were in the same group. They were then run through a series of Prisoner’s Dilemma variants.

And even under these arbitrary, artificial conditions, oxytocin increased loyalty to the unseen members of the in-group — and increased defensive hatred towards out-groups. It didn’t take kinship, or bonding, or any real threat to one’s well-being. It didn’t even take the presence of “outsider” cues like skin color or eyelid shape.

All it took was the chemical.

And really, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? It always comes down to the chemical. All those other cues — the jingoistic appeals to flapping bits of colored cloth, the fact that the other guy looks different from you, the big-eyed awww-boosters of cats and babies and seal pups — all of those things are just cues, triggers that release the neurochemical hounds. You don’t actually need any of that stuff when you’re snorting the Big O directly into your sinuses.

Cause and effect is what we are. One set of chemicals reacting to another.

The study has its limits, of course; we are strongly multivariate bags of chemicals, after all. The P-values of some of these results weighed in at <0.001 (i.e., the odds were less than one in a thousand that random chance would produce the same results), but others hovered between 0.01 and 0.05 — still statistically significant, although some folks aren’t happy with anything above 0.01. Also the study looked only at men, on the grounds that human males are more naturally aggressive and would therefore manifest the strongest results. I dunno about that. The paper has nine authors; surely at least one of them got out enough to encounter a few of the many gloriously-aggressive women in our midst? At the very least, if you put some guy who joined the service because he rocks at Castle Wolfenstein up against a woman of the same age defending her cubs, I know who my money’s gonna be on.

Which might actually be a next logical step in the program. Isolate the neurochemical factors that come into play when a mother sees her children being threatened; synthesise them; dose every female soldier with an aerosol of the stuff before you send her into the field. If any of the boys complain about women in the military after that, it’ll only be because they keep getting their asses kicked on performance reviews.

Either that, or because they’re scared shitless.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday July 14 2010at 08:07 am , filed under biochem, neuro, sociobiology . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

42 Responses to “CuddleKill: or, Liz Cheney Explained”

  1. I hadn’t read the paper you’re referencing, but with your summary of it I begin thinking of possible uses. You used chemistry in all of your books so far, for obvious reasons, but this study makes them somehow more real. It’s always one thing to read about chemical conditioning, but it’s slightly unnerving to hear that it’s being tested.

    Then again, on the flip side: I am a chemist. I love chemistry and am intrigued by how it dominates the biological side of things.

  2. Yeah, I ran across an ad for oxytocin aftershave or cologne marketed to help you get ahead by duping your business rivals chemically, and I thought, so if I slapped stuff onto me at home, who’s breathed in more of this stuff by the time the 10 am meeting starts – me or the business associate I’m trying to screw over. Me.

    Here’s what makes no sense to me about this whole idea: I thought oxytocin is produced by the pituitary, circulating internally, so why the heck would the rhinencephalon be evolved to detect it in the air? Seriously, how much oxytocin is floating around free? I didn’t think people were excreting it in their sweat. Even if they were, it would be breakdown products being excreted, wouldn’t it, not the original molecule?

    Is the mechanism of the experimental spritzing that it is absorbed via the nasal mucosa into the bloodstream or something? (So, pardon the idea, spritzing the vaginal mucosa would create the same transport event?) Or are the neurons that stick down through the cribiform plate being activated as if it were a regular old smell, like, Idk, the smell of lime. The actual mechanism for all this makes no sense to me.

  3. “…why the heck would the rhinencephalon be evolved to detect it in the air?”

    I didn’t think it was. Where did you read that? This is the first I’ve heard of it.

  4. This is a nasal spray, right?

    All experiments were computer-mediated and used a double-blind, placebo-controlled design in which participants received intranasal administration of oxytocin

    So is the effect coming from the oxytocin being absorbed via the lungs into the bloodstream? the nasal mucosa into the bloodstream? Acting as if the study participant made his own endogenous oxytocin?

