What is the scientific evidence that homosexuality is genetic? Truth be told, little evidence has been shown. And for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain to you, to say that homosexuality is a trait passed on from one generation to the next, especially in the animal kingdom, is a little absurd, withstanding genes interacting with one another causing genetic anomalies. Now, what is the evidence that homosexuality is biological? Well, plenty. In fact, all of the evidence points in that direction. 1) A gay man, no matter how hard he tries, cannot make himself straight. He will, in fact, have a better chance of succeeding in suicide than conversion, at a clinic such as Marcus Bachmann’s. 2) Homosexuality happens in nature. Naturally in nature. Each year, more species are found to have homosexual minorities, from penguins to meer kats. 3) Homosexual males and females have been shown in tests to have physical differences (not only in their mannerisms, but physical, biophysical differences) from straight members of the same sex, as well as similarities between gay members of one sex, and straight members of the other.
These are just three examples of what I’m going to cover in this blog. Skepticism gives me a pretty wide range of subjects to deal with, and this one is one that I’ve been itching to do since I first heard that there was one of these camps only tens of miles from me – an embarrassment on an otherwise blue state, to say the least.
Despite, many people choose to remain denialists of biological homosexuality, and choose to remain ignorant of the evidence. This is nothing new, and per usual, it stems from religion/superstition in most cases. They cannot accept that God would create people who are an abomination against Jewish tribal laws written by people who sacrificed cows to the sun, and believed the world to be flat. It is truly a disorder if I’ve ever seen one, and trust me, I’ve seen my share. How can these people, putting superstitious nonsense aside, actually think people would make a decision to be a ridiculed and oppressed minority? How can people think one can chose their own sexual orientation? I didn’t choose to be straight, nor did any actual straight person (barring those like Marcus Bachmann who are putting on an act because they hate something about themselves). I guess the only answer is this: Willful ignorance.
Willful ignorance is a powerful force in this world, and is leading the crusade against science in our world. You see it with evolution, climate change, the mapping of the human genome itself, and you certainly see it with homosexuality. Naivity is another force because there are those who capitalize on the naivity of others by providing either misleading information, or all-out lies. Among the top of these activists who hasn’t been caught with another person of the same sex, or a child of the same sex, is the reverend Fred Phelps.
Phelps is the head of the Westboro Baptist Church – the group that protests military funerals because they feel the deaths of soldiers to be God’s retribution against the sinful culture of the United States, Canada, and Europe. Their website is entitled godhatesfags.com, if that gives you any precept of whom we’re dealing with here. Phelps has been quoted in saying many things regarding gays, such as this:
“It’s NOT OK to be gay. It will damn the soul, destroy the life, and doom any nation that tolerates such evil. God Hates Fags is a profound theological statement, which America needs more than it needs oxygen or bread.”
The first thing I’d like to point out is that nowhere in Moslow’s necessities of life is theology, let alone violent, hateful theology. I’m pretty sure I need to put water and food into my body more than I need to “accept” that “God hates fags.” Secondly, and with less jest, the entirety of this statement is theologically based, and therefore, meaningless. Phelps does, however, openly claim that homosexuality is a choice, and that any homosexual can choose to be straight, and should do so immediately.
Phelps is not alone in this belief. Among the many crazies in history like Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Bishop Harry Jackson, Michael Marcavage, Madeline Crabb, Pat Buchanann, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and others, one of today’s leading crusaders against homosexuality is James Hartline.
James Hartline had this to say regarding homosexual behavior:
“I am a man with the greatest of concern for my fellow Christian. In my daily course of life, I see the great burden being thrust upon the American Christian by satanic forces who are determined to wipe out every vestige of Biblical influence in this once godly nation. Everyday, I speak with moms and dads who are brokenhearted that their sons and daughters have had their vulnerable minds hijacked by advocates representing the Spirit of Sodom. Those dark, socialistic engineers of a resurrected Sodom are determined, in their rebellion against the throne of God, to plant a massive crop of what the Bible calls the ‘Vine of Sodom’.”
