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Isn't his main theme that the science isn't quite there? I do think he downplayed the twin study too much. That was such a high correlation that it is very impressive. Consider that even if it is genetic it may require a trigger, much like someone may be genetically prone to bipolar disorder but never aquire the brain function of bipolar disorder if this trigger never happens. Yet we'd never say bipolar isn't physical.

This is where I think the paper is flawed. It tends to equate genetic with "fixed" and environment with "learned." But consider say language acquisition. A child never exposed to language (an environmental not genetic component) never can learn language due to the way the brain becomes hardwired.

What homosexuals claim isn't just that it is genetic. I think at best one might have multiple kinds of genetic potentials for homosexual attraction. Rather they claim that it is something innate to who they are. i.e. it is brain structure.

The problem is that some assume that if it isn't genetic it isn't real and therefore under ones control. That is simply in error and is one of the grave misunderstandings of the nature vs. nurture debate. A lot of nurture can develop fixed brain structure.

Also, I'd say all of this is moot to whether it is just. Even if even a significant number of homosexuals have brain structure reasons for being gay, that doesn't entail it being moral.

At the same time though, I think there is severe social pressure to simply *assume* homosexuality is innate. I'd be amazed if all homosexuals were homosexual due to brain structure. It most likely is a continuum of some sort.

I don't think it's accurate to say, as Byrd does, that that he is "not much of an activist on this issue or any other issue." His involvement with NARTH seems to qualify as activism of some type.

Now that I've read the whole article (I posted last night in a hurry, before I could read the whole thing) I'd have to say it is well done, citing a bunch of bona fide research as opposed to what I was expecting. His basic point seems to be that homosexuality, like any other facet of human personality and behavior, cannot be "explained" by simply asserting "born that way," and he is equally clear in rejecting the "they chose to be that way" oversimplification. His clinical or therapeutic approach seems to be a rejection of judgment or condemnation, coupled with a willingness to work with those who are unhappy with their homosexual attractions, orientation, or lifestyle.

This article should be read, perhaps, in conjunction with the recent Ensign article on homosexuality by the noted author Name Withheld, who seems to be contributing regularly to the Ensign these days. I'll blog the Ensign article tomorrow.

As to my question, now that I've read the article I'd say it does not adopt what one might call the conservative LDS view that homosexuals either choose to be that way or at least could, with sufficient willpower, choose to become heterosexual.

On the other hand, I think the recent Ensign article is a sign, perhaps, that the official LDS position (which is whatever the Big 15 are thinking about an issue at any given time) is softening to the point of recognizing that (1) gays often don't choose to be that way, and (2) generally cannot choose to become heterosexual by a simple, short-term exercise of willpower or righteousness.

I believe Byrd has written some Ensign articles on homosexuality. It would be interesting to do a comparison to the FAIR paper.

Actually Dave, I believe Elder Oaks said that it could be innate in the Ensign about 5 years ago. Once again I think we have to be cautious, which is what the FAIR article urges, as some make a false dichotomy of "it's all beyond my control" or "none is beyond your control." The truth is almost certainly different for different people and for the majority somewhere in the middle.

Yes, that's one thing I liked about Byrd's FAIR talk--he wasn't saying "based on my research, this is the explanation," but instead was open to a variety of explanations in different cases or for different people. One thing that drives a lot of animosity on this and similar issues is the implicit assumption by many that their explanation (possibly supported by good research or personal experience) is the sole explanation that must apply to all other cases as well as their own.

Of course, the assumption that homosexuality needs to be "explained" should be addressed more openly. Does heterosexuality require a similar explanation? How would your average heterosexual "explain" their sexual orientation and attractions to the satisfaction of a clinical researcher or counseling clergy member? We seem to put homosexuals in the difficult position of having to explain (or having someone else explain) their homosexuality in rational terms and actually expect them to be able to do that.

That's kind of an odd question. From a scientific point of view, yes, I think heterosexuality needs explanation as do all variations from the norm. For instance why would homosexuality be passed down genetically since it appears to be a negative for reproduction and typically those weaken ones line such that it dies out. There are, I think, lots of good questions in need of explanation. New Scientist a while back had an issue on this. It pointed out that many biologists think there are three biological components to our sense of sexuality. One is the gender role we feel comfortable with, one is what you are attracted to, and the other is how we view ourselves in terms of our sex (male of female). What was surprising is that an individual might vary from the norm in one and not in others. (i.e. a transvestite who considers themselves male and is attracted to females)

I think, given the fact of homosexuality in animals, especially other primates, that there is a strong genetic component to it. (Which makes sense - sexuality is not something you want to leave to personal choice) Yet humans, given our rationality, can choose to go against our instincts.

Plinker's _The Blank Slate_ deals with some of these issues and especially the opposition by both the left and the right to any sense of inherent structure. I think he makes a lot of good points. Unfortunately he falls apart on the ethical issues. For instance he makes a compelling case that a lot of our tendencies to stereotype are ingrained and that thus racism has a genetic component. Yet he clearly feels racism is wrong and can be overcome both on an individual level as well as a social level. Yet if genetics is in some sense irrelevant to ethics, why is it appealed to with respect to homosexuality.

In a way, a better discussion is one not readily apparent to be applicable to the homosexual debate. Yet it involves far less heat and rhetoric. The deaf are arguing that cures to deafness are a kind of racism and appeal to the community just being an other minority. Deafness though is clearly physical in nature and with coclear implants can be cured in the young. Many deaf people don't want deaf children cured. And indeed, many deaf activists explicitly bring up the homosexual connection.

Of course homosexuality can't typically be "cured" today - at least not among strong homosexuals. (I think there are a lot who experiment with it or who are more aptly considered bisexual) But there is a lot of pressure to not even try to find out if it can be treated, either by therapy or in the future with genetic engineering. The parallels are quite pronounced in my opinion and considering the issue there is quite interesting.

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