Dr. James Cantor (@jamescantorphd) is a clinical psychologist and sexologist whose research centers on the development of sexual interests, including sexual orientation and paraphilias. He maintains the Sexology Today blog, which focuses on the current state of sex research.
What We Discuss with James Cantor:
- What makes people gay?
- The differences between gay men and gay women.
- What should society do about pedophiles who choose to live lives of celibacy rather than act on their urges?
- Is there a link between autism and gender dysphoria?
- What’s the deal with asexuality, paraphilia, vorarephilia, and that thing you think about when nobody else is around?
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- Peloton: Learn more at onepeloton.com/row
- BetterHelp: Get 10% off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan
- SimpliSafe: Learn more at simplisafe.com/jordan
- Strange Planet: Listen here or wherever you find fine podcasts!
- HVMN: Go to HVMN.com promo code JORDAN for 20% off Ketone-IQ
If you want to know how to select a good long-term mate (and be a good long-term mate), you’ll want to hear episode 758: David Buss | The Evolution of Desire here!
Thanks, Dr. James Cantor!
If you enjoyed this session with James Cantor, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank James Cantor at Twitter!
Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
815: James Cantor | Exploring the Complexities of Sexual Orientation
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:04] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:07] James Cantor: Men are simple. You know, we're pretty, you know, stimulus-response. Give or take a few men in the tribe, it's not going to change much. But evolution is about women. If women were into it, men would evolve it. And so we are plan B.
[00:00:27] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional Russian chess grandmaster, money laundering expert, undercover agent, former jihadi, or tech mogul. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:00:53] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show — and that is a hint, folks, please go ahead and do that — our starter packs are a great place to begin, or send to somebody else — topics like persuasion and influence, negotiation and communication, China, North Korea, scams, conspiracy debunks, cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:15] Now, today's guest is controversial, but if the last few episodes on sexuality didn't get me canceled, why not push the envelope just a little bit more, right? Dr. James Cantor has been engaged in sex research for over 25 years, focused on what makes people sexually interested in what they are sexually interested in. Today, we're going to uncover what makes people gay. Yeah, you heard me. We'll also discuss fetishes and other atypical sexualities. Last but not least, we explore some disorders such as pedophilia, which I feel the need to highlight has nothing to do with what makes people gay or homosexuality. It's a fascinating subject. Just since I put those two things a paragraph apart, I don't want to get a zillion emails about this or something. This topic is really interesting. I know it's repulsive. I agree with you that it is. The topic should be repulsive, that's kind of the point, but man, I learned a lot about pedophilia. There's a sentence I never thought I would say again. Pedophilia is discussed. Your choice about kids in the car for this one. And as you listen, I remind you to always choose curiosity over judgment. And hey, if you can't, we've got over 800 other episodes to choose from. So maybe go over there now instead of writing me a 13-paragraph email about how I'm a terrible person.
[00:02:28] All right, here we go with Dr. James Cantor.
[00:02:33] I was a little bit on the fence about having you on because you're very controversial and I don't want to get canceled because I like my career, but you know, we are all about curiosity over judgment here on this show. And I'm very careful not to fan the flames of anything anti-gay or anti-trans or anti-something that might give actual bigots more fuel than they already seem to have either online or in person. But it's sort of hard to imagine you'd be anti-gay for reasons we'll probably get into on the show or will become apparent at some point on the show. And also, you come so highly recommended by other people I know as well as other people who are in your actual field, such as Carole Hooven, who I just sort of sanity checked and I was like, okay, is this a guy where people are going to go, "Why are you having kooks on?" And she's like, "No, he's great." Speaking of people who are canceled, Carole Hooven really likes you.
[00:03:22] James Cantor: Yeah.
[00:03:23] Jordan Harbinger: And she's great. And she, as you know, her career is just, I mean, she cried a lot on the show because people don't like science and we'll get into that discussion too. Or they like science if they agree with it. Oh, and she said, and I quote, "James can be highly provocative, but is always very fact-based," which I think is probably a pretty good compliment.
[00:03:41] James Cantor: That's about as high praise as I could ever ask for.
[00:03:44] Jordan Harbinger: There you go.
[00:03:44] James Cantor: I don't think I'm controversial. I'd hesitate. It's not like there's anything about me or my life that's particularly noteworthy.
[00:03:51] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[00:03:52] James Cantor: But I'm a scientist studying, you know, some extremely controversial issues. I study the nature of sexuality.
[00:04:00] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:01] James Cantor: There is no neutral to that no matter what, you know, the science says there are going to be people of one belief pattern, people of another belief pattern. And if they can't disagree with the science itself, I have no choice but to start with the ad hominems and say, "Oh, it must be him-and-him biases. He's just from the other side." But I want to know where the line is. Now sometimes that's a very delicate question, and so when I'm talking about very fine distinction, saying, "Well, maybe I overcorrected a bit." "Oh my God, you're like one of the extremists from the other side." "No, no, no, no. I'm just running the entire range of numbers. But in a war between the zeros and tens, each side is trying to accuse me of being biased by the other when all I can think is if both sides hate me, does not make me the most objective.
[00:04:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Oh, interesting. Yeah, that's a good way to look at it. I actually, I kinda like that because I don't talk about politics here on the show, at least not intentionally or directly, and a lot of people on the right, and a lot of people on the left are like, "You know, I like that about you," but the people who are on the extreme left and the extreme right are like, "You know why you're a piece of crap? It's because you don't—" and it's like, agree with my extreme views, essentially. They don't say that, but they phrase it differently.
[00:05:12] James Cantor: You think what they're saying is what they're saying.
[00:05:14] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:05:15] James Cantor: In psychology, we call it verbal behavior. There is no content to it. This is just me using you to make me look good, me using you to know what the words are, that's just the excuse. The point is look how much better I am next to you. and so let's show how evil you are, so I can bask in the opposing light. The content of the argument, they're not interested in the issue. They're interested in looking good in front of their cool kids at their lunch table.
[00:05:43] Jordan Harbinger: That's true. It's weird when it happens in a private email because you think, "Hey, shouldn't you be posting this on social media? So you get points instead of just in my inbox where I delete it or reply with a totally different off-topic subject to distract you from you having a meltdown in my inbox while you're seated at a red light typing this or whatever." Anyway, I hate to caveat things this much, but you're used to this by now, I would assume.
[00:06:05] James Cantor: As I said, you know, nobody becomes a sex researcher naively. It's fascinating, fascinating stuff and this is a new world. The science and the teaching of the science has changed. I started this now 25 years ago before the social media age where most public conversations were taken place on relatively legitimate media. Things were long form, long articles, long interviews, and people had time to take step by step by step. You know, they did entire documentaries about the research I was doing, and audience by audience, the response was almost always, "Oh, I get it now."
[00:06:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:49] James Cantor: And there was progress that stopped once social media started. It's the lowest common denominator, the floor has fallen out of it. It's much, much lower. Now that any idiot can say anything. Every idiot does, and there's no filter. So the crazy stories become more and more common because it's so easy to see them. So people, you know, they're just going with the popular idea rather than with the idea that has the best evidence behind it. Few people are engaging with the idea itself. It's just, "Oh, here's an excuse for me to demonstrate my outrage and therefore demonstrate how holy I am by how offended I can look."
[00:07:28] Jordan Harbinger: What is it that originally drew you to this field of study? I mean, what's a story about how you became a sex researcher?
[00:07:36] James Cantor: Dumb luck, really.
[00:07:37] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:07:37] James Cantor: I just grew up regular, everyday gay kid in my bizarre, regular, everyday gay kid kind of way. Tough beginnings, awfully bullied childhood, gym class, and I never got along, but by the time I came out and was ready to become part of the world, I kind of wanted to pass that forward. I just decided I wanted to be a psychologist and become a therapist. And this was now in the '90s. This was in the height of the HIV era.
[00:08:04] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:08:05] James Cantor: Right. This was my way to because I was so comfortable by then talking about it, as I said that, that's how I saw myself integrating and living my life and finding and falling in love with Prince Charming. So I met that Prince Charming. We're 32 years together now. It's weird—
[00:08:21] Jordan Harbinger: Wow, congrats.
[00:08:21] James Cantor: —even to say it out loud.
[00:08:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:08:24] James Cantor: Right. Yeah. No, I'm older than I think I am. Those were the days, it was a very, very different planet from now.
[00:08:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Wow.
[00:08:30] James Cantor: And then at the end of my PhD program, tying for one's internship, one year of apprentice practice before graduating your own psychologist, and the one of the top internship sites was here in Toronto at what was then called the Clark Institute of Psychiatry. And you know, they only had two sex-related clinics. One was their gender clinics, or I thought, you know, perfect. That was exactly in line with the kind of stuff that I saw myself doing. And the other was the sexual behaviors clinic, which dealt with atypical sexualities and sex offenders, and so on. I didn't pay much attention to it, but I needed a second rotation. Well, the people in that second rotation were just planning to start a branch of brain research where wait a second. I used to do that kind of research. I know how to, and all of a sudden everything just came together. I was the right person with the right background at the right time. And then I began ahead of the research and that's when I started doing, all right, I had the question, everybody else, you know, gay did, you know, what makes me different? You know, it was gay in the brain or not. Again, this was the '90s and that wasn't well known.
[00:09:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:09:36] James Cantor: But the top researchers figuring out how sexuality develops, were at that same institution. And so they got me thinking, what they were thinking. what makes anybody attracted to whatever it is they're attracted to? Gay, lesbian, old, young, kinky, not, how does the whole thing work in this? They broadened me from just trying to understand myself and why am I different to the grand question, you know, what makes all of us, what creates the sexual diversity and what can we learn from each of these different ways to be sexual atypical? You know, what different kind of clues do they give us? And bunch of grants, bunch of studies later that that's what got me on, you know, those two odd branches of expertise. It was really just a series of lucky running into the right people at the right time and running with it.
[00:10:27] Jordan Harbinger: It's amazing to me that we can do, we, we can do all these amazing things with science and DNA hormones. Maybe we're going to colonize Mars in a hundred years. I mean, I don't know, but we just don't really know seemingly a lot about what makes people, some people attracted to the same sex as opposed to the opposite sex or attracted to younger people or older people. Or do we actually, and nobody's talking about, well, you're talking about it, but I never hear about this.
