Djcnor’s Weblog

Homosexuality and Defending the Rain Forest

Posted on: December 23, 2008

As usual, when I don’t have a particular subject in mind for today’s blog post, I went to the news. I could have chose the 8-year-old Saudi girl refused a divorce, but the Pope’s equating the defense of heterosexuality with defense of rainforests is more entriguing.

To begin, let me state that I am a supporter of defense of the rainforest, but see heterosexuality as already more than adequately defended, but let’s see what he had to say.

Hm. First, apparently, he says the church views the distinction between men and women as central to human nature. So far, I think he would find homosexuals and heterosexuals, probably even bisexuals and transexuals in agreement.

Then he says the church  “should protect man from the destruction of himself” and “The tropical forests do deserve our protection; but man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.” On the assumption that he means mankind, including women, when he says men (Is that a valid assumption?), my response is “Yes. I do see the connection between protecting the earth and the survival of the human race.”

Apparently his problem is what his spokesperson called “gender theories which overlook the fundamental difference in creation between men and women” (Which ones are those? I’ve never heard of any!) “and focus instead on the role of cultural conditioning.”

As far as I know, the only gender theories that focus on that end of sexual identity are whatever theories those who attempt to deprogram homosexuals or convince transexuals that they don’t really want what they do want  use. (Sorry about that convoluted sentence.) And I object to those theories, too.

But it seems those aren’t the ones he’s targeting. The Pope  “asks that [the] order, set down by creation, be respected”. Now he’s making me wonder how much education in biology he has had. Does he not know that homosexuality exists in many other species than humans? Somehow, I doubt  that such cases are a matter of improper gender theories among geckos, or whatever.

Who know? Maybe there are even cases of transgender among other species. They just don’t have the options that those of the human species have, or the voices to let us know about it.

The priesthood itself contains any number of homosexuals. How do I know? Well, I went to a college that provides a lot of Methodist ministers with the college degrees they get before going on to seminary. A close friend of mine was one of these. About ten years after we graduated, I stopped off to visit him in the middle of a cross-country trip. Somehow we ended up talking about his seminary years and how his seminary had been in a town with several seminaries for different religions, among them, a Catholic seminary. He laughed as he told me that there was a gay bar in town patronized almost exclusively by the gay Catholic seminary students, which by now have been priest for perhaps 30 years.

Don’t anyone tell the Pope.

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20 Responses to "Homosexuality and Defending the Rain Forest"

The Pope is absolutely right when he says the order set by our creation should be respected.
Now, if only he and his ilk understood that people are BORN straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender…

Wouldn’t it be great if they added some science education to Catholic seminary classes (actually, not just Catholic ones, now that I think of it)? Churches have historically managed to dig themselves into such deep holes by not being open to new scientific knowledge. It seems to me that anyone whose career can be expected to include advising people on how to deal with biological matters should have a decent biological education.

I’m not much for one to follow the Pope as infallible. Nor do I think science is infallible.
But I thought you might find this of some interest. Did you know that the Big Bang theory was put foward by a Catholic Priest (Geroges Limaitre). And that in 1991 Simon LeVay published some research in the Journal Science which noted a difference in a formation of a particular part of the brain common in females and uncommon in males. He noted that some homosexual men have this same formation. In the article he says that there is still “no direct evidence that the differences observed actually cause homosexuality”. Additionally, in the 1997 Journal of Homosexuality an article was published entitled: “Why We Cannot Conclude That Sexual Orientation Is Primarily a Biological Phenomenon”. The article goes on to describe exactly what it says… that Sexuality is, to date, not explained by biological factors. Further scientific journal articles have reached the same conclusion, that the assertion of a biological phenomenon causing homosexuality is inconclusive at best. It is a common misunderstanding that there has been a well defineded and scientifically verified biological source for sexual orientation. Just as it is a common generalization that the Catholic or Christian church is against new scientific knowledge.

