The “Science” of Homosexuality

The “Science” of Homosexuality

James R. Aist

“…the “science” of homosexuality is considered to be one of the “softest” of all the sciences.”

In order for one to get a grasp on the overall quality of homosexuality research, it is necessary to put the “science” of homosexuality into perspective. In the world of science, there are at least three categories based on the precision and reliability of the results obtained by scientific inquiry. Roughly speaking, the natural sciences are considered “hard” while the social sciences are usually described as “soft”. Features often cited as characteristic of hard science include: producing testable predictions, performing controlled experiments, relying on quantifiable data, a high degree of accuracy and objectivity and applying a purer form of the scientific method. Scientific disciplines can be arranged into a hierarchy of hard to soft, with physics and chemistry typically at the top, biology in an intermediate position and the social sciences at the bottom (click HERE). The “science” of homosexuality is squarely at the bottom of this hierarchy, being within the social sciences.

Let me illustrate briefly, with examples, how these three categories of scientific inquiry can produce different degrees of precision, accuracy, objectivity and reliability. The freezing point of water in a glass can be determined with a great deal of precision, reproducibility and objectivity (physics). The water has no control over the experimental result, and objective measurements are obtained. The effect of temperature on the growth rate of a fungus in a Petri dish can be measured with considerable precision, reproducibility and objectivity as well (biology). Although there is always some “biological variation” from one measurement to the next, the fungus just reacts as it must to its environment; it has no control over the result, and objective measurements are obtained. But to study homosexual behavior (social science), one must deal with a myriad of uncontrollable variables, many of which are not even known to the scientist, because people can think, emote, forget, imagine, interpret, lie and decline to answer when they are being interviewed or completing questionnaires related to their sexuality, and they may bring their own personal agenda (bias) to the process as well. Almost all of the “science” of homosexuality is plagued by this problem, because objective data are almost impossible to obtain in this soft science. The human subject has a great deal of influence on the reliability and accuracy of the data, and, therefore, the outcome is necessarily “subjective” and often highly variable. This subjectivity and relative lack of control of the variables, which is characteristic of the “science” of homosexuality, can make it difficult or impossible to draw scientifically valid inferences and conclusions. And that is why the “science” of homosexuality is considered to be one of the “softest” of all the sciences. (See ADDENDUM)

The manner in which homosexuality research is designed, executed, analyzed and interpreted by the researcher is also germane to the issue of the quality of the science and the accuracy and dependability of the conclusions. Marks (2012) discussed some of these issues as they relate to research on homosexual parenting, but the principles of sound scientific inquiry presented are applicable to the “science” of homosexuality in general. Of particular interest is what is called “Type II error.” This type of error occurs when the researcher concludes that there is no difference between two comparison groups when there is, in fact, a difference. There are several aspects of a study that can lead to Type II error, including small sample size, random variation, unreliable measures, imprecise methodology and unaccounted for variables. The difficulty of obtaining objective and reliable information from human subjects, discussed above, would be an example of what can lead to Type II error. Another example would be the sparseness of the homosexual population compared to the heterosexual population, which usually makes it difficult at best to obtain large, representative sample sizes for comparison.

Homosexuality is an emotionally charged research area, and it may be difficult for some scientists to be entirely objective in how they conduct and report their research. The researcher may have a personal, social agenda apart from conducting objective, scientifically sound research. In many cases, it would be easy to manipulate the outcomes of a study by omitting certain questions, crafting questions in a particular way, using biased sampling procedures, omitting selected demographics, and/or going prematurely to press with data sets that are so small that a real difference may appear to be no difference.

However, when the “science” of homosexuality is done objectively and competently, I believe that it can produce results and conclusions that are both reliable and useful, within the limits of a “soft science.” But, more so than with the other sciences, with the “science” of homosexuality one must constantly be on the lookout for “limitations” and “confounding factors” in the research that often make scientifically sound conclusions impossible. When that happens, one is left with the original hypothesis still untested.

Finally, because homosexuality is a prominent and emotionally charged social and political issue, there is all too often a disconnect between what the results of a particular study and did not conclude and/or infer and the version of it that is peddled to the public by the predominately liberal, pro-gay press. For example, a correlation of social stigmas with higher rates of mental health problems in homosexuals may be reported in the popular press as a scientific conclusion that social stigmas cause higher rates of mental health problems in homosexuals, despite the fact that the scientific report itself was careful to point out that the study did not show a cause-and-effect relationship at all. One can easily be led astray by popular reports of scientific studies, especially when the “science” of homosexuality is involved.

ADDENDUM

Here are two glaring examples of just how bad the “science” of homosexuality can be:

Landess, T. The Evelyn Hooker Study and the Normalization of Homosexuality. (click HERE)

Marks, L. 2012. Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American Psychological Association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting. Social Science Research 41:735-751. (click HERE to download article)

Reference Cited

Marks, L. 2012. Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American Psychological Association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting. Social Science Research 41:735-751. (click HERE to download article)

(For more of my articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)

 

Faith and the Scientific Method

English: Science icon from Nuvola icon theme f...Faith and the Scientific Method

 James R. Aist

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’  and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky…” (Matthew 16:2-4)

Introduction

How can we know that something really is true? Can we prove that it’s true by reason or logic or observation or experimentation? Perhaps we can. But, is there yet another path to truth, a path beginning with a supernatural, all-knowing, spiritual being who communicates truth to us by a spiritual route? Perhaps there is.

Many people believe that science operates apart from faith; that is to say, that faith does not enter into the process of scientific inquiry. This is the claim that I would like to examine more closely with you, to see if it holds up under careful and honest scrutiny.

