The smelly mystery of the human pheromone
"Pheromone"is a very powerful word. It conjures up sex, abandon, loss of control, and you can see, it's very important as a word. But it's only 50 years old. It was invented in 1959. Now, if you put that word into the web, as you may have done, you'll come up with millions of hits, and almost all of those sites are trying to sell you something to make you irresistible for 10 dollars or more.
“费洛蒙”是一种非常强大的物质。它激起性欲，使人放纵或失去控制，因此它是一种非常强大的物质。但它只有50岁，在1959年被发明。如果你在网络中搜索，也许你已经搜索过了，你会得到百万的搜索结果。而且几乎所有的那些网站都试图卖给你些 10 美元左右的让人不能抗拒的东西。
Now, this is a very attractive idea, and the molecules they mention sound really science-y. They've got lots of syllables. It's things like androstenol, androstenone or androstadienone. It gets better and better, and when you combine that with white lab coats, you must imagine that there is fantastic science behind this. But sadly, these are fraudulent claims supported by dodgy science.
The problem is that, although there are many good scientists working on what they think are human pheromones, and they're publishing in respectable journals, at the basis of this, despite very sophisticated experiments, there really is no good science behind it, because it's based on a problem, which is nobody has systematically gone through all the odors that humans produce -- and there are thousands of molecules that we give off.
We're mammals. We produce a lot of smell. Nobody has gone through systematically to work out which molecules really are pheromones. They've just plucked a few, and all these experiments are based on those, but there's no good evidence at all.
Now, that's not to say that smell is not important to people. It is, and some people are real enthusiasts, and one of these was Napoleon. And famously, you may remember that out on the campaign trail for war, he wrote to his lover, Empress Josephine, saying, "Don't wash. I'm coming home." (Laughter) So he didn't want to lose any of her richness in the days before he'd get home, and it is still, you'll find websites that offer this as a major quirk. At the same time, though, we spend about as much money taking the smells off us as putting them back on in perfumes, and perfumes are a multi-billion-dollar business.
那并不是说那气味对人类不重要。有些人对此非常痴迷。其中之一便是拿破仑。你也许会记得，拿破仑在战争后写给他的情人Empress Josephine说道 “别洗。我很快回家。” （笑）所以他不想在他回家之前让她失去她的体味。你可以在网上找到销售这种怪癖的链接。但是，与此同时我们花费同样多的金钱，先是除去我们的体味，接着又重新擦上香水。香水可是创造了数十亿美元的产业。
So what I want to do in the rest of this talk is tell you about what pheromones really are, tell you why I think we would expect humans to have pheromones, tell you about some of the confusions in pheromones, and then finally, I want to end with a promising avenue which shows us the way we ought to be going.
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