Boston Globe article on sexual orientation

Here is an interesting read in the Boston Globe regarding biological origins of sexual feelings. Nice they mentioned D. Bem, but he got little coverage.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    C’mon Warren — admit it. You lurk at XGW to get all the interesting links… :-)

    I feel Bem got fair enough coverage given all he has done is speculate. Interesting characters, no plot.

    I’m sure if someone on “the other side” actually started pulling out clipboards, tape measures, and cranking up their DOS-based versions of MINITAB on their wheezy old PC’s — that is, do research instead of just invent another theory — someone might give them more time.

    But then, I’m like that aren’t I.

    What is interesting about the article is the decent depth that the Globe and Swidey devoted to the subject. He’s bothered to try and understand, instead of looking for a snappy quote.

    What is also interesting is the tour de force that is rapidly accumulating in the biological sciences (and not just on this subject of sexuality). Wilson and Rahman should be a good read when it arrives.

    And I hope you enjoyed the pithy quote from Bocklandt as much as I did…

    “I have the genes in my body to make a vagina and carry a baby, but I don’t use them, because I am a man.”

    But surely, I hear a self-styled gene expert cry (pick any, Mrs. Yvette C. Schneider for example) if he has the gene that MUST make him a woman…

    sigh.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    Well, I don’t need to. Michael Hamar makes sure I know everytime one of these articles is published.

    I disagree with your characterization of EBE theory as speculation. Theorizing based on data is what I would call it. I feel sure you have seen this article.

    The article quoted one of the experts as believing 40% of sexual orientation might be genetic. This is a long way from determinism.

    Of course, I will pay out good money for the Wilson & Rahman book, but after reading Rahman’s past efforts, I am not as exuberant as you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    I’m out the door asap, so it’s bullets.

    Michael Hamar? Cannot place him, was I meant to?

    OK a brief of what is not answered by EBE for me:

    > based on Bell&Wberg sample from 1970′s bar-culture of San Francisco. I’d have to locate it, but I recall Weinberg making a categorical statement against using the sample for these purposes. likewise others used.

    > more exotic that what? Did anyone ask if they felt more or less different to boys or to girls as comparison? No, they asked if they felt different to other boys. But they may have felt still more different to girls, EBE falls down since it is based on that delta.

    > recall — was the memory accurate, or a latter interpretation of why they were gay based on prevailing or still commonplace theories? following suggest not

    > as more gay men have become open about their sexuality, and available for interview, and as the earlier thoeries have faded away; what has happened to the % of gay men that answer they had a girly childhood? It’s falling.

    > is interracial coupling the most common, or least common? why does this run counter to EBE? actually, EBE would suggest racism wouldn’t be sustained.

    > what of all those gay men that had no such childhood? please don’t tell me there’s two types of homosexualities…

    > bisexuals? EBE would suggest an intermediate exotic difference. do we see it?

    > gay sheep? penguins? etc

    So, while I think EBE will certainly fit the background of some gay men, so would the zodiac. It doesn’t explain homosexuality or heterosexuality as such.

    Ironically, you seem more taken by EBE theory than I recall Bem himself is :-) Which is a little odd, since it’s as deterministic as any of the purer biological theories…

    I presume the “40% of SO” refers to Bailey’s earliest work that found a .4 correlation (or what ever it was) between twins? (sorry, cannot read the whole paper again in the next 2 minutes to see if that is it)

    But that’s the correlation with the expressed trait, not the cause. Type II diabetes is about 30% in MZ twins — it’s genetic. It’s near 0% for finger prints — genetic.

    got to run! excuse all typos

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    This post has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    On EBE, I think the best thing would be refer interested readers to Bem’s page at Cornell U. All of his work of gender roles and sexual orientation are there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    From the Boston Globe article:

    Some advocates of gay marriage argue that proving sexual orientation is inborn would make it easier to frame the debate as simply a matter of civil rights. That could be true, but then again, freedom of religion enjoyed federal protection long before inborn traits like race and sex.

    I am wondering what the impact on civil rights arguments might be if we learn that sexual orientation is hard wired for some men and not others almost never for women.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Hi Warren,

    Ultimately, issues of “hard wired-ness” are irrelevant in the final analysis, since people of different religions are fully protected with civil rights and all, and religion certainly isn’t hard wired, but acquired through social training.

    So even if same sex attractions weren’t hardwired, would gays deserve civil rights? Should gay marriage be legal?

    Though I’m an “ex-gay” in the literal sense of the word, my answer to the above two questions would be a resounding “yes.”

    Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    Nathan: Religion is not the best comparison since religion is constitutionally protected. But I agree with you that the issue of origins is not necessarily related to one’s views regarding civil rights. My question is aimed at those who do feel the two are connected.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    ? I’m no U.S. constitutional beak, but isn’t the Constitution about the establishment (or promotion or curtailing…) of religion by government — not civil rights as we understand between private citizens.

    Until very recent times, you could fire a Catholic for being a Catholic (or nominate any other religion). Discrimination based n religion by one citizen to another was legal, and the Constitution was silent on the matter (if you are a Scaliaite). To clear this up, I guess you could ask a Grove City administrator if their hiring/firing practices based on religion are unconstitutional…

    Religion has been more recently covered by Civil Rights codes that legislate the behaviour between private citizens — with noted let out clauses such as that around GCC.

    As to the question: I don’t think the two are related in any practical sense.

    Nobody denies race being biological. Despite that, racism continues to exist even though race-based protection was an early reason for Civil Rights codes.

    Religion and marital status are both behavioural choices. They are covered.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11737203 Steve

    I appreciate Warren’s tireless effort in de-mythifying this whole thing about homosexuality. As a minister in Asia, I sense there are more and more people agreeing and even gravitating towards this lifestyle.

    Just to key off on this article, I agree with the general sentiment that something is inborn. My theory is that our inborn hormonal combination, as dictated by gene, effect our temperament formation, (i.e. more feminine or musculine),which in turn, create unique nurturing environments, (micro environment)that further enhance our predispostion and shape who we think we are.

    So, for example, a boy who is more feminine will choose to play with dolls and other girls, (and create his own micro-environment unique to him). This UME (Unique Micro Environment) causes other boys to label him names, as well as his own doubts, “why am I so different?” It is under these two forces of hetero-suggestion and auto-suggestion working strongly together that his little mind is conditioned to the point that he believes he is “different” from the other boys. Sooner or later, through social forces, (i.e. incidence of sexual abuse, rejection by girl friends, admiration for the talent of other boys, media hype, sexual encounter with another gay, etc), he becomes convinced that this difference “is” homosexuality.

    Therefore, I believe that while termperment, personality shaping-hormone, predisposition are inborn, choosing a homosexual lifestyle is NOT. That is why, as a habit goes, it is possible to “unlearn” it.

    Thanks again, Warren, for a resourceful site and your conviction for this important matter.

  • kaiwai

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    Please let me remind people to keep remarks respectful. Strong feelings on this topic are understandable but flaming will get you deleted.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11860901 Hugh Rutledge

    What I found most interesting is the attitude that the authors took that so much research is being done that some day this will inevitably be proven; and therefore, everyone should take our assumption as proven scientific fact.

    They also played very loose with the opinion of Focus on the Family. There is a range of positions between people chose their sexual identity and sexual identity is genetically determined.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    I agree. The author made it seem like it was a religion vs. science issue.


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