ABC 20/20 examines "gay gene" debate

Tonight, at 9pm est, 20/20 will feature a segment examining homosexuality and genetics and more.

 Read the segment here…

  • Drowssap

    C O L O R M E T H E R E !!!!!

    One question I hope to see in tonight’s show,

    “Has any gene in all of human biology ever operated like any common varient of the gay gene theory?”

    That’s the knock-out punch. Even Mike Tyson couldn’t stand up to that one. 8-)

    Disclaimer

    I know that genes are probably involved on some level. But that’s a whole different animal than the gay gene theory.

  • Drowssap

    Oh no!!!!

    I just read the story. Gaaaah…..

    Another genes vs. socialization story.

    Most people are going to be blown away when they find out that in most cases it’s neither genes, nor socialization nor a combination of the two.

    IT’S THE ENVIRONMENT!!! 8-)

  • Nick R

    All it does it demonstrate an inherent ignorance of biology. Many biological traits are polygenic. Many biological traits are epigenetic. Some biological traits are even “agenetic”.

    Reducing biology to simple Mendelian genetics demonstrates an ignorance of genetics.

    There are many ways to reach the top of a mountain.

  • concerned

    Warren,

    This appears to me to be a rehashing of an old program 20/20 did so it seems to me it is more politically driven agenda based quasi science trying to convince the general population that science has found the gay gene. It may be true for some, but definitely not for all and the level of attraction to the same sex varies from individual to individual. Until I see a balanced fair approach to this issue I am not interested.

    For this program to try to give the impression that it is cut and dry is extremely bad journalism, but I guess we will see how they approach it. Sorry, you will see how they approach it, as I do not intend on wasting my time watching it.

  • Drowssap

    Nick R

    I don’t want to get in a lengthy debate with you. It is likely that neither of us will change each other’s minds anyhow.

    But I’ll leave you with this from my first post. In all of human biology scientists have never discovered a single gene that operates like any variant of the gay gene theory. Google all you want, you’ll never find a comparable example. It’s pretty shaky logic to believe in a theory with no evidence and not one similar thing to compare it to.

    Dean Hamer doesn’t spend any time comparing the gay gene to anything else that scientists have figured out in human biology. An average biology teacher could shut him down in 3 minutes and he knows it. That’s why he talks to the press.

    Disclaimer

    Once again I’m not excluding the fact that genes aren’t involved on some level as they are in ALL things.

  • Nick R

    Drowssap,

    That was exactly my point. Reducing all biological traits to one gene is simply ignorance at its height.

    Skin colour is the result of many genes.

    Fingerprints are the result of genetics + prenatal environment.

    Birth defects from fetal alcohol syndrome are the result of solely the prenatal environment.

    Anyone, anyone who tries to reduce all of biology to just “one gene causing one trait” is ignorant of basic biology.

    Some biological traits are monogenic, some are polygenic, some are monogenic + environment, some are polygenic + environment, some are solely prenatal environment, etc.

    To reduce the possibilities to “one gene” or to solely postnatal is to demonstrate an ignorance of biology.

    Unlike many, I do know the difference and get very suspicious when people try to reduce it to a “gay gene”.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    I’ll explain something that sounds simple, but is very profound and in fact is something that I didn’t even really comprehend 5 years ago.

    Genetics and Biology are two different things. You may have gay feelings, but that doesn’t mean they came from a gene. It also doesn’t mean that they aren’t biologically real.

    Here is a real world example of how Mother Nature works

    Your DNA contains a gene that greatly increases your chances of being right handed. Your mom also has genes that create a maternal environment that pushes you towards right handedness. You come out of your mom, right handed as your genes and the maternal environment intended. 6 months later your older brother brings home Meningitis and accidentally infects you. You survive just fine but the infection leaves a tiny scratch on your brain. This scratch causes your brain to switch from right handed to left handed and you stay left handed for the rest of your life.

    This happens every day in countless ways. Biological traits and genetic traits are two completely different things. Watch how 20/20 screws that up about 1,000 times in tonight’s show. 8-)

  • Nick R

    Exactly Drowssap, which is why I am extremely suspicious of people who claim they are able to change it or think that people so-affected should be discriminated against.

  • Drowssap

    Nick R

    Unlike many, I do know the difference and get very suspicious when people try to reduce it to a “gay gene”.

    That’s true but even if SSA is due to a combination of dozens of genes there STILL aren’t any comparable examples. Nothing works like the gay gene theory(s). At least nothing that scientists have ever discovered. You can google all day and you’ll never find anything like it in human biology.

  • Drowssap

    Nick R

    Exactly Drowssap, which is why I am extremely suspicious of people who claim they are able to change it or think that people so-affected should be discriminated against.

    Yeah, that’s a totally different kettle of fish.

  • Nick R

    But Drowssap, don’t you see your argument is inherently flawed? One gene, many genes, one gene impacted by the prenatal environment, one gene impacted by the postnatal environment, one gene impacted by both the prenatal and postnatal environments, multiple genes impacted by the prenatal environment, multiple genes impacted by the postnatal environment, multiple genes impacted by both prenatal and postnatal environments, solely the result of the prenatal environment, the result of the postnatal environment, the result of the combination of both, the result of genes impacted by prenatal factors that only manifest if they reach a threshold, and on and on and on. Then, throw in the distinct probability based on the actual evidence that there may be multiple ways to the same end. For some people it might be the Fraternal Birth-order Effect, for others it might be the Neurohormonal theory, for some it might be Freud’s discredited psychoanalytical approach, and on and on and on.

    I’m not so stupid as to just assume a “gay gene(s) theory” is the sole answer. I know better. I have a basic understanding of biology.

    I also know that people who try to discriminate against others because of their religious prejudice are generally not good people.

  • concerned

    Nick,

    Because there are so many factors that may be leading to same-sex attraction would it not also make sense that there are many differing levels of attraction that might be found in a population. If different people experience this attraction for differing reason then perhaps some are able to adapt their attractions to the opposite sex. Who is it for anyone else to say that they cannot be happy by doing this. There is much research coming out these days pointing to the flexibility and fluidity of the brain when it comes to personality and I believe this relates directly to ones ability to change their orientation. Psychology is beginning to show that there is not nearly as much hard-wiring going on as was once believed when geneticists where trying to prove that everything was genetics. In case you have not noticed, both biology and psychology have move on from this idea to a more balance view of nature and nurture, whereby the environment can influence the phenotype of an individual. I would content that a big part of this environmental influence is stress related.

  • Drowssap

    Nick R

    But Drowssap, don’t you see your argument is inherently flawed?

    No. Natural selection is too precise. 1 in 1000 men can be gay because of phenomenon like the older brother effect but not 4 in 100. Even if you included 10 distinct and seperate SSA triggers you still couldn’t hit 4 in 100 before natural selection stepped in. If SSA was very common in American Indians but extremely rare in Africans then genes would suddenly become a lot more interesting. If SSA kicked in around the age of 40 or 50 then genes would be a lot more interesting.

    I also know that people who try to discriminate against others because of their religious prejudice are generally not good people.

    I’ll leave that argument to people more qualified than me. I’m interested in the science side of the debate, not the morals.

  • Drowssap

    Nick R

    And the last thing. I’m arguing theory which would make a lot of sense if this was 1985. But today the research is clear, identical twins have a very low concordence rate for SSA. Moroever, Hamer says that there is no clear pattern of inheritance. The evidence supports what the theory predicted. There is no reason to believe in a gay gene.

    That doesn’t discount the fact that SSA could still be 100% biological. It also doesn’t infer that genes don’t play a role on some level. Twin studies indicate that they do, but the effect is small.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    I would content that a big part of this environmental influence is stress related.

    Nobody has been able to prove that childhood stress increases the odds of SSA. But scientists have certainly proven that stress plays a role in nearly everything else. My bet is that stress is involved, even if the effect is minor.

  • concerned

    Drowssap,

    I would contend that the effect is much more than minor. My own experience is that we live in a very stressful culture and that we are all looking for ways of coping with this stress. Some of the ways we do this are healthy for us while others are not. I believe that any coping mechanism that removes us from real life and relationship with the greater community is not a healthy one, whether one is homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual.

  • Nick R

    Drowssap,

    Don’t you understand that the natural selection argument is only valid if homosexuality is solely genetic (and primarily monogenic)?

    Hemophilia, albinism, etc persist in generations because they are recessive mongenic traits. Thus, even if homosexuality was monogenic it could persist throughout the generations. The natural selection argument is used by people who don’t understand genetics. If we throw the prenatal environment into the equation, then natural selection becomes even more a non-factor. Add polygenic to the prenatal environment and it’s even less relevant. A person can pass on one or many genes that predispose someone to homosexuality, but it would never manifest itself because some prenatal trigger was not activated. Or, if there are multiple ways of becoming homosexual, including the fraternal birth order effect which is completely the result of prenatal environment and not genetics, then natural selection is even less a factor. Your argument is simply not consistent with biology.

