hairylunch (hairylunch) wrote,


Interesting article on homosexuality and whether it's natural/biological. Apparently Joan Roughgarden is proposing that non-heterosexual behavior in the animal kingdom isn't a statistical anomaly. She does this by looking at the sheer number of specious (over 450) that engage in homosexual behavior, from male big horn sheep to lesbian macaques, and oystercatchers that live in threesomes. She also makes the claim that it's not a genetic disease, pointing out that "homosexuality is three to four orders of magnitude more common than true genetic diseases such as Huntington's disease." According to Wikipedia, there's 5 to 8 cases per 100,000 for Huntington's. Three orders of magnitude would imply a 5%-8% incidence of homosexuality, while four orders of magnitude would mean 50% to 80%. Four orders of magnitude seems like a bit of hyperbole . . .

Interesting bit from the article that Mel would like:
"In our culture, we assume that there is a straight-gay binary, and that you are either one or the other. But if you look at vertebrates, that just isn't the case. You will almost never find animals or primates that are exclusively gay. Other human cultures show the same thing." Since Roughgarden believes that the hetero/homo distinction is a purely cultural creation, and not a fact of biology, she thinks it is only a matter of time before we return to the standard primate model. "I'm convinced that in 50 years, the gay-straight dichotomy will dissolve. I think it just takes too much social energy to preserve. All this campy, flamboyant behavior: It's just such hard work."

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