A conservative defense of sex research

During the Saddleback Civil Forum, if Rick Warren had asked the candidates about funding sex research, it might have gone like this.

Warren: What is your position on researching sex?

McCain: (with resolve and without hesitation) – Missionary!

Obama – Uh, well, it depends on how you define “sex” and “research.” Scientifically and politically, it is above my pay grade to determine what my position is in that arena.

Pure fiction, of course. I doubt sex research will come up in this year’s election. However, the topic has become a concern to some politicians. According to an ABC News report, “Sex, massages and taxpayer dollars,” some legislators are bothered by some NIH grants to universities to study sexuality. Some of Michael Bailey’s work aroused more than curiosity. To wit:

A few years ago, NIH gave a $147,000 grant to a Northwestern University psychology professor who was paying women to view pornography while a device measured their sexual responses.

That study didn’t go over too well in the halls of Congress.

Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake was among 20 Republicans to sign a letter to NIH’s director asking for an explanation for why taxpayer money was going for such a study. They called it “a bizarre spending decision.”

Today, Flake believes Congress has failed to properly oversee NIH and its spending.

“It’s Congress’ job to set guidelines for how NIH and other agencies spend taxpayer money and then exercise oversight to ensure that those guidelines are being followed. “However, over the last several years, Congress has neglected its oversight function,” Flake’s office told ABC News. “It’s difficult for Congress to criticize NIH for wasteful grants when Congress itself is earmarking billions of dollars every year on similarly wasteful pet projects.”

I have to disagree with Rep. Flake and his colleagues. As a social conservative, I am very interested in research which helps us better understand how sexuality works. Regarding sex research, I think Guggenheim Fellow Alice Dreger raises a valuable point when she argues:

What about the studies that look into things like which kind of pornography stimulates women versus men? Useless and prurient? I don’t think so. I know this sort of research horrifies conservatives, but they should really wake up to the fact that research into sexual stimulation can actually help promote family life by helping married couples understand how to have satisfying sex lives within the context of monogamy. (Is it better that a guy cheat on his wife with a prostitute, or better that he learn a vibrator and some massage might make his wife a lot more receptive? I vote for the latter.)

Of course, an unexciting sex life does not force anyone into seeking prostitutes, but I think Dr. Dreger’s argument should be taken seriously. Counselors know that otherwise solid couples, yes even very religious couples, are not exempt from sexual questions and concerns. Better that counselors are armed with good science on sexuality than the latest issue of Cosmo. Reading the Song of Solomon, while quite, uh, interesting, might not be enough to help overcome issues which would benefit from basic information. Lay people might be surprised that research is needed to better understand sex and attraction, but such science is important for reasons that might not seem apparent.

In my work, I have found the research coming out of the Bailey lab to be very helpful. His research informs my work with people on a regular basis. I often consult with heterosexually married, same-sex attracted men who wish to maintain their marriage. Bailey’s (and other researchers’) brain research, for instance, provides significant insight into how the brain responds to sexual cues. This is valuable information for those who seek insight into why they respond as they do. And many of them use this information to pursue their values and beliefs to avoid sex with men and enhance their marital adjustment with their wives.

I guess the bottom line for me is that funding sex research doesn’t mean advocating an anything-goes stance toward sex. Studies done solely for prurient interests should be questioned, but basic science of sexual attraction and arousal can have positive, and even conservative, applications.

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  • Evan

    Most people who got into this field of research probably have personalities imbued with a stronger sexual appetence than the average. I’d say, it is the prurient aspect of their personalities that arouse their curiosity. There is a trade-off between knowledge and sexual interest. The advantgeous part is that science benefits from this thirst for knowledge. Many virtues arise from vice-proneness.

    Coming closer to the subject, studying the bases of sexual arousal and attractions can have enormous benefits for sexual health and reproduction, beside the ones that support people to align their sexual lives with their values. Probably most sexual dysfunctionalities have their origins in the brain, so finding how attractions and arousal work has the potential to one day provide medical care to sexually dysfunctional people or couples.