    OR is the nose actually smelling it? As in, the dendrites from the rhinencephalon are sticking up through the mucosa, and snag a molecule of oxytocin, which triggers a potential up into the brain, wherever it goes, hypothalamus or whereever, and triggers an endogenous release of oxytocin?

    Let ‘s say it isn’t “smelling,” but simulation of the participant making oxytocin. But oxytocin can’t pass the blood-brain barrier, can it? If not, breath all you want into your lungs, it can’t get into your brain, right?

    Is absorption in the sinuses getting past the bbb?

    What ‘s the transport route here. I am having trouble understanding what the experiment is doing.

  5. Oxytocin is destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract, and therefore must be administered by injection or as nasal spray. So yeah, spraying the vaginal mucosa should have a similar effect, modulo the fact that the nose is a heck of a lot closer to the brain.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by torforgeauthors, peterdarbyshire. peterdarbyshire said: Oxytocin: Makes you love — and makes you kill! http://rifters.com/crawl/?p=1447 […]

  7. So there may or may not be any “smelling” of oxytocin, but the experimenter believes that the nasal administration artificially recreates endogenous production and we pretend the study subject made the oxytocin himself? No bbb problem for oxytocin, then?

    If this is going to be used for mind-control, you better not be able to consciously smell it, because subjects who can smell it are armed with the ability to impose other motivations and emotions between the general drift of oxytocin overdose and the next action.

    Consider how enraged would you be if you were dosed unawares with oxytocin? Unlike rats, we have self-talk and self-regulation constantly interfering with normal mammals impulses, so it’s only effective if the victims are unaware and unprepared.

  8. Hmm, makes you love more, makes you hate more. What happened to good old fashioned alcohol?

  9. heh, cant say i am surprised about the double edged sword of oxytocin. Its 101 jealousy.

  10. Jeez, chris, where are you getting this stuff? Whoever said the rhinencephalon was adapted for smelling airborne oxytocin? The nasal spray was simply a means to get the chemical into the bloodstream; that doesn’t imply olfactory sensitivity. And oxytocin’s a hormone; the blood/brain barrier doesn’t block hormones.

    I’ve read through the paper pretty carefully, and I don’t know where you’re getting this from.

  11. It’s always been “us vs. them” in my experience. The key is knowing who is really “us.”

  12. @iso-octane: Oxytocin=no hangover.

  13. Carsten De Drew

    Carsten De Dreu? Don’t ask me what a droo is, something to do with perception I guess.

  14. I’ve read through the paper pretty carefully, and I don’t know where you’re getting this from.

    Not in this quite interesting article. Didn’t mean to be confusing; I was on a quest for data. I’m attemping to integrate this with pop science press info as well as the marketing of oxytocin as aftershave.

    When this kind of study hits the popular press, someone “smelled” something and it “made them do something”? Smelling pumpkin pie makes (avert your eyes, proudinjun) penile bloodflow increase! Men with more aldostersomething smell in their armpits get more sex! Old married couples can tell the emotional state of their mate from their smelly shorts! On and on, with no differentiation or explanation of the mechanisms for all these effects.

    My question sprang not from what was in the article, but what was not. If there is general agreement in the literature that x amount of oxytocin up the schnozz produces y concentration in the blood, and z concentration in the brain, that is not mentioned, unless my fuller reading of this on the way home reveals otherwise, it is just stated that it was introduced intranasally. It made me curious as to the assumed mechanism.

    The mechanism, the route of action, is relevant if our interest in this is Fritz Haber- ish crowd control devilry, which I thought was our point? How can the government use this as a tool of control. Did I read that wrong?

    And oxytocin’s a hormone; the blood/brain barrier doesn’t block hormones.

    Is that true for any hormone? I thought it was more complicated than that – a partial barrier to some things, total to others, modulated by third parties, and directional. Not that I have any current professional expertise, mind you. Recreational technical reading is a dangerous thing.

    Are we sure oxytocin has unlimited free pass in and out of the brain?

    I’m not telling; I’m asking. I do database stuff, not neurology.

