The Corner

Re: Homosexuality & Genetics

A couple of reader follow-ups.

Reader A: “Derb—The purported ’scientist’ who harangued you about your

lack of science knowledge while denigrating everyone at NRO blew his

credibility from the outset. If malaria was a tropical disease, what

explains the epidemic of malaria in northern Russian in the 20th century

(not an isolated case, either – malaria was pervasive in North America until

eradicated in the 20th century)? Anyone that would make such an obvious

misclassification should not be trusted in anything else he might state.”

Reader B (who is a professor of biology): “Dear Mr. Derbyshire—I don’t

know which ‘expert’ was pontificating to you regarding the genetics of

homosexuality—care to tell me who it was?—but I will say that he or she

was vastly overstating things, and is far too sure of her or himself. I

won’t even mention the completely unnecessary and clearly partisan attacks.

… The subject of genetics and homosexuality is complex. The twin study

of 20% your correspondent quoted is not correct from anything I have read.

… Rather than debate it, I found you a pretty even handed website to


… I loved it when your correspondent started discussing heterozygote

advantage and population genetics…since the latter field was INVENTED by

your mathematical friend Hardy in the early part of the 20th Century.

Algebra, indeed!

“If you want to know more about heterozygote advantage and its effect on

gene frequencies, here is a place to start. In any event,

homosexuality looks like a mix of genes and the environment. But there was

no cause, at all, for the person writing to you to be so rude.”

Ah, it goes with the job, Prof. I did, however, get an e-mail from the

expert concerned, complaining because I had omitted his name from my Corner

posting! (His actual words: “So why did you cut my name? Hell, I want to

be at the head of the p***ing line.”) So I guess it’s OK to say it was

Gregory Cochran.


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