Can Epigenetics Explain Homosexuality?

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Scientists propose a new model for how homosexuality develops, but observers say it will be difficult to test.

 


Researchers looking for a genetic signature of homosexuality have been barking up the wrong tree, according to a trio of researchers in the United States and Sweden. Instead, the scientists posit, epigenetic influences acting on androgen signaling in the brain may underlie sexual orientation. In a paper published last week (December 11) in The Quarterly Review of Biology, they propose a model describing how epigenetic markers that steer sexual development in males could promote homosexual orientation in females, and vice versa. The scientists offer their model to explain both the tendency of homosexuality to run in families, and the fact that so far no “homosexual gene” has been identified.

“It’s a very provocative, very interesting new twist that is plausible,” said Margaret McCarthy, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland who studies how hormones influence brain development and was not involved in producing the model. But, she cautioned, so far the theory “is not supported by any data.”

Indeed, Andrea Ciani, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Padova, thinks that a variety of factors, including genes and epigenetics, influence sexual orientation. “It’s a little bit vain to think we’ll find the answer to homosexuality as a whole.”

The model was developed by William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Sergey Gavrilets, a mathematician at the University of Tennessee; and Urban Friberg, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Uppsala. The notion that epigenetics, rather than genetics, is the primary force promoting homosexuality sprang from several observations, explained Rice.

First, evidence shows that homosexuality can run in families. Still, only 20 percent of identical twins are both gay, said Rice. Furthermore, linkage studies looking for a genetic underpinning to sexual orientation have not turned up any “major” homosexual genes, Rice noted. “This made us suspicious that something besides genes produces heritability that isn’t genetic.” Epigenetics fits the bill.

The model focuses on the role of epigenetics in shaping how cells respond to androgen signaling, an important determinant of gonad development. The researchers suggest that androgens are also important factors in molding sexual orientation, and that various genes involved in mediating androgen signaling are regulated by epigenetic modifications.  These epigenetic marks, they argue, can be passed on between generations.

Written By: Sabrina Richards
continue to source article at the-scientist.com

43 COMMENTS

  1. No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    It’s a bit like trying to find out what causes some people to have three nipples…

    In either case, any ‘answers’ with be of no value to anyone, offensive to some and a complete waste of time…

    Hang on… isn’t that religion as well?

  2. In reply to #2 by Karl Zuvela:

    Really…. Here’s to living in ignorance. Cheers! [Quoted of moderated post removed by moderator]

    The point I was making was that the only people interested in working out why people are gay are either scientists with nothing better to do, or religious freaks who want to ‘convert’ them back to ‘normal’.

    Yeah, I’m sure the whole world wants to know about what makes a gay person gay – but personally I reckon there are bigger questions that need answering that might actually help us all live together a little bit better.

    Oh well, perhaps I’m wrong…

  3. In reply to #4 by Dr Bob:

    The point I was making was that the only people interested in working out why people are gay are either scientists with nothing better to do, or religious freaks who want to ‘convert’ them back to ‘normal’.

    Citation needed. Anyway, you need to add a third group; me. Because I am a curious fella. I suspect you are too or you wouldn’t be under this story in the first place. So, scientists with nothing better to do, religious freaks, and the three of us, so far.

    Yeah, I’m sure the whole world wants to know about what makes a gay person gay – but personally I reckon there are bigger questions that need answering that might actually help us all live together a little bit better.

    Yes, there are bigger questions, there are also smaller questions, and everything in between. If we all only worked on the biggest question, then everyone in the world would be particle physicists doing Big Bang research….but then who would flip all the Big Macs?

  4. In reply to #5 by FreeXinker:

    In reply to #4 by Dr Bob:

    The point I was making was that the only people interested in working out why people are gay are either scientists with nothing better to do, or religious freaks who want to ‘convert’ them back to ‘normal’.

    Citation needed. Anyway, you need to add a third group; me. Because I am a curious fella. I suspect you are too or you wouldn’t be under this story in the first place. So, scientists with nothing better to do, religious freaks, and the three of us, so far.

