Ware Farms

Speaking truth to prejudice

Monday, May 23, 2005


SSM and the APA

From a comment at the Family Scholars Blog SSM and the APA:

Chairm wrote:

"Bill, do you mean to claim that 5% of the adult population is sexually attracted, exclusively, to their same sex? That is different from what you first claimed, as others have pointed out."

Where? Who? I usually say up to 5%. Estimates vary. How can we say when we can't know how many gays are still closeted? If it's 2%, not 5% does it make any difference? Funny thing, I've never seen any estimates regarding what % of the population are asexual, not attracted to either men or women, yet I've met a number, usually women. The difficulty is, they have no idea what they're missing. The greater pleasure is pleasing the other. Imagine how frustrating this is to their partner.

"By far, most same-sex households with children include at least one adult who had previously been in a procreative relationship with someone of their opposite sex (i.e. marriage) and have brought the children with them."

That's right, about 85%

"So it is demonstrably untrue that such people are incapable of forming positive marital relations with the other team."

Well... They did divorce, didn't they?

Note from the APA Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality web page:

Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female) and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).

Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.
(Emphasis added)

Behavior is voluntary, so a gay man could marry a women in order to adhere to "cultural norms for masculine behavior." Other considerations besides romantic love for the woman would be factors. What happens when this charade ends? The wife and the kids realize that the marriage was a sham the whole time. There's an ex-Governor McGreevey moment when everything comes apart. There's no way a counselor can put humpty-dumpty back together again. Far better to avoid this catastrophe by marrying someone of the same sexual orientation in the first place. A loveless marriage does everyone ill.

"Bill, where did you get the statistic of 300,000 same-sex couples with children? That number looks about twice the estimate of the Census, for example."

Pollsters are plagued by the "socially correct answer" problem. For example, in an in depth survey of why people voted as they did in a presidential election where 52% actually voted, 64% of respondents said they had. About 12% said they did when they didn't rather than admit they did the socially incorrect thing by not voting.

Surveys of gays and lesbians have the opposite problem. The social stigma prompts many to say that they are heterosexual. Surveyors have ways to help correct this problem, doing face to face interviews where they can gain the persons trust and elicit more honest answers and so on. They add history from prior surveys and computer analysis and they come up with an estimated correction factor. The census provides raw data with no corrections as Congress requires. The correction factor raises the census figure to 300,000 give or take. I was also interested to see that the census reported that the mean income for gay households was $5,000 above the overall average.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Jon Rowe deals with Dishonest Data about Gays

Jon Rowe deals with the dishonest way that too many anti-gay writers distort facts and figures as a way to stir up unwarrented hatred against gays in his post Cramer Knows Better.

I posted this comment there:


Your posts on this subject are getting better over time. This one was especially good. From the American Psychological Association pageAnswers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality:

Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. It is distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female) and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior)...

Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only).

Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.

Another myth about homosexuality is the mistaken belief that gay men have more of a tendency than heterosexual men to sexually molest children. There is no evidence to suggest that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to molest children.

Please see my post The APA on Sexual Orientation for comments I made on these and other of their Questions and Answers.

This sexual arousal occurs in the hypothalamus, a part of the limbic system which deals with emotions in general. This autonomic nervous system response to gender specific cues is not under conscious control and has many of the same hormonal and other physiological characteristics of the "fight or flight" reaction, except instead of a feeling of fear, the release of oxytocin produces a feeling of euphoria and a desire to be closer.

My post Gay Limbic Reaction to Pheromones refers to a study which shows that sexual arousal in the hypothalamus is similar between heterosexual women and gay men and both are different than that in heterosexual men. More practically, in my post An Objective Criteria for Sexual Orientation I describe a test that determines sexual orientation for clinical studies.

Yet polls and surveys are limited to estimating orientation through self reporting and questions regarding behavior. Sexual orientation as clinically defined and sexual behavior which is entirely under voluntary control are certainly related, but they are NOT the same thing. Your description of situational homosexual acts, young teenage boys playing with each other, prisoners using others for sexual release, and so on, indicate no sexual feelings for the partner other than the friction they provide for their own sexual gratification. Pedophilia, necrophilia, and other disorders also fall into this sex purely for gratification category.

Those whose orientation is gay are capable of forming deep bonds of love and affection with another gay person, just like heterosexual couples do, since these are based on the same sets of genes in both cases as I describe in Genetic Basis for Sexual Orientation.

When dishonest people like the one you discuss here, try to cloud the issue by conflating all kinds of deviant sexual behavior that happens to involve two persons of the same sex, with sexual orientation which has nothing to do with these behaviors, then this willful deceit must be brought to light and soundly condemned.

Thanks for your efforts in this area. Bill Ware


Sanjai Tripathi on ID

One of my favorite blogs about evolution, The Panda's Thumb, had a post about an article by Sanjai Tripathi in the Oregon State Daily Barometer which he titled, "ID for faithful, evolution for scientists."