[00:10:52] James Cantor: Again, that's a change. From young folk today, we don't hear about it, all we hear about it is, "What it means to me and how it makes me feel about myself."
[00:11:02] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:11:02] James Cantor: "And if you make me feel uncomfortable or challenged how I feel about myself, you're evil."
[00:11:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:11:09] James Cantor: I don't have any work to do, of course, you know?
[00:11:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:11:11] James Cantor: So to me, it's a conversation that was happening and stopped from young people today. They just never heard the conversation. But from a generation older now, again, this is one of the things that social media has gotten in the way of, there were books, there were documentaries, it was constantly in the news. I was getting interviewed all the time, well I still get interviewed all the time, but different topics, but the main questions were what makes all of us tick. And then when media and everybody else started worrying about how is this going to play out on Twitter tomorrow, all of a sudden, "Oh no, we're actually in business here to be popular. And just getting the news across and getting the information across," that became second, second fiddle.
[00:11:56] Jordan Harbinger: In the '90s, there were kids in my school who we just kind of knew were gay, like, and, and you know, we made fun of kids for everything back in the day. I mean, you could have blue shoes instead of red ones, and then the next day you had the red one, you know, whatever. And we made fun of you for that. But there were kids where we were like, that guy is going to turn out to be gay. And so when people would, as adults would say, being gay is a choice. Us 13-year-olds would be like, "I don't know, man. Aaron definitely would not choose this" because we torment him. I mean, he is our friend, but we torment this guy and he's a kid and like, eh. So it's weird because if you ask young people who grew up in the '90s we're like a gay gene or whatever, of course. And yet, adults really just wouldn't accept this. But I would love to hear from an actual scientist that's you. What makes people gay? Why are some people gay as far as we know?
[00:12:44] James Cantor: It is a fascinating, absolutely fascinating question. It's also a really, really good practice question if somebody wants to learn the scientific method. I mean, if you want practice in trying to shut down your emotions and your politics and just apply good old fashioned, this is how inductive logic works.
[00:13:02] Jordan Harbinger: You mean my anecdotal example from middle school is not scientifically rigorous.
[00:13:07] James Cantor: It's a mix.
[00:13:07] Jordan Harbinger: It's a rhetorical question.
[00:13:08] James Cantor: I don't want to pretend that science education today is what science education was 30 years ago.
[00:13:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:14] James Cantor: Gay men seem to be gay for a slightly different reason than lesbian women tend to be lesbians. Now, the big question that a lot of people ask is, you know, is it in the genes or not? Is it in, you know, the brain or not? But really what people are asking are — is it innate?
[00:13:29] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:13:30] James Cantor: Did you choose it? Are you born with it? Most people really don't care.
[00:13:34] Jordan Harbinger: Right, if it's your DNA or if it's right.
[00:13:35] James Cantor: Is it genetic, epigenetic—
[00:13:38] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:13:38] James Cantor: The details of the biology, people really want to know, essentially, are you just born with it? Is it innate and is it immutable, can it change?
[00:13:46] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Like did you come out of the womb that way for whatever reason? Or did you just watch way too much West side story?
[00:13:52] James Cantor: Did something happen to you? Right. You know, relationship with father, old psychological ideas, right?
[00:13:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:59] James Cantor: And so those were, I would say a legitimate debate, but a tainted one. You know, for some people it's just curiosity. For other people, there's a reason, you know, if they were, for example, the true conversion therapist of those days, religiously motivated, they needed for the answer to be, something happened to you. Otherwise, it would make, it would put them out of business. It would say there's no point.
[00:14:25] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:14:25] James Cantor: Right. So then people would then balance whatever, or like or dislike whatever science according to the implications it had for whatever their conflict of interest was.
[00:14:34] Jordan Harbinger: Also, if you're born that way, how hard is it to argue that God doesn't want that and that they should be able to change you? It's like, well, if you were born that way, uh, you know, it cuts into the business model, big time.
[00:14:45] James Cantor: Whether it's financial, business, religious business, popularity, business.
[00:14:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:14:49] James Cantor: Right. You know, people were not being, there were many people not objective about that. They weren't genuinely curious. You know, it was a means to an end. So often when, you know, somebody would say, "Ah, it's not in the genes. Oh, therefore it's not innate." Dot, dot, dot, It turns out to be one of these indirect kind of mechanisms that interacts with DNA, but not in the obvious, you inherit it from mother or father, you know, there's a simple gene. You know, it's not like that.
[00:15:15] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:15] James Cantor: There's a constellation of vulnerabilities which interact with a constellation of other things that seem to happen after conception, but early during development, you know, roughly the first third of trimester when the brain is really just forming. And again, it turned out to be a fascinating answer. The guy who worked it out was, you know, my advisor back at the Clark, then became, CAMH. Ray Blanchard was the one who figured it out. And again, it's one of these wonderful examples of this bizarre, unrelated, stupid little statistic that nobody should ever, you know, pay attention to.
[00:15:49] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:50] James Cantor: But as he pulled at that little thread, all of a sudden, oh, wait a minute, that means, which means, which means, and the whole thing unraveled.
[00:15:59] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting.
[00:15:59] James Cantor: The odd little statistical tidbit that he found was that gay men were more likely to be later in among the children. They were more likely to have more older brothers than younger brothers. They were later in the birth order. Sisters didn't matter. Adoption in and out of the family didn't matter. It was how many, you know, male fetuses and only male fetuses preceded you in the womb even if they were aborted.
[00:16:27] Jordan Harbinger: I was going to ask if, yeah, what did they have to be born? No. Okay. Interesting.
[00:16:31] James Cantor: Right. You know, so it wasn't, you know, in what line were you raised? It wasn't amount of household. It was something and just over and over again, it was only explained by how many male and only male fetuses went through that womb before you did, again, yanking and yanking and yanking. So what he was eventually able to figure out was that it's an immune response of the mother. Women, two x chromosomes and a female fetus, you know, in her, her daughter, two X chromosomes. When there's a male fetus growing, that's XY, there's a Y chromosome. The various proteins that come off of the Y chromosome are foreign to the mother's body. She doesn't have a Y chromosome of her own. Her immune system starts doing what an immune system does, inactivate these proteins that are foreign to your body. The purpose of, right, those proteins are, that's part of masculinizing, the brain of the kid. So if mom's immune system starts interfering with those proteins, whatever it is in the brain, right, that's associated with sexual orientation seems to get interacted in within a way so that the brain and body, you know, there are other, again, minor, minor statistical difference were not masculinized in quite the same way.
[00:17:58] Jordan Harbinger: Huh?
[00:17:58] James Cantor: Now, of course, something that can be genetic is the mother's immune system, but is not a gene for gay that gets passed, you know, from parent to child. It's this protein sensitivity set of complexes. But the basic idea, as I say, it's a fascinating example of who would've guessed, nobody hypothesized it. It was just one of those pull at the strings until exclude all the other possibilities until the one left explains everything. It was just a fascinating, fascinating story.
[00:18:27] Jordan Harbinger: It is fascinating. So why would this be, what's the word? Is it adaptive? Like, why did we evolve this? Or why has this persisted? Is there some benefit to the mother's immune system for doing this? Or is it just a side effect that's not gone for some reason?
[00:18:42] James Cantor: My guess is it's a side. A powerful immune system itself is adaptive and so, you know, right, so the kids, in general, would get that. So it's, you know, a standard evolutionary interpretation that it's worth sacrificing one every however many children in order to have that much stronger of an immune system in the whole family.
[00:19:05] Jordan Harbinger: Did the chances of a gay male baby increase, let's see, like eight older brothers, are you X number of times more likely, or is it just like one does the trick?
[00:19:14] James Cantor: The odds go up about 30 percent per child, but the probability starts in statistics until the base rate starts low. It starts at about two percent. And then the second son would be about 2.6 percent.
[00:19:29] Jordan Harbinger: I see.
[00:19:29] James Cantor: So it's a 30 percent increase in the odds, but it's still a low number and so after that would now be whatever works out to like 3.4 and so on.
[00:19:37] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Okay.
[00:19:38] James Cantor: So you would have to have, you know, over a dozen kids, and after a dozen kids, if one turns out gay, nobody's too surprised.
[00:19:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean just, that's just statistics at that point.
[00:19:48] James Cantor: Exactly.
[00:19:49] Jordan Harbinger: Why doesn't everybody know about this? Right. Because the nature versus nurture debate was such a huge thing in the science of, what's the technical term? Gayness. Yeah.
[00:19:59] James Cantor: Oh yeah. All kinds of books.
[00:20:00] Jordan Harbinger: Everybody was talking about this.
[00:20:01] James Cantor: As I say, and it stopped part of it was during the HIV era.
[00:20:07] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:20:07] James Cantor: I mean, first things first, we were dying 30,000 a year first things first, we got exactly. So, you know, a lot of sciences, a lot of attention and research money went there and I can't disagree with that.
[00:20:19] Jordan Harbinger: I see.
[00:20:19] James Cantor: But when that I'll say, you know, came under rough control around 2000, that's now when trans issues and social media kicked in. It was just, there was something else that was new—
[00:20:31] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:20:31] James Cantor: —and flashy. This old stuff wasn't so useful for virtue signaling anymore. If you want to demonstrate your political creds and if you want the attention that comes with being an extremist, there's a new, even funky or a kid on the block. And so I think that sucked up a lot of the attention because it was really not motivated by science. It was just, you know, pure attention-seeking that. It's largely worked. Although I think sex research was probably one of the hardest hit research fields. It's certainly not the only great failure of science education and scientific thinking going on. As I say, I think, social media, a 280-character limit has led to a 280-character thinking cap.
[00:21:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:21:22] James Cantor: Nobody wants any subtle detail, you have to think about it for a second. It's just collect the likes and block whatever you don't like. So I think a lot of the anti-scientism and take your pick, whether it's political events that people are denying exist, you know, from anti-vaxxers to the Capitol Hill riots and so, and it's just now that everything is a plebiscite to decide whether it's true because it's popular, controversial science was the first, first lost. And of course, sex researchers has always, has always been one of those.
