Why are men so looney?

A lot of in the the blagodome are having a great time perusing the ‘Encyclopedia of American Loons‘. Its been up since May, but I guess we all just simultaneously found it or something 🙂

Its super fun to read– ALL my favorite loons are there! Even some that I think are kinda obscure, like Blondie (aka Rebecca Culshaw)! Still no Lenny, but the blog is young.

I was also kinda bummed to read about Billy Corgan. I loved ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ when I was little 🙁

Aaaaaaanyway… you all know me 😀 I couldnt help but notice that only 12 out of 101 American Loons are women. 11 + 2 halves (wives of a husband-wife loon duos).

Why are women so much more ‘into’ woo and religion?

Well, why are men such loons?



  1. #1 Greg Laden
    November 22, 2010


    During fetal development an enzyme known as five-alpha-reductase selectively converts fetal testosterone into estrogen in neurons in the CNS. Estrogen is, of course, deadly to neurons, which is why it is kept on the blood side of the blood-brain barrier. This first episode of brain damage that happens in males but not in females presumably goes a long way to explain … this sort of thing.

    This selective cell death is part of the normal process of sculpting a ‘normal’ male brain. But there are costs.

  2. #2 Brian
    November 22, 2010

    I would expect that part of it, at least, is just that men seem more likely (whether through social conditioning or internal influences) to voice their opinions on the largest stage they can. In other words, there are plenty of female loons; they’re just not making names for themselves.

  3. #3 HP
    November 22, 2010


    Before you can be a loon, you have to be privileged enough to be insulated from the social costs of loony beliefs. Of course, people who lack sufficient privilege can also believe loony things, but we have medications for that.

    (The flip side to that is people who lack both sufficient privilege and loony beliefs are more likely to value the community support provided by religion, even if it means a bit of philosophical equivocation. Hence the answer to your first question.)

    [NB: I am a white man, and hence privileged enough to feel compelled to provide glib answers to complex questions. Even when I’m right.]

  4. #4 Ivan
    November 22, 2010

    Women have to shout louder to get noticed. About 7.4 times louder, if the given sample is representative. 🙂

  5. #5 Ian
    November 22, 2010

    The public sphere has traditionally been male. That’s got to account for some part of it. That’s changing, but women are still more likely than men to get the “keep quiet, don’t make waves” message. So there’s likely to be a selection bias. Add to that the fact that a non-trivial proportion of loons are probably religious or social conservatives, which further discourage women from entering the public sphere.

    Women tend to be more social than men. And there’s probably a level of social isolation that helps to drive you into the fringe. Feeling alienated from power is probably a male thing too – after all, you need to believe it’s your right before you conclude that you’re not getting the recognition you deserve.

    Maybe. After all, unlike me, Greg should know what he’s talking about (unless, of course, he’s joking…in which case he still knows what he’s talking about).

  6. #6 HP
    November 22, 2010

    Alright! Five guys, five opinions! High five!

    Wassamatta, ladies? Cat got your tongue? Boo-yah!

  7. #7 Shirakawasuna
    November 22, 2010


  8. #8 Emerson White
    November 23, 2010

    Men have to jokey for position in public life to be eligible for harems. Every man needs to carve out his own little slice of the beach in order to have access to a multiplicity of mates. Those who don’t have talent suffer from the dunning-kruger effect where in they think their ignorance is strength 1984 style. It’s apparently extremely common for group couples therapy sessions to be dominated by men talking, while these same men are quite at home. Blogs are publish sphere, and these kooks are trying to make there mark to get status (proximal cause) to get girls (ultimate cause).

  9. #9 HP
    November 23, 2010

    Emerson @ #8, another opinionated dude who can’t read.

    Glad I got mine in early.

  10. #10 becca
    November 23, 2010

    Well it’s obviously not that women being looney is just considered status quo- cat ladies and all that.

    So maybe women just aren’t interested in being loony? Maybe they would rather be loony with their children- surely enough renditions of ‘wheels on the bus’ must take out your thirst for public loonery. Or maybe it’s just very hard to balance being loony in public with family life.
    In any event, I’m positive that the loony encyclopedia is choosing loons based solely on merit. Women loons just aren’t loony enough. Besides, they aren’t *that* rare. You found several! BESIDES, of the last five loons, one was a woman. Which means that NOWADAYS 20% of encyclopedia-worthy loons are women. So things must be getting better! QUIT WHINING WHEN MY GENERATION TAKES OVER EVERYTHING WILL BE FIXED AND WOMEN WILL BE JUST AS RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR LOONERY AS MEN!

  11. #11 Holytape
    November 23, 2010

    I’m sad that Rep. Steven King hasn’t made the cut. As for females that need to be listed: Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin; Jenny McCarthy, Oprah, and Victoria Jackson.

    Larry Christ

  12. #12 The MadPanda, FCD
    November 23, 2010

    I think it may be one of those bug vs. feature things.

    And, as an uneducated guess, I’d say Brian might just have it in #2. Many of the same cultural traditions that produce some awfully obnoxious (male) loons also insist that the wimminfolk must be quiet and subservient, so their complicit participation in teh l00nacy does not register and is not recorded.