    This is also basic research that helps to understand humans’ most basic animal dimensions that influence and pervade a great deal of their behaviours and choices.

    The way politicians reacted to sex research projects is a good measure of ignorance, in my opinion, but also of failure on the part of researchers to defend them. Most psychological problems and psychiatric disorders stem from the same part of the brain that participates in sexuality. Finding how sexuality works can shed light on how mental health problems intersect with sexual functioning.

    Like any other scientific discoveries, though, the commercial potential will not escape investors’ attention so I expect in the future we will see more and more enhancement products based on this type of research.

    PS. I have one question on this post. Could you briefly mention what findings produced by Michael Bailey’s research helped and oriented your practice?

  • Drowssap

    I pray every day that Conservative Christians will come to realize that homosexuality is biological in origin. They’ve got the money and motivation to fund the research that would figure out OSA/SSA.

    If they really want to offer interested gay men a choice they need to learn the biological mechanics behind sexuality.

    A few years ago, NIH gave a $147,000 grant to a Northwestern University psychology professor who was paying women to view pornography while a device measured their sexual responses.

    Only $147,000???? The sad truth is that if Dobson, Narth and fellow travelers got on board the biological/environmental side they could raise that much research money every day.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Evan – More on your Qs in a bit.

    Drowssap – It is ironic that the NARTH conference is titled Sound Scientific Research but when one looks at the program, there is no research. None of the programs appear to present any original empirical research.

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

    Evan,

    You do know that -in a round about way – you said that Warren is a horny goat turned on by homosexuality, don’t you?

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

    I think that many conservatives, Christians especially, are embarassed by sex. Further, many have been taught that even thinking about sex is sinful. And there are strong subcultural rules that must be followed.

    For example, when I was in grade school one point of dogma preached from the pulpit was that sex education in school was an attack on the family and the church. Sex should not be discussed in school it should be discussed in the family where values could be set and faith protected.

    So my parents signed the form to pull me out of sex education.

    When my Dad finally got around to tentatively broaching the very outskirts of the subject I was in my 20′s and he was vastly relieved when I told him that we needn’t have the talk.

  • Drowssap

    Warren

    It is ironic that the NARTH conference is titled Sound Scientific Research but when one looks at the program, there is no research. None of the programs appear to present any original empirical research.

    EEEEEEEeeeeeeeee. (cringe face)

    Nicolosi’s corner office not withstanding one fact is a dead giveaway that they can’t turn SSA into OSA.

    If Narth really knew how to turn gay men into straight men they couldn’t count the money fast enough. If just 10% of the gay men in the world bought their product they’d be trillionaires. Instead they are no wealthier than any other group of people. They got nuthin’.

  • Drowssap

    Timothy Kincaid

    When my Dad finally got around to tentatively broaching the very outskirts of the subject I was in my 20’s and he was vastly relieved when I told him that we needn’t have the talk.

    I think it’s easier because I’m a boring, straight guy but even with that my parents never had ONE serious talk with me about sex during my entire life.

    And for that I am eternally grateful. 8-)

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I pray every day that Conservative Christians will come to realize that homosexuality is biological in origin.

    You know, there are effects of genetic predispositions in behaviour that can become biologically fixed due to some physical experiences. I forgot how researchers call this, I read it in one paper a long time ago. These effects become entrenched, “biological”, after someone does one thing instead of another. It could be something similar in this case and it could happen in early or later age.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    These effects become entrenched, “biological”, after someone does one thing instead of another. It could be something similar in this case and it could happen in early or later age.

    I’ve thought about that a lot and in fact it was something I used to believe was true or at least partly true. But I lost faith in that.

    If 1 in 1000 men was preferentially gay that might make some sense. Rare personality traits that might reduce fertility could be caused by virtually anything. But why would the human mind commonly default to a personality trait (like 3% of the time) that from an individual, evolutionary standpoint never came in handy in any setting… ever?

    People who are more or less agressive, impulsive, giving etc. etc. all have an environment where they come out on top. In men SSA never edges out OSA for making babies and as far as genes are concerned nothing is more important than fertility.

