Disclaimer: I should say I am not a psychologist or biologist, though I have a few college level courses in the prior which probably color my view. In addition, I am not sexually a homosexual and have no personal experience with that aspect of it, though it piques my intellectual interest. Also, I am European (this is apparently a synonym to many).

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Question: Do you tend to support a psychological or a biological explanation to why some people are homosexuals? Do you have a "pure" or a "mixed" view of the two, and why?

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My opinion: I tend to support the psychological explanation of sexuality due to it being more parsimonious. Being "born" a homosexual doesn't immediately ring clear as a biological explanation requires a number of a priori assumptions of future state of the social environment as one grows up. Two people of the same sex cannot biologically reproduce and thus face extinction. Becoming a homosexual through the psychosocial environment is to me a simpler explanation as this would imply it being either a learned behavior, which may account for homosexual couples having a higher probability of raising a homosexual child, or as a response to other environmental factors such as sexual competition.

I'll stop explaining here and rather see where the discussion goes off to.

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(Two notes to add: I don't think homosexuality should be treated even if it is "treatable". It is no more a condition than preferring beer over vodka. Also, I tend to support a twin explanation of both inherited and environmental causes, though with the latter overwhelmingly more explanatory, i.e. 90%)

 

 

Tags: biology, environment, homosexuality, inherited traits, psychology

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God knows. ;)

Arcus ... is down syndrome a choice?  Is being born with no limbs a choice?  Is being born a midget a choice?  

 

Is being born a male without a penis a choice?  Or being born without the ability to produce fertile sperm or a woman born with the inability to give birth to a child?  

 

Some of these are obviously visual to anyone to see.  Being Gay is not directly visible ... as seeing someone with no limbs is.  

 

So I posit this question.  Why should being homosexual be any different than the above?  The above also seem to have no evolutionary positives in so much as you may suggest biological adaptations are merely all sexually related , which they are not.  

 

Also , gay men can still reproduce quite easily ... they just have to have sex with a woman , just like a straight male.  Many gay men have chosen the lifestyle of marrying a woman and having a family.  Being born without a penis makes it quite impossible to reproduce ... so that must also be a choice , yes?  

 

I think it's a mix.  I think the degree in which a gay man flaunts their gayness is social and psychological , but when they look at another male and their heart starts beating faster and they want so badly to voraciously rip their clothes off and have their way with them ... how can this be learned behavior?  It seems to go against the grain of social norms ... 

 

Just some thoughts ... hope you followed them well enough.  

Not quite sure if you are aligned with science. Homosexuality is generally regarded as belonging to the behavioral sciences and there isn't too much biological proof (vs psychological).

There is clearly a substantial psychological component and I did not discount fully a biological "push". However, the question to biologists becomes: Why? Why would biology produce homosexuals? And why is it wrong if it is psychological?

I actually haven't seen a well accepted psychological hypothesis to date.  Psychology seems to have taken a bigger swing at the issue, but I'm not under the impression that this field has made any greater strides than biology (although, really, it's not s if these are two entirely discrete fields).

 

However, the question to biologists becomes: Why? Why would biology produce homosexuals?

 

This is an utterly nonsensical question.  It strangely implies that biology acts with aim or motive when there's no evidence to suggest that it does.

This is an argument from scientific ignorance. 

Downs syndrome babies are born in the same proportion in every population but have no genetic advantage.  No scientist doubts that this syndrome is genetic.  While these children are capable of mating they generally do not.

 

If you want to inform yourself of the current understanding of the various ways in which homosexual preference is determined (which leads to homosexual behavior after puberty) then do a Google search for "homosexuality innate" - and check out the science based stuff in preference to the religious based stuff. 

precisely MY question , but I am replacing 'homosexuality' with 'Down Syndrome' , 'Born without a penis' , 'Born a midget' ... 

 

I think it's kind of pointless to ask 'why' biology produce this!  A better question to ask is 'How' does Biological adaptations cause this!  Why would you assume biological adaptations are always for the reproduction of a species?  It's random genetic mutations but with natural selection.  A tiny % of mutations that relate to attraction to the same sex to me at least , doesn't make the question of 'why' a legitimate or even thought worthy question.  What positive reproductive effects does any other mutation have in biological terms?  

 

 

It really shouldn't matter.  I don't think it's wrong if it is psychological.  I don't think it's wrong if it's purely political--ei: political lesbianism.  We're all consenting adults.

 

The reason people are so passionate about the argument is because homosexuality has been historically viewed as a deviance or an illness by religious and psychological authorities.  A lot of people just want(ed) a "cure"--whether by religious, therapeutic, or genetic treatment.

Well, those clearly have biological/genetic/accidental explanations and are a bit besides the topic.

Some people who lose a limb will never realize that it's gone. In fact, both you and I might be missing a finger, we just don't know it and if anyone tells us we'll considered them crazy. It's not a choice we make, but neither does it have a biological explanation.

Instead of looking at sexual preference and biology/psychology as dichotomies, I prefer thinking about it like scales. I don't think we are born with either a blank slate or a full answer set to our sexuality.

Well, you are correct in assuming that sexual preference can be viewed as a scale ranging from total hetero-sexuality to total homo-sexuality.  You are, however, incorrect in your assumptions about the cause of the existence of people who are not part of the general population who sit firmly at the heterosexual end of it.  "Crushes" on same sex people are reasonably common among a subset of people who do on to develop are completely heterosexual preference after puberty but the development of homosexual or bisexual preferences are far more intense and qualitatively different than the transitional "homosexual crush" of those whose final orientation is gender-typical. 

As someone else mentioned, it's really all about the type of environment that the developing fetus experiences in the womb.  This can be influenced by the genetics of the mother, the increasing influences on the mother's genetic expression of previous male embyros, the endocrine disturbances of certain types of prolonged or traumatic stress during pregnancy or during phases of pregnancy, and the effects of several other factors.

Do not assume that genes are uninfluenced by the environment in which the find themselves, that they always express themselves or that every cell in the body expresses its genes in the same way.  Even identical twins do not express their identical genes in the same fashion which is why some clearly heritable conditions do not affect such twins equally. Genetics is not nearly as simple as popular science suggests.  If you argue from the simplicities of popular science you will make errors of judgement and logic.

 

Oh, BTW, there are clear differences in brain structure before or just after birth between those who will develop heterosexual preferences and those who will develop predominately homosexual preferences in later life.  There are also differences in relative finger lengths of the second and fourth (ring) fingers.  Now, that is clearly genetic.

I recall a documentary on BBC Knowledge which correlated the length of the ring vs index finger and athletic performance. Apparently, a longer ring finger than index finger had substantial positive influence on athletic performance. The reason provided was exposure to a higher level of testosterone in the womb, either by natural or artificial causes.

Guess there's a lot of suppressed gay athletes... ;)

Rosemary - it's been a delight to read the sanity of your posts on this... thanks for lucidity and expertise which is precisely what is needed here. 

It's a dangerous thread perhaps, that opens a scientific and technical question to opinion.  Who cares what anyone believes on this unless it is informed by scientific rigour?

 

What matters is what the best science tell us and that really should be the end of it.  If the science isn't clear - fine: then we can says so.  But that should no more give us the right to go off and opinionate to fill the 'gap' (that word should fill us with care...) than when the religious fill perceived knowledge gaps with their nonsense.

 

I've really appreciated the science led view (and that was an interesting reminder about environment impacting how a gene is expressed...I'd forgotten that and it is of course, critically important).

 

Thank you.

 

Jimmy

I subscribe to the biological view on this subject. In (very) short, it is a necessary part of population control.

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