    I’ve yet to see any ex-gay study that indicates people do actually change their orientation. Jones and Yarhouse made it very clear that it’s not a common occurrence (if it occurs at all).

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    concerned,

    Who is it for anyone else to say that they cannot be happy by doing this. There is much research coming out these days pointing to the flexibility and fluidity of the brain when it comes to personality and I believe this relates directly to ones ability to change their orientation.

    While it may be possible to change orientation, so far the evidence argues against it.

    The prospective portion of the Jones and Yarhouse study suggests that there is little to no statistically measurable change as a result of Exodus methods. And those individuals that identified as “heterosexual” at the third measurement of the study seemed to have attraction traits (wandering eyes, sex dreams, etc.) that better fit with the label “homosexual”.

    This is not to say that persons cannot find some shifting in their attractions. And we know that there are some persons who have crafted a satisfying heterosexual relationship while retaining primarily homosexual attractions.

    And besides, as you say, who is to complain if they are happy in pursuing a change, whether or not a change ever comes.

    Nonetheless, I would prefer that those who go this route do so fully informed.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    I would contend that the effect is much more than minor.

    Well in the case of Schizophrenia stress certainly plays a strong, measurable role in it’s development. It appears that the damage that leads to Schiz is done prenatally and in some cases during early childhood or even early adulthood. Stress makes the damage even worse or possibly short circuits the brains natural healing processes. If you google Schiz and stress you’ll find a lot. I find it amazing that 1% of the population has Schiz and it’s much more common in cities than it is in the country.

    However SSA isn’t Schiz. Schiz is an example of massive brain damage. SSA appears to be more like a switch that flips one way or the other.

    Could stress be a factor that helps determines how the brain decides to flip the switch? You bet. Stress seems to affect everything.

    But as of now there isn’t a proven scientific link between SSA and stress.

  • Drowssap

    Nick R

    Your argument is simply not consistent with biology.

    Nick I disagree with your last post discounting natural selection. But forget my opinions. There doesn’t appear to be any actual scientific evidence for the gay gene theory. Twin concordence is super low and there is no pattern of inheritance. I mean… with those two things known why would anyone suspect there is a gay gene?

    I’m not saying that SSA couldn’t be 100% biological. I’m just saying that the evidence doesn’t suggest a gay gene is the biology we are going to find. Moreover, the increased incidence of left handedness among people with SSA is a red flag for environment.

    the fraternal birth order effect which is completely the result of prenatal environment and not genetics

    The FBO isn’t directly genetic but it would be due to the normal happenings of the healthy, female womb. So indirectly that’s genetics. Natural selection ensures that those things won’t be very common. 1 person out of several hundred would be pretty darned common. A few of these triggers might be out there, but they might not even directly create SSA. They might only be tipping points.

  • Drowssap

    OK, I just watched the 20/20 episode.

    Gay Gene

    As expected they confused the words genetic and biological throughout the entire story. The researcher who said that evidence doesn’t support the gay gene theory was absolutely correct. When he followed up that SSA appeared to be due to socialization he lost me. Socialization (therapy) might help some gay people develop a more straight orientation but poor socialization isn’t what made them gay in the first place. The world STRONGLY pushes people to be straight and yet 2% to 4% of men are exclusively gay.

    The story on Vitiligo (the skin disorder that leads to patchy colored skin). That story contained a single sentence that could have applied to every medical mystery on the show. (paraphrasing)

    “Certain genes increase someone’s risk factor for Vitiligo, but an environmental trigger is required for the disorder to occur.” This actually applies to almost EVERYTHING.

    Hair pulling varient of OCD. For those who don’t know, that type of behavior is closely associated with Strep Throat exposure. Other triggers might be out there but they haven’t been identified yet. The good news is that it this disorder tends to diminish with age. You might have noticed that all the people in the story were young.

    The Minister with no arms and legs. For humans I don’t know but in frogs that type of deformation is caused by a common parasite that attaches to tadpoles bodies as they develop. This was just recently proven. Farm run-off increases the population of this parasite. It may take a few decades but I’ll bet that by the time this guy is 50 or 60 he’ll have arms and legs. God bless him.

  • Michael Bussee

    Here’s my theory. I know it can’t ever be proven or disproven — but I do not think homosexuality is genetic, the result of socialization — or the result of “the environment” (Drowssap’s favorite).

    I think it’s spiritual. I believe it is part of what some folks call our “soul”. Sciene will never find it. Ir comes from God.

  • Dave

    Oh, Oh. Here come the usual suspects. (Hi Michael!)

    I thoroughly enjoyed the scientific discussion up to this point; however, the home environment, parental response and expectations of child behavior, and all the vicissitudes of child development haven’t yet been touched upon.

    However, theology is my field, so I’d like to pose a question: If homosexuality comes from God, why do the Biblical writers –who base their observations on millennia of human experience with the question: “Don’t you think God is telling us something? and then write their conclusions –conclude that homosexual conduct is contrary to the laws of the universe and the Creator of the universe?

    The applied terminology is “sin,” which refers to human behavior that is ultimately self-destructive –individually, corporately, or both.

    Do you propose that there is some other God when it comes to immoral behavior? Certainly you couldn’t be referring to the God of the Bible.

  • Evan

    In “Exotic Becomes Erotic”, Daryl Bem makes a point I think it’s worth reminding. He rejects pure biological determinism of sexual attractions (a point which may have been inspired by Freud’s old rejection of a purely chemical explanation of heterosexuality, which he quotes in the introduction).

    I think the idea still holds.

    Finding correlates may ultimately be a meaningless pursuit, one without explanatory value and not much predictable weight (does it apply to all same-sex attracted people or is this study just a replication of Hamer’s search for a linkage for a very specific subset of the gay population?). Chances are that orientation is genetically influenced and studies may eventually succeed in finding some linkage (although it may not be to the glory of that identity, if they are related to deficiencies in expression). However, that only means the degree of gene sharing between related individuals with a known characteristic. The odds of isolating a qualitative gene for SSAs are close to null. If that were the case, it would be a dedicated protein expressed in the brain for a type of attractions. So you would have to find one or more isolated genes with a specific and dedicated non-reproductive plan. The chances of that? Void.

    What purpose would a bunch of linkages serve then? Vulnerability factors, most likely they would be. What is the most documented predictor for adult homosexuality? Childhood gender nonconformity. How can this variable be operationalised? First of all, by means of psychological traits, which have a significant genetic influence: levels of aggression, levels of activity, shyness etc.

    If I understand this right, in a given biological population you’d have a continuum that goes from aggressive to shy, insensitive to sensitive, masculine to effeminised, feminine to masculinised, with a propensity of the back of the spectrum towards disorders like panic, anxiety, depression. Finding some correlates for the latter does not prove the existence of a biological trait with discontinuous variation, i.e. you either have the trait or not (like the colour of one’s eyes). It merely proves a degree of additive genetic contributions, of concerted influence on making one feel gender discordant during childhood. It’s about lagging behind the others, not about forming a discrete category of people destined to fill a politically defined identity box. Polygenes do not code for a definite trait; they influence, according to whatever environmental stressors might appear to activate the genetic predisposition. Let us not distort whatever results will come out. We have been expecting linkages for sexual orientation for some time now, but let’s not make a case for biological determinism again. It is not accurate and is misleading.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    I think it’s spiritual. I believe it is part of what some folks call our “soul”. Science will never find it. It comes from God.

    I don’t think your statement is entirely inaccurate. In a round about way SSA does come from God (or whoever created the universe). God created Mother Nature and Mother Nature is responsible for SSA one way or the other.

    The problem with your statement is that it is CURRENTLY untestable. In a thousand years when mankind understands consciousness and the multiverse and string theory, etc. etc. we will be able to test your assumption. In the meantime we don’t understand simple things like why gravity acts across a vacuum. During the 20th century an easily predictable Newtonian Universe gave way to a crazy Quantum Universe. In a few hundred years the Quantum Universe will give way to something even more impossible to understand. Could our reality be a physical representation of a spiritual dimension? Sure. But let’s stick to the simple, testable stuff for now. 8-)

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    What purpose would a bunch of linkages serve then? Vulnerability factors, most likely they would be.

    Bingo. And that’s typically the case for most common things. If something is common, especially in young people it’s almost never genetic. It sounds counter-intuitive but in reality it couldn’t work any other way.

    BTW, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about your gender-bending, mouse research link.

    Cliff Notes: scientists turned off a tiny organ in the nose of mice and their gender development went haywire.

    If mouse gender development depends on smell our gender development might depend on our eyes. A common, early childhood eye infection might damage or alter a few key cells or maybe a gene. The result might be a completely different development arc.

