The Hour Between Dog and Wolf – A Review

by Stephen Mills on June 12, 2012

This is a review of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust.

This strangely titled book is about how stress, excitement, and risky behavior triggers changes in body chemistry and by that our behavior.  The story is told with financial traders, but the same ideas apply to us all.  We are all susceptible to the same feedback loops that change our brain, bodies, and behavior even if we don’t work in the financial industry.  Most of us deal with the same kinds of issues to one degree or another.

This book has several main ideas.  One of them is that are brains and bodies are much more integrated than most people believe and that modern neuroscience proves it.  Another is that market booms and busts may be driven by feedback loops that drive financial traders, 95% of whom are male, to testosterone stoked irrational exuberance followed by cortisol (stress hormone) induced irrational pessimism.  And finally that by understanding these hormone cycles we may be able to intervene in them.

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf is quite fascinating.  The science is interesting and convincing.  We have this idea that our behavior is driven solely or mostly by our choices, choices that we consciously make.  Research in the last few decades is making this harder and harder to accept.  This book does an excellent job at showing how our behavior is much more complicated and that our body chemistry plays a big part in influencing our brain and our behavior.

I really liked this book and found it fascinating.  It’s ideas apply to much more than the trading context in which it is set.  If you are interested in science, human behavior, or the brain I can easily recommend it.

P.S.  The title is explained in the book.  It has to do with the difficulty of telling a dog from a wolf at dusk and transformation.

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