POPULATION COLLAPSE: How Modern Life Is Making Men & Women INFERTILE | Shanna Swan | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "POPULATION COLLAPSE: How Modern Life Is Making Men & Women INFERTILE | Shanna Swan".


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Intro (00:00)

what you talk about in the book is that we actually meet the criteria for being an endangered species, which is freaky, and I think anybody listening to this is gonna call BS right now 'cause they're like, there's eight billion of us, there's no way that we meet that. - Right, right. - But so one, is that a fair assessment? Are the stakes really that high? And how on earth do we meet the qualifications for an endangered species? - There's definitely a problem with reproductive health.

Understanding And Addressing The Crisis Of Reproduction

What do we mean by the crisis of reproduction? (00:22)

And by the way, it's not just fertility. Fertility is one manifestation of it. There's many others, we'll talk about those. But fertility is a good one to start because that's something that involves the man and the woman. So on the man side, we have declining sperm count, which we've documented most recently in November showing it's worse than we thought. - Yeah, before it was 1.16%, it's now over 2.5%. - Over two point something, yeah. - I think it was like 2.64 or something, I mean it's crazy. - It's crazy. And that's in a relatively short time. So what we were saying back there in 2017 with this decline of 1% per year was an underestimate of the rate of decline. And now we know it's not just quote Western countries, we know that it's all over the world. So it's actually bleaker than when we wrote Countdown or bleaker than when we published that paper. And I don't wanna leave out the female side of this, right? So we have more, the rate of miscarriage is going up and the rate of PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome is going up. Of course, women's infertility is part of couple infertility. So it's kind of a bleak picture. But the interesting thing to me is that the rate of change, the rate of decline, the rate of problems is all about the same. It's something over 1% per year. So many people think, well, 1%, that's not so bad. - I thought the rate of decline doubled. One of the questions I was gonna ask you. - Yeah, that was sperm count. But I'm putting this in a bigger context. Reproductive function, including all of those reproductive outcomes. - And you don't think we're gonna start to see that number? I don't see how men's fertility could be going or sperm count could be diving at 2.5%, more than 2.5% year over year and this not become a larger fertility problem where we break that 1%. Do you think I'm crazy on that? - That's likely, but I'm cautious. I'm actually-- - The optimistic? Is that what you mean? - No, it doesn't mean I'm optimistic. It means that before I say that everything is worse, I have to go into each of those trends and look at them individually. But I did that for fertility, for PCOS, for miscarriage, for testosterone. By the way, that's a really big one we should talk about. They're all declining at at least 1% per year and that I can safely-- - Year over year, I mean, that compounds. - So, Tom, when I say to people 1% per year, they go, yeah, that's a lot. Then I say 50 years, that's how far back we've looked. That's 50%, at least. And they still don't get it. And I say, well, suppose it was IQ. Suppose I told you that IQ had dropped 50%. I mean, that would be-- - I'm already scandalized though that people aren't, their eyebrows reaching the back of their head when they hear the stat that we've dropped 50% since we started recording this. That's pretty startling. And so to orient people a little bit, so I'm a bit of a Japanophile. I'm absolutely obsessed with Tokyo. It's my favorite place on earth. And when I think about what's happening there, where you have a sexless, it's not completely sexless, but it's like where they're trying to incentivize young people to actually have sex. Like that's so absurd to me growing up in the 80s where it was like, everyone was telling you not to have sex, oh my God. Like I was telling you before we started rolling, my whole life has been about a level of paranoia.

The severity of the problem ahead (04:05)

I have been terrified my entire life that I would get somebody pregnant that I didn't want to get pregnant. And so now to think that governments are having to get involved to get people to have sex seems crazy, but is true. The data reflects it. And so as we establish the severity of the problem, what, give me an anchor around the, I've always said the human body is a chemical processing plant. And I get some side eye from people when they hear me say that, 'cause I'm often saying it in a religious context of why I believe the way that I believe. Help me understand though, because this does, the warning that comes out loud and clear in your book is tied to the fact that we are now processing through our bodies chemicals that we shouldn't be processing. - I love that. I think that's a really great way to put it. I think the body is much more than a chemical processing plant, and I'm sure you do too. - I don't know that I do. I won't derail us on that. We can get into that later. - Okay, so let's go back to Japan. And by the way, East Asia. South Korea is actually, I think the lowest. And what I look at is the total fertility rate. So the total fertility rate is the number of children that a woman or couple will have in their lifetime. Okay? And in 1960, it was 5.4 worldwide. And that dropped to 2.6 in- - This is number of kids that people will have. - Number of kids. And that includes everywhere, from Japan to Sub-Saharan Africa, which has very high fertility. And dropped in 50% in 50 years, basically. Same as sperm count. Is that an accident? I don't think so. So where are we? 2.1, two children per couple, and a little more because there are some losses, right? So 2.1, the species replaces itself. - Globally, that's the average we have to maintain. - Right. And in countries that are below that, and I think South Korea is now at 0.89. - Whoa! - And Japan is, I think, just about one. I haven't looked, these changed quite rapidly. - Okay, hold on, hold on, hold on. That's per couple? - Yeah. - So you have couples in Japan that, every time they get together, basically, you now have the population 'cause they're only gonna replace, there's two of them replacing with one. And in South Korea, it's less than one. Those are terrifying numbers. To give people an understanding, that is guaranteed economic collapse unless you have migrants come in. But the problem is that this is a global trend.

How can we fix the crisis of reproduction? (06:57)

There's nowhere to grab migrants from. Wherever you take them from, then they're gonna be the ones that collapse. I just wanna say that again. This is guaranteed population collapse. It's not a maybe population collapse. Wow, okay. - Right. And so, you said this was economic catastrophe. Let me point out, I'm sure you know this, about the pyramid, population pyramid, right? So everybody knows the pyramid, and the top of it is old people, and the bottom of it is young people. And this is the way it was in 1960, right? And gradually what's happened is that this part has grown and this part has shrunk. - Old people are living longer and we're having fewer kids. You get top-heavy real fast. - Exactly, exactly. And the people in the middle take care of those people and those people. We don't have enough of them. And so that means that all of our economic support, which is funded by the middle, is in trouble, right? Social security, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, you know, there are books written about this, of course, and there's still people that say eight billion people in the world, we're, you know, plenty of people, too many people. But if you look into this deeper and look at these trends and you see where this is going, everyone is knowledgeable. Everyone, I believe, is saying this will not continue. It will reach a maximum exactly when, 2050, we are not sure exactly when, and then it will go down and it will never come back. That's a quote from "Empty Planet," which is an excellent book I recommend, Daryl Bricker. - For those that don't want to sleep at night, if you want to wake up screaming in the morning, read "Lonely Planet." - It's a scary prospect. - Empty planet or "Lonely Planet?" - Empty, yeah. And so one of the reasons is, and now we're going to go away from chemicals, okay. - Well, first let's anchor people around phthalates. Phthalates, it's ph, th, phthalates, I think. P-H-T-H-A-O-E-T-S or something. - L-H-T-E-S, yeah. - So phthalates, you're getting them all the time in stuff. - Yeah, but that's, I love, I mean, I'm glad that you're bringing up phthalates and that's really important and it's where I live 'cause I've done so much work on it, but I don't want to limit our discussion. That's one of a class of chemicals inside a bigger class called endocrine disrupting chemicals or hormonally active chemicals. Those are chemicals that confuse our body as to the function and the amount and the transport of basic hormones, right, that we need. Okay, but let me, I'd like to not leave the problem of population overload or underload without saying that one of the things, or major thing that drives populations down is something that I'm very much in favor of and that's women's education. Contraception, urbanization, all of these things get women to say, no, I don't want to have six kids anymore. I want to join the workforce. I want to make a different kind of contribution. Okay, and it's that growth that's causing these demographers to say we will never go back up to six children per, you see, in order to have things balance out, if somebody's having one or two children, somebody else is gonna have to have six children. And as these countries, which are poorer countries, less educated countries, become more educated, have women entering the workforce and so on, the women are not going to produce children in those large numbers. And that's driving the certainty that we won't go back up. And that's the question. Yes, we're going down, we can see that, World Bank. You can look at, your listeners can look at World Bank fertility data, open access, look at it. You can see exactly how many children were born per country per year and convince yourself because you can see those declines. And you don't, it's not gonna go back up. So that's the lifestyle part of it. The chemical part is where I hope we'll spend most of our time, 'cause that's what I work on. - Yeah, walk us through how are these chemicals getting into our system? 'Cause modern life is pretty amazing, but it's got a pretty high price.

