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To: Laissez-faire capitalist

Right. A persisting genetic feature that causes one to not reproduce. Sure.

32 posted on 02/03/2005 5:12:51 PM PST by ovrtaxt (Go Howard Go!)
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To: ovrtaxt
Right. A persisting genetic feature that causes one to not reproduce. Sure.

For the gene to survive, it would have to have big benefits for the family members of the homosexual. That's really not the case--at least, I can't really imagine it being the case. So yes, it is absurd to think that genetic factors are the most important thing in determining homosexuality.

However, it is possible that some genes have a relation to homosexuality, but are not completely determinate.

This is a completely hypothetical example: maybe there is a gene that gives people a better ability to speak and learn languages and also, when found in men, causes a 10% chance of homosexuality. So straight men and women with this gene would usually have an increased chance of reproducing (because they would be more successful in our society), even if there was a small increase in homosexuality as well. This is a completely hypothetical, made-up example, but I think something like it could be possible.

First: why am I "fisking" NARTH's position? Is it because I care deeply about the issue of the origins of homosexuality? NO. I do have gay friends, but I don't really care whether they got that way through genetics or the environment, they're my friends. I don't even care that NARTH is anti-gay. What pisses me off is how anti-science NARTH is. I will freely admit I have a MASSIVE BIAS in favor of SCIENCE, and unscientific stuff being passed off as science makes me mad!

I am not satisfied with some of the UNSCIENTIFIC criticisms NARTH makes of the article, and they make me suspicious that NARTH is full of s--- (because the critique is full of obvious logical fallacies and is short on substance).

According to Dr. Gerald Schoenewolf, the study's most noted researcher, Dr. Dean Hamer, is gay and has a pre-existing bias. The report, says Schoenewolf, "is written in super-scientific language in order to cover up the fact that it's totally biased. There is no balance in the article--no attempt to weigh various evidences or to speculate whether it could be interpreted environmentally. There is not even a mention of the environment. This is apparently a group of very intelligent homosexuals and pro-gay researchers looking for evidence of homosexual heredity."
Logical fallacy 1: they're attacking the messengers instead of the research (just because Dr. Hamer is possibly biased doesn't mean he's WRONG or that he's done bad research, any more than a Republican professor is always lying if he comes up with data to support President Bush's policies). Other points: just because Dr. Hamer is gay doesn't automatically mean he's biased. Also: is he a radical activist? He freely admits at the start of the paper that homosexuality in men is found in somewhere between 2 and 6 percent of the population. Gay activists like to claim 10% (Kinsey's figure), but those numbers are too high. Right off the bat, Dr. Hamer is associating himself with sober scientists rather than political activists (which is better than I can say about NARTH).

Logical fallacy 2: Attacking the research for not mentioning environmental factors. Environmental factors are OUTSIDE THE SCOPE of the research. Hamer is not denying that they might play some role, and he's not trying to measure the role they do have. He's ONLY looking at whether or not there is a correlation between certain genes and homosexuality. The fact that he's found a correlation does not mean fer sure that those genes cause homosexuality, it's more complicated than that.

This is a "noble" effort that came up with nothing. Although the authors claim that the technology does not exist to do what they are trying to do, most scientists would be skeptical that they would be "successful" even with the technology. No significant loci were found that would identify male sexual orientation. The researchers' attempt to manipulate the data to come up with something meaningful was not realized. They find nothing and yet they insist that they might find something. Good science begins with a strong hypothesis not with a "fishing expedition" which is interpreted as something other than for what it is. Complex behaviors such as those involved with sexual orientation are likely polygenic and multifactoral--at the very most predispositions whose emergence and maintenance is strongly influenced by cultural and environmental factors.
Again, more logical fallacies. Attacking the messenger is repeated.

Logical Fallacy 3: calling this a "fishing expedition." Yes, that's exactly what it is. That's how scientists cull information from big piles of statistics, they fish it out. This research doesn't prove that those genes cause homosexuality, it just suggests that there might be a connection which would be worth following up in future research. Which leads us to...

Logical Fallacy 4: overstating what Hamer claims to have found, in order to claim Hamer is overreaching. They claim Hamer claims to have found genes that guarantee homosexuality--when Hamer has made no such claim ("No significant loci were found that would identify male sexual orientation"). Likewise, NARTH says "Complex behaviors such as those involved with sexual orientation are likely polygenic and multifactoral--at the very most predispositions whose emergence and maintenance is strongly influenced by cultural and environmental factors." What part of that is contrary to Hamer's research? Hamer just shows a correlation between homosexuality and certain genes, that's not the same as saying that those genes will always cause homosexuality, or that the environment plays no role. By pretending Hamer said something he didn't say, they can attack it. Classic straw-man fallacy.

