24 comments on “This Week in Science: October 11th, 2015

  • But if homosexuality is a chemical modification to the DNA, it’s then a deficiency or a disorder: shouldn’t we aim at healing it instead of saying the contrary? I find the later highly not scientific and quite religious in nature and so those calls by the ScienceMag are completely political and social engineering, not science.

    I have read this web for more than a year (just registered today to write this post), and I am every surprised to read posts supporting transgenderism too. How can Mr. Dawkins and his staff, follow reason and facts and think that a xx chromosomes can be a man? I follow science that says xx = woman and xy = man. Tell me rationally how I can think otherwise, thank you.
    Neither make-up, long hair, clothes, hormones nor cosmetic or genital mutilations can change this.
    Atheists who believe in this are like religious people who believe in angels.
    Same with saying there are no races or just a skin color difference: it’s like claiming that evolution stopped some 60’000 years ago as per the Out-of-Africa theory. Mr. Dawkins doesn’t sound very scientific sometimes: this is why I call Liberalism a religion, albeit secular: blind faith doesn’t always revolve around a god and many atheists follow secular dogmas as irrational as religious dogmas.
    I do appreciate he does seem to understand that some religions are worse than others. I just how he can take more red pills.



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  • Welcome Anna. You have taken a courageous first step to involve yourself in some lively, rational evidence based discussions. A couple of observations with your post.

    But if homosexuality is a chemical modification to the DNA, it’s then a deficiency or a disorder..

    It’s likely others will post links to further science, but as I have read the science over the past decades, it appears as those there will not be one “Cause” of homosexuality, male or female. Sexual orientation is determined by your brain, not what’s between your legs, and not your XX or XY chromosomes. How a person views the world from a sexual perspective, comes from how masculine or feminine their brain orientation is. And this is not black and white. It is actually a spectrum graph in the shape of a dumbbell with sexually orientations smeared across the handle. So Anna, the first thing you need to do if you want to follow evidence and reason (one of the objectives of this site) to research this, seeking reliable non social media, social agenda or religious influenced propaganda. Seek out the science. Seek out the evidence. Seek out the rational.

    Neither make-up, long hair, clothes, hormones nor cosmetic or genital mutilations can change this.

    If your brain orientation is female, then wanting those adornments is completely natural and normal.

    Atheists who believe in this are like religious people who believe in angels.

    Go to the current Question of the Week discussion and follow the exchanges of Alan4Discussion and a poster named Alien. Very informative. You will see that your use of the word “Atheist” and the connotations you attached to that label are completely wrong, hence your statement doesn’t stand scrutiny.

    Same with saying there are no races or just a skin color difference: it’s like claiming that evolution stopped some 60’000 years ago as per the Out-of-Africa theory.

    If you can interbreed, you are of the same race. You are holding some very dangerous ideas with this statement. Others in here may not be so gentle. To put it bluntly, your view is a social view of the races and is not supported by a scintilla of scientific evidence. We are all of the species, Homo Sapiens. And just like every other species on the planet, we all have different spots and stripes in different locations. The moment you allocate the word race to a population, it emboldens you to allocate social propensities, intelligence, diligence, thrift etc, and at its extreme, can end in gas chambers. You do not want to sign up to race as a marker.

    Mr. Dawkins doesn’t sound very scientific sometimes: this is why I call Liberalism a religion, albeit secular: blind faith doesn’t always revolve around a god and many atheists follow secular dogmas as irrational as religious dogmas.

    A common mistake. Made often by those who don’t understand the concept of atheism. Used as an argument when nothing else is left. Again, I refer you to the Question of the Week discussion. Everything you need to know to hold an informed opinion, rather than an ill informed opinion.

    Stick around for the intellectual ride of your life.



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  • Fascinating stuff. There’s another article on genetic prediction of homosexuality here.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151008141634.htm

    Essentially it’s not just a matter of which genes you inherit but how strongly each one expresses itself relative to all the others and this is partly determined by chemical signals and molecular modification to the genes. Maybe they’ll find the cause of religiosity eventually and then we’ll be able to “cure” it 🙂



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  • Anna, red hair is a modification of DNA. Should we be trying to cure the Ginger menace? What about blue eyes? I guess genetic mutations only need to be cured when the conflict with someone’s religion



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  • Anna
    Oct 11, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I have read this web for more than a year (just registered today to write this post), and I am every surprised to read posts supporting transgenderism too. How can Mr. Dawkins and his staff, follow reason and facts and think that a xx chromosomes can be a man? I follow science that says xx = woman and xy = man. Tell me rationally how I can think otherwise, thank you.