How we get exposed in the modern world. (11:48)

- Yes, they get into our system every way possible, right? So what are those? Ingestion, drink and food is a really big one. Inhalation, dust, hairspray, nail polish, air pollution, they get into our bodies through our skin. So chemicals in personal care products and makeup, just absorbing as we walk through the day and through our skin, all of those contribute. And different ones enter in different ways, depending on where they're most prevalent, right? But you said talk about phthalates. So I will, I'll start there. Phthalates, which is a terrible name, isn't it? I just, we could call them, I don't know what. Anyway, phthalates are chemicals that we primarily think of as plasticizers. They make plastic soft and flexible, which is wonderful. Wonderful uses of, we need that for many things. Think about the tubes in a nursery for premature babies. They're getting a lot of phthalates because they're getting tubes into their body that's carrying nutrients, oxygen. And because phthalates are not chemically bound to the plastic, they come out particularly in warm media and they get into that food or whatever's going into the baby. And measurably, you can then measure it in the urine. Okay, so there's no question about that. There was a very nice experiment in Eastern Europe, very simple, a farm. Farmer milked a cow by hand. Farmer milked the cow with a milking machine. Soft tubing, phthalates in the milking machine milk, no phthalates in the hand milking milk. So I mean, there's no question that the processing of food, that's just one example of food processing. The processing of food introduces phthalates into the food as does the packaging, as does the preparation, for example, microwaving in plastic. You know that's a no-no, right? - Yeah, thankfully that one I heard about a long time ago. In fact, that begs the question, how do we start learning about this? How did we detect that phthalates or anything were causing specific problems? What's the history of that discovery? - I love this story. I'm glad you asked that. Because for me, it started on an airplane flying to Japan. I was going to a meeting. Japan was putting considerable resources into the growing question of chemicals impacting human health. And I was sitting next to a friend who was a chemist at the CDC, Centers for Disease Control, which measures chemicals in people's bodies on an ongoing basis, right? And so we're sitting there, long flight, we're talking, and he says, his name is John Brock, and he said, "Shauna, you should look at phthalates." And I'm like, "Why?" I had never heard of phthalates, okay? And this was, I would say probably, I'm guessing now '98, something like that. Before CDC got their environmental chemistry lab up and running to the point that they could cheaply measure these things in small amounts of sample in lots of people, he really wasn't known what the exposure was to phthalates, to phenols, to parabens, and on and on and on and on. And so John did that, he was a chemist, you measured that, and he saw that phthalates were in everybody, everybody in the United States at, I mean, almost 99%, regardless of age or sex or race or whatever. So there you have it, it was in everybody. What does it do? Turn over to this other laboratory, National Toxicology Program, and their job was to take these chemicals that were known to be in everybody and say, "What do they do?" And they do that with animals, 'cause that's where you start. So what they showed was that when the mother was exposed to these phthalates, that the male offspring were born not quite right. And the way that they were not quite right, they called the phthalate syndrome, okay? Now, that doesn't sound remarkable, but it's a little more remarkable if you realize that there is no other chemical that has a syndrome named after it, why do you do that? It's because it's really important, right? And what is the phthalate syndrome? So the phthalate syndrome, and they showed in rats, basically they were born with smaller and sometimes misshapen, misplaced genitals. That was a start. - It's a pretty bad start.

Testicular Descend. (17:58)

- Pretty bad. - That's rough. - I'm curious, out of all things, why do you think that it disrupts proper sexual development and function? - Oh, that's a great question, and it's one I actually can answer. Because that, okay, before I give you the answer, I'm gonna paint a picture for you. So here's this little rodent or person in utero, and they're very primitive, just maybe a few cells. And at that point, the genital tract is the same in males and females. It's just a ridge, genital ridge, it's called. Okay, then at some point, and we know exactly when this is in a rat or a mouse, it's about day 18 of gestation, the testes start to develop and make testosterone, okay? And that testosterone, in the case of a genetic male, will be sent to the genital ridge and pass the message on that the genital ridge should start developing in a male-typical manner. Are you with me? - Yep. - So that means that that little pup will start to develop all kinds of organs that are male-typical, and as they grow, lots of things grow. The female, on the other hand, will not be affected, because the female is not looking for a testosterone signal, although they have low level of testosterone, okay? So, phthalates interrupt that. Phthalates mess with that. Phthalates lower testosterone. - Do they bind to the receptor of testosterone, or do they lower the production? - Probably both. - That's a double whammy. - And the result is that the male will be genetic male, but his genitals will be smaller penis, smaller scrotum, misplaced scrotum, often not descending all the way, and some internal changes to the vas deferens and so on. And the endpoint that I particularly got interested in is something that on the street is called the taint. Right, and this is the distance, it's called, the technical term is terrible, anogenital distance. - Pretty straightforward. - AGD, anus to genitals, okay? - Very interesting, very, I don't think most people would really have thought about the fact that they are pretty radical difference in distance between men and women. - Right. - Which when I heard in the book that this is how they sex difference, what, between chicks or something? - Yeah, yeah. - That you can just flip them over, and that's how people are- - Here's a little rat, you hold it up on the tail, you look at the distance, this is a male, this is a female. I can show you pictures of it. - That's probably too much. I'll take your word for it. - It's 50 to 100% bigger in male mammals compared to female mammals, except the hyena. - Yeah, that's interesting. They're a whole trip under themselves. - Yeah, weren't they? And elephants are actually much closer male than female. - So what's interesting on the hyena is that the females are masculinized. Like they will even at times do the dominant thrusting. - Right, and they are alpha. I saw this, I went to a hyena colony, and I saw a male having his food taken away by an alpha female. - That's interesting. - So it's quite different. - Well, so very fascinating in that I'm assuming the females have an abnormally high testosterone level. - They do, and an abnormally long anogenital distance. - This is so interesting.

Chemical Mini-Me (22:18)

I mean, this really gets to the chemical processing plan idea, the fact that, in fact, one question I wanna ask you is going back, so could I interrupt the normal production of a male in the same way that their sexual maturation would be disrupted through phthalates if I simply robbed them of testosterone in utero? - What's up guys, it's Tom Bilyeu, and if you're anything like me, you're always looking for ways to level up your mindset, your business, and your life in general. That's exactly why I started Impact Theory, a podcast that brings together the world's most successful and inspiring people to share their stories, and most importantly, strategies for success. And now it's easier than ever to listen to Impact Theory on Amazon Music. Whether you're on the go or chilling at home, you can simply open up the Amazon Music app and search for Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu to start listening right away. If you really wanna take things to the next level, just ask Alexa. Hey Alexa, play Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu on Amazon Music. - Now playing Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu on Amazon Music. - And boom, you're instantly plugged in to the latest and greatest conversations on mindset, health, finances, and entrepreneurship. Get inspired, get motivated, and be legendary with Impact Theory on Amazon Music. Let's do this. Or do I actually need the presence of phthalates specifically? - No, it's not the phthalates. And I'm thinking when you say, could I rob him of testosterone? I'm not sure how you would do that. You'd have to put an anti-androgen in there. - Sure, I'm just, as a thought experiment. - Yeah, no, I'm thinking with you. - So something that increases pro-androgen and something that decreases is an anti-androgen. So, and there are many chemicals that do both of these things. And in experimental settings, you can do both. So, and manipulate lots of things through this very potent hormone, testosterone, which is needed for not only the generals, but the brain, by the way, we can talk about that. So, the masculinization process of a genetic male is under the, many things, but playing an important role is the testosterone, yeah. So you can definitely mess with that. And by the way, the females, well, I haven't told you our results in humans, so we won't go there yet, but I will just tell you, having too much testosterone in the female will cause her to have an abnormally long anogenital distance. - So, all right, this starts to make predictions. Let me see if these predictions are accurate. So if robbing the genetically male infant in utero of testosterone gives them an abnormally short genital to anal distance and a smaller penis, my gut instinct then is if I reversed it and I gave a increased amount, a proandrogen, at just the right moment, 'cause I know timing has a lot to do with this, but if I gave that at just the right moment, could I bless that child with a penis he would have to carry around in a wheelbarrow? That's the question for all the dads out there wondering if they can hop up their son. - I am now kind of speaking out of school 'cause I don't know any such experiments. - It does make that prediction though. Do you think that's a reasonable prediction? - I don't think so. - Interesting. - I don't think so. I think there's probably... So, the female is sensitive to an excess of testosterone because she is not expecting much. So if you then give that female much more testosterone than she's expecting, then she will exhibit a longer AGD. She doesn't have the- - Will she get an enlarged clitoris? - I don't know, but that's a wonderful question. - It's interesting. These feel like the right hypotheses for me because- - No, it does. It seems like a reasonable hypothesis. - One thing you talk about in the book and one thing that I think everybody that hears this finds utterly fascinating is that female's the default gender so we all start there and were it not for the, obviously the presence of the Y chromosome, but then also the increase in testosterone at a certain period of time, it's like we all start female. You have to be coaxed out of that essentially. - Exactly. - Out of that state. And so if the penile tissue is basically a clitoris fully developed into a masculine form, then one would imagine that if the body's getting a mixed signal of like, okay, you have XX, so this is never going to become a penis, but you have so much testosterone signaling at this point, now I'm getting confused. I'm extending the AGAGD. - AGG, uh-huh. - I'm extending that, but then I am also over enlarging the clitoris. That makes sense though I have not looked at any literature. - Here's one problem, Tom. The examination of the male is much simpler than the female because the organs are external. There's not much external clitoris. There's a lot internal, right? - Which you just shocked a lot of people. The first time I saw, I don't know if it was a drawing or whatever, of how far the clitoris goes, like shocking. Shocking, I said. - Right. So to measure how large that, to measure it at all, and let alone whether it depends on the presence of an androgen, it would take a very big effort. I mean, you would have to have a scan. - But couldn't you just do the part that's visible on the outside? I mean, that seems like- - I'm not sure what that reflects. I'm not sure how much that reflects. - Interesting.

Pthalate Syndrome in Humans (28:35)

- I don't know, it's not my field, but I'd say great hypothesis. - So I'd like to talk about this AGD and this Thalle syndrome in humans, if I can- - Yeah, please. - To pivot to that?

