Friday, July 20, 2012

Born this way

In the context of cutting the recognized impact on life outcomes the parental environment has on people down to size, Razib writes:
Though many social conservatives are now accepting the proposition that homosexual orientation can be innate, many deny this likelihood. Ultimately the morality of homosexuality doesn’t necessarily depend on whether it is innate or not, but obviously the injustice of the situation becomes more stark when you are arguing that a human being must suppress their natural impulses.
The GSS allows us greater specificity on what "many" means here. The following table shows the percentages of people, by political orientation, who think homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and who think it is innate:

Homosexuality is...a choiceinnate

Having only been deployed in 1994, the data have gathered some dust. Given the enormous social shifting that has occurred with regards to homosexuality over the intervening years, it's plausible to assume that the lifestyle choice viewpoint has today become a minority one even among conservatives. However, while the nearly two-decade old GSS question showed  the country to be virtually evenly divided on the question (49.4% lifestyle choice, 50.6% innate), an Angus-Reid poll conducted 15 years later, in 2009, found less belief in the innateness of homosexuality (34% lifestyle choice, 47% innate with the remainder being unsure) than the GSS did.

By way of thought experiment alone, I predicted men would be more inclined to see homosexuality as innate (including variations of the gay germ theory, which for practical purposes renders homosexuality an innate condition) than women would. Do many heterosexual men believe they could will themselves into being physically attracted to other men while simultaneously losing their lust for women? Even if not by their own volition, do many believe they could be conditioned into such sexual preferences? Female homosexuality, in contrast, appears to be more malleable and culturally influenced than male homosexuality does. Time to toss that reasoning out the window, though--women are more perceptive than men are on this one:

Homosexuality is...a choiceinnate

GSS variables used: HOMOCHNG, POLVIEWS(1-2)(4)(6-7)


reluctantapostate said...

That reasoning didn't work so well because the vast majority of men and women are heterosexual and don't spend their time focused on the mechanisms of homosexuality. I also believe that women are more likely to favor same sex marriage than men, so in many ways, the gender pattern, follows the liberal-conservative pattern

Jokah Macpherson said...

One time I "converted" I friend of mine to opposition to gay marriage completely by accident; I was just pointing out to him that the morality of same-sex attraction was not contingent on whether it was a conscious choise (whatever that means), but apparantly all of his support was built on that premise.

The male vs. female thing in your data is very surprising. I certainly can't see myself ever being attracted to men but I can't speak for everyone. I have, however, noticed that even the most liberal and open-minded will quake with rage over pedophiles like Sandusky, even though pedophiles are technically just as much victims of their impulses as gays. I never see any kindhearted rhetoric in the media encouraging homosexual pedophiles to get help and reminding them it's not their fault.

Jokah Macpherson said...


Dan said...

The whole 'born gay' idea seems to be a pretty modern concept, originating in the last generation by gays aiming to go mainstream.

During sexual liberation, lots of men went both ways, including famously Mick Jagger and David Bowie. They did this for years and years but those looking at them in the last couple of decades would consider them strictly hetero.

You had the pattern in British prep schools of high proportions of boys bonking other boys in their youth before later settling down with wives. I don't think those schools are that way as much now.

And then there is the fact that a high proportion of gay men were once *used* as children.

Frankly, it seems like if you can overcome your disgust with using, well, a dude's poo hole, then what you have is a masturbatory exercise. Somehow men in prison seem to make it work.

And then there's the fact that the proportion of men who identify as gay has been going dramatically downward over just a couple of decades (even with greater acceptance) while the proportion of women identifying as lesbians has been going up. That strikes me as evidence of social factors. If it was innate the proportions would stay roughly the same over a short period of like 20 years.

A cancer study in rural Brazil found that 35% of the study group had engaged in bestiality:

Do we also say they were born that way? Help me out here -- I want to be politically correct.

My best scientific guess is that a person's sexual orientation, like almost everything else involving the brain, starts out somewhat plastic before crystalizing into harder neural pathways with experience.

D said...

Regarding all those Brazilian zoosexuals, probably some of them prefer male sheep, right?

Then do you refer to those people as homosexuals or zoosexuals? Because I really don't want to be offending anybody here.

Audacious Epigone said...


Jason Malloy, Greg Cochran, and Steve Sailer have been discussing as much recently.

As Razib has memorably written, and the Brazil link showcases, men will bonk sheep (and so also Neanderthals, other men even if they're not sexually aroused by them, and of course themselves and not because they're overly narcissistic), so access and availability of the most desirable sexual objects (ie fertile women) surely plays some role in influencing how predilections manifest themselves.

pat said...