    This would be fairly easy to test. If a virus is playing monkey business with our eyes it runs the risk of causing secondary, unrelated damage. If gay people have more eye problems than straights, that might be significant. Compare eye problems in identical twins where one is straight and the other is gay. Maybe check kids with gender dysphoria for an increased incidence of eye problems.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I think that people of different orientation perceive in the same way (vision problems do not shift sexual interest); emotional valence is what differs. How the same visual stimuli are interpreted emotionally in a completely different way, that is a matter of great debate. There are so many possibilities…

  • Drowssap

    Drowssap

    I think that people of different orientation perceive in the same way (vision problems do not shift sexual interest);

    I don’t mean to imply that vision problems (even blindess) would lead to SSA. I mean that specialized cells in the eye might send signals back to the brain that triggered female gender development in an otherwise male brain. An increased incidence of generic (or specific) vision problems would indicate that something in the eyes has been changed or damaged.

    It would be so easy to test. Check kids with gender dysphoria for an increased incidence of vision problems. Oh how I wish I had a million dollars to fund some research.

  • Drowssap

    Research Link Request

    About 5 years ago a graduate student in the USA (I remember he had an Asian name) conducted an experiment on vision and homosexuality. He constructed a weird light box and he’d have people look into it. The participants would look at fuzzy, white noise pictures and gay and straight men saw different things. I can’t remember what the result was but it was fascinating. I’m looking everywhere and sadly I can’t find it. 8-(

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    How the same visual stimuli are interpreted emotionally in a completely different way, that is a matter of great debate. There are so many possibilities…

    Let me just say that I agree with you. SSA probably has it’s roots in the mind, not necessarily the eyes or other sensory organs. But checking the eyes makes sense and it’s so inexpensive and easy. If I just had a million bucks. 8-)

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    Most people are going to be blown away when they find out that in most cases it’s neither genes, nor socialization nor a combination of the two.

    IT’S THE ENVIRONMENT!!!

    Just so you know – socialization is often considered PART OF the environment :)

    Your environment theory is incredibly problematic due to the fact that homosexuality occurs in so many DIFFERENT TYPES of environments

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    Oh how I wish I had a million dollars to fund some research.

    I think your theories are very interesting and I don’t mean to squash hopes that you might be correct with any of them, but have you ever considered the fact that some very good minds are at work in this area and they very well may have already ruled out some of your ideas? The things that don’t often get discussed in the media regarding this type of research – the things many of us “lay people” don’t see – are those things that the researchers themselves have been able to rule out. I think it would be worth your while to get your questions to some of the people actually doing this type of research instead of struggling with them here (not that you shouldn’t btw – that’s not what I mean). I’d be willing to help you with that – I mean, they are good questions :)

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Drowsap,

    They found that subliminal imagery resulted in attention or repulsion of the eyes (if I recall correctly) and that different orientations responded according to kind.

    http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2006/11/01/69655

  • Michael Bussee

    Dave:asked: “Why do the Biblical writers … conclude that homosexual conduct is contrary to the laws of the universe and the Creator of the universe?”

    Why do you “conclude” that you are absolutely sure what these ancient writers meant? Which Biblical writers are you talking about? Paul? There is legit debate on what Paul is talking about. The old testament writers?

    Are they condemning loving, committed gay relationships — of something else? Do you obey all Old Testament laws or do you pick and choose — which to obey, which to ignore and which to impose on the rest of us? Point is, it’s not as clear as you would like it to be. The Bible may be the infallible word of God, but human beings, who have to figure out what it all means, are not.

    Drowssap: As to my theory that homosexuality is part of our immoratl “soul” — I know it can’t be tested. I admittted that when I gave my opinion. There are many mysteries in the universe that science may never even touch. This may be one of them.

    I don’t think we will ever really “know”, at least not in our life times, what “causes” homosexuality or heterosexuality — even though a lot of people seem very sure they are right. Some arrogantly assert that they do know. They insist that it’s genetic, as though this had been proven. Some make the same mistake with “bad dad”, soy beans, infections and demons,

    For now, we are left with theories, stories and guesses — some that seem to have more “scientific evidence” to support them and some that do not.

  • concerned

    Michael,

    I do believe that it is mostly a matter of what is a life giving force and what is not. If it is life giving for more than one generation then I believe it is of God if it is only life giving in the sense that it makes a person feel good about themselves for this particular moment in time, long enough to escape from the stresses of real life, then I do not believe it is from God.

    If a behavior brings a person into relationship with others in the fullest sense and in love, not lust, then I believe it is holy, if it is in anyway obsessive and controlling then it is a dependency that separates us from God and our fellow human beings. That would be true for both heterosexual and same-sex attracted individuals. Science will never be able to prove or disprove these things and if we think that it will then we have been deceived ourselves. What I have seen so far from science is an attempt to make people of faith look like they do not know what they are talking about and yet, more and more, what is being shown is that it is the science that does not have a clue and that they are only able to see small pieces of the puzzles at a time. They need faith in their science in order to continue to examine this and many other issues and yet they are very quick to condemn people who have faith in something greater than the individual.

  • Drowssap

    Timothy Kincaid

    RIGHT ON TIM! I don’t know why I didn’t save it the first time around. That find is awesome.

    “According to the study results, straight men’s attention was attracted to a space when shown an invisible image of a naked woman and repelled from a nude male image.

    Similarly, straight women were attracted to pictures of naked men, but they did not react strongly one way or the other when presented images of nude women.

    Gay men behaved similarly to straight women, he said. The study showed the responses of gay/bisexual women to be in between those of straight men and straight women.”

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    Just so you know – socialization is often considered PART OF the environment

    You are 100% correct. Environment encompasses socialization, stress levels (good and bad) and everything else we experience in our lives. I don’t usually mention that part, but you are right.

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    I think it would be worth your while to get your questions to some of the people actually doing this type of research instead of struggling with them here

    My hope is that researchers (Throckmorton included) read this blog. So in an indirect way my questions will filter to those people who might find them interesting and would test them someday or at least take them seriously. If my posts suggest to you that I’m a tortured individual you guessed right. 8-)

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    Your environment theory is incredibly problematic due to the fact that homosexuality occurs in so many DIFFERENT TYPES of environments

    I wouldn’t call that incredibly problematic. However I do agree it’s the kind of thing that makes me scratch my head from time to time. Why everywhere and why so common? But then I go back to the data that suggests that SSA is both biological and environmental.

    That’s a head scratcher for sure. I don’t know why it would work this way.

  • Michael Bussee

    Drowssap asked: “Why everywhere and why so common?” I don’t know, but I can give another first-hand observation of the “everywhere” and “common”.

    I used to raise budgies http://images.google.com/images?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADBF_enUS233US237&q=budgies&um=1 . I had about 20 breeding pairs. As I enjoyed watching the aviary several hours each day, I noticed two males — “Sport” and “Scout” — who rejected all females, sat preening and kissing each other on their perch — even trying to mount each other.

    It was obvious that they were very strongly bonded. The supplier told me it “couldn’t happen”. All birds were straight. When “Scout” accidentally escaped, “Sport” grieved for days.

    I also had two females — “Ginger” and “Cinnamon” who formed a simliarl pair-bond. They mated with the same male, then completely rejected him. They chose a nesting box together, laid a dozen eggs and took turn feeding each other and sitting on the eggs until they hatched. They rejected the advances of all other males.

    To be fair, they could have been infected, socialized poorly, sexually abuse by other males — or they may have had over-bearing moms and weak fathers. Or maybe they ate soybeans. I haven’t ruled out demons…

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    Hey, I’ve got a Budgy! We found it outside. It had been flying around our neighborhood and we took it in. It was still in good health so it probably wasn’t out long.

    Ya know a certain amount of bisexuality in animals make sense. This is especially true for animals that are responsible for child rearing. The other thing is that animals in captivity won’t behave the way they would in the wild. So it’s hard to judge what that might mean. In any case there are a virtually infinite combination of genes. How they might combine could easily explain why a few animals might be gay.

    SSA only becomes interesting when it lasts a lifetime, it’s eclusive and it’s common (1% of so). So if 3% of male penguins were gay, that’s pretty darned interesting. If 1 in 1000 is gay, it could be due to anything including plain old genetics.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    Tiny clarification:

    If 1 in 1000 is gay, it could be due to anything including plain old genetics.

    An incidence rate of about 1 in 1000 wouldn’t suggest a gay gene. Discounting the environment it probably indicates a natural phenomenon (still dependent on genes) like the older brother effect. At around the 1 in 10,000 mark a true gay gene(s) might show up.

    /assuming the theory holds up for SSA

  • Michael Bussee

    Drowssap: You said that “Ya know a certain amount of bisexuality in animals make sense,” I agree with you! Humans are animals, no?