What is it Doing in Humans (28:55)

Okay, so when I heard this from John Brock, I thought, okay, interesting. There's an exposure. What is it doing in humans, right? There's a human exposure, what is it doing? And then I thought, well, how would we even ask the question? And you're smart, you can think, well, how would you answer that? What would you think about doing? - About figuring out what's causing the change in length? - Oh, and back before that, the question is, I think, do humans have a Thalle syndrome? - I see. - 'Cause that was unknown, it was never heard of. - You would have to back into it with what, one, if you understand the mechanism of action, this is why I'm saying, does it block the receptors or does it reduce the amount of androgen being produced? That would be one way that you could get into that. And then the other would be, does it do something proactively? Is there biomimicry here? Does it look like something else that's causing the body to do something extra or to not do something? That would be where I would start. In terms of whether that's tied exactly to phthalates, obviously you're gonna have to run experimentation, but you start injecting or lacing the food of rats or whatever with it. - What about humans? - You'd be pretty gnarly if you did that, but you could certainly measure who are the people that have phthalates in their system and what do they have common. Well, I think I'm cheating because I've heard you say that it's measurable in the urine. So I would take urine samples. - Who's urine sample? - Men and women? I would start with women. If I hadn't read your book, I would never even think men. - I'm sorry to grill you because you do it to break. - No, this is actually really interesting. Had I not read your book, I wouldn't think about men. So I would have gone straight to women. - Right, so we're talking about a process that takes place during pregnancy. So if you wanna know whether there's phthalates swimming around in there, you gotta ask that question of pregnant women's urine. And you're right, urine is the place to look. That's because it's what we call non-persistent, it's water soluble. There are other bad chemicals that are fats in fat and blood and so on. But this goes into urine pretty quickly, four hours on average. - Thank God. - Thank God. - But that's crazy then for people that have elevated levels you are constantly introducing it to your system. - Absolutely. - Whoa. - In and out at a pretty steady rate. So, and that by the way is everybody. So in order to look at this, I was thinking, okay, I'd wanna know this. I wanna have phthalate levels in pregnant women. Okay, what do I need for that? I need the urine from pregnant women. Where do I get that? Well, I was very lucky, four-sided, I don't know. - We'll go with four-sided. - In a prior study, which we could talk about, 'cause it's related to sperm count, I stored urine of pregnant women. - Whoa. - I just happened to have a freezer full of urine from pregnant women. - As you do. - And actually many labs do have that because now we know how valuable it is. - Interesting. - 'Cause if you ever wanna say, was the fetus exposed to X, Y, and Z, pull it out of the freezer and measure it. - Interesting. - So that was good, I had that side of it. Then the other side is, what does the phthalate syndrome look like in a human? Nobody had ever asked that question. Actually, that's not quite true. One study did ask that question, but not related to a prenatal exposure. So I learned that later. So I came along and I thought, okay, we wanna see if what's happening in animals is happening in humans. It's an interesting thought experiment, how would you do that? I said, well, we have to measure the babies, right? Then I had to find the babies that were born to those women whose urine I had stored. - Wow. - And then I had to think about, well, what will I measure? Because while the AGD had been measured in rats for a very long time, I think from 1912, and used as part of the National Toxicology Program testing for reproductive toxins since about 1950, nobody had done this. So I love problems like this.

Critter Measurements Go Human (33:41)

I love these. So I got together with my colleagues and I said, well, what should we look for? What is the analog in humans of the Thalle syndrome in rats? And some of them were straightforward. So penile size, that's pretty straightforward. Turns out penile length is quite different, difficult to measure, width is relatively easy. - Anybody that's just listening right now will not have realized I just made a weird face. How is length hard to measure? - 'Cause it's changeable. - Meaning you can't get them erect? - You can. - Got it, got it, okay. Understood. I was like, let me tell you, it's measurable. - But width is a fixed, you can measure pretty reliably. So we could do that. - No, wait, for the same reason, that seems like it should be hard to measure. - It's much less changeable. - What? - Yeah, the width is much less. - From erect to limp? That seems shocking. You're saying that most people are roughly the same width when they're unaroused. - There's much less difference in the width than the length. Let's put it like that. - That is fascinating. - Right. So that's what we could do. So we actually did measure length also, and many studies do measure length. There's been a recent study on penile length that just came out, we can talk about it if you want. - Tell me more. - But yeah, so we had that. Descent of the testicles is measurable, a little difficult to quantify because sometimes they hide in the abdomen and you have to bring them down and try to see how far. - Terror or really cold weather, all gone. - Right. So we decided that would be an interesting endpoint. But the key thing was AGD, anisinal distance. How do we do that in humans? I mean, think about it. How would you, you know? So now that we've done it for years and it's now used internationally, we have protocols and they're all written out and straightforward to do it. But at the time when we were starting this, we were kind of making it up as we went along and worked with some wonderful clinicians, pediatricians and others who, you know, together we designed this exam and got measures of AGD. I mean, just think about this room. What is AGD? Anis to the generals. Where in the generals? - That's my exact question to you because whether, like, if I were warm or cold, depending on where you measure that from, it would be different. - Actually not so much. What really makes a difference is the landmark. So do you, you start at the anus, that's easy. - I never thought I'd be having this conversation, but this is fascinating. All right, we're gonna keep going. - But where do you end? What is the general side of this? Anis to, right? - That's what I'm saying. - Okay, so it turned out we ended up doing two. And one was the scrotal and one was the pena. - Scrotal connection? - Yeah, that's the question. Where? - Okay, 'cause that, like, if you're talking scrotal connection, that's not going anywhere. But warm to cold, I assure you, this N of one, they would be very different distances. - That's interesting because we never consider temperature. - What? - Never. - Was this a panel of women only doing these measurements? - 'Cause the guy would instantly be like, "Hey, I'm gonna need you to warm it up in here." - These are babies in a hospital that are measuring. - Okay, that's very different, very different. Does that count for adults? We don't do measurements on adults. We do adults, but let me finish the babies. So the question is, where is the end of that measurement? So you have a calipers, that's what you use. You use a pretty straightforward calipers. You open the calipers, one end you put on the, I should have brought my doll. I have a doll to demonstrate this, but. - That is amazing. I need to know how that story went. I'm gonna need you to make me a doll, but I have some specific requirements. - And then the other side, I said scrotal, so let's talk about that. So it turns out that the underside of the scrotum, the scrotum is striated. You know that the tissue is different. - Oh, very intimately, yes. - So there's a point at which that tissue changes from smooth to striated. That's the point you wanna go to, okay? - Interesting, okay, gotcha. - With your other side of your caliper. Alternatively, you can go all the way up to the insertion of the penis. That's the anterior, the part closest to your head. Where does it enter your body? That's not so clear cut. And we had a lot of discussion about, do we press down? How hard do we press down? You understand? I was just like, if you're gonna measure something in a population, you have to really be clear about how to do it repeatedly. And so we did that. We piloted that over and over and over again with different people and different, until we got a protocol that was repeatable by multiple observers multiple times, right? I'm sure this is more about AGD But these are published methods. And by the way, one of the things that matters is, where are the kids' legs when you're doing this? So it turns out that if the legs are pulled back, suppose I put a baby on my lap, I take the knees, I put it back up against their shoulder, then that area is extended, right? And you'll get a longer AGD. - A misleadingly longer AGD, I assume, yeah. - Right, so you have to make sure you pull the same amount for everybody. It's tricky. - So we end up getting the measurement. - You end up getting the measurement. - So the key insight is, hey, this thing that we've been using for a long time in rats, we can now do this in humans as well. - Right, good. So we've duplicated the whole exam of the rat, if you will, in human infants, and then what did we find? So send the urine to the CDC. CDC tells us how many phthalates, which phthalates are in there, how much are in there. And then we have this database with now all these measurements. And so it's now a question of asking these two databases, the phthalate database, the exam database, do they match up in some way? And the answer was yes, that when there were more phthalates, particularly three most antiandrogenic phthalates, when they were higher in the mother, the male had a pattern which was very similar to the rats. So they had shorter androgenal distance. They had smaller penis size. They had less descent of the testes. Those were the three main end points that we had. - Okay, so we now know that the syndrome does exist in humans.

Where Do We Get Phthalates (41:05)

We can measure it. The first thing people are gonna ask is, where am I getting these things? And so you did a home walkthrough with people. Give us some of the most common places. Is it plastic bottles? Is it makeup? Like what are the places that people are? 'Cause we're having to replenish it, which means that I could change my behavior. And then over some period of time, it should go away. So where are we replenishing our phthalate stores? - So food, I would say is the major source. - So that's getting tainted. So milking a cow, you gave us that. Anytime it's going through soft plastic, we're gonna be in trouble. So food, packaging. - Packaging, correct. - Also processing, I imagine there's gonna be a lot of times. - Yes. And storage, transport, cooking. So if you think about this little tomato pluck that I hear on the farm, what does it go through before you put it on your plate? Farm to fork, all along that way. - Am I looking at just for soft plastic or are there other places that I'm getting these? - There are other places. - Lovely. So you can get it in your liquids. You can get it- - But don't my liquids have to come into contact with some sort of plastic? - Okay, let's leave the soft plastic out. Although the soft plastic can be in many forms. For example, in your shower curtain, a rubber ducky, and so on and so forth. So it doesn't just have to be food. I would say the foodborne exposures of phthalates are going to be primarily through soft plastics, their plasticizer function. - So every time I see soft plastic, I need to immediately go, this is giving me phthalates. 'Cause it can be absorbed through the skin. - Yes or no. So, you know there's a recycling code on the bottle? - Yes. - Bottom, okay. So if you look at that, you'll see numbers from one to seven. - Okay. - Okay. Now I used to say, and I'll still say with reservation that this little poem, it goes like this. By four, one and two, all the rest are bad for you. - Nice. - Easy, right? But let's look at six. Six could be BPA, which we haven't talked about, but we should. Which is something that makes plastic hard instead of soft. Which is estrogenic instead of antiandrogenic. Kind of a bad cousin, you know, of the evil twin. But six could also be potatoes because it's the other category. So plastics are made from, you know, they're our bio plastics. - I did not know that. I thought they were all coming from petroleum. - No, they're not. There are alternatives now. Most are coming from petroleum. - And we still get phthalates from potatoes? - No, we get plastics from potatoes. - Whoa, okay, you're rocking my world here.

