Anonymous Barbwire Columns Slays Gay Strawman

This column at BarbWire is so inane that no one wanted to claim credit for writing it. It’s credited only to “anonymous” and you can certainly understand after you read it. It’s a pretty common argument based on a complete misunderstanding of evolution and homosexuality.

So what would it look like if there were a genetic variation among some people causing them to be attracted to and to sexually desire members of the same sex instead of the opposite sex? How can we tell?

To create a “gay gene,” some genetic variation (anomaly) would have occurred at some point in time. The theory of evolution claims that genetic mutations occur regularly, possibly due to cosmic or other radiation or simply due to transcription errors in the cellular processes of DNA replication during cellular mitosis (division).

As a result, homosexuality would be more frequent in the geographic region where the variation originated and among the ethnic group in which the genetic variation first occurred. A genetic basis for homosexuality would have had to have started somewhere, among someone, at some point in time. It could have spread from there to other geographic regions and people groups. But the concentration would be higher where the genetic variation started, and lower elsewhere in the human race.

Of course, we do not see anything of the sort. We see a very small but uniform incidence of homosexual orientation spread evenly throughout the globe and across all ethnic groups. This is consistent with a development disorder, not a genetic basis, for same-sex attraction.

Furthermore, because reproduction by homosexuals must be – almost by definition – less frequent than heterosexuals, we would see incidence of homosexual orientation declining over time. Although we have only anectodal records across human history, homosexuality appears to be consistent throughout history. The percentage of people who are homosexual is very, very small, despite advocacy arguing the opposite. But the percentage appears to remain constant. We do not go back in time reading history and see a much larger presence of homosexuality thousands of years ago.

All nonsense, of course. No one thinks there’s anything as simple as a gay gene that, when switched on, makes someone gay. Homosexuality is almost certainly an epigenetic phenomenon involving genetics, gestational environment and perhaps even early childhood development. This is a straw man being beaten to death in the service of a ridiculous position. No one thinks it is that simple and by making it that simple, the author makes it so much easier to argue against.

And if, as the anonymous author claims, homosexuality is a choice, why would it follow that therefore we should see uniform percentages from society to society? Isn’t the opposite true? And isn’t that the usual argument we hear from the religious right, that more tolerance for homosexuality will lead to more people being gay? I don’t think the author understands their own position any better than they understand the one they’re attempting, weakly, to argue against.

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  • Reginald Selkirk

    Of course, we do not see anything of the sort. We see a very small but uniform incidence of homosexual orientation spread evenly throughout the globe and across all ethnic groups.

    Not true! We all know that there are no gays in Iran, or in Sochi Russia.

  • Alverant

    Increased tolerance of homosexuality will lead to more people who are already gay admitting they are gay because they think the odds of them being persecuted for being gay has gone down. But that’s not the same thing as becoming gay. That is unless you think everyone who is gay will say so in public and no one is hiding in the proverbial closet.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Nobody at BarbWire wants to admit accepting or (claiming to) understanding the theory of evolution.

    OT, but offered up for connoisseurs of schadenfreude everywhere:

    Dinesh D’Souza Pleads Guilty In Campaign Finance Case

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Company_of_the_Wolf podkayne

    “Furthermore, because reproduction by homosexuals must be – almost by definition – less frequent than heterosexuals, we would see incidence of homosexual orientation declining over time.”

    Just like lions, ants, wolves, bees, and any other species with a non-breeding segment show us this trait can only last for one generation, then dies out.

  • dingojack

    Same old crap arguments since 1967.

    And the response:

    “THE MARQUESS OF QUEENSBERRY : We have information from other countries that have altered their laws in a more lenient direction, and I do not think anybody has produced one shred of evidence to indicate that this change in the law has produced an increase in homosexuality. When I spoke on this subject before, I pointed out that in Sweden, where the laws were amended along the lines of the Wolfenden Committee recommendations in 1944, there has been no indication of an increase in homosexuality. One would like to know which countries that have altered their laws have seen a savage outbreak of homosexuality, and indeed an outbreak of those strange clubs that have been referred to in this House and in another place as “buggery clubs”. I am confident that a careful study of this problem would indicate that these fears are without substance.”

    Second Reading in the House of Lords of the Sexual Offenses Bill. 13 July 1967.

    Dingo

  • http://atheist-faq.com Jasper of Maine

    Religion is also a choice. Therefore, it should be oppressed.

