Episode 20, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube


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“Educators shouldn't be deciding on their language and their views and what they teach because they've been intimidated."

Carol Hooven is a scientist, a professor, an educator, and co-directs the Undergraduate Program in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She is the author of T: The Story of Testosterone, The Hormone That Dominates And Divides Us.

In this episode of Keep Talking, Carol explains the crucial role of testosterone in shaping male and female nature, how social and ecological factors affect testosterone levels in men, testosterone transitions in transgender people, and the healthy, high, and low levels of the hormone in men and women. We also talk about Carole’s experience as a woman in academia, the cultural pressure against freedom of speech in America, and attempts to censor her knowledge within academia.

About Carole Hooven (Quote from carolehooven.com):

“Carole Hooven teaches and co-directs the undergraduate program in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She earned her PhD at Harvard, researching sex differences and testosterone, and has taught there ever since. Hooven has received numerous teaching awards, and her popular Hormones and Behavior class was named one of the Harvard Crimson’s ‘top ten tried and true.’”

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Time Stamps:

(00:00) Intro
(02:24) Get to know Carole Hooven
(02:45) How did Carole get interested in the subject of testosterone?
(12:34) What is the general difference in expression of testosterone between men and women?
(17:36) What is testosterone?
(20:34) What changes in body and behavior could be observed if a female took male testosterone levels or if a male took female levels of estrogen?
(21:18) Carole shares her experience interviewing three trans men who lived as women until their early 20s or 30s
(24:55) Carole recounts her experience being a guest on the Transparency podcast
(29:59) Is testosterone the most important hormone that distinguishes the genders?
(30:51) Carole explains testosterone transitions in transgender people and what that means for non-transgender people understanding sex differences
(32:46) The physical and reproductive differences between females and males
(35:05) How can we explain why some men are more nurturing than others?
(36:17) How to view high testosterone rates in men
(37:30) The ranges of healthy, high, and low levels of testosterone in men and women
(40:18) Why elevated testosterone levels in men need not necessarily imply an increased sex drive or aggression
(44:21) Carole’s experience as a woman in academia
(45:20) About Carole’s students at Harvard
(48:26) Carole’s experience over the past year teaching her subject matter
(53:20) Where does the reluctance to speak openly about academic subjects come from?
(01:02:17) Why is there an opposition to speak against subjects of academic interest?
(01:13:32) Carole talks about her life at Harvard
(01:14:22) Carole explains her fondness for her students at Harvard
(01:17:20) How has social media increased instances of bullying against academic researchers?
(01:18:48) Carole talks about the DEI groups in colleges
(01:20:43) How can we overcome the hindrance to free speech?


“So testosterone, since it's a steroid...means that it's a derivative of cholesterol, it's fatty... and it can pass freely through neuron cell membranes, so it can get right in there. And it affects gene transcription.”

“Testosterone is shaping the brain before puberty...the elevated testosterone that begins in puberty can act on the masculinized brain.”

“It's not just (that) testosterone promotes certain behaviors in a vacuum...(T)here's this constant interplay between the social and ecological aspects of the environment that shapes male behavior in a way that tends to, on average, maximize reproductive success.”

“It is seen in non-human animals, and to some extent, in humans, that being competitive and being successful in competitions against other men can lead to a temporary increase in testosterone.”

“There is a scientific reality, and then there are reasons why people resist it, and those are two different things.”

“Educators shouldn't be deciding on their language and their views and what they teach because they've been intimidated. ”

“People need to stand up and defend people who they see being attacked for their views. They need to take a risk and speak out and not just let their friends and colleagues suffer for unjust reasons.”

Relevant links:

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Organization mentioned:

Podcast mentioned:

People mentioned (quotes from Wikipedia):

  • Richard Wrangham - “Richard Walter Wrangham is an English anthropologist and primatologist. His research and writing have involved ape behavior, human evolution, violence, and cooking.”
  • Kathleen Stock - "Kathleen Mary Linn Stock is a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex. She has published academic work on aesthetics, fiction, imagination, sexual objectification, and sexual orientation...In October 2021, a student campaign calling for her dismissal prompted both criticism and support of Stock, leading to a group of over 200 academic philosophers from the UK signing an open letter in support of Stock's academic freedom."

Connect with Carole:

Website | Twitter