What are bio-plastics? (44:30)

So there is a way to process. - There is something called bio plastic. So instead of plastic, and you're correct, most plastic is made from biofuels, byproducts of petroleum production, right? But as we became aware that this was a bad thing for us to be experiencing in our body, they sought out other alternatives. Now, one of them is potatoes. The problem is that the carbon footprint of growing those potatoes is pretty high. So what chemists are looking for now is an alternative that will perform the function of plastics without the dangers of plastics, okay? And I fully believe that is possible, but it takes a lot of people willing to put the investment in, take the risk, retool. You can imagine, you know about business and what's involved in changing a process like that. It's huge, it's phenomenal. And in the meantime, people want these products. Now, I don't think people really would be unhappy if their plastic bottle or container and so on was made from a bioplastic instead of a petrochemical plastic. People are not seeking that out. They want the container. So I think you can satisfy people's needs and demands through safer plastics, but that's slow and expensive to bring on board, okay? So you asked me, is it just soft plastic? So let's leave that aside for a minute and go to another route of exposure. And another major route of exposure is any personal care products. That can be something you put on your skin. And why would that contain phthalates? It's because the phthalates help absorption. So they're kind of magical in a way. They do all these things, right? And for that reason, they're added to pesticides too, because they help the pesticide go up the plant and stay in the leaves and so on. So absorption is an important function. Softening, absorption. They also, and this is amazing that they can do all these things, they also hold scent, fragrance, and color. And so it's not a big leap to think about why they're used in cosmetics and why they're used in fragrance products like nice smelling laundry soap and air fresheners you plug in and that little pine cone you hang in your car. They're all emitting these chemicals. - It's crazy. It's crazy. So this is coming out in the things we eat, it's coming out in the things we drink and it's coming out even in the air we breathe. Okay, so that brings us back. I've heard you say some of these things so I can lead the witness a little bit here, but it's pretty terrifying. So, and maybe now is the time that we get back into the, are we or are we not chemical processing plants only? Because when I hear this, I think, well, the only way forward then, if it's in what we eat, drink and breathe, you have to stop using these chemicals. There's just, there's no other way.

Low sperm rates (48:01)

Like if you keep emitting all of these, you're going to have the problem. We are, the fertility rates are declining. The rate at which they're declining is speeding up. It's doubled in like the last 20 years. I think it was from 2012 to now. Sperm count, sorry, sorry, sorry. Thank you. In fact, you were very clear. Sperm count has the rate at which it's declining is very high. And at the beginning you said that we're still holding steady at a 1% rate. And then I said, well, doesn't it predict that that's going to go higher? And then later you said that our sperm count has dropped by 50% and fertility rate has dropped by almost the exact same amount. Is that a coincidence? Which then I was thinking in my head, that's exactly what I'm saying. Like if the rate of sperm count is dropping at an ever increasing rate and the rate at which it's declining is speeding up, I think that that ultimately is going to have to echo back to the overall fertility rate or there's something, I guess the only thing is if they're artificially, there's an acronym for this, but artificially assisted fertility, whatever that is. - ART. - ART. So that, is that why we have a break between the exact drop in? - I think so. - Interesting.

Scientific Perspectives On Reproduction Issues

A-R-T Is Increasing (49:16)

- So assisted ART, which is assisted reproductive technology, refers to all of the different ways that medicine can help you get pregnant. From hormones to actually putting a sperm inside an egg. And putting it in the body. And that has been increasing rapidly, the use of ART. And the number of options has increased. The most dramatic is in Israel because in Israel, the government pays for up to two live births via assisted reproduction. - Whoa. - And you know, this is very expensive. - Where's their birth rate at? - Ah, it's one of the few that has not dropped. - I mean, it sounds like they're going pretty hard to make sure it doesn't. - Yeah. Yeah, I want to say 3.3, but that's, don't hold me to that because it's, yeah. So that's interesting, you know, that the, but for most people assisted reproduction is something they want to avoid if at all possible. It's difficult, it can be painful, it can be definitely expensive, anxiety producing, interfering with the mental health of a couple, I would say, putting a great strain on the marriage and so on and so forth. Nevertheless, it is increasing. The number of children born by assisted reproduction is increasing. And the available technologies for this are also increasing. And I think this will, we're going to have more and more options for doing this. But it's not helping the underlying biology. So let me just say, if a couple is infertile, the man is infertile, more evidence on man, or his sperm count is low, his health is impacted. - So this brings up something that you and I were talking about before we started rolling. And I said, well, I'm going to restate this once we're back on. So I said that my mom smoked through her entire pregnancy with me. And the first words out of your mouth were, have you had your sperm checked? And I was like, nope. My whole life I've been paranoid about getting someone pregnant. I've never even thought about it. And then you said, I don't want to scare you, but. - Men with low sperm count and men who could not conceive a pregnancy, which is clearly related, will die younger. They have a shorter life expectancy. - And can you ballpark me on how much? I need to know how paranoid I need to be here. - I would say that's a number that's not real tightly understood. There's a couple of papers. I would say we're looking at a couple of years, but that's a guess. Don't hold me to that. But I can tell you some of the things that might be affected, which is heart disease, diabetes. - Why? - We'll come back to that. Diabetes and reproductive cancers. - Oof. - Okay. And the why is that? So then we have to go back and think about this. Let's just think about the phthalates again. The phthalates are lowering testosterone, androgens. And then you might ask, okay, what else in the body depends on adequate androgen? And the first thing that jumps out is the brain. And we can talk about that if you want. But every system in the body requires a healthy balance of these hormones. So I'm not a cardiologist, and I can't speak to the hormonal influences on cardiac function and cardiac disease, but I know certainly that they affect metabolic function. And that's related to the risk of diabetes and so on. So if you're disturbing the system in very early development, when there's just a few cells, and they're rapidly dividing, they're getting these messages, their normal development is altered by the alteration of these hormones. And that is going to be a systemic-wide alteration.

The Science Behind All These (53:55)

So it's not surprising to me at all. It's not that sperm count, your sperm count is low, and then you have more X, Y, and Z disease. It's that from the get-go, you had an interruption of normal development, which had impacts on your entire body. The sperm count is a little window into that, because one of the things, I mean, it's certainly not the only thing, but one of the things that sperm count indicates is that there was an alteration in hormonal function and that it will affect your later health. So I recommend to men, men know too little about their reproductive health anyway. Women go to the OB, GYN every year, right? They get a pap smear, they get checked, everything gets checked, their breasts get checked, which is great. And men, not so much, right? - You don't get your reproductive, I mean, you get the boys out and they give them a juggle, but I'm certainly not making a sperm deposit. So yeah, that's interesting. Okay, so I'm grappling emotionally with the fact that this is a leading indicator of a potential problem. Yeah, I need to get it checked. - The other thing about the male. - Where do you go to get it checked though? - Oh, any urologist. - Like my doctor's never said, "Hey, would you like to drop one off?" - You can say to your doctor, "I want to get my sperm count tested." - Got it. - There are a couple of companies that have come out since the book actually. One is called Fellow, one is called Legacy, there are probably other ones, and they've made it very easy, 'cause it used to be that to get your sperm count checked, you had to go into a clinic, and you had to go through the somewhat uncomfortable process of producing a sample in a bathroom down the hall. But these companies allow you to do this at home and send the kid in, and they're reliable, and they will send you back your sperm count. If you want, I can give you. I don't want to promote any one company, but you and I can have a little conversation. - Yeah, yeah, look, if you know the place to go, I'm happy to hear about it. - And while I'm at it, I should say, you also could have your urine tested for lots of phthalates and phenols and so on. - Interesting. That seems really important. - Right? And a company that does that is called Million Marker, and again, there are other ones. And I suspect that companies of these kinds are going to be increasing as we get more and more concerned and technology steps in and says, okay, we can help you learn about your body in a way that may protect your health. So I think those are good things. - Okay, so if I wanted to get this back on track, so it sounds like I need to be looking at, I need to be taking an endocrine approach to this. I need to figure out what my testosterone levels are. I need to check my sperm count, which I assume we're looking at amount, motility. Is there anything else? - Morphology. - Morphology, but it's, okay, amazing. And let's say that one or all of those come back problematic. Is the next step just like, obviously, oh, we just, where's your phthalate exposure coming from? Reduce that, or like, do you have a protocol that you put people through to get back on track? - Well, we have, we work with people that have educational programs to try to counsel people on how to detox their house, if you will, and their lives. - What does your house look like? Like, do you have blankets? So I once, I went on a kick, I forget the guest I had on, but they were like, yo, you're taking a lot of toxins through more things than you can imagine. Like blankets and stuff.

The Phthalate Syndrome (58:11)