I’m seeing a pattern here. Could it be that the world’s leading anti-gay activists are all people of deep-rooted religion? That can’t be. There must be someone of a scientific origin with a scientific argument against homosexuality, right? I mean, just one? Maybe? Someone who won’t say something like, “Gay sympathy in schools will destroy America, the world, and quite possibly the universe.” I happened across one who was pretending to take a scientific approach to homosexuality. His name is Luiz Sergio Solimeo, the author of the book Defending a Higher Law: Why We Must Resist Same Sex “Marriage” and the Homosexual Movement.
This book explores the scientific arguments that homosexuality is physiological, and contends that science cannot prove the claims that homosexuality is “genetic,” or irreversible. He also says the animal homosexuality argument is nothing more than a myth. Would you like to read more? I surely would. Here is how he sums up his reasoning that the animal argument is a false argument:
“The reasoning behind the animal homosexuality theory can be summed up as follows:
– Homosexual behavior is observable in animals.
– Animal behavior is determined by their instincts.
– Nature requires animals to follow their instincts.
– Therefore, homosexuality is in accordance with animal nature.
– Since man is also animal, homosexuality must also be in accordance with human nature.
This line of reasoning is unsustainable. If seemingly “homosexual” acts among animals are in accordance with animal nature, then parental killing of offspring and intra-species devouring are also in accordance with animal nature. Bringing man into the equation complicates things further. Are we to conclude that filicide and cannibalism are according to human nature? In opposition to this line of reasoning, this article sustains that:
- There is no “homosexual instinct” in animals,
- It is poor science to “read” human motivations and sentiments into animal behavior, and
- Irrational animal behavior is not a yardstick to determine what is morally acceptable behavior for rational man.”
Let me just run through this step by step, as the author has seemingly taken a religious turn, no matter how much I tried to find an argument that wouldn’t. The first problem with this argument is that he’s done what so many others have: used the classic reductio ad absurdum to discredit the initial argument. He’s claiming that if we justify one behavior because it’s natural in the animal kingdom, then we have to justify them all. This is like comparing homosexuality to murder or cannibalism. Oops, no wait, that exactly what he just did. He doesn’t seem to understand social construct. We have many instincts as animals that we’ve slowly honed out of ourselves, or teach against, in modern society, because they don’t fit in with what we define as civilized culture. We don’t condone murder, cannibalism, infanticide, rape, racism, sexism, or any of these other components that are merely extensions of our animal brains; most of which are summed up with the word xenophobia.
Xenophobia probably helped us a lot in our evolution, as it is a form of false positive reasoning. I don’t know if that other tribe is here to kill me or befriend me, but I have nothing to lose if I take the highroad and fear them. Fear leads to hate, and hate leads to murder: yet another activity that we don’t condone as humans (at least secular culture doesn’t). However, to align homosexuality with any of these natural instincts is inane at best. We have natural instincts to eat, sleep, cry, sweat, drink, fornicate, procreate, consume, and so on, yet we don’t compare these things to murder. Why not? It’s the exact same thing. The only difference is that the instinct to fornicate and procreate is slightly altered within homosexuals, although, most homosexuals still feel parental instincts and maternal/paternal clocks just like the rest of us.
The reduction of all instincts into one broad spectrum of contempt is an intentionally misleading, dishonest argument and holds absolutely no scientific water. In the same respect, xenophobia seems to be an instinct that this author has absolutely no problem with.
Aside from this point, this argument neglects to dispute homosexuality as a natural behavior, which is the entire point of the animal kingdom argument. I would also like to point out that this man must be either a psychologist (sorry to pick on the field again, but this is one of my largest complaints about the philosophy of psychology itself) or an engineer, as only one of those two groups would make a comment so stupid as to say that it is “poor science to read human motivations and sentiments into animal behavior.” There is not a human instinct, action or presupposition that is not an extension of our animal instincts placed on a more complex scale. Any biologist will tell you that; any neurologist will tell you that.
