University of Utah professor: NARTH article "unscientific and irresponsible"

Does engaging in same-sex behavior cause people to become gay? NARTH Scientific Advisory Board member Chris Rosik posed this question in a recent review of a study on risk behavior among gay and bisexual men. The study, led by David Huebner at the University of Utah found that gay and bisexual men who engage in risky sexual behavior may justify subsequent risky behavior as their attitudes change in response to their actions. After reviewing the study, Rosik extended the study findings to the causes of same-sex orientation:

First, if engaging in sexual risk behavior leads to changes in beliefs and attitudes that legitimize such behavior, is it wise to encourage early self-labeling and sexual activity among male adolescents experiencing same-sex attractions? Could participation in early homosexual risk activity such as unprotected (or even protected) anal intercourse lead some adolescent boys down a path of homosexual activity and identity and away from what might have been an eventual heterosexual adjustment?

Rosik proposes that adolescent boys might alter the course of their adult sexual orientation from straight to gay by experimenting with same-sex behavior. However, Rosik’s generalization is improper according to study lead author, David Huebner. In an email, Huebner told me:

Our study examined how adults’ attitudes about condoms and their perceived peer norms about condoms each relate over time to self-reports of condom use during intercourse with casual sexual partners. Condom use is considered a preventive health behavior, and thus, our results might generalize to other preventive behaviors, such as seat belt use, exercise, smoking cessation, or breast cancer screening. Our study does not, in any way, address the development of sexual orientation during adolescence, or the development of normal, healthy sexuality among gay or straight adolescents. Any attempt to generalize our findings to those topics is unscientific and irresponsible.

Huebner’s team researched attitude changes about risk behaviors, not developmental factors in sexual orientation. Furthermore, the findings are not generalizable to the general development of attractions among teens who are attracted to the same sex.

Rosik’s question may seem like harmless speculation to some. However, many on the religious right encourage fear of gay people on the grounds that gays recruit questioning youth who would otherwise be straight. Uganda’s David Bahati justified the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill with the claims that gays are recruiting young people. Over the past two years, Bahati has promised to produce evidence of his claims that gays in Uganda systematically recruit kids. To date, he has not produced any such evidence.

Far right pundits in this country raise fears about anti-bullying programs because they might indoctrinate students into homosexuality. Linda Harvey (aka Mission America) yesterday said on her radio show that gays cultivate kids for pedophiles.

Only about 25% of NARTH’s members are clinicians or researchers with professional training or access to the original study. The rest are lay people and culture warriors who look to the NARTH website for accurate information about scientific work. Unfortunately, those readers could easily come away from his review with the perspective that research done by University of Utah researchers supports the recruitment concept of gay development. Although those with a trained or critical eye will catch the improper generalization, I suspect most will not see it. Thus, given the audience of Rosik’s review, I have to agree with Dr. Huebner and say that Rosik’s unqualified speculation is “unscientific and irresponsible.”

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  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Whatever happened to the idea of valuing the innocence of children and coming to their rescue?

    Ask the Vatican.

  • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Zoe – I think that comment must have been intended for another thread?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Here is some more Research by Christopher H. Rosik, Ph.D

    Conversion Therapy Revisited:

    Parameters And Rationale For Ethical Care

    By Christopher H. Rosik, Ph.D

    Clinical Psychologist

    (Reprinted by permission: The Journal of Pastoral Care,

    Spring 2001, pp. 47-67.)

    A recent study by Nicolosi, Byrd, and Potts surveyed 882 clients engaged in sexual reorientation therapy.42 Of the 318 clients who rated themselves as having exclusively same-gender sexual orientation prior to treatment, post treatment results found 18% rating themselves as exclusively heterosexual and 17% almost entirely heterosexual. Only 13% reported remaining either exclusively or almost exclusively gay or lesbian following treatment. Self-report information on these individuals also revealed significant improvements in self-acceptance, emotional stability, depression, and spirituality.

    http://www.narth.com/docs/conversiontherapy.html

    Poor poor Randall from the previous topic on NARTH, still meeting with Nicolosi 3 times a month for 8 years, is sadly one of the mere 13% who are not successfully cured of his same sex attractions (even with Nicolosi “diagnosing” Randall as heterosexual).

    Warren you are referenced in this research report.

  • darkyn

    People take anything NARTH says seriously?

    • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

      darkyn – alas, yes.

  • Teresa

    @All, to be the skunk in the woodpile here; NARTH can be seen as well-intentioned but misguided in some areas. I think to be honest, most same-sex attracted persons would rather not be same-sex attracted … at least, at some point in their lives. Is that hyperbole to say that? I’ll leave that for others to decide. I have absolutely zero statistics, research, what have you to support that statement.

    However, trending along that same trajectory of having nothing to support anything except little-ol’ me and my perceptions and life experiences … if NARTH could just move beyond the political; and, align with SITF, keeping to its goals of helping clients align their faith beliefs with their attractions …

    Geez, what was I thinking? Silly me; then they wouldn’t be NARTH.

    Question for you, Warren? Do NARTH clinicians only work with same-sex attracted individuals; or is NARTH simply a catch-all organization that clinicians of like mind join … hoping to get referrals?

  • David Blakeslee

    Warren,

    The rest are lay people and culture warriors who look to the NARTH website for accurate information about scientific work. Unfortunately, those readers could easily come away from his review with the perspective that research done by University of Utah researchers supports the recruitment concept of gay development. Although those with a trained or critical eye will catch the improper generalization, I suspect most will not see it.

    This is the nub of the problem…scientists making leaps in interpretation that the lay community is not trained to identify or criticize.

    Generally, I have liked Chris’ work and this is easy to correct…I hope he will do so.

  • StraightGrandmother

    David Blakeslee you like Chris Rosiks work? Please comment on what I posted, there is a link to the full report. I am curious for your reply.

  • Richard Willmer

    Teresa

    You may be right in your theory (“I think … most same-sex attracted persons would rather not be same-sex attracted … at least at some point in their lives“), but I would ask the question “why might this be the case?”

    NARTH has an ‘axe to grind’ (don’t we all, so some extent?); even if their objectives are justifiable (which I don’t believe, if I’m honest), the point is that their methods appear to be based on faulty science, and their rhetoric seems to lend credence to ‘homophobic tendencies’ – something which I regard as morally unacceptable.

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

    ah, yes, the heterosexual adjustment.

    That rather elusive happy incident is, I believe, only experienced while hunting snipe accompanied by a dodo and a unicorn.

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

    Teresa

    I think to be honest, most same-sex attracted persons would rather not be same-sex attracted … at least, at some point in their lives.

    That’s probably true.

    I’ve also heard that many African Americans and Asian Americans would rather not be their ethnicity. And that’s undoubtedly true of the taller or shorter than average. There is some point in life in which you really wish you weren’t “other”. My mother told me that when she was a teenager, she very much didn’t want to be a dirt poor American Indian.

    But, other than Michael Jackson, we are pretty much stuck with our ethnic heritage. It can be a point of pride or a point of shame or really just a not-all-that-interesting facet of life. I guess that’s probably pretty much true about our sexual orientations as well.

  • AJ

    Is it just me, or is David Blakeslee passive aggressive? I certainly haven’t read all of his posts, but from what I’ve seen, he talks about how Warren is right on all these issues, and then at the last minute he always throws in a vague pro-reparative comment.

  • StraightGrandmother

    It is so crazy. NOM (National Organization for Marriage) has another blog today quoting a former lesbian, what she said doesn’t really matter for my comment. What we are seeing more and more is the ginning up in NOM that sexual minorities do not need marriage as they can simply change. And in this country for this topic all roads lead to NARTH.

    The Friday after Thanksgiving NOM’s Ruth Instituite runs a column by Richard Fitsgibbons a member of NARTH saying that sexual minorites should not be permitted to adopt. It appears that Fitzgibbons is a psychiatrist.

    http://www.ruthblog.org/2011/11/25/same-sex-adoption-is-not-a-game/

    I think this is the full article printed in a Catholic website

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0011.html

    This happens over and over with all these anti gay organizations (and all roads lead to NARTH), but I do watch NOM closely and I see them definitely trending towards promoting the ex-gay solution into their political propaganda.

    I’ll never forget reading the trial transcript of the Prop8 trial and Dr. Tam (not a physician) was an official sponsor to the state of California on the referendum, Judge Walker in his decision nicely summarizes Dr. Tam’s testimony and again, all roads lead to NARTH

    Proponent Hak-Shing William Tam testified about his role in the Proposition 8 campaign. Tam spent substantial time, effort and resources campaigning for Proposition 8. As of July 2007, Tam was working with Protect Marriage to put Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot. Tr 1900:13-18.

    Tam testified that he is the secretary of the America Return to God Prayer Movement, which operates the website “1man1woman.net.” Tr 1916:3-24. 1man1woman.net encouraged voters to support Proposition 8 on grounds that homosexuals are twelve times more likely to molest children, Tr 1919:3-1922:21, and because Proposition 8 will cause states one-by-one to fall into Satan’s hands, Tr 1928:6-13.

    Tam identified NARTH (the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) as the source of information about homosexuality, because he “believe[s] in what they say.” Tr 1939:1-9. Tam identified “the internet” as the source of information connecting same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest.

    Your work here Warren is so important because NARTH IS important (sadly). Since I have been reading here you have consistently said you will seek out the truth. It is sad that your work doesn’t get the attention that NARTH’s lies get. I don’t know why that is.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Emily K

    AJ – that’s pretty much his M.O.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Warren – no, this thread. I was quoting Linda Harvey.

    The paragraph is this one:

    Well why are we surprised? Many of the radicals want for us to all accept the idea that there are gay teens and now even gay children. Some even want to portray adult and child contact as not criminal sexual abuse but a child’s first ‘gay experience.’ See how this goes? It’s deception all the way around. We paint kids into a high-risk corner and then we wonder why some are so unhappy. Well I don’t accept any of this and I hope you won’t either; it’s a huge, harmful lie. These ideas are being sold to kids and they are being set up for being abused and for early damage. Whatever happened to the idea of valuing the innocence of children and coming to their rescue?

    See http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/linda-harvey-claims-gays-are-doing-molesters-cultivation-work-him

  • Lynn David

    AJ…. Is it just me, or is David Blakeslee passive aggressive? I certainly haven’t read all of his posts, but from what I’ve seen, he talks about how Warren is right on all these issues, and then at the last minute he always throws in a vague pro-reparative comment.