And I was like, blankets? They're like, yeah, because of all the anti, the flame retard stuff. - PFAS, yeah. - And so I was like, oh, whoa. And he's like, oh, but don't worry. Like you can get these blankets that are like all natural and you don't have to worry. And so I got an all natural blanket. I was like, oh, it looks amazing. And it arrived and it might as well be burlap. Like it is not comfortable. - Oh, sorry. - So are there comfy? Like, do you have sandpaper for sheets at your house? - No, no. - And you brush your teeth with baking soda? - No. - What does your house look like? - I'm not a fanatic. I try to- - Do you measure your phthalate levels? - I have, but not recently. I don't like persistently measure them. And by the way, the effect of these chemicals on adults and is not really well studied. Most of what we know is the effects on the fetus and the young child. - What's your hypothesis, though? - I think it matters less. So the critical periods are the periods of rapid cell division. So in utero, obviously, that's number one. And early life, infancy, and puberty, and probably menopause. But Tom, these studies cost, every one of these human studies costs $5 million. And takes five years. That's just to link one class of chemicals, usually, to one set of outcomes. So you see, it's very hard to get this information. My studies, by the way, we didn't really finish that story about the phthalate syndrome in humans. But I did find that in that study, that we had the phthalate syndrome. But then, as all scientists, I had to replicate that. And then I had to design a study specifically on that question. See, the first study wasn't designed on the question. We had some stored urine, we brought back the babies, we put them together. Great, we found this finding. But what happens if you do it right, and you design a study specifically to ask that question? That's a new grant. Have to go through grant review. And then if you're lucky, you'll get the grant. And then that's, you have to find the women who are pregnant. You have to bring them in. Will you be in the study? Will you give us your urine? Will you let us measure your baby? And do it all at the right time, because now we know that early pregnancy is most important. And we measured all the babies at birth, and so on and so forth. So it was much, much more precise study. And we found it again. So that, plus the animal studies, plus studies that have been done by many other people now on this, lead me to say, and I don't use the word cause very much, that phthalates cause the phthalate syndrome in humans. - And if you had to give me, in a sentence, what is the phthalate syndrome in humans? - The phthalate syndrome in humans is a incomplete masculinization of the male genital tract. - You can reboot your life, your health, even your career, anything you want. All you need is discipline. I can teach you the tactics that I learned while growing a billion dollar business that will allow you to see your goals through. Whether you want better health, stronger relationships, a more successful career, any of that is possible with the mindset and business programs in Impact Theory University. Join the thousands of students who have already accomplished amazing things. Tap now for a free trial and get started today. - Woof. Woof. Like that is, I'd be interested to see how this statement gets taken, but the male genital tract is a pretty prized possession to the man that has it. And I imagine if it doesn't go well, that would be a source of pretty great distress. - Well, you see, if you, or not making this personal, had a somewhat shorter AGD and whatever- - Code for a phytosomal penis? You're being very gentle, I appreciate it. - Why would that matter? - Seriously? - I think that's, hm? - Why would that matter emotionally? - Why would that matter physiologically? In other words, what is the consequence of having the Thales syndrome physiologically? What does that mean for your later success as a man? Right? - Yeah, well, the way you're asking that question is utterly fascinating. I'm so into this, but I don't know if you actually mean to bring in sort of the emotional side of, 'cause when you say a man, like that's a whole can of worms right there. - Yeah, well, why don't we limit it to the man's future reproductive health and success? Okay? - Yep. - And so we asked that question. - Of the men that have the syndrome? - Yes. - Okay, well, tell me more. - So, I mean, now we measure children, babies. They don't have sperm count that you can measure. Their sperm is all locked up until they go through puberty and so on. So we had to go to young, men that had sperm count that we could measure. So we did that study, and we went to University of Rochester, and we got men to volunteer. We went through sports teams and so on, and they were very happy to do it. And we paid them $75. It was like, "Yes, for $75, I'll do anything." - And for $75, they give you a sample of their urine for a phthalate presence, and they let you measure their taint. - AGD, and they gave us a semen sample. - Wow. - And they completed- - For $75, what year was this? - And they gave us a questionnaire, and actually they allowed us to send a questionnaire to their mothers. - What is happening? This is amazing. For $75, I'm not stretching a dollar nearly far enough. Okay, that's amazing. - Let's see, that was, I wanna say, maybe 2003, so it's- - Now, did they have any sense of what, did they know I want a long taint or, 'cause like- - No, they don't measure it anyway. Somebody else measures it. - Oh, wow, okay. - So they came into the clinic. We had a standard, now whatever we did to get the measurements standardized for infants, we had to redo it for young men. And so if you want, we can talk about that. But anyway, we got their AGD, we got their urine, we got their phthalate, but we weren't really caring that much about their current phthalates. We were really caring, you know, because we really wanna- - Ingestation. - Know what was in their mothers, but we didn't know that except some questions we could ask them. - That's a good point. - But the key thing that we were asked after here is, if they had a shorter AGD, did they have a lower, did they have poor semen quality? And the answer was yes. - Wow, okay, so let me say what that predicts. That predicts that if the mother had a high phthalate concentration while they were gestating the child, that that then creates some malformity that causes later problems producing quality sperm, like 15 years later. - Correct, that's exactly right.

3 Generations from exposure... Can clear consequences? (01:05:56)

- Yikes. - That's exactly right. - Yikes, so now we're talking about some of this, 'cause earlier the difference between water soluble and fat soluble gave me some, like, I felt good about it. I was like, okay, phthalates ever present, but we're able to get rid of them pretty fast. But there are some effects that are forever. Not only are they forever in men, they're forever in their sons, because here's the path. The mother is exposed, the son is in her womb, the son is exposed, that's why he has the, but inside him are the germ cells for his offspring. - Are those impacted by- - And those are impacted as well. - Oh God. - Yeah, some people feel they have shown, I don't wanna trash their science, that this goes seven generations. - Oh my God. - Right? And I'm not sure about that, but the three is clear, 'cause it's just right there, it's a physical, it follows from the physiology. But here's the good news. So there's a researcher in Washington named Pat Hunt, who by the way, you should talk to her, because she is fabulous, brilliant. And she showed that if you have a rat that's been in this process and has been exposed to these chemicals in a way that disturbs his reproductive function, if you, when he's born, he never gets any more exposure, and his offspring never get any more exposure, then in three generations, you can clear things up, and the things are back to complete healthy function. - And by never gets any exposure, again, we are saying the mother during gestation isn't exposed and passing that on, because once he's out, or I guess it could be exposure in puberty as well? - Yeah, I mean, just keep that little rat in a clean environment his whole life. - Yeah, but I'm just trying to transpose this to humans. - I mean, I can send you references if you want, but this was encouraging to me because I thought, wow, this is reversible. - Over three generations though. - In three generations. - That's a long time, in human years, like maybe in rat years, that's comforting, but in human years, that's not comforting at all. It's better than seven, but goddamn, three is a lot, that's like 60 years. - I know, or 75. I mean, yeah, but for rat at six years, so that's kind of nice. - Way better, but oh my God, this is terrifying. - So there is this, yeah, and I talk about that in "Countdown" also, this legacy effect, if you will, that you're giving your children, your grandchildren.

Legacy effect. (01:08:52)

- Yeah, I mean, let's talk about that. So legacy effect, we're living in a moment right now from a modern perspective, something weird is going on. So there's this whole mating crisis, you've got guys aren't seeking sex like they used to, and honestly, for a long time, I was just looking at what are the societal factors that have led to this? And now I'm thinking, what are the generational impact of phthalates on this? So for a long time, I've been making a comment that I just had a hunch, but after reading your book, I'm thinking, I think I was really onto something. So we talk about the feminization of men. There's something really strange going on. First of all, as somebody- - By the way, I don't use the word feminization. I'm pretty careful. - Just because you don't like the baggage on that? - Yeah. - So let the record reflect, you didn't say it, I did. - Okay, so what I prefer, and you might think about switching it, is the under-masculinization. - Okay, I'll take that. - Okay, right? Because that doesn't have the same onus. - Perfect. So the under-masculinization of men, a wonderful addition, thank you. I've been like, I'm telling you, it has something to do with microplastics. It's always been like my throwaway to just be like, there's an environmental thing that's happening here. We have so much plastic building up in our bodies and tissues and the things that we eat. But I had no idea what the mechanism would be. That is fascinating. So the under-masculinization of men due to phthalates. If you had to guess what percentage of the under-masculinization problem is phthalates, are there like, is it 20%? There's 80% that we haven't discovered. Or is this really like, no, no, no, it's always elevated. I mean, I guess even that's correlation or causation. I'll let you answer the question. Swag me a percentage. - I'm not going to do that because I'm going to, wait, because I'm going to say, this isn't the only chemical in the book. - True, true. - This isn't the only chemical in our body. And what we know now is that the hole is worse than the sum of its parts. And this is the question of mixtures that scientists now are very much into. But if you go to the doctor and she wants to prescribe a pill, she'll say to you, what are you taking? Tell me all the drugs you're taking, including vitamins, right? You've had that experience? And that's because of interaction. Okay, so what you're taking for different reasons at different times can interact in your body. So you might be exposed to phthalates when you're sitting down to eat more, and then you go in the bathroom and you do your face and you shave and blah, blah, blah, and you look exposed. And then you're exposed to, say, bisphenol A. We have barely talked about bisphenol A, but that's in your foods. It's in-- - That's BPA. - BPA, right? It's in your cash register where it's, so on and on and on. And then we have the PFAS. We didn't talk about PFAS. Have you heard about PFAS? - If you mentioned it in the book, I would have heard it, but I don't know what they are. - So PFAS, there are many, many chemicals in these very big class, and they're in many products, but you can think of them as barriers. These are barrier chemicals, okay? So they're in the lining of Teflon pans. That's a barrier, right? - I eat the most Teflon. - They're in your Gore-Tex, they're waterproofing, they're barrier to water. They're in your pizza boxes. That's a barrier to oil getting through. There are many of these. These affect sperm counts as well. - Everything I do sounds like it negatively impacts. I drink water out of plastic bottles, which for some reason I got it in my head that there were some plastic bottles that didn't have this problem, but I drink water out of plastic bottles. I grew up around as many smokers as you can imagine. I have pizza on the weekends. I can only imagine how many things from carpets and glues and all kinds of stuff that I expose myself to by living in a modern house. - So when you say what percent of the decline in sperm count is due to the phthalates, let me expand that. What percent of the decline is due to hormonally active chemicals? That's the class that we're talking about, chemicals that can affect the body's hormones or EDCs, endocrine disrupting chemicals. Okay, but Tom, I have to say that there are other things that affect your sperm count besides chemicals, and I think we should spend a little bit of time talking about that, right?

Lifestyle choices that can benefit testosterone. (01:13:30)

And you can think of them globally as lifestyle, and I'm sure you're familiar with a lot of them. So obesity lowers sperm count.

Impact Of Lifestyle And Socioeconomic Factors On Reproduction

How different exposure is based on socioeconomic status. (01:13:51)

Smoking, as you said, lowers sperm count. Binge drinking lowers sperm count. Stress has a big impact on sperm count. And so how do you control all these things? I mean, good luck on controlling your stress level, especially today, right? - Yeah, me in particular. - So how do you break up the chemicals from these other things? I don't think you can, and that's why I'm very reluctant to give a percent. The only way we could do that, I think, and that would maybe be in an animal laboratory, but stress for a rodent is a little different. You can stress a rodent, but it's different from worrying about whether you can pay your mortgage, I think is the thing. And so we have all of these factors that are acting, and they're probably interacting. So let me add one more thing, which we haven't talked about, and that is this is not an equal opportunity problem. And what do I mean by that? I mean that people who are stressed, disadvantaged, socially challenged in various ways are going to be hit much more. And they're hit because they have more exposure. You think of poor people living near a dump site, living near a smokestack, living near a freeway, higher exposure, airborne. They can't afford to buy fresh fruit, or they're in a food desert. Food deserts, you and I can get all the fresh food we want, but not everyone can. So I tell people eat fresh fruit. That's one of my recommendations, eat fresh food. If you can go to a farmer's market, get a bunch of carrots, get a bunch of tomatoes, take them home, eat them. That's the healthiest thing I can think of to do. - And you say that for reasons of pesticides and things? - Everything, it avoids everything.

