1. Tara Mobley says

    I don’t believe it either. I’m a woman, have been since birth, and am even expecting. I’ve never enjoyed housework or found it rewarding. And this guy thinks getting the kidney of a woman makes hime like that stuff? He’s either lying or delusional.

  2. craig says

    thats it – I’m getting one of those lifealert bracelet things that says “only install liberal organs.”

  3. Harry Eagar says

    Odd that the progressive professor implicitly buys into the idea that men don’t do housework.

    Even John Dillinger used to tie on an apron and do the dishes.

  4. says

    Umm, I think he doesn’t believe that a kidney transplant is responsible for his change in behaviour.

    Home phelbotomy kit? Blood removal? This I don’t understand.

  5. Grumpy says

    Silly question time:

    Transplanted organs retain the donor’s DNA indefinitely, right? The tissue isn’t gradually replaced, as if the organ served as a scaffold for the host to regenerate it.

    I assume that’s also the case of skin grafts, where deeper layers of dermis are transplanted. If that’s the case, I expect to see an episode of CSI where a skin graft confounds their magic epithelial detector (if they haven’t done so already).

  6. says

    The idea that transplant recipients take on some of the psychological or personality characteristics of their donors is very common — not just in popular culture (film, etc) about transplants, but also amongst recipients themselves. You see it most often amongst heart transplant recipients. There’s a book called A Change of Heart by a woman who claims this happened to her, for instance. Charles Siebert talks about it (and some of the possible science to back it up) in A Man After His Own Heart. Here’s a quick excerpt (p257): “All the recipients I met that night spoke in the same reverent tones … about this gift, about the responsibility they now bore … They talked of whole new sensory responses, cravings, and habits. It was though I was meeting the members of some strange new cult, the tribe of the transplanted. Some researchers have explained the phenomenon [as] “the surprised heart theory” … Others ascribe it either to the heart’s neurochemicals …”

    I’m not saying it’s widespread, or all that medically plausible — just that there’s enough of it about to have generated a small culture. Frankly, I find the claim more plausible for the heart than the kidneys. Siebert’s description of the deadened emotional responses of recipients of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart is quite chilling, if it is to be believed.

  7. says

    Grumpy, there was a Law & Order with that very plot point–the perp had had a bone marrow transplant, so he gave up a blood sample willingly, knowing the DNA from his blood wouldn’t match the DNA he had left at the scene, and he’d get ruled out that way.

  8. says

    I get it now! All these years of being male and enjoying cooking, which I once thought was a counter-example to sex-based determinism have just gone out the window. You see, I realize now that the way that my kidney filters blood has been altered in some fashion, giving rise to my current hobbyist affinities. By the “one drop rule,” of course, any single tiny tissue of the wrong sex will totally alter the mentality of its inheritor.
    You know what this means – now the olympics have to test women to make sure that they don’t have male kidney transplants!
    Anyway, that article was a laugh. Do a standardized double-blind study and then come back and claim that the sex of kidneys transplanted or otherwise can in any way predict one’s tendency to knit. Did this lumberjack forget that in the process of getting a kidney transplant, he may have been handed some knitting needles, a book, and some yarn, and had nothing else to do for the weeks to months he was hospitalized?
    Or perhaps people should realize that the current gender-associations of certain occupations have not been constant across human civilizations, past or present.

  9. outeast says

    Ananova is an unimpeachable source of news, its veracity never questionable, its research impeccable. This is, lest we forget, the news sevice that brought us:

    – The Ukrainian who hasn’t slept in 20 years;
    – The Slovakian who, trapped in an avalanche with nothing but 60 bottles of beer, managed to pee his way out; and of course
    – The inseperable Croatian couple (read the story!)

    Mock ye not, ‘sceptics’!

  10. says

    Perhaps it was something else, kidney-shaped, that they transplanted (LOL)!

    Or he made a great excuse to quit the hard work and do what he always liked doing.

  11. Lowk says

    Yeah I agree with coturnix. Deep down, he has probably always hated going out drinking, but he did it because he thinks That?s What A Man Does. His subconscious mind is seizing on the excuse of the transplant to do what he really wants to do, but this is causing a conflict between his wishes and his sexism, so he blames it all on the kidney.