    Best laugh I’ve ever had on this blog!

  • Throbert McGee

    This particular line from Rosik caught my eye:

    Could participation in early homosexual risk activity such as unprotected (or even protected) anal intercourse lead some adolescent boys down a path of homosexual activity and identity and away from what might have been an eventual heterosexual adjustment?

    L, as they say, OL!

    Obviously, different individuals have different sexual histories, but I would venture to say that on average, most MSMs begin to experiment with anal sex at a relatively later stage, AFTER they’ve had substantial experience with other same-sex activities like mutual masturbation and fellatio. And understanding why isn’t rocket science: learning to “bottom” (i.e., engage in receptive anal sex) is relatively difficult and takes more practice than learning to perform fellatio or give a handjob!

    Thus, Rosik’s scenario may apply to a small number of males, for the most part I think he’s got things laughably backwards: Guys aren’t “led down the path of homosexuality” because they experiment with anal intercourse as teens and automagically fall in love with the sensation of getting cornholed. Quite to the contrary; anal sex is something that many people DON’T ENJOY at first — it’s like getting used to the taste of beer or caviar, so to speak. (And a considerable number of homosexual-identified men never develop a liking for anal sex, while a small percentage never even try it at all, yet are still “gay identified.”)

    Moreover, anal sex remains, to some extent and for some guys, a sort of unofficial “rite of passage” that separates “bi-identified” men from “gay-identified” men. (In homosexual text-porn from the mid-20th century, it was a willingness to perform fellatio that symbolically separated the bi-curious from the confirmed-gay, but as time passed, fellatio became more “vanilla” and de rigueur even if you were “just curious”, and correspondingly, anal sex became the new rite of passage.)

    So, for these reasons and others, I’m fairly confident that most MSMs already know that they enjoy same-sex mutual masturbation and fellatio (and are already inclined to seek out further opportunities for these acts), long before they’ve try anal sex, protected or not.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Throbert, well that is what I always suspected. Thank you for confirming that for me.

  • ken

    “The rest are lay people and culture warriors who look to the NARTH website for accurate information about scientific work. ”

    I disagree, Warren, I think most of the people who go to NARTH aren’t looking for accurate information. I think they are just looking for something justify their own beliefs about homosexuality.

    You don’t need a PhD to recognize NARTH is distorting the facts. Every legitimate medical, psychological and related scientific organization has stated sexual orientation isn’t a choice, and that homosexuality isn’t a disorder. If people don’t have access to the legitimate information, it is because they don’t want that information.

  • David Blakeslee

    Rosik did an interesting peer reviewed published study on ideological concerns associated with homophobia scales in psychological assessments (Journal of Psychology and Theology).

    He also gave a sturdy defense of secular research publication’s and their interest in religious world views at a NARTH conference I attended some years ago, a position that is unpopular at NARTH.

    I think he is published in several other journals although I cannot recall them.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Off topic but will be of interest to many people here. At 2:30 pacific time today the Court of Appeals in San Francisco will be hearing oral arguments on 2 cases relative to Prop 8. The first is if ProtectMarriage.com has standing in Federal Court to represent the government of California in the Prop 8 court cases.

    The second is for release of the video of the Trial. The merits of the Prop 8 case were argued last December so there will not be oral arguments on that. We have spent one year on the right to standing which put the main case on hold. There will be live blogging more information here

    http://www.prop8trialtracker.com/2011/12/08/all-you-need-to-know-about-todays-prop-8-hearing-at-the-9th-circuit/

    Again sorry to be off topic but many people here are probably interested, and it is generally on topic as this trial brings in all the things Warren writes about, religion and sexual orientation change and politics. It is all in this trial, including NARTH, NARTH is part of the Prop8 trial.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Warren, you have been an inspiration to me. I may not be that smart but I sure can learn. Please note my comment above at

    StraightGrandmother# ~ Dec 6, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I have been commenting back and forth with Dr. Rich Fitzgibbons who says he is a psychiatrist and a member of NARTH. I have no idea if it is true or not but that is who he says he is. He is quoting research which he says validates his proposal that sexual minorities are unfit parents. So I took a lesson out of Warren Throckmorton’s textbook of NARTH and I directly contacted the researchers. I showed the researchers what Dr. Fitzgibbons said about their research and asked them if he was correctly representing their research. No surprise here, they both wrote back, “NO!”

    My last comment is pending as it is a moderated board so it is not up yet . My last comment was the response from Dr. Theodora H Sirota from Seaton Hall University, she wrote me

    My study was only about women raised in the context of heterosexually-organized marriages where fathers were identified as gay or bisexual. My research was not about and did not measure anything in women raised by gay parent couples or by single gay fathers. The women I studied were not raised in the context of gay or lesbian partnerships or by single gay fathers actively rearing their children. Therefore, no conclusions about gay or lesbian fitness to adopt children or quality of active gay parenting or can be drawn from the findings of my research.

    Her study was about daughters raised in a mixed orientation marriage, and they don’t do as well.

    Dr Abby Goldberg at Clark University wrote me

    It’s a full time job keeping up with the misuse and misrepresentations of my/our work. You can see the finding is taken out of context; these individuals felt a lack of trust as a function of their parents’ divorce and issues related to their mothers’ waiting so long to come out to them.

    I learned from you Warren, I learned to go to the source of the research and verify if the statements being made are a correct reflection of their work. Dr. Rich Fitzgibbons was trying to misrepresent these two studies as sexual minorities are unstable, they harm children etc. and do not make good parents and should be denied the ability to adopt children.

    Not only does NARTH as an organization lie, but their members lie also. Remember my last comment is not up yet where I provide the quote from Dr. Sirota but you can read the rest of the discussion here

    http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/same_sex_adoption_is_not_a_game#idc-cover

    I am hoping for a “Good job grasshopper” or something :)

    • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

      SGM – Good job grasshopper :)

  • StraightGrandmother

    I am in moderation purgatory again.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Oh geeze. I don’t know why I didn’t think to Google Dr. Fitzgibbons until just now. Not only is he involved with the Catholic church promoting his anti-gay agenda he is also on the board at that fake National Pediatric Association

    He has given many conferences to educators on addressing excessive anger in classroom and coauthored Learning to Forgive in the Classroom for the American School Board Journal. Also, he is on the Pediatric Psychosocial Development Committee of the American College of Pediatricians, http://www.acpeds.org.

    (source http://www.maritalhealing.com/practice/staff/staffprofiles.php)

  • Teresa

    SGM, I am totally impressed by your pursuit of the research; and, contacting those responsible for the studies; and, those citing those studies. THUMBS UP to SGM!!

    Please, keep us informed of Dr. Fitzgibbon’s response(s). I’ve read the article you’ve linked; and, I too, see the Bieber Study cited, as well as a 1996 Psychoanalyst Study, which we know can mean anything.

    I’m very interested in Dr. Fitzgibbon’s private practice results: Here’s a statement of his for the article:

    … it has been my clinical experience that the recovery rate from the emotional pain and subsequent homosexual behavior approaches 100% in those who are truly committed to the process.

    Taken from “Origins and Healing of Homosexual Attractions and Behavior”

    Questions for Dr. Fitzgibbons:

    1. What was the average length of time that individuals were in psychotherapy?

    2. Was there any long-term followup for these clients? Is what they said at the end of psychotherapy still valid today?

    3. What does “Healing” mean? Are you saying these clients now are opposite gender attracted; or, are they in fact ‘asexual’?

    4. What is the cost of psychotherapy?

    5. How much time per day are these individuals spending on their spiritual program? Hours per day?

  • StraightGrandmother

    You know that smiley face, the one with the huge grin and it is full of big teeth, pretend you are seeing it right here.

    AND even better Dr. Sirota went directly into the conversation and entered TWO comments and said that Fitzgibbons is misrepresenting her data. Now I have that BIG GRIN all teeth smiley face.

    Thanks Teresa that means a lot coming from you. I had asked Zoe to send me an e-mail to help me, and this is what I needed the help with. I just didn’t think I could handle it by myself because of all the stuff he was throwing out there so convincingly, and she is awfully smart. I never did hear from her so in the end I had to just struggle through and figure it out myself and hope I was able to show the truth that he was flat out lying.

    He entered a couple more real long comments, now he doesn’t want to talk about the Patterson study now he tries diversion and wants to talk just generally about how bad it is for kids to be adopted by parents of the same sex.

    He must have a cheat sheet of all these studies that he can just copy and paste and then it takes me so much time to track them all down. I give up, I am done with him now. The two PhD researchers who directly say he is misrepresenting his data should be enough to convince anybody who is on the fence.

    http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/same_sex_adoption_is_not_a_game#idc-cover

    OMG Warren he is now coming back attacking Dr. Sirota telling her she doesn’t know what her research says

    Dear Dr. Sirota,

    Thank you for your post. I am hoping for your own sake that you will read my posts that directly bear on your work and consider withdrawing your charge of my misrepresentation of your work. Quite frankly, this looks quite bad for you because my text regarding that work was drawn directly from your abstract. I misrepresented nothing and yours is a false accusation, a serious charge in the world of academia. I am sorry that you are caught in the middle between same-sex advocates and what your findings actually say.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Warren quick, get me out of moderation, I just entered a really good comment.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I stumble across things all the time on the internet, I click here and click there and end up reading some really weird stuff sometimes.

    So Teresa I guess it is your fault you are a lesbian. Your mother always said to wash your hands, right?

    Paul Ewald, PhD, Director of the Program in Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Louisville, in an Aug. 1999 interview for Out magazine, stated:

    “The argument about infectious causation of homosexuality is a feasible hypothesis and should be treated as such.”

    And not to be outdone

    Gregory M. Cochran, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah, wrote in a 1992 web essay “Ewald on the New Germ Theory,”:

    “Homosexuality [is] biological disadvantageous, culturally consequential. Old and common enough to probably have an infectious origin. The low twin concordance (and neoDarwinism) makes strongly genetic explanations unlikely…

    I think that not too long after we determine the etiology of homosexuality, we’ll be able to prevent it, and almost all parents will.”

    (Source) http://borngay.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000031#answer-id-004528

    On this page all you have to do is click on the people who voted CON, what a cast of characters,

    http://borngay.procon.org/source-biographies.php#Individuals

  • carole

    Straight Grandmother,

    Clicking and reading w/out reading in depth can lead one to erroneous conclusions.