  • Evan

    Timothy Kincaid,

    You do know that -in a round about way – you said that Warren is a horny goat turned on by homosexuality, don’t you?

    Actually I was thinking about the Greek philosopher Socrates when I wrote that. Someone visiting Athens saw his face and said that his ugliness betrays his worst vices and appetites, to which Socrates replied, ‘You know me, but I mastered them all.’

    Socrates did not study sex much, but he lived a life that was so powerful in its example that it influenced many great people, even if he never wrote anything.

    I think it takes a natural interest in something to write or think about something and sex is such a basic animal dimension that probably explains, for instance why men and women are, on average, equally smart, but there are more dumb and bright men than women taken separately. This has something to do with the fact that men are more interested in sex, in general, but being conditioned by women’s decisions that gets into knowledge for some. Just the same, a sex researcher who is not very interested in sex probably doesn’t understand much about it because he lacks the drive.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    What you wrote applies if having the genetic underpinnings will necessarily result in homosexuality. It probably doesn’t all the time, unless some early experiences trigger them.

  • Evan

    Timothy Kincaid,

    I think that many conservatives, Christians especially, are embarassed by sex. Further, many have been taught that even thinking about sex is sinful. And there are strong subcultural rules that must be followed.

    You might be right about that, but on the flipside too much exposure to sex will desensitise many and they will need greater thrills to make up for that. It already happens, that’s why there are so many books and magazines on trying this or that, “opening your mind” to this or that. It actually closes the sexual mind in time.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    What you wrote applies if having the genetic underpinnings will necessarily result in homosexuality. It probably doesn’t all the time, unless some early experiences trigger them.

    No gene or genes could survive if they produced a common personality trait that often times turned into exclusive SSA. At 3% +/- male homosexuality is way too common to be the tail end of another trait. That’s a lot of men with absolutely no interest in women.

    Gay male sheep are even more common, at least in captivity. Once scientists figure that out I think humans aren’t too far off.

  • Evan

    Timothy Kincaid,

    Not only sex was and still is a sensitive subject in the Western culture, but death is too. This is where modernity began and stress took over many people’s lives.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    Some people will be gay without having genes for that. We’ll see if there really are genes powerful enough to bend someone’s sexual interest towards same-sex individuals. Their influence seems to be secondary.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I read something like this once and it stuck with me.

    Eating food keeps us alive so we can live and spread our DNA. Eating cement does not. Would we expect to find a bell curve where some men eat food, others eat cement and a large number fall somewhere in the middle? Eating cement never works, so we don’t commonly do it. No biological mechanism could ever evolve to cause us to do so.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    If men are cement and women are food, then I agree with you. 8)

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    Lets say that 100% of all men posess a specific gene that creates the potential for sex attraction. Due to common, mundane, early life experiences a significant portion of men become gay.

    Isn’t that still the gay gene theory more or less?

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    I don’t know, man, genetics are really complex. You know that many knowledgeable people in this field say that gender identity and sexual identity are separate things. This is how it looks like right now. But what if they overlap somehow and genes which participate in gender determination can produce some queer results? I’m thinking about what Eric Vilain, the guy who studies genetic gender determination at the UCLA, said that there are pro-male, anti-male, pro-female and anti-female genes. Add some hormones to that. Can you imagine the possibilities? :)

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    I’m thinking about what Eric Vilain, the guy who studies genetic gender determination at the UCLA, said that there are pro-male, anti-male, pro-female and anti-female genes. Add some hormones to that. Can you imagine the possibilities?

    You are right, it is mind boggling. 8-)

    There must be thousands of genetic, hormonal and social factors that relate to gender and sex orientation development.

    But if you don’t count ideas like gender antagonism (still unproven in humans) and general concepts like the gay uncle theory nature should be able to stir up that entire plate of spaghetti and still end up with more than 99% of men as generic, boring straight.

    Just 10 or 15 years ago the Schizophrenic and Autistic gene theories were flying down the highway making amazing discoveries each week. Today these billion dollar concepts lie by the side of the road smouldering in a shallow ditch. The survivors are barely able to crawl from the burning wreckages of both. 8-)

    When something is common it always comes back to environment.