    The development of the embryo is not that straight forward.

    There is still a range in humans of sexual bodily development, although hermaphroditism, and natural sex changes are common in many other species. (Snails are both sexes in the same individual, and some fish can change sex at some stage in their lives.)

    Here is a link on the biology of Human Hermaphrodites and inter-sex bodies.

    http://10e.devbio.com/article.php?id=266



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  • Anna. You clearly have great problems dealing with the concept of smeared human sexuality. The problems you articulate indicate you detest the homosexual lifestyle, referring to disease and bringing up children.

    I was asking about transgenderism: I will ask again: do you think a xy chromosomes, i.e. a man, can be a woman? Yes or no.

    Yes. As I explained above, your sexual orientation is determined by the structure of your brain, not what’s between your legs, and not even you XY or XX Chromosomes. Male and female brains are anatomically different. So if you find a male, with a female anatomical brain, what have you got. This is scientific fact, not social media fluff. You get a male XY chromosome body, with a female oriented brain. You get a homosexual. All of the science is available for you to inform yourself. If you fail to inform yourself of the evidence that shows your opinion is wrong, then you have committed a significant public error in a forum like this. Your view should follow the scientific evidence, and as that evidence changes, so should your view. It appears you hold a view, not supported by evidence, which is exactly what the religious do. Prejudice over facts.

    What you think about what homosexuals can and cannot do, is social opinion, not scientific evidence.

    So I will ask you also, do you believe in identity, or like religious people call it, a soul?

    No. I follow what the scientific evidence, like that above in this article, that indicates that homosexuality is not choice, but with a high probability of cause from effects on the fetus during gestation from a number of possible sources. If you are prejudiced against homosexuals, when you have information available to that tells you it is not their fault, then you commit a grave moral wrong.

    You also allude to a charge that we of this forum, somehow follow what you Americans call a “Liberal” agenda, and that we are blind automatons, sprouting stuff we here on the media. Again, you are new here. This is the last place you will find blind follows of anything. The people attracted to this web page are some of the fiercest independent thinkers on the planet. They do not FOLLOW anyone. They work it out for themselves. They are Free Thinkers.

    On the contrary, gender theory is a dogma, albeit secular, and requires blind faith: in the gay gene, in homophobia, in society-induced diseases etc

    This kind of stuff is an irrational prejudiced rant. I want you to start here, read what it says, follow the links to the underlying science and get back to us. But you must distinguish between scientific evidence, and what you hold as personal social prejudices.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality



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  • I spoke too soon, Anna. To tell you the truth, I have no idea what causes homosexuality. I suspect that there is a psychoanalytic component. There seems to be some evidence that there is a physiological component as well. Perhaps it is both, or entirely environmental in some cases, and entirely biological in others.
    It seems to be the case that many gay men have a strong identification with the mother who is usually a strong personality.
    My mother is an analyst and I don’t know what her explanation is, but she and other psychologists have observed that a strong, dominating mother and a weak father is often the dynamic that is associated with the emergence of homosexuality.
    But whether it is psychological or genetic or both, I don’t see what one can object to. What does it matter? Heterosexual parents can destroy their children, turn them into monsters. Conversely, a loving gay couple can, I am sure, be fine parents.
    My niece’s father was a sick asshole. My sister’s daughter is far better off now that her mother is a single parent.
    Perhaps you think that the ideal scenario would be two straight and good parents.
    Well show us the evidence. That sounds fluffy, biased.
    Look at the history of humanity. The vast majority of parents have been heterosexual couples. Is that history so wonderful? Look at all the cruelty that has been perpetrated throughout the ages.
    Having a straight mom and a straight dad has been anything but a panacea.
    Judge people by their thoughts and deeds, by the content of their characters, not by their sexual orientation.
    If you can present a compelling argument that homosexuality is actually immoral (and I don’t think that is quite possible without referring to scripture) I would be happy to read it.



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  • To tell you the truth, I have no idea what causes homosexuality. I suspect that there is a psychoanalytic component. There seems to be some evidence that there is a physiological component as well.

    Sorry Dan. But you are wrong on the psychology angle. See here.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality

    The rest of what you have written is the suburban folklore of homosexuality and is mostly out of date.