Two Kinds of Faith

There are actually two different kinds of faith at work in the world. There is a “natural faith” that everyone is born with. It is part of our human nature, and it helps us to deal with the realities and necessities of the natural world.  We use this kind of faith in our everyday lives. By our natural faith, we believe that if we turn the ignition key, the car will start, and so we do it “on faith.” By our natural faith, we believe that the chair we are about to sit on will be strong enough to support our weight, and so, by faith, we “take a seat.” By our natural faith, we believe that if we put a dollar bill into a change machine, it will return four quarters, and in it goes. We are all very familiar with this natural faith. While natural faith is a necessary part of successful and productive living in this world, it is not perfect, as witnessed by the fact that the car doesn’t always start, the chair doesn’t always hold and the change machine doesn’t always return four quarters.

But there is another kind of faith. This is  “supernatural faith.” No one is born with it, so not everyone has it; it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Supernatural faith enables the “born again” believer to understand spiritual things, qualify for heaven and do good works out of a pure motivation of love and compassion. Contrary to natural faith, supernatural faith, when properly understood and applied, never fails.

The Scientific Method

The “scientific method” is the process by which scientific inquiry is conducted to reach a scientific “conclusion.” The five steps in this process are observation, hypothesis, prediction, experimentation and conclusion. Here’s how it works. One first makes a number of observations about something. Then a hypothesis, or tentative conclusion, is formulated to make sense out of the observations. Next, one reasons that, if this tentative conclusion is correct, then a prediction based on that tentative conclusion is true. One then tests that prediction by conducting carefully designed, scientifically sound experiments. If the results of the experiments confirm the prediction, then a scientifically valid conclusion can be made, based on those results. And finally, when one is totally convinced that the conclusions are warranted, then they are considered “proof” that the hypothesis is correct.

Where Is the Faith in That?

Well, there is, in fact, a kind of faith involved at every step of the process. And it is the “natural faith” that I discussed above. By faith, a scientist proceeds from the observations to the tentative conclusion, since nothing has yet been “proven.” And this faith process is repeated at every succeeding step — prediction, experimentation and conclusion – until the scientist is convinced that they have arrived at the “truth.” Note that the end of the process is when the scientist is convinced, not necessarily when the results unequivocally demand the conclusion that was reached. Thus, the conclusion, when published, becomes a kind of “statement of faith” as it were, where the faith involved is not the supernatural faith that is added to natural faith when one is born again, but it is natural faith alone.

If you’re not yet convinced that natural faith is involved in scientific research, then consider this anecdote. When I took an Introductory Biochemistry course in college, the professor, who was also a research scientist, began his first lecture by pointing out that two-thirds of the research upon which the Nobel Prize in biochemistry had been awarded up to that time was later proven to be incorrect. This result would not have happened if (imperfect) natural faith had not played a role in the scientific method.

Conclusions

We can see that faith, in the form of “natural faith”, is, indeed, involved in the process of scientific inquiry. This faith can most easily be seen at the end of the process, when the scientist is convinced that the correct conclusion has been reached, as well as in the fact that much of the best scientific research is later shown to be incorrect.

Natural faith not only helps us to deal with the realities and necessities of the natural world and is a necessary part of successful and productive living, but it also plays a vital role in the scientific method, which, while not perfect, enables us to learn many important and interesting things about the natural world and how it operates.

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE

Plumpin’ the Puppies

Beagle de 60 dias

Plumpin’ the Puppies

James R. Aist

[DISCLAIMER: I meant no harm, no one really got hurt bad, I am opposed to cruelty to animals and I provide the answer to the big “research” question at the end (so that you will have no excuse for trying this at home; shame on you, in advance, for even thinking of it!)]

When I was growing up in central Arkansas, we had Beagle dogs for rabbit hunting and, of course, for instant affection and validation anytime, whether we wanted it or not. When I was 10 years old, my family re-located from our dairy farm in Cypress Valley to an equally rural area in the vicinity of Naylor, where we moved into a parsonage, located at the end of a dirt road off a dirt road; Daddy had received his very first assignment as a newly ordained Methodist minister. During our first Spring there, one of our Beagles gave birth to a litter of puppies, and we kept two of them for ourselves. I luuuuuv Beagle puppies! They are so soft, so cute and so affectionate; and, so much fun to play with.

Every school-day afternoon while the puppies were still quite small, I could hardly wait for the school bus to get to the end of our dirt road. I would spring off of the school bus and run all the way to our house so that I could spend the next half hour or so just playing with “my” precious little puppies. Of course, these little darlings seemed to always be hungry when I got home, and I liked nothing more than to bring out a small pitcher of milk and a couple of cereal bowls and settle down with the puppies in a patch of fresh green lawn beside the house. They would eagerly lap up all the milk in the bowl, and I would just as eagerly give them “seconds” just to watch them do it all over again. What fun!

Well, one day I got an idea for what would turn out to be the very first of many biological experiments I would conduct over a long and successful career in biological research. I was pondering the gusto with which these innocent little biological units would scarf down all the milk in their bowls, including the “seconds”, and it occurred to me that it would be interesting to find out just how much milk they would drink if I provided an unending supply of it. Would they drink only until they were full, or would they just keep on drinking until they just couldn’t keep any more milk down? With an innocent curiosity and no malicious intent whatsoever (keep in mind that I was just an 11 year old boy and I really loved those little puppies), I resolved to find the answer to this monumental question.