The initial casual perusal of the title and abstract would lead one to believe that this study has proven some genetic determinants for homosexuality.
Really? I perused the friggin' abstract and title ("A genomewide scan of male sexual orientation") and found NOTHING that lead me to believe this. This isn't a logical fallacy, it's a DAMN DIRTY LIE.

Further, there is a statement that is completely invalid; "family and twin studies have provided evidence for a genetic component to male sexual orientation." At the end of the same paragraph there is a statement that indicates there is no hereditary component: "The results from family and twin studies demonstrate that sexual orientation is a complex (i.e. does not show simple Mendalian inheritance) and multifactorial phenotype."
I don't get what is so terrible about this. Dr. Hamer says that some studies show a link between genetics and homosexuality. He provides CITATIONS TO STUDIES (something NARTH has not done) which have found some sort of link between genetics and homosexuality. Dr. Hamer then says that while some studies have found links, others haven't, and that this means the link between genetics and homosexuality isn't perfectly clear (he uses the term "Mendelevian," which is to say, from the genotype you can know th phenotype with 100% accuracy). Dr. Hamer has NOT overstated the link between genetics and homosexuality, as NARTH wants you to believe.
He then acknowledges that the study sample is too small to draw any conclusions. The author then makes an interesting statement; "our results may not extrapolate to individuals who do not meet our exclusion criteria."
So Dr. Hamer is honest.
The author also eliminates female sexual orientation since it may have a different basis genetically than male sexual orientation.
Why the hell wouldn't it??? Gay men are different than gay women! If there is in fact a genetic basis for homosexuality, why would it be the same for men and women?

As a side note (just because I find this interesting, not because it has anything to do with what I am arguing above): correlation does not normally imply causation, but in the case of genetics it might, because we know genes can't/won't change. Whatever the genes are in gay people, the gay people got those genes from their parents, and their parents had those genes from theirs, etc., long before anyone knew if the kid would turn out gay. Being gay can't cause genes to change in a person (at least, that would be astonishing to modern science). And there is no "third force" factor that could cause homosexuality and change genes. So it is pretty safe to believe that correlation between genes and behavior has a causal relationship.

The only example I can think of where this might not be true is if there was a gene that caused women to behave meanly towards their children but did not affect men. We might expect for male children having this gene would correlate to bad behavior, but this would be because their mothers mistreated them, not because the gene actually affects their behavior. Maybe those gay people share common genes because those genes came from their mothers and made their mothers act in a way that turned them gay, or caused their mothers to expose the children in their womb to certain chemicals that made the children more likely to turn gay.

Doctor Hamer actually takes this into account: he doesn't just look for a correlation between genes in the man and homosexuality in the man, he looks at genes in the mother and homosexuality in the man and genes in the father and homosexuality in the man. It seems to me that Dr. Hamer is doing intelligent, honest research, and that NARTH is deliberately distorting what he's said because it doesn't like what he's looking for and what he's found.

What did Dr. Hamer find? He did not find proof that homosexuality has its origins in genetics. But he found some interesting genes to look at for future research! He's found certain genes that might have some relationship to homosexuality. His theory that those genes have a relationship with homosexuality is a useful theory, because it is easy to create falsifiable hypotheses (note that "useful" has nothing to do with "true," "useful" just means it's easier to test). For instance:

If those genes have a relationship with homosexuality in men, and we carry out a much larger study, we will expect to find a stastically significant correlation between the two.
That hypothesis is easily falsifiable: do a bigger study, and if there's no correlation, then those genes aren't associated with homosexuality. That's what SCIENCE is.

Note that science cannot prove that no genes have any relationship to homosexuality, because proving the absence of an indirect relationship is basically impossible. If you don't understand that, then you don't understand science, and you shouldn't post on science threads until you do get an understanding (hint: google the "scientific method" or "falsifiable" or read some books by Karl Popper)

38 posted on 02/03/2005 6:12:54 PM PST by xm177e2 (Stalinists, Maoists, Ba'athists, Pacifists: Why are they always on the same side?)
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