    Yeah, I’m sure the whole world wants to know about what makes a gay person gay – but personally I reckon there are bigger questions that need answering that might actually help us all live together a little bit better.

    Yes, there are bigger questions, there are also smaller questions, and everything in between. If we all only worked on the biggest question, then everyone in the world would be particle physicists doing Big Bang research….but then who would flip all the Big Macs?

    I’m also curious about what it is exactly the spotty oiks in my local McDonalds actually PUT in my burgers… But hey, that’s a different story… :-)

    Welcome to the Curious Three, by the way – not quite the Fantastic Four or the Magnificent Seven, but hey, there’s a recession on…

  5. In reply to #4 by Dr Bob:

    Yeah, I’m sure the whole world wants to know about what makes a gay person gay – but personally I reckon there are bigger questions that need answering that might actually help us all live together a little bit better.

    First of all there’s nothing wrong with expanding our knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It’s also useful in discussions and other areas of science. Without facts those would be not unlike, well… theology.

    Secondly, and more importantly, there is a very vocal group of religious people who claim homosexuality is either a choice or a mental disorder. Call me naive, but I think sufficient scientific proof will put a stop to most of this harmful nonsense. Yes, harmful. Children are subjected to the weirdest forms of ‘therapy’, leading to all mental trauma and suicide risks. Gays are shunned by their own family for their perceived choice of going against God’s and daddy’s wishes. Etc. etc.

    And last but not least, I think it would come as a relief to many gay people who are in deep internal conflict between their natural/innate urges and the shame and stigma being imposed on them by family and society. Some confirmation that there really is nothing wrong with them and that it is all natural might be welcome for some. (One of my friends is having this problem at the very moment, his grandmother bullied him at the Christmas dinner until he ran out. And he blames himself!)

    In any case, I do think it would indeed help us all live together a little bit better.

  6. Oh, where’s that damn Edit button?
    >

    Children are subjected to the weirdest forms of ‘therapy’, leading to all mental trauma and suicide risks.

    –>All kinds of mental trauma, and increased suicide risk.

  7. In reply to #7 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

    In reply to #4 by Dr Bob:

    Yeah, I’m sure the whole world wants to know about what makes a gay person gay – but personally I reckon there are bigger questions that need answering that might actually help us all live together a little bit better.

    First of all there’s nothing wrong with expanding our knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It’s also useful in discussions and other areas of science. Without facts those would be not unlike, well… theology.

    Secondly, and more importantly, there is a very vocal group of religious people who claim homosexuality is either a choice or a mental disorder. Call me naive, but I think sufficient scientific proof will put a stop to most of this harmful nonsense. Yes, harmful. Children are subjected to the weirdest forms of ‘therapy’, leading to all mental trauma and suicide risks. Gays are shunned by their own family for their perceived choice of going against God’s and daddy’s wishes. Etc. etc.

    And last but not least, I think it would come as a relief to many gay people who are in deep internal conflict between their natural/innate urges and the shame and stigma being imposed on them by family and society. Some confirmation that there really is nothing wrong with them and that it is all natural might be welcome for some. (One of my friends is having this problem at the very moment, his grandmother bullied him at the Christmas dinner until he ran out. And he blames himself!)

    In any case, I do think it would indeed help us all live together a little bit better.

    I agree with what you are saying – I was looking at it purely from the point of view of people using the scientific research to backup their claims that it can be cured – I didn’t consider the positive benefits of proving that it is a natural state of being that a person has no control over.

    Apologies again, I really do agree with all the replies so far… apart from the one that called me an idiot, obviously… And even he might be on to something, otherwise I wouldn’t still be up typing this at 2am with work tomorrow…

    :-)

  8. In reply to #8 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

    Oh, where’s that damn Edit button?

    Children are subjected to the weirdest forms of ‘therapy’, leading to all mental trauma and suicide risks.

    –>All kinds of mental trauma, and increased suicide risk.