So, the next day I filled up the milk bowls once and then twice, and then I went where no boy had gone before (at least not to my knowledge); I filled the bowls yet a third time! To my surprise, these valiant troopers just kept on lapping up the milk and wagging their tails for more. After the third round of refills, I began to get a little worried, because now, the puppies were visibly swollen in the middle. Yet, they weren’t whining or whimpering yet, so I filled their bowls for a fourth time, determined to get the final answer to my seemingly innocent research question, but without inflicting any harm on the little guys. This time, I noticed that they were slowing down but still lapping and swallowing eagerly, and so I decided to take some additional, preliminary data on the progress of the experiment. With no little trepidation, I reached down and very gently squeezed their swollen bellies between my thumb and index finger to assess the degree of danger I might just possibly be exposing the thoroughly plumped puppies to. Their bellies were now tight as a drum, and this put a serious scare into me. Had I gone too far, already? Will they bust open right before my eyes? If they do bust open, how can I explain it to my parents so as to escape the punishment I so richly deserve for heartlessly murdering these tiny little helpless bundles of life just to conduct a silly scientific experiment? So, like a flash, I jerked away the milk bowls to minimize any further potential damage, and I was not prepared at all for what happened next.

I observed that these two little puppies turned, in unison, to walk away, still lapping and swallowing as fast as they could, but now just to try and keep down the last of the milk that was dribbling out of their mouths. I observed also that they were breathing heavily and with great difficulty, because there was no room left in their little bodies for a lungful of air, thanks to their excessive intake of cow’s milk. And finally, I observed that their now-bloated bellies were actually dragging along the ground as they waddled slowly away. In some sort of sick way I suppose, this scene was to me both humorous to watch and scary to contemplate, at one and the same time. But, as I continued to keep my eye on them, it became apparent that they were, indeed, way too full, but not to the point of bodily harm. This realization enabled me to take a deep sigh of relief and get an, albeit somewhat sinister, little chuckle out of the entire affair, especially the ending.

So, what is the answer to the big question: how much milk will Beagle puppies drink if they are given an unending supply? The answer is… just as much as they can possibly keep down with constant lapping and swallowing, once it starts to come back out as fast as it goes back in! Oh, and by the way, my parents never found out about this experiment. Hey, what they don’t know won’t hurt me, right?

(For more articles on TRUE TALES, click HERE)

Are Homosexual People Really “Born Gay”?

Born GayAre Homosexual People Really “Born Gay”?

James R. Aist

(Note: the numbers in parentheses refer to specific references listed at the end of the article)

Introduction

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”  — Joseph Goebbels

Since the early 1970s, homosexual people have increasingly claimed that they were “born gay” (1, 27) and that, therefore, they could not change even if they wanted to. In 1976, 9% reportedly claimed to be born gay, the figure increased to 35% by 1989, and by 2004, in one gay community, more than 90% of gays reported that they believe genes are a significant factor in their orientation— which would suggest a ten-fold increase in 28 years. By repeating this claim over and over again for decades now, gay activists have managed to win over a large percentage of heterosexual “believers” to their cause, without any substantial basis in fact to validate the claim that they were “born that way.” “Born gay” is, in fact, a hoax of mammoth proportions that has been accepted by many institutions, organizations and individuals in our culture, even by those in the “Christian church” and even by many apparently “born-again Christians” (1). Therefore, it is necessary to examine carefully the facts concerning the origins and development of homosexuality to see if there is any truth at all to the “born gay” claim. Most of the relevant information can be grouped into three main categories: biological theories, cultural influences, and social and environmental influences. The critical question is whether homosexuality is already determined at birth by biological factors and is immutable (unchangeable), or develops later as a result of post-natal experiences and influences, and is fluid (changeable). As you will see, the evidence strongly supports the view that homosexuality develops primarily as a result of post-natal experiences and influences, and is fluid (changeable); all pre-natal influences combined (including genetics, epi-genetics and hormones) have, at most, a weak and non-determinative role.

Biological Theories of Homosexuality

This research has focused primarily on possible genetic contributions to the development of homosexuality, but other potential biological factors, such as epi-genetics and pre-natal hormones, have received considerable attention as well and remain viable theories.

Gay Gene(s) Theory. Let’s first take a look at evidence for genetic causation of homosexuality. In this regard, it is important to note at the outset that if homosexuality were genetically determined (as opposed to merely being genetically influenced), it most likely would have been bred out of existence in only several generations. It would not exist today because homosexual behavior is a seriously deleterious trait that does not produce offspring.

According to the gene theory of homosexuality, male homosexuals have inherited one or more genes that predispose them to develop homosexuality later in life. Research in the early 1990s suggested the existence of “gay genes” in male homosexuals (31), but these results were not confirmed by other researchers attempting to duplicate the results (35). More powerful and sensitive approaches to finding gay genes have been developed since the 1990s and applied to the entire DNA compliment from large numbers of gay men. Again, different results were obtained by different researchers, some finding region(s) of human DNA that were linked specifically to male homosexuality (33), while others found no such linkages at all (34). Any one gene that would act so strongly as to determine homosexuality would have shown up in all of these newer analyses; thus, there is no single, determinant “gay gene” per se. But, it does appear that there may be several genes that each has a minor and indirect influence on the development of male homosexuality. Thus, it is now well documented that specific genes, although they may have an influence, do not determine (i.e., dictate) male sexual orientation (15,16,17). To date, there have been no reports of the existence of gay genes in lesbians.