    BTW; I don’t think the male budgies were “bi”. I observed them to be strictly homosexual – and the two females mated with the same male — but then rejected any other males. Seems they just wanted the one male as a sperm donor.

    In any event, I think that homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality all “make sense” , even if they are not reproductive. I say this because bonding (not reproduction) seems to be the primary drive in many animals, including us. Bonding and attachment, social ties and good old friendship may be what’s at work in all of us — and it may all turn out to be just different variations on the same “bonding gene” somewhere.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    I do believe that it is mostly a matter of what is a life giving force and what is not. If it is life giving for more than one generation then I believe it is of God if it is only life giving in the sense that it makes a person feel good about themselves for this particular moment in time, long enough to escape from the stresses of real life, then I do not believe it is from God.

    Prostitution, adultery, rape, fornication, orgies = from God

    Post-menopausal, barren = not from God

    If a behavior brings a person into relationship with others in the fullest sense and in love, not lust, then I believe it is holy, if it is in anyway obsessive and controlling then it is a dependency that separates us from God and our fellow human beings. That would be true for both heterosexual and same-sex attracted individuals.

    So a loving same-sex relationship would be “holy” but not from God?

    When it comes to declaring what we each think is of God and what is holy, we are each entitled to our own understanding. But I’m not sure i understand yours.

  • Drowssap

    Michael Bussee

    and it may all turn out to be just different variations on the same “bonding gene” somewhere.

    At this point anything is possible. Right now no evidence is definitive. And although one reason might account for most SSA there will probably be a few others.

  • Michael Bussee

    Drowssap: I am so glad you said “If a behavior brings a person into relationship with others in the fullest sense and in love, not lust, then I believe it is holy.”

    I think so too! But it wasn’t a “behavior” that brought my partner, Gary, and me together. It was our mutual love – physical, emotional and spiritual. The devoted, caring, til-death-do-us-part relationship that I had with Gary, was holy

    This is in stark contrast to what EXODUS’s Andy Comiskey told a radio audience in 1991. He said, “Gays are incapable of real love — it’s just immaturre lust and infatuation”. I thought it was one of the most ignorant and sad things I have ever heard an EXODUS leader say.

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    have you ever considered the fact that some very good minds are at work in this area and they very well may have already ruled out some of your ideas?

    Funding Request:

    $250,000

    Abstract:

    Examine 200 gender dysphoric boys aged 9 – 12 for an increased incidence of eye disorders. General vision will also be compared with non-dysphoric boys.

    Rationale

    Mounting evidence in mouse research shows that damage to sensory organs can alter brain development and lead to Gender Dysphoria. If a pathogen has evolved the specific ability to alter a child’s eyes it should leave secondary damage on occasion. The purpose of this research is to look for evidence of this secondary damage.

    —Result—

    Whoever submits this $ request at a university is playing with fire. It could be a career ender. I’m afraid that this is the reason many good questions aren’t asked in SSA research. The first article I ever read about Throckmorton was one where he was being disinvited from a conference because of his beliefs. The scientific community is in a bad way right now regarding SSA research.

    My guess is that next year we’ll get another study that shows that gay people are more likely to be left handed. We get one almost every single year. GREAT! We believe you, now move on. I think SSA researchers feel boxed in.

  • Evan

    Why do you expect that whatever genetic linkage is to be found will actually be directly involved in sexuality? It’s not absolutely necessary. Genetic linkage only associates a shared allele with a known characteristic common to a group of people. This group may bring together a variety of stories and environments, in which biology could have played varying degrees of influence. Finding some quantitative genes that are associated with attractions to the same gender can neither explain how they work nor why they exist. In my opinion, you cannot explain only one type of attractions, without having had explained the basic system that supports all types of attraction (or the most general ones). This is exactly what is missing in Daryl Bem’s theory: you don’t know what is being tilted one way or another, what is being put to work in one’s nature to produce different outcomes (the only starting differences are placed in a few traits). Without having understood that base, you only get to assess the iceberg by its tip — or tips. Are former “sissies” and “tomboys” the only same-gender attracted people, to any degree? I think not. Maybe most of them eventually got into the whole deal of attractions, identity and behaviour, but not all. But consider what could make casual same-sex behaviour possible in confined environments, like prisons, how is arousal possible in people who are not same-sex attracted but engage in the behaviour. I’m sure researchers have thought all possibilities through and chose to study where those traits are most expressed, since funding may be difficult to attract even so.

    It is possible to speculate on the possible linkages that are eventually going to surface sooner or later, as long as we stay grounded. :)

    Remember the last year Safron et al. study on gay&straight brainscans? One notable difference in brain areas activation was found in the amygdala (the hub of fear). Gay men had a more intense response in the amygdala than straight males did on seeing preferred stimuli, but also a greater response to women (!) compared to straight males’ reaction to non-preferred stimuli (males). It seems that, on average, gay males feel more fear than the other males.

    Evidence begins to amount that gay males are more affected by mood and anxiety disorders than the rest of the male population (the rates are the same in the Netherlands as in other developed countries). Lesions in the amygdala are known to create a variety of emotional problems, from disorders to aggressive behaviour. There already is evidence that a transporter gene for serotonin is linked to differences in amygdala response to frightful faces. However, there are a lot more than one and they work in very complex ways (anxiety is not the product of one gene or environmental factor).

    It cannot be pure coincidence that a deficient gene that was found in fruitflies who engaged in homosexual courtship, in human males is linked with panic and mood disorders (associated with deficient levels of monoamines, neurotransmitters involved in regulating sexual behaviour). Now, the main gene that is responsible for same-sex behaviour in fruitflies does not have a correspondent in mammalians, but nature doesn’t start from scratch. So it is reasonable to expect something similar linked to same-sex behaviour in humans. Which, of course, does not spell “cause”.

  • Drowssap

    Evidence begins to amount that gay males are more affected by mood and anxiety disorders than the rest of the male population (the rates are the same in the Netherlands as in other developed countries).

    Funny you should write that because…

    Gay men have higher prevalence of eating disorders

    “Even gay and bisexual men who participate in gay gyms, where body-focus and community values regarding attractiveness would be heightened, did not have higher rates of eating disorders than those gay and bisexual men who participated in non-gay gyms or who did not participate in a gym at all,” observes Dr. Meyer. “This suggests that factors other than values and norms in the gay community are related to the higher rates of eating disorder among these men.”

    Who else has more eating disorders? (this just came out)

    Narcoleptics

    High prevalence of eating disorders found in Narcolepetics

    “These data make it clear that narcolepsy is not just a sleeping disorder, but a hypothalamic disease with a much broader symptom profile,” said Dr. Fortuyn. “Hypocretin, the neurotransmitter that is lost in narcolepsy, has been implicated in the regulation of feeding through animal studies.”

    As I’ve said 100 times before Narcolepsy is due to the loss of just 1 Neurotransmitter called Orexin (Hypocretin). The damage is almost certainly caused by a virus. I’d post that link but I’m afraid that with 3 links I’ll get tripped up by the spam filter.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    I wasn’t suggesting you actually do research – from what I know of you, I don’t think you’re probably qualified anyway. What I meant was you should ask your questions to people who are actually in the field doing this type of work – and who might be a bit more objective – Warren, while I truly appreciate what he does, is an Evangelical Christian and may not be the most unbiased person in the world regarding this issue – or the most knowledgeable. I was simply willing to help you find the person to whom you could pose your questions and your ideas – someplace that would be helpful.

    I don’t agree that science is in a bad way on this issue – in fact, science is coming up with some excellent ideas regarding SSA and OSA. What we have learned is that ALL complex traits are in some way a combination of nature and nurture – Which is something we keep saying over and over and over again – and something that, in the past, I thought you would agree to. Geneticists are going to be looking at the world a little differently than psychologists – and, vice versa of course.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    Evidence begins to amount that gay males are more affected by mood and anxiety disorders than the rest of the male population (the rates are the same in the Netherlands as in other developed countries).

    When you say things like this, please site your sources. What evidence are you talking about? When was the study done? What was the population size?

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    Gay men have higher prevalence of eating disorders

    That is not what your article said – it said:

    Gay and bisexual men MAY BE at far higher risk for eating disorders than heterosexual men.

    This is far from groundbreaking – 20 years ago I read data that suggested that gay men and women were more prone to eating disorders – I even studied that in college. I’m also not quite sure what the importance of this is.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    A study doesn’t always have to be conducted to rule out an idea ;)

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap,

    Athletes ALSO have much higher rates of eating disorders than your average person:

    Athletes and Eating Disorders

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    I was simply willing to help you find the person to whom you could pose your questions and your ideas – someplace that would be helpful.