    Yep, that’s what I was originally getting at – the last thing these people need is some religious nut job saying “scientists have proven there is a part of the brain that makes you gay – let’s cut it out”…

    But like you say, there are positives as well, so I apologise for the lack of balance in my original post.

    Blimey… I feel like I’m in a confessional box… :-)

  9. In reply to #10 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #8 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

    Oh, where’s that damn Edit button?

    Children are subjected to the weirdest forms of ‘therapy’, leading to all mental trauma and suicide risks.

    –>All kinds of mental trauma, and increased suicide risk.

    Yep, that’s what I was originally getting at – the last thing these people need is some religious nut job saying “scientists have proven there is a part of the brain that makes you gay – let’s cut it out”…

    But like you say, there are positives as well, so I apologise for the lack of balance in my original post.

    Blimey… I feel like I’m in a confessional box… :-)

    I’m with you Dr Bob.

    And why in the world would someone cut something out of the brain of a wellfunctioning human being?
    Sort of like an alien abduction kind of deal.
    It’s insane and extremely sick.

  10. In reply to #11 by SophusE:

    I’m with you Dr Bob.

    And why in the world would someone cut something out of the brain of a wellfunctioning human being?
    Sort of like an alien abduction kind of deal.
    It’s insane and extremely sick.

    Totally agree, thanks.

  11. No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    To know the cause would mean proof that homosexuality is biological in nature and not a choice. Even though many gay people are obviously different than straight people, many people – especially religious are blind to anything other than their book. I wish a definitive cause to homosexuality would be found already – just to stick it to the “loving” hypocrites.

    Interestingly, a gay coworker of mind commented that he was doing some reading on research that shows that a high percentage of gay people are the last born in their family.

  12. In reply to #14 by QuestioningKat:

    To know the cause would mean proof that homosexuality is biological in nature and not a choice. Even though many gay people are obviously different than straight people, many people – especially religious are blind to anything other than their book. I wish a definitive cause to homosexuality would be found already – just to stick it to the “loving” hypocrites.

    Interestingly, a gay coworker of mind commented that he was doing some reading on research that shows that a high percentage of gay people are the last born in their family.

    Again I agree, with the caveat I mentioned before about how this proof could be used by those same loving hypocrites we both despise.

    It is sad that we even need to have this discussion, though…

  13. In reply to #14 by QuestioningKat:

    No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    To know the cause would mean proof that homosexuality is biological in nature and not a choice. Even though many gay people are obviously different than straight people, many people – especially religious are blind to anything other than their book. I wish a definitive cause to homosexuality would be found already – just to stick it to the “loving” hypocrites.

    Interestingly, a gay coworker of mind commented that he was doing some reading on research that shows that a high percentage of gay people are the last born in their family.

    In reply to #15 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #14 by QuestioningKat:

    To know the cause would mean proof that homosexuality is biological in nature and not a choice. Even though many gay people are obviously different than straight people, many people – especially religious are blind to anything other than their book. I wish a definitive cause to homosexuality would be found already – just to stick it to the “loving” hypocrites.

    Interestingly, a gay coworker of mind commented that he was doing some reading on research that shows that a high percentage of gay people are the last born in their family.

    Again I agree, with the caveat I mentioned before about how this proof could be used by those same loving hypocrites we both despise.

    It is sad that we even need to have this discussion, though…

    Homosexuality is very common in nature.

    Do you really think an animal chooses to be homosexual?

  14. In reply to #16 by SophusE:

    In reply to #14 by QuestioningKat:

    No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    To know the cause would mean proof that homosexuality is biological in nature and not a choice. Even though many gay people are obviously different than straight people, many people – especially religious are blind to anything other than their book. I wish a definitive cause to homosexuality would be found already – just to stick it to the “loving” hypocrites.

    Interestingly, a gay coworker of mind commented that he was doing some reading on research that shows that a high percentage of gay people are the last born in their family.

    In reply to #15 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #14 by QuestioningKat:

    To know the cause would mean proof that homosexuality is biological in nature and not a choice. Even though many gay people are obviously different than straight people, many people – especially religious are blind to anything other than their book. I wish a definitive cause to homosexuality would be found already – just to stick it to the “loving” hypocrites.