  15. Two things.

    1. “Which might actually be a next logical step in the program. Isolate the neurochemical factors that come into play when a mother sees her children being threatened; synthesise them; dose every female soldier with an aerosol of the stuff before you send her into the field. If any of the boys complain about women in the military after that, it’ll only be because they keep getting their asses kicked on performance reviews.”

    There was in fact a story by Kristine Kathryn Rusch entitled “Elites”, which you can listen to on Escape Pod here which takes of from precisely this premise.

    2. This one is a derail (i.e. not relevant to the subject at hand, but rather to the actual text of the entry) but I think it might be just been a typo, so I’ll mention it in the same spirit in which I would mention a typo.

    “It’s the hormone that subverts the usual mammalian propensity for fucking anything that moves (or, in the case of female mammals, fucking anything that has better genes than your current mate)”

    Because of the way this sentence is written, males are default mammals, and female mammals are a special case. When people use men as a synecdoche for humans, this is problematic for reasons which should be readily apparent.
    Heck, people even do this in science, which hasn’t been entirely helpful in the area of women’s health (e.g. women’s heart attacks often present symptomatically differently than mens, but this information wasn’t widely disseminated until recently).

  16. Thing 1: Damn. Nothing new under the sun.

    Thing 2: Damn Damn Damn. Of course you’re right. Good catch. (Actually, IIRC it’s the females who are the default state, developmentally). Now I’ve got to figure out how to edit that line.

    There. Done.

  17. Didn’t Brin have his human ships, crewed mainly by pregnant women for (me quoting Hambly) “the ruthless practicality of women”.

  18. I still have to read the linked articles, but in the meantime, Ross said: “spraying the vaginal mucosa should have a similar effect, modulo the fact that the nose is a heck of a lot closer to the brain.”

    Hmm, I wonder what the combo of Oxytocin & Viagra would do for the fellas? Some hard cuddlling hopefully not lasting more than four hours and no immediate rollover and sleep?
    http://www.reuniting.info/science/viagra_and_oxytocin

  19. Oddly enough, I was reading about the chemical not that long ago. A long, interesting article here:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/147/doctor-love.html?page=0,2

    Though it’s all about the “cuddle” side. Don’t think it mentions the hate.

    Find the hate experiment interesting though, if association can really be so adaptable, and require nothing more than a label to my mind it points to how humans are naturally social and really how meaningless racism/other distinctions are. It also makes me wonder, if the concept of a world nation is so fantastical then, as all it would perhaps require is belief.

    But then I guess, the question becomes what affects that belief and why do some associations become so strong that they are resisted. Or is that just a side affect of long term exposure to oxytocin? *ramble ramble*

    @Hljóðlegur

    P.S. The last two paragraphs of the article (page 5) speaks to your thoughts, if I’m understanding correctly =)

  20. @Hljóðlegur
    Regarding the rhinencephalon shtick…
    No, it’s most certainly not evolved to detect oxytocin.
    The catch is, that our nasal cavity offers a nice site for dumping stuff into the cerebral circulation without passing this stuff through liver, kidneys et al. It also allows to do so pretty easily because the topology and structure of blood vessels there allows for effective absorption of a wide array of molecules into the bloodstream)

    This, in turn, allows to achieve more targeted neurotropic effects with much lesser dose of the substance, as well as deliver some wonky substances that wouldn’t have survived in the general circulation.
    There is also the unique connection certain nerves there have to the external environment, which again allows for interesting exploits that can be used to dump stuff directly into the brain.

    linky http://www.drugdeliverytech.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=65578366323349FB86C1593B14F996D2

    linky http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19686203

    linky http://endo.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/147/5/2086

    linky http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/S3/S5

    And a pic that in my opinion sums up nicely what our nasal cavity is to our BBB
    http://i718.photobucket.com/albums/ww190/VR1/security_is_lax_on_this_side.jpg
    😉

  21. from kai’s article:

    This does not mean, by the way, that we should run out to buy Liquid Trust, an oxytocin-based product that purports to be “the world’s first Trust Enhancing Body Spray, specially formulated to increase trust in the wearer.” Selling on Amazon for $29.95, the spray is marketed to guys who want to pick up girls. Classy product, that. As Zak walks me to my car, parked by his Claremont lab, I ask if it really would be possible to manipulate people by, say, releasing oxytocin into the air of a department store to prod them into spending more?

