Darwin hates fags

I’m sure there’s all kinds of wonderful things about evolutionary psychology, but at times its adherents sound a lot like glibertarians. I’ve always liked this quip from Noam Chomsky:

You find that people cooperate, you say, ‘Yeah, that contributes to their genes’ perpetuating.’ You find that they fight, you say, ‘Sure, that’s obvious, because it means that their genes perpetuate and not somebody else’s’. In fact, just about anything you find, you can make up some story for it.

This can all dovetail with the kind of brave contrarianism that brings knee-jerk liberals to our knees. Here’s Will Wilkinson on the idea of an evolutionary basis for homophobia:

At his Scientific American blog, evolutionary psychologist Jesse Bering discusses the hypothesis that a negative attitude toward homosexuality is a product of natural selection. The argument that it is, due to Gordon Gallup of SUNY-Albany, is basically that parents who actively discourage or stigmatize homosexuality in their kids will have more grandkids, and so on. “In its simplest form,” Gallup conjectures, “parents who showed a concern for their child’s sexual orientation may have left more descendants than those who were indifferent.”

So, okay. This is a fine hypothesis. Is there any evidence for it? Well, no. There isn’t. This is not to say that Gallup conducted no studies in the attempt to test his hypotheses. He did a bunch of them fifteen or so years ago. Bering lays these out in detail, resurrecting what had been a dormant line of argument in the hope that “it might spark new research.” Noting that Gallup’s “studies are imperfect, ” he goes on to praise Gallup for his courage willingness to do science that is “exceedingly rude—unpalatable, even,” implying, it seems, that there has been little follow-up on this question due to the weak-kneed liberal fear that experimental confirmation would help “antisocial conservatives to promote further intolerance against gays.”

A graduate student summarizes the lack of evidence:

If you’ve noticed that this doesn’t mention evidence of heritability or a fitness benefit to homophobia, that’s not because I left it out—that’s because Gallup’s work contains no data to support either.

What this amounts to is arguing that homophobia is an adaptation favored by natural selection because homophobia is a thing that exists.

I write about this, because, you guessed it, of Bobo. The point of his new fascination with what he calls neuroscience is to show readers that there are hard, scientific truths about the awesomeness of conservative values and that liberals have to accept them, or they’re no better than flat-earthers. His argument will generally be: a) there is a social order, b) since there is a social order, there is a scientific reason for it, and c) if liberals want to change the social order to be more fair, they are going against nature. David Koch’s primal scent is why he is more powerful than you; you mock him at our species’ peril.

Of course there are a few things about our current society for which there is no good scientific reason: unions, public schools, etc.

181 replies
  1. 1
    cathyx says:

    How does Bobo explain needing to wear glasses? He must be inferior. Superior people have perfect vision.

  2. 2
    ed says:

    You lost me at “evolutionary psychologist”.

  3. 3
    Mnemosyne says:

    The process to a lot of evolutionary psychology studies seems to be:

    1. Decide that a particular behavior/action is innate
    2. Craft a study that “proves” it
    3. Ignore anyone who points out that you can’t prove that “rape is a evolutionary adaptation for men who can’t get a woman” by looking at a single police precinct in one medium-sized city.
    4. Profit! Because science writers for newspapers and magazines really are that dumb.

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    OT..The President is suppose to speak. Could it be that he is going to announce there are planes flying over Libya?

  5. 5
    lacp says:

    David Brooks babbling about “neuroscience” reminds me of an exchange in Fritz the Cat:

    “Existentialism – I heard that word once. What’s it mean?”
    “It means, like, cool, gear. You know.”

    What a moran.

  6. 6
    Citizen Alan says:

    I now have a strange mental image of Bobo as Dr. Pangloss singing “Best of All Possible Worlds” from Candide.

  7. 7
    chopper says:

    seems kinda silly. parents who instill anti-gay shit into their kids have more grandchildren by what mechanism exactly?

    i mean, i understand that the groups in at least america who have the most kids tend also to be the most anti-gay. but that’s a correlation and not much more.

  8. 8
    dmsilev says:

    Social Darwinism rides again! Anyone want to guess how long until some conservative starts proposing eugenics?

    dms

  9. 9
    David in NY says:

    Evolutionary psychology is a crappy excuse for science. It essentially begins with the premise that we are the way we are because of evolution, and then works backwards to prove that, yes, you guessed it, we are the way we are because of evolution.

  10. 10
    BombIranForChrist says:

    I had the fortune / misfortune of spending time in a social sciences lab that studied cognitive science generally, and here is what most responsible academics will say about evolutionary psychology:

    It’s interesting but dangerous.

    I think there are some genuinely interesting topics that can be explored in this area, but without question, the softness of evolutionary psychology leaves the entire field exposed to neo-eugenicists like Bobo, who play around in the Evolutionary Psychology sandbox until they find something they like and then pass it off as “hard neuroscience”.

    In my opinion, evolutionary psychology is a little like Alternative History exercises or Counterfactuals, generally. All of these intellectual pursuits, and I do believe they have a place in academics, can be interesting and instructive, but there is still, at its core, an element of fantasy in the core of all of them that leaves them vulnerable to demagogues.

    Ex:

    If only we hadn’t appeased Hitler, everything would have been great!

    Yeah, ok, maybe … or maybe we were fucked anyway.

    etc.

    What do I know, tho, I’m a drunk and I play video games.

  11. 11
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Well put. Their standard of proof seems to be “Because I say so.”

  12. 12
    Starfish says:

    Gaah. Attitudes are not genetically linked traits bitches! They are social traits unless your attitude is schizophrenic.

  13. 13
    cathyx says:

    So I guess you are only social superior if you have a lot of money. My definition would be very different. But I guess that means I’m socially inferior.

  14. 14
    Paul in KY says:

    From a reproductive standpoint (and speaking as a guy), wouldn’t you want every other dude to be gay? Wouldn’t you love homosexuality (at least among your sex) as it would reduce competition?

  15. 15
    Starfish's Sock Puppet says:

    Then again. I could be wrong. I love you all.

  16. 16
    dmsilev says:

    @Citizen Alan: Hmm.

    War!
    Though war may seem a bloody curse
    It is a blessing in reverse
    When canon roar
    Both rich and poor
    By danger are united!
    (Till every wrong is righted!)
    __
    Philosophers make evident
    The point that I have cited
    ‘Tis war makes equal — as it were —
    The noble and the commoner
    Thus war improves relations!

    No, that’s not David Brooks. He’s very much a “poor people fight for the benefit of the wealthy” kind of guy. How very déclassé to suggest that rich people also fight.

    dms

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:

    @JPL:

    OT..The President is suppose to speak. Could it be that he is going to announce there are planes flying over Libya?

    I have to admit, I almost hope so, because otherwise I fear it may be something like, “Japan is completely irradiated and the entire population is being evacuated.”

  18. 18
    Comrade DougJ says:

    @BombIranForChrist:

    I think there are some genuinely interesting topics that can be explored in this area, but without question, the softness of evolutionary psychology leaves the entire field exposed to neo-eugenicists like Bobo, who play around in the Evolutionary Psychology sandbox until they find something they like and then pass it off as “hard neuroscience”.

    That is my take exactly. There is plenty of interesting, valid stuff but in the hands of Bobo and Will Saletan, it can all go very Pete Tong.

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    If you use the word “neuroscience” or “proven” and such, it makes your pop-sociology pronouncements true.

  20. 20
    Tonal Crow says:

    Science needs Republicans like Jews need Nazis.

  21. 21
    azlib says:

    I gave up on Brooks a long time ago. His ideology gets in the way of his brain way too often.

    As for homophobia being hereditary. So what if it is? It is also likely sociopathy has a genetic component. Doesn’t mean we let sociopaths get away with murder, just as we should not let homophobes keep us from granting equal protection for gays.

  22. 22
    AC in BC says:

    It should be pointed out that the most prominent evolutionary psychologists were/are liberals, even radicals. And none of them would argue that innatism justifies inequality. Robin Trivers (a Black Panther supporter) believed that fighting injustice was only possible if you correctly identified its sources. Certainly radical behaviorism, which Chomsky derides even more caustically (see his famous essay on Skinner), has not proven particularly successful when implemented by societies such as the USSR under Stalin. The drive of one human to dominate another can’t be explained away by blaming it all on “social conditioning” or “class relations.”

  23. 23
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I have to admit, I almost hope so, because otherwise I fear it may be something like, “Japan is completely irradiated and the entire population is being evacuated.”

    Took the dog for his usual long walk this morning. One of the neighbors stuck her head out of the door and asked me if I wasn’t worried about the radiation. When I explained that I hadn’t heard anything that suggested that Southern California was going to catch much of a dose she replied that the government just doesn’t want people to panic. I almost suggested that she wrap herself in tinfoil to keep the Roentgens away but she is an otherwise decent neighbor.

  24. 24
    Jude says:

    Sociologists refer to this point of view (i.e., everything that exists does so because it is advantageous to society) as “structural functionalism,” and haven’t really taken it seriously in decades.

    As you note, it just leads to the creation of an infinitude of “just-so” stories.

  25. 25
    Martin says:

    @azlib:

    As for homophobia being hereditary. So what if it is?

    It means they’re flawed in the eyes of God – like left handed-people, those with brown skin, females, and so on.

  26. 26

    Evolutionary Psychology gets a bad rap… mainly because so many people confuse “is” with “ought”, and since many of us know a little bit of biology, genetics, and psychology it’s easy for a relative layman to construct their own little just-so stories and call it “evolutionary psychology”.

    However the evolution of behavior and culture is an interesting and important topic… and just because it’s hard to do right and easy to abuse, doesn’t mean the whole field is garbage.

    It reminds me of people doing animal work sneering at human data because it’s so messy.

  27. 27
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    From mistermix’s post down below, it still sounds like the most we need to do here in So Cal (and other coastal parts of the contiguous US) is to take a multivitamin and not worry too much.