    Interestingly, a gay coworker of mind commented that he was doing some reading on research that shows that a high percentage of gay people are the last born in their family.

    Again I agree, with the caveat I mentioned before about how this proof could be used by those same loving hypocrites we both despise.

    It is sad that we even need to have this discussion, though…

    Homosexuality is very common in nature.

    Do you really think an animal chooses to be homosexual?

    It is indeed very common – although not if you listen to the loony religious types, who deny it completely…

  15. In reply to #17 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #16 by SophusE:

    In reply to #14 by QuestioningKat:

    No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    To know the cause would mean proof that homosexuality is biological in nature and not a choice. Even though many gay people are obviously different than straight people, many people – especially religious are blind to anything other than their book. I wish a definitive cause to homosexuality would be found already – just to stick it to the “loving” hypocrites.

    Interestingly, a gay coworker of mind commented that he was doing some reading on research that shows that a high percentage of gay people are the last born in their family.

    In reply to #15 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #14 by QuestioningKat:

    To know the cause would mean proof that homosexuality is biological in nature and not a choice. Even though many gay people are obviously different than straight people, many people – especially religious are blind to anything other than their book. I wish a definitive cause to homosexuality would be found already – just to stick it to the “loving” hypocrites.

    Interestingly, a gay coworker of mind commented that he was doing some reading on research that shows that a high percentage of gay people are the last born in their family.

    Again I agree, with the caveat I mentioned before about how this proof could be used by those same loving hypocrites we both despise.

    It is sad that we even need to have this discussion, though…

    Homosexuality is very common in nature.

    Do you really think an animal chooses to be homosexual?

    It is indeed very common – although not if you listen to the loony religious types, who deny it completely…

    I do not talk or listen to creationists.

    They are clinically insane in my opinion.

    In fact, how you can be a creationist and still claim to know biology is beyond me. You don’t believe in evolution, you are evolution.

  16. In reply to #18 by SophusE:

    It is indeed very common – although not if you listen to the loony religious types, who deny it completely…

    I do not talk or listen to creationists.

    They are clinically insane in my opinion.

    In fact, how you can be a creationist and still claim to know biology is beyond me. You don’t believe in evolution, you are evolution.

    To be honest, with some of them, I’m not entirely sure they are from the same planet as we are – so perhaps things work differently where they come from…

  17. In reply to #10 by Dr Bob:

    Blimey… I feel like I’m in a confessional box… :-)

    Haha, yes you’re being overrun by us. Together it made for a pretty balanced thread though. And at least you sparked a lively discussion. Good luck keeping your eyes open at work tomorrow.

  18. In reply to #19 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #18 by SophusE:

    It is indeed very common – although not if you listen to the loony religious types, who deny it completely…

    I do not talk or listen to creationists.

    They are clinically insane in my opinion.

    In fact, how you can be a creationist and still claim to know biology is beyond me. You don’t believe in evolution, you are evolution.

    To be honest, with some of them, I’m not entirely sure they are from the same planet as we are – so perhaps things work differently where they come from…

    Seriously?

  19. In reply to #21 by SophusE:

    In reply to #19 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #18 by SophusE:

    It is indeed very common – although not if you listen to the loony religious types, who deny it completely…

    I do not talk or listen to creationists.

    They are clinically insane in my opinion.

    In fact, how you can be a creationist and still claim to know biology is beyond me. You don’t believe in evolution, you are evolution.

    To be honest, with some of them, I’m not entirely sure they are from the same planet as we are – so perhaps things work differently where they come from…

    Seriously?

    No, I was joking – but sometimes you have to wonder if they are built the same way we are, if they can think like that…

  20. In reply to #20 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

    In reply to #10 by Dr Bob:

    Blimey… I feel like I’m in a confessional box… :-)

    Haha, yes you’re being overrun by us. Together it made for a pretty balanced thread though. And at least you sparked a lively discussion. Good luck keeping your eyes open at work tomorrow.