[00:21:57] Jordan Harbinger: We talked about gay men. Women right now are going, "What about lesbians? You said—"
[00:22:01] James Cantor: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:22:01] Jordan Harbinger: —earlier, but—
[00:22:02] James Cantor: Of course, yeah.
[00:22:02] Jordan Harbinger: What about lesbians?
[00:22:04] James Cantor: There doesn't seem to be any analogous birth order effect among women or for lesbians.
[00:22:10] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay.
[00:22:10] James Cantor: Lesbians or women, two x chromosomes. There's no foreign protein for the mother's body to react to, but there does seem to be substantial biological evidence of a shift, you know, from brain anatomy, early hormone levels, and so on. They're more masculinized. Again, these are minor statistical things that nobody will see with the naked eye, but if you look at whole populations—
[00:22:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:22:36] James Cantor: —you know, the normal curves are shifted just a bit. So it seems to be an analogous, kind of they're masculinized a bit where gay men seem to be a little bit less masculinized than straight men, but we haven't figured out why. We don't know if it's just, you know, whatever stress levels, nutritional levels, something else going on in the mother, the mechanism that causes that hasn't been identified. So for the birth thing only works for males.
[00:23:03] Jordan Harbinger: I see. So if you're on the market to make your name in the sex research field, figuring that one out is probably a good, good target.
[00:23:11] James Cantor: Fascinating question. It's sex, all we have is fascinating questions.
[00:23:16] Jordan Harbinger: That's right.
[00:23:16] James Cantor: You just have to learn to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
[00:23:21] Jordan Harbinger: Of course. What do you think of this whole uproar of, or about, and I'm going to paraphrase here from a news article I saw earlier, trans kids and kids being pressured to transition, and this to me sounds like a huge ruckus that probably is almost completely imagined by the media to get clicks, but what do I know? I just don't, how many minors are really going through these types of surgeries? It just seems like it is overhyped for outrage out outrage. It's outrage porn.
[00:23:48] James Cantor: I kind of want to call it overcorrection versus overcorrection.
[00:23:52] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:23:53] James Cantor: It's both sides are referring to the others and describing the others as caricatures. There's several different phenomena going on and nobody or very few people are aiming to understand what's going on. It's accepting and rejecting facts according to, you know, whatever matches, whatever they think is going on. But there are actually a couple of things going on, and there are a couple of different audiences, each with their own conflict or lack of conflicts.
[00:24:25] I think it is very, very fair to say that substantial numbers of kids are ending up undergoing risky and untested procedures with there really being no tangible benefit to it. People with various mental health concerns instead of addressing those mental health concerns are getting shunted and just, oh, that's a transition, da da da, da da. And some will undergo medicalized transition. Some won't. And people are arguing over those numbers according to whatever their political needs are. But really the biggest problem is the opportunity cost. Most of these kids need to be in therapy addressing whatever it is that's making them, "I hate my body," and they're not getting that therapy. Everything is, is it I hate my hot party because I'm sex, or is it I hate my body because I'm non-binary? No, you hate your body because you're a 12-year-old overexposed to social media images of perfect men and perfect women. Of course, you hate your body, but the answer isn't necessarily, which isn't to say it's no one, but everybody's saying yes or no according to whatever their political views and their own principles are, rather than the very incomplete evidence saying, we don't really know, but here's our best guess. But we're only guessing, you know, when a guess usually isn't a good enough reason to start interfering with and cutting off healthy tissue. You know the bar for evidence, right? This is objectively healthy tissue. This isn't a tumor where we're removing, so you have to de come out with some pretty solid evidence that this is going to do the kid good before we do it. Not just we have a survey, my patients told me. We're not talking "giving aspirin or a painkiller, come talk to me tomorrow." We're talking the procedures that can lead to stuff and we need to be really, really sure before we do it. For the numbers, because the money, the prestige, the likes, and the stigma is so powerful, clinics aren't telling the truth about the numbers. Clinics are not even recording the numbers.
[00:26:35] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:26:35] James Cantor: At least in the US. In European systems, you know, healthcare is a public system. It's publicly paid for.
[00:26:42] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:26:42] James Cantor: There's one insurance company and the government and it keeps track of how many, at what rate, how much money, you know, how many? So there's tracking. Not in America. So on one hand, you know, we have clinics advertising themselves and coming out with policies that say, "Affirm is the way to go. You know, that's the thing. Don't affirm the kid, you know, awful psychological. They're going to get suicidal if you don't affirm them." But as soon as there's any challenge to it, all of a sudden, oh no, we only transition very, very select few. They're saying that it's everybody when it's one audience and they're saying it's hardly anybody when it's the other audience. But nobody's recording any numbers in order to give any objective answer. So are there a lot? Are there not? In the US, nobody knows. But it's a legitimate question to ask and it's how many kids are undergoing medical procedures unnecessarily?
[00:27:39] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:39] James Cantor: How many does it take before we expect the system to kick in? And that's the other big difference between the US and the European systems. The European systems have kicked in. That's their job. The regular medical establishment was kind of overreaching a bit.
[00:27:58] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:58] James Cantor: Lowering the bar, broadening the envelope without evidence. And then again, the government runs the show. That's its job to run the Department of Health. They yanked it back. In the US that the medical establishment has failed in its job of self-monitoring. So now we have the government coming in with laws to regulate the physicians. And of course, physicians don't like government regulation.
[00:28:26] Jordan Harbinger: You are listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Dr. James Cantor. We'll be right back.
[00:28:31] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help. If you're going through a tough time, you are not alone. I've been there. We've all been there. Therapy is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and Better Help is a great way to dip your toes in the water of therapy. I'm not a fan of the whole sit-on-the-couch thing. With Better Help's Platform, you can do chat, you can do phone, you can do video sessions. I just have an easier time opening up when I'm in the comfort of my own home and talking over the phone instead of in front of some stranger too. Therapy is vulnerable work and Better Help doesn't feel intimidating at all. Better Help will match you with a therapist tailored to your needs. They also understand you might not click with everybody, so you can switch whenever you want. There's no charge for that. Check out their 94,000-plus reviews on the iPhone app if you're still skeptical. If you're on the fence, hey, take this as a sign to go and try it out. Maybe get a few things off your chest.
[00:29:14] Jen Harbinger: If you want to live a more empowered life, therapy can get you there. Visit betterhelp.com/jordan to get 10 percent off your first month. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:29:25] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by SimpliSafe. You ever feel kind of naked when you don't have a phone case on? It's like your phone is so vulnerable somehow. That's how I would feel if we didn't have SimpliSafe protecting our home. We've had SimpliSafe for years. It's amazing. Don't just take it from me. US News recently rated SimpliSafe, The Best Home Security System of 2023, and CNET recently awarded them their editor's choice for home security. SimpliSafe is very easy to set up. Now, I know that this is like a copy point, but I will tell you. I get really pissed when I can't set stuff up. Like if it's supposed to pair and it doesn't pair. The firmware doesn't update and it says failed, and there's no way to do, I lose my mind. SimpliSafe doesn't have that. Everything just paired, everything connected. It was really easy to set up. We've got glass break sensors, which are very cool, by the way, like cool invention, panic buttons, which I may have overdid it on, putting them in every room in the house, but whatever. I feel less panicky, entry sensors on every door, every window. It was a cinch to install and to connect. Maybe, like I said, went a little overboard on it but I set my alarm every night before bed. I rest easy. Knowing that SimpliSafe's 24/7 professional monitoring agents are ready to dispatch police if anything happens, which apparently in California were loaded up with serial killers. So that's a, a nice little selling point as well according to Paul Holes, who we had here on the show. The SimpliSafe system is really smart. You can do a lot of things remotely like lock and unlock doors if you want to let somebody in or keep somebody out, access your cameras, arm and disarm the system from anywhere. We have cameras indoors and outdoors so that we can spy on our empty house. And if we're traveling, I like being able to check in on the house remotely.
[00:30:51] Jen Harbinger: Customize the perfect system for your home in just a few minutes at simplisafe.com/jordan. Go today and claim a free indoor security camera plus 20 percent off your order with interactive monitoring. That's simplisafe.com/jordan. There's no safe, like SimpliSafe.
[00:31:06] Jordan Harbinger: A lot of you have commented that I have a lot of eclectic guests. How do I find these people? It's always because of my network. Everybody's a warm introduction for the most part. I'm teaching you how to build your network. It's a free course, jordanharbinger.com/course. And I know when you say free course, everyone's like, "Oh yeah, right?" No shenanigans. I'm not monetizing the free course. I'm not selling your information. What do you think? This is Facebook or Meta. Anyway, it's about the network. And I know you're thinking, "Don't you have a podcast?" I don't need this. The course is really about improving your relationship-building skills. You can use it for personal stuff. You can use it at work. It's not cheesy, it's not cringey, it's not awkward. It's going to make you better at work. It's going to make you better at home. A few minutes a day is really all it takes, and many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company. You can find the course at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:31:55] Now back to Dr. James Cantor.
[00:31:58] Ah, it's hard because I'm obviously no expert on this whatsoever, but it seems like a younger person would maybe need some life experience to know — are you gay? Are you straight? Are you actually in the wrong body? At what age do they have enough life experience? But man, I'd also really hate to deny this gender-affirming care to somebody who knows what they know. And then they end up looking like me with a freaking Adam's apple and a five o'clock shadow and this ripping buddy of a Greek God that I now have. And they turn and then like, "But I want to be a female. And I told you guys this 10 years ago, now I look like Jordan Harbinger. Thanks a lot." You know, that would be cruel. So it's really hard to make this distinction, seemingly.
[00:32:42] James Cantor: Type one error versus type two error. You know, we transition people that we shouldn't be, you know, we're sterilizing them, putting them in really a body that isn't theirs and mistake the other way. Right, we're giving, you know, some people would say, these are just cosmetics differences. Ultimately, most of the rules are about wait until you're 18. It's not, you can't do it. It's—
[00:33:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:33:03] James Cantor: —wait until you're a grownup. Neither of these is too acceptable.