    It may be different for Hawaii given how much closer they are to Japan, but I don’t think us mainlanders have much to worry about.

  28. 28
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    However the evolution of behavior and culture is an interesting and important topic… and just because it’s hard to do right and easy to abuse, doesn’t mean the whole field is garbage.

    I think the guideline is more, “If it makes it into the popular press, it’s garbage.”

    Also, too, there’s probably a lot of really interesting stuff you can glean by examining how societies themselves evolve, but I don’t know how much that would have to do with human genetics. (I’m thinking not much, but IANAS.)

  29. 29
    JPL says:

    @Mnemosyne: The President gave the you made me bomb you speech. He did say the Europeans and the Arab Nations would lead on this. Gaddafi has a short amount of time to clean up his act.

  30. 30
    patrick II says:

    I am left wondering how you can be a social-darwinist and not a darwinist. It must be that incoherence is a survival trait.

  31. 31

    ok, so you say that homosexuality is inate, and one only needs look at george rekers or ted haggard as ectreme examples of people who would not choose to be gay.

    then you say homophobia is inate, mmmok, at least you are conceding the first point.

    what i don’t get is, if homophobia is something people are born with, why doesn’t that make ensuring equal rights for teh gay, an absolute no brainer?

    i mean you don’t even have to challenge the assertion, or how its derived, just accept that bobo wants to believe it, and say that alone proves the need for equal protection.

  32. 32
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    True, that. I grew up in the Fifties which meant being reminded nearly every day that the evil Russkies were champing at the bit to nuke our asses clean off. It takes a lot to worry me. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open, that’s only prudent, but not walking the dog will hurt a lot more than an insignificant increase in background radiation.

  33. 33
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    Chomsky’s statements on evolutionary psych are more on the order of gentle chiding. To be exact, he says that we may be able to make statements about the evolutionary basis of psychology, bur currently the statements are far outpacing the actual depth of understanding.

    For more entertaining reading see Chomsky’s epic takedowns of Skinner and postmodernism.

  34. 34
    Tonal Crow says:

    @patrick II:

    I am left wondering how you can be a social-darwinist and not a darwinist. I can only guess incoherence is a survival trait.

    Because shut up you libtard, that’s why.

  35. 35
    David in NY says:

    Stephen Jay Gould was supportive of a rigorous evolutionary psychology, but this is the kind of think he would have said about Bobo’s columns, and maybe did:

    The task of evolutionary psychology then turns into a speculative search for reasons why a behavior that may harm us now must once have originated for adaptive purposes. To take an illustration proposed seriously by Robert Wright in The Moral Animal, a sweet tooth leads to unhealthy obesity today but must have arisen as an adaptation. Wright therefore states:

    “The classic example of an adaptation that has outlived its logic is the sweet tooth. Our fondness for sweetness was designed for an environment in which fruit existed but candy didn’t.”

    This ranks as pure guesswork in the cocktail party mode; Wright presents no neurological evidence of a brain module for sweetness, and no paleontological data about ancestral feeding. This “just-so story” therefore cannot stand as a “classic example of an adaptation” in any sense deserving the name of science.

    From a 1997 NYRev article.

  36. 36
    daveNYC says:

    David Koch’s primal scent is why he is more powerful than you; you mock him at our species’ peril.

    100% win.

  37. 37
    Alex S. says:

    That only makes sense if this psychologist believes that parents can turn their gay children straight by brainwashing them.

    I hope that the humanities continue to find their own place within this heavily ‘economized’ world. Everything is getting its price tag and value, and there are guys like Bobo who believe that everything is exactly right as it is right now because ‘the math demands it’, or because evolution made it that way. Humanity will be richer with a little free will and creativity. And for God’s sake, somehow paleo-christian Ross Douthat and new-Darwinist David Brooks find arguments from opposite ends of the moral spectrum to support whatever the GOP does.

  38. 38
    Brachiator says:

    His argument will generally be: a) there is a social order, b) since there is a social order, there is a scientific reason for it, and c) if liberals want to change the social order to be more fair, they are going against nature.

    There are so many weaknesses to evolutionary psychology that you could easily wear yourself out puncturing all their delusions. And for some reason, writers who are not actually, you know, scientists, love to jump onto a faux determinist train and crash it into common sense, science and history. This trend started most recently with Robert The Moral Animal Wright. Bobo is just the latest dog chewing on this well gnawed bone.

  39. 39
    New Yorker says:

    I guess the fact that David Brooks accepts evolution instead of a garden with a talking snake and Cain’s wife coming from nowhere 6,000 years ago makes him a “reasonable” conservative.

  40. 40
    Tonal Crow says:

    @David in NY: Yes. Wright’s passage is a classic example of mistaking a proto-hypothesis for a testable hypothesis that has been substantiated by research.

    Or, we fail to teach the scientific method at our grave peril.

  41. 41
    RSA says:

    Of course there are a few things about our current society for which there is no good scientific reason: unions, public schools, etc.

    I’d have thought a term like “spandrel” would be irresistible to Brooks.

  42. 42
    Martin says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Heh. I had a similar conversation with someone yesterday (not that the corgi couldn’t use some mutating radiation – maybe grow some fucking legs).

    My explanation was that just like we can measure their earthquakes from here doesn’t mean we can feel them or that they can impact us, and just like we can measure their radiation doesn’t mean that it can impact us either. That seemed to calm them down some.

  43. 43
    David in NY says:

    @Tonal Crow: I was looking for it for a while, and didn’t notice others have referred to the danger of “just so” stories.

  44. 44
    Shygetz says:

    I personally find the notion that scientists should be shamed because of how Bobo and his ilk might misrepresent and misuse their ideas to be ridiculous. It’s akin to blaming Max Plank for the homeopathy blather about quantum imprinting of water.

    Evolutionary psych should be viewed as a means for generating hypotheses to be tested, and little more (although it should be noted that this is a vital role in all areas of science–when you have limited resources, good methods for generating likely hypotheses are very valuable for triage if nothing else).

    That said, there is nothing scientifically more or less offensive about the hypothesis that homophobia is adaptive than there is that a certain level of homosexuality in a population is adaptive–a hypothesis that has never drawn criticism from the BJ’ers. He has preliminary data that could be explained by this hypothesis, and the biggest scientific hit against it is that there is not more data for it…but it’s hard to find data if no one is looking.

    It’s a hypothesis, and like any hypothesis it should not be acted upon as if it were likely true. But it could be tested if there were a compelling reason to use resources in that manner. And I don’t see what the sin is. Gallup isn’t hypothesizing that homophobia is “good”, any more than the idea that sickle-cell anemia is “good”; he’s hypothesizing that it was adaptive.

    seems kinda silly. parents who instill anti-gay shit into their kids have more grandchildren by what mechanism exactly?

    Gallup’s idea is that homophobia prevents child molestation and “recruitment” by homosexuals, which (he hypothesizes) would lead “conversion” to homosexuality. He has sketchy preliminary data to support this mechanism, but it has not been replicated and his preliminary evidence could be explained by other mechanisms (including early homosexual encounters overcoming cultural homophobia and introducing ideas of homonormality). There is another potential mechanism, though. It could work through shaming naturally homosexual children into entering into personally unsatisfying yet genetically fruitful hetero relationships. Evolution doesn’t care about your happiness, after all, except for how it relates to your fecundity.

  45. 45

    @Mnemosyne:

    There is no need to be dualistic about genes and culture… presumably the both interact pretty heavily. I think you can fruitfully go about the inquiry from either direction.

  46. 46
    geg6 says:

    Gawd, if there is any other field more full of pseudoscience than evo-psych, I don’t know of it.*

    Amanda Marcotte takes these assholes down at least twice a week. What a joke they are.

    *Okay, okay, before anyone else says it, economics might just be the winner here in this race to the bottom.

  47. 47
    nancydarling says:

    I’ve always thought that gay people were necessary for the survival of the species, especially since I think women are less homophobic than men. Back when we lived in caves in small family groups and life was REALLY hard, those family groups that were blessed with bachelor uncles and maiden aunts were better able to protect the women and see their children raised to adult hood. If you were a female with a toddler, a baby on your hip, and possibly another one in the oven, it would have been nice to have extra hands around to help you. Anyway, that’s my theory.

  48. 48
    LGRooney says:

    Let’s face it, the conservative understanding of science and the scientific method is summarized as: if someone who studied science at some point and has a job even peripherally related to science in some way speaks, it is science. That way they can call on petroleum engineers to deny evidence of climate change, a physicist can have a dais to espouse his disagreements with evolution, and a lawyer who once represented a client whose house was felled by an earthquake against the insurance company can have a platform to discuss how god sent the tsunami as punishment for the atheism on the basis of whocoodanode, inter alia.

  49. 49
    NonyNony says:

    His argument will generally be: a) there is a social order, b) since there is a social order, there is a scientific reason for it, and c) if liberals want to change the social order to be more fair, they are going against nature.

    Which is exactly why we must all bow to the King of Mesopotamia and make the proper sacrifices at all of our altars to Enlil and Enki because if we don’t we are GOING AGAINST NATURE!

    And you don’t want to mess with those Mesopotamian gods – they’re badasses.

  50. 50
    qwerty42 says:

    So Brooks is taking on J S Mill?

  51. 51
    Shygetz says:

    @nancydarling: Just so.

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    @JPL:

    I’m not thrilled and I think the US should keep its grubby paws off as much as possible, but at least we avoided a re-enactment of Testament.

  53. 53
    Mark S. says:

    Um, am I missing something? Who cares about homophobia, shouldn’t ev psych have to explain why homosexuality exists? Shouldn’t straight people have long ago outbred gay people?

    What I hate most about ev psych is that it’s a cartoon version of natural selection, where only one trait can survive and everything else dies off.

    I also think most behavior is learned, not innate. But I’ve read idiots like Pinker argue that there’s a gene for jealousy, there’s a gene for aggressiveness, etc. There’s an app for that, too.