    Indeed I did… :-) Yep, I guess I should be off now… alarm clock will go off in 3.5 hours… joy…

    Night all

  21. In reply to #20 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

    In reply to #10 by Dr Bob:

    Blimey… I feel like I’m in a confessional box… :-)

    Haha, yes you’re being overrun by us. Together it made for a pretty balanced thread though. And at least you sparked a lively discussion. Good luck keeping your eyes open at work tomorrow.

    It’s not really funny, now is it?

    I wonder who the Pope confesses to?

  22. I am not just interested in how sexual orientation happens in gay humans but how it drives heterosexual human behavior. Just a science thing. Bit like me being interested in how planets form.

    In reply to #1 by Dr Bob:

    No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    It’s a bit like trying to find out what causes some people to have three nipples…

    In either case, any ‘answers’ with be of no value to anyone, offensive to some and a complete waste of time…

    Hang on… isn’t that religion as well?

  23. In reply to #25 by ramfalls:

    I am not just interested in how sexual orientation happens in gay humans but how it drives heterosexual human behavior. Just a science thing. Bit like me being interested in how planets form.

    Is that straight planets, or gay planets?

    ;-)

  24. When I read the article I taught that the question what causes homosexuality is the same as what causes heterosexuality, ha,ha,ha,ha,…. And why scientists don’t research exactly what “causes” heterosexuality :), when homosexuality is natural as much as heterosexuality.

  25. In reply to #1 by Dr Bob:

    No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    I agree completely that from the standpoint of human rights the “cause” of homosexuality doesn’t matter a bit. But from the standpoint of biology, evolution, human/animal behavior its a very interesting topic. At first glance the idea that gay behavior could be in any way genetic seems like a complete oxymoron. Wasting sexual energy on activity that can’t possibly lead to replicating your genes is (again at first glance) as illogical from an evolutionary standpoint as you can get. Figuring out why some people are gay should tell us a lot about behavior in general and for some of us that is very interesting.

  26. In reply to #27 by Modesti:

    When I read the article I taught that the question what causes homosexuality is the same as what causes heterosexuality, ha,ha,ha,ha,…. And why scientists don’t research exactly what “causes” heterosexuality :), when homosexuality is natural as much as heterosexuality.

    This is the Richard Dawkins site. Is it too much to assume that people have at least scanned The Selfish Gene? Or at least read the dust jacket? If you did you would realize how foolish that comment is.

  27. We have just made the Fantastic Four, Dr Bob! (or even the Magnificent Seven by now).

    I also think science should do all it can in order to find out for sure what makes us all different. It is not just so humanity can send an ‘explanation” to the Vatican, Uganda, Pakistan and lots of other places in the world which openly discriminate against homosexuals as well as, very often, punish them in the most hideous manner. It is also so that some ‘civilised’ people in the ‘civilised’ West will stop their criticism of an innocent, and perfectly normal section of their society – I know many such ‘enlightened’ critics myself and am sick to the back teeth of their high and mighty attitudes, not all of them even religionuts.

    Individuals, societies, countries – and, not forgetting the Vatican – should all be admonished, to say the very very least, for the disgraceful way they have all been behaving towards their homosexual fellow humans, it’s about time. Don’t you think presenting them with a scientific proof that homosexuality is ‘natural’ would be a wonderful feat for science and humanity? I certainly do, and I cannot wait for the results. I am willing to deliver the findings in person.

    tIn reply to #6 by Dr Bob:*

    In reply to #5 by FreeXinker:

    Welcome to the Curious Three, by the way – not quite the Fantastic Four or the Magnificent Seven, but hey, there’s a recession on…

  28. Does anyone have anything to say about the actual content of the article? Whenever I hear the term “epigenetics” my woo meter starts flashing warnings and I’m on the lookout for references to quantum consciousness from Depak Chopra. And the reasoning behind the theory sounds pretty weak to me. It seems to come down to “well obviously gayness isn’t genetic since only 20% of identical twins (I’m assuming this is identical twins raised separately not raised in the same environment?) that are gay are both gay. So since its not genetic maybe its epigenetic? — even though “so far the theory is not supported by any data.”