  • Boo

    Warren,

    I agree with you in principle, but I just have to ask:

    It was demonstrated on this very blog that Bailey is a liar. Does this bother you in any way?

  • http://www.byron-harvey.com Byron

    Of course, Warren, you miss the main reason why at least some conservatives would agree with Jeff Flake (myself included): it isn’t the subject matter, necessarily (except to use as an admittedly titillating illustration) that is a problem, but rather a question of the proper role of government, and the proper use of taxpayer’s money. “Congress itself is earmarking billions of dollars every year on similarly wasteful pet projects”; that’s the point. The true conservative position would object to using taxpayer dollars for research projects of any kind, arguing that those things properly belong in the private sector.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Byron – I am opposed to pork but I do not see research on health, including mental health, in principle as pork.

    Is there any research you would favor the govt funding?

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Boo – I do not stipulate that Bailey lied and I won’t let this post turn into a repeat of that thread.

  • http://www.byron-harvey.com Byron

    No probably not. It’s a question of the proper, constitutional role of the federal government, and I don’t think that’s in there. Beyond constitutional issues, the question becomes one of everyone thinking that their particular project deserves government funding. Sure, you see value in sex research funding, and somebody else makes the argument for their project, and where does it end? Answer? The morass of bloated-beyond-recognition federal spending we have today.

  • ken

    Byron asked in post 122718 :

    ure, you see value in sex research funding, and somebody else makes the argument for their project, and where does it end?

    It ends when the funding congress allocated runs out. Despite what you may think, it is not a bottomless pit of money that congress just hands out. The way it works is congress makes a budget which allocates a certain amount of money goes towards medical research or the arts or some other area. The NIH, the NEA, or some other appropriate agency then evaluates requests for funding and allocates based their own criteria. What you are trying to argue is congress shouldn’t be allocating the money in the 1st place. However, that is a different issue than what Warren brought up.

    the problem with these congressmen is that they are trying to micro-manage the funds and that’s not their job. The purpose of the NIH is to evaluate the merits of the research. And they hire/appoint people with the expertise to do so. The average congressman doesn’t have the requisite expertise to do so. Congress’ role should be oversight, not micro-management. If these congress men were arguing that the NIH was spending too much on sexuality research and not enough on cancer research or making sure the people evaluating the requests are qualified, that would be reasonable. But not arguing about research that that costs an insignificant (compared to the overall NIH budget) amount of money.

  • Drowssap

    Byron

    I’m pretty close to a Libertarian on most issues and I’m a big fan of Jeff Flake so I understand where you are coming from. I wish the government would get out of MOST things.

    But since the government can’t stop spending our money scientific research is probably the best use for it. I’d rather see it spent on that then just about anything else.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    If Rep. Flake were arguing for an elimination of spending on health/mental health care research, then I would say at least he is consistent. However, I think he was arguing against this particular line of research. My point here is that there are good reasons to research this topic and if funds are earmarked for basic behavioral science, I can make a (conservative) case for them going here.

    The matter of whether NIH is bloated is a bit different than my original point. It probably is bloated and I would like to see lots cut from federal spending. Hpwever, if money is to be alotted for basic science, I do not see Bailey’s research as a bizarre expenditure as the article accused.

  • Lynn David
    Evan wrote….. These effects become entrenched, “biological”, after someone does one thing instead of another. It could be something similar in this case and it could happen in early or later age.

    And Drowssap answered… ….I lost faith in that. … If 1 in 1000 men was preferentially gay that might make some sense. Rare personality traits that might reduce fertility could be caused by virtually anything. But why would the human mind commonly default to a personality trait (like 3% of the time) that from an individual, evolutionary standpoint never came in handy in any setting… ever?

    First, once again. Individual fitness doesn’t necessarily play a part in the evolution of a species. The overall fitness of the breeding population must be considered.