[00:33:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:33:08] James Cantor: The only choice we have is use the best evidence. We have to figure out where's the line. But the people on either side of it, they don't want a fair, subtle, well, it depends, some cases, one, some cases the other. They want, if I'm the person for whom transition was the right thing, you know, it's very easy for me to imagine these kids are just young versions of me. It was the right thing for me. It's the right thing for everybody. That's my lived experience. I can appreciate where they're coming from. But that's not how we do science. It's not, you know, chemo was right for me. Chemo was right for everybody. It's right, we need something more objective than that.
[00:33:48] Flipside, there are people who have, you know, for whatever their political beliefs are, they will not recognize any trans person under any circumstances. Where is the evidence? You know, those of us trying to figure out where the objective line is like I was saying before, both sides hate us because it's not all one or the other, especially with how little information we still have available.
[00:34:12] Jordan Harbinger: I've heard it in the past in, I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, so correct me if I'm wrong, is there a link that you can draw between autism and gender dysphoria, or is that, and by the way, countdown to me getting canceled, whether that's even something you said or not, is that something that's showing up in the data?
[00:34:28] James Cantor: Yeah. Study after study, after study, after study.
[00:34:30] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:34:31] James Cantor: Trans organizations are noting it. It's not, at this point, it's—
[00:34:35] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:34:36] James Cantor: —no longer getting denied. The debate, like many of these debates are over, what does it mean? As I say, people have ceased to become interested in what the truth is. It's how do I use this in image making in order to make myself look good and make the other side look bad? But the objective question, the scientific question is really, well, this is a factor that's completely unlike, we only have little research but the research we have was not on mostly autistic kids. We can't say that the information we have applies to this group. And it's not just autism. It's every single objective variable we have says that this is a different demographic, different epidemiological pattern, different mental health profile, different in every objective variable we have. The only one where they're similar is the one subjective statement, "I want to be a boy, girl, non-binary," but the only thing they have in common is their expression of, "I hate my body because of its sex."
[00:35:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:35:39] James Cantor: But when we have a completely new profile, we can't take for granted anything about this group. it's not just autism, although that's become like the modern ADHD. You know, again, I'm wondering how much of this is an overcorrection of it having been underdiagnosed before. I'm not sure we've found the comfortable point between overdiagnosing and underdiagnosing.
[00:36:03] Jordan Harbinger: Did we not see it before? Or is now it just so buzzy that people are getting slapped at the label over and over?
[00:36:08] James Cantor: I think it's both. As I say, I think it's overcorrection meets overcorrection. I think it was underdone and then it just became this hot fad new thing. And so every, you know, misbehaving kid is quickly getting labeled. So I think it's very similar. As I say, I think it's a bit of a pendulum and we haven't yet found the objective midpoint is my suspicions. It's not just autism isn't the only factor that's very common in these kids. Roughly 50 percent of them in general now have some substantial diagnosis and the most common diagnosis, what they really have in common is difficulty processing and engaging in their social environment. That's of course, one of the primary symptoms of Asperger's and autism of several personality disorders of kids who are kind of gay or lesbian, don't fit in, and haven't yet come out and figured out, you know, how to fit it. What all these things have in common are kids with some additional challenge getting in the way of their socially integrating. Again, the demographic, these are mostly teen bio females, exactly the same demographic that does demonstrate greater social sensitivity and more careful navigation and complexities. So if somebody has those two strikes against them, I don't want to say normal, but the familiar young teenage girl doesn't feel fit in, "I hate my body, or I hate boys are looking at me now that I'm growing breasts."
[00:37:41] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:37:42] James Cantor: And so, "Well, I'm just non-binary. I don't want to be compared to perfect women. I don't want my breasts, they're making me uncomfortable. I don't want to play the game because if I don't get a boyfriend, then I'm not." So I think the ones who have additional social troubles are now being given this narrative saying, "You don't have any issue at all. It's all external to you. It's the rest of the world that has the problem. And here's this way you are going to get fixed from the outside." Where really the constellation of issues suggests much more the way to help these kids is help them not hate their bodies, help them practice and develop the social skills and address the—
[00:38:22] Jordan Harbinger: The real issues.
[00:38:23] James Cantor: Right. So rather than, you know, helping them overcome their challenges, we're enabling those challenges.
[00:38:29] Jordan Harbinger: I would imagine that opinion is not very popular in certain circles.
[00:38:33] James Cantor: I must have to say that's pretty much true of everything that comes out of my mouth.
[00:38:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:38:37] James Cantor: I have no sense and there's never going to be a way that I get a sense of how large those groups are.
[00:38:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:38:44] James Cantor: I hear from the ones, you know, it doesn't matter what I say, I'm just an opportunity for them to show their peeps, what good members of their cohort they are.
[00:38:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:38:55] James Cantor: But I do get an awful lot of "Dr. Cantor, thank you so much. It was so important. You know, I can't speak out because. I'll never have a survey that I can believe, but I have every reason to believe that there is a very, very large, very, very silent majority," but we don't hear from them because they're not on social media or they know better than to get in the middle of one of these debates and risk becoming a subject of controversy of their own.
[00:39:24] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:39:24] James Cantor: You know what? I can just open my mouth because I'm immune to this. There's not a lot anyone can do to me.
[00:39:31] Jordan Harbinger: I'm very sympathetic to cancel culture, folks who don't have a platform like this where they're going to have a bunch of people on their side. I mean, it would be really bad if you're a regular school teacher and you get canceled, your career is over. If people try and cancel me, I can try to fight it out. I mean, maybe we're vulnerable in different ways, but it's unlikely I'll lose my entire audience for something. Whereas if you're a teacher, you just get fired by the administration and now you're screwed. So, yeah, it's not worth the risk.
[00:39:57] James Cantor: Or perfectly, perfectly private people, you know, people who are engaged in, again, I don't want to talk about any of the ones that are currently in court, because they're currently in court, but people who on their own time, unaffiliated with whoever their employer is, endorse whatever view with whatever group somebody finds it on social media, writes to their regulatory body if they're a clinical professional. "This person shouldn't be practicing because they believe whatever it is that they said," and they're losing their licenses.
[00:40:31] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:40:32] James Cantor: Huh?
[00:40:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:33] James Cantor: And again, I'm just a little bit more liberal than Bernie Sanders. I'm an old-fashioned ACLU, what the ACLU used to be kind of liberal. I don't care if you don't say it. The way the diversity is for a bunch of people to be disagreeing. To say that I'm not going to deal with you on this issue because you disagree with me on that issue. That's not a liberal.
[00:40:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's interesting. That's an interesting point. I think you're in a tough position and I want to move on because I know you don't just study LGBTQIA+ or what, I can't remember all the letters. I hope that covers it. I saw that written somewhere. So hopefully, that's not a sarcastic label, but your studies of paraphilia are pretty fascinating. First off, what does paraphilia even mean for those of us not sitting in front of dictionary.com right now?
[00:41:21] James Cantor: That's the technical, medical scientific word we use for the highly, highly atypical sexual interests.
[00:41:28] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:41:28] James Cantor: Things that are far beyond fetishes. You know, they're so strong, they're practically sexual orientations unto themselves.
[00:41:35] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So one of those would be what pedophilia has that fallen under that?
[00:41:38] James Cantor: Yeah. Yep. That's the one of course that gets the most talk about because it's the most, you know, interfering with other people and has the potential to cause among the most danger, the most harm.
[00:41:49] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. I had someone write into Feedback Friday, which is our advice segment on the show, and he was concerned. He said, I'm attracted to women that are much younger than me, which I'm pretty sure is a euphemism for stuff because he talked about doing searches on the dark web and he's wondering if it was caused by abuse he had as a child. And I didn't really think about that until I started reading a little bit more of your work. What about pedophilia? I mean, is this nature or nurture or also both?
[00:42:16] James Cantor: That's an excellent question. First, to understand really anything about pedophilia, I call this the number one rule. One has to very, very carefully, specifically, and dramatically point out that pedophilia is not the crime. Pedophilia is not a synonym for child molestation. Pedophilia is the sexual attraction pattern. The person is into kids the way the rest of us are into adults. By itself, you know, having fantasies, having the attraction, that by itself doesn't hurt anyone. Child molestation and child pornography, you know?
[00:42:49] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:42:49] James Cantor: Those are the issues. Those are the crimes. Those are the things that interfere with people. And of course, that range of crimes, you know, goes from namby-pamby, inappropriate sadistic, really, really damaging the child. So pedophilia again, it's nobody's fault. Nobody asks to be attracted to whatever it is that they're attracted to and the best they can do is learn ways to manage it. Because what choice do they have? We, society, essentially need them to lead celibate lives. My personal point of view is that it would be a pretty good idea if we helped them do that because we can't change pedophiles into non-pedophiles. We've been trying that again since Freud, but nothing we tried works. So, as I say, the number one rule is that what you're turned on by is different from what you do. You know, people can have all kinds of sadistic fantasies, rape fantasies, but keep them fantasies. And these are, of course, the people who are attracted to really young kids. You know, I'm almost sympathetic, and again, through no fault of their own, they have to leave a celibate life.
[00:43:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:43:58] James Cantor: Okay. The people who commit the behaviors, large chunk of pedophiles, oddly not the majority, roughly a third.
[00:44:06] Jordan Harbinger: Huh?
[00:44:06] James Cantor: Two-thirds of actual child molesters actually prefer adults, incest cases especially.
[00:44:11] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:44:12] James Cantor: That kind of use the kid as a surrogate, but they actually prefer they're more attracted to adults than to children. That's actually the majority case.
[00:44:20] Jordan Harbinger: Is it an access issue?
[00:44:22] James Cantor: We definitely need to take care of the pedophilia, but it's not, as I say, these are not synonyms. Usually, these happen in the context of really, really unhealthy family dynamics. You know, drug use, alcohol abuse, you know it happens, as I say, in really, really tough, tough households. But it's not really motivated the way pedophilia is motivated. These people would prefer adults and end up doing something, you know, again, range from inappropriate to really sadistic. The problem with the whole group is less about the sex attractions they have and more about whether they're a psychopath, whether they're antisocial.
[00:45:07] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:45:07] James Cantor: Whether they give a sh*t about other people's wellbeing. If they're attracted to kids, you know, when they're a psychopath, that's who they'll hurt. If they're a psychopath, they're not attracted to kids, that just means their victim is going to be an adult. The real problem right, is the psychopathy and the antisocial and so on. It's not exactly the pedophilia, but when you get somebody with both, right now, we really, really have a problem.