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  • David, Hi,
    I have great respect for you and enjoy your comments very much for the most part, but Wikipedia? Not much of a source. Is that the last word on all subjects?
    I was just throwing out some ideas that I have picked up, and suspect have some merit.
    I’d be interested to hear what your own explanation of the cause is (and everything has a cause).
    You say it’s neither psychoanalytic in nature and not “biological” either. So what is it then?
    What folklore? What did I say that sounds like folklore? You said “determined by the brain.” I said “biological.” How is the brain not part of biology?
    Btw, everyone on this site is in love with the brain and seems to see it as a prima causa. This or that – in this case one’s sexual orientation – is determined by the brain.—But what determines the brain? I say environment, perhaps. Maybe?
    Analogous question: our actions are determined by the will. “But what determines the will?” (Schopenhauer)



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  • I was told that they have a woman identity. So I will ask you also, do you believe in identity, or like religious people call it, a soul?

    Very sneaky to equate a feeling of identity to a “soul”, as it’s not the same thing at all. Unlike the fiction of a soul, there is absolutely no doubt about the existence of the sense of “self” that humans have, and our mental image of who we are. I “feel” like a partiuclar person, with particular attributes, and that sense of “identity” may or may not be perfectly in line with a more objective description of me. It’s a mental construct, sure, but so are colour perception, emotion, rational thought, and indeed anything else that comes from the brain!

    The question is whether we should indulge people’s own sense of identity, even if it seems to contradict a more “normal” and objective description of that person, or whether we should try and force them to take up that “normal view”.

    Trying to force another human to think anything is deeply immoral (as well as being both pointless and unfeasible), whereas generally allowing people to be what they want to be is both harmless and kind.

    If hermaphroditism, sex changes or homosexuality is natural or okay in humans because it is found in those animals, then do you think raping or eating our young should also behold as natural and okay?

    Don’t confuse “natural” with “good”. Humans do all kinds of things animals don’t do, and also have a lot in common with animals. Pointing out that homosexuality and hermaphroditism is found in animals was just refuting that gender is necessarily a cut-and-dried concept. Behaviours like rape or eating one’s young are Bad because of the harm they do, not because they are (or are not) natural in humans.



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  • it is rational to give some drugs or hormones to readjust people with the gender they were born into than to let them leave with a disorder/deficiency

    Brain sexual orientation is laid down at the 3 month point in gestation. Are you seriously suggesting we should run a test for homosexuality, then experiment on the fetus to turn possibly gay babies straight, just to satisfy your prejudice.

    brain orientation are reptile or vampire..

    Irrelevant comment. Not worth answering. Next.

    I will rephrase if it helps you: people who don’t believe in god but believe for example that xy can be a woman, are not different than religious people who believe in religious dogmas because this is what their priest told them to believe…

    You will enjoy your time in this forum if you think this kind of irrational thinking will engender any respect. God has no evidence. Brain sexual orientation is independent of XX or XY chromosomes. Science. Here is the evidence. Evidence is different from quoting some unknown internet blogger.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation

    Now if you are saying that atheism is just not believing in a god, and so that atheists can believe in other irrational beliefs as long as it is not about a god

    Atheism is just the collateral damage from having a rational evidenced based view of the world. So other irrational beliefs are not very likely in a person who can reason away god. Dismissed.

    You wrote ” You are holding some very dangerous ideas with this statement. ”

    Yep. And I can’t wait to read when you finally shed your sheep’s clothing and start making claims based on the “Race” that you assign to our species of Homo Sapiens. A very dangerous and immoral place to go. What do you think of race. Are there some races more superior to others. Should races interbred. Should superior races subjugate lesser races. Should bad races be sent to the gas chambers. Racial determinism has no place in a civilized world.

    Sorry. I should have read on. You’ve done it.

    “Darwin valued European civilisation and saw colonisation as spreading its benefits, with the sad but inevitable effect of extermination of savage peoples who did not become civilised.

    Epigentics rides again. The Master Race rules.

    And I’ve read some more. Declines to further engage. Over to you guys.



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  • Dan,

    A good way to start is with yourself. Know thy self. What is it that makes you up. I envy parts of other men but do not get turned on by them. A woman is quite another story. My gay niece enjoys the same as me and may have the same envy, I have not wanted to ask. There is nothing that is going to change those feelings towards men. I have really tried to see beauty in men but my brain is not that way inclined. Simple truth. Don’t be afraid to try it. I had a friend who was abused by his step dad. It complicated his sex life with women but he did ‘turn’ gay. Then the church got a hold of him and married him to a woman he did not know and screwed him up even more.