    I post to speak my mind, promote little heard of ideas and chat for fun. If you have a way to fire this up to an actual researcher BY ALL MEANS DO IT!!!! However it is my opinion that 99% of the scientific community already knows it’s environmental. They’d rather keep their mouth shut or talk in scientist code than come out of their office and see their Volvo fire bombed. 8-)

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    Athletes ALSO have much higher rates of eating disorders than your average person:

    Not a bad point but in this case it’s probably for different reasons than atheletes. According to the study that connected SSA and eating disorders athletic ability or interests were not a factor. Super fit gay men and couch potatoes all had increased rates of eating disorders.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    It has been my experience that people who don’t want to accept that its much more than environmental (for political, religious or prejudicial reasons) use the scientific-community-is-just-too-PC-excuse FAR too often. Its an easy out – and much easier than admitting that the community doesn’t find enough evidence to proceed in that direction.

    You’re definitely entitled to your opinion Drowssap – but you present a great deal of conjecture and very little facts in this discussion.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    When I read the data twenty years ago on gay men and women being more prone to eating disorders, there was no distinction made between so-called couch potatoes and gym rats. This is nothing new and I still fail to see its importance – especially here.

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    but you present a great deal of conjecture and very little facts in this discussion.

    The reason eating disorders and SSA are specificially interesting is the Hypothalamus. Narcoleptics don’t produce Orexin because of pin point damage to the Hypothalamus and they have more eating disorders. Research also shows that animals with damage to the Hypothalamus have eating disorders. There is some evidence that gay sheep have something wrong with their Hypothalamus and at least some decent speculation that they Hypothalamus in gay men is different than straights. So… an increased incidence of eating disorders in gay men indicates the Hypothalamus might be where the difference between gay and straight sits… maybe

    /I thought I’d bold hypothalamus because I think I used that word more times in that paragraph than anyone in human history.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck:

    When you say things like this, please site your sources. What evidence are you talking about? When was the study done? What was the population size?

    There are many studies, but I don’t have the time to track them all down right now.

    Here are a few examples:

    –Theo G. M. Sandfort, PhD; Ron de Graaf, PhD; Rob V. Bijl, PhD; Paul Schnabel, PhD, ‘Same-Sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders: Findings From the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS)’, Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001;58:85-91.

    It has been suggested that homosexuality is associated with psychiatric morbidity. This study examined differences between heterosexually and homosexually active subjects in 12-month and lifetime prevalence of DSM-III-R mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders in a representative sample of the Dutch population (N = 7076; aged 18-64 years).

    Psychiatric disorders were more prevalent among homosexually active people compared with heterosexually active people. Homosexual men had a higher 12-month prevalence of mood disorders (odds ratio [OR] = 2.93; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.54-5.57) and anxiety disorders (OR = 2.61; 95% CI = 1.44-4.74) than heterosexual men.

    –David M. Fergusson, PhD; L. John Horwood, MSc; Annette L. Beautrais, PhD, ‘Is Sexual Orientation Related to Mental Health Problems and Suicidality in Young People?’, Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56:876-880.

    http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/56/10/876?ijkey=f4f60a806724c006c65a6aec36c32d8d81bb9d25

    Gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people were at increased risks of major depression (odds ratio [OR], 4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-9.3), generalized anxiety disorder (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.2-6.5), conduct disorder (OR, 3.8; 95% CI, 1.7-8.7), nicotine dependence (OR, 5.0; 95% CI, 2.3-10.9), other substance abuse and/or dependence (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 0.9-4.2), multiple disorders (OR, 5.9; 95% CI, 2.4-14.8), suicidal ideation (OR, 5.4; 95% CI, 2.4-12.2), and suicide attempts (OR, 6.2; 95% CI, 2.7-14.3).

    –SE Gilman, SD Cochran, VM Mays, M Hughes, D Ostrow and RC Kessler, ‘Risk of psychiatric disorders among individuals reporting same-sex sexual partners in the National Comorbidity Survey’, American Journal of Public Health, Vol 90, Issue 4 573-578, 2000. http://www.ajph.org/cgi/reprint/91/6/933.pdf?ijkey=ed57f3432054aafa73870267758ebe2604a7c59e

    Homosexual orientation, defined as having same-sex sexual partners, is associated with a general elevation of risk for anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders and for suicidal thoughts and plans.

    There are many papers on the association between homosexuality and mental health problems, I just provided a few papers where mood and anxiety prevalence have been documented.

    The relevance? Brainscans in the Safron et al. study indicated clear differences between gay and straight males in the amygdala activation. There is also another study that shows how one deficiently expressed gene can cause greater anxiety and greater amygdala activation:

    –Ahmad R. Hariri,1 Venkata S. Mattay,1 Alessandro Tessitore,1 Bhaskar Kolachana,1 Francesco Fera,1 David Goldman,2 Michael F. Egan,1 Daniel R. Weinberger1*, ‘Serotonin Transporter Genetic Variation and the Response of the Human Amygdala’, Science 19 July 2002: Vol. 297. no. 5580, pp. 400 – 403, DOI: 10.1126/science.1071829.

    There could appear a similar finding to account for the differences in the amygdala response, but that may not have much to do with causality.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    “…surveyed 516 New York City residents; 126 were straight men and the rest were bisexual men and women. ”

    Number of gay men = zero

    Number of bi men = unstated

    Method type = survey

    Methodology = self-reporting retrospectively

    Population = NYC residents

    Distinction of whether “affiliated with community” = whether goes to “gay-gym”

    Conclusion = This is either the worst performed or the worst reported “study” that I’ve seen in a very long time. Was, perchance, Paul Cameron in charge of the study protocol?

    It seems to be consistent that gay men demonstrate more eating disorders that heterosexual men. But this particular article adds little or nothing to the conversation (in my opinion)

  • Michael Bussee

    We must be very careful when we cite evidence that gays may be “more prone” to this or that — depression, suicide, OCD, pimples, flatulence, eating disorders, etc. It’s interesting, but it doesn’t prove anything.

    Even if there is a correlation, this does not mean that one thing caused the other. Other factors, say social presure, relgious guilt, cumulative grief, familial rejection, etc. may be “causing” the co-existing issues. For example, I imagine slaves had a lot of depression, but it wasn’t caused by being black.

  • Michael Bussee

    More on the “correlation does not equal cause” fallacy from Wikipedia::

    “Correlation does not imply causation” is a phrase used in the sciences and statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not imply that one causes the other.”

    “Its negation, correlation proves causation, is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to have a cause-and-effect relationship. The fallacy is also known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for “with this, therefore because of this”) and false cause.

  • Evan

    Michael,

    I am fully aware of that problem. Actually I have made a case for it. Geneticists may find a linkage between a gene and homosexuality, without actually finding what contributes to creating same-gender attractions. I think it is possible.

    My argument was a very simple one: gays showed greater amygdala response than straights — gays reported more mood and anxiety disorders — there already has been found a gene that causes greater amygdala response — there are many other genes expressed in the amygdala.

    There could be some drawbacks to this argument:

    – structural differences in brain areas are documented to have been created by usage (including the amygdala, in the case of veterans affected by war traumas)

    – different intensity in the amygdala activity could indicate “either dissimilar levels of arousal or dissimilar processing during similar levels of arousal”.

    But the issue is that one gene can hardly explain how same-sex attractions are possible. Any found linkage may point, though, to a few reasons why some men are more vulnerable than others.

  • jayhuck

    Evan et al,

    There is evidence out there that points to higher rates of health problems for many different minorities – hispanics, blacks, gays and lesbians, etc. It is very true to state that being one thing doesn’t necessarily cause the problems. I think its pretty evident, in most cases, that the problems come from outside the minority status :)

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    No one on this thread or who has ever been involved seriously in the discussion as to the causes of sexuality, has ever – in my experience – that one gene is responsible for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality. None of our complex traits are coded for by one single gene. I think that is a well understood concept.

    I appreciated this quote that I pulled from the Comments section of the large mental health disorder study to which you linked :)

    The observed differences may result both from biological and social factors and an interaction between them. Biological and genetic factors in the causes and development of homosexuality46, 47, 48, 49, 50 might also predispose homosexual people to developing psychiatric disorders. This is in line with the higher prevalence of bipolar disorder we found in homosexual men compared with heterosexual men, which is generally considered to be largely congenital.51 The effects of social factors on the mental health status of homosexual men and women have been well documented in studies, which found a relationship between experiences of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination and mental health status.52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61 Furthermore, controlling for psychological predictors of present distress seems to eliminate differences in mental health status between heterosexual and homosexual adolescents.62 The mediating role of relationship status suggests that higher prevalence rates of some disorders in homosexual people compared with heterosexual people could also be caused by loneliness.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Actually, the causal chain might start with genes and end with loneliness and disorders. In other words, genes might code for a temperamental component that leans some towards withdrawal from same-sex peers and activities, creating both apprehension and attractions to them by means of exoticism.