  54. 54
    Annamal says:

    According to Dan Savage, the gay children of homophobic parents are 8 times more likely to kill themselves (he didn’t say 8 times more likely than what but it seems a safe assumption that lack of parental support results in a higher chance of suicide).

    A trait that results in more death by suicide of children before they’ve had children of their own would seem to be a huge disadvantage to passing on your genes.

  55. 55
    Brachiator says:

    @Shygetz:

    That said, there is nothing scientifically more or less offensive about the hypothesis that homophobia is adaptive than there is that a certain level of homosexuality in a population is adaptive—a hypothesis that has never drawn criticism from the BJ’ers.

    Most of this stuff, whether a “nice” hypothesis or “not nice” is dumbshit. My biggest problem with most of this stuff is that it doesn’t try really to explain anything. Rather it is lame and reductionist. Instead of a hypothesis about a range of human behavior over time, most of the time, it simply seeks to validate a bug up somebody’s ass about what somebody likes or dislikes about contemporary America.

    So, for example, people trying to “prove” that human beings are inherently “good” by comparing humans to bonobos are just as stupid as this homophobia crap.

    There is no real “hypothesis” here, just somebody’s ideology badly disguised as “science.”

  56. 56
    giltay says:

    What this amounts to is arguing that [X] is an adaptation favored by natural selection because [X] is a thing that exists.

    Sadly, I see a lot of arguments from EP proponents that boils down to this structure (at least, the arguments that don’t reduce to sociobiology).

    When I was in undergrad, EP came up in a course I was taking on the philosophy of science. I asked a couple of friends, then doing their PhDs in sociology and psychology, what the consensus in their fields were. They replied that it’s basically just another tool, rather than a guiding central theory like evolutionary biology.

    To my mind, the major problems with EP have less to do with the substance of the theory, but with the facts that (a) we don’t have a good idea of what life was like for most of human prehistory, and (b) we don’t have a good idea of what life is like today. A lot of EP hypotheses are based on ancient Chicago-school structural functionalism taken as read (the earliest paradigm of modern sociology, based on the nuclear family as the basic unit of society).

  57. 57
    Redleg says:

    Effect sizes, dammit, I want to see effect sizes!

  58. 58
    mds says:

    I’m sure there’s all kinds of wonderful things about evolutionary psychology

    Uh-oh.

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Evolutionary Psychology gets a bad rap… mainly because so many people confuse “is” with “ought”, and since many of us know a little bit of biology, genetics, and psychology it’s easy for a relative layman to construct their own little just-so stories and call it “evolutionary psychology”.

    Alas, you’ve just described what seems to be the bulk of professional evolutionary psychologists. Though “know a little bit of biology, genetics” might be giving people like Pinker too much credit.

    Yes, if evolutionary biologists, geneticists, neuroscientists, etc., teamed up to do more psychology-related work, we could learn a thing or two. But that’s not the default approach, as the Wilkinson piece illustrates for the umpteenth time.

    @AC in BC:

    It should be pointed out that the most prominent evolutionary psychologists were/are liberals, even radicals.

    Oh, well then, naturally I withdraw my objections to any unscientific methodology involved with the field.

    [Gad, bog-standard evolutionary psychology fills me with such irrational rage, I feel as if I could kill a mammoth with a sharpened stick. I’m e-mailing Cole about the distress this post caused.]

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Shygetz:

    Gallup’s idea is that homophobia prevents child molestation and “recruitment” by homosexuals, which (he hypothesizes) would lead “conversion” to homosexuality.

    So, wait, the fact that Gallup’s idea is based on a theory of homosexuality that was thoroughly discredited 20 years ago means it’s still real science? Huh? That’s like arguing that it’s totally scientific for someone to try and figure out how to turn lead into gold because scientists used to believe it was possible.

  60. 60
    Redleg says:

    By the way, social identity processes, including those that produce stereotypes, are substantially hardwired. The beauty of well-adjusted humans is that we can get past the hard-wiring and actually use the parts of our brain that support creativity, reason, and higher cognitive functions.

  61. 61

    @geg6:

    I doubt she does. She is most likely taking down people who fail at the is/ought distinction. These may be PhD level evolutionary psychologists, but I find that unlikely.

  62. 62
    slag says:

    His argument will generally be: a) there is a social order, b) since there is a social order, there is a scientific reason for it, and c) if liberals want to change the social order to be more fair, they are going against nature.

    Replace “scientific” with “Biblical” and “nature” with “God” in this argument and you have the Fundie worldview.

    Observe our collective surprise at the fact that the tie that binds conservatives is their devotion to protecting pasty male privilege. They’re all on a mission from God. Imagine that.

  63. 63
    The Political Nihilist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    I wasn’t aware that Bobo was writing ‘Liberalism is a Mental Disease 2: Liberal Bugaboo’.

  64. 64
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @New Yorker:

    I guess the fact that David Brooks accepts evolution instead of a garden with a talking snake and Cain’s wife coming from nowhere 6,000 years ago makes him a “reasonable” conservative.

    Sigh.

    Half of the so-called conservatives deny evolution and the other half want to use it to plan out the seating chart for the Thunderdome.

  65. 65
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Mark S.:

    I also think most behavior is learned

    And consistent with the discussion on this thread, you have evidence for this, amirite?

  66. 66
    Tonal Crow says:

    @LGRooney: You forgot the corollary to the conservative understanding of science, which is that actual science — proposing a testable hypothesis, methodically gathering data to test it, and analyzing the data to determine the hypothesis’s truth — is highly suspect and its practitioners frauds unless their conclusions support conservative dogma.

    Thus, many climate-change deniers don’t just deny the central human role in climate change, they deny the greenhouse effect, Kirchoff’s law, and even the 1st law of thermodynamics, and they routinely charge climate scientists with every kind of fraud and perfidy.

  67. 67
    Comrade DougJ says:

    @Shygetz:

    I personally find the notion that scientists should be shamed because of how Bobo and his ilk might misrepresent and misuse their ideas to be ridiculous.

    I am a scientist and I would be upset and if Bobo misused my ideas.

  68. 68
    Mnemosyne says:

    @AC in BC:

    It should be pointed out that the most prominent evolutionary psychologists were/are liberals, even radicals.

    John Money was a liberal — probably even a radical — and yet his ideas made the lives of thousands of intersexed people completely miserable when they were put into practice. The guy who developed the lobotomy thought it would help people, but he was drastically wrong.

    Being a liberal or radical does not excuse you from any bad consequences that result from your liberal idea being put into practice.

  69. 69
    samson says:

    Like pray away the gay nonsense, this starts from the assumption that gay is simply a perverse CHOICE. In other words, it doesn’t matter how homophobic your family or society is when that’s how you were made.

    It also fails to deal with all the homosexuality in the animal world apart from humans. Wonder if your average hetero penguin is homophobic?

  70. 70
    geg6 says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Um, she actually does. As for PhD level evo-psychs? If there are any, they are the joke of the profession, based on conversations with the PhDs in our biology and psychology departments. As is said above numerous times, the only thing evo-psych is good for is to see how badly they get it wrong, both biology and psychology. A PhD really doesn’t make up for completely ignoring the scientific method, as most evo-psychs do.

  71. 71
    slag says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Half of the so-called conservatives deny evolution and the other half want to use it to plan out the seating chart for the Thunderdome.

    Hahahahahaha!

  72. 72
    Comrade DougJ says:

    @Shygetz:

    My gripe here is with this being dredged up again 15 years later as if it were more important than it is.

  73. 73
    grillo says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Grays. No more Roentgens. Roentgens were not SI enough. Can’t use ’em. Have to use Grays.

    Don’t even talk to me about Sieverts.

  74. 74
    tim serbo says:

    one small point of semantics, if i may: can we please stop referring to it as “evolutionary psychology”? the proper term is “reductive determinism.” and please don’t bring either term anywhere near “science.” scientific propositions are testable and falsifiable. evo-psych’s flimsy rationales for the status quo are neither.

    thank you. please return to your previous incivility.

  75. 75
    Chad N Freude says:

    The argument here seems to be the Absence of Evidence principle: I think of a causal relationship and assert it. There is no evidence to refute it. Therefore, it must be right. I run into this all the time professionally, most egregiously as “My computer network has never been penetrated. I know this because there is no evidence of it ever having happened. QED.” I keep telling people “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” but the response is frequently “Oh, shut up Cassandra.”

  76. 76
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    @geg6:

    As for PhD level evo-psychs? If there are any, they are the joke of the profession, based on conversations with the PhDs in our biology and psychology departments.

    Anecdotal evidence is not terribly scientific.

  77. 77
    Yevgraf (fka Michael) says:

    I am eagerly awaiting the appearances of Chuck Todd and David Gregory on Morning Joe to tell us how this narrative is a game changer.

  78. 78
    scav says:

    hmm, how does this fit in with the whole concept of original sin? I mean, if sin is innate then yeah haw! Gotta live with it, nay, encourage it!

  79. 79

    @mds:

    Yes, if evolutionary biologists, geneticists, neuroscientists, etc., teamed up to do more psychology-related work, we could learn a thing or two. But that’s not the default approach, as the Wilkinson piece illustrates for the umpteenth time.

    @geg6:

    If there are any, they are the joke of the profession, based on conversations with the PhDs in our biology and psychology departments.

    These are examples of biologists sneering at psychologists, not rebuttals. I don’t really care how superior they feel because their data is collected on a lab bench and is all nice and clean, whereas psych data is messy and confusing and requires inferences and caveats.

    Because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it nonsense. Which is not to say there isn’t a lot of garbage out there, because obviously there is… and yes, there are even biologists producing it.

  80. 80
    jheartney says:

    shouldn’t ev psych have to explain why homosexuality exists? Shouldn’t straight people have long ago outbred gay people?