    So why shouldn’t it occur as a genetic “event?” It might in sheep because of their social organization as a herding animal. Might it not happen in man because of our social structure and the recognition, such as happened in Native American tribes, that all their members were necessary, useful, and also to be esteemed as individual spirits of worth? Now maybe the world’s religious triad has taken us away from that thinking, perhaps wrongly, maybe what it means is that humanity actually needs its GLBTQ members as the spirits they are.

    Second, if….

    Drowssap again wrote…..Just 10 or 15 years ago the Schizophrenic and Autistic gene theories were flying down the highway making amazing discoveries each week. Today these billion dollar concepts lie by the side of the road smouldering in a shallow ditch. The survivors are barely able to crawl from the burning wreckages of both.

    When something is common it always comes back to environment.

    ….is true then, hold on, does not schizophrenia exists in the general population at a rate of about 0.2-0.4 persons per 1000 general population (men &/or women). Now the more common genetic disorders in men and women, Klinefelter’s (men) and Turner (women) syndromes, occur at rates of 1 man in about 500 in men and 1 woman in 2500-3000 in women, or a normalized rate for the two of approxiamately 1.4 persons per 1000 population. Now that is significantly higher than the rate for schizophrenia, but they sure aren’t caused by environmental factors.

    Gay men exist at a rate of about 12-25 males per 1000 general population (25-50 men per 1000 men). That is an order of magnitude greater than the most common genetic disorders, and you want to say that although homosexuality is somehow biological it must like schizophrenia be triggered by an environmental pressor? Nope….

    Drowssap yet again wrote…. No gene or genes could survive if they produced a common personality trait that often times turned into exclusive SSA. At 3% +/- male homosexuality is way too common to be the tail end of another trait. That’s a lot of men with absolutely no interest in women.

    Not if the same genes which produce a same-gender attraction in men are those which produce an opposite-gender attraction in women. That they are simply expressed over those more normative genes which produce opposite-gender attractions in men. Which goes a long way of explaining why women with SGAs don’t appear to be genetic or occur at the same rate, they don’t have the male genes.

    (BTW can you tell I really hate the wording same-sex or even opposite sex? Those are trigger words that the anti-gay crowd started and now uses to impart the idea that being gay is about nothing but sex.).

    Warren wrote….. Is there any research you would favor the govt funding?

    And Byron answered…. No probably not. It’s a question of the proper, constitutional role of the federal government, and I don’t think that’s in there.

    Yikes! Without it we’d all be speaking German or Russian in America.

    And finally Warren wrote…… It is ironic that the NARTH conference is titled Sound Scientific Research but when one looks at the program, there is no research. None of the programs appear to present any original empirical research.

    Sometimes I think more research is done for the pages of your blog than NARTH puts out. All of their papers seem to be only constituted for imput into the pages of FotF/AFA “news” articles to instill the proper fear in the faithful as concerns anything gay.

  • Evan

    David Lynn,

    Gay men exist at a rate of about 12-25 males per 1000 general population (25-50 men per 1000 men). That is an order of magnitude greater than the most common genetic disorders

    Is extreme skewing of X chromosome inactivation associated with genetic disorders?

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Evan – I really have no idea what you are saying about me, if anything, but I am merely old. not an old goat.

    Having an interest in a subject does not of necessity represent some unconscious sublimation. Remember what Freud (might have) said about cigars.

  • Drowssap

    Lynn David

    First, once again. Individual fitness doesn’t necessarily play a part in the evolution of a species. The overall fitness of the breeding population must be considered.

    That could be true. But my response wasn’t about group fitness per se. I am talking about a direct “gay” gene. For instance a gene that under common, mundane circumstances could flip and make someone preferentially gay.

  • Drowssap

    Lynn David

    schizophrenia exists in the general population at a rate of about 0.2-0.4 persons per 1000 general population (men &/or women).

    Everything I read says that Schiz hits about 1 in 100 people worldwide and is much more common in cities than the country. Maybe your numbers apply to a specific area or maybe 1% is a really general aproximation? Anyway, except for rare cases Schiz is definitely not a genetic disorder. About 20% of all cases are triggered by flu virus. To be more specific it isn’t the flu virus, it’s the bodies response to the flu virus that triggers the disorder. Other pathogens like Toxo trigger it as well.

