Tag Archives: Phenylethylamine

Sex, smelly armpits and the appliance of science


Did she shave her armpits?


A record-breaking number of drinkers and thinkers gathered at the Park View pub in Brighton on Valentine’s Day to tackle the nature of love.     

Richard Robinson, author of ‘Why the One You Fancy Never Fancies You’, used science to unravel the madness of desire.     

“Love is chemistry,” he announced. “Sex is physics.”     

For Robinson it all boils down to pheromones. Phenylethylamine (a neurotransmitter released by the hypothalamus) is secreted when you spot an attractive person across a crowded room, Robinson said. It is also produced by white-knuckle rides and bungee jumping –  so all those people wooing each other across candle-lit tables last night were wasting their time; they should have been on the Oblivion ride at Alton Towers.     

Oh – and stop shaving your armpits. “We are programmed to sniff out people who have different genes to ours,” Robinson said. “This helps to give our children broad immunity from disease.”   

After a bracing canter through the themes of naïve science, cognitive miserliness and Murphy’s Laws of Love, we broke into separate discussion groups to try to sort it out for ourselves.     

Our cosmopolitan group comprised Annie (from Glasgow by way of South Africa), Issac (from Manchester), Manuel (from France), Marina (from Greece) and Mar (from Spain). We debated whether we are slaves to our body odours and if we “choose the paths of love wisely or are rocked around on a sea far from tranquillity, but still affected by the moonlight” (whatever that means).     

We all thought that Robinson’s reductive analysis focused more on lust than love. None of the women in our group agreed with George Burns: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family – in another city”. The men went along with Albert Einstein: “Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. Each is inevitably disappointed.”     

But perhaps the most pertinent question comes from Bette Midler: “If sex is such a natural phenomenon, how come there are so many books on how to do it?”     

And why do people gather in pubs to talk about it?


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Filed under Dept. of Philosophy