    Paul Ewald is one of the most original thinkers, one of the most respected biologists (and an expert, in particular, in evolutionary biology) in the world. He is one of the most sought-after lecturers and influential writers in the field worldwide. Because of his work on the infectious causation of chronic disease, he has helped changed the course of research on the cause of disease, and his work has likely saved the lives of millions. You can thank him (and Cochran) for revolutionizing the way researchers once thought about the cause of many cancers, as just one example of their work. Ewald (like Cochran, with whom he worked on a few projects), realized that many cancers are not caused by inherited deleterious genes, but by common pathogens that act slowly over the years: liver cancer from a hepatitis infection in one’s youth; cervical cancer from the human papilloma virus; bacterial infections leading to hardening of the arteries; pathogens that probably are at the root of many mental illnesses.

    When the famous 1999 Atlantic article came out, some scoffed at both Ewald and Cochran (Cochran is actually a physicist who has turned into an expert in evolution, genetics, evolutionary medicine, and anthropology), but many in the field knew that they were on to something and that those in labs were going to have to start looking elsewhere for the cause of most chronic diseases.

    Almost 13 years later, Ewald is held in the highest esteem, his theories proven over and over, his work, as I said, responsible for saving who knows how many. He is sought by virologists, by bacteriologists, by those wanting to know how to stem pandemics and epidemics (the Center for Disease Control, for one). His writings on what would happen with H1N1 were spot on.

    I suggest you read the 1999 Atlantic article in three parts, as a start, then go to Amazon and order a couple of Ewald’s books. Plague Time is a classic. So too is The Evolution of Infectious Disease.

    You can also google him and see several of his lectures on YouTube. Also, there are audios of him on PBS.

    As for Cochran, well, as I said, an expert on lots of things. He has a great book he wrote with Henry Harpending (anthropologist), called the 10,000 Year Explosion. His theories about why the Ashkenazi Jews as a group have such high IQs relative to other groups made many pc sorts very unhappy, (he theorized that intelligence had been evolutionarily selected for in this group, with the downside being the Ashkenazi have many inherited deleterious mutations) but, yep, years later, anthropologists, population geneticists, etc. have come around to their thinking.

    In short, Ewald and Cochran, two scientists ahead of their times, and I suggest you read, read, read.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/99feb/germs.htm

    Oh, should you like to read some of Cochran’s posts on science blogs and the like, you can find some of his posts at this site: http://gc.homeunix.net/

    A blogger put up some of his posts and articles there.

    He has written for peer-reviewed, scientific journals I just checked out his Wiki page and there are some articles listed, but the page is not totally up to date.

    You can also try PNAS and Plos.

    As you read Cochran and Ewald, you’ll get an exercise and an education in applying evolutionary principles, about everything, and that includes sexuality.

  • Teresa

    Actually, Carole, long before Cochran and Ewald gave their opinions on cancer; 4 women scientists had already paved the way for a pathogenic origin on cancer:

    The many guises of the pleomorphic cancer microbe was studied extensively in the 1950s thru 70s by four remarkable women scientists: Virginia Livingston (a physician); Eleanor Alexander-Jackson (a microbiologist); Irene Diller (a cytologist); and Florence Seibert, a chemist, tuberculosis expert, and inventor of the tuberculin skin test. Their individual and collaborative studies are essential reading to understand the proposed microbiology of cancer.

    And, actually, IQ testing across nations does not confirm Ashkenazi intelligence as you’ve posited. The ranking has usually China/Japan leading the way with 105-107 avg. IQ … Ashkenzai usually falls in the mid-90′s. Countries in-between are Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany. It’s a very politicized area, as you’ve noted … from all sides.

  • carole

    Teresa,

    To clarify:

    It’s Ewald who supplied the evolutionary arguments that supported the pathogenic theory of the causation of chronic diseases, and the one who popularized/explained those principles.

    As for the Ashkenazim, I have to point out it’s their overall IQ (verbal/math) that leads the way, showing .75-1 SD above other European groups. Average IQ estimates range from about 110-115 and they score higher than other Jewish groups.

    BTW, just recently there was interest on the part of scientists and those whose background was verified by Israeli records to gather a large sample of Ashkenazi for testing not long ago and the powers that be in Israel nixed it. The fear was two-fold: one, fears that the world (particularly some groups in the world) would not like evidence that a subset of Jewish people were very bright (as if we didn’t know that by simply looking at Nobel winners and the last names of some of the greatest scientists and writers and thinkers in the world); and two, that non-Ashkenazi Jews, particularly those in Israel, might not appreciate the results.

    Brain scans will tell the story of axon and dentritic connections from sphingolipids being stored in the brain. The new Chinese genome studies of “g” are underway. You can’t stop ideas from finding the light of day. I’ve been following this story for years, following the science, following those who said the science was sound but shouldn’t see the light of day, following those who said the science wasn’t sound…only to see it has found the light of day and become accepted, even if grudgingly so, from those who don’t want it to see the light of day. For the life of me, I don’t see why they feel that way. It’s not knowledge that’s bad; it’s what some people want to do with knowledge that CAN be bad.

    Yes, Northern Asians score quite high on IQ tests, particularly in the math/spacial parts of IQ tests, but it’s my understanding that verified European Ashkenazi are at the top. (To be clear, Ashkenazi is a very specified group.)

  • StraightGrandmother

    Carole, I guess more clicking away then. But one thing Carole, homosexuality is not a disease, it is on the normal scale of human sexuality.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Carole, I don’t think it is right to get into a huge discussion on germs being the cause of homosexuality on this webpage. I tell you what I did for you. I did go read an article by Cochran here

    http://gc.homeunix.net/home/post/42

    When we say that a mutation, a gene change, helps or hurts the organism, what we really mean is that it helps or hurts the organism reproduce. Reproduction is the currency of natural selection: a gene that made you long-lived, happy, and sterile would never become common. ‘Good’ means good at being passed into the next generation. Good genes are a recipe for all kinds of complex functions, and for good health – but from an evolutionary point of view, strength and health are just means, while babies are the end product.

    But what about homosexuality? Well, from this biological perspective, it’s surely a disease. Disinterest in the opposite sex reduces reproduction quite a bit – around 80% in American conditions. Does it hit in early life? Sure. Has it been around a long time? Certainly. Do you find it in non-African populations, people who never lived with malaria? Yes.

    So it’s a bug.

    What do we know? We have a lot of indications that there has been some change in the brain. After all, that’s the most logical location for the cause of a change in behavior. Simon LeVay and others see differences in hypothalamic nuclei (similar to those seen in sheep). There are associated changes – the lisp, increased neuroticism and depression, etc. Somehow the cause is affecting the brain.

    Fortunately, we have an excellent experimental animal model: sheep. Some rams, 6 percent in some herds, show sexual interest in males and no interest in females, ever. Breeding experiments, using artificial insemination, showed insignificant heritability. Studies of the sheep’s brains show oddly differential hormonal activity in certain areas of the hypothalumus.

    Preferential homosexuality, sexual interest in males, rather than females, is very rare. The only two species known to exhibit this behavior, at the-few-percent level, are men and sheep. It may be worth noting that men and sheep have often been found in close association.

    It would sure be nice to see some citations for the below statements

    Another point worth mentioning is that the prevalence of homosexuality probably varies a lot. It seems to be considerably more common in young men who grew up in urban areas than in rural areas, something like a factor of three, which is also true of Schizophrenia. This is a much bigger effect than the birth order stuff. If you look out in the real sticks, say among the Kalahari Bushmen, there doesn’t seem to be any at all. Typically, hunter-gatherers have trouble believing that homosexuality actually exists.

    I dunno, I am not educated on the science of evolutionary biology but it seems very far fetched to me that anyone can actually “catch” the gay. So what that sheep closely associate with humans, so are horses and cows, and dogs and cats and on and on and on. Where is the citations that there is no homosexuality among bushmen in Botswana, the Kalahari Bushmen mentioned in the article. It is hard, near impossible to make any sort of analysis when everything is one conjecture built upon the next conjecture and there is no citations for anything. With my limited time available I am not going to do a lot of research investigating if indeed people can “catch” the gay.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Above, this “Fortunately, we have an excellent experiment” should be a block quote.

  • carole

    SG,

    I didn’t mean for the topic to become a discussion of this thread (there are myriads of posts on other thread at this blog dealing with many possible evolutionary explanations-you can search the archives–and with this one, which argues for a simpler explanation that, proponents believe, adheres to neo-Darwinian principles of evolution.

    I had hoped to impart to you that both Ewald and Cochran are respected scientists, and that you jumped to conclusions about them and about the pathogen hypothesis, and shared that you might like to read further by providing links. May I suggest once again that you read the Atlantic links for a more thorough understanding of the their rationale. I think anyone interested in modern medicine, in science, in their own health and that of their loved ones, and yes, in a testable hypothesis for homosexuality, will find value in the article, and, in addition, will familiarize themselves with two people who respected thinkers affecting our society.

    You needn’t accept their hypothesis as one which is likely to be proved right (you may have other favored scientific explanations) but rejecting it out of hand as “catching the gay” as its detractors like to do, shows that you don’t understand what the hypothesis is at all. No, they don’t they there’s a germ that goes around haphazardly infecting boys and men and turning them gay. That’s a simplification of the hypothesis, similar to what lots of people say when they yell, “I don’t want science teachers teaching my kids that monkeys are their great granddaddays and grammas.”

    I’ll also add, in an effort to show some empathy that I didn’t illustrate in my initial post, that the very first time I saw a reference to the pathogen hypothesis, was on a science blog where there is a heavy readership and participation by people from many fields of science, yet I had much the same reaction as you. I reacted with a mix of sarcasm and befuddlement, “A germ, a bug? Too stupid, too silly, especially coming from people who are educated and educated in science to boot!”

    After that, I saw it in places such as the link you provided–too bad, because such a “synopsis” causes people to dismiss it (and to dismiss other hypotheses) out of hand. That is why I offered the Atlantic article as a starting point.

    Citations? I thought I made clear that the link you went to offered a collected of posts. The one you read was, if you’ll notice, called “post 42″ on some thread on some blog where someone asked him for a quick synopsis of why he didn’t think genes caused homosexuality. That’s why his references there lack citations.

    You can read many works by others on hunter-gatherer societies; you can read some work on urban-rural stats (not Cochran’s work), you can read his articles, book on many other subjects if you wish to, at a minimum, establish whether or not he has the intellectual and academic chops to offer up offer a reasonable explanation for his hypothesis.

    Ewald? Maybe he’s coming to a university near you this summer.