    Now the more common genetic disorders in men and women, Klinefelter’s (men) and Turner (women) syndromes, occur at rates of 1 man in about 500 in men and 1 woman in 2500-3000 in women, or a normalized rate for the two of approxiamately 1.4 persons per 1000 population. Now that is significantly higher than the rate for schizophrenia, but they sure aren’t caused by environmental factors.

    You aren’t actually talking about “genetic disorders” you are refering to disorders of the genes. Kids that have Down’s Syndrome have perfectly healthy genes, they’re just assembled incorrectly. I believe that Klinefelters is the same. These disorders aren’t any different than a cleft pallet or a heart valve that doesn’t form properly. The only difference is that these are genes that assembled incorrectly, not tissue.

    If Klinefelter’s is like Down’s Syndrome scientists don’t know why these genes get garbled up. Age of the mother plays a roll in Downs which shows that environment is a factor. Until they know why this stuff happens I wouldn’t count out environment. In a decade or so scientists will use nano-probes to watch these genes assemble in real time. That’s going to answer a lot of questions. Right now they call this stuff random because they don’t know.

  • Evan

    Warren,

    I’ll take your word for it. But I still think that people like Blanchard, Bailey, the late Kurt Freund, or even Freud (whose name is very close to the German Freude, meaning joy or pleasure) have or had a particular drive to study sex. What matters is the end result. Without their interest, we wouldn’t have so many theoretical and practical tools to deal with the subject.

    I’m still waiting for your answer to the question: which of Bailey’s work has helped you deal better with your clients’ cases in therapy. Some people have disputed his findings, so it would be interesting to see how much this type of research can support clinical practice and whether it gets confirmed in individual cases. I’m thinking that maybe some of his research on sex atypicality may have oriented your practice, but you may have other answers. I’m sure it’s not his studies on the clinical utility of the Rorschach…

  • Ann

    A few years ago, NIH gave a $147,000 grant to a Northwestern University psychology professor who was paying women to view pornography while a device measured their sexual responses.

    Ok, I am 100% in favor of studies being conducted and funded regarding sex but there is just something creepy about the above scenario = – 0

  • Evan

    That scenario was probably necessary to find out what were the patterns of arousal for women. A similar study brought to the surface a potent discovery that women may not have a sexual orientation, if that is measured by different patterns of arousal. It shows that women should be studied separately, using a specific approach which is not tailored by the methods used to study men.

    I smell journalistic fireworks here, I know how the press works, I’ve worked with them for some years. Just as they said that there is great pressure on academics to produce studies, so is the pressure on journalists to find explosive topics. Sex is dynamite when mixed with taxpayers’ money. Just hint at the possibility that unconscientious spending is taking place on something related to sex and you’ve got people’s attention and you can bet many of them will start simmering over the issue. The fact that the ABC News article doesn’t mention who the researcher is and doesn’t ask for his defence confirms this explanation. All they needed was a piece of news, not a victim or someone who could have spoiled their story by explaining the reason behind this kind of studies.

    The Kinsey Institute probably spent a lot more on doing this lame piece of research, but the subject is not that interesting for the media or for politicians. Who would argue against studies on male sexual dysfunctions even if they talk about constructs of masculinities and bring almost nothing practical to the table?

  • Ann

    Evan,

    I agree but the method was creepy – a college professor? Paid women? Pornography?

    You can find out more about women’s sexuality by listening to them talk with each other. Women get more turned on with thoughts than pictures. Men are visual, woman like to see subtle movements that speak to them personally, not universally. David Beckman looks delicious but the man in line at the post office who makes a funny remark about another person that was intended only for me to hear and laugh at is more of a turn on. The USC tee shirt wasn’t too bad either.

  • Ann

    p.s. – also, I think most men can feel sexual immediately while with women it is more of a process. That is why we are more sexually creative :-)

  • Lynn David

    Drowssap wrote…. You aren’t actually talking about “genetic disorders” you are refering to disorders of the genes. Kids that have Down’s Syndrome have perfectly healthy genes, they’re just assembled incorrectly.