Sanjai is close to completing an advanced degree in molecular microbiology. He took proponents of intelligent design to task on scientific grounds:
First, their examples of "irreducible complexity" are in fact reducible. The bacterial flagellum is the most frequent example cited by ID proponents.

He goes on to explain how combinations of a lesser number of the 30 proteins which make up these flagella serve several other useful functions, so it is not true that they have to "suddenly appear all at once" as IDer's claim.

He goes on to say:
The second flaw in ID is more fundamental. That is, their basic argument has no logical basis; because something is very complex, it doesn't necessarily have a "designer."

Sure there's still lots to learn in biology. We're talking about all living things on the planet, after all. Yet we don't look at some cellular structure or function, say "that's too complex for me, God musta dunnit," throw up our hands and abandon research in the area. That's like saying that God created the weather, so why bother studying meteorology. It just isn't useful.

I left a comment about his article:
Good article, Sanjai.

I despair at the header, "ID for faithful, evolution for scientists"

For those of us who believe in the God of reality, there is no conflict between faith and science. We are in awe as we find out more about the universe that God created through the knowledge that science continues to provide us.

It is only those who believe in the God of Biblical Mythology who have a problem with science. Those ID creationists who turn a blind eye to scientific observations such as the age of the earth, and scientific theories such as the theory of evolution not only show disrespect for God by turning their backs on the realities of His marvelous creation but also embarrass the rest of us who base our belief in God on reality not fantasy.

He responded as part of a comment later:
Re Mr. Ware's post; I agree that the title unfairly characterizes "faithful". I used it to mean those who reject empiricism, but that description certainly doesn't describe all people who are faithful. My apologies for the imprecision.

Accepting the reality of God's creation allows us to believe in a real God. There is no other.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Gay Limbic Reaction to Pheromones

In a study published on May 10, 2005 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science , Dr. Ivanka Savic and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that homosexual and heterosexual men respond differently to two odors that may be involved in sexual arousal, and that the gay men respond in the same way as women.

An estrogen-like steroid, EST, found in female urine, and a testosterone derivative, AND, found in male sweat, were presented to subjects during a PET scan. While these odors and the odor of cedar produced increased neural activity in the olfactory regions in all subjects, the EST produced an additional response in the anterior portion of the hypothalamus associated with sexual arousal only in heterosexual men, and the AND produced similar arousal only in women and homosexual men.

From the abstract:

These findings show that our brain reacts differently to the two putative pheromones compared with common odors, and suggest a link between sexual orientation and hypothalamic neuronal processes.

From an article about the study in the New York Times:

The gay men responded to the two chemicals in the same way as did women, Dr. Savic reports, as if the hypothalamus's response is determined not by biological sex but by the owner's sexual orientation.

The finding is similar to a report in 1991 by Dr. Simon LeVay that a small region of the hypothalamus is twice as large in straight men as in women or gay men.

If sexual orientation has a genetic cause, or is influenced by hormones in the womb or at puberty, then the neurons in the hypothalamus could wire themselves up in a way that permanently shapes which sex a person is attracted to.

See my previous post Genetic Basis for Sexual Orientation which has links to other relevant information.


Genetic Basis for Sexual Orientation

The mechanism of gene selection

Physical, physiological and behavioral traits are a result of a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors.

Forming the basis for these biological characteristics are the genes. The genes which make up the human genome are contained in 23 pairs of chromosomes. One set of these chromosomes comes from the male gamete while the other comes from the female gamete.

During fertilization the genes from the male and female gametes come together to form complimentary pairs. Except for a few gamete specific genes, all other genes are left in an activated or unmethylated state after fertilization. This allows the embryonic stem cells to have the poly-potential to become any of the cell types required to form all the structures of the body. This set of potential characteristics is the person's genotype.

However, the presence of two genes, each attempting to specify the same characteristic, is not only unnecessary but may also be harmful. Therefore, for most pairs of genes, one is left active while the other is deactivated through the process of methylation. The set of genes which are left active determines the person's actual characteristics or phenotype. If the father has blue eyes and the mother has brown eyes, each of their children are likely to have either blue eyes or brown eyes, but never blue-brown eyes. This process of gene selection takes place for the thousands of gene pairs. Once in place, this pattern of methylation is preserved during cell division so that the initial set of characteristics is replicated in every cell of the body.

A person's sex is specified by an entire chromosome. The presence of the male Y chromosome in the XY combination results in a male offspring while the repetition of the female X chromosome in the XX combination produces a female offspring.

In addition to characteristics which are determined by a single gene or an entire chromosome, many are determined by a related set of genes, known as a gene complex (gc). Control areas preceding these gc's are such that the entire set of genes can be switched off or left on as a whole.

