The Corner

Homosexuality & Genetics

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

subscriber:

“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.

“[Name]

“P.S. I figure you understand science better than anyone else at NR.

Shudder

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.”

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