    I’ve always thought this was a more interesting question, and suggests that sexuality is pretty complicated (duh). BTW, homosexuality has been observed in lots of other species, so it’s not just about humans.

    By contrast, focusing on homophobia is getting obsessed with a minor detail. I do think the fear many straight men have about homosexuality is real, and not unworthy of study. I can’t tell whether it’s primarily cultural or genetic, though.

  81. 81

    @NonyNony:

    And you don’t want to mess with those Mesopotamian gods – they’re badasses.

    Especially that nam-shub of Enki thing. Keep clear unless you want to be neurolinguistically reprogrammed!

  82. 82
    Chad N Freude says:

    @scav: Original sin really doesn’t fit here. Sin is a theological concept, and if you’re into theology, there isn’t any evolution.

  83. 83
    Rick Taylor says:

    It is a proven fact that offspring of childless couples are unlikely to have children themselves.

  84. 84
    Chad N Freude says:

    @jheartney:

    I can’t tell whether it’s primarily cultural or genetic

    My understanding (which is superficial) is that it didn’t bother the ancient Greeks a whole lot.

  85. 85
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Rick Taylor: I am so going to steal that!

  86. 86
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    The argument here seems to be the Absence of Evidence principle: I think of a causal relationship and assert it. There is no evidence to refute it. Therefore, it must be right. I run into this all the time professionally, most egregiously as “My computer network has never been penetrated. I know this because there is no evidence of it ever having happened. QED.”

    I’m with you…

    I keep telling people “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,”

    …until here. Absence of evidence can be *some* evidence of absence. (But it is, of course, nothing like the conclusive level of evidence of absence claimed by the network managers you described). If, for example, one randomly surveys highways worldwide for two-tone puce/green Hummers, and detects none, that is *some* evidence for the hypothesis that none exist. But it is, of course, not conclusive evidence, since one could be hidden in a little old lady’s garage in Pasadena.

  87. 87
    JGabriel says:

    @Shygetz:

    There is another potential mechanism, though. Homophobia could work through shaming naturally homosexual children into entering into personally unsatisfying yet genetically fruitful hetero relationships. Evolution doesn’t care about your happiness, after all, except for how it relates to your fecundity.

    So … in that scenario, assuming a genetic basis for homosexuality, homophobia would lead to more homosexual people being born?

    That’s ironic.

    .

  88. 88
    scav says:

    @Chad N Freude: You’re being too logical for the lot we’re dealing with. This sounds like the scientific beard for homophobia, no more no less.

  89. 89
    cleek says:

    @Mark S.:

    Who cares about homophobia, shouldn’t ev psych have to explain why homosexuality exists?

    not sure there’s an ev-psych theory about that, but there are all kinds of other theories about that.

    a recent one is that it is a genetic variation which persists because there’s no good reason for it not to. the human species (along with a few others) is successful enough at reproducing that there’s not enough pressure to select-out the variation that causes a certain percentage of otherwise-“fit” individuals to opt-out of reproduction.

    if the probability of a particular couple having a homosexual child was 0.99, that couple would likely have no grandchildren. and that would be the end of those genes. but the real probability is much lower than that – most couples with children will have straight children. but since straight children will pass on that same small probability of having a homosexual child to their own children, the potential for the variation can persist.

    just a theory. don’t know if there’s anything to back it up.

  90. 90
    Brachiator says:

    @Shoemaker-Levy 9:

    Anecdotal evidence is not terribly scientific.

    True. And evolutionary psychologists’ dependence on anecdotes makes for terrible science.

  91. 91
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jheartney:

    I do think the fear many straight men have about homosexuality is real, and not unworthy of study. I can’t tell whether it’s primarily cultural or genetic, though.

    This is my completely, 100 percent unscientific opinion: like a lot of this stuff, I suspect it’s a genetic thing that gets expressed culturally. In societies that accept homosexuality, there’s probably something else that some people find “naturally” revolting.

    That’s the kind of evo-psych research that I would find interesting rather than the warmed-over Social Darwinism that usually goes by that name.

  92. 92
    Svensker says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    Sin is a theological concept, and if you’re into theology, there isn’t any evolution.

    Really? I learned a new fack today!

  93. 93
    Shygetz says:

    @Comrade DougJ:

    I am a scientist and I would be upset and if Bobo misused my ideas.

    I’m a scientist as well, and while I would be upset if Bobo (or anyone else) misused my ideas, I wouldn’t be ashamed.

    My gripe here is with this being dredged up again 15 years later as if it were more important than it is.

    The guy wrote (in a Sci Am blog, fer Crissakes!) that it was an old theory (way to misuse that word, Bering) that he’d like to see investigated more thoroughly. I don’t think that’s according it much importance. I’d argue that it’s what scientific blogs are for. I certainly wouldn’t report breaking results on a blog, but I WOULD talk about questions and hypotheses that I find interesting. I personally don’t find this topic interesting, but to each his own.

    Now if this were an editorial in Nature, I’d agree with you.

  94. 94
  95. 95
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Tonal Crow: Sorry, dude, must disagree. Absence of evidence is evidence only of the fact that you haven’t found any evidence. It can be a driver for further investigation, and you can say you think absence of whatever you haven’t found is true, and it might be, but you can’t know it,and it’s not wise to act or fail to act based on not finding evidence (see Network, penetration of).

  96. 96
    scav says:

    @cleek: and it’s not as though homosexuals don’t breed themselves, they’re perhaps less likely too but they certainly can and do. This theory you describe is really only a recent one? Where have their brains been? Of course there are all sorts of behaviors that aren’t subject to strong or consistent evolutionary pressure.

  97. 97

    @Chad N Freude:

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

    Sure it’s evidence, at least in the Bayesian sense. If something may or may not have happened, and I can’t find any evidence that it did happen, it makes me more likely to believe the theory that it didn’t. It’s certainly not conclusive proof, but it is evidence.

  98. 98
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Svensker: This is a good thing. Continue to absorb the knowledge of the Intellectual Overlords on this blog and you will learn many facks.

  99. 99
    JGabriel says:

    Svensker:

    Really?

    No, not really. I can’t speak for all faiths, but as a religiously agnostic cultural Catholic, I know that Catholic dogma has no beef with evolution through natural selection. I suspect the same is true for many other theologies as well.

    .

  100. 100
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Roger Moore: I like that: no evidence is . . . evidence. I agree with your comment that it may strengthen a belief, but absence of evidence isn’t a basis for reaching a definitive conclusion.

  101. 101
    daveNYC says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s totally easy to turn lead into gold, just give it three deuterium atoms.

  102. 102
    Chad N Freude says:

    @JGabriel: Yes. I thought it was pretty obvious that I was referring to the Flat Earth Phlogiston theologists, but maybe it wasn’t.

    I spend too much time reading “Skeptical Inquirer”.

  103. 103
    cleek says:

    @scav:

    This theory you describe is really only a recent one?

    i believe it is, yes. at least, when i heard it, it was said to be a new one. maybe i was hearing a new variant of an older theory? beats me – i don’t remember the details exactly. but yeah, it is a pretty simple concept: not everything that reduces reproduction rates will be selected-out.

  104. 104
    Brachiator says:

    @cleek:

    a recent one is that it is a genetic variation which persists because there’s no good reason for it not to. the human species (along with a few others) is successful enough at reproducing that there’s not enough pressure to select-out the variation that causes a certain percentage of otherwise-”fit” individuals to opt-out of reproduction.

    Here’s one of many problems with this idea. Gay people do not necessarily, typically or regularly “opt out” of reproduction.

    And for most of humanity’s existence, for gay people, especially for women, sexual preference was largely irrelevant. Sexual choice was largely irrelevant. You were going to have to mate with someone, marry someone, in order to be accepted in your tribe or village.

    Also, for much of human history, societies have been absolutely perverse about some issues of human reproduction. So you have societies in which widows, no matter how young and fertile, are not allowed to remarry and to reproduce, while young unmarried people, without regard to their sexual preference, are encouraged (or forced) to marry and reproduce.

    And then you have stuff like monarchies. England’s James I was probably gay. And yet he had to marry to produce an heir. And of course there are numerous contemporary examples of gay couples having biological children, which no doubt will help insure that “gay” genes persist.

    And then you have those societies which tolerate or encourage a degree of homosexuality among privileged men.

    And on and on. Once again, one of the biggest problems with evolutionary psychology is that it fails to account the diversity of human sexuality, especially when it attempts to prove reductive shit like the “universality” of monogamy.

  105. 105
    cleek says:

    ahhh.. here’s a nice evo-psych explanataion of why homosexuality exists:

    Evolved from a ‘bluffing tactic’?

    Instead, homosexuality traits might just have evolved as an advantage. Think about it, alpha male’s react to threat – the stronger, more likely rival’s would be kept at arms distance and under constant watch. Yet a smaller male whose agenda seems to be about grooming, pleasuring, pleasing and serving the alpha-male, even better – demonstrates a convincing impression that he isn’t even interested sexually in females; better still – is sexually interested in the alpha-male himself, isn’t going to appear a threat at all. This male would be welcomed into the harlem, socialise closely with the females and alpha-male, a level of trust born from the notion he is incapable of sexual interaction with the females. This granted access would give the male an advantage over even the toughest of the alpha-males rivals; picking his time carefully he could now take which ever female he wished.

    As generations passed and alpha-males became harder to ‘fool’, the ‘bluff’ evolved greater complexity and depth, (the bluffer needed to feel a genuine attraction to be more convincing) perhaps even to the point where the ‘bluff’ required to be believed by the bluffer himself, until we reach the modern world where it is no longer a bluff at all. It may be that in all humans there is a ‘gay’ gene present for this very situation, and just like eye-colour, the gene is either ‘on’, or ‘off’ in individuals; although personally I think everybody is capable of finding members of the same sex attractive, just to different levels.

    ta-da!

