Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Just How Abnormal is Homosexuality?

Everyone seems to be concerned with this recent research report that gay men's brains react differently than those of straight men. This is used to support the theory that homosexuality is biological, not learned. Too bad the research is a load of crap.
May 10, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — Gay men's brains respond differently from those of heterosexual males when exposed to a sexual stimulus, researchers have found.

The homosexual men's brains responded more like those of women when the men sniffed a chemical from the male hormone testosterone.
This is of course great news to the pro-homosexual crowd. However, as the article will show us, it is a horribly flawed conclusion. For an actually in-depth and practical look at the arguments for and against biologically based homosexuality, read this article by NR/NRO’s John Derbyshire.

Onward to this new and flawed study:

"It is one more piece of evidence... that is showing that sexual orientation is not all learned," said Sandra Witelson, an expert on brain anatomy and sexual orientation at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
Well, is that so? I hate hearing supposedly educated people talking like this. Words mean things, and the order in which this expert put her words implies rather strongly that homosexuality is biological. Of course there is no definitive answer at this time, but with phrases like "one more piece of evidence... showing that" the researcher's bias is revealed. She has already made up her mind, and any study will verify to her that she is right. This makes for terrible research.
They exposed heterosexual men and women and homosexual men to chemicals derived from male and female sex hormones.

These chemicals are thought to be pheromones — molecules known to trigger such responses as defense and sex in many animals.

The researchers divided 36 subjects into three groups — heterosexual men, heterosexual women and homosexual men.
I do have research experience, and my current occupation is in research labs; I will draw on these experiences in this analysis, basically by pointing out all the flaws.

Let’s assume a regular breakdown; this gives us a study of twelve gay men, twelve straight men, and twelve straight women. Where is the group of homosexual women, you might ask? Well, I was wondering the same thing. But, since this study is skewed from the beginning, there would be no need to include them. After all, these researches don't want real results based on unbiased science; they want very specific results based on sloppy science. Disallowing any classes of subjects that may threaten the desired results is the easiest way to proceed.

Also, in attempting to verify a hypothesis about all humans, wouldn't one think that this sample is laughably small? The results have yet to be reproduced in other labs across the scientific world. In short, this publication is still worthless in scientific terms.

Furthermore, this study is designed to test whether or not homosexuality is chosen or biological, yet all the subjects are over the age where they would have presumably made that choice. Why was this procedure not made on infants who have yet to show a sexual inclination? Then, if these different responses are observed, the subjects can be followed throughout their lives to see if they do indeed become gay or straight as the research predicted. An argument against that procedure could be that pheromone response is learned, but then of what value is the study at all? Gay men could have learned to respond to the male pheromone differently, and the study confirms nothing.

Finally, the study does not address the environments in which homosexuality is over-represented. If there is an over-representation of homosexual males in, for example, theatre, how does this work with the pheromone hypothesis? (I am not disparaging theatre, in which I have been personally involved for years. I merely use it as an example of another avenue this flawed research did not address.) Does this brain response lead one to the arts in the first place? Does such an environment slowly alter brain functions so that it becomes more susceptible to male pheromones? Was the homosexual sample in this research unsuitably small and perhaps abnormal?

Or was this research in general just crap?


At 5:29 PM, May 25, 2005 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generally, a very good critique of this misleading study...certainly not points you'll hear from any of our "objective" news sources.
Still, I did think of one counterpoint to your critique: you say that the pheromones, if present in babies, should produce a response that could be tested just like that of the adults...but isn't it also possible that the pheromones could be genetic but are not expressed until puberty when a person's sexual awakening generally occurs?
To address this, I think you're right to say that the study should begin with infants. However, if no response to pheromones is found, it doesn't necessarily mean it is purely behavorial; you should do another study of pre and post-pubescent people to determine that.
Finally, to disclose my bias: I am an evangelical Christian.


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