Hormone theory: This theory postulates that atypical levels of prenatal steroids, such as testosterone, cause changes in the unborn child (e.g., changes in brain structure) that lead to the development of homosexuality later in life. According to this theory, during a critical stage of fetal development, exposure of a male fetus to a high level of testosterone would lead to typical heterosexual orientation, whereas exposure to a sufficiently lower level would lead to homosexuality. Female fetuses exposed to a high level of testosterone would later develop into lesbians (28). Support for this theory comes primarily from indirect evidence derived from animal studies, speculation based on hormone effects on other aspects of sexual differentiation in humans, brain studies that fail to show any significant changes in brain structure before the ages of 8-11 years old (32) and clinical conditions with significant prenatal hormone changes that are associated with increased incidences of homosexuality. Balthazart (28) concludes that “…this theory remains speculative (and is likely to remain unproven…)” due to the logistical and ethical impossibilities of conducting the necessary experiments on humans, as has been done in animals. Nonetheless, the theory does have merit, and hormones may very well have a minor influence on the development of homosexuality, perhaps in the 16%-27% range (39).

Epigenetics Theory: Epigenetics is a relatively new and vigorously investigated field of biological science that deals with the regulation of gene expression (production of proteins) in cells. The components of chromosomes that regulate genes are called “epi-marks.” These include such things as methylated DNA and variously modified histone proteins, but does not include changes in the DNA sequences themselves that code for specific proteins.

In 2012, Rice et al. (36) published a review article presenting a speculative and hypothetical model (theory) to explain the development of homosexuality in both male and female homosexuals. Their goal was to develop a model that would explain why 1) molecular studies have failed to conclusively identify “gay genes” and 2) concordance for homosexuality between identical twins is low (see following sections). The theory draws on research supporting the “hormone theory” (see above) as well as known properties and functions of epi-marks. The model would explain homosexuality on the basis of epi-mark-controlled prenatal testosterone (a sex hormone) levels, to the virtual exclusion of a role for either a strictly genetic influence or post-natal environmental influences.

Normally, epi-marks regulating sexual orientation are “erased” after they have produced the intended sexual development (i.e., heterosexual males and females). But, occasionally, a mistake is made, and the epi-mark is not erased but is, instead, passed on to the next generation. According to the model, when this mistake is made, epi-mark regulated testosterone overexposure in a female fetus would result in a masculinized female who will prefer females (a lesbian), whereas epi-mark regulated testosterone underexposure in a male fetus would result in a feminized male who will prefer males (a gay). The low concordance in twin studies would be explained not by a low-level genetic influence, as is usually assumed, but by the occasional passing of testosterone-enhancing epi-marks from father to daughter (creating a lesbian) and of testosterone-limiting epi-marks from mother to son (creating a gay man).

It is interesting to note that this model posits homosexuality as an aberrant accident of nature, in which normal prenatal development of a fetus produces the intended effect (heterosexuality), and abnormal prenatal development produces an unintended effect (homosexuality) by mistake. Abnormal prenatal development results when a mistake is made and an epi-mark in a parent is not erased, but is, instead, passed on to the offspring, where its effect (homosexuality) is seen in the subsequent generation. Thus, according to this theory, homosexuality is a mistake of nature.

Although this model is highly speculative and presently has very little, if any, direct experimental support, it does have merit as a scientific hypothesis, because 1) it would explain both male and female homosexuality, 2) it could explain the low concordance for homosexuality found in twin studies, 3) it seems to provide a feasible explanation for the long-term survival of a reproductively deleterious trait in the human population, and 4) it is, at least to some extent, testable. Only further research will determine whether or not this theory will join the many previous theories purporting to represent an almost exclusive influence on the development of homosexuality, all of which have failed.

Twin Studies Overview: As indicated above, most of the more recent research has focused on the degree to which genes, along with other prenatal factors such as hormones and epi-genetics, may influence the development of homosexuality. In this regard, the most conclusive and telling results have come from studies of “identical” twins (who both have virtually the exact same complement of genes). Although it is commonly assumed that twin studies reveal the influence of genes per se on a trait or behavior, the results of such studies have the unique advantage of reflecting, in fact, the combined influence of all possible, pre-natal, biological factors (e.g., genetics, epi-genetics, hormones, etc.) on the development of homosexuality in adults (8). The design of research studies using identical twins has improved greatly since the mid-1990s, with the advent of large, twin registries which can afford much larger data bases and less biased sampling procedures. The former approach of recruiting identical twins via advertisements in gay and lesbian publications is now known to have a very strong “volunteer effect” that produced the appearance of relatively large genetic effects (8). Nevertheless, even with the use of large twin registries, the number of twin pairs found with homosexuality is often very small in individual studies (e.g., 2-4 concordant pairs with 9-16 discordant pairs). Such a low number of twin pairs with homosexuality yields a standard deviation that is greater than the calculated genetic effect, meaning that the results are not statistically different from zero. In other words, the genetic influence or contribution in several of these studies may actually be zero, making definitive conclusions impossible. Whitehead and Whitehead (8) have presented and discussed, in some detail, these and other problems inherent in twin studies of homosexuality and have presented reasons to expect that the genetic influence on, or contribution to, homosexuality will eventually be agreed to be in the 10%-15% range (i.e., weak). One reason for this (anticipated) lower actual genetic influence is that epi-genetic effects operating through identical twins sharing one placenta may represent about 15% of the total influence attributed to genetics in published twin studies (8). Another reason has to do with the predominant influence of post-natal environmental factors on the development of homosexuality (see below). Schumm (26) found that children with homosexual parents are 12-15 times more likely than children of heterosexual parents to be homosexual as adults. This is the strongest environmental influence ever reported for the development of homosexuality, and it involves very close family members, the parent-child relationship. Identical twins share a common bond and common experiences more so than do other siblings, including non-identical twins; siblings can’t be any closer than that. The results of a study by King and McDonald (44) illustrate how such a close, family relationship could inflate the calculated genetic influence on homosexuality in identical twin studies. They studied 46 twin pairs having homosexuality present in one or both of the twins in each pair and found that 54% of the twin pairs had discussed their sexual orientation with each other, 89% had “shared knowledge” of each other’s sexual orientation, and 30% of these twin pairs had actually had sex with each other. Because identical twins identify so closely with each other, and post-natal experiences  – especially close family relationships – strongly affect the development of homosexuality, it seems plausible, if not likely, that  a homosexual member of a twin pair would influence the other member of that pair to embrace and explore homosexuality also, thus inflating the apparent genetic influence reported in identical twin studies. That is to say, a significant portion of what may appear, in identical twin studies, to be a genetic influence on the development of homosexuality may turn out to be, instead, a post-natal, environmental influence involving shared knowledge of sexual orientation and shared sexual experiences within identical twin pairs.

