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Two genes in Chromosomes 13 and 14, linked to Homosexuality (nature.com)
104 points by sukhadatkeereo on Jan 11, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 130 comments

Before anybody jumps to conclusions, these are not definitive findings. They are extremely important findings for those performing active research on the topic, but are not of general interest to those who are not performing research. The next steps will be to see if this holds in other cohorts, and in other populations, etc.

Agreed. That manhattan plot is... far from conclusive.

Indeed. At the present time many or most scientific studies are not reproducible.

I object tremendously to that characterization, because "reproducible" is a fuzzy word that never gets defined properly.

These results are almost certainly "reproducible" in that you could take the same people, regenerate all the measurements again, and get the same results by running the methods described in the paper.

These results may not be "reproducible" in the sense that when they do this with a set of 2000 new individuals, they will probably not find the same SNPs at the same significance.

Public discussion that conflates these two only serves to discredit science, without improving it or its process. Worse, saying that only only the second sense of "reproducible" is worthy of "science", would severely impede the process of discovery.

As long as "reproducible" in the first sense holds, scientists can learn from each other. Scientists also need to be able to communicate with each other before announcing to the world "we've solved it all!"

I find that most people (and I'm not including you with this statement, I don't know what you think!) who are bemoaning the lack of "reproducibility" are only interested in that second sense of reproducibility, because they want to open a journal to a random page make broad statements that are widely applicable. Scientists need to be able to talk about things in narrow terms, and specifics, or they will never be able to get to the broad rules that are generally useful.

>they will never be able to get to the broad rules that are generally useful.

Well at least we agree that discovering universal laws is desirable. Because we want to explain the world, right?

Some more info about reproducibility:


Wow, the bioethical implications of potentially identifying the mechanism of sexual orientation are staggering.

I wonder if / how long it will be before parents have the technical means—if not the legal right—to alter their child to be gay or straight through gene therapy. Or even simply selectively bring to term one orientation or the other.

In reading your comment I was struck by the dilemma that this reality would bring. Those most opposed to homosexuality are those most opposed to terminating pregnancy (mostly). It would create quite a quandary for folks who are inclined to hold these two beliefs.

Your other comments make me think you're someone who appreciates an honest discussion, so thanks for that. I do have an honest question of the reverse. Those most in favor of homosexuality are also those okay with abortion.

But if parents started aborting because they were homosexual, would there be any sort of moral/ethical issue?

Other comments have rightly commented it could be inverse (selecting for homosexuality), but I think all pro-lifers would prefer anyone being born, and allowing them to be responsible for their own soul, so that answer is easier for me to imagine.

> Other comments have rightly commented it could be inverse (selecting for homosexuality)

I brought it up elsewhere, but this is an idea suggested in the book "The Forever War" as a way to control the population expansion.

I don't have a problem with (the concept) people selecting OUT homosexual children because I believe that there are people who will remain who will select them IN.

On a deeper level, I suspect that homosexuality is more complex than a few genetic markers - that there are epigenetic pressures there as well, and that there is a social/biological reason for their existence.

Homosexuality isn't a recent development, it isn't some "modern" issue. The Native Americans had a very different take on homosexuals than we do currently. Our outlook has shifted several times in the last few hundred years as well (the interwar period in Europe as an example). There are even some stunning modern examples that are rather counter intuitive to those who are ill informed (Iran and its views on trans genders).

> But if parents started aborting because they were homosexual, would there be any sort of moral/ethical issue?

Not more so than terminating a pregnancy for any other reason.

Doesn't sound like it.

Usually it's for some reason that's justifiable, e.g. don't have the means to support it, don't want a child ever/at this moment in my life, teenage pregnancy, product of rape, fetus has some inherited disease, etc.

Merely dropping a child because it'll be gay, while being ok to keep another that wouldn't is not exactly of that nature.

