I screwed up my explanation of the “disease” theory of homosexuality in
yesterday’s Corner post, at any rate according to this major-league
scientist — highly respected in his field, though not, I am guessing, an NR
“Derbyshire—I can’t get all that mad at someone who’s just not very
bright…can’t you get anything right?
“No, you have not understood it correctly. In principle there could be a
gene that protected carriers (those with one copy) against something like
malaria and screwed up people with two copies, say made them homosexual.
That’s no worse than just killing the guys with two copies, which is what
sickle-cell does. It’s evolutionary possible… But it never happened.
“It is only possible if that mutation protects agaisnt a really deadly
disease, one that kills a lot of people. The disease in question would have
to kill a lot more people than homosexuality sterilizies, for there to be a
balance. If you want I’ll show you the algebra, but at the moment take my
word for it.
“There have been in human history at most two diseases that powerful:
falciparum malaria and, just maybe, smallpox. Nothing else affects enough
people. Now if this were a malaria defense, you’d only see in people who
originated in the tropical and semitropical parts of the Old World – you
wouldn’t see it in England at all, any more than you find sickle-cell in ye
Olde English Types. If it were a smallpox defense, you wouldn’t see
homosexuality in Amerindians or Polynesians – but you do.
“Moreover, if it were a genetic disease defense, it would have a certain
very simple and identifiable inheritance pattern, and it certainly does not
have that pattern. Identical twins would both have it, but the chance that a
homosexual man’s identical twin is also homosexual is only about 20%.
“So, no, it isn’t a genetic disease defense.
“Most likely, it’s just a disease, caused by some infectious organism that
in some subtle way screws up the brain centers involved in
recognition/interest in the opposite sex. Most likely a nucleus in the
hypothalamus that functions only in men. I mean it’s a infectious disease
in the same sense that measles or syphilis or stomach ulcers or uterine
cancer are infectious diseases. Bill Hamilton thought this explanation made
good sense and he knew his [expletive deleted].
“By the way, feel free to quote me as long as you make clear that I’m
impatiently waiting to [different expletive deleted] on the grave of you and
everyone else at NR.
“P.S. I figure you understand science better than anyone else at NR.
Thank you, Sir. We are always grateful for input from experts. Good luck
with your anger management program!
For yet another take on this fascinating topic, see this following interview
with Louis A. Berman, author of “THE PUZZLE: Exploring the Evolutionary
Puzzle of Male Homosexuality.”
However, Chandler Burr comments on this interview that much of what Berman
is saying is just what Chandler said in his own book A Separate Creation:
The Search for the Biological origins of Sexual Orientation, and the rest
is (says Chandler) “silly.”