  29. In reply to #1 by Dr Bob:

    No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    It’s a bit like trying to find out what causes some people to have three nipples…

    In either case, any ‘answers’ with be of no value to anyone, offensive to some and a complete waste of time…

    Hang on… isn’t that religion as well?

    If nothing else, it will finally put to bed the religious “it’s a choice” opinion of homosexuality. More evidence to silence the religo’s is always welcome. Although, they will probably just ignore it anyways…

  30. Of course a hard scientific answer would be useful to gay people like me. But ultimately, thinking that it would in some way convince or enlighten the church is foolish. Surely they’d just say something like, ‘but god made the science that came up with these findings, like he made everything’. And anyway, sensible, mature and balanced people don’t recognise, or take religion seriously..

  31. In reply to #31 by Red Dog:

    Whenever I hear the term “epigenetics” my woo meter starts flashing warnings and I’m on the lookout for references to quantum consciousness from Depak Chopra.

    As a lay enthusiast I was into epigenetics before it was cool, got called a Lamarkian for espousing it, watched it go en vogue, and now yeah… woo central.

    The prudence and protocol of science forbids certain speculations. Even the topic of exo-planets was held at an arm’s length until we actually found them, and what we found was more bizarre than we could have imagined (giant worlds made of scorching hot ice). What we find in biology is similar, truth stranger than ignorant fiction.

    To anyone who thinks sexuality is a choice or psychological event, I have a series of injections I would recommend. Transexuals, people taking meds, East German Olympians, often show that sexuality changes with biochemistry. Aside from personal experience, I find the double-blind pheromone tests registering antipathy and attraction to be compelling. That sexuality is biological does not necessarily mean it is genetic in any way.

    Since the can of worms is open I’ll share my baseless speculation, in males it is kin-selection. For a long time birth-order was seen as evidence for nurture. Homosexuality was more frequent in males with older brothers, and so people like Ayn Rand would argue they were gay because they sought the approval of males… and then people would listen to her ‘cuz she wrote sci-fi…. Well so do I so here’s my idea: Village of 100 people, 51 female and 49 male, all the families pretty well balanced except one that has 6 sons. Given cuckoldry and the technical possibility that one male can impregnate all the females, a family with so many sons could (in time) ruin the gene pool. I argue that without gay males arising from birth order, we might all be blue-eyed, chinless hemophiliacs. The twins phenomenon supports my argument… and I just found out about that now (assumed otherwise as a flaw in my theory).

    Speculation is fair game. Here is Dawkins making baseless speculations born from his imagination alone. It is clear he knows he is making stuff up.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHDCAllQgS0

    I like his statement that homosexuality might be a set of traits that did not result in homosexual behavior in the past. This is kind of like Pinker’s argument that there is no gene for appreciating cheese-cake, but the total sum of other attributes provides for cheesecake to be desired. Dawkins applies that argument to how we evolved to appreciate music (discussion with Krauss in Australia). While banging rocks and running from tigers only to die of a tooth infection at age 17, there’s not much time for self-actualization or falling in love.

    Aside from spiritual/sexual/intellectual maturation exclusive to this point in history, we have never had such a nourishing diet. The average height of the Japanese population soared after WWII from change in diet, so that wasn’t genetic. Women are able to survive more births, give birth at a later age, and more births are able to survive. We simply have so many more people now in new circumstances, variations are inevitable and not necessarily explained with a purpose or utility.

  32. In reply to #32 by Prime8:

    In reply to #1 by Dr Bob:

    No offence, but does it really matter what ’causes’ homosexuality?

    It’s a bit like trying to find out what causes some people to have three nipples…

    In either case, any ‘answers’ with be of no value to anyone, offensive to some and a complete waste of time…

    Hang on… isn’t that religion as well?