Even the most casual reasoning for abortion ("I don't want a child, period") doesn't imply anything more, whereas this can be seen as implying you hate gay people.

> fetus has some inherited disease

By your logic, if homosexual attraction had genetic causes, could it not also be seen as "some inherited disease"?

You're doing a great deal of question begging. You're beginning with an ideological stance vis-a-vis homosexual attraction that is exactly a point of issue, and then tailoring moral arguments to suit the position. You've confused "the position that homosexual attraction is disordered" with "hating gay people" and then unjustifiably construed "hating gay people" as not entailed by the desire to terminate a pregnancy for whatever reason, i.e., it's okay to terminate a pregnancy for whatever reason unless the reason is that the fetus is genetically conditioned for homosexual attraction, in which case it isn't okay because that would be an act of hate against gay people by virtue of my prior ideological commitments.

You must see the absurdity of that line of thought.

The position of sound anti-abortionists would be that no matter the characteristics of the fetus, the fetus is a human being and the killing of any innocent human being is immoral. Your position, on the other hand, seems to be very ad hoc, relying on special pleading that is driven by prior sui generis ideological commitments.

Firstly, homosexuality has been declassified as a disorder by American psychological and psychiatric associations for several decades now [1]

Secondly, how is terminating a pregnancy because the fetus is going to be a homosexual person different from terminating because of a specific gender of the fetus? For example, in India aborting because the fetus is female is illegal or it’s rather illegal to find the gender of the baby before he or she is born.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_psychology Edit: typos

>By your logic, if homosexual attraction had genetic causes, could it not also be seen as "some inherited disease"?

Since it doesn't affect one's capacity to live, work, perform, etc and general health, then it could be seen as such (if one was willing to) but not justifiably more than e.g. having blue eyes.

You're talking about rationalisations. The subjective ethical considerations depend on the context in which the decision is taken, and none of this discovery changes the context.

>You're talking about rationalisations.

And morality is all about rationalizations.

>The subjective ethical considerations depend on the context in which the decision is taken, and none of this discovery changes the context.

Of course it does, as it adds another factor one can request an abortion for -- and the preference against or for that (having a gay baby) is not morally seen as neutral as e.g. not wanting a sickle cell anemic baby.

> Those most in favor of homosexuality are also those okay with abortion.

I am not sure this is the case. In the GP comment, he took a population for whom both elements (homosexuality and abortion) are forbidden. You are not allowed to support either of them.

If you are not in that population, you can have an opinion on either element, independently.

This said, a liberal perspective for one element may (or is more likely) to also be true for the other one.

Cognitive dissonance is alive and well. (edit - spelling)

Whose cognitive dissonance?

Those that hold two mutually incompatible ideas. "Taxes are evil" - "Don't take away my medicare".

My point is that the choice will be easy for some to ignore their dictates that "abortion is abhorrent" and might choose to abort a "gay baby" because they fear homosexuality more than keeping their ideals.

That's hypocrisy, not cognitive dissonance. Though I suppose a lot of hypocrites also experience cognitive dissonance.

But if you're going to accuse someone of hypocrisy I think you should be a bit more specific about exactly who you are accusing.

By HN standards I would be considered opposed to homosexuality and I am opposed to abortion.

The idea of aborting a baby due to their likely sexuality is as horrifying to me as sex-selective abortion. I don't view this as a quandry whatsoever.

I would be considered opposed to homosexuality

I'm keen to hear what you consider it to mean to be "opposed to homosexuality".

If you were to consider homosexuality a disordered condition (i.e. disease), then being "opposed" to it is pretty nonsensical, in the same way it would be meaningless to be "opposed" to autism or "opposed" to diabetes.

If that's not the case, then would you consider yourself to be "opposed" to it in the legal sense (homosexual acts should be illegal)? The social sense (homosexuality should be publicly shunned)? The civic sense (homosexual relationships should have no civic legitimacy)?

Thanks for your candor:

Since were in the realm of hypothetical, I would like to ask you a question.