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  • Dan.

    This is a brief dot point summary of what I know (without references) on the causes of homosexuality.

    Before 3 months, a fetus is gender neutral. It may be XX of XY, but it’s final sexual orientation is a function of the brain. At 3 months, there is a flood of hormones. If it is an XY male fetus, this flood forces a male brain. This article on epigentics has a role A list of other biological factors appear to be in play also so it won’t be just ONE cause. (All referred to in Wikipedia with links to the science.) If for any reason, this brain forcing fails, then the resulting male bodied XY human will have a sexual orientation smeared across a spectrum. A dumbbell graph. This orientation may never be acted on. It may be very slight. Or it may be full gay or transgender (more to do organal disorientation) or bi sexual… or any other permutation.

    In a female XX fetus, if it gets the flood of male creating hormones, you get a lesbian. Male brain. Female body. If you look at comparisons between rates of male homosexuality to female homosexuality, you find that males far outweigh females with differential sexual orientation. I’ve read speculative research that a 3 month fetus, will be female brain oriented, if nothing happens. That is, a female brain is the norm / template, and a male brain requires a forcing. This would explain why it is far more common to have male homosexuality, over female.

    The Wikipedia article was cited, not because it is authoritative, but because every blue hyper linked topic allows you to explore the back up references. As an aside, I’ve recently read a study of Wikipedia indicating that it is fast becoming reliable an authoritative on subjects where referenced science is available. It is less reliable on social or political issues. But it is now considered the first port of call for a quick insight into most topics. Brilliant organization. All for free. I donate every year and I would encourage everyone on the planet to donate. Information sets you free.

    As for parenting, it comes down to the quality of the human being, not the sexual orientation. A good, ethical and moral gay parent will be better for a child that a drunk drug taking wife beating unemployed red neck. Parenting is about the human being. Any other label is irrelevant. (Sorry. Confused your post to me with response to Anna.)

    I suspect there are homosexual people by choice, but they would be in a small minority. What enrages me is that people, who know nothing of the science, choose to berate, abuse, discriminate, castigate and wave immoral flags at homosexual people. You wouldn’t do it to a cerebral palsied person, who is like they are because issues with the brain. Why do it to a homosexual. And my LIVID scale goes off the meter when it is a religious person, trying to impose their personal gods views on what’s in my jocks, sometimes by force of law. Very bad, immoral and unethical people that claim religious justification for prejudice.



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  • Anna
    Oct 11, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I am every surprised to read posts supporting transgenderism too.

    Transgenderism can occur naturally due to hormone imbalances during the pregnancy (see the link above). – This includes the development of the male of female brain to varying degrees.
    Even after maturity, bodies can take on the form of the opposite sex, or inter-sex, to some extent in response to hormones. – Either from natural imbalances or from medication.

    Perhaps some of the most spectacular examples are “Ladyboys” who look distinctly female despite their male chromosomes.

    http://www.manchestersfinest.com/arts/glamorous-amorous-the-ladyboys-of-bangkok/



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  • Anna Tree
    Oct 13, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I think what you need to understand about sexuality, is that it is similar to nature in general.
    Nature usually covers a range of variability which does not fit into little boxes where humans can stick convenient labels on standardised products.



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  • Know thy self.

    Olgun, I am a bit confused by your comment. Try it? I am heterosexual. What was it about my comments that suggested to you that I might be gay? I was merely presenting some thoughts on the subject. Please clarify.

    (Are you back from Cyprus? How’d it go?)

    P.S. I do appreciate beauty in some men (Chaplin, Rod Steiger when he was young, Martin Sheen when he was young, Orson Welles when he was young, Burt Lancaster, Buster Keaton, and others.) But I am not sexually attracted to men.



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  • As for parenting, it comes down to the quality of the human being, not the sexual orientation. A good, ethical and moral gay parent will be better for a child that a drunk drug taking wife beating unemployed
    red neck. Parenting is about the human being. Any other label is
    irrelevant.

    Hi, David,

    I think we agree for the most part. But I thought my question: “what determines the brain?” was an interesting one.