  106. 106
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    @Tonal Crow: Sorry, dude, must disagree. Absence of evidence is evidence only of the fact that you haven’t found any evidence. It can be a driver for further investigation, and you can say you think absence of whatever you haven’t found is true, and it might be, but you can’t know it,and it’s not wise to act or fail to act based on not finding evidence (see Network, penetration of).

    Wrong. Let’s extend my example about the puce/green Hummer.

    If I survey one highway for 5 minutes and fail to see such a vehicle, it’s a trivial (but still nonzero) level of evidence of absence.

    If I survey every highway in the world for 1 month each and see no such vehicle, it’s better evidence of absence than the one-highway survey, right?

    If, in addition, I survey every garage in the world and find no such vehicle, the evidence is stronger yet, is it not?

    Yes, even then there is a nonzero probability that a puce/green Hummer exists. But to ignore the balance of the evidence merely to uphold a catchphrase is unscientific.

    Remember, science is almost never about absolutes (“you can’t know it”). It’s about probabilities.

  107. 107
    Shygetz says:

    @Mnemosyne: I should have made it more clear; the hypothesis does not differentiate between adult sexual orientation and pedophilic sexual orientation. So, while I agree with you that it’s clear that adult homosexuals are not more likely to victimize children, the rate of same-sex pedophilia outstrips the rate of adult homosexuality. Additionally, there is some evidence that children who are victims of same-sex pedophilia are more likely to exhibit homosexual behavior as adults. So, I wouldn’t say the ideas are wholly discredited, although they are not well-enough supported to be relied upon…which was Bering’s point–they should be studied further.

  108. 108
    cleek says:

    here’s a lovely evo-psych explanation as to why gays exist.

    i tried quoting it, but tripped the filter.

    you really should read it, though. it’s just about a perfect example of evo-psych.

  109. 109
    samson says:

    @cleek:

    not everything that reduces reproduction rates will be selected-out.

    Makes perfect sense as there are many trade offs. If the genes that tend to make some people homosexual, when expressed slightly differently or in the context of another’s overall set of genes also make people more empathetic, creative, cooperative, etc. – i.e., provide benefits that perpetuate the overall species – on balance those genes would be perpetuated.

  110. 110
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Shygetz:

    So, while I agree with you that it’s clear that adult homosexuals are not more likely to victimize children, the rate of same-sex pedophilia outstrips the rate of adult homosexuality.

    What age range are you using for “pedophilia”? If you’re including boys who are between 16 and 18 and saying they’re the targets of “pedophiles” the same way that an 8 or 9 year old would be, I think that’s conflating two different issues. That would be more similar to statutory rape than true pedophilia.

    Additionally, there is some evidence that children who are victims of same-sex pedophilia are more likely to exhibit homosexual behavior as adults.

    But do those children become homosexual because they were abused, or are they easy abuse targets because they’re homosexual and already feel alienated from those around them?

    Once you accept that homosexuality is genetic (and there’s every indication that there is a very strong genetic component based on twins studies), the notion that some people are “made” gay through a completely unknown process becomes a little ridiculous.

  111. 111
    Mark S. says:

    @cleek:

    Why is it commonly assumed in ev psych that our ancestors used to have the sexual behaviors of gorillas (alpha males, harems)? The little I’ve read about modern day hunter gatherers doesn’t bear this out at all.

  112. 112
    Comrade DougJ says:

    @Shygetz:

    I see what you’re saying.

    (Honestly, though, I might be ashamed if Bobo cited my ideas, even though I realize that would not be a rational response.)

  113. 113
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Tonal Crow: OK, change “You can’t know it” to “You can’t be certain that it’s true.” I’m a little more careful about wording actual reports that I write. But I digress. You appear to be saying that the more you look for something without finding it, the more likely it is that what you’re looking for doesn’t exist. One can make that argument, and in some venues it’s reasonable — it’s a factor of risk analysis that might lead to lowering the level of risk of whatever you’re analyzing — but I use “evidence” in the narrower sense of supporting a definitive conclusion, and absence of evidence can’t support the conclusion that something doesn’t exist. It might be a really strong indicator, but it’s not conclusive.

    I have been known to argue points like this with professors who issued my grades. Not necessarily a good idea.

    ETA: A puce/green Hummer. You are one sick puppy. (Humor.)

  114. 114
    scav says:

    @cleek: go figure.

  115. 115
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    @Brachiator:

    evolutionary psychologists’ dependence on anecdotes makes for terrible science.

    So do bald assertions.

    I am not an evolutionary psychologist, nor do I play one on the internet. What I said upthread @33 summarizing Chomsky seems reasonable to me. I just find some of the contra-ev-psych statements here to be amusing.

  116. 116
    cleek says:

    @Mark S.:

    Why is it commonly assumed in ev psych that our ancestors used to have the sexual behaviors of gorillas (alpha males, harems)?

    lack of imagination, i guess.

    i like how it implicitly assumes that gorillas haven’t had the same millions of years of evolution that we’ve had, since our branches diverged from our common ancestor. today’s gorillas and chimps are perfect snapshots of what they were 5M years ago. we’re the only great ape species to have changed in all that time!

  117. 117
    Shygetz says:

    @Brachiator:

    Gay people do not necessarily, typically or regularly “opt out” of reproduction.

    Sure they do. Evolution doesn’t require particularly large effect sizes in order to promote an adaptive variation. Even if we say that the homosexual population had 10% fewer children per capita than the heterosexual population, that is plenty large enough a difference to be subjected to natural selection. I can’t speak to historical rates, but in modern times in Western nations the 10% per capita reduction is probably low.

    And for most of humanity’s existence, for gay people…You were going to have to mate with someone, marry someone, in order to be accepted in your tribe or village.

    So what you’re stating is that, for most of humanity’s existence, the number of people who chose not to mate were trivial. Evidence, please…I have never learned about a society where bachelorhood was taboo.

    Once again, one of the biggest problems with evolutionary psychology is that it fails to account the diversity of human sexuality, especially when it attempts to prove reductive shit like the “universality” of monogamy.

    Which study was that? I’ve read Ev Psych stuff on the potential evolutionary bases behind extra-pair coupling, but nothing on the universality of monogamy. You do realize that Bobo and his ilk are not Ev Psych scientists, right? The field of Ev Psych research is not as polluted as popular opinion seems to think.

  118. 118
    nancydarling says:

    @Mark S.: Our nearest primate relatives are the bonobos. They are matriarchal and engage in a wide variety of sexual behaviors. They seem to use sex as a tension reliever. When things get tense within the troop, the attitude seems to be “okay, everybody pair off”. I can’t remember where I read it—either Demonic Males or The Third Chimpanzee—but the bonobos are the only primate species in which rape doesn’t exist. If a male is forcing himself on a young female and she’s not willing, she can call for help from her older sisters who are running the troop and they will come over and box his ears.

  119. 119
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Chad N Freude: I’m using “evidence” in the scientific sense of an observation that bears upon a hypothesis’s probability of being true. Speaking of “conclusive” evidence in the context of science tends to create the impression that science is about absolutes. It isn’t. It’s about explaining our observations of the natural world to the best of our ability. And that pretty much always involves probabilities.

  120. 120
    Shygetz says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    What age range are you using for “pedophilia”?

    Not me, but the researchers. They usually count pre-pubescent to near-post-pubescent (early teens).

    But do those children become homosexual because they were abused, or are they easy abuse targets because they’re homosexual and already feel alienated from those around them?

    For evolution, it doesn’t really matter. Homosexual preference only effects fecundity if it alters heterosexual conduct. The notion behind the mechanism is that pedophilic same-sex contact effects the likelihood of homosexual behavior among the victims. The causes behind the increased same-sex victimization of pedophiles is a very interesting question that should be addressed by psychologists, but it probably wouldn’t effect selective pressures on homophobia under any model proposed.

  121. 121
    Mark S. says:

    @nancydarling:

    In the immortal words of Megan McCardle:

    Here’s the thing: humans aren’t like bonobos. And do you know how I know that we are not like bonobos? Because we’re not like bonobos.

    ETA: It’s even dumber than I remembered it.

  122. 122
    Matt says:

    I find the prospect of conservatives embracing evolutionary psychology bizarre for several reasons:

    – half or more of their base simply doesn’t accept that evolution happens, so there goes THAT argument

    – any number of things conservatives are in favor of have strong evolutionary evidence to against them: most notably, the whole concept of “monogamy is best for children”. This is pretty broadly refuted in our nearest relations…

  123. 123
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Tonal Crow: So we weren’t really talking about the same things. I wasn’t talking about Capital-S Science, but rather about being certain about things that one has no rational way of knowing. I agree with you on the Science thing, but I don’t intend to change what I tell the ostriches I deal with about what they don’t really know. (I will note that while we can’t be 100% certain that fire is hot, the probability that it’s not is pretty small, it’s quite reasonable to act as though it is.)

  124. 124
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Shygetz:

    The notion behind the mechanism is that pedophilic same-sex contact effects the likelihood of homosexual behavior among the victims.

    But it’s a chicken and egg problem. Do children become homosexual because they were abused, or are homosexual children more likely to be targets of abuse? Unless you can answer that question, it’s ridiculous to draw further conclusions about human sexuality from that factoid.

    The causes behind the increased same-sex victimization of pedophiles is a very interesting question that should be addressed by psychologists, but it probably wouldn’t effect selective pressures on homophobia under any model proposed.

    If the claim is that homosexuals are made, not born — and that is the claim being made — then there are quite a few evolutionary questions to be answered. If that’s how it works in humans, does it also work that way in other animals? What’s the mechanism that causes someone to “switch” from straight to gay? Are there certain social pressures that cause some societies to abuse more of their boys and therefore more of them turn out gay? What about lesbians? Were the majority of them sexually abused by women?

    Again, it’s ridiculous as this point in the research to take as your starting point the discredited idea that people are “made” gay and try to come up with a theory using that.