Twin Concordance studies: The “pair-wise concordance” answers the simple question, “Where one twin of an identical pair is homosexual, what percentage of co-twins is also homosexual”. The formula for pair-wise concordance of identical twins is C/C+D, where C is the number of concordant (similar) twin pairs and D is the number of discordant (dissimilar) twin pairs found in the study. For example, if C=1 and D=9, then the pair-wise concordance would be 1/1+9=1/10 or 10%. This result would indicate that for every twin pair with both members being homosexual, there are 9 twin pairs with only one homosexual member.

Using data provided in several reports of large, twin registry studies in different countries, I performed a meta-analysis and calculated the range of pair-wise concordance to be 9.9% to 31.6%, with the average being 13.0% for males, 13.3% for females, and 13.2% when the raw data for males and females were combined. These pair-wise concordance values indicate that for every twin pair with both members being homosexual, there are 7 twin pairs with only one homosexual member. Now, compare this result to the range of theoretically possible outcomes where no twin pairs would both be homosexual (= 0%) and where all twin pairs would both be homosexual (= 100%) and you can see, intuitively, that a pair-wise concordance of only 13.2% would indicate a real, but relatively minor, contribution of genetics to homosexuality. This minor role is similar to the estimated level of genetic contribution to virtually any kind of human behavior (11) and is known to be non-determinative and, in many cases, treatable by therapy and/or counseling. For instance, the best example to date of a genetically related behavior (mono-amine oxidase deficiency leading to aggressive behavior) has shown itself remarkably responsive to counseling (11). Therefore, on the basis of pair-wise concordance in identical twins, it seems appropriate to conclude that there is, at the most, only a minor genetic contribution to the development of homosexuality, and that this relatively minor influence can be overcome (i.e., nullified) through behavioral therapy (8), which we know to be a fact (10, 19).

The other measure of concordance in twin studies is “proband-wise” concordance. This estimate of concordance is necessary in order to use both identical and fraternal twins in a study to disentangle the relative contributions of genetics and environment to homosexuality. The formula used is 2C/2C+D, which, compared to the formula for pair-wise concordance, gives much more weight to the individual twins (probands). The effect is to greatly increase, relative to pair-wise concordance values, the apparent genetic contribution to homosexuality in identical twin studies. To illustrate this point, if we use the example given above where the pair-wise concordance calculates to be 1/10 = 10.0%, the proband-wise concordance calculates to be 2/11 = 18.2%. Although it is less intuitive, proband-wise concordance is generally recognized to give a better overall estimate of “genetic influence” than does pair-wise concordance.

Classical Twin Studies: While pair-wise concordance gives an intuitive indication of the genetic influence on homosexuality as expressed in identical twins, it does not provide information on what factors may provide the remaining, non-genetic influence. To answer this question, researchers are using other measures, broader-ranging questionnaires and more sophisticated statistical procedures to evaluate other such things as heritability, additive genetic effects and postnatal environmental influences. In order to be able to put the results of classical twin studies into perspective, it is important to keep in mind that, by convention in the twin study literature, a genetic contribution of around 25% is considered weak, of around 50% is considered moderate and of 75% or more is considered strong (18).

In a meta-analysis, Whitehead (18), using the results from seven of the recent twin registry studies that were designed to reveal contributions of both genetic and non-genetic factors to homosexuality, found that the mean contribution of genetics to male homosexuality was around 22%, and to female homosexuality, around 33%. Because of the relatively large standard deviations in the data, these two values were not statistically different from each other.  Thus, the genetic contribution to male homosexuality in these studies is weak and to female homosexuality is weak to moderate (at most). Such levels of genetic contribution indicate a real but weak to moderate and indeterminate role of genetics in the development of homosexuality. For comparison, other traits that have around 50% (moderate and indeterminate) genetic contribution in twin studies include such things as divorce and alcoholism, while puberty has a 90% (strong and determinate) genetic contribution (8). Furthermore, the non-shared, post-natal environmental contribution to homosexuality is moderate to strong, around 64%-78%, has a relatively small standard deviation and is consistently around the same percentage (18), indicating that homosexuality is influenced primarily by post-natal environmental factors and experiences that are not directly related to prenatal contributions of any kind or combination.