[00:45:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:45:35] James Cantor: But for having been a victim of abuse, I got very, very old idea, very classic idea. Goes back to the 1800s, I was very young then, and I can't say it was a crazy idea, you know, it's just kind of based on the usual, like makes like that If you were abused as a kid, now you're just reenacting what it is you've been exposed to. So to a Freudian that makes perfect sense. And even to behaviorists, that kind of made sense, but no good evidence for it. It seems to be. We haven't figured out what in the womb seems to trigger this, you know, sequence of events. But the subtle clues that we've run into, again, all lead back to whatever it was, it was in the womb.
[00:46:19] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:46:19] James Cantor: The stuff that happens to a person that can create a psychopath or at least somebody who doesn't give two sh*ts about other people's wellbeing.
[00:46:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I was going to say, it switches on the epigenetic, like if you're maybe predisposed to it and you have a terrible childhood.
[00:46:33] James Cantor: Good for you. Yes, that is exactly it. So, if you grow up in a kind of household with, nobody controls their behavior, everybody's really impulsive, nobody's particularly responsible that can unleash or at least fail to help a person learn the self-discipline and ethics that it takes to control and live a celibate life, realizing that no acting out on just because it's hot and feels natural to you, no, it's going to hurt someone.
[00:47:02] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:02] James Cantor: Again, it's that overlap, which seems to produce the trouble. So if the person is aware of it and asking questions about it, they're very, very rarely the people who put anyone else in harm's way. Their retractions are genuine. I wish systems were better set up to help them come in and get therapy, sex drive-educing medications, you know, whatever it is that, that would help them, as I say, live a celibate life or for people who have a range of attractions that go from old or young to live a happy life within an acceptable age range.
[00:47:36] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So it sounds like one cannot choose to be, sorry, let me rephrase this, one cannot choose to not be a pedophile, but one can choose to not be a child molester.
[00:47:47] James Cantor: One is still in control of one's behavior.
[00:47:49] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:47:50] James Cantor: Even though one is not in control of one's sex interest patterns.
[00:47:53] Jordan Harbinger: So we should make it easier for people who know that they have an attraction to children to do something about it instead of driving them underground by saying, "Oh, you must be a child molester if you feel this way," which is kind of what one of the things that this guy was writing in about was he was like, "I would never hurt anyone but also, who am I going to tell about? Not my fiancée because she's going to think I'm a child molester when I'm not. I'm not a child." That's what he was saying. And he's like—
[00:48:18] James Cantor: Yeah, yeah.
[00:48:18] Jordan Harbinger: This is terrible. And he just never knew anything about, which, I also had never thought about this. I'd never really thought about the difference between somebody who's attracted to children and somebody who's an actual child molester. I'd never thought about those being different things.
[00:48:29] James Cantor: Of course, the only exposure anybody gets to them or when there's a crime—
[00:48:34] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:34] James Cantor: —it hits the papers. I mean, it's only because I am who I am and I do the research that I do, that patients do come to me as part of my being a clinical psychologist, exactly, in order to ask for that kind of help. I've helped, you know, establish and advise organizations for self-help groups and support groups for these people to give each other the support that they need. And so I can't blame the public for not knowing the full story, but the post-social media decrease in willingness to take a deep breath and let's think about this for a second, people for their emotional and political extremeness are actually making the problem worse.
[00:49:19] For example, with that mandatory reporting laws is probably one of the biggest examples. Usually, we have doctor patient confidentiality, including psychologists and other mental health professionals, but we are required to report instances where there's a specific person to protect, you know, if the person's going to kill themselves, if the person is realistically threatening to hurt another person that we have to report to save the other. But when the laws or the interpretation of the laws is that if someone tells you they're attracted to children and you must report that, well, that just makes the person not come in to get help in the first place. So instead of having pedophiles out in society, coming in, getting therapy, getting support, getting feedback, getting sex-drive-reducing medications, now we have pedophiles circulating out in society completely in the dark, receiving no help from anybody. There feel better. It makes you look good for being tough on them, pedophiles, but all you've done is drive them underground.
[00:50:23] Jordan Harbinger: It's already got to be such a hard thing to admit. I think, look, if I were a pedophile, the last thing I'd do is go around talking about it and now you find that there's not even a safe place where you can go to talk about it because of mandatory reporting laws in, I should say, in certain places. Right? So, oh man, that's just, you're right. Yeah, that does not make me feel better because then you have somebody who's responsible but also has those urges and they're like, "Oh, I'm just going to binge-watch stuff on Netflix when this comes up." And it's like, well, that's not really a sustainable way to handle this problem.
[00:50:54] Going back to the nature versus nurture thing, are there correlations of things in the brain, like you mentioned with gay men, older brothers, like what if somebody comes out and they have red hair and one of their eyes is blue and one of their eyes is brown are they more likely to be a pedophile? And apologies to any gingers with two different colored eyes, it's a random example that has no basis in fact.
[00:51:13] James Cantor: What you're describing was my post-doctoral project, and that was my question is how can we find, you know, we were just unraveling, or Blanchard was finishing his unraveling of identifying, okay, you know, homosexuality, that's in the brain. And now next question, what would be an equivalent way of buying undeniable evidence? The only explanation is that this is biological. What kind of clue could we look for? We started with relatively ambiguous things which showed that it was in the brain, different IQ patterns, just different patterns of strengths and weaknesses which correlate to different parts of brain size and brain growth. So we nailed those down and then brain scan studies. Ah, okay, we saw it specifically in the regions of the brain, blah, blah, related to mirror neurons, other connective parts of the brain. But I needed some back in time variable. Birth order, right, you know, gives me, or gave Blanchard back in time to what happened in utero.
[00:52:20] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:52:21] James Cantor: In some objective way where a person had no reason to change or not remember siblings, so it was pretty solid objective and the only explanation of something biological. The one I ran into is something we called minor physical anomalies. Again, itty bitty things nobody would ever notice. Everybody has a couple of these, but they show something unusual was going on early during development. Cleft palate, ear lobes attached to the head, the ratio of the length of your second digit versus fourth digit, again—
[00:52:57] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:52:57] James Cantor: —minor, minor physical anomalies. Things that nobody really would ever notice. We have to go with calipers and measure it. They seem to be stress related during pregnancy in the amount of nutrients that are available to the mother and therefore to the fetus during growth. So when there are moments of famine, the growing body prioritizes what's important in order to maximize the viability of the—
[00:53:24] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:53:25] James Cantor: —fetus. So, as I say, stresses and those kinds of indirect effects, these are signs of.
[00:53:31] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting.
[00:53:32] James Cantor: And that's what we've found. So it's the combination of the adult brains have differences. and whatever it was that happened, whatever chain of events it was, the first links of that chain had to be before birth. You know, there's nothing during life that changes—
[00:53:47] Jordan Harbinger: Your ear lobes and your feet.
[00:53:48] James Cantor: That attaches and detaches your ear lobes, you know, unless somebody detaches their ear lobes. So that was the aha, it has to be biological. And again, we don't have a smoking gun line—
[00:54:01] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:54:01] James Cantor: —to attach it. You know, it's not as complete as Blanchard's long name Y chromosome stuff, but yep, it's biological and it's in the brain, and that's another theory to be.
[00:54:12] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Well, I'll tell you who's detaching their ear lobes, people with cleft palate and two equally sized or whatever fingers are right now looking into that thing.
[00:54:19] James Cantor: As I say, you know, some number of those is normal.
[00:54:22] Jordan Harbinger: It's not always.
[00:54:22] James Cantor: The average is whatever—
[00:54:23] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:54:24] James Cantor: It's called the wall drop scale. I think there were 16 things on it, 20 things on it. Normal, regular, everyday people have two or three, you know? But when you were studying five, six, and seven is, you know, significantly above average as a group.
[00:54:38] Jordan Harbinger: How do you find out if some, I mean, do you just rely on self-reporting for pedophilia? Because it seems like that's a real small subset of people who are going to go, "Hey, you know, I have this," that's got to be less reliable. Is there a way to be like, "That guy, definitely"? I mean, an offender who's in prison for it is pretty reliable. But what about somebody who's not, who hasn't offended?
[00:54:59] James Cantor: Again, now being an offender in prison, two-thirds of them are not pedophiles.
[00:55:04] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, right. Yeah. So that's even less reliable than self-reporting probably.
[00:55:08] James Cantor: Exactly. You know, so it's an indirect variable. If I had a group of people, all of whom had offenses against children and a group of people, none of whom had offenses against children. You know, even if only a third of these are pedophiles, for some analyses, that's enough that the groups will be different and I'll be able to see that something's different even though the pedophiles are getting watered down a bit by the non-pedophiles in that group.
[00:55:36] Kurt Freund, famous, famous sex researcher, two generations before me, he would sit, had a running joke, how do you know when a sex offender is lying, when his lips are moving?
[00:55:45] Jordan Harbinger: Uh.
[00:55:45] James Cantor: Do not pay any attention to self-report. We just habitually ignore it. For scientific purposes, we give it really no credence. Even when people say negative things and stigmatize things about themselves, very often those are people with obsessive levels of guilt with their own needs for attention, and they're making up stories and it's not true. As I say, OCD, you know, they have a fear that they might be a pedophile. They're not, but they'll right out of this guilt complex or psychotic disorder, again, even when people are admitting negative things, we don't take that at face value either. So that's just part of being a sex researcher—
[00:56:27] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:56:27] James Cantor: —we don't trust anybody's self. The objective way is actually very simple physiological test invented by Kurt Freund called phallometry.
[00:56:37] Jordan Harbinger: That has to do with the penis that much I know.
[00:56:39] James Cantor: That is exactly what it is, penile plethysmography.
[00:56:43] Jordan Harbinger: Dick measuring.
[00:56:44] James Cantor: That is exactly what it is. And the most accurate type, well, the type which is accurate is called volume metric. You can even measure the circumference of the penis, which is kind of like putting a bandaid on it and then you show the person pictures of adults, children, males, females, and the computer measures what they react to.