    That temperamental component could make gay people more vulnerable, more avoidant and more impressionable. So you could find in the same category of people more affected by withdrawal and specific disorders, but also individuals who managed to adapt (to targeted environments where they feel accepted or similar). Disorders need more than environmental stressors, they need genes too. So having the genes may make adapted gays have unreportable or subclinical levels of distress, which could be comparable to the levels found in the general population for the same problem.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    There are many MAYBE’s and COULD’s there. I don’t disagree – many minorities have genetic makeups that predispose them to certain disorders – even some non-minorities do when it comes right down to it, but in this particular case, we really don’t know. It wouldn’t surprise me however to find both genetics and the environment at work in some way :)

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    Disorders need more than environmental stressors

    In a sense you are correct – BUT, it could simply be the environment that is causing changes in the genes. It is well understood that this frequently happens with cancer where an environmental “stressor” (of sorts), causes damage to a cell’s DNA

    genes might code for a temperamental component that leans some towards withdrawal from same-sex peers and activities, creating both apprehension and attractions to them by means of exoticism.

    First of all, the EBE (Exotic Becomes Erotic) theory is still problematic – haven’t we already had an extensive conversation on the whole Exotic Becomes Erotic controversy and theory? Here are two critiques of the EBE theory:

    Bem’s EBE Theory Critiqued

    Second, it is plausible that Bem’s theory is onto something, but there is still a LONG way to go before being able to prove your assumption that that is what is going on for SOME gay men and women

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    In other words, genes might code for a temperamental component that leans some towards withdrawal from same-sex peers and activities, creating both apprehension and attractions to them by means of exoticism.

    That’s not a half bad thought and we certainly don’t know what the genes code for.

    However there is already some evidence that at least some of the alleles involved might be immune system genes. If that turns out to be true I don’t think anyone will spin it. I think we’ll hear nothing but silence from the scientific community. Nobody in academia wants that headache.

    It’s In The Blood

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    I think we’ll hear nothing but silence from the scientific community.

    What makes you think you’ll hear nothing but silence from the scientific community? The study you linked to above discusses the possibility that genes that code for blood type might actually be involved.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    I’m curious to know what questions you would want to ask a scientist doing research in this area if you had the opportunity?

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    If scientists determined that blood type correlated with SSA I think the’d announce it. And that’s all they’d do. You wouldn’t hear them explain what it meant because they don’t want the trouble.

    If further research finds a link to blood type or other immune factors I guess this is one social experiment we might get to see in real time. 8-)

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    They DID announce it! But its just one study!

  • jayhuck

    What do you mean they don’t want the trouble – it simply will be added to an already long list of evidence that suggests genes are involved in determining sexual orientation

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    I’m curious to know what questions you would want to ask a scientist doing research in this area if you had the opportunity?

    Hmmm… I’d have to think about that. Rather than ask a question or two I’d really, really, really like to have a conversation. If a researcher in the field would post on this blog and I could chat with him I would be in heaven.

    That dream aside…

    An article was written in OUT magazine about 10 years ago. I’d love to chat with a scientist about it. At the very least how valid is this hypothesis? If it’s not valid, why not?

    Did A Germ Make You Gay?

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    I thought you and Evan might be interested in a Wiki article I hadn’t seen before titled: Pathogenic Hypothesis of Homosexuality. Its interesting and appears to cover several things you guys have discussed recently and in the past:

    Pathogenic Hypothesis

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    What do you mean they don’t want the trouble

    Do a search on gay sheep and Martina Navritalova. Those researchers got into major trouble just for doing general science.

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    Thanks for the link. I know about the Gay Germ Theory. Generally speaking I think that Cochran is on the right track.

    But of course time will tell on that one. They could find a gene tomorrow that will torpedo the whole thing.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    I was talking about this particular instance – the one regarding evidence for genetics being involved in homosexuality via blood type – and besides, I know many scientists who will do research regardless of what others think – and they are usually able to get the money to do it – just read the article on the Pathogenic Hypothesis above.

  • jayhuck

    One quote that I found important for this discussion from the Wiki article on the Pathogenic Hypothesis above, was this:

    Michael Bailey, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, asks, “Suppose we found that a form of genius was also caused by a virus. Would that mean that genius is a disease?” (Crain, 1999)

  • jayhuck

    Um – So Martina Navratilova is saying “Leave gay sheep alone”?????

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    Um – So Martina Navratilova is saying “Leave gay sheep alone”?????

    Naw it was a big thing and I guess there were death threats and everything else. It leaked out (incorrectly) that these scientists were trying to cure homosexuality and it turned into a mushroom cloud.

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    just read the article on the Pathogenic Hypothesis above.

    If researchers are working on the gay germ theory (and the might be) it’s going on in secret.

  • jayhuck

    Um – I’m still trying to figure out why anyone of us should be surprised or how this has directly effected research????

  • Drowssap

    Um – I’m still trying to figure out why anyone of us should be surprised or how this has directly effected research????

    Hey ya don’t have to give me 2 death threats to get me to stop. 1 is enough for most people, myself included. 8-)

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    I think I know my question.

    What (if anything) is theoretically wrong with the concept of the gay germ theory? Is there some obvious reason that it couldn’t be true?

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    That article above lists at least 4 scientists that have at least provided support for the Gay Germ theory – two which offered up a study that lent support to it – It hardly seems that this is being done in secret, or that it is brand new – but as for actual studies, you are right – the article itself says that as of 2006 no direct studies of this have actually been done. However, there are good criticisms of this theory as well. Without better evidence to support a study, one may or may not be done.

    I’m not willing to go so far as to say that politics aren’t involved at all in determining what studies get done and what don’t – I’m not that naive :) However, it seems at times that you try to spin support for your own ideas by making huge negative generalizations about the scientific community that is doing studies to support other VALID theories of causation – and that is wrong.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    That’s actually a very good question. :) Personally, I don’t know if the Gay Germ theory has more support to it than other theories, but it does sound like it has some.

    It might be help in moving future studies in this area forward by publicly discussing how this theory ISN’T attempting to Pathologize homosexuality. If one really cares about this research, then it might behoove its supporters NOT to be combative or defensive – as I have seen some already be in that above article. Germs may actually cause many evolutionary advantages – and the quote I placed above I’ll reprint here:

    “Michael Bailey, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, asks, “Suppose we found that a form of genius was also caused by a virus. Would that mean that genius is a disease?” (Crain, 1999)”

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    I did not support any pathogenic hypothesis as yet. You can count me out on that. My conjecture rests on already published research; I have provided some references to support this idea, which did not say anything about causation, only about what genetic linkage may be found. I have argued that it is possible to find a correlate associated with homosexuality without actually finding a factor that contributes to creating same-sex attractions.

    Saying that homosexuality may be linked with some specific disorders certainly does not say that homosexuality is caused by disorders or that it is a disorder. It may show why homosexual men are more vulnerable than straight men. Mental health studies have indicated that, brainscans showed some interesting patterns that could point to genetic differences, we expect to see some linkages on the table in the following years. That’s all.

    Bailey’s quote has a big wink in it. Genius brings about progress in many areas, but no one has proved beyond doubt that homosexuality has some evolutionary advantage. Bailey may have echoed something that Nietzsche wrote in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” (75, Science):

    For fear- that is man’s original and fundamental feeling; through

    fear everything is explained, original sin and original virtue.

    Through fear there grew also my virtue, that is to say: Science.

    Could geniality be genetic? ;)

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    Evan

    Gay Germ Theory bunk? (more even than Jay)

    What’s it going to take to turn you guys around? 8-)

    Actually, I guess we’re all waiting for scientific evidence to become definitive for any of the theories.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    One of the reasons my mind is still open (besides the fact that we just don’t know) is because the “critical development period” theory of SSA isn’t completely crazy. Language works like that, a lot of things probably do. Perhaps, in some strange way that we can’t currently detect the brain passes through a critical development phase and it “flashes” an orientation straight or gay that tends to stick for a lifetime.

    However I gotta say this. I already knew that in humans Narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease, but the day I learned that germ exposures could switch people from right to left handed I was hooked on The Gay Germ Theory.

  • concerned

    Drowssap,

    The issue that I see as problematic is the idea that what we leave adolescence with is what we are stuck with for the rest of our life. I accept that there are periods of development for many character traits. The idea that there are windows of opportunity as we grow and develop is nothing new in the education field. There is a window for language, a window for learning math skills, etc. If these skills are not learned during the development stage the individual has difficulty with them throughout their life. This does not, however, imply that they cannot learn in these areas, it just takes a bit more work.