    *rolls eyes*

    I’ve known two XXY females (otherwise a Klinefelter male), the last an acquaintance recently died in Texas, I don’t think she got to the age of 50. And yet I have read of fertile (and otherwise healthy?) XXY females, a mother-daughter in France, I believe, and one or two in India.

    Genetic diseases are due to mutations. Is that the environment doing it. or just dumb luck chance, or a genetic predisposition in that human line? Some appear to be heritable. So your strange idea, is falling on my deaf ears, I’m afraid.

    Is extreme skewing of X chromosome inactivation associated with genetic disorders?

    No, I am not calling male homosexuality a genetic disorder as I point out the difference in frequency between the two (just to head that off). And no the skew was remarked by the researchers as not causing any problems in the female members who exhibited that characteristic – although skewing often is a problem. But not in this case.

  • Evan

    Ann,

    the method was creepy – a college professor? Paid women? Pornography?

    He didn’t pay them personally, that’s for sure. :) Usually research volunteers get some incentive to participate. I suspect some take it differently: ‘All I have to do is watch some porn video and get some money out of that.’

    They don’t get much, though.

  • Drowssap

    Lynn David

    So your strange idea, is falling on my deaf ears, I’m afraid.

    Disorders like Down’s Syndrome are caused when healthy genes get garbled as they are assembled. These disorders are no different than any other physical disorder except they relate to genes, not tissue.

    That’s a lot different from a true genetic disorder like Sickle Cell which is passed down in the germ-line from generation to generation.

    Anybody could be born with Down’s Syndrome (or probably Klinefelters), but you need Sickle Cell genes to get Sickle Cell.

    Maybe I don’t understand what you said. What are you saying?

  • Ann

    Drowssap,

    This is off topic but please look on Associated Press today about infection and premature babies – think you will find it interesting :-)

  • Ann

    Evan,

    I could be wrong but I think the method used by this professor might work better for men – sexually they are much less complicated than women. Any funding that can go into any kind of human sexuality study I think is very justified. It could tell us a lot and eliminate so many of the assumptions out there. I also think research could be done between a couple at home to find out and understand each other so they can mutually look forward to and enjoy each other sexually.

  • Evan

    Ann,

    The couple study idea is ideal but it’s technically difficult to stage. I thought about a few scenarios like this one, but there are some limitations that come with the technologies used in studying sexuality. Researchers can’t do brainscans to study couple interaction. They need people to hold still while the machine is working to get a good picture.

    Of course, there are limitations to studying sexuality by sexual responses to pornographic images. One I can think of is that pornography is a way of presenting sex which is specific to a particular point in time and can have different effects on different generations. It was probably different 30 years ago and had different effects on people’s imagination back then. These things evolve, IMO. Some people can become desensitised to some images and might need something of a different strength to get the same response as other more visually naive subjects. Many people have particular ways of responding sexually to different stimuli, and women, as you said, may be less attracted to very strong visual stuff.

    Plus: some researchers argued against reading women’s sexual orientation by measuring arousal, which doesn’t say much about why most women prefer men. This method looks like it’s a goner.

  • Evan

    men – sexually they are much less complicated than women

    Simple things can work in complicated ways…

  • Ann

    The couple study idea is ideal but it’s technically difficult to stage.

    Evan,

    I am sorry – I should have clarified what I meant by couples – I meant that a couple should communicate with each other privately and as often as they feel is needed and/or wanted about their sexual life together. I think it would stave off seeking outside the relationship and make for a better understanding of each other.

  • Ann

    Simple things can work in complicated ways…

    ;-) :-)

  • Ann

    It was probably different 30 years ago and had different effects on people’s imagination back then.

    I think it would be very interesting to do research on both men and women over a period of time to see the changes that can take place. I also think information about orientation and it’s fluidity or lack of it could be ascertained. What would the downside be to any of this? None that I can think of.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    This is off topic but please look on Associated Press today about infection and premature babies – think you will find it interesting

    Thanks and yes I did see it. 8-)

    And on a related note

    Researchers at Johns Hopkins have dispelled the widespread belief among obstetricians that, in premature infants, brain injury results from a lack of oxygen, also called hypoxia, when, in fact, infection plays a larger role.