He went on to say:
“To explain this abnormal behavior, the first observation must be the fact that animal instincts are not bound by the absolute determinism of the physical laws governing the mineral world. In varying degrees, all living beings can adapt to circumstances. They respond to internal or external stimuli.
Second, animal cognition is purely sensorial, limited to sound, odor, touch, taste and image. Thus, animals lack the precision and clarity of human intellectual perception. Therefore, animals frequently confuse one sensation with another or one object with another.
Third, an animal’s instincts direct it towards its end and are in accordance with its nature. However, the spontaneous thrust of the instinctive impulse can suffer modifications as it runs its course. Other sensorial images, perceptions or memories can act as new stimuli affecting the animal’s behavior. Moreover, the conflict between two or more instincts can sometimes modify the original impulse.
In man, when two instinctive reactions clash, the intellect determines the best course to follow, and the will then holds one instinct in check while encouraging the other. With animals that lack intellect and will, when two instinctive impulses clash, the one most favored by circumstances prevails.
At times, these internal or external stimuli affecting an animal’s instinctive impulses result in cases of animal ‘filicide,’ ‘cannibalism’ and ‘homosexuality.'”
Once again, the reductio ad absurdem argument returns; therefore, I will not explain it again. Once is enough for such an intellectually void and scientifically odious argument. I will, however, mention that the author seems to have a very unclear perception of not only consciousness, but also brain activity in general. It almost appears as if he’s using arguments that would be made by a phrenologist. Is animal behavior bound by the physical laws of the governing mineral world? Interesting way of putting it, but yes, to an extent. We do, however, obviously have a great ability to evolve and adapt to our circumstances. Adapting to circumstances and climate is what drives evolution, and hence, is the reason we’re here right now to talk about adapting. And of course all animals respond to internal and external stimuli. This is what shapes our lives and most of our decisions. This is granted, but I’m still not seeing the connection with homosexuality.
He says something in his second paragraph that sort of confuses me a bit, though. He states that all animals “lack the precision and clarity of human intellectual perception. Therefore, animals frequently confuse one sensation with another or one object with another.” So, how then to animals form packs if they frequently confuse other members of their species? I always thought that sight and smell were two of the primary functions of animals that allowed them to detect those with whom they’re familiar, but according to Solimeo, the frequently confuse these senses as well. In other words, he’s saying that animals can’t really tell a tree trunk from a lion? Because if that were true, I’m not so sure evolution would have brought us this far. This argument could be true of some animals that display homosexuality.
With my background in evolutionary biology, needless to say, I’ve done my fair share of work with fruit flies. Fruit flies are certainly an evolutionary anomoloy. Some of them have developed a third and fourth wing, which are both entirely dysfunctional, if not completely useless and disruptive to their existing, functional wings. They have an uncanny ability to smell food as well, but seem to have a horrible ability to sense one another with smell. The problem is that this is how fruit flies identify mates. They identify possible mates through smell, which they are actually quite horrible at, hence, this could easily explain homosexuality in fruit flies.
However, other animals don’t seem to have any problem at all identifying mates: animals as small as dung flies. In fact, an evolutionary trait of some animals is the ability to disguise themselves as the opposite sex in order to confuse other male contenders. They will mate with a female while other males pursue them, and quite often unsuccessfully (obviously) fornicate with them in between the initial male’s copulations. This vastly decreases sexual competition, which is certainly to the advantage of the male fish with this ability. The most noted creature with this capability is the Goodeidae. If the Goodeidae family of fish were incapable of detecting the sex of another fish, then this evolutionary adaptation wouldn’t work one bit, or at least, would not work most of the time. But it does, and it continues an amazing success rate among this teleost family of fish.