    Nah, he says. You’d have to absorb a lot of oxytocin, and even the 40 drops I snorted during the charity experiment took an hour to take effect. The Food and Drug Administration would get involved if companies tried this.

    I hope the FDA would step in. This does get at the heart of the matter, thanks. If the cops wanna oxytocin us up, the technology is really gonna have to improve, because what rioter is gonna voluntarily snort 40 drops of the stuff up his nose. Maybe if it was a powder, but 40 nasty drops?

  22. Mind control, hormones, and penises. What next?

  23. @RandomJ:

    Bingo! from biomedcentral (Intranasal delivery bypasses the blood-brain barrier to target therapeutic agents to the central nervous system and treat neurodegenerative disease Leah R Hanson1 and William H Frey II1,2 ;BMC Neuroscience 2008, 9(Suppl 3):S5)

    Intranasally administered therapeutics reach the CNS via the olfactory and trigeminal neural pathways. Both the olfactory and trigeminal nerves innervate the nasal cavity, providing a direct connection with the CNS. Direct delivery of therapeutics from the nose to the brain was initially attributed to the olfactory pathway [3-6]. More recently, the contribution made by the trigeminal pathway to IN delivery to the CNS has also been recognized, especially to caudal brain regions and the spinal cord [7,8]. Extracellular delivery, rather than axonal transport, is strongly indicated by the short time frame (≤ 10 minutes) observed for IN therapeutics to reach the brain from the nasal mucosa. Possible mechanisms of transport may involve bulk flow and diffusion within perineuronal channels, perivascular spaces, or lymphatic channels directly connected to brain tissue or cerebrospinal fluid [9].

    They are talking about delivering neurotrophins for Alzheimer’s patients, but the article laundry lists all kinds of molecules that are allowed into the brain via the sniffer.

    This fills in some info for me – I was aware of that some molecules gained entry that way, but was under the false impression that the gating process was much better, that for instance, cocaine, heroin, nicotene were more special in their ability to wriggle past. It sounds from this review article that there are bunches of chemicals that you can basically just stick directly in your brain, like that crayon up Homer Simpson’s nose.

    Kind of horrifying! Freaky! But interesting.

  24. mprove, because what rioter is gonna oluntarily snort 40 drops of the stuff up his nose aybe if it was a powder, but 40 nasty drops?

    I don’t know how tear gas and such work, but maybe they could get the stuff in to aerosol like that along with whatever that stuff is (dsmosomething).

    With respect to whether people would be able to tell that they are being manipulated, how subtle is the emotional affect? People who have practice coping with affective disorders might be able to tell that they are having an emotionally out of wack reaction. From personal experience, I know I’ve had to put a mental buffer between my emotions and actions. They can be bad data, so I have to take that in to account.

  25. dang my cut and paste abilities. anyway, once a foe knows of this attack vector, I’d expect they’d do some cognitive behavioral training to defend against it. ha, a necker cube for friend/foe.

    btw, anyone ever read Spiders the alt history sf webcomic from electric sheep? it had weaponized empathy biological weapons.

  26. Indeed, DSMO (Dimethyl sulfoxide) is the acronym I was looking for. I figured there was no way I was remembering that correctly. I guess my brain is not as addled today as I thought it was.

  27. Oxytocin is also required in childbirth and it’s usually delivered intravenously if extra is needed. That should make it easy enough to conduct research on women and how they respond to it. That should also take care of the problem of finding aggressive women as many are pretty aggressive at some point during the labour.