I would call the idea of homosexuality as rather more than a proposition. It is an observation. Unfortunately it is an observation that requires a longitudinal perspective.

If you look at boys in a cross section at age 15. You will find that some of them are gay - about 3%. The rest will be straight. So you have the problem of how to account for this small minority's divergence. You have 15 years of unknown experience to speculate about.

But if you look at boys longitudinally it looks different. Boys behave differently from girls in play. They indulge in "rough house" play. At least most of them do. There are boys who don't play rough and seem to prefer gentler girly activities. These boys grow up to be homosexuals. They don't appear as full blown gays until puberty but the signs are there from birth.

There is no doubt now that homosexuality is innate - not genetic - but present from birth.

This observation has only been made rather recently but it is very certain.

In fact prenatally the INAH3 nucleus of the hypothalamus seems to get changed near the end of the first trimester.

I think that this change in INAH3 is related to the mothers infection with the Toxoplasma Gondii parasite. I am currently writing some of the researchers in toxoplasmosis to try to verify this.

We know that the parasite is common in the US in humans. It tends to target sub cortical structures in its motile phase and preferentially encysts in the amaygdala and limbic systems. There it changes the behavior of the host.

In humans it cause a myriad of behavioral changes incluing schizophrenia and recjless driving. I'm guessing it causes homosexuality too. There are also a few epidemiological clues. Brazil has a lot of homosexuality and also seems to have the highest T.Gondii infection rtaes in the world.


Anonymous said...

It still hasn't been proven that toxoplasma infection causes schizophrenia, Pat. Actually, at this point, there is only tentative evidence linking toxoplasmosis to behavioral change in humans. The evidence for behavioral change in rodents is much stronger.

Anonymous said...

Regarding t g causing behavior changes. Could it be that some people are more susceptible? I heard that only 5% of people are susceptible to leprosy; 95% are immune. Same with HIV, 2% of whites are immune and can't be infected.

So, could there be some genetic/germ combo?

pat said...

The thing to remember about T. Gondii is that it is all very new. All of the behavioral or possible behavioral effects in humans have been discovered quite recently. Just a couple decades ago no one suspected that it would have any effect on humans.

Humans are not the primary host for this parasite. Humans are the preferred host for the beef tape worm and it causes few problems. The pork tape worm is much more serious and the raccoon round worm is very deadly. T. Gondii seems to kill Sea Otters at once but lives in humans for years.

Homosexuality is a condition (disease) where the host's behavior has been changed. Parasites often change their host's behavior. We know that homosexuality is likely to be caused by changes in the INAH3 nucleus of the hypothalamus. We also know that T. Gondii migrates to the hypothalamus and other limbic system structures.

Human homosexuality it seems to me fits the parasitic disease paradigm. Most bacterial and viral diseases hurt you because they eat you. At least some parasites like T. Gondii hurt you (assuming you are a mouse) by changing your behavior so that some predator (a cat) eats you.

We have a disease of sub-cortical behavior change and we have an organism that causes sub-cortical behavioral changes. My hypothesis is that these two are connected.

It could be the case that homosexuality was caused by intestinal worms. Gay men have "gay bowel syndrome" in which their intestines are infected with all sorts of parasites and worms. The eggs could pass out with gay man's feces or be spread through anal sex. This is pretty much the situation of people who have a beef tapeworm inside them. The parasite is relatively benign because it is well adapted to it's host.

But this theory fails in many ways. First of all it doesn't explain lesbians or those gays who don't have "gay bowel syndrome". It is also hard to see how it could be spread. As hygiene has improved we should see much less homosexuality in developed nations if this theory were true. There is also the problem that it is relatively easy to kill a tape worm and cure the patient. Human homosexuality is not so easy to cure.

So humans are very unlikely to be the primary host of a homosexuality causing parasite. But they might be an intermediate host. T. Gondii normally cycles between cats and mice. But the parasite's eggs can get into other animals. For example it should be in dung beetles and cockroaches which also eat cat feces. I don't know what it does in them - maybe nothing - but it doesn't reproduce. It may cause some sort of random process like death in Sea Otters or homosexuality in humans.


Anonymous said...

If homosexuality is just nature, and not nurture, then how do liberals explain Ancient societies like Egypt, Rome, Greece, Middle East and other places where sex between men (as long as there was no penetration on the older and more dominant participant) and gay pedophilia was practiced?

Anonymous said...

obviously the injustice of the situation becomes more stark when you are arguing that a human being must suppress their natural impulses

What a load of crap. It's well established that men are innately more prone to violence than women. Would Razib conclude from this that it an obvious injustice that we have laws against violence?

There's no fool like a high-IQ fool.

Rev. Right said...

It is always a choice, if you believe in free will.