  125. 125
    Rick Taylor says:

    @Chad N Freude:
    I stole it myself, and by now I can’t remember where.

  126. 126
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    @Citizen Alan: Remember, Dr. Pangloss had syphilis and lost his nose. One can only hope with Bobo.

  127. 127
    HyperIon says:

    I’m thinking Dan is not amused.

    Or maybe he is snarking. the context:
    http://slog.thestranger.com/sl.....-stupidity

  128. 128
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Chad N Freude: On the ostriches, I wonder whether a counterexample — “X said his network was secure because he’d never seen evidence of penetration, but then I found the XYZ virus was using half his computers as pr0n servers” — wouldn’t help them see the light better than the incorrect phrase about absence of evidence?

  129. 129
    Robert Hagedorn says:

    Maybe Brooks doesn’t get it. Do a search: The First Scandal. Then click twice.

  130. 130
    Nylund says:

    There are also a few explanations that favor homosexuality. One that comes to mind is the “gay uncle” theory. Basically, you gain a relative that cares for your offspring, but has no offspring of his own to care for so your kids get care, food, whatever both from you and from the “gay uncle,” thus increasing the amount of resources your children get towards survival.

  131. 131
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Tonal Crow: No. The voice of experience there.

    And please stop with the “incorrect” already. It’s a good, pithy phrase that makes a valid point.

  132. 132
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Tonal Crow: We ought to merge this line of discussion with the other one and start talking about whether some ostriches become gay because heredity makes them bury their heads in the sand and thus become easy targets.

  133. 133
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Chad N Freude: I agree to drop further discussion of the phrase in this thread, since the probability of umbrage appears to be exceeding the probability of enlightenment.

  134. 134
    Wolfdaughter says:

    Chad N Freude:

    Sin is a theological concept, and if you’re into theology, there isn’t any evolution.

    I just want to second J Gabriel’s point, which is that not all branches of Christendom reject religion. I’m an Episcopalian, and a big part of the reason that I am one is that I don’t have to believe a goddamn thing. I do have beliefs, but most of us Episcopalians don’t wish to force our beliefs on others, and we are definitely encouraged to explore and question our faiths and beliefs. Anyway, the Episcopal Church began a few years ago to celebrate Evolution Sunday, which is the Sunday closest to Darwin’s natal day, February 12, same day as Lincoln, same year.

    I plead with people, don’t think that Fundies speak for all Christians.

    Cleek:

    I found your quotation from evolutionary psych to be highly entertaining. I disagree with every part of it except the last phrase:

    …although personally I think everybody is capable of finding members of the same sex attractive, just to different levels.

  135. 135
    Brachiator says:

    @Shygetz: RE: Gay people do not necessarily, typically or regularly “opt out” of reproduction.

    Sure they do.

    Uh, no. Let’s be parsimonious. We simply do not know, over the breadth of human history, how often people who were gay were allowed to either remain single or to form an open relationship with another gay person. We do know from most of recorded history, that people were forced to marry or mate at a young age, with no one giving much of a thought to their sexual identity or preference. We know for an absolute fact, of prominent individuals, especially monarchs and other leaders, who fathered many children but who had male favorites. This last is significant since, as big cheeses, they left more descendants than those with lesser status.

    Even if we say that the homosexual population had 10% fewer children per capita than the heterosexual population

    Let’s not say unless you can demonstrate that there is data to support it.

    but in modern times in Western nations the 10% per capita reduction is probably low.

    It is pointless, and crappy science to try to make some statement about evolution and point using modern times and Western nations as some measure. You are simply taking an arbitrary point in a larger, diverse range of humanity’s existence.

    RE: And for most of humanity’s existence, for gay people…You were going to have to mate with someone, marry someone, in order to be accepted in your tribe or village.

    So what you’re stating is that, for most of humanity’s existence, the number of people who chose not to mate were trivial.

    What we easily know about history is that girls were often given in marriage at or just before puberty. What we easily know is that there are few recorded instances of people being allowed to remain childless.

    Evidence, please…I have never learned about a society where bachelorhood was taboo.

    You need to read more. And, Christ on a shingle, just because someone was a bachelor (or a spinster or whatever) does not mean that he or she never had sex or had children.

    RE: Once again, one of the biggest problems with evolutionary psychology is that it fails to account the diversity of human sexuality, especially when it attempts to prove reductive shit like the “universality” of monogamy.

    Which study was that? I’ve read Ev Psych stuff on the potential evolutionary bases behind extra-pair coupling, but nothing on the universality of monogamy.

    I’ve read this stuff, too. And other crap. Here I grow weary not only of Ev psych people, but of other scientists who write about evolution and sexuality. There is often a naivete and bias which ends up trying to “explain” why Aunt Tildy and Uncle Earl in Bumfuck, Wisconsin prefer the missionary position. And even less rigid stuff, like hypotheses about human evolution and rape, is lame and unconvincing because the scientists don’t seem to know anything about history, people, or sex.

    I mean, come on. All these theories about homosexuality. How about theories on the evolutionary value of foot fetishism or blow jobs? All this vanilla stuff is not only wrongheaded, but plain boring.

    You do realize that Bobo and his ilk are not Ev Psych scientists, right?

    Gee, I knocked Bobo and poseurs like Robert Wright, in this very thread.

    The field of Ev Psych research is not as polluted as popular opinion seems to think.

    I try to read some of the literature, but I can say this. Most of what bubbles up into the mainstream non-specialist arena is crap. Almost all of the stuff that gets glommed onto by people like Bobo is extra spicy craptastic. And yes, it is anecdotal, but I’ve been a long member of the Skeptic society, been able to talk to working scientists who come down to Cal Tech to speak, and I have not heard much good said of Ev Psych research. But I honestly take your point here.

  136. 136
    scav says:

    Insofar as the causes behind the increased same-sex victimization of pedophiles, there’s also simply the issue of opportunity — I would certainly hope they controlled for that.

  137. 137
    piminnowcheez says:

    parents who actively discourage or stigmatize homosexuality in their kids will have more grandkids

    This very premise is stupid beyond description because, among other reasons, it assumes that the only way to encourage gay people to have children is take away the option of gay sex. But of course, there’s also the deal that many societies over time have had (Japan before the war, much of India today): You can have all the gay sex you want as long as you ALSO make us some grandchildren. Sure, sure, have boyfriends, but you’d BEST get married to this perfectly nice girl we found for you and find the time to knock her up with our grandbabies.

    See? No parental, heritable homophobia required.

  138. 138
    Brachiator says:

    @Shoemaker-Levy 9:

    I am not an evolutionary psychologist, nor do I play one on the internet. What I said upthread @33 summarizing Chomsky seems reasonable to me. I just find some of the contra-ev-psych statements here to be amusing.

    Noted, although I find the Stephen Jay Gould quote @35 more to the point.

  139. 139

    Evolutionary psychology is a crappy excuse for science. It essentially begins with the premise that we are the way we are because of evolution, and then works backwards to prove that, yes, you guessed it, we are the way we are because of evolution.

    This isn’t true, but I can’t deny that it’s a fair criticism.

    Evolutionary psychology is basically a recognition that there’s a living entity with certain traits behind all of psychology. This living entity came about via evolution. There are certain characteristics that are part of that.

    For example: if you want to train a dog, you need to use different tactics than training a cat. They’re different animals; they have different motivators. The principle (reward to good behavior) is the same, but how you reward them will be different, and what you can expect from them will be different.

    Humans are the same way. If you want to motivate people, chocolate is probably a better motivator than a plate of carrot sticks. That’s not because people hate carrots, but we humans are probably more programmed (biologically – which means, via evolution) to like rich sweets more.

    Using it to say “homophobia is programmed!” is stupidity, unless you can prove that homophobia always provides a reproductive advantage. That it “might, possibly” means that it’s nothing but mental masturbatory material.

  140. 140
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Tonal Crow: If you’ve read any of my comments in the past, you’ll know that I am immune to enlightenment. I just keep slogging through the fields of supercilious condescension going my own wrong-headed way.

  141. 141
    Mike G says:

    There’s no evolutionary basis for launching wars for no defensive purpose based on lies, out of personal spite.

    Neither is there an evolutionary advantage for an army gullible, stupid fucksticks who vote against their own interests because they’ve been propagandized into a rage about some irrelevant wound to their prideful demands on how other people should conduct their private lives.

    And yet, here we are, with congress for of teatards and Bobo in the NYT.

  142. 142
    scav says:

    Most valid insights and theories can be over-extended and the better ones usually are. Some insights and theories are more prone to facile over-extensions. Economics provides my usual favorite examples of this although ev-psych or evolution-hypen-lots-of-things might prove equally fecund.

  143. 143
    Shygetz says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Unless you can answer that question, it’s ridiculous to draw further conclusions about human sexuality from that factoid.

    You are misunderstanding the hypothesis; it is not about homosexuality, but homophobia. The notion is that homophobia increases the occurrences of heterosexual activity in the population. As evidence, they assert that same-sex contact (including abuse) in children correlates positively with adult homosexual practices, and they postulate that homophobia may lessen the incidence of same-sex contact among children. Now, I agree that one line of study that could support or disprove this mechanistic hypothesis would be to determine if elimination of same-sex contact among children changes adult sexual behavior. But then again, if we could eliminate same-sex pedophilia, we would already have done so for much more compelling reasons.

    If the claim is that homosexuals are made, not born—and that is the claim being made—then there are quite a few evolutionary questions to be answered.

    Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: homosexuals ARE made (not chosen, but definitely made) to at least some extent. Twin studies clearly bear this out. Otherwise sexuality would be like phenylketonuria: there would be a 100% correlation on sexuality between twins, and it would be relatively trivial to sort out the gene(s) involved. The current evidence points out that there is probably a genetic proclivity towards homosexuality, with environmental/epigenetic factors involved in the final determination of sexual preference. It is still quite plausible that some of these factors could be psychological or cultural; genetic proclivities don’t rule out cultural effects. It does not at all imply that sexual preference is a choice or a moral issue, but there is definitely an environmental factor that leads an honest person to admit that, yes, sexuality (both homo and hetero) is (to at least a modest extent) made.