    If nothing else, it will finally put to bed the religious “it’s a choice” opinion of homosexuality. More evidence to silence the religo’s is always welcome. Although, they will probably just ignore it anyways…

    The problem is what if the research conflicts with the politics? The most straight forward way to argue that being gay is “not a choice” is to say its genetic. I’ve seen people in the gay community claim that of course being gay must be genetic and anyone who doesn’t think so is a homophobe, even though the evidence from twin research shows pretty clearly that its not just genetic.

    Its an unfortunate and rather archaic fact of US law that its easier to argue for equal rights for a group if that group doesn’t choose to be in their group, e.g. race. As a result a lot of well meaning people end up putting politics before science and assume the politically correct answer must be the scientific answer. That’s always a bad practice and something people who believe in reason and science should resist no matter how noble the intentions behind it.

  33. The first comment and a few others here a just extremely myopic. If the cause of homosexuality can be identified there will someday be a treatment to prevent a person from becoming homosexual to begin with. I think that many soon to be parents to be would happily pay an arm and a leg if they could ensure there children would not be homosexual. Also, if the cause is epigenetic, then there may even be(someday) a way to actually make gay man straight. Though, I hope that would be entirely voluntary.

    Look, this is just science, if someone finds it offensive that is their problem. The fact is that homosexuals make a up a small percentage of the population; around 5% or so, but it varies by poll. They are not a race of people or even an ethnic group. And no, they are not normal. However, that doesn’t mean there is any reason hate, or treat any differently, a person who was born the way they are.

  34. Prof. Dawkins himself said that homosexuality could come down to the ‘sneaky fucker theory’. I.e., when the other males are out hunting, THIS male is having sex with, and breeding with their women. It’s impossible to know, but I love gay sex, get real. ;)

  35. In reply to #36 by 3mantiger:

    And no, they are not normal. However, that doesn’t mean there is any reason hate, or treat any differently, a person who was born the way they are.

    Gee how tolerant of you. So even though they aren’t normal they still deserve equal rights? Unless you are talking about statistics, I don’t see how gays are any less normal than anyone else. Yes, statistically more people are straight but so what? Why even mention it? Statistically most people aren’t ginger or left handed, there is nothing metaphysically “abnormal” about them as a result.

  36. In reply to #36 by 3mantiger:

    The first comment and a few others here a just extremely myopic. If the cause of homosexuality can be identified there will someday be a treatment to prevent a person from becoming homosexual to begin with. I think that many soon to be parents to be would happily pay an arm and a leg if they could ensure there children would not be homosexual. Also, if the cause is epigenetic, then there may even be(someday) a way to actually make gay man straight. Though, I hope that would be entirely voluntary.

    Look, this is just science, if someone finds it offensive that is their problem. The fact is that homosexuals make a up a small percentage of the population; around 5% or so, but it varies by poll. They are not a race of people or even an ethnic group. And no, they are not normal. However, that doesn’t mean there is any reason hate, or treat any differently, a person who was born the way they are.

    You think some of my comments and some others are ‘myopic’?

    I think that your comment is homophobic and offensive.

    If the cause of homosexuality can be identified there will someday be a treatment to prevent a person from becoming homosexual to begin with.

    Why would you want to ‘prevent’ someone being what they naturally are? How exactly does it hurt you?

    It’s not as if it is a life-threatening condition that should be treated in the womb if possible…

    Very sad…

  37. In reply to #4 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #2 by Karl Zuvela:

    Really…. Here’s to living in ignorance. Cheers! [Quoted of moderated post removed by moderator]

    The point I was making was that the only people interested in working out why people are gay are either scientists with nothing better to do, or religious freaks who want to ‘convert’ them back to ‘normal’.

    Yeah, I’m sure the whole world wants to know about what makes a gay person gay – but personally I reckon there are bigger questions that need answering that might actually help us all live together a little bit better.