    There is much evidence coming out these days suggesting that the brain is more flexible and fluid than was once thought. I believe that the reason we became stuck in the old way of thinking about ourselves was because there were so many in science trying to suggest that all that we are can be explained by our genetics. It is very reassuring to see that even genetics has moved beyond this. It is too bad that some on this site cannot. The choices we make do influence the options we will have in the future and they also influence how we see the world around us. Some of these things may not be changeable, while others are, but it is not always that clear to know which is which.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    Causation is one thing and function quite another. Sure, anything could cause some physical changes, even a virus, but that does not explain per se what exactly it changes and how the affected organism will work under the influence or after it has been modified. It may not even be very interesting what is the cause in such a case, if you don’t find out how it works with one’s system. Of course, cause and function are linked and sometimes finding something about one can reveal more about the other. But the problem is, people are not really divided in tightly closed categories of sexuality (like 60% of all people are completely unable to see a same-sex person as attractive). Each human brain probably has a potential for both types of attractions and behaviour, otherwise there would be clear frontiers between orientations, like the ones created by qualitative genes (some have blue eyes, other definitely don’t). To what degree — that’s an issue that goes through many biological, environmental, social and cognitive variables. Historical context plays a great part too — it’s the power of the setting. So you can have a person who has a certain other-sex sexual potential and a complementary same-sex sexual potential. They may choose to identify with only one or with both, according to the varying influence of the forementioned factors. Some may identify with the weakest sexual potential and rely more on their values and cognitions, others may identify with the strongest sexual potential and rearrange their values and cognitions accordingly. Still others may choose to identify with only one sexual potential but use both, etc. The complex interplay of these factors that influence how attractions are experienced and expressed makes a pathogenic hypothesis highly unlikely. In that case you would have to have infected people, carriers and non-infected people. What would bisexuals be, then? Heh? :)

  • Mary

    Some people have a variation of hazel eyes from lighter to darker. The point being that the interpretation is very ambiguous across the board. There does not seem to be a clear dividing line on sexuality or eye color. I have met very few people who were exclusively (never ever having had a thought of same sex or oppisite sex) one side or the other.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Do a search on gay sheep and Martina Navritalova. Those researchers got into major trouble just for doing general science.

    They didn’t get in “major trouble”.

    As far as I can tell their research is continuing just fine and Navratilova was laughed out of the picture. She clearly misunderstood the studies and the only reason her objections were news was because she’s famous for tennis.

    So, yeah, if researches are too fearful of criticism from tennis players, then I suppose it might impact their research projects.

    But I’ve never been a big fan of the notion that research isn’t performed out of fear or social pressure. It just doesn’t hold up to a closer look.

  • Evan

    Mary,

    My mistake! Eye colour is not a qualitative trait, blood type and some diseases are. But the argument still holds. Sexuality is not divided into clear-cut categories, identities are.

  • Drowssap

    Timothy Kincaid

    I’ve never been a big fan of the notion that research isn’t performed out of fear or social pressure.

    I have to categorically disagree with you on that one. There is evidence all over the place. Even Throckmorton was disinvited from a conference because of his views. Without googling for 1000 examples of identity groups stifling research here is an easy one.

    Exhibit A)

    The Gay Germ Theory is roughly 20 years old. Many scientists believe in it’s merits including Michael Bailey & Paul Ewald. Total all-time public research dollars allocated to it… $0.

    So over a twenty year period not one scientist wanted to do basic research on a sensible theory that many heavy hitters believe? That’s statistically impossible.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    This does not, however, imply that they cannot learn in these areas, it just takes a bit more work. There is much evidence coming out these days suggesting that the brain is more flexible and fluid than was once thought.

    That is definitely true.

    But let’s say for instance that sexual orientation is created by a specialized neurotransmitter. If gay men don’t produce this chemical those that want change may need to have a looooooong view of things. Therapy might give gay men skills and tricks to help them work around their feelings. Years of experience might also help slowly mold the brain. But that’s different than sudden, complete and total change which I see mentioned sometimes.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    The complex interplay of these factors that influence how attractions are experienced and expressed makes a pathogenic hypothesis highly unlikely.

    For sure it is UBER-complicated. We don’t even know what makes people straight, let alone gay. But what if it’s as simple as one neurotransmitter? Fruit fly’s changed from bi to straight after exposure to 1 common chemical. Why couldn’t it be that simple for humans?

  • concerned

    Drowssap,

    You are right and my own experience is that there is not a sudden complete change, but to say there is no change is also a misconception. To me we live in a culture that is so often looking for things that are quick and easy and when this does not happen then we are quick to judge that they were not meant to be. This is such a destructive way of looking at live. Nothing worthwhile ever comes quick and easy, not even lottery winnings.

    I agree that if an organization gives this impression they may be misleading the exact people they are trying to help. I believe that the entire process is part of a life long journey and that over time we all come to accept a certain identity of ourselves. If this journey is carried out in love and patience I believe it is very rewarding. If it is done through coersion and ridicule and is imposed upon us for political reasons I believe it is destructive.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    If this journey is carried out in love and patience I believe it is very rewarding. If it is done through coersion and ridicule and is imposed upon us for political reasons I believe it is destructive.

    Yep. If you’re going to be succesful at anything in life you’ve gotta follow your own heart and have your own goals.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Drowssap

    So over a twenty year period not one scientist wanted to do basic research on a sensible theory that many heavy hitters believe? That’s statistically impossible.

    I’m not such a fool as to debate you on your pet theory :)

    We’ll just have to disagree about the extent to which fear and social pressure impede research.

  • Drowssap

    Timothy Kincaid

    I’m not such a fool as to debate you on your pet theory

    Fair enough, we’ll agree to disagree. 8-)

    One semi-interesting side fact on The Gay Germ Theory. Greg Cochran is the guy who came up with the original hypothesis. However a different researcher named Alan Grafen came to the same conclusion independently of Cochran. According to Cochran, Grafen told him that, “if proven it should perhaps be kept secret forever.” Cochran (being a hothead) called him a dirty word that rhymes with Hickenfit. I’m not sure if that part was to his face. 8-)

    /found it online

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I’ve been thinking about what you said and what about this…

    Humans evolved to sleep at night and be awake during the day.

    Exceptions

    Personal circumstances and choices might result in different sleep patterns. People might got to a party all night and sleep the next day. In addition cultural considerations alter sleep patterns. Some Mexicans take a siesta in the afternoon.

    Other Factors

    Illness can alter sleep patterns, namely (you guessed it) Narcolepsy.

    So how is Narcolepsy different than SSA?

    Men and women evolved to have sex with each other and most of the time they do. But personal choices might have an effect, and culture could have an effect. But that’s different than people who are EXCLUSIVELY attracted to members of the same sex for a lifetime. In that specific case a different biology could be in play.

  • Drowssap

    Addendum to last post

    I’m not saying it HAS to work like my last post. I’m just saying why not? Is there some obvious reason that a tiny, childhood infection couldn’t for some crazy reason alter the way the brain develops?

    Left handedness can be the result of a childhood infection, why not SSA?

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    Are you still out there in this thread? If you know a scientist who works in the field of sex research is there any chance he could come on here and chat? It would be like Christmas to me. Maybe he could shed some light for everyone.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    Possibly no single answer could explain all cases. From all the stories I have read and the questions I have asked some friends who struggle with their attractions, the greatest majority of them started feeling attracted to the same gender either before puberty or sometimes during puberty. Most of them reported early feelings of gender difference. However, I have also come across some cases of people who were exclusively attracted to the opposite sex until the end of puberty, then went through a period of isolation from their gender peers, started to feel disconnected from them and later attracted. I have met with one case of a man who spent his early and later life living almost exclusively in male environments (schools, dorms, jobs), so none of the social experiences reported by most other people applied to him. You would expect that the most touted predictor of same-sex attractions, childhood sex atypicality, would apply to most people, but it does not explain whatever degree is present in the rest of the people. It’s a puzzle of similarities and dissimilarities that makes thinking about causes rather tricky.

    What research is done is shaped by some expectations (most of them commercial). Today they announced some findings on smokers’ genes. How did people cope with nicotine craving before America was discovered and tobacco was spread to Europe if they had genes for future addictions? How did they cope with the effects these genes produced on their stress resistence? It’s the same with the quest for sexual orientation genes. What we are looking for is very much shaped by expectations specific to this particular historical age in terms shaped by the same period. Sexuality did not play such a central role before the modern age, so the pressure came from different dimensions of people’s lives. They did not need to classify their sexuality, nor look for causes, much less identify in a specific way. Now people think that reality is truly made up of individuals who are either one thing or another, in sexual terms. More than two thousand years ago there were philosophers who believed that there were truly concrete individuals who were slaves by their nature. If they knew genetics they most probably looked for genetic linkage for innate slavery.

    Now germs come in style. What can I say? I am more interested in brain research right now. :)

    Actually it’s disappointing that biology and genetics have become so influential that they are taken to be the ultimate perspective, the one that settles truth in controversial matters. We will end up looking at people like a bunch of proteins, if we really believe in science. Dean Hamer, the gay geneticist, wrote that there is a gene for religious belief, but religious people could still claim that it was inserted in the genome by their god so that they could be able to believe. How about that? :)

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Interesting perspective.