  28. @Peter Watts

    Thanks on catching the mistake. And yes, I did know that about females being the developmental default. By the way , in case you’re collecting references to this sort of thing in sf (which it does seem) in addition to “Elites”, I should mention a glancing reference in Charles Stross’s “Glasshouse”, near the end, specifically talking about gravid females as shock troops in a guerilla warfare situation.

    That said, I do wonder if you could get similar responses from male parents (fathers, if we’re talking about humans) who had a part in the childrearing of their offspring whose children were threatened. Knowing some of the fathers I’ve known, it would be just as forceful as a female response. I’d rather think you could predict such a response, depending on the father, just as the response from gravid females or mothers of young children would most likely vary by individual in humans just as much as it has been observed to in other mammalian species (although admittedly the cases I’m thinking of were mostly in zoo situations — thinking about mothers rejecting their newborns).

  29. I think the effect would be noticeable for most people. However, I don’t know if that would change anything. Noticing the effects doesn’t exactly change them. Also worth noting, I just assumed by default that it would be used like tear gas. I mean, you can slip a lot of chemicals into something like that and nobody would complain. Because it’s supposed to be used on a crowd that’s out of control.

    Of course, if it made everyone extra protective of each other, it might be a death wish for those spraying. Interesting question: I wonder if they did use it, the people ended up super protective of each other and a police officer was killed–would the be held accountable for it? My guess is they would.

  30. I think the effect would be noticeable for most people. However, I don’t know if that would change anything. Noticing the effects doesn’t exactly change them.

    I think it is plausible to suggest that, given some cognitive behavioral training, a person could choose to work against the influence of the drug, not change the effects of the drug. performance and judgement will be affected, but maybe not as much as they would be without the training.

  31. @mtm:

    Oxytocin is indeed the hormone that triggers and drives labour, but it’s not what makes a labouring woman aggressive: that would be “fight-or-flight” adrenalin. An all-too-common cascade effect (drastically over-simplified, but here goes):

    Too much adrenalin –> fewer endorphins –> less oxytocin –> stalled labour –> administering of synthetic oxytocin, Pitocin, which the woman’s body somehow knows is a pretender and often refuses to respond to –> increased Pitocin –> abruptly intense contractions… (–> epidurals and, frequently, c-sections, but this is a hugely controversial and pretty tangential point, so I won’t finish making it!).

  32. I don’t know about Canuck birds, but around here, they possess serious deficiencies in the spatial and map orientation areas, not to mention that they lack raw strength. And they don’t generally like conflict. Most men like confrontation, adrenaline, but can you find women playing combat-oriented computer games, or going out looking for trouble? Very seldom.

    Sure, they are useful in some combat roles, such as sharpshooters, vehicle crewmembers, but until someone takes a spanner to our wildly unsatisfactory genome, they’ll never match men in performance. Can they move around with 100lbs of gear as quickly as men? No. And they won’t gain strength as quickly as men through training.either.

  33. … my mind flails around at the previous comment. What’s next, Craniometry?

  34. @BUG

    You are right that aggressiveness is probably due to adrenalin and the whole situation with blaming the men for getting them in it:)

    Oxytocin can be also given as a nasal spray although it’s not a common practice anymore. Don’t know why as it used to be more efficient than the IV route and less invasive. I agree with you that more epidurals happen when IV oxytocin is used (funnily enough not when the nasal spray was used) but not with the increased c-section rate, but as you said, there is really no point going in there here.

  35. Posted on behalf of keanani because once again this got caught in the spam filter and I deleted it before realizing it was legit but then it was beyond recovery except hitting the ‘back’ button got me to a pre-purge cache so I could copy the text even though the actual post was gone:

    What I am wondering, after reading the Carsten K. W. De Dreu, et al. article, is what the definition, parameters or criteria for “healthy males” was, and what part does “culture” play in how these particular humans responded in this “tend and defend” experiment?

    No males with autism? Extroverts and/or introverts? How would say, “Zen Buddhists” respond? Some cultures are inherently “insular and aggressive” while others are “inherently open and passive” to begin with. Did they weed out “bastards”? (See link below)
    ………
    “…males and females have oxytocin receptors in their forebrains that help form what Zak has dubbed the HOME system (for Human Oxytocin-Mediated Empathy Circuit).”