    Google: Infection, Not Lack Of Oxygen, Plays Larger Role In Premature Infant Brain Injury

    People who don’t take germs seriously are so 20th century. 8-)

  • Ann

    People who don’t take germs seriously are so 20th century

    Right – another thing to consider is if some are not so harmful then why do we have to kill them with antibiotics, etc.? BTW – is bacteria considered germs?

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    Right – another thing to consider is if some are not so harmful then why do we have to kill them with antibiotics, etc.?

    There is a ballance of germs that keeps us healthy. But outsider germs can make us sick. I wash my hands A LOT and I do my best to never touch door handles in public. That’s where the enemy germs come from.

    Yes, bacteria are definitiely germs. The global term is “Pathogen.” That means germs and viruses.

  • Ann

    thanks Drowssap – that is what I thought but just wanted to make sure. I know about the healthy germs and how it is important to have the balance. I wash my hands ALL the time and never, ever touch a door handle either without using my blouse or something else as a buffer. It has definitely helped me from getting colds, etc. I really believe you are ahead of a lot of people in your theories regarding germs and how the bad ones can affect us, including sexual orientation.

  • Patrick

    I really believe you are ahead of a lot of people in your theories regarding germs and how the bad ones can affect us, including sexual orientation.

    Ah, but is it necessarily a ‘bad’ germ that would cause someone to be gay. Or is this your biases that are showing.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    I wash my hands ALL the time and never, ever touch a door handle either without using my blouse or something else as a buffer. It has definitely helped me from getting colds, etc.

    You are doing it exactly right. It doesn’t mean we might not drop dead of brain cancer tomorrow but lowering our germ load certainly cuts out a huge (if not biggest) risk factor for illness.

    I really believe you are ahead of a lot of people in your theories regarding germs and how the bad ones can affect us, including sexual orientation.

    You are too kind. 8-) Smarter people than me are figuring this stuff out, but my mind is open to listening. Just about any time something reduces fertility (or fitness) in young people you can bet it’s environment 99.9% of the time. Among all environmental factors germs and viruses (and the bodies response to them) stand head and shoulders above the rest.

  • Drowssap

    Patrick

    Ah, but is it necessarily a ‘bad’ germ that would cause someone to be gay. Or is this your biases that are showing.

    You’re right, and that’s why it should be up to the individual to decide.

  • Ann

    Or is this your biases that are showing.

    Patrick,

    This kind of comment is really old and tiring and not effective anymore. I have no clue what causes any sexual orientation and do not come from the premise that either one is wrong. I do know that there is unwanted sexual desires and attractions on all levels from a lot of people and applaud any and all research in this area to facilitate the answers they deserve. Drowssap makes many good points regarding environmental issues, including germs, and that makes sense to me. I am more interested in positive research that can lead to answering heretofor questions instead of marinating in a mindset that places a priority on scrutinizing a comment in hopes of finding something homophobic – really, it just doesn’t work anymore.

  • Evan

    This reminds me of a debate in which Deborah Blum said:

    We’re pretty good at being the messenger to raise the provocative debate .So the only time I remember being completely taken aback, it actually wasn’t a male-female thing but I was on a transsexual radio show up in the New England area and I was talking about something that I was calling a genetic defect, which was a situation which is common in the Dominican Republic. They call it guevadoce, where you appear to be female until 12 and then as you go into puberty a big rush of testosterone, everything descends and suddenly you’re a guy. And in all the scientific literature this was called a defect. And I went on the radio show, I was running through some of what made that interesting to me and I got really dinged for calling it a defect. You know, who do you think you are to call people defective? Why don’t you call it a genetic variation?

    And she finally called it a variation, although she’s not a big fan of PC.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    I am more interested in positive research that can lead to answering heretofor questions instead of marinating in a mindset that places a priority on scrutinizing a comment in hopes of finding something homophobic

    That was your greatest point of all time. 8-)


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