If we manage to identify homosexuality as a genetic disorder, and we determined that there was a 99.999% chance that your children would be homosexual, what would you do?

Let me have a go at answering as disciple of Jesus Christ and a father and grandfather. Irrespective of any "genetic disorder", I would bring those children up as followers of Jesus Christ, teaching them to be Holy as He is Holy. Part of this holiness is to keep oneself pure, avoiding sexual misconduct of every kind. So irrespective of any same/opposite sex attraction, the way of life is the same. Whether they end up choosing to follow that path is, however, their choice and their responsibility.

>the way of life is the same

Would you mind elaborating more on this? It's hard to tell if you mean "avoiding sexual misconduct" as "don't rape, don't have sex outside of marriage" etc, or as "gay men must live as if they were straight". From a Buddhist perspective, the first choice seems reasonable, if a little restricting, since it's a rephrasing of the Third Moral Precept, but the second seems far too imposing on somebody else.

It's not a popular analogy but (for me) it's similar (though clearly not the same) to saying the same thing for alcoholism. I'd still have kids but I'd make sure they were aware of the facts - and the main thing I'd let them know is that they did have control over how the acted if not - according to the scenario - how they felt.

A related question would be - would you have kids if under the same scenario conditions - there was a 100% chance they'd drop dead at age 10? Or 5? That potential child has a chance at life and everything wonderful and terrible it entails but not in any way that you conceive it. You'd think it horrible but maybe they'd feel grateful for the chance. Maybe they'll be the first 10 year old to cure cancer.

It's not the same thing but for it gets at the spirit of it. I mean, my child will have different problems then me. Heck, they might not even view things that I see as problems as problems. It's still my responsibility to raise them to live the best life possible as I see it and then to give them the chance to do that.

We already know its a vital disorder for society. Near all larger contract-institutions of the past where run by "conscripted" closet cases.

So without that- no contracts, no law, no real society - this is why people instinctivly yell for better morals when corruption is detected. Pressure on the outliers creates more contract-caste-conscripts. Problem solved.

Since it is not fatal or cause general disability........... nothing.

That would be a tough situation, I'm not sure. My first thought is that the moral choice for me would be to accept celibacy and try to do the best I can for others in that role.

Out of curiosity, why not select life? Everybody sins-- why not accept that maybe this sin is more likely and love the children that might be born to you?

That's a reasonable perspective. I would have to ask my children to remain celibate, though, and would it be fair to put that burden on them, even (maybe especially) if they didn't accept it?

It seems more fair to me if I bear the burden of my moral framework, given the proposed determinism.

Why do you have to go to sin? What’s sinful about being born any which way?

Because the people who would want to get rid of their homosexual children want to do so because they consider it a sin.

This is a common confusion. If homosexual attraction were found to have a genetic cause, it would be understood as a genetic or genetically-caused disorder. That in itself would not be a sin because sin only applies to voluntary actions and not conditions. So from this POV, someone with genetically caused homosexual attraction would not be sinning if he refrained from engaging in homosexual acts.

Even without genetic predisposition this is the Catholic stance-- that being gay isn't a sin, but having gay sex is.

Of course, this is sophistry; ask about whether two celibate gay men would be allowed a Catholic wedding and the answer will be no because they can't have children, nature of marriage, yadda yadda. Ask whether a man or woman without intact junk can get married and suddenly it's love that is really important.

If you consider homosexuality a sin (worth saying: I don't) and determinism is at play, the risk is that you go full Zvingli. That would be very unusual today, so it seems worth asking about.

What is the connection you've made between homosexuality, abortion, and celibacy? I fail to see it.

Celibacy means you won't have any children. Same reason why a carrier of the Huntington's disease gene may choose celibacy instead of reproducing.

Celibacy means sexual abstinence, not not having children. The latter is implied by the former, of course.

Not really, we're past requiring intercourse for reproduction.