[00:57:03] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[00:57:04] James Cantor: The accurate one measures volume. You actually put a cuff around the penis and then a glass cylinder over it. So as the penis gets more blood into it, it pushes air out of the cylinder.
[00:57:15] Jordan Harbinger: Ah-huh.
[00:57:16] James Cantor: And the amount of air that comes out is now the change in volume of the penis. And it's a very sensitive and a much, much more sensitive measurement.
[00:57:24] Jordan Harbinger: That's funny.
[00:57:26] James Cantor: Right, so a person can say they're into whatever it is they say, but if they're getting bigger erections for that category, we classify them in that category.
[00:57:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that makes sense. I was laughing because I was remembering the volume, you know, middle school physics where you put something in a cube full of water and then you measure, I think when you take it out how much water's left in the cube, something like that. And I'm just thinking like this place put your penis in the glass. So you better hope that their fetish is not having their penis in a glass of water because then you have noise in your results or an air vacuum.
[00:57:59] James Cantor: You are exactly correct. Rare. Rare, rare.
[00:58:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:58:01] James Cantor: But every once in a while there are—
[00:58:06] Jordan Harbinger: He's not reacting to the picture.
[00:58:07] James Cantor: —gorgeous, diverse, talk about a rainbow range of sexual interest patterns. The guy around the lab always had really, really good stories about—
[00:58:18] Jordan Harbinger: I bet.
[00:58:18] James Cantor: —the atypical patients. But now imagine a patient whose fetish is masochism.
[00:58:24] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah. So like, can you put that cuff on tighter?
[00:58:27] James Cantor: He's turned on by the humiliation.
[00:58:30] Jordan Harbinger: Right. I should laugh.
[00:58:31] James Cantor: Right. And they were just getting a full erection because what's more humiliate—
[00:58:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah
[00:58:35] James Cantor: —or an exhibitionist.
[00:58:37] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, right. Like can you call the interns back in here for this? Oh sir, we don't need their help. No, no, no. We need their help.
[00:58:43] James Cantor: Right. So, you know, guy drops his pants full erection and we can't test it because, you know, we need higher and lower for each category. And he's just—
[00:58:51] Jordan Harbinger: Sir, we're not doing the test in the parking lot. You can come inside. Yeah.
[00:58:55] James Cantor: No pun intended. .
[00:58:56] Jordan Harbinger: Right, exactly. How much conscious control do people even have about what they're attracted to or what they're aroused by? I would imagine not, not much.
[00:59:03] James Cantor: Pretty limited.
[00:59:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:59:04] James Cantor: I mean, the best really we can do is distract ourselves from some stimulus that's right in front of it. You know, if there's, whatever, we're in some professional situation and the person in front of us is really hot, you know, extra effort to focus on their eyes. But if you're into it, you're into it. If you're young, you know, every freaking instinct, there's five billion years of evolution telling you to react. There's only so much upper brain we can manage. As we get older and sex drive, you know, calms down a bit, it's easier. But what we're attracted to, we just kind of observe it. You know, we might be willingness to indulge in it, help push it a bit for somebody who's paraphilic, for somebody who's into kink, you know, if they're not interested in ordinary things, it can be a conscious decision to explore. Push the envelope a bit and see how you react because it's not, as I say, so predictable is when you're into just regular vanilla stuff. But by and large, men especially, we really don't have much, have much control. Women much, much more complicated story. Men are simple, you know, we're pretty, you know, stimulus-response, give or take a few men in the tribe, it's not going to change much. But evolution is about women. If women were into it, men would evolve it. And so we are plan B. For us, sex is often a craving. For women, it's more of a mood. There were more things wrapped up into it. It's not just, are they hot or not.
[01:00:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:00:42] James Cantor: It's also expectations for the future and what my friends think. It's this great big complicated, not always and there's always exceptions, but from then we could f*ck our worst enemy if they're hot enough. It's really, really easy to put everything else aside where for women, there is no aside. You know, that's, again, acknowledging exceptions, but by and large, it's all part of it. So that also gives women, you know, more of an opportunity to manipulate their own mood and create a scene or an environment or something that evokes that mood more than for us it's, they're hot or not we're stressed or not, and our own insecurities. That's also a big one.
[01:01:25] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Dr. James Cantor. We'll be right back.
[01:01:30] This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton. Trying a new workout is like learning a new skill. It can be overwhelming and the uncertainty can be a major barrier to actually getting started. Peloton's approach to convenience is very helpful for people who are looking to take on a new fitness skill or routine. Everything is designed to be as simple and streamlined as possible from the easy-to-use touchscreen interface to the wide range of class options and personalized recommendations, you can access a variety of live and on-demand classes, including cycling, running, strength. Now, there's an incredible rower, which I really enjoy, all from the comfort of your own home. Rowing is great as a full-body workout, which means you'll be engaging multiple muscle groups at once, including your legs, core, arms, and back. This will help you burn more calories, of course, it'll help you build more strength especially, and improve your overall fitness. Correct rowing form isn't intuitive, at least it certainly wasn't for. And doing it correctly is harder than it sounds, especially once you start getting tired because of course your form always breaks down when you get tired. Form Assist shows you a figure of yourself as you row, and when you screw up a portion of the body, your body turns red. That's a good way to avoid getting super, super injured or tweaking something and not being able to work out, which stops a lot of people who are diving in either for the first time or getting back into it after a long time. So try Peloton Row risk-free with a 30-day home trial. New members only. Not available in remote locations. See additional terms at onepeloton.com/home-trial.
[01:02:54] This episode is also sponsored by HVMN. You may have heard buzz about ketones supplements and how they boost your workouts by helping you use fatty acids for fuel. I don't really know what that means, and I also don't really care because I've been using HVMN's Ketone-IQ supplement before my morning workout, and I can tell you that it gives me focus energy, not like the jitters of coffee, more like being in the zone and it tastes terrible, but I just deal with that. It's great for on-the-go cycling rides. It's great for long runs. It keeps your hunger at bay in a way that's not sort of headachy, if that makes any sense. A lot of my health athlete buddies are using this stuff. Again, it tastes absolutely wretched, but again, don't let that deter you. I've just find myself more energetic, less hungry, no crash. I really appreciate that effect. So try Ketone-IQ. Give me a shout when you do. I'm curious. Let me know what you think. For 20 percent off your order of Ketone-IQ, go to HVMN.com, promo code JORDAN. Again, that's HVMN.com promo code JORDAN for 20 percent off Ketone-IQ.
[01:03:54] If you'll like this episode of the show, please do what other smart and considerate listeners do, or I should say, I invite you to do. Take a moment and support the sponsors, or share the sponsors with somebody else. Buy a gift for somebody, why not. All of the deals, all the discount codes, all the ways to support the show are over at jordanharbinger.com/deals. You can search for any sponsor using the AI chatbot on the website as well over at jordanharbinger.com/ai. Treat yourself and pat yourself on the back while you do it because you're supporting those who support the show.
[01:04:21] Now for the rest of my conversation with Dr. James Cantor.
[01:04:27] Back to the pedophilia for just one second here. What about I know these guys have to live, and is it mostly guys right, that are pedophile? Is it mostly men?
[01:04:35] James Cantor: Practically all.
[01:04:36] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[01:04:36] James Cantor: There's the debatable case every now and then over whether a woman qualifies, but we don't have a very effective equivalent of phallometric test—
[01:04:47] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[01:04:48] James Cantor: —with the kind of sense. There are some, you know, we can do a little bit, but women tend to respond relatively broadly where men are, you know, our brains have a hot knot when it comes to sex. For women, it's just—
[01:05:00] Jordan Harbinger: Right. You got to light candles in the laboratory and place them.
[01:05:03] James Cantor: It's not even that. It's that women will very commonly respond to everything.
[01:05:08] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[01:05:08] James Cantor: Right. There seems to be a very general response. And it's these other factors, anticipation, opinions about the person that really—
[01:05:18] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Okay.
[01:05:19] James Cantor: —or kind of the gatekeeper—
[01:05:21] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:05:21] James Cantor: —to whether the whole mechanism turns on. The best guess we have is an evolutionary purpose for females. Females are going to get raped. Men, very unusual.
[01:05:30] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:05:31] James Cantor: So to lubricate, which is really what the device is measuring, is also a defensive response. If it is going to be a negative encounter, she's less likely to be wounded. She's less likely to physically be harmed. If there's enough of a blood engorgement and lubrication response, there's less damage. So in her, even though the response is physiologically very, very close to what she would show during sexual arousal, it has nothing to do with sexual arousal. It's the opposite. It's just showing any stimulus and be physiologically prepared, but that's not—
[01:06:10] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Interesting.
[01:06:11] James Cantor: That's the best guess we have, but it's just a guess. It's still just a guess.
[01:06:16] Jordan Harbinger: If men who are pedophiles should live a celibate life, which of course, I think everybody agrees with that. This is so gross even saying this, should child sex dolls be allowed? Is this something that could help pedophiles or would it just make the problem worse?
[01:06:29] James Cantor: I'm pro-sex doll for two reasons.
[01:06:31] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[01:06:32] James Cantor: One free speech. Even if we take as the answer, we don't know. Free speech, you need evidence to show harm before we block stuff out. We don't block stuff out because I can imagine.
[01:06:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean I'm certainly ick out by it and grossly uncomfortable, but that's not like a scientific ethical concern.
[01:06:50] James Cantor: Right. The purpose is where is the line? Well, the line is going to be where you feel icky. This is why we have to, right, if it were just your emotions about it, well, then, it would be a very easy thing to debate. You can't talk about nothing because there's always somebody that makes something wear on the slippery slope. All porn we have to do away with.
[01:07:09] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Well, it's like violent video games. Do they cause violence? Do they not?
[01:07:12] James Cantor: Or do violent people engage in them or really, again, what I think it is, I think video games are displacing productive social interaction much the same way that I think social media has displaced genuine face-to-face interaction. So I really have to wonder if there's similar processes. Again, nobody's looked really, really solidly, but as best as we can tell. You know, there's no difference between areas that ban them versus areas that don't. We don't find a greater or lesser likelihood of offenders versus not in offenders having them in their back. That's not. If anything, we find the opposite. People who are trying to be good, find ways of just masturbating that don't hurt anybody. Well, what else are they going to be doing? But it's a lump of freaking latex.