The recent study by Zietsch, et al. (41) can be used to illustrate representative research results obtained with large samples from twin registries. They used a very large sample (9,884) of twins from the Australian Twin Registry, one of the largest samples to date for twin studies of homosexuality. In this sample, there were 1,840 identical twin pairs (1,133 female and 707 male). Their calculated value of only 24% for the proband-wise concordance for homosexuality indicates a weak genetic influence. Moreover, their calculated figure of 31% for heritability of homosexuality also indicates a weak genetic component. This leaves around 68% of the variance represented by post-natal, “shared environment” and “residual” environmental influences combined.

[For a much more detailed and comprehensive treatment of “twin studies”, see Whitehead and Whitehead (8).]

In view of the fact that twin studies have shown that the combined influence of all possible, pre-natal, biological factors (e.g., genetics, epi-genetics, hormones, etc.) on the development of homosexuality in adults is only weak to moderate, it is important to understand that all of the biological theories discussed above can address only this weak to moderate influence, while ignoring the far more important post-natal influences (discussed below). Furthermore, these results clearly support the inference, based on results obtained through therapy and counseling (14, 20, 21, 22), that post-natal, environmental influences have a far greater role in the development of homosexuality than do pre-natal influences. So what are some of these post-natal influences that, together, could account for two-thirds or more of the total influence on the development of homosexuality?

Cultural Influences

There are several kinds of cultural evidence indicating that homosexuality is not genetically determined, but is, instead, strongly influenced by post-natal events and influences. This evidence was reviewed by Whitehead and Whitehead (4), and I will mention some of the highlights here. If causation of homosexuality were to be genetically determined, then it would appear in about the same percentage in all cultures, but this is clearly not the case. The prevalence of homosexuality has varied considerably in different cultures. For example, Ford and Beach (23) found that in the 79 cultures they surveyed, homosexuality was rare or absent in 29 and lesbianism was found in only 17. Homosexuality is also historically and exceptionally rare in Orthodox Jews. And among the genetically related tribes of the New Guinea Highlands, homosexuality was mandatory among one tribe, practiced by 2-3% of a second tribe and completely unheard of in a third tribe. A significant number of cultures appear not to have practiced homosexuality at all. Moreover, if causation of homosexuality were to be genetically determined, then its occurrence in any given culture would be stable over very long periods of time (e.g., 1,000 years or more), but in some cultures, homosexuality disappeared within several generations. Anthropologists attribute many such sudden changes to Christian influences, which represent a set of post-natal, non-biological, cultural factors.

Two original scientific studies merit particular mention in this regard. Broude and Greene (42) used the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample of 186 societies representing different and independent culture clusters within major areas of the world. This data base is considered to be the best representative sample of world cultures. They found that 12% of these cultures had “No concept of homosexuality.” Moreover, in 59% of these cultures, homosexuality was “Absent or rare.” A necessary conclusion from these results is that homosexuality does not exist in many of the cultures of the world. More recently, Hewlett and Hewlett (43) interviewed 35 members of an Aka forager band and 21 members of a Ngandu farmer village of the Central African Republic. The Aka had no concept of homosexuality; it was absent from their culture. The Ngandu were familiar with the concept of homosexuality from visits by some members to the capitol city, but they had no word for it; it was absent in and around their village. From a review of the literature, these authors concluded that the Euro-American human sexuality literature gives the false impression that homosexuality is a human universality. Whereas, in fact, the Euro-American patterns of homosexuality are quite unusual by cross-cultural standards; homosexuality is more common in this demographic than it is elsewhere. By contrast, sexual practices of the Aka and Ngandu are not unusual by cross-cultural standards.

Sorba (15) has documented numerous examples of adult celebrities and homosexuality advocates who have spontaneously changed from homosexual to heterosexual. Furthermore, at least six specific examples of adults who changed sexual orientation spontaneously, without therapy or counseling, have been documented by NARTH (24).

Homosexuality does not conform to any genetically prescribed model, but does appear to have an overwhelmingly cultural component, ebbing and flowing with changes in cultural values and expectations and with personal experiences (4).

Social and Environmental Influences

In addition to the cultural influences on the development and practice of homosexuality mentioned above, there are several other social and experiential factors that have been shown to have an important role. Let’s take a quick look at a few of these factors.

Childhood sexual abuse has been shown to be associated with the subsequent development of homosexuality in adulthood. Whitehead (40) lists eight relatively recent studies demonstrating this association. For example, in the article by Zeitsch, et al. (41), childhood sexual abuse was associated with an approximately two to three-fold increase in homosexuality in adulthood. According also to Mayer and McHugh (ref), it is well documented that the development of homosexuality is strongly correlated with childhood sexual abuse. Moreover, in a longitudinal study by Wilson and Widom, it was found that those who were sexually abused in childhood were 2.8 times more likely to develop same-sex relationships as adults than were those who were not sexually abused. Thus, these results are in close agreement with those of Zeitsch, et al. (41).

Divorce during childhood has also been shown to be associated with the development of homosexuality in adulthood, as evidenced by homosexual “marriage.” For example, men whose parents divorced before their sixth birthday were 39% more likely to “marry” homosexually than peers from intact parental marriages, and the figure for men whose cohabitation with both parents ended before age 18 years was in the range of 55%-76% (30). In a related study, Wells, et al., (37) found that cohabiting with two heterosexual, non-biological parents until the age of 16 was associated with a two-fold increase in homosexuality in adulthood, compared to cohabiting with both biological parents.

Urban versus rural environment. Whitehead and Whitehead (25) pointed out that the percentage of homosexuality in males reared in urban environments is 3.3 times that of males reared in rural environments, while the corresponding factor for homosexuality in females is 2.3 times, indicating a very strong influence of the urban environment on the development of homosexuality.