Yes, but in the context of upholding traditional Christian moral standards that's not an option that's on the table, and neither is using contraception. Celibacy, or to be more precise, abstinence, is the only option.

You're talking about a very specific "Christian" society, which, you should bear in mind, has very few things in common with other Christian societies, like the orthodox for instance.

I know the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox do in fact practice things like abortion and contraception, but they are still highly controversial subjects and far from universally accepted in the hierarchy.

I still think it's a pretty fair generalisation of traditional Christianity and the vast majority of Christians (liberal western Protestants are a minority on the global scale, and even they don't universally accept abortion and contraception, take for instance Pastor Anderson)

Then perhaps I'm biased. Where I was raised (eastern orthodox), preaching in favour of contraception and abortion as divine mandate was/is seen as crazy. I certainly don't have numbers to compare.


Many people still think homosexuality is a choice, not an inherent trait. The genetic argument may just be ignored entirely.

People somehow believe stranger things about the flatness of the Earth.

This is actually the plot of a movie from the 90’s based on a popular play:


Birth order is another known input for male homosexuality.[1][2] For every older biological brother, the chances of being born gay go up substantially. But the mechanism isn't known yet. A number of other objective measurements also change with birth order. Parent genetics alone aren't enough.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1626369/ [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28608293

Interesting. Then by that rationale, since families used to on average produce vastly more children per closed family unit, the amount of gay children in total should be dropping?

It's unlikely that we'll find definitive predictors for this trait in the next decade, it will just be associations that predict an increase or decrease in the odds. The really strong predictive associations are also easier to find.

Hallelujah, with these findings and the advancement of CRISPR, religious re-education camps can step up their game!


While I doubt we'd see these means anytime soon, it could go either way I think: Forced abortions because of sex orientation (and who says that it'll have to be the straight people that abort homosexuals, not the other way around?) or taking a pill and become gay for some months, as you wish.

I'd assume that the usage of such products would move towards more (percieved) comfortness in life (like not being gay in teenage years, bc. some studies found you're more likely to feel bad ... but being gay in college/post-college years because higher income).

> (and who says that it'll have to be the straight people that abort homosexuals, not the other way around?)

/me trying to picture two guys having an abortion

Just for clarification of what I've meant: a homosexual majority/elite could equally make it unpopular to come to labor with an heterosexual child.

Surrogacy is legal in many parts of the world, and the women are often not in a good position to resist pressure to have abortions.

> I wonder if / how long it will be before parents have the technical means—if not the legal right—to alter their child to be gay or straight through gene therapy.

I'm not sure that'll ever be possible. Once a gene has "done its work", possibly when the fetus was in the womb, that least to homosexuality (or whatever other characteristic is of interest), then editing the genome will have less or no effect.

> Or even simply selectively bring to term one orientation or the other.

This seems a lot more doable to me.

I expect it will be possible by 2025-2030.

It's interesting how the timing has an effect on the ethical implications as well. If we had this technology 50 years ago it would be a clear cut case of selecting the straight genes only. This discovery coming now means that the debate could go the other way (no interfering).

Much of the world is also less friendly to homosexuality, to put it lightly. I wonder if they will eliminate it entirely?

In 1974 the book "The Forever War" was published that had a take on this (granted in a round about way). Roe V Wade (legalizing abortion in the USA) is 1973.

I think that 50 years ago "homosexuality" would not have been "preventable" at least in the US.

However those who were untreatable were not treated kindly - it is still the era of institutionalization. We probably would have had a far more horrific solution to the precived problem than the one you suggest.

Say hello to mutation. The process that says screw you to trying to try and remove such genes.

The countries that could afford this type of intervention are typically much more friendly than the countries that could not afford this.

For now. Some genetics costs are decreasing faster than exponential: https://www.genome.gov/27541954/dna-sequencing-costs-data/

Unless homosexuality is directly useful for reproduction, if the findings here are correct, these genotypes probably have some sort of reproductive advantage. I'd bet you replacing would harm the child in some way, or in certain combinations with other genes.

