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The Homo Hypothalamus

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Jan. 2nd, 2007 | 09:26 am

The Times Online (UK) reports that PETA, with the support of tennis star Martina Navratilova is protesting research on "male-oriented" rams by researcher Charles Roselli. PETA claims that Roselli is trying to turn gay sheep straight, but in an interview with The Next Hurrah, Roselli says he finds accusations that he is looking for a cure for homosexuality "appalling and offensive."

In many ways, Roselli's research is reminiscent of Simon LeVay's (1991) findings about the human hypothalamus. The correlation drawn in both is that the same-sex orientation may be related to a nucleus that is closer to the female average than the male average.



LGBT bloggers are in an uproar, convinced that screening and aborting of homosexual babies is on the doorstep. I'm dubious, myself, but largely because I tend to disbelieve anything endorsed by PETA, and The Next Hurrah's piece sort of sums up my feelings on that. I wasn't sure that this story was really appropriate to Difference Blog, but considering how much time I spend documenting other differences between male-average and female-average brains, this really is right down my alley. I have a hard time arguing that research is a bad thing. Honestly, I think that designer babies are so far in the future that it's useless to extrapolate current social attitudes to their application.

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Comments {6}

rdi

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from: rdi
date: Jan. 2nd, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
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I think this is great. Apart from anything else, if you can identify chemicals that can cause gay sheep (men) to express heterosexual attraction, a natural corollary is that you can identify chemicals to cause straight men to express homosexual attraction. (Oh, wait - we've already gone one: alcohol!)

Then there's the military implications of this bit from The Next Hurrah:

Catherine Dulac at Harvard University has found that mutating a single pheromone receptor in male mice makes them attempt to have sex with males that intrude on their territory, instead of trying to fight with them.

Which would bring a whole new meaning to the stereotypical macho challenge of "you wanna fuck with me?"

Frankly, I can see that some gay men might welcome a patch to "turn them straight", and I can also that some straight men might welcome a patch to let them "walk on the wild side" every so often. Given how many straight women find gay sex hot, there could be a market there too. Then there's the "gay roofie" angle...could be a revenge story buried in there somewhere.

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

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from: differenceblog
date: Jan. 2nd, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC)
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There's an interesting advertising angle: "Being gay isn't a choice -- but it should be!"

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rdi

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from: rdi
date: Jan. 2nd, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC)
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Now I'm imagining sabotaging an event like the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting with spiked water :-)

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Kim Arcadi Moon

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from: 7kim_moon
date: Jan. 2nd, 2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
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I find it interesting that LGBT activists, as a group, have a long history of insisting on homosexuality as a biological fact and then becoming frightened whenever some scientist offers evidence of it -- and not recognising that the possibility of being exterminated runs hand in hand with being portrayed as a a biological them. Apparently biological homosexuality is much more useful and comforting as a rhetorical article of faith that disclaims moral choice -- and therefore responsibility -- in sexual behaviour (and incidentally cedes to Christian activists the right to act as arbiters of sexual morality) than as potentially-demonstrable fact that raises the possibility of external intervention.

<snark>
I believe this falls under the categories of "painting yourself into a corner", "trying to have it both ways", and "believing your own propaganda". </snark> :)

The question of whether research should or shouldn't be done is both moot and a red herring. Research will be done. The trouble comes when we recruit science to support this or that sociopolitical agenda and then overinterpret the results to satisfy our ideological hopes and fears. Try that and science will bite you in the ass almost every time. (This is a very big problem, much, much bigger than LGBT activism. The passion for using science in this disrespectful way while remaining scientifically ignorant is a common disease in Euro-American and especially United States culture.)

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The Difference Blog by Dan4th

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from: differenceblog
date: Jan. 2nd, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
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Thank you. I think that is a really good explanation of the problem I've had with the bio-deterministic view of sexual orientation all along, and I haven't been able to articulate it well.

I think you just gave me a little rhetoric-gasm, too.

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