How to buy fresh food. (01:16:02)

If the farmer has organic produce, you bring it home in a cloth bag, you rinse it out. What has it gone in contact with? And then you eat it. And maybe you cook it in a frying pan that's not Teflon, if you want to cook it, but you don't have to worry about what you store it in. You don't have to worry about what's happened to it in the processing plant when it's put into the spaghetti sauce jar and so on and so forth. But not everyone can do that. And many, there's a, for example, fast food has much higher levels of these chemicals. So one of the things we ask our subjects, did you, how often do you eat in fast food restaurants as a screener for their food-borne exposure? But aside from having higher exposure, they can't afford to buy their way out. So we haven't talked about personal care products and how to find safe ones, but there are ways to do that. And for example, you could go to Environmental Working Group, which is a very good organization that lists consumer products and personal care products and tells you what's in them. But you've got to have the time and the education to do that and the money to buy those more expensive products, right? So here you have a group that is more exposed, can't buy their way out. And then the third thing is more controversial, but it's, I'm convinced this is going on as well. The same level of exposure affects people under stress more. And I don't just mean psychological stress. I mean, various kinds of stressors, heat stress, lack of sleep stress. - Metabolic stress, obesity. That's where this gets really terrifying to your point about. You're in a food desert, you're eating cheap, highly processed food, you're overweight, and now it just exacerbates. So now here's what I love about a good hypothesis is it makes predictions and those predictions can be tested. What that predicts is that people growing up in these spaces, men, should be noticeably more under masculinized than their counterparts in more affluent areas. Has anybody looked at that to see if that's actually true? - No, I don't know, but I don't think so. But in our studies, we always control for, it's so hard to know how to control for this epidemiologically so you can control for the area they live in, the mean housing cost in that area, other things like family size, which may introduce more stressors. I hesitate to say controlling for race ethnicity because that is not a cause, that is a correlate, often, of being in disadvantaged situations. So control for the underlying causes, not the correlate. It's very difficult. It's very difficult to separate these various factors, but we do see more, impacts in our poor communities. - And how does that impact manifest? - Depends on the outcome you're looking at. I mean, if you're looking at-- - But in this context, the phthalate symptom-- - In our HED studies, I have to say we haven't done that because we don't have that much variability in our populations that I've studied. And the European studies are also quite homogeneous socio-demographically. So I don't know of a study that's actually addressed the question. If you look at however you're gonna characterize these disadvantages, I don't think there's any that have actually looked at these disadvantages directly as correlates of AGD. I don't know that. But it's a good idea. It's a good idea. - Let me just say, COVID, if you think about COVID, COVID is a stressor. I mean, very different from phthalates, but it's a stressor. And you look at the impact of COVID and who got sicker and who was hospitalized and deaths and so on, you see that disadvantaged communities are harder hit. I mean, that's just one example. And I mean, there's truism almost in epidemiology. And so just to put that all together, you have people who don't have the information they need, they can't buy their way out, they're harder hit because of their environment, and a given level of stress or a phthalate or whatever is gonna hurt them more. - Yeah, this is really unnerving to me when I step back and look at it, whether it's the most vulnerable or the hardest hit, or just that we're seeing a very broad global trend that is wildly unnerving. And at first I thought that the trend was just a weird, Western, educated, industrial, R, I forget what that stands for, D. Anyway, the weird societies is they, oh, democratic is the D, I'm missing the R. Anyway, the weird countries. I thought it was a societal thing that we had just, the ideas, they talk about the generational, the idea of the fourth turning, every four generations, there's like a recycling of stature, if you will, that we push back against our parents who are pushing back against their parents, who are pushing back against their parents. And so I thought, okay, we're just in that sort of psychological cycle, but hearing that, no, no, no, there's something more going on here and the under-masculinization is not something that we ought to look away from.

An ecological argument for keeping natural gender roles (01:22:22)

And if we can really control phthalates, for instance, and stop the under-masculinization of men, is that what we want? Are people gonna push back on that and say, actually, no, this is amazing and we're getting far more diversity and this is all a spectrum. So these are like really, really tricky topics, but to me, it seems self-evident that anything that's happening by accident, you're gonna want to address. And while I won't fall prey to the natural fallacy of just because it's natural, it means that it's good. A king cobra is natural, I'd rather not be bitten by it. But at the same time, this does seem like you're messing with a dynamic that you don't know the outcome of messing with that. And so this becomes Chesterton's fence. If you see a fence in the middle of the woods and you think, why is this fence here? I'm gonna knock it down. Wrong move. Figure out what the fence is for before you knock it down. And I would say there's such a delicate interplay between men and women and society at large that you mess with that at your own peril. And given that we open this conversation rightly so, at that this is actually a potentially existential crisis, which by the way, we never got to, humans really do meet the qualification of an endangered species 'cause you only have to meet one of like five different criteria. I think when I heard you run through it, we meet three of them. So we don't have to go into that right now, but just know that humans really do meet three of those criteria. The one that I'll talk about is the declining birth rate. We just are, we already, as you listed out, in several countries, we're already below replacement levels and the world itself is racing towards getting below the replacement level. And that's not a trend that gets going in the other direction very easily. I won't say that it can't happen, it certainly can, but it's, that's a really hard trend to turn around. And given that your hypothesis is that Thallate syndrome, which is probably responsible for a very large portion of the decline in fertility rate, is something that leads to the under masculinization of men. Like we can't shy away from, with no judgment, like first of all, I have a more feminine temperament. My wife has a more masculine temperament than you would expect from a typical guy or a typical woman. So I'm certainly not throwing shade, but I am saying that the choice my wife and I made to not have kids doesn't scale. And if everybody makes that choice, we're in trouble. And if we rob people of that choice, because they desperately want kids and can't have kids, that is, that's really gnarly. I won't use the phrase crime against humanity, but I'll mention that I'm not using it. So I would say it's pretty problematic. Do you think I'm overstating it? - I think that was excellent. No, I don't think you're overstating it. I think you stated it well. I wanted to go back to testosterone.

How phthalates in products impact levels of sexual satisfaction (01:25:45)

Can we do that for a minute? There's a growing, I've talked about a lot of trends. One of them that I didn't talk about is the decrease in testosterone, the increase in erectile dysfunction, more young men using testosterone. - Which by the way, lowers your sperm count. - Which lowers your sperm count. - Which is crazy, super counterintuitive, but true. - Absolutely. And so I just want to tell you two things. One is there's a paper out of China in workers who manufacture BPA, bisphenol A, that's the chemical that makes plastic hard. This is not, this is metal by the way, but a hard water bottle is BPA. And men working, making that product had significantly more ED. When I told this to Dulcy Sloan, do you know who Dulcy Sloan is? - I don't. - The Today Show? No, she's a comedian and she had this great line, which I'll share with you because, so she's thinking about this and she says, I got it. He can either have a hard water bottle or a hard dick, but not both. - Fair, that's good, that's a good line. - And it says something that people should think about. But on the other side, we asked our women a question in our survey about their sexual satisfaction and how often did they have sex and how satisfied they were with their sex life. And women who had higher levels of these anti-androgenic phthalates had less sexual satisfaction and less sex. - Okay, now you're gonna have to tell me why you think that is. Is it because their husbands are also thusly probably high in that and can't get an erection? Is it actually hampering their ability to reach orgasm themselves? - I'm not sure what they were answering to that sort of general question, but they weren't happy with their sex life. More likely to be unhappy with it, whether that meant they didn't orgasm or whether they didn't have as much sex or their husband didn't wanna have sex. So it's probably true that if she's more exposed, he's more exposed, unless it's something that's in her products only, but that's unlikely. So what is happening is that testosterone is needed by men and women. And it's an intimate driver of libido in men and women. So this drop in sexual activity, this rise in women in Japan wanting to marry themselves, I don't know, did you see that? - It's crazy. - Crazy? I'm not surprised that, I mean, this is going to be tied to a lowering of testosterone. There's many things that can lower testosterone. And by the way, our group is now investigating, in the same way we investigated sperm count, we're investigating testosterone over time. But the data does look like it's going down significantly. That's an early look and not for the front page or anything, but it really does look, in the studies that have looked at it, it is going down. - Well, so you're being wonderfully cautious like any good scientist would be, but in YouTube circles, that's just taken as like de rigueur, that yeah, 100% testosterone levels have plummeted by a lot. I don't remember the stat that people throw up, 30%, 50%, somewhere in there, that it is a massive fall off in testosterone levels from, they started measuring this back in like the 1940s or something, so we have data for quite some time. And that is, yeah, I mean, that speaks to the under masculinization. Now what's interesting is that, okay, well, that you can up their levels, right? So you can give them exogenous testosterone. - And lower their sperm count, as you said. - Yes, but, so here, and I will, I know I've already told you this, my honest probably knows, but I'll just say it. My wife and I have decided not to have kids. So it's possible we can, it's possible we can't, and just don't know it, but we don't want kids. And so I haven't even thought about that. So my obsession isn't around sperm count, at the societal level, 100%, but at an individual level, I can just attest, you can have an amazing life, whether you have kids or not. And so that one, like not, at a societal level, I care very much, but at an individual level, people enjoying their life and loving it, I worry very much about a drop in testosterone because that is, if you're in a marriage and your libido dies, the odds of your marriage dying skyrocket. This is me talking, I'm not giving you a stat, but I just, bed death is one of the things that I fear most for couples, because you become roommates, it's very different. So testosterone levels dropping in men and women strikes me, even if you don't want kids, striking me as wildly problematic, needs to be addressed, but can be addressed through TRT, testosterone replacement therapy. And it's actually something that I've started thinking about. I haven't done it yet, so I'm about to turn 47 as we record this, and I haven't done it yet, but I will often tell people Monday through Friday, if I'm awake, I'm either working or working out. And when I say that, there's always this little voice in my head that was like, you weren't like that in your 20s or 30s, because there was no universe in which I was only gonna have sex on the weekends when I was 27, like forget it, no way, there was nothing. And I was ambitious even back then, there was nothing I wanted badly enough to give up sex. And so now I'm like, okay, it's not like the rhythm of only on the weekends for me is perfect, I don't even think about it, I don't lament it, it's all good. And so I was like, ooh, like, and I remember my doctor asking me right before COVID, he was like, how's your libido? I'm like, it's great, it's normal. And so now though, I'm like, it has dropped precipitously since I was 25, and should I try it? Obviously muscle mass will be easier, et cetera, et cetera. Also, I struggle with anxiety, so I made huge gains in my anxiety by changing my diet, transformational change my life. I've always said, and look, this is just a swag, but that it improved my anxiety by 70%.