The notion that sexual orientation could be genetically selected for at birth is science fiction. We know for a fact that no one gene or set of genes causes homosexuality - it's "biopsychosocial" in nature.

"We detected several promising regions of multiple SNPs in the 10^−5 to 10^−7p-value range, as seen in the Manhattan plot (Fig. 1), though no SNP reached genome-wide significance (5 × 10^−8)."

This is the most important statement in the paper.

Let's pretend I don't have a PhD and don't know what that statement means though, can I get a summary?

Shorter and less accurate than the Wikipedia page: A SNP is a single nucleotide polymorphism, a single letter variation in a genome. This study measured about half a million SNPs for each person. A statistical test is then performed to see how well each SNP site predicts the trait, generating a p-value. If a single such test were being performed, then typical "significant" p-value levels would be 0.05 or 0.01 or 0.001, these are arbitrary but generally accepted. For data from SNPs unassocisted with the trait, p-values come randomly and uniformlay from the range 0 to 1. So with a hundred SNPs unassocisted with the trait, a person would expect about one p-value at <= 0.01. There are many ways to correct for these multiple hypothesis tests. For GWAS, the generally accepted significance levels are 5e-8, which under the rubric of the fancily named but simple Bonferroni correction, would be equivalent to a 0.01 to 0.05 p-value from a single test. These two reported SNPs, when correcting for multiple testing, don't meet the standard definition of significant.

It means the result could plausibly have occurred just by chance. The odds may be against it being chance, but it is at least plausible.

Eh, not really. What you said is true of any p value. It's tautological.

This may help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genome-wide_association_study

They found "support" for associations between homosexuality and some specific genetic code positions, but not strong enough evidence to be very sure of anything ("significance").

How is genome-wide significance estimated?

I gave my saliva to 23andme two years ago. I’ve been suicidal my whole life. If genetic markers for suicidal tendencies are discovered in the future, can they use my stored sample to assist in such studies?

> I’ve been suicidal my whole life.

That’s pretty intense. Have you tried medication or therapy? Or anything else?

That’s not really important. What is important is that they receive data about the suicidality, because it is inevitable that a large percentage of people like me who are long term suicidal will not have documented it with a medical professional. And, due to privacy laws, it’s difficult to say whether that data if it did exist with a medical professional would make it to 23 and me for them to be able to make such a correlation. I would presume that they may be able to and for or data mine from articles if I were to commit suicide for instance bud

Hey, I appreciate your thoughtfulness on this issue. As you know, all your feelings are based on the chemistry in your brain. If you want to talk, hmu at beni@strivewire.com

Would a bio expert be able to comment please on how this may fit with observations around increased likelihood of male homosexuality correlated to the number of older male siblings (to the same mother)?

So why is this a surprise? The experiments on identical and fraternal twins were done decades ago, and there just isn't any doubt that genes influence sexual orientation. Nor is there any possibility that they determine it: many gay men and lesbians have straight identical twins.

It's not a surprise, it's just scientific research.

Sure, but the importance of research is strongly correlated with how surprising it is. That's entropy and information 101.

I suspect that as we come to better understand genetics, we (as a society) are going to be more and more uncomfortable with the findings that we uncover. Physics and mathematics have made it long since clear that the universe is deterministic, that all the answers lie in the genes and atoms and equations we are made up of. The implications of this are dire - our society is built on exactly the opposite foundations; law and order assumes the criminals are acting of free will, education assumes all students are equal, and societal success rests on the notion that all men are equal. None of this is true. All of the implications can be twisted to serve our worst, or our best instincts.

Some will take this study to mean Homosexuality is a disease, to be cured. Others will reject it, to say the science is not yet "in", the study needs replications, meta-studies are needed to verify and corroborate it. We should embrace it, and say that it is good we are not a monoculture, embrace mutation and variation. To be human is to be different.