    The other man whose work you might want to read is that of Charles Roselli, the sheep expert. All of his stuff is on line. Roselli has never said that the male-oriented sheep are caused by early pathogen infection. He is studying morphological differences and behavioral differences between male-oriented sheep and female-oriented sheep, trying to see if hormonization in utero causes the differences in both. So far, he has managed to rule out more than he’s ruled in, but he’s getting there. If he should establish that there’s a difference in that process between the two groups, then he will look to cause, and some of his work does offer meager sentences in summation such as “inflammation, infection, trauma,” etc.

    Also, when you look at the studies (you can find them on the web or here at Warren’s blog) that often cite possible genetic contribution percentages to SSA and “environmental” contributions percentages (Savic comes to mind, Bailey and Sanders, and Francis Collins’ remarks about homosexuality as well), you must ask yourself, “What do they mean by ‘environmental contributions’?”

    These scientists are not Freud adherents. Were he alive today, I don’t think Freud would be a Freud adherent. No, they are not talking “mom and dad” when they say “environmental.” They aren’t Nicolosian in their references to the “environment.”

  • Teresa

    Yes, Northern Asians score quite high on IQ tests, particularly in the math/spacial parts of IQ tests, but it’s my understanding that verified European Ashkenazi are at the top. (To be clear, Ashkenazi is a very specified group.)

    I understand, Carole, what you’re saying; however, I respectfully disagree. I, too, have followed the science of IQ; and, had to keep much of my readings to myself, as the whole arena is heavily politicized. As for Nobel Prizes, one could easily see that politics galore.

    Cut-to-the-chase, who’s studies do we believe, ranks really high on what we’re about. Steve Salter, Kevin MacDonald have some very interesting essays and thoughts about this.

    Political correctness has co-opted much of what we see, hear, and read. We can hardly find accurate historical accounts of events that have occurred in only the last 70 years. Freedom of speech and opinion is hardly alive in public universities. We need only look at some well-known university professors that have been denied tenure, or ousted from teaching because of their well-researched, well-thought out writings and speeches.

    Yes, truth will win out; but, there are a lot of broken bodies along the way of getting there.

    BTW, do we dismiss the current research on homosexuality because it doesn’t fit someone’s preconceived notions, someone’s faith beliefs?

    Glad you joined the fray here again, Carole. I’m always interested in your tantalizing point of view.

  • carole

    Lastly, fyi, about sheep? Many pathogens are shared by many different species, the pathogens evolving from species to species. Zoonotic exchanges are part of our and their evolutionary history.

  • Teresa

    but it’s my understanding that verified European Ashkenazi are at the top

    Carole, you do realize, of course, that European Ashkenazi are not Semitic, right? This, of course, has nothing to do with my contention that they do not rank near the top. Another story, another day.

  • carole

    Teresa,

    I respect your position. It is too bad that politics gets in the way of science.

    I, for one, am most angry at academics for what I will call their “nest-feathering.”

    Stephen Jay Gould and his work , for example, was held up by one side of the political spectrum to buttress their views. Turns out he was the fraud many tried to tell others he was, a self-promoter who fudged numbers, impugned the integrity of others by lying about their numbers, and lied his way through his career. I fear there are many SJ Goulds.

    BTW, do we dismiss the current research on homosexuality because it doesn’t fit someone’s preconceived notions, someone’s faith beliefs?

    Certainly shouldn’t, that’s for sure.

    BTW, regarding intelligence and research on cognition–may I suggest Steve Hhu’s blog. http://infoproc.blogspot.com/

    He covers lots of things, most of it over my head, but he’s involved in the Chinese project. His posts about it can primarily be found w/in the last year, particularly the last several months. And, one recent post, I am afraid, is an illustration of the academic wall placed in front of such work: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2011/11/talk-cancelled.html

    Good to talk with you.

  • carole

    Spelling correction: Steve Hsu

  • carole

    Teresa,

    Historically there sure are lots of arguments about Ashkenazim and ancestry (and what is and what is not Semitic.) Yes, they are distinct from Sephardic Jews and the more genomic sequencing that is done, the more their history becomes apparent.

    This was an interesting discussion: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2009/01/how-ashkenazi-jewish-are-you/ among lots of others.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    SG quotes Greg Cochran:

    There are associated changes – the lisp, increased neuroticism and depression, etc. Somehow the cause is affecting the brain.

    The lisp? Did he actually say “the LISP”?!?

    Sheesh. Without even getting into the question of whether there’s such a thing as “the gay lisp”, if we go ahead and accept it as a real phenomenon for the sake of argument, it should be obvious to a double-pithed frog that the “lisp” is adequately explained by peer-group imitation (like Valley Girl talk), and that there’s no need to go looking for a genetic or pathogenic cause.

    However, having made that one complaint, I actually did find Cochran’s “infection” hypothesis intriguing. The weak point was the speculation about genes forming a male-type or female-type “search pattern” in the brain — because at present, we still don’t how the brain is normally “hardwired for heterosexuality.”

  • carole

    Throbert,

    The lisp? Did he actually say “the LISP”?!?

    Yes, he did. Research show that in a subset of gay men there is a lisp, Throbert, a ccertain kind of lisp, a sibilant lisp, a cross-cultural phenomenon, and researchers, Bailey included, wanted to know just how common it was. They wanted to know if it was, like some speech patterns, a marker of a brain anomaly.

    Bailey has done further research on the “gay voice.” He, and others, have concluded it does exist i (the gay voice, not the lisp, in particular) in the sense that listeners can identify with remarkable accuracy a difference between gay male voices and straight male voices; however, they have NOT concluded it is the result of a biological brain difference between gay and straight men. It could be cultural as many speech patterns are. Studies are on-going and recent results have not been published.

    However, the “lisp” reference was a point of interest to Cochran for this reason: some extremes of an anomaly (here the anomaly would be male disinterest in mating with a female), are often good ideas for scientific studies, beginning points for studying the atypicality itself, even if most with the atypicality don’t exhibit that marker.

    He uses the example of how breeders of Dobermans were the first to notice the trait of narcolepsy and cataplexy and how research into a family of Dobermans luckily revealed the rare mutation causing it. This information was applied to the study of narcolepsy in humans. Had we not had the Doberman research, we’d still be flailing about searching for what we know about narcolepsy.

    We found the mutation. The problem is, the mutation for narcolepsy accounts for only 1% of the people who have narcolepsy. However, finding that mutation in dogs, then in people (akin perhaps to identifying that a subset of male youngsters who become homosexual, have, at a early age, a sibilant lisp that persists) lead researchers to discovering what the mutation did: it prevented the production of hypocretin, a neurotransmitter involved in wake/sleep states.

    Even though 99% of people with narco don’t carry the genetic mutation (and many narcoleptics don’t have narcolepsy + cataplexy to boot ) it turned out that they too had an underproduction or no production at all of hypocretin. The part of the brain that makes the neurotransmitter is only about 30K cells strong; thus, a very miniscule part of the brain had affected a huge behavioral trait in these people.

    Over a decade ago, Cochran and Ewald hypothesized that there was strong likelihood, based on evolutionary principles, that a pathogen had ablated these cells or most of these cells responsible for production of the neurotransmitter.

    Emmanuel Mignot of Stanford is the world’s foremost expert on narcolepsy.

    When the H1N1 virus hit the Far East last year (or was it two years ago?), there was an explosion of documented reports of “the sleeping sickness” that hit several places. Doctors and patients immediately blamed the H1N1 vaccinations for the disorders. However, Dr. Mignot and crew went to the countries, looked at the documentation, and sure enough, discovered that the new cases of narcolepsy were mostly in those who had NOT received the vaccine; most of the rest were in those who had only recently received it before exhibiting symptoms so as not to be protected wholly from the virus.

    For a quick read that does a good job of summarizing: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110822092246.htm

    They substantiated that these cases of narco were caused by the resurfaced 1918 virus we call H1N1 and by flu viruses that affect upper respiratory passages. Thus, those who had suspected a viral trigger to the cell destruction responsible for cells making hypocretin (and by now that included more than just Ewald, Cochran) had their proof.

    Just a month or so ago, they discovered more about hypocretin–that it’s responsible for identification of light versus dark. Ahhhhh, makes sense: the human brain evolved a way to tell people, “It’s time to get up now” because, most likely, we are organisms that rely heavily on our vision and we are more apt to produce and survive by working in the light.

    Okay, so the Cochran position is this: sometimes the tail end of something, the extreme, gives us clues about what to look for in those that don’t exhibit the extreme. So dogs, like some people, had a sleeping disorder that occurred with cataplexy . Turned out to be caused by a rare mutation that most Dobermans don’t have and that other breed don’t have at all. Only a small number of people with narco have a mutation that causes it, but studying that extreme edge has led to all kinds of knowledge about the middle of the curve of those with it.

    Thus, looking at the lisp makes sense.

    Cochran has also said that while he won’t predict that there’s a very rare mutation that causes homosexuality (and thus, that it would account for only a tiny % of homosexuality,) he certainly wouldn’t rule it out because often that’s how things work: rare mutations, if discovered (they are, after all, hard to find), often lead to understanding what the mutation is responsible for causing or preventing, and once that happens, researchers gain clues about where to look, what to look for in those w/out such a mutation.

    I apologize for any spelling, grammar errors, but don’t have time to edit. Gotta run.

  • Teresa

    Carole,

    Thank you for the link. I will definitely be reading the info I can digest. May I reciprocate by suggesting you take a look at the following:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/05/25/the-politics-of-the-null-hypothesis/

    Scientific American, a layman’s look at science, the article raises some thought-provoking ideas about IQ.

    I know this is off-topic, in a way … but, it’s incredibly fascinating. Homosexuality could indeed be an evolutionary group asset yet to be discovered …

  • stephen

    Throb,

    Cochran confuses homosexuality with lack of masculinity. Not so. Gay men tend to be found in big cities because they often flee a rural birthplace due to extreme hostility. Like the rest of the population they prefer not to get beaten up if they can avoid it. This is culture not flu. Ditto the silly ‘Askenazim are so like majorly intelligent’ nonsense. I’ll give him the phone numbers of a few I know. Culture. Historically, Jews sent their kids to school and expected results. My husband’s sephardic and he’s pretty bright. The Jews of Vienna and Berlin detested the Ashkenazim of Poland and thought them to be morons. Cochran seems to have nothing to say about homosexual women. Hmm. And he also seems to think that homosexuality is about sex. It isn’t. Perhaps he’s intelligent in some other areas, as a theorist on catching teh ghey off a toilet seat he’s ridiculous.