Diet Anxiety (01:32:28)

- Well, how did you change it? - So I was drinking Diet Monster, and I always feel bad saying this because Diet Monster, I love you guys, it's delicious. Unfortunately, it gives me anxiety. And I didn't know what it was for a long time. And finally, one day I was like, I had changed so many things in my diet, my lifestyle. - Is it so it's the sugar level? - No, it's not sugar, 'cause there's no sugar in Diet Monster. So I don't know what ingredient it is, 'cause I don't get that from Diet Coke, for instance, but I do get it from Diet Monster. Now, unfortunately, in the moment when I drink Diet Monster, I feel exactly the way I wanna feel. I feel alert, awake, it's delicious, I love drinking it, but the next day I feel anxious. - It's a drug. - Yeah, it's a great drug, I love it the most. Unfortunately, I've had to completely remove it from my diet because once I realized that's what was causing the background anxiety, because that was when anxiety went from manageable to oh, I really have a problem was when it became generalized. So I was just anxious all the time. It wasn't, there was nothing going on. I would just be sitting there and I'm like, I'm anxious. What is happening? And so that's when I realized, the first step for me was admitting it to my wife, who I thought would have no sexual attraction to me if she knew that I had anxiety, which didn't end up being true for anybody listening. But finally being able to talk about it, then I could start trying to pinpoint what's causing it. And it was easy, like if it's a, if I'm about to go give a big speech right now, I would still get anxious. This deep into my journey. But that I can understand, like that makes sense to me. But when I'm in a living room with my family and I can't bring myself to tell a story, and I'm talking like four or five people in a living room, but the closest people to me in the world, I couldn't tell a story. I was like, oh, okay, we now have a problem. And so made a bunch of lifestyle changes, including just becoming absolutely fanatical about meditation. It was getting much, much, much, much, much better, but it was still generalized. And I would get anxiety for making a left turn when I normally made a right turn. And I was like, what is going on? So anyway, that's when I was like, okay, there's something in my diet. And if somebody were coming to me and saying I'm having a problem, what advice would I give them? And I'd say, whatever you're eating a lot of, cut it out. It's guaranteed that. And so I was like, all right, what am I doing a lot of? And I was like, okay, it could be eggs, could be beef, could be diet monster. And I'm like, diet monster is the most obvious. I've heard people say that artificial sweeteners could cause a problem. So let me cut it out and see what happens. Cut it out, didn't notice, didn't notice, didn't notice. And so I would not drink it for a day. And then I didn't notice any difference and I'd drink it the next day. The problem was it was never getting out of my system. So finally I was like, all right, I'm gonna go cold turkey for like three weeks and see what happens. And it diminished dramatically. And then I had one and I didn't notice anything. So I'm like, maybe it wasn't the monster. So I'm like, what is it? And so then finally over time I realized, oh, I don't get it when I drink it, I get it the next day. And so now that I know it's like, anyway, I bring all this up in the context of testosterone because one thing I've heard is that testosterone can also impact anxiety. And so I'd be very interested to see if I can further diminish the remaining anxiety that I still have through TRT. - So I am not an expert on TRT at all. And I can't, and I'm not a clinician, I'm just clear about that, right? Epidemiologist. And I would see a urologist and just say, I mean, you have-- - A urologist for testosterone? - Yeah. - Interesting. Not an endocrinologist. - Well, he might refer you or she might refer you to an endocrinologist. I would start with a urologist. And just see what they say. I just don't know. I don't know. But I know of people who have used TRT successfully, happily, but I certainly can't endorse it or I don't know. It's not my field.

Screen 5: Targeting Testosterone, Under-Masculinization & Erectile Dysfunction (01:36:42)

So, but wow. - But you're studying it now, which is interesting. So what are your, why testosterone then? Why pursue that? - Because it's clearly linked to libido and it has to be linked to reproductive function. It's just another measure of reproductive function. And it's clearly linked to the chemicals that I'm concerned about. So it's directly right there in the interface between the outcomes I'm interested in and the exposures I'm interested in. It's probably cue to the whole puzzle. - Yeah. - Yeah, so going back to my obsession with the under masculinization of men, the societal impacts that that's having, I'm very keen to hear more about the studies on testosterone. That would have been before I read your book and learned about phthalates. That would have been, other than that sort of throwaway comment that I would always make that I know microplastics are gonna be in here somewhere. I would have thought that the problem would have been solved by TRT. I wasn't aware of the just sledgehammer to fertility that are phthalates in gestation.

Gender Issues And Chemical Interactions

We're More Than Chemical Processing Plants... Right? (01:37:48)

Again, I wanna be clear that that's what you're saying. Okay, so we don't know if it's impacting us as adults, but as I think we are chemical processing plants and literally nothing more, I don't see how it couldn't have and doesn't have some impact, which brings us back to testosterone. At the beginning when I brought this up, you said, "I think that we're more than chemical processing plants." I'm curious, what more do you think we are? - I don't think I said I think we're more. I said I'm not sure that's all we are. - Okay, it's interesting that that's different for you. Now, is that you making a case for the soul or am I totally misreading it? - No, no, no. I just think that, I don't see where aesthetics comes in here, ethics comes in. I mean, there's many aspects of human life. You might ask that question of a rat and does that mean the same thing for a rat and human to be a chemical processing plant? What does it have to do with our consciousness, for example, which is, by the way, is the area that my husband studies. I believe that if you open up the brain, you see structures in there that are made of chemicals. Definitely, and that's what we are. But the word processing is complicated, isn't it? - Yes, I think it's the important word in that sense. - That's the important word. And what is going on with that processing and is there something qualitatively different in human, or let's just say, let me just back up. So, do you know what the mirror test is? - If you're talking about V.S. Ramachandran's mirror box, yes, then no, I do not. - So- - Oh, people, animals that can recognize themselves? Yeah, yeah. - That's right. - And very few can, very few species can, right? - Us, dolphins, gorillas? - Certain monkeys and crows, I believe. - That's interesting, man. Crows are crafty. - This is Steve and my husband's field, so he'll be able to talk to you about it. But that distinguishes us, us mirror test positive species, if you will, from ants or robots. And so, that's why I say maybe. I think the chemicals involved in a crow's brain or a dolphin's brain or physiology are probably very similar to ours, but probably also similar to those in a chicken who does not pass the mirror test. So, I don't know- - That's fair. So, I will grant you that a more complete statement would be that we are, the structures of our brain matter a lot. And if you let me manipulate either structures in your brain through trauma, so just let me damage some of the structures, you'll be fundamentally different. If you let me damage your neurochemistry, I can change, I could literally control every emotion you have if you let me control the neurochemistry. So, it is fair to say that it is a provocative, albeit incomplete sentence to say we are just chemical processing plants. I will concede the point as I think about, but we're structures and chemicals. I don't think we're anything else. I have to think if there's another gotcha, but yeah, what I'm always trying to get people to understand, I'm obsessed with this idea that you're having a biological experience, which is the more encompassing way to say this. I want people to understand that even if we are God created, God decided for whatever reason to make you experience this life through biology. And if you understand biology, then you're gonna understand a lot more about yourself. And this is why I think that your book is the right entry point for the discussion about what's happening in society today. Like people may, they think they wanna talk about the mating crisis, but in reality, they're already once removed from the causal factor, which is at least in part influenced by these chemicals that you're intaking. There's probably also the societal swings that come with the different generations and all that. But there really is, like if you were gonna give me one master control switch and you said you can control chemistry or you can control culture, I'll take chemistry every day. - Right, right.

Gender dysphoria (01:43:02)

And you have to throw gene, that includes genetic alterations, right? Yeah. - That's interesting. I didn't mean that. Would I rather be able to control chemistry or genes? Yeah, it's all the genes are gonna be what either processes the chemistry well or not. So you really have a multifactorial problem. - Right, right. - It's very true. So thinking about us as we're these biological creatures, it's structure, it's chemistry, and then marrying that to what's going on societally with gender dysphoria, what are the thoughts? I know that you've thought about this, you've talked to people about this. How do you approach that very delicate subject? - So the first thing that, the way that I'm usually asked this is, what do you think about the increase in gender dysphoria? - Yeah, it's a great way to ask it. - And then I answer, I don't know there's been an increase. And the reason I say that is because we don't have historical records. I know that there are cultures that have existed for a long time where there was the third way. You could be male, female, or the third way. I don't know if you've heard of those. - I have, yeah. So big in Polynesian cultures, if I'm not mistaken. - And some Native American cultures and so on. - So I will ask the question this way. While neither of us will ever be able to know if people were just hiding it and under-reporting it, it does seem to have ratcheted up so quickly. It seems impossible to say that it's just societal acceptance alone. And now I don't have the stats on this, but so like we were talking earlier, everything makes a prediction. So if people were just hiding it and now they're finally able to bring it out, one would expect either there to be a commensurate uptick in people rating themselves as homosexual or that it would follow a graph as homosexuality became more acceptable. What happened to those rates compared to now as transgenderism becomes more accepted or gender dysphoria becomes more accepted? Is it following a similar trajectory? I don't know the answer to that, but my gut instinct having lived through both moments where it was like being gay was really, like there was really negative societal consequences and then watching that dissipate thankfully and seeing like people come out, it feels, it feels, this is just emotion, N of one, but it feels way more rapid. Now, could that be just that, oh, you now have the internet and so that makes all of this more possible. And again, I don't have the answer, but this feels qualitatively different in a way that I imagine somebody does have stats on this. So maybe we set that part aside since we don't know and won't be able to answer that. What is the next step? Like is your work makes, I would say value judgment that says, hey, we shouldn't be disrupting endocrinology willy-nilly by putting things into food, water, and the air. If that is tied as I would imagine, some people would hypothesize, is tied to the shifting on the gender spectrum. So if we accept that gender is a spectrum, just like I've always said that I have a, while I would say that I fall within ranges of being typically masculine, I'm on the lower end. And so I'm highly verbal. I find it very easy to be in touch with my emotions, to communicate my emotions. My wife is similar in that she falls within traditional feminine, but is definitely on the more masculine side. So I can completely buy into that as a spectrum and as a spectrum that is detached, not detached. In fact, this might be where we argue. I would say that they are so correlated to your genetic sex that when people try to completely divorce the two, that's where it seems weird to me. I don't think that will be a fruitful way to think through the issue, to say that the two are completely uncorrelated. - So I don't think we need to get into the verbal distinctions between sex and gender. There's genetic, you might've noticed I always use the term genetic male and genetic female, and that's just the presence of a Y chromosome or not. - And do you differentiate that between genetic sex?