In another case, there is a species of albatross knows as the Laysan (Phoebastria immutabilis) which are known for their lesbian couples. The species is a monogamous species, but does not always pair up with mates of the opposite sex. In fact, the female’s, in over one-third of observed cases, mate with a male, then split with the male to pair up with a fellow female Laysan albatross. They do this for a very good reason: It greatly benefits the species. Female Laysans have learned what many human women have yet to learn, which is that the female sex is much more successful at child-rearing than is the male sex. They also use this technique to avoid divorce, as with a female partner, she is not likely to be lured away to fornicate with another female. This is a case of homosexual coupling, but not homosexual mating. It is a perfectly illustrates a deliberate sociobiological system wherein homosexuality is practiced, and certainly not by mistake. And if this can illustrate a successful mating program wherein homosexual coupling is successful, what does it say for humans who do the same? The success rates are similar, as children raised in homosexual households seem to grow up as better-adjusted individuals and average significantly higher levels of both education and income. But I guess that could just be the gay agenda, right?
I won’t spend too much time on this argument, as it’s irrelevant, but I’ve heard it enough to make a slight mention. There are those who claim that our culture is flying deeper and deeper into a fiery pit because the media is forcing a gay agenda upon us with shows like Will and Grace, Modern Family, Queer Eye, and others. Can I just say that I’ve watched all of these shows and I don’t feel any significant homosexual tendencies. In fact, I’m also a fan of Rick and Steve, and my life has yet to spin into a circle of gay orgies and drugs, so I think I’m all right. What isn’t mentioned when these people spout this conspiracy thesis is the fact that the gay community needs shows like these to show bigoted, straight, religious people that they’re just like everyone else: the same problems, the same confusions, but with one added stress to their lives. The gay community needs good PR just like the atheist community does; just like the Muslim community does; just like the Christian community does; just like the Jewish community does. And all of these sects have their own media PR circles, just as they should. Bigots are everywhere and hate everyone, and nobody is safe from them. And frankly, being an atheist myself, I know what it’s like to be a part of a minority who is constantly demonized, and every homosexual on this planet feels the same. We need it.
So, while I’m still looking for a truly scientific argument against homosexuality, I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever actually find one. I know that there probably aren’t any, but I’m still looking. It just appears to be the logical conclusion, based on contemporary as well as traditional research, is that homosexuality is a result of many composite factors, including genetics, environment, and hormonal influences, which when commingled, make the proverbial “perfect soup.” One cannot isolate purely in a genetic format, as far too many genetic twins differentiate in sexual persuasion, as has been illustrated in the studies performed by the Twin Studies of Bearman and Bruckner (2002). In this light, one cannot base it too far on upbringing either. This does not mean, however, that the genetic option isn’t a factor. It could even be a rather large one. Maternal linkage has been a long-studied hypothesis with very significant results. In Hamer et al (1993), Sanders et al (1998), and Hu et al (1995), a link was made on the X chromosome, gene marker Xq28. In rigorous studies, they found that a significant number of gay men tested in their studies had relatively high amounts of gay uncles or cousins on their mother’s side. The standout marker was, as I mentioned before, Xq28. This study was later refuted in 1999 by Rice et al, which argued that there was no evidence at all of linkage of microsatellite markers at Xq28. But this was not the end, as later Meta-analysis has showed that additional genes must be present to account for heritability of sexual orientation. A later study performed in 2005 scanned the genomes of the subjects and families who participated in both Hamer and Hu, and added additional subjects, concluding that while Xq28’s significance may have been overstated in Hamer, two other genes showed near significance, and one other, 10q26, showed significant maternal loading, thus adding validity to the family studies previously thought to be refuted.