  • abb3w

    There’s more and better supporting evidence for a bigot gene.

  • cptdoom

    The argument made in the Barbwire piece is exactly the thought process that had scientists looking at sickle cell disease and why that would be relatively stable in populations susceptible to the genetic mutation. It turns out being a carrier of the sickle cell mutation – i.e., having only one mutated gene – actually makes you more able to avoid malaria. So the trait was stable because it simultaneously made it less likely for those with two mutated copies to reproduce while making it more likely their siblings with only one mutated gene to reproduce. Presumably a trait like homosexuality – which could very well make it more likely for the nieces and nephews of gay or lesbian people to survive (if only because they are more likely to have available adoptive parents when/if their parents fell victim to the short, brutish lives common in pre-history) – follows a similar pattern.

    It is also interesting to note that homosexuality and bisexuality appear in hundreds of species, particularly of birds, which are descended from dinosaurs. That implies that the development of homosexuality and bisexuality precedes the development of human beings.

    Finally the idea that any mutation in humanity would have a narrow geographic distribution is falsified by the knowledge that all non-African human beings are descended from the small group of individuals who managed to leave Africa some 70,000 years ago. We are all far more genetically related than one might think.

  • matty1

    Not true! We all know that there are no gays in Iran, or in Sochi Russia

    Well not any more

  • escuerd

    All nonsense, of course. No one thinks there’s anything as simple as a gay gene that, when switched on, makes someone gay.

    I know what you mean, but it seems to me that there are quite a few people (with minimal education in biology) who believe exactly that. These are probably the sorts of people that the author is hoping to sway with this ridiculous argument.

    Homosexuality is almost certainly an epigenetic phenomenon involving genetics, gestational environment and perhaps even early childhood development.

    I thought that, etymology aside, “epigenetic” was usually used to refer to heritable changes that are not related to gene sequence (e.g. methylation of certain regions of DNA). It may be, for all I know, that this plays an important role in the reason some people are gay, but I got the impression that you didn’t intend to be that specific.

    But yeah, the article makes some absurd implicit assumptions. The ones that jumped out at me are:

    -It assumes that a genetic origin of homosexuality would necessarily involve only one gene. As long as they don’t say it outright, it will seem plausible to a lot of people who only vaguely remember studying Mendelian inheritance and came away with an idea that there’s a gene that acts as an on/off switch for each phenotype, rather than many genes influencing many phenotypes, often in ways that depend on one another, the environment, and plain old stochasticity in development.

    -It assumes that homosexuality would be the only effect of such a gene/genes. Genes in one combination can produce a trait that’s maladaptive (evolutionarily speaking) and one that’s adaptive in other combinations.

    -It assumes that if sexual orientation is genetic, that homosexuality must be due to a recent mutation. I guess this goes with the assumption that it’s maladaptive and therefore must be declining over time. But the vast majority of our genetic variation traces back much deeper in time than the dispersal of modern populations.

    And if, as the anonymous author claims, homosexuality is a choice, why would it follow that therefore we should see uniform percentages from society to society?

    To be fair, I only saw them refer to it as a “development disorder” (which is apparently inherently non-genetic and obviously needs to be cured to help us poor afflicted homos). But your question would still apply in that case.

  • thebookofdave

    Of course, we do not see anything of the sort. We see a very small but uniform incidence of homosexual orientation spread evenly throughout the globe and across all ethnic groups. This is consistent with a development disorder, not a genetic basis, for same-sex attraction.

    Ahh, but wouldn’t the predisposition for the “development disorder” also be genetic, and follow the same distribution pattern as hereditary gayness? Seems like the courageously anonymous author of this whimsical explanation quit flogging the horse when it was just mostly dead.

  • dingojack

    “And if, as the anonymous author claims, homosexuality is a choice, why would it follow that therefore we should see uniform percentages from society to society?”

    + Being a Christian is a choice.

    + Some 87% of the population of the US describe themselves as being Christian

    Therefore 87% of Malaysians (for instance) are SECRETLY CHRISTIAN!!!!

    QED.

    @@

    Dingo

  • eric

    The theory of evolution claims that genetic mutations occur regularly

    Don’t you love how the author throws a bone of creationist skepticism to his audience, even while he/she tries to use the TOE to make his/her point?

  • Randomfactor

    Wonder where the country is that the “left-handed” gene started in. Must be hell for the righties. The glove’s on the other foot, so to speak.