    What’s the mechanism that causes someone to “switch” from straight to gay?

    People don’t typically switch from straight to gay, they switch from asexual to gay, just like they switch from asexual to straight. Newborns generally do not have sexual preferences or even gender identity, and the studies I’ve seen indicate that sexual preference probably develops as part of a child’s normal sexual development.

    Again, it’s ridiculous as this point in the research to take as your starting point the discredited idea that people are “made” gay and try to come up with a theory using that.

    The idea is not discredited, it’s proven. The hypothesis is that one of the factors that promotes adult homosexual behavior is homosexual contact as a child, and that homophobia prevents this contact. The prior has correlation data that may support the assertion, while the latter is wholly speculative. There are other mechanisms that could lead to the same result IF homophobia is adaptive, which I don’t know and personally doubt. But saying that it should be studied is not outrageous.

  144. 144
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Chad N Freude: Good then. Carry on.

  145. 145
    oliver's Neck says:

    I’m sure there’s all kinds of wonderful things about evolutionary psychology

    What, exactly, is the source of your surety here, DougJ?

  146. 146
    Cerberus says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Yes, which is why there is no end to genuine science disciplines looking into this question.

    Neuroscience, evolutionary biology, some large strains of bioinformatics, sociology, cognitive science, psychology, and cultural and biological anthropology.

    All looking into questions of how the brain works, how we know what we know, what’s the biological and cultural origins of ways of thoughts. Each discipline looking at different facets and using the work of the other facets to try and put together the pieces.

    The main problem…or rather problems with evopsych are well:

    1) It’s psuedoscience that rejects academic rigor, often relying on “common sense” based on cultural biases and generally designing tests which cannot by their design be conclusive of anything other than the most base correlation (i.e. they discover an attitude exists, not why it exists). Also for a supposed “hard science” going against “PC soft science bullshit” it so rarely does any real in-depth gene-discovery (and bioinformatics really means they’ve lost the excuse to at least be trying on that score).

    and

    2) They ignore their contemporaries and deny the existence of cultural weight altogether. That is to say, every evopsych seems to take as its core reasoning the notion that culture is either absent or able to be ignored. As such, if they find a correlation, they’ve found causation, because there is no cultural aspect that could be the origin, as there is only biology.

    This is bad science. Especially the latter. To ignore what any contemporary in the field says and to basically ignore a recognized phenomenon to get one’s answer is simply unjustifiable academically and intellectually. It’s why anyone genuinely interested in the question of why we think what we do is of one of the other disciplines I mentioned rather than evopsyh, because of the taint from those who claim that title.

    It’d be like being an electrical engineer who didn’t believe in circuits, a biologist who didn’t believe in evolution. Someone who wants to understand why we act the way we do who refuses to believe in cultural messaging or cultural weight or who can design experiments that seem to ignore that possibility is a denialist who can’t possibly get the correct answer, because they have no idea what to discount, how to design their experiments, or even what they are looking for.

    This is why the field so often produces “hey, I did a survey or resurrected an old survey, and hey, something that’ll look enough like science to fool the Science writers at the New York Times”.

    Yeah, as a scientist that aspect of them almost pisses me off more than the fact that they are ideologues looking for reasons that “nature” just happens to be 1950s sexual and racial outlooks.

  147. 147
    basement cat says:

    I’m not one to say “this one study proves everything” but I do think this one (The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations) at least shows why David Brooks is all of a sudden all into neuroscience: when you tell someone something and then say, “oh, look a brain scan! this proves it!” they are more likely to believe it, even if what you told them is wrong or wacky.

  148. 148
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Shygetz:

    As evidence, they assert that same-sex contact (including abuse) in children correlates positively with adult homosexual practices, and they postulate that homophobia may lessen the incidence of same-sex contact among children.

    And therefore people who never act on their same-sex feelings during childhood never grow up to be gay? Huh?

    If the argument is that the societal repression of homophobia prevents some people who are homosexual to not act out on their feelings for fear of social disapproval, then that’s probably true, but it makes absolutely no sense to further argue that it’s somehow written into our genes by evolution.

    Now, I agree that one line of study that could support or disprove this mechanistic hypothesis would be to determine if elimination of same-sex contact among children changes adult sexual behavior.

    Again, what if a gay or lesbian adult never had same-sex contact during childhood? Does that mean they’re not “really” homosexual? Would that somehow be proof that they must have been molested because “real” homosexuals always act on those feelings during childhood?

    But then again, if we could eliminate same-sex pedophilia, we would already have done so for much more compelling reasons.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to eliminate all pedophilia, same-sex or opposite-sex, hmm? If we’ve been unable to eliminate opposite-sex pedophilia, why do you think we would be more successful at eliminating same-sex pedophilia … unless, of course, you think that being molested as a child “makes” you gay, so if we eliminate same-sex pedophilia, we won’t have any more gay people.

    It is really fascinating how your theory completely leaves women out of the picture and applies solely to men. You didn’t answer my question above — is the theory that women who are lesbians as adults were sexually molested by other women? Have they found that kind of molestation happening in large enough numbers to cause 10 percent of the women in a population to identify as lesbians?

  149. 149
    Tehanu says:

    If I only had the energy and the time, which I don’t because I’m living paycheck to paycheck, thanks to the banksters that Bobo thinks are so great, I’d start a website and call it “Sweet Jesus, I Hate David Brooks.”

    h/t to http://sweetjesusihatechrismatthews.blogspot.com/).

  150. 150
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It is really fascinating how your theory completely leaves women out of the picture and applies solely to men. You didn’t answer my question above—is the theory that women who are lesbians as adults were sexually molested by other women? Have they found that kind of molestation happening in large enough numbers to cause 10 percent of the women in a population to identify as lesbians?

    This nonsense almost makes me nostalgic for the days when everyone just “knew” that bad mothers turned their sons gay.

    Also, again, this stupidity omitted women. Amazing how dumb stuff follows a similar pattern no matter when it pops up.

  151. 151
    Mark S. says:

    I think 90% of all ev psych theories are deduced from these two principles:

    1. Men want to fuck anything that moves.

    2. Women are golddiggers.

  152. 152
    HyperIon says:

    @basement cat wrote:

    when you tell someone something and then say, “oh, look a brain scan! this proves it!” they are more likely to believe it, even if what you told them is wrong or wacky.

    This sounds exactly like Daniel Amen’s schtick on my local PBS stations. I often wonder how much my local PBS stations are paying this guy to peddle his crap about how brain scans can tell you everything.

  153. 153
    EthylEster says:

    @Mark S.:

    1. Men want to fuck anything that moves. 2. Women are golddiggers.

    I would amend this to:
    1. Men want to fuck anything that moves.
    2. Women (creatures who move) try to exploit #1 for their own advantage.

  154. 154
    mclaren says:

    This is just the same tired old shit Herbert Spencer was flogging back in the 1870s: social Darwinism.

    That crap got debunked by the 1940s. Why is anyone still touting this long-discredited pseudoscience?

    What next? Will Bobo start yapping about the alleged benefit of perpetual motion machines for the American economy? Will he decry spending billions of dollars on welfare when we could instead plow that money into a research program to refine phlogiston?

  155. 155
    Holden Pattern says:

    @patrick II:

    I am left wondering how you can be a social-darwinist and not a darwinist. It must be that incoherence is a survival trait.

    Social darwinism is a moral doctrine, not a scientific one. All hail the infalliable god-market, doing justice by just-so!

  156. 156
    lester freamon says:

    Actual evolutionary biologists (myself included) think evolutionary psychology is mostly a bunch of non-falsifiable, unsubstantiated just-so stories. The best anti-evopsych blogging on the internet is at sandwalk.blogspot.com, where a college biology professor routinely sets a new standard for shrillness.

  157. 157
    jake the snake says:

    @Tehanu:

    Anytime you feel a Bobo hate coming on, visit driftglass.
    I don’t think there is anyone in the world that hates on Bobo as much he does.

  158. 158
    Nutella says:

    @David in NY:

    Ye, actual scientists refer to this kind of thing as adaptationism or ‘just-so’ stories. Everything that exists must have a simple reason for existing and a single reason for existing. Evidence is not required because it’s a lot easier and more fun to make goofy hypotheses than it is to actually do the hard scientific work of designing experiments and doing analysis to find out if those hypotheses are even slightly borne out by evidence. It’s just so because it’s just so. QED

  159. 159
    Mark S. says:

    @lester freamon:

    Poking around that blog I came across this article:

    Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts, since the size of a woman’s breasts has no relationship to her ability to lactate. But Harvard anthropologist Frank Marlowe contends that larger, and hence heavier, breasts sag more conspicuously with age than do smaller breasts. Thus they make it easier for men to judge a woman’s age (and her reproductive value) by sight—suggesting why men find women with large breasts more attractive.

    o-kay

  160. 160
    Phoebe says:

    Everybody needs to go read “The Moral Animal” because that explains everything, and includes the escape clause, which is that evolution favored us to have morals [for reasons described therein] and these morals have countered the social order bullshit so-called darwinism that the glibs use to back up the status quo.

  161. 161
    very reverend crimson fire of compassion says:

    Homosexuality is a thing that exists. Therefore, it must offer an evolutionary advantage. QED, motherfuckers.

  162. 162
    Ija says:

    @Shygetz:

    Yeah, I think we can safely ignore you after this crap. You are not by any chance Jesse Bering himself, are you?

  163. 163
    Ija says:

    @Shygetz:

    The idea is not discredited, it’s proven. The hypothesis is that one of the factors that promotes adult homosexual behavior is homosexual contact as a child, and that homophobia prevents this contact.