Homosexual parents. Schumm (26) found that adults with a homosexual parent are 12 to 15 times as likely to self-identify as homosexual or bisexual as are adults without a homosexual parent, which indicates that post-natal environmental factors associated with having a homosexual parent (such as having a homosexual adult role model and unequivocal acceptance of homosexuality) can play a major role in the development of a homosexual orientation. These results confirmed those of an earlier, much aligned, meta-analysis conducted by Cameron (29), and they suggest a very powerful post-natal influence on the development of homosexuality.

Therapy and Counseling Influences. Aist (19) reviewed and summarized some of the published information on religiously mediated and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Numerous studies have shown that both religiously and secularly mediated change in sexual orientation occurs in highly motivated, dissatisfied homosexuals at a rate that is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism. And many studies have found that, for the most part, these are long-term, stable shifts in sexual orientation. In fact, many ex-gays have been happily married with children for several-to-many years. What is the significance of these results relative to the claim that homosexual people are born gay? First, they confirm that pre-natal influences, including genes, do not dictate sexual orientation, because very significant change in sexual orientation has been achieved through therapy and counseling. Such change would not be possible if sexual orientation were fixed at birth. And second, the fact that therapy and counseling are successful at a rate that is comparable to the success rates generally achieved by therapists and counselors for psychological disorders and behavioral problems, such as alcoholism, confirms that any predisposition to homosexuality that may be present at birth is so weak that it can be nullified by subsequent intervention. Socarides (14) put it this way: “As psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, we are treating obligatory homosexuality successfully, changing sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Such a change would be unthinkable if there were any truth at all to the organic or biological or hereditary causation of homosexuality.”

It is virtually impossible to envision how prenatal mechanisms could explain these post-natal associations of increased or decreased homosexuality with social, cultural and experiential factors. But it is easy to envision how these social, cultural and experiential factors could account for the two-thirds or more of post-natal influence on homosexuality that is revealed by the results of twin studies.

Path analysis. A re-interpretation of results obtained using a research technique called “path analysis” has also indicated that post-natal social factors do, in fact, strongly influence the development of homosexuality (9). Two of these studies produced similar results and were found to lend good support to the idea of a constellation of environmental factors influencing the development of homosexuality, rather than biological factors. In these studies, environmental factors accounted for 38% of female homosexuality and 76-78% of male homosexuality. A third study, using a variation on the path analysis approach, showed that one post-natal social factor, gender non-conformity during childhood and adolescence (e.g., sissy-ness or tomboyish-ness), is about 10 times stronger than genetic factors in “predicting” the development of homosexuality later in life. However, whether this type of behavior is a cause of adult homosexuality or a result of (nascent) homosexuality is unclear.

The Role of Choice in Homosexuality

There seems to be some consensus that homosexual people do not choose to have the same-sex attractions and sexual feelings that they experience initially, but that doesn’t mean that living a homosexual life-style does not involve choices. Once that first same-sex sexual attraction is encountered, there is a choice as to whether or not to act on it (either through fantasies or sexual encounters), and the same choice is made every time that attraction is experienced. Bi-sexual people make a choice every time they engage in homosexual sex rather than heterosexual sex. Heterosexual people who are married with children and then forsake their marriage for a homosexual relationship have made a choice to do so. And the fluidity in sexual orientation, found especially in lesbians but also in gays, speaks to the choice of sexual orientation available to many, if not most, homosexual people, at least until their late teens (10).

Models for the Development of Sexual Orientation

Since pre-natal factors apparently have relatively little to do with the development of homosexuality, how, then, can we correctly envision the development of homosexual orientation? Psychologists tell us that the years 0-4 are the most important in terms of a human being’s intellectual and emotional development. Thus, there is plenty of time for a person’s sexual orientation to be influenced by environmental factors before they first experience sexual attractions.

Let‘s first consider the development of heterosexual orientation. Psychologists are unanimous in their belief that heterosexuality is environmentally, not genetically, determined (3). No one appears to be born heterosexual. Rather, heterosexual attraction is learned, developing over a period of time in response to certain environmental factors, in particular:

• Good maternal nurture from the earliest stages and through the first few years

• Identification with and imitation of the parent of the same sex

• Acceptance by and identification with same-sex peer groups

• Identification in a boy with what is culturally “masculine” and in a girl with what is culturally “feminine” (this is called “gender conformity”).

• The day-in-day-out treatment of boys and girl, as boys or girls, respectively

• The biologically programmed hormonal rush of puberty

• Falling in love

• Culturally prescribed sexual behaviors, such as arousal over women’s breasts.

• Personal sexual preferences and behaviors that can be traced back to early sexual arousal in unique circumstances.

It is believed that, for a variety of reasons, homosexuality develops when the normal pattern of heterosexual development is not followed. Reasons include sexual abuse (by men), and a variety of ruptures with same-sex role models. Sometimes this is the father or mother, sometimes peers, probably including siblings. Quite a common consequence is being or feeling less masculine (males) or feminine (females) than others in the same-sex peer group. This can lead to rejection by peers (even other peers who are homosexual) leading to feelings of being different, gender non-conformity and a growing drive to make up the sensed deficit through a strong connection with an individual of the same sex, which becomes eroticized and then manifested as homosexual behavior (3).