[01:08:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:08:01] James Cantor: It's not going to make them more pedophilic. We can't make them more pedophilic any more than we can make them less pedophilic. It's not going to turn them into psychopaths.
[01:08:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right. I see. The question would be, does it make them more likely to actually offend because they're getting closer to that, and if the answer's no, then there's no harm in it, even if it's really gross for everyone else?
[01:08:22] James Cantor: Let me ask the equivalent. All right. So does an artificial doll that looks like an adult woman make somebody more likely to rape an adult?
[01:08:30] Jordan Harbinger: To rape an adult? Yeah, probably not.
[01:08:32] James Cantor: Right. So we're going to ban them just in case.
[01:08:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:08:35] James Cantor: If anything, having outlets, having an alternative, male sex drive is a male sex drive, being able to get off is relaxing. That's usually how just about everything in human sexuality works. Well, about masturbation, in men especially works. It's soothing if we take away methods of self-soothing, you know, now there's nothing between them and—
[01:09:02] Jordan Harbinger: Right. You can't scratch the itch at all.
[01:09:04] James Cantor: Right. There's no, uh, we are removing all the off-ramps. We're removing all the alternatives. If somebody wants to run the experiment, fine. Worth running it but again, from my point of view, the onus of proof is if you're going to ban it, you need evidence first, and that requires running the experiment.
[01:09:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That would be an interesting way to get your PhD and very uncomfortable at most dinner parties to explain how you ended up there, I supposed but maybe not the ones you all are having.
[01:09:32] James Cantor: Oh, no. Perfectly. Oh God, Are you joking? I'm on the center of every dinner party.
[01:09:36] Jordan Harbinger: I can only imagine.
[01:09:37] James Cantor: No, no. It is very, well, maybe in the gay world. It's because it's not social media. At a dinner party where it's just a dinner party, and we're having a regular everyday conversation and people are nice to each other and they will go for the, "Oh, now I get it."
[01:09:51] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:09:51] James Cantor: Because they're not posing for their followers.
[01:09:54] Jordan Harbinger: Right, that's true.
[01:09:55] James Cantor: But if I said exactly the same thing on social media, then it's however people want to use it in order to—
[01:10:01] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:10:01] James Cantor: —either attack me because they don't like my view on whatever it is, they don't like my view on, or I'm just an opportunity for, you know, them to do their virtue signaling. "Look how much better I am than that guy."
[01:10:11] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[01:10:12] James Cantor: So again, on social media, it can't happen, but in the real world, real audiences, real thinkers see the logic.
[01:10:19] Jordan Harbinger: What about asexuality? For me, I know a couple of people who say this and you know, good friends of mine, no shade on them, but it's, is that really what's going on? Or is it like they're just so stressed out, they have low sex drive? Or is it because, again, I hope they're not listening, some of them are a little socially awkward? So I feel like they almost chose that because it's just easier than getting rejected all the time or dealing with dating apps and all that other crap. Are there asexual people who are just hormonally this way and not as a result of their circumstances?
[01:10:50] James Cantor: I think. each of those phenomena exists, but it's not like we can take a survey and believe what people are saying. You know, the person who's using the label just to get my mother to stop asking me why am I not married.
[01:11:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:11:04] James Cantor: Or the ones who are insecure, you know, I'm never going to, so I won't bother, you know, they're not going to say that or even admit it to themselves on a survey. So whenever I do see surveys saying and whatever proportion identified as asexual, again, when it comes to sex, I put very, very little faith into anyone's self-report. My intuition is exactly what you said, is that people are using it for the social purpose, for the secondary gain that the label—
[01:11:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:11:38] James Cantor: —gives them. I think it's less about the clinical accuracy of the term as much as it is a way of saying to one social circle how to interact with them.
[01:11:51] Jordan Harbinger: You know, I actually forgot one other category is maybe people who are attracted to something they don't want to admit, they're attracted to. And this comes into play when people write in and say something like, "I am part of XYZ strong church, and I had in the past but attracted to men, but my fiancée and I are working through it and I've prayed the gay away and I'm not attracted to men anymore, but I don't have a high sex drive." And I'm thinking, well, that's because you are not attracted to the woman you're with, you're gay, but you don't want to let that out of the box. So now you're asexual because that's the only acceptable kind of condition for you.
[01:12:27] James Cantor: Yeah. I see that kind of thing play out all the time. Again, I don't want to say it's every single asexual or everybody who uses the word is in that scenario, but just a person telling me their story.
[01:12:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:12:38] James Cantor: Maybe yes, maybe no. But of course, you know, to bring it full circle when it comes to trans issues, it's all based on, that's just what the kid says. Absolutely, zero objective evidence. Despite, you know, that we know that most of these kids, there's interpretations of their experiences changes, changes often. There's new phenomenon of these socially challenged kids that came out of nowhere. It's social media mediated, people with social integration difficulties, having trouble saying that they don't fit in socially. "Oh yeah, that's transsexual." No, that's a social issue. And we need to help with the social brought on by these other social, but we're not giving them the help they need. We're giving them, you know, the 10-year-old's explanation for why I hate my body. You are going to have an informed discussion with a 10-year-old about, we'll put you on puberty blockers and cross-ex hormones, so you'll never ha experience an orgasm.
[01:13:44] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[01:13:45] James Cantor: How does a prepubescent child give informed consent to never experiencing something their brain is unable to process? A child cannot imagine an orgasm until after puberty. Again, I have no principle, I have no ideology saying never do it, but a 10-year-old say-so is not good enough evidence. It's on I need something objective.
[01:14:16] Jordan Harbinger: I know you've done research on, and this is probably not the technical term but what do I know, furries?
[01:14:22] James Cantor: Oh yeah.
[01:14:22] Jordan Harbinger: First of all, what is that and what is going on with these people? And I'm trying not to be a jerk about it, but it is very odd. It's a very unusual one that I think is probably super niche.
[01:14:30] James Cantor: Of the ones that I've met, they seem to interact again with this kind of socially challenged kind of Asperger autism spectrum, me awkward, don't really know how to interact with whatever male, female, whatever that they're attracted to. And I really can't escape the notion that wearing a mask adds enough distance to help them feel more comfortable in a social interaction and feel less rejected because the person rejected them without seeing the real them. The behavior seems to be much more about finding their comfort zone in an indirect way, rather than challenging themselves to increase their comfort zone. And cute little furry animals where people can just pet each other's tail, scratch each other's ear, again, gives a simplified way to interact in a cuddly or affectionate kind of way, but without pushing their comfort zone into something that would become more traditionally romantic or erotic.
[01:15:40] Jordan Harbinger: Got it.
[01:15:40] James Cantor: That's the usual pattern that I see. But a lot of it is just nerdy.
[01:15:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. For people who don't know, and I'm, I may botch this definition. Furries are people who, they wear animal suits like you would see like a mascot, like a football game mascot, and they go, there's conventions and that's, they can only be intimate and I put that in air quotes because you're wearing a suit when you're wearing something like that. Am I close?
[01:16:05] James Cantor: Yeah. Pretty much. They run the whole gamut. For some, it's the entire first suit they call it. For some, it's just a Wile E. Coyote head, or for some it's just a head of whatever animal and a tail. For some, you know, it's entire invested, really into it. They're almost a comic book villain lizard or whatever it is. And they will often imbue it with extra social meaning and use it as an example. They will start using identity language in order to explain it. But again, there's no good objective evidence to say that it is anything to do with identity or even acknowledging just what identity means. So much as that's just today's language in order to justify it because once I say it's my identity, then you're not allowed to challenge it.
[01:16:52] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Okay. Interesting. And I know we're running out of time here, and I'm going to pronounce, I'm going to botch this pronunciation as well, vorarephilia, wanting to eat or be eaten.
[01:17:01] James Cantor: Vorarephilia. Yes.
[01:17:03] Jordan Harbinger: Literally be eaten by somebody else or to eat somebody else. This is a wild fetish. I mean it's some Jeffrey Dahmer-type stuff. What's going on there? That's a little scary.
[01:17:13] James Cantor: The Vulcan half of my brain before getting scared says, oh, that's interesting. That's a clue. These aren't random things that we, humans, human males, are getting attracted to. What's, why attracted to these kinds of things are not those kinds of things? To me, these are the, remember the four F's?
[01:17:42] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[01:17:42] James Cantor: The ancient, ancient lizard brain, you know, limbic system, feed, flight, flea, and sex.
[01:17:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. Got it.
[01:17:51] James Cantor: It's the running joke. But these are all not five billion years, well, we're not quite that old, but pretty much since sex was invented, these are ancient, ancient behaviors, you know, long preceding mammals, never mind humans, but tiny itty, bitty little pieces of, right, now, imagine if the thing that goes wrong in the brain is something very simple like a cross-wiring. The sex pieces of the brain are adjacent to the feeding parts of the brain. Instead of trying to think of some, you know, abstract, what is the meaning? What is it trying to say? What happened to them? It's just these are two adjacent parts of the brain. So if whatever body of neuron overgrows a little bit, under grows a little bit, the feeding instinct is getting tied into the sex instinct.
[01:18:37] Jordan Harbinger: Huh?
[01:18:37] James Cantor: Right. So they're just experiencing sexual arousal in association with feeding, with pedophiles, again, ancient, ancient, ancient, ancient species. Care for the kids, not too far from the instinct to reproduce in the first place, even though, right, the behaviors from our conscious point of view, these are essentially opposite things. From the brain's point of view, these are going to lumps of jelly, very close together. Nerves grow a little close a little far, and the brain is blending rather than looking at the kid and go, "Oh, you poor dear, can I help you?" As you know, our voices go up, we naturally become completely unconscious. Our nurturing instinct just kicks in when we see a kid. Again, but for them, just cross-wire it. They perceive the brain, immediate interprets, head-to-body ratio, large eyes, it's a kid, but it triggers the sex instincts instead of, or in addition to, right? So even though from our conscious point of view, these look entirely opposing, these can't go together. These are just ancient instincts getting linked when they're supposed to be independent. So all of a sudden, to me, these are not yet bizarre and weird, and they're just fun to talk about, but the particular things that we see versus don't see, I think, represent clues telling us to how the whole thing works. The other one, all of these things have pairs. For some people, they want to be eaten. Some people want to do the eating. Some people are sadistic and want to rough you up. Some people are masochistic and want to get roughed up. Some people are attracted to children. We also have diapers who are turned on by being the child.