    As to the Atlantic publishing this nonsense, I’m reminded of Harpers publishing a piece proving that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. Or a dermatologist I consulted once who discovered that my breathlessness was the result of mercury fillings in my teeth and some kind of magnetic alignment. He charged my insurance company $800 for this insight.

    On the upside Cochran proves that being gay is biological and that choice is nowhere involved.

  • carole

    Teresa,

    Thanks very much for your thoughtfulness in providing the link. I had already read the article in SA and many of the resulting posts on several blogs discussing it.

    The issue of the relationship between motivation and performance in test- taking, whether the test is one rendering an individual score in cognition or in physical agility/ strength/speed, or knowledge in a school subject or whether it is one which never reveals to the subject his or her individual score is an issue I faced a great deal in teaching. It sounds as if you too have experience in this area.

    Even today, years after the No Child Left Behind Act passed, “under-performing schools” try to craft strategies that will improve test scores for their schools. In fact, IMO, one of the more scandalous yet common behaviors of school officials in years one and two of the test (and still today) were attempts to structure the environment of the test setting so that kids would not be in a room with a teacher they knew and so that they might not be as motivated were they to take the test with at least one of their classroom teachers.

    The following year, the officials took care to change the testing environment by structuring one they felt might motivate the test takers of the previous years. This, they hoped, would result in school scores that showed growth, keeping the school off the watch list, and helping the officials themselves keep favor with trustees, parents, the local press, etc. While this might not be termed out and out “cheating,” the motives of the test structurers were not pure. One common practice of year two was to provide a setting that, whenever possible, would include as a proctor or as an observer a teacher (s) or coach each student personally knew , the idea being that the student would try harder for those teachers. It did work for a short time–scores improved slightly.

    Not to belabor things on such an OT issue, but I think common sense comes into play here more than many like to admit. Whether one is testing a group of fourth graders who are instructed to run a short sprint, touch a pole, then run back to the starting point or whether they are instructed to run a course around traffic cones, one has to ask, “How much are the results affected by physical ability involving speed and agility and how much are they affected by motivation?” So too do we have to ask ourselves “How likely is it that those who are strong in this area will be highly motivated and how likely that those who are weak in it will be less motivated?”

    It’s my feeling that here is much we don’t know in this area, but I think it’s very true there is much we do know, and that many don’t like the results of what we do know.

    I know this is off-topic, in a way … but, it’s incredibly fascinating. Homosexuality could indeed be an evolutionary group asset yet to be discovered

    This has been an idea long offered by some. The study of attraction and sexuality and gender identification has much to offer all segments of science.

  • Jayhuck

    Carol,

    Thus, looking at the lisp makes sense.

    I suppose, given what you’ve written, that the search itself does make sense, but ultimately that search will only be helpful (in the sense of finding a genetic/pathogenic cause) if we can prove the “lisp” or “gay voice” is not cultural or learned, correct?

  • Jayhuck

    Carol et al:

    I’ve been reading through the above posts and am now more interested than ever in understanding to what extent pathogens are able to cause diseases with which we might not normally associate them.

    I am *also* interested to know if pathogens are able to confer upon us behaviors or physical changes we might call beneficial.

    Thank you for your brief overview on Ewald.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Research show that in a subset of gay men there is a lisp, Throbert, a certain kind of lisp, a sibilant lisp, a cross-cultural phenomenon, and researchers, Bailey included, wanted to know just how common it was.

    Okay, I’m not sure if it’s true, but if it is true, then (1) it’s news to me; and (2) it is indeed worth studying from a genetic standpoint; but (3) I’m still rather skeptical that “difficulty with sibilant consonants” [i.e., the sounds "s", "z", "sh"] is correlated with male homosexuality across linguistic boundaries.

    I’m assuming that “cross-cultural” here means “difficulty with sibilants is observed among male homosexuals who are native speakers of English, and Spanish, and Russian, and Arabic, and Chinese, etc.”

    But if one takes “cross-cultural” to mean merely that the lithp is observed among native-anglophone white gay men and black gay men in the US, the UK, and Australia, then the phenomenon seems immediately less interesting, and easily attributable to socialization and peer-group imitation. (Not to mention a childhood spent doing Carol Channing impressions… “Well hello, Sssshammy, you are ssshhoooo clammy…”)

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    I definitely agree that there is a such a thing as the “gay accent” in English, but I am intensely skeptical of any hypothesis that involves a neuro-physiological difference in gay men as the proximate cause of the accent. I would allow the possibility that neurological differences make gay men more likely to socialize with female peers than with male peers at a certain stage in childhood/adolescence, and that this socialization contributes to the “gay accent”.

    I would also assert that “difficulty with sibilant consonants” is not even the most significant feature of the “gay accent” among English-speaking gays — which is marked more by a general sing-songiness and an exaggerated enunciation of various sounds, in the manner of some 13-year-old-girls. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that other languages had their own “gay accents”, but I would be INCREDIBLY SURPRISED if there were common phonetic features of the gay accent across languages (such as “difficulty with sibilants”). Rather, I would predict the “gay male accent” in Elbonianese is marked by speech features (stereo)typical of Elbonianese women/girls, whatever these features happen to be!

    So, in short: the “gay accent” is certainly worth studying, but I think Cochran was hilariously barking up the wrong tree to identify either the “gay accent” generally or the “lisp” specifically as having some hardwired biological cause.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I am more int he Throbert camp than the Cochran camp as far as the lisp.

    I still don’t think anyone catches the gay because we as a society are smart enough that if this were true, we would have seen a pattern by now. Just like the rash of narcolepsy cases in a defined region that was a pattern, oh a bunch of new cases, why is that? If you can catch the gay we would have seen that pattern by now, somebody would have seen the pattern.

    Carole, please feel completely free to simply ignore my next thought and carry on as if you never saw it.

    Do you work with Cochren or Ewald? Or are you their agent? A former student or collaborator? You seem to know so much about these guys I am curious is all. Again feel free to maintain your anonymity, it won’t bother me a bit. No need then to even mention my comment here.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    I just want to underscore for Carole the point that “cross-cultural” is an unspecific and nebulous term.

    Sure, sometimes it can mean “existing among the Bantu, the Japanese, the indigenous Peruvians, and the Dutch.”

    But in other cases it can signify merely “existing among upper-class whites in Sydney and lower-class blacks in Detroit” — in other words, two different “cultures” in the broad category of people who have English as a common native language.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Also: Any scientist who discusses the possible biological causes of human male homosexuality without using the phrase “spontaneous erections” is not being fully serious, IMHO.

    Because you can prattle on all day about neurotransmitters, but if you haven’t wrestled with the question: How does a heterosexual guy’s penis “know” to get hard for females (but not for males), and how does a homosexual guy’s penis “know” to get hard for males (but not for females)?, then you really haven’t said anything at all.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Somewhat following up on my previous comment about “spontaneous boners”: I went Googling for more info on Charles Roselli’s studies of “gay rams”, and I found a frustrating shortage of detail about the actual methodology used to tally male sheep as “male-oriented” or “female-oriented.”

    One question that occurred to me: did they make a clear and consistent distinction between “mounting attempts” and “successful intercourse”? (In the case of male-on-male mounting, I would count it as “successful intercourse” if the “top” male manages to subdue the “bottom” male long enough to thrust between his thighs and ejaculate, whether or not there’s actual penetration.)

    Here’s a hypothetical example of NOT being consistent: rams that try to mount ewes, but repeatedly fail, and eventually give up, are tallied as “not female oriented”; while rams that make any attempt at all to mount other rams are tallied as “male oriented”, whether or not they “successfully ejaculate.”

    This distinction seems important to me because in many animal species, a female may respond to a mounting attempt by “decamping” — i.e., throwing the male off and running away. However, this is not always a total rejection of the male; sometimes it is a “test”, to determine whether the male is physically strong enough to hold the female in place. And so in some cases, a female may initially “decamp” in response to a male’s mounting attempt, but if the same male is persistent, she may eventually allow him to mate with her. But a physically weak or non-persistent male — even if “female oriented” — may fail to mate.

    Another question, come to think of it: were the ewes and rams who were “to be mounted” in the tests basically chained in place, or were they free to run away, or were they sometimes chained and sometimes free? This could make a big difference in the performance of the “mounting” rams!

    Finally, in tallying “gay” rams, did they make a consistent distinction between males that preferentially tried to mount other males, and males that submitted to being mounted by other sheep (whether rams or “lesbian” ewes)?

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    My previous comment about Charles Roselli’s sheep studies is in moderation for the time being, but I had one other quick follow-up thought: Have there been any tests with the putatively “gay rams” using plastic “dummy” sheep that were spritzed with extracts from the scent-glands of rams and ewes? Or what about using neutered male and female sheep that have been sprayed to smell like the opposite sex?

    Tests like this could help to confirm whether the “gay rams” are truly showing preferential male homosexuality.

    Of course, this is just to say that one really needs to know a LOT more about Roselli’s experimental methodology before drawing conclusions about how meaningful his reported results are. Unfortunately, most of the online info I’ve found was junk pop-science — some from LGBT writers eager to find proof of animals having buttseckxs; some from PETA members aghast at the idea of killing an innocent sheep to dissect its hypothalamus…

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Follow-up to follow-up about Roselli: Nemmind!

    I eventually found this NIH paper by Roselli and a co-author that pretty much answers all the skeptical questions I had about methodology.

    In a nutshell, I’m quite convinced now that Roselli was NOT confusing low-libido heterosexual rams with homosexual rams (for example) — on the contrary, the researchers went to great lengths to confirm that the rams in their study truly had a “sexual preference” for males, while ignoring females.

    The conclusion of the paper states:

    These observations can be interpreted to suggest that male-oriented rams, like female-oriented rams, are masculinized and defeminized with respect to mounting, receptivity, and gonadotropin secretion, but not for sexual partner preferences.

    This is one of few examples, other than humans and nonhuman primates (Vasey, 2002), where sexual behaviors and sexual partner preferences are dissociated suggesting that these behaviors may be programmed differently.

  • StraightGrandmother

    So Throbrert there are gay rams. If there “was” a man-ram connection, a virus say, how does that account for vegetarians being gay? Or people from some island where there has never been any exposure to sheep, or Eskimos?

  • Teresa

    Way off-topic (OT), guys; but, I’m loving it.