Gender and sexuality (01:48:00)

So is genetically male the same as you are the sex male? - Yes. And for me, the arguments, and I don't wanna get into those 'cause that's not what my work is about, of whether of the relationship in gender and sex, it's very much a question of usage. Let me talk about three categories. Okay, my interest is, 'cause I'm interested in these chemicals, is whether these chemicals play any role in various aspects of sexual development, which are, if you want on the spectrum, in which gender is sex. So the first thing is what used to be called disorders of sexual development, DSD, right? And that is condition where you have, for example, ovary and testes in the same individual. You've heard of that, right? - You're talking about intersex? - Yeah. - Yeah, yeah. - And that can be caused by chemicals. And there's a researcher, Tyrone Hayes, he's at Berkeley, and he's found that in the wild, in frogs exposed to atrazine and other pesticides, he sees, takes them back to lab, they have ovaries and testicles in the same animal. - And they know how to reproduce that? - Yes, and then he does it in the lab. Then he takes-- - Was he the same guy that can also make frogs homosexual in the lab? - Yes. - Yes, that's really, really interesting to me. - That's the next step. That's how I was gonna tell you. So that, can chemicals cause intersex, DSD? Yes, no question, okay. - In frogs, just to be fair. - In frogs, absolutely, thank you. And then you go to the next level, if you will, or another level, which is homosexuality. So what is that? That's the desire to have sex with someone of the other genetic, of your same genetic sex, right? And heterosexual, other, okay? Are we okay with that? - Yeah, yeah. - Yeah? Okay, can chemicals cause homosexuality? And Tyrone Hayes showed yes, okay? Because he produced frogs that preferred to mate males with other males. His photographs, and you know, I don't know if you've seen it, but he's- - I haven't, no, I'm not surprised. Because again, understanding my stance in the world, it's either structure or chemicals. Like, I don't see any other options. - Right. - So if you- - So they're, on those two levels, chemicals can make, cause these changes. These, what should we call them? We're not going to call them, they're not malformations, they're not, they're differences, right? They're differences. Okay, now the third one is the hard one, right? And the question is, to be gender dysphoric, seems to be a question of how you view yourself. It is how you feel that you're, you feel you were born in the wrong body, okay? You cannot ask animals this question. And so we don't have a way to, you know, say, okay, well, there's an animal, yes. I asked Tyrone of this question, and he said, "Well, some of those frogs that prefer to have sex with males prefer to always be on the bottom, and some prefer to be on the top." - Interesting. - So he said, that's the only clue we have of what they're thinking or what they prefer, or what they want. - That's fascinating. - That's all I can give you because that's all I know, but I suggest you might want to talk to Tyrone because he knows more about this than anybody. - Is he coming at it from that lens? Like, is he aware of the sort of raging social debate around the issue, and now he's looking at the frogs through that lens? - I don't think so. I think it was our conversation at a meeting that caused him to step back and say, "Well, actually, you know, I've seen this behavior." And whether that means that they are dysphoric in some way, that they are always choosing the female role, even though they have male genitals, and prefer that and would want to be that, how can we know that? So that's the problem. We cannot, I don't know beyond that, what animal model could help us with this. Okay, so to say, are chemicals involved in gender choice? I don't know. I don't know, and I don't know how to answer it. And as a scientist, it's not, oh, it's not a question I know how to shape. I don't know how to make the hypothesis. I don't know how to set up the experiment that would answer that question. - Let's see if we can do it in real time. So, all right, if you have, well, so Tyrone is looking at it, I think, in a pretty interesting way, which is, okay, what behaviors could we pull out from this? But the thing that you did to come up with your original study feels like the right way to approach this problem.

Looking at chemical relationships. (01:53:45)

So you get the phthalate levels of people, and then you check, especially if you're talking, if the hypothesis is around pregnant women, get the urine of pregnant women, and then look at, I mean, the measurement you guys came up with, was the taint, great. So you see if there's any relationship between those. So then the question becomes in this, what are things that we could look at? So one, if the hypothesis that you have around these chemicals is true, it's like, okay, what are other things that we could look for? Is there a symphony of chemistry that we could look for in a pregnant woman that's predictive? Are there chemicals at puberty that could be predictive? 'Cause obviously at this point, we shouldn't over assume that we know which is which. This is something I know some people have gender dysphoria, very young, but other people that it's rapid onset in their typically adolescent years, tends to skew female, tends to skew autistic, which is very interesting. And maybe I should say that in a better way. There is a disproportionate number of people with autism that also express rapid onset gender dysphoria. So you would end up needing to go into these threads and come up with a hypothesis. Is this chemical based? Is this societally based? And then that hypothesis is gonna make a prediction. If we take the chemical route, we just walk through what that would be. If you have a societal hypothesis, then you need to figure out, okay, if they spend more than nine hours a day on Tumblr, whatever, I am making that up. But it's like, you would go in and collect that data. And then you would see at least if there was correlation. If there's correlation, you think of that as the smoke that might be pointing to the fire, and then you craft more and more clever tests and hypotheses as you go. The only thing that bums me out about this is, 'cause this seems very doable, but this is so fraught and people don't even like to talk about it.

How does this happen with all the judgement? (01:55:41)

A lot of judgment comes around it. And I just don't have any judgment. One of my best friends forever is transgender. And I've always said, you can't hate that which you love. So for me, it's like, I'm just curious, like how does this stuff come about? Knowledge is always useful. But if we can't talk about it, we're never gonna be able to figure this stuff out. - So what you're suggesting is actually possible with enough, with the will to do it and the money. I have had several pregnancy cohort studies in which we have urine, not much left by the way, 'cause we keep testing it, but there are other studies like this and they're actually all over the world. There's the Danish birth cohort, there's Swedish Selma study and so on and so forth. And in the United States, there's something called ECHO. So ECHO is a sort of a synthetic cohort where a lot of cohorts have been put together. So it would be possible, I think, with the will to do this, to collect urine samples from a large number, 'cause you need a large number for this, is a rare occurrence, right? Still rare, whatever, however you measure it. You have to get a large number of participants who would allow us to look at their urine and then the children would be willing to come in and be tested. So there are some pretty good instruments for testing for gender dysphoria. And it's not impossible then to ask whether the responses to those questions differed by what was in the mother's urine. I think that's the experiment that could do this, but there are many people that would not even want that question asked because it sounds like then this is a bad thing. And there are many, many, maybe most people who are gender dysphoric and choose to transition feeling that they are now liberating themselves, that this is a good thing. - Maybe they are liberating themselves, maybe it is a good thing.

Would knowledge make this worse? (01:58:06)

But my thing is to understand something is, I don't think, I legitimately cannot think of anything where ignorance was the better option. And so understanding why I am the way that I am, for instance, doesn't make any of that worse. So just everything comes back. There is some cause, there is some cause. And so to know that cause, I don't see how that would ever be bad. - And I should add, we haven't gone there, but salates are related to liposuction. Language learning and play. So play is a very complicated question because many people say play is all society. It's all society, how you play. Certainly is a large proportion society. But there is a standard instrument called the Preschool Activities Inventory. And it's been around for, I don't know, 20, 30 years. And it's been used all over the world. And what it asks is 24 questions. How often does your child play with dolls? How often does your child play dress up? How often does your child play with cars? How often does guns and so on and so on and so forth. Before I tell you the answer, I'll tell you that they also observe monkeys making toy choices. - So not socialized. - Right. And male monkeys tend to choose cars given a choice of cars and dolls. And female monkeys tend to choose the doll. - Yeah. No, I get from an evolutionary standpoint, it just makes sense to me. So if there, I'm a comic book junkie. If there's an image that has a person and a robot in it, my eyes go right to the robot. Don't know why. I was fascinated. I just saw something on Twitter yesterday. What's that? - Who goes to the robot? - My eyes. - Oh, you. - My eyes draw to the max robots. Obsessed. Obsessed. I don't know what it is. But it's really fascinating. And so look, people can be really horrible to each other.


Closing (02:00:18)

And so I get why people can get defensive if people are just a jerk to you. Then yeah, I get it. Defenses go up and people want to push people back. But anyway, I wish people would be more open-minded. Your book certainly blew my own mind wide open. Where can people follow you? Get the book. Where do you want them to go to enjoy your book? - Well, of course I want them to read "Countdown," which you can get on Amazon, of course. And I would like to mention that if you want to learn more about these chemicals and the literature, science on these chemicals, environmental health news comes out every day. You can look it up. You can subscribe to it. And you can contact me at shawneswan.com. - I love it. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Everybody, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. Peace. Click here now to learn why this generation of men is struggling and feeling lost. - I honestly think that you could look at a man on the street now, point at him and have a 50% chance that he hasn't had sex in the last year. - That's insane. - What we want is for women to have partners that they are fundamentally attracted to. If one sex loses, both sexes lose.

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