There may be no direct evidence that a particular structure corresponds with homosexuality, but there is excellent data of the usual kind used to show whether something has a genetic (and thus a biological) basis. 1997 is actually pretty old research. There is much newer work.

I don’t think there is a common generalization that the Catholic church is against new scientific knowledge in general. Rather there is a common generalization, and a pretty fair one based on history, that the church is against scientific knowledge that goes against the church’s theological positions.

Actually, there isn’t any newer work which suggests that there is a genetic or biological connection which could link sexual behaviour to a unique type of human being. 1991 is LeVay’s work which was the impetus for further study, and even in his work he states quite clearly that no connection has been made. More recent work, which is commonly cited, is by J. M. Bailey and R. C. Pillard who had claimed to have found the proof of genetic predisposition only to recant the findings later as incomplete and overstated. Dean Hamer had claimed to have found the proof on the X chromosome in 1993, but in 1999 his studies were found to be not true. The only “work” that is found now is mere assertions and statements that it is an undisputable fact, but no scientific work. It is disappointing as a scientist to see this, but this occurs often when politics get involved. Similar mischaracterizations and overstatements are made of alternative energy. But if they are repeated enough, people accept them as fact.

I’m actually curious now if any one has done a sociological study to see how long it takes for a repeated assertion made to and in a local population to be accepted as fact.

It’s like the question, where did everything come from? The common answer is “the Big Bang.” However, that theory doesn’t explain the existence of matter, energy or the space time continuum it merely attempts to explain the dispersion of matter and energy throughout the space-time continuum.

Anyway, I don’t know if you are interested in reading it, but Stephen Van Nuys finally published his research into Denmark spurred on by our dialogue a few weeks ago. If you are interested in reading it, it is found here:

http://americanmissive.com/2009/04/22/does-americas-economic-crisis-mean-we-should-embrace-european-style-social-democracy-a-consideration-of-the-denmark-example/

I enjoy reading your blog. I hope you find your dream job soon.

Well, no, actually there is a good deal of recent research as is evident from this very quick search:

http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=homosexuality+genetics&btnG=Google+Search&meta=&aq=f&oq=

There are very few human characteristics that can be tied down to a single gene site. Even eye color is more complex. Therefore, for example, the study finding significantly higher concordance among those in a group of homosexuals at certain genetic sites than in a group of random humans is very significant.

Your “a genetic or biological connection which could link sexual behaviour to a unique type of human being” is simply not descriptive of the kind of research actually done to determine whether something has a biological basis or not. You would have to define much more clearly what you mean by a “unique type of human being”, and if you did, it would still not be the right search. There are a number of human characteristics that are tied to a whole group of genes, some more influential than others. If a given individual has 10 out of 10 of them, he may be almost certain to have that characteristic, while 5 out of ten might mean that he is, pulling a number out of the air, 4.2 times as likely as a random human to have that characteristic. Whether a given person will develop diabetes is one such characteristic. Homosexuality, however tightly tied to genetics, is likely to be that type of characteristic.

The first article on that search cites the 1993 research by Hamer, which has never been proven, and in fact the 2004 BBC article states: “But other researchers in the US have not been able to replicate these findings”

However, from here theoryies are being extrapolated on the basis of this Hamer’s research despite the fact that it has never been proven.

The second link was submitted in 2008 and merely cites LaVay, Bailey, Pillard and Hamer’s research from the early 90’s. All of which have since been shown to be unprovable or recanted as mischaracterized and overstated.

It goes on and on like this with every research study out there. The most certaintiy any research can claim is low percentages of correlation (though correlation is not causation), coupled with enviromental factors which many, if not all studies, say plays the majority of the role. However here there is a lot of issues in psychology over the matter and how best to approach it as similar correlations and environmental presure levels are found in other less acceptable behavior groups.

So far there is no biological description or evidence of any sort that could so clearly link sexual behavior to a person as eye color to a person. Even over multiple genetic sources.