Since autonomic nervous system responses like the "fight or flight" reaction are preprogrammed in our genes, there must also be a genetic basis for the similar physiological reactions which occur when one person is sexually attracted to another. Since most people are not attracted to members of both sexes, there must be one set of genes which would lead a person to be attracted to males (AtoM) and another set which would lead a person to be attracted to females (AtoF).

The hypothalamus and other portions of the limbic system play an integral role in emotional responses including those related to sexual attractedness. Studies of the fragile X syndrome show that the X chromosome is involved in brain development and function in this portion of the limbic system. The AtoM gc and AtoF gc may be located on the X chromosome as well.

Like almost all genes in the gametes, those in the X and Y chromosomes are all initially found in an activated state. However, the Y chromosome's role is limited, after all females don't even have one, and males do fine with only one X chromosome, so the second X chromosome in females is all but superfluous. So at some time during embryonic development, the Y chromosome in males and one of the two X chromosomes in females are inactivated with the exception of a few complimentary areas.

Yet these sex chromosomes must perform a role in determining primary and secondary sexual characteristics. After all, men and women are different. They must also play a role in determining sexual orientation. When the Y and X chromosomes from the male and female gametes form a pair during fertilization, the presence of the Y chromosome may provide the signals which would usually result in the AtoM gc on the X chromosome being turned off while the AtoF gc is left on. This would result in a man who is attracted to females. When the male gamete provides a second X chromosome instead, the signals would usually result in the AtoF gc being turned off while the AtoM gc is left on. This would result in a woman who is attracted to males.

However, if the pairing of the Y and X chromosomes is such that the usual Y signals are weak or poorly responded to by the X chromosome receptors, this could result in the AtoF gc being turned off while the AtoM gc is left on. This would result in a man who is attracted to males. Similarly, the pairing of two X chromosomes may provide similarly ambiguous signals and the AtoM gc may be turned off while the AtoF gc is left on. This would result in a woman who is attracted to females. In either the XY or XX combination, the signaling could be such that both the AtoM and the AtoF gc's are left on. This would result in a man or woman who is attracted to both males and females.

Since all the necessary biological functions are provided by a single X chromosome, the second X chromosome in females is all but completely turned off. However, this may not always be the case. In certain rare instances the AtoM gc on the usually inactive X chromosome may be active. With both AtoM gc's active, the result would be a woman who is doubly attracted to males, a condition know as nymphomania. Since the attractedness gc's are located on the X chromosome and men have only one X chromosome, there is no corresponding condition among men.

Another possibility exists. We may have a man with both the AtoF and the AtoM gc's turned off. This person may have dated some in high school but he soon loses interest in this ritual. Content in other areas of his life, he becomes the perennial bachelor who is simply not inclined toward forming an intimate relationship with anyone.

Last we may have a woman with both the AtoF and the AtoM gc's turned off. She may still have a strong maternal instinct and may therefore marry in order to have children, but sexual relations beyond that are considered more of a duty than a pleasure. Or she may be the maiden aunt that is somewhere in every family.

These asexual conditions are rarely studied since a lack of sexual interest is unlikely to result in the type of problems which would lead one to seek therapy. Yet these can cause problems when it comes to public policy regarding such things as sexuality education in our schools. When one mentions the powerful urges that occur as girls and boys mature, they haven't the foggiest notion what one is talking about. Having never experienced being sexually attracted to anyone themselves, they cannot understand why our youngsters can't "just say no" to sexual activity as easily as they did when they were their age.

General conclusions

If sexual orientation is determined by the post conception activation of certain gene complexes on the X chromosome, then the following would apply:

1. Everyone has an X chromosome and all X chromosomes carry both the AtoM and AtoF gc's. There is no unique "homosexuality gene."

2. Since current testing can detect the presence of genes, not which ones are turned off or left on, there is no genetic test for sexual orientation. A physiological test is used in clinical studies.

3. Since these gene sets are either on or off, there is no spectrum of limbic system reactions going from mostly heterosexual to mostly homosexual. A person is all one or the other (or both or neither.) Behavior is voluntary and is an entirely different matter as described here.

4. A person cannot change his or her sexual orientation. No amount of intellectual introspection or prayerful reflection can change the sex specific imprinting that leads to the sexual arousal response in the limbic system. Such "Magical Thinking" is described here.

5. Being around someone who is gay will not encourage someone else to become gay. If one is not born gay, one will not become gay later.

6. A person's sexual orientation is nobody's "fault." It is not the person's fault or his or her parents' fault or society's fault. Homosexuality is not a "sin" since it is not freely chosen. Excerpts from the American Psychological Association's Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality are discussed here.

7. Since the same AtoM gc is active in gay men as in heterosexual women, the limbic system responses will be similar and can be managed as easily by gays as they are by females.

This material has been revised since its original 1995 publication. Any suggestions for further revision would be welcome.

Update See my recent post Gay Limbic Response to Pheromones which relates how the sexual arousal response in the hypothalamus to odors is the same for homosexual men as it is for women.