    @SG, pathogenic DNA, once embedded within a species, can exist for millenia. It does not take the ingestion of something, here and now, to ’cause’ an outcome. Certainly, one can eat something tainted with a pathogen; and, suffer the consequences within a lifetime, e.g., Mad Cow Diseases (BSE … Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis). Also, ‘pathogen’ is a broad category, which includes multi-agents: toxic chemicals that mutate or destroy pieces of DNA, bacterium per se, bacterium DNA pieces which act like viruses, etc.

    @Carol, et. al., the Hong Kong super-computer lab will be THE hot spot for determining many DNA sequencing answers; and, abnormalities. The ability to sequence 1,000′s of DNA samples in days is a quantum leap towards getting that information. The current sampling of 1,000 high-IQ individuals vs. average-IQ persons could generate information that is nothing if not revolutionary.

    We no longer need to look at ‘gross’ anatomical brain structure by the use of autopsy or other radiological means to guess at what’s doing on … as ground-breaking as that was. We now have at our fingertips the ability to see and compare at the molecular level genetic differences. How we use that information belongs to the field of ethics.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I have to admit this conversation is facinating

  • carole

    Throbert,

    First, Warren, if you mind this going so far afield from NARTH, I’ll understand. I really wasn’t going to go here, but here I find myself. Perhaps I can just say, “It would be nice if NARTH paid attention to all the related empirical research and theoretical explanations.

    *************************************************************************************

    Trobert:

    Roselli’s work has been going on for a very long time. His latest published work on sheep concludes: “These results demonstrate that the prenatal critical period for androgen-dependent differentiation of the oSDN occurs later than, and can be separated temporally from, the period for development of masculine genitals.” Yes, the fetal ram brain is androgenized later in gestation than the genitals.

    http://endo.endojournals.org/content/152/6/2409

    So, the “setting” of that male-typical mounting behavior may take place at a different time than the “setting” of attraction– if we assume that when the brain is androgenized is also the time at which the attraction program is “set.” As he states somewhere, there is something going on in the chemosensory processing of the male-oriented ram.

    More Roselli, good overview/summary on several animals, including sheep http://www.frontiersin.org/neuroendocrine_science/10.3389/fendo.2011.00042/full click on “full text” to the right

    There a lots and lots of Roselli papers on the net going back years. You can follow his progress by viewing them by date or just by reading the abstracts of his latest work. (Roselli uses these ram experiments for all kinds of work, esp. for knowledge of how steroid hormones work. I know he’s done a lot of work on the relationship of androgens and androgen receptors in things like prostate cancer.)

    I think his next experiments seek to test the hypothesis that there’s something going on with an androgen receptor mechanism, that maybe such a receptor affects sensory processing.

    Now, to another topic,.

    Forgive me for being too lazy to go looking for links, but in rodents, it’s been established, much to the researchers’ surprise, that there are actually two “programs” or “circuits” in both the male and female brain, and that there’s a “switch.”

    I can’t recall if one switch, the female, is the default should the male switch not be turned “on, ” or if each gender’s switch is activated to either an “on” or “off” position by separate actions, but researchers have manipulated sexual behavior and mating attraction by switching circuits on and off. This was big news.

    Are humans the same, with embryonic development containing both programs and chemical signals responsible for turning one switch on, the other off? If we do have both programs in our brains, does turning one “on” automatically trip the other “off.” Or does failure to not switch one on automatically set to a default program? Or do we only have one program, a program which is usually typical of our gender?

    Further, just thinking aloud here as I have heard this discussed here and elsewhere: does a program, assuming it has been turned “on,” say “run attraction to the opposite gender, ” or does it say, “run attraction to male” or “run attraction to female”?

    Is there a possibility that if there are both programs that exist in the human brain that they both may be turned on in bi-sexuals who claim they have always felt sexual lust for both sexes? Would this explain their descriptions of their sexual arousal and attractions when so many people tell them otherwise?

    It’s my guess that if most of us have two programs awaiting a switch to be flipped, then one says “run attraction to male” and one says, “run attraction to female.” (For reproductive reasons, this presumes, of course, that the mechanisms for distinguishing the difference between male and female (or maybe better put, “me and one suitable for mating with me” is in working order.)

    What if the programs don’t say anything except, “run attraction to the opposite” ?

    Then, Bem’s ideas about the exotic becomes the erotic might make sense. If a child perceives himself or herself to be the “other” among his/her peers of the same gender, then “run attraction to the opposite” might mean that a child who feels this way is indeed running the program for attraction to what he perceives as the opposite. Occam’s Razor would say that this explanation is way too complicated, too many moving parts, not parsimonious, and that it presumes that kids who are homosexual feel strongly enough about being gender-opposite of their same-sex peers that the switch would be flipped on.

    I don’t get the feeling that most homosexual little boys, even if they are somewhat gender-atypical in their interests as kids, feel that they are of the opposite gender from heterosexual little boys. Further, I think the program is running long before the child is even aware of any interests he may have that distinguish him from others of either gender, but hey, who knows?

    Catherine Dulac has done revolutionary work, by establishing the relationship between the vomeronasal organ in mice and sexual attraction along with aggressiveness and lack of aggressiveness. This blog’s own Evan, a contributor whose input is sorely missed lately, wrote, in commenting on Dulac’s work concerning her discoveries about the vomseronasal organ:

    The Sensory organ, not brain, differentiates sexual behavior in some mammals. Probably the most interesting finding is that although male and female mice can have some differently configured brain areas due to prenatal hormone exposure, it’s not the neural difference in these areas that promote gender-specific behaviour, but how they are activated or suppressed by input coming from sensory organs via some projecting neurons.

    I am wondering if Charles Roselli will find the same thing in his sheep. Yes, there appear to be different volumes in the area Roselli has termed the ovine sexually dimorphic nucleus (and these may be virtually the same differences that Simon LeVay found in the brains of gay men/straight men), but Roselli is looking for “chemosensory processing” differences between the male-oriented and the female-oriented sheep, and it may be that, as Dulac found in rodents, it’s not really the brain structures themselves responsible for the difference, but instead some relationship in the “in” and “out” processing from the organ that is responsible for taking in the information.

    Evan asked, and I am wondering too— so I know Roselli and Dulac and the others must be asking— how likely is it that humans are much different from other mammals in something so basic as an attraction that leads to the survival of genes?” There is usually a lot of similarity and preservation in evolutionary processes among species, especially at the most basic levels of survival, so, keeping that in mind, what are the chemosensory data we are processing for mate attraction, and what organ drives that processing, or do all of our senses do so?

    I am left saying, “Yeah, but people blind at birth are still overwhelmingly heterosexual” so even though we are very much visual creatures (and surely the male of the species is very much aroused by visual stimuli), it can’t simply be our eyes that are the analog to the vomeronasal organ of the rodent.

    Like I said, I am thinking aloud here: Of our five senses, the one every person who has is the sense of touch. We can be born blind and/or deaf; some people do lose their sense of smell and taste, but they are not common losses at birth like the first two senses i listed so who knows if they play a part in the inputs responsible for mate attraction.

    Then, there’s our tactile sense. Are all of these senses involved in data collection that is then processed somehow, someway? Are just some of them involved..or none of them? Have we missed another sense, one we have and don’t even know we have? Do we need to re-define what a “sense” is? Is there something else responsible for data collection of the environment around us that doesn’t function the way we ordinarily assume a sense functions?

    Lastly, about the “lisp.” I don’t know if Cochran still thinks that relevant. I know he said it over a decade ago. I know he said that he consulted anthropologists whose experiences were global. I apologize for being unable to remember if he said, “universal” or “cross-cultural” or even “universally noted.” I do know he made a point of saying he consulted anthropologists who had been all over the globe. Minor note: The Bantu do not practice homosexuality but they have heard of it, according to Cochran and Henry Harpending who lived with them for a time, I believe. I have read from him and other sources that it’s rare in hunter-gatherer societies.

    People often point to the existence of the gay male in Amerindian tribes. There is vagueness in our knowledge of Amerindians and the noted “three spirit” people. Were these gay men? Were they inter-sexed individuals, having ambiguous sexual organs? Were they chromosomal inter-sexed individuals? Were some CAH girls who were reared and treated as boys? Zoe might be the expert here.

    More questions than answers. Still, keep an eye on Roselli’s work.

    Oh, one last thing, about women and female homosexuality–the reason evolutionary scientists, those who try to look at homosexuality by applying Darwinian principles don’t say much about it is because in applying evolutionary tenets, fitness is measured in terms of passing on one’s genes. Those females who have identified themselves as homosexual have historically been successful in passing along their genes, much, much, more so than have male homosexuals. They have in the past, had lots more babies and so in terms of natural selection, they haven’t been the evolutionary anomaly that are homosexual males. (Note: even in modern Western society, many women who term themselves lesbian or SSA have still married males and had babies. Even those who haven’t married, now that coming out as a lesbian is not treated as it would have been years ago, are demonstrating a propensity to not let their child-bearing age pass before procreating.)

    If all of us straight women were suddenly to turn homosexual once our childbearing years had passed, it would not be an evolutionary puzzle. In fact, the same can “almost” be said for aging heterosexual men. The aging process takes its toll on their reproductive capability (mostly in securing fertile women and sometimes in performing sexually, even if securing fertile females was accomplished) and so aging heterosexual men who don’t have offspring past a certain age are not a puzzle.)

    As for other scientists not paying it much mind? What’s new? They always study men before women. :)

    • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

      carole and all – Discussing research in a friendly manner where we are looking for the truth wherever it leads is so unNarthlike that I think I will consider this on topic. Blogger’s prerogative.

  • carole

    Teresa,

    You bet–the Chinese are producing data so fast it’s created storage problems.

    We now have at our fingertips the ability to see and compare at the molecular level genetic differences. How we use that information belongs to the field of ethics.

    I guess every age since we left the Dark Ages has its challenges: how to use knowledge wisely.

  • Teresa

    Carole, you’ve added a wonderful number of comments. I do hope Zoe will join in, because I know this is an area she’s interested in, and has spent a lot of time investigating.

    Although, it’s been stated by many persons and organizations that “there isn’t a gay gene”, that little statement may be turned on its head in not too long a time … and, not necessarily by finding “a gene” … but, rather the DNA sequence of events over a period, starting pre-natal thru 5 years old … or, beyond. What pheromones activate what switches, or not, and when. Who carries the DNA for whatever we’re looking at, male or female, e.g., color-blindness, baldness.