You should check out NARTH, the third result returned in that query. Specifically the fourth link returned in that query, also from NARTH: http://www.narth.com/docs/istheregene.html

Dang it. I keep getting kicked to the sites I’m siting. I believe the scientific community disagrees, and I have never known it to go on anything but references for every statement you make.

I re-searched, restricting the search to scholarly articles and asking then for recent ones.

http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?q=homosexuality+genetics&hl=en&lr=&scoring=r&as_ylo=2004

Note in particular:

http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(08)00068-8/abstract

and

http://www.springerlink.com/content/g15680h356758417/

In the article you cite from Evolution and Human Behavior, the actual article states: “Research suggests that sexual orientation is influenced, in part, by genetic factors. Homosexuality tends to run in families (Bailey & Bell, 1993; Pattatucci & Hamer, 1995)”

It uses the very same articles that have already been shown to not reach full conclusions, and/or have been unable to be reproducable by other researchers.

The second article reports a possible correlation between two factors that has yet to be confirmed by anyone else. And it too uses Hamer’s unproven research.
It states in the conclusion: It should be noted that the result reveals primarily nonsignificant trends in the direction hypothesized and so should be regarded only as tentative support…
There remain considerable gaps in our understanding that should provide avenues for future research…

Going through all of those articles on the first page, don’t have enough time to go through every article out there, they all include qualifiers such as “may” or “possibly” and then base initial research on the three guys I cited above who also have never conclusively found any evidence.

The research is still on going because the results are inconclusive, unconfirmable or linked through correlation which all scientist know is not proof of causation.

double dang it. Had all those PDF’s and journals out there and attributed the quotes to the wrong place… The conclusions I quote are from the EHB article cited first, not the second article.

I think you misunderstand some things about how science works. First of all, work is almost never entirely replicated. To do so would require gaining funding for non-original research, which just isn’t going to happen. Could you please reference the 1999 study that you say failed to confirm Hamer’s conclusions?

Second, although correlation is not specifically causation, in genetics, you can pretty much say it is. Scientific results are always expressed in terms of levels of significance, the chance that the trend revealed by the data occurred by mere chance, and with correlation, several sets of data that fail to reach significance often reach significance together. In the case of genetic results, the correlation of homosexuality (or some other characteristic) with some known genetic location does not mean that location is tied to homosexuality, but does mean that whatever is tied to homosexuality is physically close to that known site on a given gene.

There are also ethical problems in aiming for proven causation in genetics. In the case of a single gene cause, you simply observie the presence or absense of that gene has a 100% correlation with the characteristic. The system you need for direct proof exists in nature. Otherwise, you usually have to place a gene, or set of genes, or remove them and see the results which is just not practical.

Also, you won’t find any scientific articles that do not say “may” and “possibly” no matter how conclusive the researcher considers his results to be. It’s just a part of the way scientists are taught to write up their work, in a way that takes into account that 1 in 500 or 1 in 350million chance that their results happened by chance, a way of reaffirming that they are aware of that chance.

What do you think of these discussions of the topic, particularly the second in which Hamer discusses the supposed disproving of his study?

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1925

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/285/5429/803a

First, I must know, how did you get your blog to “inset” comments? Is it a setting native to the theme? That’s pretty cool.

Second, I am a scientist. I’m a physicst actually. When I write and publish my work in journals I have to make sure I describe it well enough so that it can be reproducable. It’s part of the scientific method. If I make a claim and it is impossible to reproduce, questions usually follow. For instance, Jan Hendrik Schön, or Hwang Woo Suk. Both made claims which were as ground breaking as Dr. Hamer’s discovery of the inheritted “gay” gene on the X chromosome. None of this work has been replicated. It resulted in Dr. Schön and Dr. Suk being outed as frauds and Dr. Hamer’s work as being highly questioned.

You are not a biological scientist. There really is a difference. Yes, you describe your work so it could be, but how often is it? Could you ever conceive of spending your time doing exactly the same work another scientist had already published? Really. Would you? Under what circumstances, and where would you find funding?