  12. says

    When I did hospital work I met a heart transplant patient who was terrified that he’d get a woman’s heart.

    Lizicek was obviously one of those rare individuals whose psyche is urethral rather than anal.

    Ananova is mostly a novelty site, IIRC, a little more accurate than the Onion.

  13. Jerome feldmann says

    Its not that I don’t believe it, I can’t get myself to even bother considering it.
    I don’t believe in a biological basis for this sexual dichotomy in social behaviour to start with.
    However one will find biological misunderstanding for anything: what about the adrenal glands. Are they grafted as well?

  14. craig says

    I swear, there’s a Dick Cheney heart joke in this somewhere, but I’m too tired to think of it.

  15. says

    “If that’s the case, I expect to see an episode of CSI where a skin graft confounds their magic epithelial detector”

    FYI, one of the CSI computer games (I forget which) has the DNA lab confused by the presence of transplant material in a body.

  16. says

    Mad Magazine said it best (to the tune of Love is Blue):

    “New, new, my heart is new,
    straight from a man in Kalamanzoo.
    New, new, my liver’s new,
    it was on sale–I could have had two.
    When I freak out and I go insane,
    I’ll invest in a slightly used brain.
    New, new, my kidney’s new,
    New are my glands, my pancreas too,
    New, new, I feel so new,
    I’m a new man–I’m just not sure who.”

  17. Theo Bromine says

    Just curious: could side-effects of anti-rejection drugs cause such a change in behaviour?

  18. KeithB says

    Well according to this, a review of what I am sure is a documentary:

    A man who gets a heart transplant from a gorilla/orangutan will turn into an ape-man with the usual mayhem ensuing.

    What a coincidence that I read this review the same day PZ blogged on this!

  19. says

    Read the professor’s caption to this item? I read it, and I still don’t get it. I’m feeling kind of thick. Maybe it’s some cultural reference I’m not picking up on?

  20. Torbjorn Larsson says

    Can someone please explain why a kidney transplant can’t change behaviour?

    If the transplant provided the only functional kidney and if a kidney transplant also includes the adrenal gland on top, new hormones levels could result.

    These hormones include androgen hormones like testosterone and adrenaline. ( & ) AFAIK, these control behaviours.

    Maybe there is hard data on behaviour pre and post kidney transplants to look at?

  21. Torbjorn Larsson says

    Oops, need better punctuation too: … androgen hormones like testosterone, and adrenaline.

    Adrenaline isn’t an androgen hormone, of course.

  22. Kagehi says

    Things like heart transplants they claim do this is just silly. But I can see some *possible* anomolies arising due to sudden shifts in levels of enzymes in the blood do to differences in how secretory organs function, compared to the original. Things like livers and kidneys, while they do function as filters, also have secondary purposes as well, which are let recognized. Concievably someone with higher normal levels of X, might start craving foods that had or promoted production of X, to counter other parts of the body reacting to the decrease. On the other hand, a lot of blood chemistry and even brain chemistry is still obscure, with people still finding specialized cells that they *thought* didn’t produce anything significant, only to later discover they produce or regulate some obscure thing that was previously ignored.

    Its kind of like the commercial recently for MS Windows, where the woman doctor is talking about 2,000 diseases that produce the same three symptoms, and how some product that runs in Windows helps her figure it out. I couldn’t help but wonder, “I people bothered to catalog the blood levels of various thing that are not *normally* checked, like vitamins, couldn’t you maybe narrow that down to 20-30, just by looking for a) what the disease metabolises diferrently and b) byproducts it uniquely produces, instead of just looking at 8-10 standard factors and T-cells? The answer seems, according to some things I have recently read, to be, “Yes”.

