Evolutionary psychology & the 'gay' gene

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    Apr 14, 2010 4:40 AM GMT
    my friend turned me on to www.psychologytoday.com recently, and i've been obsessed ever since. i finally made my way to the gender page, and started reading some articles about sexual orientation. some of the articles i read were unbelievably interesting.

    i want to share this one article (which i realize is from 2008 ). i'm sure a bunch of you guys have researched this stuff before, but what do you make of it?

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200804/finding-the-switch

    i believe studying evolutionary psychology will eventually help to distinguish particular 'gay' genes, and bring us closer to understanding our existence.

    most of us have probably come to different realizations at different points in our lives as to why we are gay, what that even means, and how that actually fits in with the evolution of the human race,

    I find comfort reading these articles because its the first time the subject matter has been explained in a way that actually makes sense, without claiming the 'gay' gene as being a defect. Maybe that's just because the psychologists who researched and wrote the articles are gay.

    anyway now im rambling, but what are your opinions?
  • tennsjock

    Posts: 349

    Apr 14, 2010 8:00 AM GMT
    total bunk -- if this is indicative of the kind of research psychologists put out, they should really take some courses in evolutionary biology.

    "Evolution favors traits that aid reproduction..." really? These researchers have an incorrect/simplistic understanding of evolution by natural selection. Nature is full of examples where traits that don't directly aid reproduction are passed on. Consider the reproductive behavior of ants and bees, where only one queen is fertile and all other females are sterile. How did this behavior arise? Answer: The female worker bees and the current queen all came from the same queen in the preceding generation, which means they share 50% of their dna. So the offspring of the current queen will share 25% of their dna with the female worker bees of the current generation. So by working to ensure the survival of the hive, the sterile workers bees are passing on their genes. Similarly, gay men who work to support their family members are ensuring their genes get passed on to the next generation.

    Also, consider monogamy. So many people seem to think that evolution favors promiscuity, yet monogamy is an evolved trait in many species. Why? For complex species, where complex behaviors like hunting, foraging, hiding, preparing for winter, etc. are necessary to survive, the stability of monogamous parents (who can teach these complex behaviors) actually confers an advantage over parents that mate and then separate.

    So here's an alternative explanation. Perhaps gay sons are more likely to help siblings raise their children. The children, of course, would share 25% of their dna with their gay uncles. Since humans are far more complicated than amoeba, complex behaviors (like, say, getting a job, or doing integrals) are necessary for survival. And perhaps a child's chance for success increases with the number of family members helping to raise the child. So a child with two parents and one gay uncle has a greater chance of success than a child of two parents.
  • tennsjock

    Posts: 349

    Apr 14, 2010 8:25 AM GMT
    "Whatever brain structures are responsible for sexual orientation must emerge from a complex chain of molecular events..." contains the assumption that brain structures are responsible for sexual orientation, yet they supply no evidence supporting this claim.

    I'm not familiar with current research addressing this issue, but the first by Simon LeVay was filled with methodological errors. He was a gay scientist hoping to prove that being gay is biological (which, I guess, makes it "okay" to be gay). He found a section of the hypothalamus that was twice as large in straight men as in gay men. Here are the critiques:
    * small sample size -- he examined a total of 41 brains, 17 of which belonged to gay men
    * gay or AIDS? -- all 17 gay men whose brains he examined died of AIDS. Many men who die of AIDS have a surge of testosterone right before they die, and testosterone regulates the size of certain segments of the brain. So perhaps all men who die of AIDS, regardless of sexual orientation, share the features he identified as indicating sexual orientation.

    I strongly question the motivation of scientists exploring the cause of sexual orientation. Too often, they have a vested interest in the outcome that, I believe, leads to methodological problems like that cited above. Many of the scientist, like LeVay and Hammer, have publicly declared their desire to justify being gay by finding a biological cause. But being gay is either okay or it's not. Finding a biological cause doesn't remove responsibility for our decisions. Consider a 5th grader pulled into the principal's office for beating up smaller kids. He says, "But Principal, I have genes that predispose me to increased aggression. I can't help it if I was born this way." Would that excuse really fly?

    No. Regardless of whether sexual orientation is genetic, we all choose our sexual behavior. That's the meaning of free will. We choose to be monogamous or not. We choose to come out or not. We choose to believe that being gay is okay, or not. Finding a cause for sexual orientation won't change this.
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    Apr 14, 2010 3:54 PM GMT
    No. Regardless of whether sexual orientation is genetic, we all choose our sexual behavior. That's the meaning of free will. We choose to be monogamous or not. We choose to come out or not. We choose to believe that being gay is okay, or not. Finding a cause for sexual orientation won't change this.

    yes, everyone is responsible for choosing their own sexual behavior, but that's not really what i'm talking about. i'm just saying its interesting to understand exactly how much of a role genetic disposition plays over human behavior, and more specifically, just understanding why gay even exists, and why natural selection didn't smother those genes thousands of years ago.
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    Apr 14, 2010 4:09 PM GMT
    There are gender blind genes...that we know for sure

    You can mutate flies so that they can't tell the difference between males and females and properly mate they all gang up and try and rape each other. It's really quite funny to watch

    Another theory I've read is that the genes that make males gay induce hyper sexuality in female siblings. So the gay genes don't die out because the sisters of gay males are sluts basically.

    Both are really too simplistic to explain homosexual behavior. It's likely if a gene or genes exist they are heavily epi-genetically impacted

    Either way funding genetic research into homosexuality is a waste considering how much information the genome could yield in regard to everything from autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimers right up to diabetes/heart disease
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    Apr 14, 2010 4:19 PM GMT
    the biological angle on homosexuality is a scary one. do you see anyone trying to find the "straight" gene? no, didn't think so. i wonder why that is...(he asks, stroking his chin and looking thoughtfully at the ceiling...)?
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    Apr 14, 2010 4:32 PM GMT
    drummerboy1017 said...but what are your opinions?

    Nature would not consistently produce gay men & women if there was not an advantage to the species. Clearly there is no direct reproductive advantage, so what else could there be?

    Humans are social creatures. The analogy of bee colonies has already been mentioned here. How would gays help human society, when viewed as a specialized colony?

    If you do not reproduce yourself, you must help those who do reproduce or else the species goes extinct. That is pure Darwinian theory. So how do gays help humans?

    One of the unique aspects of humans is that we have culture. It is as important a framework to us as a hive is to a bee colony. Human culture includes all our social constructs, all our instrumentalities, everything we create that does not exist in Nature.

    Yet if all humans did was procreate, and merely provide a basic subsistence for ourselves, we would be no more than apes & monkeys. Could it be that our culture, and our civilization, derives from those members who provide something more than just offspring? And that perhaps a certain small percentage of us are produced for that purpose, to advance humanity culturally, not just biologically?

    As a bee or ant colony has its specialized members who do not reproduce, could that be the role of gay humans? I find it hard to believe that Nature has been making the same mistake for many thousands of years, in creating gay men & women who do not reproduce reliably.