    I believe Zoe’s blog mentions a woman scientist who states the female is the default setting in embryonic/fetal development. I asked Zoe about that; and, she said, from her studies, that statement is not entirely true. However, we need Zoe to show up, and help us out here.

    What the faith beliefs do with the radical new knowledge looming on the horizon is anyone’s guess; much like what will any number of us, as individuals, do with the same information. It’s not only NARTH that will grapple with this new information. Having a ‘distant’ father will wither in the face of what lies ahead.

    BTW, back a bit to IQ … the Military has used IQ testing, or similar variants, shortly after it was introduced, thru the current time; and, it’s been very helpful for them. Most universities use a variant of IQ, under the euphemism of SAT or ACT scores. Political correctness, not withstanding, the search will go on for knowledge, and the results will be used in some way or another.

  • stephen

    I have to say that of the many hilarious threads at this site this is one of the funniest.

    Yes, the Chinese are producing data. Lisps won’t go away. Ask Marcus Bachmann. Up is down. Black is white. Let’s all think deep thoughts.

    If we could only leave the Dark Ages indeed.

  • carole

    from Warren.

    carole and all – Discussing research in a friendly manner where we are looking for the truth wherever it leads is so unNarthlike that I think I will consider this on topic. Blogger’s prerogative.

    Thanks, Warren. :)

  • carole

    Straight Grandmother,

    Carole, please feel completely free to simply ignore my next thought and carry on as if you never saw it.

    Do you work with Cochren or Ewald? Or are you their agent? A former student or collaborator? You seem to know so much about these guys I am curious is all.

    LOL. No, but if I were I to be given a chance to snap my fingers and get to work in a lab for someone for a time, his would be one I’d choose. (Except I am probably much too much the coward to be anywhere around cholera and the like!)

    I

  • carole

    Straight Grandmother,

    If there “was” a man-ram connection, a virus say, how does that account for vegetarians being gay? Or people from some island where there has never been any exposure to sheep, or Eskimos?

    Teresa’s response to you about pathogenic DNA is spot-on.

    For instance, our intestinal tract is home to, well, gazillions of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and yes, even viruses. All their DNA or RNA is in us. Most of the time, it seems they don’t harm us; much of the time they actually help us, as they and we have evolved in what is called a “symbiotic relationship”; some of the time they get a little out of balance with one another, and we get sick, go to the doctor, and are made well; however, some are very harmful. I recall being stunned to learn that a huge number of us in the West (either one-third of us or two-thirds–would have to check, but it’s a huge number) play host to the polio virus in our intestines. In most of us it seems to do no harm (of course, one day maybe we’ll find out it does something we don’t yet know about), but in a few percent of people, it can leave the gut and wind up crippling or even killing.

    Cochran:

    Not every persistent infection is particularly obvious, For example, you

    almost certainly have a persistent herpes I infection, the virus

    that causes cold sores. Almost everyone does. You almost certainly have a

    persistent infection with Epstein-Barr virus, with human herpesvirus 6 and

    human herpesvirus 7. Almost everyone does. There’s a real good chance that

    you have a persistent cytomegalovirus infection. Every one of these viruses

    is neurotropic. Herpes I, cytomegalovirus, and Epstein-Barr are all known to

    cause serious trouble under some circumstances; 6 and 7 may also cause

    trouble, but we don’t know yet. Can you imagine that a persistent,

    neurotropic virus might change behavior?

    As for animals and cross-species infection? Well, for the easiest example, think of the flu. The newest strains of flu usually originate in Asia where animals like pigs and chickens and people live in high density situations and where hygiene is not the greatest. Then travelers cause the bug to spread globally.

    Anyway, there are lots of interesting theories/hypothesis about origination of SSA, some of them evolutionary explanations, some of them, like the notion put forth by Ewald/Cochran rejecting the idea that it’s genetic. They believe it’s either a very random occurrence of a common bug happening to get into the central nervous system of a baby or even a toddler or that it’s a common bug that only people with a certain genetic signature might have a susceptibility to. That is, nothing is wrong with their genes. We all have genes that give us more or less protection against certain things: I might have genes protecting me very well against a certain variant of a particular respiratory bug while your genes are not so hot in protecting you against the same bug, yet your genes give you greater protection against a different pathogen than mine give me. As he says, “Our genes protect us; ” it’s just that we are not so superhuman that they have been able to evolve to protect us equally well against everything since everything else is evolving as well.

    Now, for another hypothesis that NARTH never mentions–go looking for LynnDavids’ preferred explanation of the extreme skewing of the X chromosome in some mother’s of gay men. There is a really big study at UCLA involving this hypothesis. I look forward to hearing from the researchers.

    You asked about my interest in C&E? Yeah, my interests are eclectic. I am also avidly interested in football, and darn…..this has been an EXASPERATING YEAR!

  • carole

    Straight Grandmother:

    If there “was” a man-ram connection, a virus say, how does that account for vegetarians being gay? Or people from some island where there has never been any exposure to sheep, or Eskimos

    Teresa’s response to you is spot on. They are there in us, their DNA, and in the case of viruses, their RNA.

    Our intestines are full of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. We are under the impression that most of them are living in a state of symbiosis, not harming us while we don’t harm them; we know that many of them actually help us in important ways, aiding in things like digestion. They and we have evolved to the point of this happy symbiotic state (at least we think they aren’t hurting us over the long haul). Once in a while, they get a little out of balance and we get symptomatic and have to visit the doctor, who usually has success straightening out the imbalance; unfortunately, some of them can give some of us trouble that isn’t minor.

    I was stunned to learn years ago that, at least in peoples of the Western world, a huge number of us have guts that play host to the polio virus. The number is really high, although I can’t remember if it’s one-third or two thirds of us (I think it’s the former). Most of the time, we assume the relationship to be a harmless one, since we know of no symptoms caused by its presence in us. However, in an unlucky percentage, the virus makes its way out of the intestines and does terrible damage, crippling or even killing. We don’t know why it happens to some.

    As Cochran says, “Our genes help us.” It’s just that no one has genes that protect them against all pathogens. No two people have the same genetic defensive strength against the same pathogens (that, and pathogens evolve so quickly, we have trouble keeping up a defense against new strains). However, it’s quite possible that your very own genes give you pretty good defenses against a respiratory bug that my very own genes do not. Maybe my genes come from a genetic past in which they were busy evolving a better defense than yours to a different bug or a disease that my family of ancestors had to fight off. Thus, there is such a thing as genetic susceptibility, which does not mean that you have a gene or a group of genes that cause you to “get” this or that –it simply means you don’t have the same strong genetic defenses against it or against its effects as perhaps your husband does; similarly, he may have greater susceptibility to that which you quite nicely fend off w/out ill effects or w/out lasting effects.

    Cochran:

    Not every persistent infection is particularly obvious, For example, you

    almost certainly have a persistent herpes I infection, the virus

    that causes cold sores. Almost everyone does. You almost certainly have a

    persistent infection with Epstein-Barr virus, with human herpesvirus 6 and

    human herpesvirus 7. Almost everyone does. There’s a real good chance that

    you have a persistent cytomegalovirus infection. Every one of these viruses

    is neurotropic. Herpes I, cytomegalovirus, and Epstein-Barr are all known to

    cause serious trouble under some circumstances; 6 and 7 may also cause

    trouble, but we don’t know yet. Can you imagine that a persistent,

    neurotropic virus might change behavior?

    Reminds me of the brief but painful episode I had with shingles about ten years ago (Was it lack of sleep/stress that awakened the chicken pox virus in me? I was still working, getting up at 6 am but going w/out sleep because all night I kept watching the televising of the war.)

    Back to your comment above: think of the flu. Almost all new flu strains come from the Far East. New flu strains originate in pigs and other animals like chickens, and because the area of the Far East is so densely populated with both animals and people, and because the hygienic conditions are poor, the bugs are passed quickly from one species to another, with quick evolution of the bug–it finds it easy to spread with all those people and the unsanitary conditions. Then, travelers transport it to other places quickly until virtually almost all areas of the globe have been exposed. Travel is what carries a bug to new places. Centuries ago, explorers brought virtually everything to all the islands they set foot on.

    Now, if the Ewald/Cochran hypothesis is interesting, you might try the Skewed X Chromosome hypothesis. Women carry two X chromosomes. Which X expresses itself in the woman’s cells is usually random and so approaches a % near 50%, give or take a few %. However, in one study, researchers found that a pretty unusual percentage mothers of gay men seemed to have a skew in which X chromosome was expressed in their cells. That is, one of the Xs was expressed at a higher than typical rate. LynnDavid, frequent blog commenter, has a good description of this phenomenon: he calls it the “strong X.” Why in these mothers of gay men is one X shut off at a rate much higher than it is in mothers of straight men, leaving the “strong X” chromosome to be expressed.

    First, is this phenomenon real? Does subsequent research replicate earlier findings? If yes, does this “skewing” reflect anything we can identify? Does it have anything to do with their sons being homosexual? If so, what? Stay tuned. The people at UCLA are working on this very idea.

    Yes, I have eclectic tastes in my interests, SG. I’ve always been intrigued by anorexia nervosa, having seen two of my students wither away from it and have to drop out of school, be hospitalized, return, drop out, and in bulemia, having had a college roommate who suffered from it and whose sister was hospitalized for anorexia nervosa . Oh, and the bulimic is also bi-polar.) I often wonder if the two girls I had in class made it. I must admit that when I read of the pathogens, I think they are involved somehow in the struggles of these people.

    Another consuming interest is football, and this season has resulted in TOTAL EXASPERATION. My husband just told me at dinner, concerning this passion of mine over the recent misfortunes, the total breakdown of my beloved team, “I think a germ is responsible for your reaction, my dear.” :) He might be right.

  • carole

    SG, at home here, think avian flu. Not just chickens, but other birds carry lots of pathogens, and in particular, flu strains.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Forgive me for being too lazy to go looking for links, but in rodents, it’s been established, much to the researchers’ surprise, that there are actually two “programs” or “circuits” in both the male and female brain, and that there’s a “switch.”

    I can’t recall if one switch, the female, is the default should the male switch not be turned “on, ” or if each gender’s switch is activated to either an “on” or “off” position by separate actions, but researchers have manipulated sexual behavior and mating attraction by switching circuits on and off. This was big news.

    I’m certainly not up-to-date in rodent sexuality, but I remember learning in an undergrad Animal Behavior lab almost 20 years ago that it’s possible to create “neurologically MTF trans hamsters” (by castrating newborn males and starting them on injected estrogen immediately) and “FTM trans hamsters” (by spaying newborn females and putting them on testosterone immediately).