Once the pattern of sexual gratification starts, a habit begins, becomes ingrained, and then often addictive. When the process gets to this point, it is very difficult, but not impossible, to effect a change in sexual orientation because the desire for homosexual gratification has become ingrained and extremely powerful. (It is important to note that one gets oneself into this condition through a series of personal choices and decisions made repeatedly over a long period of time; it is not imposed upon him/her by any biological factors, including genes.) It should not be surprising, therefore, that it will take a series of very difficult personal choices and decisions made repeatedly over a long period of time to achieve a reversal of homosexual orientation and/or behavior, but it is possible; many exclusively homosexual people have managed to do so (10, 19).

Homosexual Orientation Is Not from God!

Some homosexuality advocates claim that homosexual people are not only born gay, but that God created them that way (with same-sex attractions). However, such a claim is diametrically opposed to the biblical witness; there are scriptural proofs that God is not the source of the same-sex attractions and desires that homosexual people experience. Firstly, the Bible clearly and consistently condemns homosexual behavior as sin (Genesis 19:5 with Jude 1:7; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; and I Timothy 1:10). Now, if God himself were to instill same-sex attractions and desires into homosexual people, then, by doing so, He would be tempting them to sin sexually. However, the Bible also states, emphatically, that God does not tempt anyone to sin (James 1:13-14). The necessary conclusion is that the God of the Bible would not create anyone homosexual, because to do so would violate His very nature and character, which is to hate sin. And secondly, after God had created Adam and Eve as heterosexual people, the Bible says that “God saw all that he made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). “All that He had made” could not have included homosexuality, because the Bible clearly and consistently condemns homosexual behavior as evil, not good. And that — the creation of Adam and Eve –- was “the last of the work of creation that God was doing” (Genesis 2:2). It follows, then, that God not only would not, but also did not, create anyone homosexual. Homosexuality must have first appeared at some later time, after God had finished creating.

Since same-sex attractions and desires do not come from God, where do they come from? The Bible says that sin entered the world through the “original sin” of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-19) after the last of the work of creation that God was doing (Genesis 2:2), and that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14). Thus, same-sex sexual attraction (i.e., homosexuality) is a result of sin entering the world through the disobedience of Adam.

Moreover, since God does not put the same-sex urges into homosexual people, it follows that such urges do not constitute a valid argument that God approves of their volitional consequences, namely, homosexual acts. Rather, God’s moral laws were given to communicate the sinfulness of our urges (e.g., lying, stealing, vengeance, adultery, fornication, and homosexual sex) that are opposed to His will.

Summary and Conclusions

There is nothing fixed or final about the homosexual orientation and its natural expression, homosexual behavior. No politician, church leader or member, judge, teacher or counselor, or homosexual person, or friend or family of a homosexual person, needs to feel forced into a position on homosexuality based on the apparent immutability of homosexual orientation. Homosexuality is not inborn, not genetically dictated; nor for that matter is heterosexuality or any other human behavior. In fact, our genes do not make us do anything. Whether it’s homosexuality, a foul temper, bed-wetting or addiction to chocolate, our genes have relatively little to do with it. The level of genetic influence could easily be as low as 10%, with the balance of 90% coming from post-natal cultural, social and environmental influences. And that 10% is not a direct genetic influence on homosexual orientation; it is a direct influence on a separate trait that can predispose toward homosexual orientation. Every human being has a 10% genetic influence on behavior of any kind, and that minimal genetic influence drops commensurately with whatever environmental interventions (e.g., cultural influences, social factors, personal experiences and/or therapy and counseling) of an opposing kind are brought to bear upon it (1).

So, the next time a homosexuality advocate tries to convince you that homosexual people are born gay, that God made them that way, that their homosexuality is “natural” and/or that their homosexual orientation cannot change, do not believe them. They are trying to get you to believe a lie, as the evidence clearly shows.

(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)

References Cited

1. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Introduction. (click HERE)

2. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 1. Can genes create sexual preference? (click HERE)

3. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 3. Are heterosexuals born that way? (click HERE)

4. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 6. What do different cultures tell us about homosexuality? (click HERE)

5. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 7. Pre-natal hormones? Stress? Immune attack? (click HERE)

6. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 8. Are brains gay? (click HERE)

7. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 9. The “discovery” of the “gay gene”. (click HERE)

8. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 10. Twin studies: The strongest evidence. (click HERE)

9. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 11. Path analysis – social factors do lead to homosexuality. (click HERE)

10. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Chapter 12. Can sexual orientation change? (click HERE)

11. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. Summary. (click HERE)

13. Socarides, C.W. 1995a. A Freedom Too Far. Adam Margrave Books, Phoenix, AZ. pp.149-150.

14. Socarides, C.W. 1995b. Exploding the myth of constitutional homosexuality. Narth Bulletin, Vol. III, Number 2, pages 17-18.

15. Sorba, R. 2007. The Born Gay Hoax. (click HERE)

16. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2016. My Genes Made Me Do It! – Homosexuality and the scientific evidence. (click HERE)

17. Deem, R. 2012. Genetics and Homosexuality: Are People Born Gay? The Biological Basis for Sexual Orientation. (click HERE)

18. Whitehead, N.E. 2011. Neither Genes nor Choice: Same-sex Attraction is Mostly a Unique Reaction to Environmental Factors. Journal of Human Sexuality 3:81-114. (click HERE)

19. Aist, J. 2012. Homosexuality: Good News! (click HERE)

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39. Whitehead, N. 2012. Prenatal Hormones Play Only a Minor Role in Making Anyone Gay, Straight or Transgender. (click HERE)

40. Whitehead, N. 2012. Book Review of Simon LeVay’s Gay, Straight and the Reason Why. (click HERE)

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