    Oh well, perhaps I’m wrong…

    wtf is wrong with finding out why some people are gay? as for what you personally reckon that’s all well and good but the only reason science continues is through the freedom from anyone personally deciding what knowledge is important.

    pone more thing “scientists with nothing better to do”??? what nothing better to do than science?

    if you think there are questions that shouldn’t be asked you may find yourself in a minority on this site

  38. In reply to #40 by SaganTheCat:

    In reply to #4 by Dr Bob:

    In reply to #2 by Karl Zuvela:

    Really…. Here’s to living in ignorance. Cheers! [Quoted of moderated post removed by moderator]

    The point I was making was that the only people interested in working out why people are gay are either scientists with nothing better to do, or religious freaks who want to ‘convert’ them back to ‘normal’.

    Yeah, I’m sure the whole world wants to know about what makes a gay person gay – but personally I reckon there are bigger questions that need answering that might actually help us all live together a little bit better.

    Oh well, perhaps I’m wrong…

    wtf is wrong with finding out why some people are gay? as for what you personally reckon that’s all well and good but the only reason science continues is through the freedom from anyone personally deciding what knowledge is important.

    pone more thing “scientists with nothing better to do”??? what nothing better to do than science?

    if you think there are questions that shouldn’t be asked you may find yourself in a minority on this site

    Wow, I seem to have touched a raw nerve with you…

    Most of your reply is nonsense, as you have completely taken what I wrote out of context.

    Where do you get the idea that I don’t think scientists should be doing science?

    If you actually read what I wrote in my numerous follow-up posts, you’d realise that your accusations are groundless. At no point was I saying that the research shouldn’t take place, only that as homosexuality isn’t life threatening, there are other things that may be more pressing. I also expressed concern of how any findings could be used to further persecute non-heterosexuals.

    That’s all…

    But hey, whatever floats your boat…

  39. When I was a kid, I didn’t even know what sexuality was until I saw my first dirty picture(no internet back then, so it was just a cut out from an old playboy). It was then that I knew what I wanted in life. I needed a trigger to help me find who I was. Can’t imagine it being any different for gay people. Why can’t people just admit that some guys are just really, really hot?

  40. I fairly loathe the idea that homosexuality is justified only by biology. This is playing the religious game of oughts in a way that also rather denies our freedom of action and thought.

    In the sixties we pretty much decided that 99% of sex was recreational. This is all the justification needed for me. Consenting and adult completes the license for any combinations you fancy.

    Where the understanding and scientific insight will help, however, is in ensuring the compassionate treatment of our children and their struggles with their feelings whilst growing up. Here it can fight the spurious religious oughts with real facts.

  41. In my case, and in the case of many confused and caring parents, I am grateful to scientists for ethical scientists’ obsessive curiosity and pathological drive to seek the truth. I would beg to differ that scientists study the cause of homosexuality because scientists have “nothing better to do.” Parents and friends of homosexuals, and homosexuals themselves are waiting for the world to recognize that homosexuality is not the result of poor parenting or genetics, but is, in the opinion of many scientific groups, an epigenetic causation. Should you research the theory of epigenetics, it is a most reasonable reason for homosexuality.

    Too many homosexuals’ lives have been endangered and “snuffed out” by the prejudice and ignorance of those who mock science. As a former teacher, it was often obvious at that early age, some adolescents who were my students, eventually, became homosexual adults. They were wonderful students, had wonderful parents, and, it was also true, as observed by many scientific organizations now: homosexual boys were/are the youngest in a long line of sons born to one family. I am appalled that our new Pope, from the Jesuit Order—famous for their respect of scientific thought–has already chosen to speak out against homosexuality

  42. Thought I had better add that homosexuality can also occur in other instances outside of being the youngest boy in a family, but epigenetics certainly is the most reasonable explanation for homosexuality. Should some of you cast aside this scientific theory on homosexuality, keep in mind that 50 years ago, Autism was the result of a mother’s “poor parenting” skills. I cannot tell you how many mothers actually believed their doctors and their peers, and how many mothers drank themselves to death or committed suicide because they could not handle the guilt of “ruining” their very own children. Imagine the mothers’ intense suffering by being the shunned by potential friends and neighbors, and all of society.

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