    In both cases (IIRC), if you wait two weeks or so before starting the neutered baby hamsters on replacement hormones, as adults they won’t show ANY typical sex behaviors — they won’t try to mount other animals (the male-typical behavior), and they won’t submit to being mounted (the female-typical behavior). Instead, they just run away and don’t show any courtship or mating behaviors at all, no matter how much testosterone or estrogen you inject into them.

    So the fact that there’s a crucial window in the first two weeks after birth, during which the brain must be exposed to sex hormones in order for adult-type behaviors to develop at all, suggests that there’s some sort of “ON” switch involved for both sexes, and that female behavior isn’t an automatic default (at least not in rodents).

    Also, incidentally, if you castrate a male newborn hamster, give him estrogen for a few weeks, but then switch him to injected testosterone later on, he will behave asexually as an adult — the same as a castrated male who never got hormone injections at all. The reason is that the early estrogen exposure feminizes his brain and preps it to be estrogen-responsive, and testosterone-unresponsive, in adulthood.

    Now, if you castrate an adult hamster, he’ll start to behave asexually, but give him testosterone shots, and he’ll act like a male again until you discontinue the testosterone, at which point he’s asexual again. However, give him estrogen shots, and he’ll ALSO behave asexually — not like a female hamster. Similar results are found when an adult female is spayed — estrogen supplements restore her female mating behaviors, but testosterone shots have the same effect (asexuality) as giving no shots at all.

    So, in short, while you can artificially manipulate the brain masculinization or feminization of young hamsters, and cause them to behave like the opposite sex as adults, it’s important that the hormone exposure in the first two weeks of life “match” the hormones to which the adult brain is later exposed.

  • Jayhuck

    Sheep and mice, androgen receptor mechanisms, circuits and switches and….Bem?

    To quote Spock, “Fascinating” :)

    As for applying principles of Evolutionary theory (fitness) to male homosexuals, I have to wonder why the bisexual is not discussed more. Apart from the fact that male homosexuals have successfully reproduced through the years (they have married and had children either in or out of wedlock – although to what extent I do not know), it seems somewhat likely anyway that another means by which such such genes could be spread would be by the more truly bisexual male.

  • Jayhuck

    Even those who haven’t married, now that coming out as a lesbian is not treated as it would have been years ago, are demonstrating a propensity to not let their child-bearing age pass before procreating.)

    This is true, but for the sake of fairness let’s acknowledge the fact that marriage doesn’t require two opposite sex people anymore. Two women can have children and still be married. That is definitely the case for two good friends of mine and their same-sex spouses and their children. I’m bringing this up, not because I feel you purposefully ignored this fact, but because I think its important to bring this fact into a discussion where marriage appears to mean only that of the opposite-sex variety

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Minor note: The Bantu do not practice homosexuality but they have heard of it, according to Cochran and Henry Harpending who lived with them for a time, I believe.

    If there’s one lesson we learned from Margaret Mead, it’s that what “local informants” tell anthropologists about indigenous sexual practices, and what these same local informants actually believe to be true about indigenous sexual practices, aren’t necessarily the same thing!

    There may also be a lost-in-translation problem, when you consider that not all languages have a specific term for “homosexuality.” So,

    If Anthropologist A asks “Do men in your tribe marry other men?”…

    And Anthropologist B asks “Do men in your tribe allow other men to make snoo-snoo* in their rear passageways?”…

    And Anthropologist C asks “Do men in your tribe spill their seed on the ground with other men when there are no females present?”…

    …you might get three entirely different answers, although all three anthropologists are attempting to elicit information about male homoerotic activity!

    (“Make snoo-snoo” © Futurama)

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    My longer comment about hamsters showing cross-gender courtship behaviors is in moderation, but I wanted to say that I actually made a small misstatement:

    The “female-type” sexual behavior in hamsters and other small rodents does not consist merely of holding still and “submitting” to being mounted (which is how it sounds in my longer comment).

    Rather, rodent females who are sexually receptive will go into a deliberate and distinctive posture that advertises to the male “come hither and climb on, stud.” It’s a sort of swayback stance with the belly drooping and the rump raised as high as possible, and is very much an intentional act of “active” signaling.

    And “artificially feminized” male hamsters can be induced to display this active female-type mating behavior; it’s not the case that they simply passively submit to being mounted.

  • Dennis

    @carole

    Research show that in a subset of gay men there is a lisp, Throbert, a ccertain kind of lisp, a sibilant lisp, a cross-cultural phenomenon

    This is _not_ a cross-cultural phenomenon. For example, it is non-existent in Russian-speaking countries except maybe very rare occurrence in young people who have a lot of exposure to English-speaking culture — for example, those who can watch American/British movies in the original, or those who travel to English-speaking countries a lot. Even wikipedia notes that “Gay lisp is a stereotypical speech attribute associated with gay males in English-speaking countries.”

    So while your notes about Doberman breeders may be interesting and entertaining, they are irrelevant as far as lisp goes, since it’s a learned behavior. Even campness, seen by some as hard-wired into genes, hormones and bodies of gay men, “magically” disappears in some communities — see, for example this article in British Guardian.

  • carole

    Sorry for what appear to be double posts. They are, actually, about the same things and include the same ideas because the first time I put them up, the line at the bottom said, “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” No biggie–I am familiar with that. When it happens, the message shows up with the advisory.

    I turned off the computer and when I came back, all of it was missing, the comments and the advisory so I assumed that I hadn’t clicked something properly.

    So, I wrote them again, trying to include the same basic content. They are the same, with minor differences.

  • carole

    Throbert:

    So, in short, while you can artificially manipulate the brain masculinization or feminization of young hamsters, and cause them to behave like the opposite sex as adults, it’s important that the hormone exposure in the first two weeks of life “match” the hormones to which the adult brain is later exposed.

    Timin’…. a tick-a-tick a-tick a-tick a—-timin’ …..yea, yea, yea, yeah…

    You’re too young, I think—I was but a child myself– but your comment made me start singing this song. I loved it at the time:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=modfq47onwU

  • carole

    Throbert

    About the female rodent posture that beckons, “Cumere, big boy”? It’s called lordosis.

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Carole’s explanation to StraightGrandmother was pretty good, but I would throw in the phrase “silent carrier” for SG to chew on.

    Cochrane is hypothesizing a virus that is very widespread among humans — maybe more than 70% of people in crowded urban conditions are infected with it — but one that sits silently in most host-carriers, without causing any observable health complaints.

    However, in a small percentage of pregnant women, the virus has an observable side-effect: a significantly increased chance that a male fetus will be homosexual.

    Keep in mind that many other scientists have speculated that some non-typical imbalance of uterine hormones may be a factor contributing to homosexuality; so in effect, Cochrane is merely proposing that the cause of these unusual hormone levels could be an infectious agent.

    So he’s definitely not saying that anyone can “catch the gay” from a toilet seat; he’s suggesting that homosexuality (or, perhaps, a increased tendency to have homosexual children) might be a rare side-effect of a non-rare virus that most people are already infected with.

  • carole

    Dennis,

    Thanks for the link.

  • carole

    Throbert , your 3:57 post…

    Succinct, clear, great. Thanks. I am sure SG will be grateful since my explanation was rambling.

    One modification I’d make in trying to sum up the Cochran position: while he thinks it very well can happen inutero, he feels it doesn’t have to and points out that a baby faces more pathogen exposure in the first year of life than many others combined. Could happen at different times.

  • Jayhuck

    Throbert,

    If there’s one lesson we learned from Margaret Mead, it’s that what “local informants” tell anthropologists about indigenous sexual practices, and what these same local informants actually believe to be true about indigenous sexual practices, aren’t necessarily the same thing!

    Thank you for the reminder! :)

  • Jayhuck

    Carol,

    About the female rodent posture that beckons, “Cumere, big boy”? It’s called lordosis.

    Interesting. I knew that Lordosis, which is just a type of curvature of the spine, could be found in both human and non-human animals. I did *not* know that the purposeful posturing of female rodents was also called this.

  • StraightGrandmother

    WOW! Many many thanks to everyone here. I sure did learn a lot. I came in making fun of Cochron and Ewald but I am not laughing now. The way I am thinking now is, something causes some people to be homosexual or bi-sexual. or transgender. I do not think it is as Nicolsi at NARTH thinks, it’s the parents fault their child is gay. For me to come to this determination I rely not on any particular research but simply common sense which can be found here-

    http://wthrockmorton.com/2009/05/12/fathers-sons-and-homosexuality/comment-page-1/#comment-415375

    If it is not the fault of the parents, and I don’t believe it is, then where does homosexuality, Bi-Sexuality and transgender come from? It’s gotta come from somewhere. It can’t be as Nicolosi says, “Everyone is heterosexual, they just have a homosexual problem” No it is not that. So it has to come from somewhere. None of us knows where that is, but some day we might. To tell you the absolute truth I really didn’t have an interest in why anyone is a sexual minority, I was never curious where it came from, I have always just accepted it as a fact and judged people based on their character. Now based on this conversation I am curious.

    Because of this discussion my mind has been opened. 99% of the time I am out of my league here but I have to say, I sure enjoy being here. I enjoy your company and I particularly enjoy your smarts. Hanging around smart people has got to make you smarter, right? Many thanks to all… from grasshopper.

  • Jayhuck

    SG -

    The way I am thinking now is, something causes some people to be homosexual or bi-sexual. or transgender.

    Thank you for all your posts. I believe that as long as you keep in mind “something(s)” causes us to be all the things we are and avoid NARTH and their adherents, you will be fine :)

  • http://funfrotfacts.blogspot.com Throbert McGee

    Carole –

    I agree that “Good Timin’” is the perfect theme song here — it’s quite likely that there are “critical time windows” for sex-hormone exposure during the brain development of sheep and humans, too.

    But incidentally, although the song debuted a decade before I was even born, I was very familiar with it growing up. I remember that the Disney Channel in the ’80s had a recurring feature called “D-TV” — they’d dub their own library of cartoon shorts with “golden oldies” pop/rock from the ’60s, in order to create “music videos” for kids.

    So I could almost swear that I remember hearing “a tick-a, tick-a, tick-a good timin’” accompanied by the classic Mickey/Donald/Goofy short “Clock Cleaners“!

  • Pingback: Evangelicals don’t know the facts about sexual orientation … or don’t want them. | Skipping to the Piccolo


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