    I am not sure why you made the point pasted above to me. I wrote the exact same thing (in different words):

    Heterosexual parents can destroy their children, turn them into monsters. Conversely, a loving gay couple can, I am sure, be fine parents. My niece’s father was a sick asshole. My sister’s daughter is far better off now that her mother is a single parent. Perhaps you think that the ideal scenario would be two straight and good parents. Well show us the evidence. That sounds fluffy, biased. Look at the history of humanity. The vast majority of parents have bee heterosexual couples. Is that history so wonderful? Look at all the cruelty that has been perpetrated throughout the ages. Having a straight mom and a straight dad has been anything but a panacea. Judge people by their thoughts and deeds, by the content of their characters, not by their sexual orientation. If you can present a compelling argument [, Anna ,] that homosexuality is actually immoral (and I don’t think that is quite possible without referring to scripture) I would be happy to read it.



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  • Still in Cyprus Dan. Back on Saturday. Going great.

    Sorry for confusion. It’s just that many men show revolution at the mere sight of a naked man as I used to. Scared we might turn gay lol. Silly childish response. Grew up and decided to experiment. Forced myself to look. Not so scary after that. Even plucked up the courage to go with my brother in law to the steam baths. That is what I meant by try it. If you think that you can ‘turn’ gay by being exposed to it then buy a gay magazine and observe your own reactions. It’s all well and good reading about things but a little testing goes a long way. IMO.



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  • Dan

    I am not sure why you made the point pasted above to me…

    It was a mistake. I confused two posts, Anna’s and yours and wrote that. And yes we agree.

    “what determines the brain?”

    If this is a philosophical question, then I am not qualified to answer. I have found with time in this forum, that discussions on philosophy are way above my pay grade. If it is a biological question, then our brain runs on chemical reactions.

    In relation to this topic, a distinctly female oriented brain can be found in a homosexual male. Found in autopsies. I can recall a story from The Science Show (ABC Radio in Australia). An anecdote which I can no longer find a reference to. A leading pathologist in London had a bet with his colleagues that said that given a brain alone, he, through dissection could determine the sex of the person. He would get it right every time and win the bets, except for a small percentage which puzzled him. When discussing one such lost bet, a nurse mentioned that the brain he said was female in anatomy, came from a homosexual male. He went back and checked against the other lost bets, and found a correlation between female brains in male bodies aligned with homosexuals. Not 100%. But back in those days, many homosexuals lived hetero sexual lives in denial, due to social pressure.



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  • Olgun,

    Funny about the steam baths. I’m laughing because I’ve been in some steam baths (hammams) in Algeria and was shocked at the casual nudity in an otherwise puritanical culture. Big room full of nude women of all ages and children yelling and fighting. I thought at the time that there was no mystery left about how the female body changes through the decades. The answer was right there in front of me and everyone else. Seems a more practical way of going about things. I can’t say how casual the men are in the other half of the hammam. Maybe they have no problem checking each other out there. Not sure. The women don’t hide it at all and one of them told me that the matriarchs check out the young women as prospective brides for their sons and nephews there. Of course the minute I walked in it turned into a three ring circus, sigh. 🙁



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  • Did you film it? Uh, sorry.
    You know something, Laurie?—I am so ungay it isn’t even funny. I don’t have a gay bone in my body.
    (Parody of a defensive, latent homosexual – which I’m not. Seriously. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, as Seinfeld said . . . Hate the show. )



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  • (Stupid place to put the report button. I have reported at least six of you so far)

    One of my earliest memories LaurieB, is the hammam. I was one of those kids running around at three or four years old. I still remember having to avert my gaze from the boobs everywhere. Must have been told not to stare? Can’t remember much else except for the smell of soap. Takes me there every time. That was all in Cyprus. The next time I went was in the uk and over thirty. A whole other experience altogether. Still had to avert my eyes because the bathers were all, except for my brother in law and me, east end Jewish villains with a few british bruisers. There was what they called the ‘blue room’. This was the, half steam, room for the gay crowd. Strict separation was observed. ‘Half steam for the puffs’ as my brother in law would say. Prat!! He later learned his youngest daughter is gay.

    My claim to fame in all of this is: I shared a jacuzzi with a british film star Stanley Baxter. I loved his harmless films as a child and thought I might get to talk to him. I was quickly ushered away by my brother in law with a ‘your turn for a bath’. They all took turns giving each other a massage and bath…ironic? Apparently old Stanley would pick up young men on a friday and helicopter them to his castle in Scotland for a dirty weekend. Not sure how much of that is pure male childishness. Heard enough of the borstal days of these villains stories to doubt what they said.



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