    However, I have also come across some cases of people who were exclusively attracted to the opposite sex until the end of puberty, then went through a period of isolation from their gender peers, started to feel disconnected from them and later attracted.

    Wow! I’ve never heard of that. When attraction shifts that’s worth looking into. I’m curious, was this guy otherwise physically and mentally healthy? If so, I’ve got nuthin’. I’m not sure what would shift that.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I’m not a mental health professional to be able to answer that, but they seemed ok, at least none of them reported related health problems (I did not ask for stuff like teeth problems…). Some of the people who experienced earlier same-gender attractions reported depression, anxiety and some forms of social phobias, but many others had otherwise normal lives. Strangely enough, most of them said they had distant, absent or hostile fathers (I don’t know if they learned to perceive that retrospectively or if it was really how they experienced it), though certainly not all. They also said they felt inferior in masculine qualities and that they felt immature, childlike. Etc.

    I think that the few people who shifted attractions later in life went through a period of peer isolation before that. It is possible that the so-called activation effects, when hormones change the function of previously organized neuronal systems, could have played some part. Or maybe some genetic problems were activated given the dramatic change in socialisation patterns. But clearly, in their case the sex atypical story was not an issue.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Since we are talking about Dysphoria you might find this interesting…

    Schizophrenic Brains Show Sex Pattern Reversal, Compared With General Population

    I’m not an expert on Schiz or Dysphoria but I’ve never heard that the two were significantly connected in any way. Who knows, maybe they are.

    Side Note

    Autism, like Schizophrenia can be pretty severe brain damage. I’ve read anecdotally that kids with Autism have way more dysphoria than regular kids. On at least one site I found gender dysphoria listed as an Autism Spectrum disorder. I was reading through an Autism chat and one mom said that her 7 or 8 year old son (out of the blue) came in and told her he was girl. No matter what they did he insisted that he was a girl. I wish there was an official research paper that connected GD and Autism but I haven’t seen one. Maybe there isn’t a connection but people in the Autism community seem to think there is one.

    My only run in with Dysphoria

    I was in line at a Subway and the boy in front of me had MASSIVE Dysphoria. If you see a severe case there is no mistaking it. He wasn’t just more feminine, it was 100x more than that. The sandwich maker called the boy a girl, and the mom corrected him. The worker froze in terror and then they both apologized to each other. The mom said he always dressed like a girl so it was ok.

  • jayhuck

    So much speculation – so little time :)

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    I don’t know of any person who does research specifically in this area – The people I do know who do similar research would not have time to come on here and discuss this issue. I will say that when I’ve had questions, especially ones that are as in-depth as yours, I’ve never had a problem getting ahold of the people that can answer my questions – or with whom I could chat about an issue. I’d still be willing to help you out with that if you like.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    Fruit fly’s changed from bi to straight after exposure to 1 common chemical. Why couldn’t it be that simple for humans?

    For someone who purports to be interested in science, you don’t seem to have the basics down. Humans are much more complex creatures.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I think gender dysphoria is a bit more extreme occurence than same-gender attractions. It’s not just about sexual orientation, it’s about gender identity too. But the association with other disorders is worth considering. On the subject of genetics, I remember that 47:XYY males, also called supermales, have a higher rate of learning disabilities, aggressiveness, acne, are taller and thinner compared to their siblings. But I have also read about XYY karyotypes with gender identity problems (ie, male-to-female), although one would have expected that such occurence would be less likely in genetically supermasculinised individuals.

    Possible explanations? A. Whatever it is that creates gender problems in males is not related to the male sex chromosome. B. It’s not genetic.

    But considering the fact that gender identity problems are more commonly found in males than in females (male-to-female to female-to-male rate is 4:1) and so is homosexual behaviour (also primary same-sex attractions have been reported to be more common to men than women, as opposed to potential for same-sex response which is more common to women), some factors or dimensions typical of male sexuality must contribute to that.

    Jayhuck:

    So much speculation – so little time

    QFT!

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    Humans are much more complex creatures [than fruitflies].

    You would be right, but then why study so hard this little creature? It’s because nature doesn’t start from scratch, even when it leaves some biological vehicles behind, there still is plenty of room for homology. That can give some ideas about what to look for in other model animals or in humans.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    That link is really interesting. I wonder if schizophrenics have gender problems or go through distressful experiences with their attractions (I think Freud used to think so). Atypical brain activation has been reported in gays compared to straights, but no one knows if it’s related to sexually dymorphic areas or to different intensity in response. It could be the result of experiences, or it could also involve some genetic switches.

  • jayhuck

    Evan,

    You would be right, but then why study so hard this little creature?

    Because, as you said, it can give us some IDEAS, but the answers will never be “as simple” as Drowssap suggested.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I found this online at this site. I’m not sure how accurate the info is but it’s interesting anyway.

    “In Schizophrenia, there may rarely be delusions of belonging to the other sex. Insistence by a person with Gender Identity Disorder that he or she is of the other sex is not considered a delusion, because what is invariably meant is that the person feels like a member of the other sex rather than truly believes that he or she is a member of the other sex. In very rare cases, however, Schizophrenia and severe Gender Identity Disorder may coexist. “

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    It isn’t that SSA has to be simple. It’s that it MIGHT be simple. Have you ever solved a really complicated problem and when you’re done you said to yourself, “hey, that’s actually easy now that I understand it”…?

    SSA might be like that…. it might not be. We don’t know what makes OSA or SSA so it’s all up in the air.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    I agree its up in the air and that we don’t know – but we do have clues, and I think today’s researchers are trying to see where some of those clues lead.

    The answer might be right in front of our noses, but I doubt it. And I have some issues using the words simple and easy interchangeably – but I tend to think that the answer to complex traits in humans, such as sexuality, will itself be complex.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Ok, this is pretty good but probably above my head.

    Comorbidity of Gender Dysphoria and other mental health problems

    For what it’s worth

    “individuals presenting with gender dysphoria often do not have problems indicative of a coexisting psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia or major depression. Instead, these finding suggest that gender dysphoria is usually an isolated diagnosis.”

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    but we do have clues

    Clue #1 Repeated findings of weak but still present identical twin concordence.

    Clue #2 About a zillion studies that show that gay people are more likely to be left handed.

    Clue #3 Increased incidence of gender a-typical behavior among boys who grow up to be gay.

    There is a lot of other stuff but I’m not sure if any other findings have been studied as thorougly as these three. We can pretty much count on these to hold up.

  • Evan
  • Drowssap

    Evan

    More to the point, the variant’s influence on obesity appears to be strongest during childhood and diminishes after age 45.

    Yep, that’s the way a lot of things work. I guess I never really thought that scientists weren’t taking that into account. OOPS! 8-)

    The other day I read about a gene that correlated with a common type of macular degeneration. The disorder didn’t usually happen but when it did it hit older people. People who didn’t have the gene (which was super common) rarely had macular degeneration. I think like a quarter of the population had this gene or thereabouts.

    Side Note:

    Most people don’t have genetically triggered health problems until the age of 60 +/-. It isn’t that genes don’t play a role, but before that age most common disorders require environmental input. Rare disorders (1 in 10,000), and on occasion geographically specific disorders are a different story. All bets are off for those.

  • Drowssap

    Whoops… addendum to last post.

    People of ANY age can have genetic disorders when the disorder is due to genetic damage. I meant healthy genes that pass from generation to generation.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Drowssap,

    I believe that fraternal birth order can be added to your list. The findings seem consistent.

  • Drowssap

    Timothy Kincaid

    Ya know, I thought about the Fraternal Birth Order Effect but didn’t include it only because sometimes it doesn’t show up. But you are right. I can see why it could be considered a good clue. Researchers find it often enough that if I had to flip a coin I’d guess there is something to it.

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    I never suggested that we didn’t have clues – I believe if you re-read my post you will see that I said that scientists are currently following many of those clues that point to a genetic component for homosexuality :)

  • jayhuck

    Drowssap -

    Ya know, I thought about the Fraternal Birth Order Effect but didn’t include it only because sometimes it doesn’t show up.

    But the other items in your list don’t always show up as well. I just thought that was worth pointing out – its a good list though :) It might also be worthwhile to mention that your list only shows us what we currently know – or think we know :)

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    But the other items in your list don’t always show up as well.

    To be honest I’m not sure if that is accurate. I think those show up every time in any sort of broad sample.

    In ten years if we’re still posting on this board that list is going to be much bigger. Heck, the whole thing could be figured out by then. Somebody is bound to inject gay sheep with the juice that turned bi fruit fly’s straight. If it works in sheep the whole mystery is over.

  • Drowssap

    jayhuck

    Maybe I’m a little slow. Are you saying that you know a researcher that I can fire a question to in e-mail?


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