    “This feedback loop leads to the release of neurotransmitters that promote bonding and reduce anxiety, Zak says. ‘It essentially looks like we have this socially monogamous brain,’ he says.”

    “‘It is amazing that this little, ancient chemical that allows mammals to produce live births and to breastfeed spikes when someone sends you money by computer,’ Zak says.”
    ……
    “But some people seem to be immune to the effects of oxytocin, Zak says.”

    “‘They are people who are unconditional non-reciprocators,’” he says. ‘We call them ‘bastards.’”

    http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/whipping-up-kindness-in-the-lab-11133/

    Peter said: “The paper has nine authors; surely at least one of them got out enough to encounter a few of the many gloriously-aggressive women in our midst?”

    I agree. Females should have been part of this experiment.

  36. What, skeptical of values for p=0.05? But but but that’s science!?!?!?!

  37. Well, it’s statistics, anyway. And it’s the alpha that’s 0.05; the P value’s less, just not by much in a couple of cases.

    But I’m not saying I’m skeptical — I’m just saying that P<0.01 is a stronger result. Hell, you're in mathematics. You know this stuff better than I do.

  38. I’m sorry, Peter; my snark didn’t come through. I applaud your skepticism and if anything think you are being too generous about those marginal p-values.

    I just get really, really tired of p=0.05 apparently being some sort of default standard, apparently for no more reason than that’s the best some social scientists can muster in their experiments to get a ‘significant’ result. The idea that because you use statistics it must be ‘science’ needs to have its head cut off, a stake in its heart and the remains buried at a crossroads.

  39. The unconditional non-reciprocators, with these unusual personality traits.. has anyone checked whether they might be sociopaths? If the glove fits..

  40. People seem to be missing a sort of key point on this whole “spray down a rioting crowd with Oxytocin” thing.

    Namely, that the rioters will probably view each other as the ‘in-group’ and the cops as the ‘out-group’.

    So dosing them with the hormone seems likely to be a really bad idea (at least if your a cop), if it does in fact produce this two-way effect.

    It seems much more likely that you’d see the use of Oxytocin in extremist groups trying to maintain group loyalty, or to increase their unit cohesion in the field. Or in cults.

    I also had some thoughts similar to keanani, in terms of wondering about the reactions of individuals who don’t easily form ‘out-group’ associations. As well as the implications of the idea that you’d have some biochemistry on your hand if you COULD somehow get humans to think of all other humans as members of their ‘in-group’.

  41. if you COULD somehow get humans to think of all other humans as members of their ‘in group’

    whence my Necker cube joke. The eye can flip the cube back and forth because of the visual illusion.I don’t know how controllable that is, so it is amusing to think of someone’s brain flipping friend/foe uncontrollably.

    mild tangent, one of Greg Egan’s early books had enforced loyalty with a loophole of cognitive framing of redefining in-group. that was fun to read.

  42. This reminds me of a wee experience I had-some sort of bike event, at the end of which was a naked bike ride-hot hot summer night-body painting ongoing, lot’s of fun. The day before, I had been reading an article about how scientists, well, whoever was writing the article, were convinced that pheronomes, for humans, just don’t exist.

    Uh huh. Well, it being mating season, and the band was great, clothes were coming off-in the green room, there was a lovely young woman who actually announced, loudly, she’d had her kid, she was nice and tight, and wanted a man right the fuck now. Out on the dance floor, two things were occurring-clothes were coming off, and it seemed like the women were in a mad rut. wafting into my nostrils, was a subtle, yet heavy, for all it’s faintness, scent: people in big heat.

    It got some powerful in there. Yeah, right. And anyways, I could often tell when my ex was having her time of the month-nothing obvious, definitely pheronomic.

    Oh, that, and if yer out in the woods, drink a six pack, and piss around the camp. The animals will have a laugh at your weak ass scent markers, but at least they’ll know you’re there.