Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Volitional Components of Homosexuality

There is a thread on FreeFrankWarner about the way that Alan Keyes has treated his Lesbian daughter. The arguments about gays in society tend to be unrewarding, escalating counter-assertion battles, but this one got me thinking about what it would take to convince a social conservative to lighten up. Here is a Yahoo article about the Swedish brain research on homosexuality. Apparently, gay men and straight women have the same brain reaction, not shared by straight men, to certain pheromones found in male sweat. This research has been seized upon by many to justify homosexual behavior. If it's genetic, then it can't be controlled. On the other hand, the research is completely dismissed by people who want to condemn homosexual behavior. People make their own choices, they say. Interestingly, there is a left-wing, activist organization, the Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG), who is also dismissive of this direction of research.

The CRG released a Gene Watch position statement last year that is well written and very carefully thought out. They feel that the rationale for this research is a futile attempt to deflect conservative condemnation. They are actually afraid of what success might mean. Their fear is that any genetic markers can and will be used to discriminate against gay people. They believe that no scientific result can be expected to have any effect on that particular wellspring of irrationality. The scientific case is also just too weak, they contend. They provide some nice surgical strikes, which I certainly enjoyed, against the statistical aspects of this research as well.

My belief is that it will turn out to be a combination of genetics and imprinting. Imprinting refers to the kind of effect that causes a newly hatched bird to follow the next moving object as its mother. In this theory, at some critical period in your life, probably very early, you observe other humans, male and female, and decide, not consciously, but deep in the oldest parts of your brain, which sex to identify with and which sex to be attracted to. It may not seem the best way to engineer things, but it probably works correctly over 90% of the time. How often, in nature, do ducks pick the wrong objects to imprint on? Very rarely I imagine. Humans may have a higher failure rate because we have been evolving quickly of late. Dramatic changes in our ecological niche may have left some behaviors stranded out of context. I suspect that the genetic contribution is that different people are differentially susceptible to inappropriate imprinting. We may eventually discover that those genetic influences have primary functions unrelated to sex or sexual orientation.

There are many cases where a person's habitual responses are inappropriate. Some of these people are beyond the bounds of social tolerance. Sociopaths and pedophiles can have responses that are not acceptable and not amenable to treatment. These people have to be confined or controlled somehow. There is no choice in the matter. Other people are wired wrong, but we can live with them if we want to. Think about Asperger Syndrome, or autism in general. Some people shun those with these conditions, or even abuse them. People with these conditions may have personalities dramatically different from the typical specimen of the species, but they are loved by family and friends, and often they are loved for who they are.

Whatever the cause of their condition, many homosexuals resist their orientation strenuously. Most have shame or embarrassment for some period of time. In my mind, this really is an unfortunate waste of human potential. Eventually, however, they have to do something with their lives. Whether they can or not, they do not change. They reluctantly forgive themselves for being who they are and they get on with things. Some commit suicide rather than accept themselves. I think that is a tragedy. Look. You have a condition that may have a negative impact on reproductive efforts. In this day and age, who cares? We have plenty of people. The condition may be threatening to the rest of us at some primitive emotional level, but whose problem is that? What are the objective disbenefits introduced by homosexual behavior? OK, promiscuity among gay males leads to public health issues. That is a genuine concern, but if we let them marry and render social respect for those marriages, it might cut down on the negative behaviors. Fear of contagion? Straight kids can be misled by gay adults. They can also be misled by straight adults. Thinking that straight kids can be turned gay is paranoid. Angry parents frequently turn to that superstition after their child has come out, but emotion does not contribute much to the facts.

Very few people actually want to be different from their peers, but everybody is in fact different from everyone else. Remember. Some of the best people and some of the worst people are (fill in the blank).

6/21/2005 1:18 AM

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At Tuesday, June 21, 2005 9:52:00 PM, Blogger blackmaled said...

Wow! Alan Keyes daughter is a lesbian? Goes to show you those you hate...usually end up in your family. Hmm..learn sumthn new every day.

At Wednesday, June 22, 2005 7:31:00 PM, Blogger mal said...

from my own experiences, I believe there is a "hardware" and "software" component to our behaviours. No matter how hard we try or how much we wish other wise there are things about ourselves we can not change.

I also believe that those are "Larger" behaviours. An example as used here is sexuality. I do believe that within the larger behaviours we do have a great deal of self determination.

Lastly, on the topic of knowledge of ourselves. Deny it, or try to avoid it as we will, it is coming. We can prepare to deal with it or get run over by it. I worry that with the conservative religious flavor in our government at this time, we will be run over by it


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