One thing not mentioned in any of these studies was birth order, which I would really love to look at in the Twin Studies performed by Bearman and Bruckner. Later sexual orientation studies included a lot of wild claims, but some of them turned out to be incredibly valid, which was the case in Blanchard and Klassen’s Fraternal Birth Order study of sexual orientation (1997). The two concluded the younger a brother is in the family, the greater chance of being a homosexual. In fact, each older brother adds as high as a 48% chance of homosexuality. This conclusion wasn’t reached by statistics, however. There is strict, hard science to go along with it. An in-utero environmental causation has been shown that is linked to a maternal immune response linked to HY antigens. HY antigens are involved in the sexual differentiation of vertebrates. Maternal H-Y antibodies remember and react to specific H-Y antigens. Much like any other antibody, it is going to attack anything it perceives as an invader, which, unfortunately for the younger brother, is going to be his H-Y antigens, and therefore, decrease the antigens’ ability to masculinise the brain. Obviously, this effect varies, which has been the origin of much of its criticism, but it still stands today as a prevailing theory, and none of its opponent “external sibling order” hypotheses have come to explain the link between boys of later birth moved into adopted households without adopted brothers who are also prone to this effect.
Certainly, this effect may even grow deeper, as the physiological differences between straight men and gay men, as well as straight women and gay women, as well as the similarities between gay men and straight women, seem to fall right into this theory of the brain not undergoing proper masculinisation. As reported by the BBC in 2008, studies have found that gay men and straight women share have an equal average proportion of brain hemispheres. Straight men and lesbian women also share extraordinarily similar hemisphere proportions, including one anomaly: slightly larger right hemispheres. According to a paper published in Science by Simon Levay (1991), the average size of the INAH 3 (the third interstitial of the anterior hypothalamus) in gay men is approximately the same size as it is in women. It’s significantly smaller and the cells are far more densely packed than they are in those of heterosexual males. McFadden (2002) also notes that the functioning of the inner ear and central auditory system in bisexual women and lesbians far resembles the functioning of non-gay men, far more than it does straight women. These are two significant physiological differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals of the same gender that primarily relate to the brain. I’m leaving out research that states other differences such as the varying size of the suprachiasmatic nucleus, as well as varying activity in the amygdala, between straight and gay men, simply because these trial results have yet to be duplicated enough times to appease my hungry scientific mind. Whereas in the case of the INAH3 study, it was duplicated with the same results by its largest detractor, which in science, means everything.
While I’ll always say that correlation does not mean causation, many rather significant correlations have been made to varying brain activity as well as the relative sizes of certain areas of the brain and sexual preference. What this means is that this is an area of sexual orientation science that needs to be explored further, and if trends predict anything, more significant variations will certainly be found, leading us to conclusive evidence of the cause(s) of homosexuality.
But in the end, I will always say that the best test of all is the Myth Busters form of investigation: Just ask. We all know at least one homosexual. Just ask him or her if he or she chose to be this way. Not only will you get a resounding no, but you’ll also receive a question in return: Why the hell would I have chosen to be this way? It’s not that, in asking such a question, they’re admitting to being ashamed of who they are. They are, however, illustrating how their lives have been, being so different from everyone else, and probably having to keep such a huge part of themselves secret from their friends and family for years upon years upon years. Who in the world would choose such a thing? A better question: Why do we live in a society where people have to hide who they are.
Whether homosexuality is a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors, or if one of these factors are dominant, it’s obvious that a conscious choice was not made by the individual that determined his or her sexual identity and/or orientation. And let us also keep in mind that even though most scientists would refer to homosexuality as a genetic defect, that doesn’t imply negative connotation. My height is a genetic defect, and so is the color of my eyes. Any kind of genetic abnormality is a defect.
In summation, there is no evidence to suggest that homosexuality is a choice, nor is there evidence to suggest one can alter their sexual preference any more than they could alter the shape of their face or the length of their arms through sheer will. There are mountains of evidence to suggest that homosexuality is biological and, to loosely use the term, genetic. Environmental factors are also at play, but only when combined with preexisting biological components. Homosexuality is in no way, shape, or form a choice consciously made by humans or other animals.