    Point being, biology hyper focuses on specific questions, like, “What is the mechanism for X?”, then maybe jumps from their to hyper focusing on, “What specific things connect X to Y.” Doctors however try to macro focus, but do so with only the known parameters, so are actually using maybe 10% of what information could be available to them to diagnose something. That least possible 90% of what is really going on that can cause strange and unpredictible results. Suddenly finding oneself more active, might induce them to clean the house. Heck my mother got drunk on her wedding night, cleaned every pot and pan, wall, floor, etc. in the entire house, went to bed, then woke up the next morning with no memory of doing any of it and the certainty that it would take her hours to finish. Who knows if that is partly metabolic, in how her “body” dealt with being drunk, or 100% in the brain. Same for food cravings that might change do to transplant. But given the choice between, “Somehow my metabolism changed in some unspecifiable way to make me want something I used to hate”, and “My transplant is haunted.”, most people go with the more specific, if usually 100% dead wrong, hypothesis. As the quote says, “in the absence of good grounds for belief, man will be satisfied with bad ones.”

  23. Harry Eagar says

    It’s the ‘every woman’ phrase that is so odd, Ronald, because it implies that all men are louts.

    That is a 1950s trope that I found surprising in the liberal professor.

    And, of course, even in the 1950s, the notion that no man would ever help with the housework was understood to be a stereotype (which liberals, of course, never indulge in) and an exaggeration.

    Jackie Gleason meant Ralph Cramden to be funny, not tragic.

  24. KeithB says

    Given the recent post on the Loom about brain parasites changing behaviour, it could also be that some parasite or virus is along for the ride, changing behaviour.

    (Sorry but I am about to go catch a plane and am to lazy to look up the link to Zimmer’s blog.)

  25. says

    Oh I see, the everywoman phrase obviously puts all women in one group, something that’s inherently stereotyping. But but I’m still stuck on the phlebotomy stuff. I don’t know what’s that about. This might be a rerun of the time I had to ask PZ what a vulva was. That is, I’m stuck on something that’s perfectly obvious to everyone else. (Now that I think about it, this happens quite a lot.)

  26. says

    “every woman”: it’s a joke, son.

    “phlebotomy”: drawing off a little blood so it can be injected into the recipient needing an infusion of ‘feminine’ traits.

  27. Harry Eagar says

    The point is not that the joke stereotypes women, Ronald, but that it stereotypes men.

    It is from the class of joke that depends upon the jokester’s being able to assume that all his hearers will supply the underlying concept ‘all members of a natural class (here, all men) have a natural defect (they are louts).’

    It is like a joke whose punchline depends upon your agreeing with a concept like ‘all Poles are stupid’ or ‘all African-American southerners are chicken thieves.’

    It does you credit that you didn’t get it.

    When I said it was odd, I did not mean that it was unusual — it’s at least as old as vaudeville — but that it sounds odd coming from a self-proclaimed liberal.

    Of course, if when the teller calls himself a liberal, he means a leftist, then it isn’t odd at all.

    Professor Myers didn’t get his own joke, either.

  28. says

    Ask yourself, “Does Professor Myers think transplantation of tissues would induce ontogenetic tranformations of brain tissue?” It’ll help you understand that I’m poking fun at the whole concept of the change and of biological differences in housekeeping strategies.

  29. Harry Eagar says

    Yes, I get that you are poking fun. Who you belittle when you poke fun is revelatory, though.

  30. says

    Who do you think I was belittling, though? It wasn’t women — it was people who think a fondness for doilies is on the X chromosome.

  31. says

    Careful, PZ, you know how much even the perception of stereotypes and racist/sexist/classist generalizations offends Eagar’s scrupulous sense of fairness.

    Then again, maybe he just thinks you’re horning in on his turf.

  32. David Harmon says

    “If the transplant provided the only functional kidney and if a kidney transplant also includes the adrenal gland on top, new hormones levels could result.”

    Charles Sheffield did a story involving a similar issue, titled “Dancing with Myself”. A classic story of science gone amok, and a world gone… placid. ;-) If the adrenals were in fact transferred, that might indeed relevant, but… my bet’s still with coturnix et al. Classic repression, traumatic illness and surgery, post-surgical lifestyle changes, all topped off with a big scoop of projection.

  33. Torbjorn Larsson says


    That is the most likely scenario, agreed.

    I just thought the unlikely one was waved off as impossible. And reading your response it seems to me that if hormone levels change, that may affect the psychological process you describe, and then probably adversely. But if you ask me to bet too, I will put my money with you all.