    How is the idea “proven” if it just a hypothesis? I’m not a scientist, but in my tiny, tiny brain, I thought the point of having a hypothesis is to prove it, with evidence. You have so far presented the hypothesis, but no evidence for it.

  164. 164
    Ija says:

    This whole thing reminds me of that William Saletan piece where he argued that liberals who refuse to believe that black people are naturally dumber than white people are just like creationists in our inability to accept proven scientific fact. Apparently we are “liberal creationists”. Good times. Saletan was whacked around pretty badly for that piece, and he has shied away from these topics since then, focusing instead on lecturing women on the proper use of their uteruses, so Slate has instead turn to Jesse Bering for these evo-psyc nonsense.

  165. 165
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ija:

    I’m not a scientist, but in my tiny, tiny brain, I thought the point of having a hypothesis is to prove it, with evidence. You have so far presented the hypothesis, but no evidence for it.

    That’s where the whole, “Hey, let’s find out if gay men who were molested as children think they were gay before that happened” notion of mine comes in. But why ask the actual people involved what their thoughts and experiences were when you can speculate about them based solely on a statistic?

  166. 166
    Jayboy711 says:

    Jesse Bering does a column that often explores the evolutionary and cultural origins of human sexual behavior. All in all, he’s a pretty intrepid writer.

    He’s also unapologetically and openly gay, often using personal anecdotes as a springboard into some tough topics.

    He’s definitely no homophobe, nor is he afraid to talk about stuff that gets people riled. If you thought this was controversial, try his column on the new clinical definitions for strata of pedophiles.

  167. 167

    @Cerberus:

    It’d be like being an electrical engineer who didn’t believe in circuits, a biologist who didn’t believe in evolution. Someone who wants to understand why we act the way we do who refuses to believe in cultural messaging or cultural weight or who can design experiments that seem to ignore that possibility is a denialist who can’t possibly get the correct answer, because they have no idea what to discount, how to design their experiments, or even what they are looking for.

    Honestly, I don’t think this is how it is… though obviously you disagree. I hate to roll this way, but can you cite any recent(say 2001+) major evo-psych papers that ignore culture?

  168. 168
    Hypusine says:

    uh, Doug:

    What this amounts to is arguing that homophobia is an adaptation favored by natural selection because homophobia is a thing that exists.

    There are only two scenarios that can lead to the existence of a trait: 1) it has been selected; 2) it has not been counter-selected. Homophobia does in fact exist; people act in homophobic ways. What I think you’re getting at is that the existence of homophobia does not mean that it is genetic.

    I’d agree with that, or at least that homophobia isn’t necessarily encoded and that there is NO solid data indicating otherwise…no matter what self-serving tale one concocts to support one’s biases.

  169. 169
    Ija says:

    @Jayboy711:

    What does he being gay has to do with anything? Does that somehow “prove” that he only has the best intentions in promoting these discredited research on genetic basis of homophobia? I don’t think so. I think the fact that he is gay is irrelevant.

  170. 170

    I wouldn’t completely dismiss that there’s an evolutionary benefit to having more breeders in the family tree. But, of course, that bumps into the fact that there are always gays in family trees too, which suggests an evolutionary benefit too.

    There is no one provable reason why gayness exists, but one interesting theory is that whatever gene causes gayness may bestow an advantage to the other gender. That is, the same genetics that cause men to be gay may cause their sisters to have more babies. And perhaps vice versa, that the brothers of lesbians have some evolutionary advantage.

    Another theory: One advantage of human behavior over animal behavior is the long lifespan that allows older humans to pass knowledge along to the young. Having additional members of society not directly involved child-rearing adds another member of society that can further enrich that society’s culture, preserving and passing along knowledge that helps preserve that culture. Call it the Good Gay Uncle Theory.

    Of course, there is no one theory that has favor at this point. And Mr. Brooks, if he were logical about it, would work on figuring out why gayness is natural before trying to figure why hating gays is natural.

    You can go down the same road and say that hating and fearing strangers is natural (thus making racism a good thing), but it ignores that human culture grew and advanced precisely because tribal groups were able to meet, trade, learn and mix with other tribal groups. Otherwise, Bobo would be king of his cave.

  171. 171
    Tunch says:

    @Mark S.:

    I think 90% of all ev psych theories are deduced from these two principles:

    1. Men want to fuck anything that moves.

    2. Women are golddiggers.

    Mark’s theory of evolutionary psychology about men and women seems right to me. Funny, and yet true.

    Cole, open a fucking can of tuna fish for me.

  172. 172
    Joel says:

    That said, there is nothing scientifically more or less offensive about the hypothesis that homophobia is adaptive than there is that a certain level of homosexuality in a population is adaptive—a hypothesis that has never drawn criticism from the BJ’ers.

    The distinction is moral. In my view, and the view of many others around here, homophobia is harmful and engenders cruelty, whereas homosexuality is not.

    As for “homosexuality is adaptive” hypotheses, I haven’t seen anyone bandying around the idea that homosexuality is a heritable trait. Given the level of general interest in the subject, I’m sure the hypothesis has been explored, so it’s not for lack of effort.

    Gallup’s idea is that homophobia prevents child molestation and “recruitment” by homosexuals, which (he hypothesizes) would lead “conversion” to homosexuality. He has sketchy preliminary data to support this mechanism, but it has not been replicated and his preliminary evidence could be explained by other mechanisms (including early homosexual encounters overcoming cultural homophobia and introducing ideas of homonormality).

    Boy, that’s an awfully loaded statement. It infers that homosexuals are pedophiles and follows up with a bunch of nonsense. Let’s boil out the nonsense and leave the core argument exposed: homosexuals are pedophiles.

    You think people shouldn’t take offense? How about this once-popular hypothesis? Anti-semitism, long rooted in European culture, is an adaptive trait that provided anti-semites with great advantage. Jews and other semites have a long-recorded predisposition for hoarding resources to the detriment of their communities, and those maldistributed resources lower the capacity of semite-tolerating populations to reproduce successfully. See? Anyone can play this game.

  173. 173
    Mark S. says:

    @Tunch:

    Awesome! A reply from Tunch, who has as much trouble with multiple paragraph blockquotes as I do.

  174. 174
    Tehanu says:

    @jake the snake:

    thanks jake — I do read driftglass, maybe not as often as I should. He’s better at articulating his feelings about Bobo than I am. I just hate the smarmy prick (Bobo, I mean).

  175. 175
    Malcontent says:

    Maybe it’s just me but wouldn’t pro-homosexuality be more in line with evolution than homophobia? After all doesn’t homosexuality just remove competition? So if you’re straight, wouldn’t it be better for you if your peers just took them selves out of the running so to speak?

  176. 176
    Dr. Psycho says:

    If homophobia is a genetically-linked trait, then anti-gay statutes are shielding the homophobia-deficient from being weeded out of the population.

    Repeal DOMA for eugenics’ sake!

  177. 177
    Dr. Psycho says:

    Tell you what I would like to know the numbers for:

    1) Average number of children among people who entered heterosexual marriages in their teens and twenties but who were out as gay by age 50.

    2) Average number of children among people over 50 who were out as gay by their late teens.

    I will admit to having my suspicions….

  178. 178
    Dr. Psycho says:

    @Roger Moore: Yay Snow Crash references!

  179. 179
    Matthew says:

    @Redleg:

    By the way, social identity processes, including those that produce stereotypes, are substantially hardwired. The beauty of well-adjusted humans is that we can get past the hard-wiring and actually use the parts of our brain that support creativity, reason, and higher cognitive functions.

    I think that’s part of the evo. psych appeal; it justifies being a shitty person, which is what most of its popular adherents want anyway. Let’s take our guidance from monkeys, because being a person is hard. (I also don’t think American society particularly lends itself to well-adjusted human behavior, but that’s just me.)

    But I think that evo psych also speaks to a wider problem, in that the current intellectual paradigm (science, more or less) has displaced the old (religion, specifically Christianity) so completely that it’s had to pick up some of religion’s baggage. Thus science is now being pushed into service to answer questions that are outside its realm because we had been accustomed to getting all our answers from the same place. Someone upthread mentioned ideology thinly disguised as science, but the bulk of the Western moral tradition has been ideology thinly (but effectively) disguised as natural law. Evo. psych is just another act in the same play.

  180. 180
    Jayboy711 says:

    @Ija: I’m not trying to be argumentative or even assert that you’re wrong, but I do think his (Jesse Bering’s) being gay is relevant when the topic is homophobia. :0) I’m gay too, and would say it makes me a biased consumer of information about homophobia.

    This thread seems to be more a discussion about the efficacy of evolutionary psychology than the efficacy of the study in question. I’m not a scientist, but as a consumer of popular science and as a gay dude, I think it both interesting and relevant to ask questions about whether or not homophobia may be hardwired because it may or may not somehow engender fecundity, however indirectly.

    I do think this is a healthy discussion to have, however.

  181. 181
    Jayboy711 says:

    @Ija:

    What does he being gay has to do with anything? Does that somehow “prove” that he only has the best intentions in promoting these discredited research on genetic basis of homophobia? I don’t think so. I think the fact that he is gay is irrelevant.

    Also, I really don’t think Bering is “promoting these discredited research” rather than simply talking about it, and saying plainly that it merits more research. Here’s a quote from his Discover blog post:

    “I’ve revived this fifteen-year-old discussion in the hopes that it might spark new research. Gallup’s work is intriguing, his theory sound. Yet his studies are imperfect, the data remain un-replicated, public attitudes have changed (dramatically, in the US) and other cultures may differ in response to homophobia manipulations. One thing that is important to keep in mind, however, is that societal changes in attitudes toward homosexuals may not mirror people’s implicit biases. Today’s answers may very much sound like the voice of gay-friendly 2011 but, as any social psychologist knows, you can’t always trust what people tell you as reflecting their private attitudes. (They may not even be aware of these themselves.)”

    From http://www.scientificamerican......2011-03-09

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