Don’t know how I did that. Must be built into the template I chose.

I asked for references that said Hamer’s research was in disrepute. I see no evidence what-so-ever of that. Nor do I see any regarding the other authors.

Dr. Hamer never claimed to have discovered a gay gene. He claimed to have discovered a region that might well contain such a thing because it was so highly associated with gayness, seemingly passed down on the maternal side, and a particular area on the X chromosome. Recent articles in my earlier post (there were several by different authors on the subject of the locus) have gone further to identify a gene associated with both fecundity in females and gayness in men. It would seem that Hamer’s putative region has bourne fruit.

Let me ask again what you think of his critique of the work that is said to dispute his.

Could you ever conceive of spending your time doing exactly the same work another scientist had already published? Really. Would you? Under what circumstances, and where would you find funding

As a physicst, yes I could. In fact I do reproduce other peoples work to continue with my work. I work in organics. I could not possibly discover everything about my field, so I use other peoples work. But I have to be able to replicate that work to build upon it. When I am unable to replicate the work, I start with the questions. So if I am working on a phthalocyanine photovoltaic thin film and I come across a paper which claims to have been able to produce the thin film with a room temperature superconducting Tc, I have to be able to reproduce it so I can use it to study other factors. But, knowing what I know, I know that such a discovery has never been made nor will it as it is not the nature of phthalocyanine or is it possible for a material to be a room temperature superconductor.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/325979.stm

Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28 Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28 George Rice, Carol Anderson, Neil Risch, George Ebers Science, New Series, Vol. 284, No. 5414 (Apr. 23, 1999), pp. 665-667

Discovery of ‘Gay Gene’ Questioned Discovery of ‘Gay Gene’ Questioned Ingrid Wickelgren Science, New Series, Vol. 284, No. 5414 (Apr. 23, 1999), p. 571

There are also questions of where Hamer received his funds and charges of misuse and so forth.

Ah, and as for what I think about Hamer’s response, I think he hit the nail on the head with his conclusion: “The search for sexual orientation genes will ultimately depend on the identification of functionally relevant polymorphisms in molecularly defined genes, rather than on the purely statistical evidence afforded by linkage analysis”

So far this has not be found which is what I have been saying all along. That is, Dr. Hamer concludes by admitting that the functionally relevant polymorphisms in molecularly defined genes have not been identified. All that is currently present is disputed statistical evidence through linkage analysis.

“not been”

It appears when I type fast and I lose two letters every few words.

OK, those are your circumstances. But Rice did not replicate Hamer’s work, as Hamer showed in his reply to it. He adequately explained why Rice had differences, and added two other studies (which did confirm Hamer’s conclusions), combining the data in the four studies to produce a very significant result, which is further bourne out by the further research. The second is essentially a discussion of Rice’s work.

Yes, identifying the precise loci will be important, and that work has already begun when it comes to the region Hamer identified. But linkage analysis cannot and should not be discounted. It is the established method for determining whether a genetic basis is worth looking for.

The scientific circumstances I described are the same across chemistry and biology as I work with both groups on several projects.

My disappointment in the public discourse of the study of homosexuality is the misrepresentation of what the actual findings mean and the lack of acceptance of peer critiques. This dialogue is what ensures reliable results. Unfortunately it has yielded mainly attention grabbing headlines which misrepresent the actual findings and put forth the unproven notion that this study is a forgone conclusion and no further discussion is warranted and disent is scorned.

One must conclude if the location and identification of the gene or series of genes is never made then it would demand acknowledgement that no such sequence exists rendering the correlation interesting, but irrelevent in terms of defining a biological predisposition to preference, choice, and actions.

Well, concurrence of anything behavioral in identical twins raised apart more than siblings more than random individuals is always very strong evidence of a genetic component whether or not any distinct area of the genome has been or ever is identified or not. There is just no other explanation for such a phenomenum when it occurs with a very significant level of significance.

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