    And Ivan makes a good point about relative volume.

    Becca, you are Very Much Right On The Money about that millionth rendition of “wheels on the bus”! Or the thousandth viewing of the same episode of Caillou, Barney, Dora the Explorer…

    Then again, I am the clear lunatic in the household, and I expect to hear many repetitions of ‘my old man is sooooo weird’ from our Cub as she grows up… 🙂

    The MadPanda, FCD

  13. #13 TomZ
    November 23, 2010

    Yes, the Billy thing is disheartening… but not that uncommon. I remember feeling down when seeing C0nc0rdance on YouTube say the Foo Fighters were AIDS deniers. Don’t fret, we still have Maynard Keenan and Trent Reznor, among others.

  14. #14 gillt
    November 23, 2010

    No way, Maynard thinks grapes are the most awesomely complex organism on the planet. That’s why he’s making wine in the desert or whatev instead of his real job, which is to melt your brain with prog rock.

    And Trent might be a libertarian.

  15. #15 German Santanilla
    November 23, 2010

    I think that the anti-vax movement’s hijacking of autism created or re-directed some musician loons to the anti-science movements. Billy Corgan, why did I pay so much to see the pumpkins, why did I pay for you CD’s? I stopped liking Billy when he put out his ‘poetry,’ which is the literary equivalent of his views on science. Vogon level, even.

  16. #16 Cain
    November 23, 2010

    I don’t care what anyone says. “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” is worth ever penny I ever spent buying albums then re-buying albums in a new format.

    /best song ever for minutes 27-30 of jumping rope

  17. #17 kevinj
    November 23, 2010

    well we need numbers to match Sarah Palin.

    I think more seriously it is the normal bias towards males plus since the list is mainly for the right wing loons it requires a seriously disfunctional woman to a)agree that they should automatically play second fiddle to a bloke and then b)override in just their own special case

  18. #18 Doc Bill
    November 24, 2010

    Hey, your old pal Slimy Sal Cordova made the list!

    Diagnosis: Lunatic jerk. Liar for Jesus, crackpot and moron. Impact is probably negligible.

    Ha, I loved the part about Sal having negligible impact. Case of Short Man’s Disease? (If you get my drift?)

  19. #19 TomZ
    November 24, 2010

    gillt@14 I’m ok with Maynard’s wine thing, we all have cognitive dissonance about something, but yes, he needs to get back to making music. “Write music for me, monkey!” But that’s damning about Trent… 😉

  20. #20 Tezcatlipoca
    November 24, 2010

    I would like to note that your old friend Rebecca Culshaw is #92.

    Oh, and as Kevinj said, we need the numbers to counter-balance Sarah Palin.


    p.s. There is a Loon that frequents the lake in front of my parent’s cabin. I’m sure it is quite outraged.

  21. #21 daedalus2u
    November 24, 2010

    Greg has it almost right. It isn’t strictly estrogen, but estrogen is involved. It is nitric oxide. Estrogen activates the estrogen receptor which then activates nitric oxide and makes NO. That is why women have higher NO levels than men, and why it peaks around the time of ovulation. It is the NO that estrogen produces that results in the differential effects of estrogen.

    It is low NO in utero that results in the autism phenotype and a brain that is configured to have a better “theory of reality”. High NO configures a brain to have a stronger “theory of mind” which is primarily associated with communication. With a “strong” enough “theory of mind”, you start to get more type-1 errors (false positives) and start to hear and see things that are not there, hence religious experiences.

    High NO in utero causes a schizophrenic-type phenotype. Often this is caused by maternal viral infections while in utero. It isn’t a direct virus effect, it is an immune system effect. The high NO of the immune system response (NO from iNOS) is what affects neurodevelopment and leads to the schizophrenic-type phenotype.

  22. #22 carlsonjok
    November 25, 2010

    Still no Lenny, but the blog is young.

    It is also alphabetical.

  23. #23 Sili
    November 26, 2010


    Pretty sure it’s the cock. “Two heads not blood enough for both.”

  24. #24 Anton Mates
    November 27, 2010

    IIRC, women are only more into some woo; men are more into UFOs, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

    I vaguely and non-rigorously hypothesize that women tend to go for forms of woo which have a strong social component, and which therefore merge easily into religion. Men tend to go for consciously anti-social forms of woo, of the “Nobody gets it but me! I’ll show them all!” variety, which makes them more likely to get tagged as loons.

  25. #25 daves
    November 28, 2010

    Ehhh…. by definition in the Doric, loons are men, or at least boys. Perhaps you really meant to ask, why are so few quines as daft as loons?


  26. #26 Jeff
    November 30, 2010

    #15 – German
    I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan myself and knowing this, a relative got me his book of poetry. I don’t like to criticize art because I don’t publish any myself, but it was like watching the Marquis de Sade pen on his cell walls in excrement after having read “Misfortunes of Virtue.”

    BC did make some great music though, I finished a 9 mile run last weekend with “Today.” Shame we can’t make drugs that don’t kill you, but still make musicians awesome.

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