By: John Coates
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: June 2012
Long before he took up the science of risk taking, John Coates lived it by running a derivatives desk in New York. While there, he witnessed what he called “the hour between dog and wolf,” those moments when traders were literally transformed before his eyes — flying high and taking big risks when their trades were going great, to cowering in the corner almost afraid to move when their trades went south.
Coates left the manic world of the trading desk and headed to Cambridge to become a neuroscientist, but he never forgot what he witnessed on the trading floors. He wanted to know if what he witnessed, this so-called “biology of boom and bust,” was indeed a science.
"The Hour Between Dog and Wolf" is the result of a series of experiments by Coates and others in a new field called the biology of risk. These scientists have proven that risk does change one’s body chemistry – especially men. Coates has been able to identify a so-called feedback loop “between testosterone and success that dramatically lowers the fear of risk in men, especially younger men.” Another interesting finding from their experiments is that the fear of risk is not reduced in women. By studying the biology of risk, Coates says, we’ll all be better able to understand why we take chances even when we know we shouldn’t — be it on the trading floors, on the sports fields, in politics. and even on the battlefield.