[01:20:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah.
[01:20:34] James Cantor: All of these things have corresponding, right, in out erotic target. Again, so the cluster of what we see, these are clues that tell us how does the whole thing go together. That's when I knew I needed to be a sex instructor. There's something going on here.
[01:20:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:20:54] James Cantor: And if we could just quiet down the, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's icky and weird and you know people got hurt." True. Vulcan thinking cap on, what does this tell us about what's going on?
[01:21:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Well, there certainly is a whole wide world out there, isn't there, Dr. Cantor? You must take a lot of flack for this stuff, I'd imagine. What consequences have you seen personally, professionally, as a result of your work in this area? You know, negative consequences.
[01:21:20] James Cantor: Personally, I really can't say, I can't say any. A lot of my friends would almost have said that this is inevitable. You know, I'm a New York Jew and I was born to debate. Oddly, I found a bizarre niche that I never thought that I would. And again, it's because the people who have been around me have been around me now for decades, have known me before the social media age and all of this just kind of figures. Professionally, I'm not sure which parts have affected me and which parts have merely been, the field has changed in a way that it's not fun anymore because of the culture that's taken it over. 20 years ago, there were many other people who, like I were just fascinated by these ideas and could see, "Oh, this actually could lead to meaningful ways of actually preventing child molestation. Oh, these good ways to, you know, we might be able to find whatever." What the mechanisms are that lead to pedophilia in the womb and actually even stop it before it develops? Don't know, but if that ever happens, it's going to start with the work that I was doing. People saw that very quickly. My field, again, because it has so many sensitive topics, I think it was hit first, but it's true for science, in general.
[01:22:34] So many people have become so afraid of how this is going to look, or how this is going to make them look, that no one's talking about anything challenging. People are only willing to talk about nice, charming, easy, already popular, and it's just ended meaningful progress on some of the most challenging issues confronting us, because nobody's willing to talk about them. I indeed had experiences mostly over social media, actually, I would have to say is really what, where they happen. Again, it's mostly disappointing. You know, people who, for example, agree with me on trans issues. 20 years ago, feminists had a problem with me because I was a biological essentialist, you know, born gay, not born gay, born lesbian, not born lesbian. And they were social constructionists. You know, they picked being feminists and the idea that we were born the way we, that's just not how, you know, the post-modernism social constructionists of the '90s and early 2000's thought. So I was, you know, persona non grata among the radical feminist. Well, now here I am saying that, most of these trans kids really aren't trans. The science is being misinterpreted and misapplied, which is exactly in line with the feminist establishment. And so I'm their darling.
[01:23:57] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[01:23:57] James Cantor: All right. Did all of a sudden they decide science was the way to go? No. It's science happens to be convenient to their political ends at the moment. However, also, yeah, within that establishment, even though, again, I'm widely acknowledged as one of the top experts on development of transsexuality and the various things that could lead to transsexuality and I'm testifying in court and so on all the time. There are some radical feminists who, "Nope, don't like what he says about pedophilia. He's a pedophile apologist. I won't work with him." Well, again, that's not how a liberal thinks. I'm sorry. We have to agree on everything in order to agree on, in order to work together. That's not a liberal. So that kind of thing has changed, but I haven't changed, and it's not like I've hadn't taken any particular professional hits for it.
[01:24:50] Mostly, the only metaphor I have was from one of the Star Wars sequels where the Galactic Senate collapses. Yoda realizes what goes on. He can feel everybody getting destroyed. And so he has to go fly to the swamp planet, waiting for the next generation, for civilized society to be reborn. I have a certain feeling like that, you know, there are a couple of people around willing and able to swallow their emotions and politics in order to get the right answer, whether you like the answer or not, but the entire spectrum, left, right, rainbow, take your pick are loving, hating me according to the utility. I'm just saying what the science says, but whether it fits with our politics is whether they like the science and therefore whether they'd like me. I haven't changed, what I've said hasn't changed. The people in the conversation have changed.
[01:25:51] Jordan Harbinger: Well, thank you very much for coming out if you'll pardon the pun and sharing your expertise here with us today. I know that this stuff is super fascinating and I'm hoping the audience really enjoys it because I know that I love talking about and hearing about this stuff. It is hard to avoid stepping on toes, especially with this kind of science, but here we are.
[01:26:11] James Cantor: Go step on the freaking toes. As I say, we're not going to be able to find the lines that get the details if we're not willing to do the challenging stuff.
[01:26:20] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you.
[01:26:21] James Cantor: My pleasure. Take care.
[01:26:24] Jordan Harbinger: You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show, about the evolved strategies of human mating.
[01:26:30] David Buss: So I'm an evolutionary psychologist and I'm very well known in my scientific communities. I talk to people about mating all the time, and I learn something practically every day from people. So our predictions of what is going to make us happy are known to be off base. Sometimes people pay a lot of attention to the mate attraction process and not enough attention to the mate retention process. Men and women have overlapping mating psychologies, but in some domains dramatically different mating psychologies. It's become fashionable to try to argue that men and women are really identical in their mating psychologies in their sexual psychologies, but they're not. I think that's, it's one of these kind of ideologically driven agendas, and we know scientifically that the areas in which they differ.
[01:27:20] You know, I think one of the myths is that somehow we're supposed to meet the one and only when. At a very young age and live perfectly happily ever after for the next 50 years with no bumps in the road and I think that's just naive. There's a new body of research that talks about the dark triad and the dark triad is also more likely to cheat. Dark triad is high narcissism, high Machiavellianism, and high psychopathy. People who are both men and women who are high in these dimensions are much more likely to cheat. You want to avoid those in a long-term mate, for sure. Avoid emotional instability and avoid narcissism in potential mates.
[01:28:03] Jordan Harbinger: To learn more about what people want in a mate, successful tactics of mate attraction, and more with Dr. David Buss, check out episode 758 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:28:14] What an interesting guy and a fun guy. Honestly, he's a riot even off-camera. His grandmother said, "I knew it," when he came out as gay, which is kind of a funny reaction from your grandma. Also, when he told her he was going into sex research, she said, "Well, if you're going to be thinking about sex all day, you might as well get paid for it." Which again, I kind of want to meet this guy's grandma. I think I'm a little bit too late. I did want to dive more into lesbians, gay women. There's a lot of differences between gay women and gay men, just from the perspective of hormones and what, quote-unquote, "makes somebody gay." There's more comfort issues involved with women. It's more social, psychological. It's probably an entire show, honestly. So yes, some is hormones, some is psychological or more psychological. But here's the thing, it's really hard to differentiate between these causes and factors, right? Where does psychological begin and the hormones end or vice versa? I don't really know, and I'm not sure that the line is even that clear.
[01:29:09] As far as pedophilia. I was on the fence about this one, right? But it's just too damn interesting to leave out, and I find that this episode really made me think. You know, once you appreciate the distinction that actual pedophiles can't help it, I start to appreciate what it must be like for a person to realize that through no fault of their own, that they're attracted to children, which is by all accounts, in every society probably that's ever existed, not okay and horrible and probably punishable by death. And then they have to choose to live a life of celibacy rather than really, really hurt somebody else. And in making that distinction, I just suddenly found myself feeling sympathy where I didn't think any would ever live. I also found it interesting that people who write pornographic fiction involving children, yuck, are not necessarily offenders. Same for people with child porn on the computer. However, people who are offenders have a much higher chance of having child porn on their computers. And it seems like maybe somebody who's willing to break a severe law or a norm, ethically, morally, legally, they are likely to have also committed something seemingly lesser, right? Like porn on their computer. So if you're an offender, you've kind of already crossed the Rubicon, but if you're not an offender and you have this stuff on your computer, You certainly have, I would say, a disorder of that should be treated, but maybe you're not also a molester. I don't know. Just a whole bucket of uncomfortable topics right there and sentences I never thought would come out of my mouth.
[01:30:39] Dr. Cantor has taken a lot of flack for his research and ideas, surprise, surprise, and people have come after his medical license several times. So if you're thinking about cancel culture, this guy's the epicenter of this. This really is a sensitive topic. I hope we've handled it appropriately. I'd love to hear from you if you agree or disagree or you have thoughts on this episode. You all know how to reach me. Again, big thank you to Dr. James Cantor. All Things Dr. James Cantor will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Our chatGPT bot can answer just about anything we've ever discussed on this program. jordanharbinger.com/ai is where you can find it. Transcripts in the show notes, videos on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, all the ways to support the show are all going to be at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support this show, especially with episodes like this because this is a toughie. It's a toughie, and I'm going to get flack for it, but I don't care. It was worth it. I hope you all learned something and enjoyed it.
[01:31:33] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems, software, tiny habits, the same stuff I use every single day to make sure I've got a network of people around me for when I get the book thrown at me for episodes like this. The course is free. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to build relationships before you need them, which is really handy if you're going to be in my line of work or doing shows like this. Many of the guests on the show subscribe to that same course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[01:32:01] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jace Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who might be interested in anything we discussed today, I mean we went through some ish on this one, definitely share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:32:36] Special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:32:43] This episode is also sponsored by Richard Syrett's Strange Planet. If you're interested in hearing about all kinds of conspiracy theories, you might like to check out a podcast called Richard Syrett's Strange Planet. Three times a week, Richard talks about everything mysterious and unknown, from UFOs to conspiracy theories, to legend and lore. Come explore your curiosity with Richard by listening to his interviews about Bigfoot encounters and an episode about alleged UFO crashes in New Mexico, or the episode featuring law enforcement and other first responders who experienced paranormal encounters. So if you're ready to take a walk on the wild side, Strange Planet has you covered. Find Richard Syrett's Strange Planet on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
[01:33:22] Thank you so much for listening and supporting the show and for supporting our sponsors. All the sponsors, all the codes, all those special URLs are on the deals page jordanharbinger.com/deals is where you can find it, and you can search for any sponsor on the show using the search box on the website at jordanharbinger.com as well. Please consider supporting those who support the show.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.