Eh, I don't know if you want to take it quite that far. Your genes might predispose you towards one path or another, but there is still free will involved. Complex sociological events like someone committing a criminal act can't just be reduced to "their genes made them do it." There are other factors involved and they are far more complex than what can be reduced to simple genetics.

I think sexual orientation is probably an inherent trait in most people, but to say something like educational success is just a result of genetics and not other factors like teachers, parents etc is simplistic.

Not to mention that the universe is hardly deterministic. Chaos theory and quantum physics show quite clearly that randomness and unpredictability are fundamental.

It is a common misconception that Chaos theory and Quantum Mechanics show that universe is random. Chaos theory is a perfectly deterministic theory that basically means fragility to initial conditions. Quantum Mechanics, at least in Copenhagen interpretation does imply that the universe is random. But there at least 2 more, perfectly deterministic interpretations that make exactly the same predictions as the non-deterministic one. These are Many Worlds Interpretation and Bohmian Mechanics.

Chaos theory doesn't imply randomness, it implies unpredictability. Hyper sensitivity to initial conditions means you can't reliably predict the exact outcome, because it's impossible to observe all the relevant initial conditions accurately enough. I can't, for example, predict the trajectory of a actual double-rod pendulum except at fairly short time intervals even though the governing equations are known, because practically I cannot measure the initial conditions precisely enough. I would argue that even if you could write a master equation to predict human behavior perfectly it'd likely either be so sensitive to initial conditions it'd be useless or have so many initial conditions that you wouldn't be able to determine them all.

I guess I'm not super expert on QM or some of its different interpretations, but from our point of view there's not a whole lot of difference between multiple universes and actual randomness is there?

> Your genes might predispose you towards one path or another, but there is still free will involved.

Genetic determinism is not the same as free will. Our genes don't determine everything, but together with our environment, they do.

I believe in free will but I think it's possible it doesn't exist at a 100% level in practice as you allude to with genes, environment, history, brain chemistry, etc. If you imagined free will as Madden football awareness ratings, some will be close to 100 but many others will be a lot lower.

So sane people aren't incapable of making the right choice but they are incapable of doing as reliably as others across multiple scenarios over time because there are a lot of other factors at play than being human and having free will.

They don't determine everything is my point. Environment paired with genetics has a strong (sometimes overwhelming) influence on the decisions you make for sure, and they make many decisions harder or easier, but you still maintain the ability to choose. Free will isn't the ability to make any choice without external influences, it's just that you have a choice at all.

What are you calling a choice? Are you simply saying that people act? Then yes, that's of course tautologically true.

I think we just have an unbridgeable gap of beliefs here: one of you believes that they are the ultimate author of their own words and actions, that their experience of making decisions should be taken as strong evidence that they are in fact making decisions, and that any theory that denied this fact would be in need of revision. The other believes that the scientific enterprise has conclusively disproven the possibility of actual free will, and therefore agency is merely an illusion.

Lately I’ve been siding with the first stance, but I can understand both. It comes down to the strength of your faith that Science understands (for the most part) all of the essential features of reality, and also your trust in your immediate experience.

It’s a tough question.

Not quite, at least in my case. Like I said I do think that people mostly are the sum of their parts. It's just that for me, the possibility that anyone can escape their circumstances makes it irrational (as well as immoral) to totally exclude a class of people based on characteristics like genetics. The ultimate debate is on sociological reflexivity, and I don't believe that someone's behavior can ever be totally deterministically predicted, analogous to how certain physical phenomena like radioactive decay are truly random.

Which is not what the other comment was saying I don't think, but the parent comment was.

Edit to add: and even if human behavior was actually a deterministic function of their history it'd surely be a chaotic system. I can't say I really see much difference in that case.

It's more that I'm saying humans have agency (in the philosophical meaning of the word). You can't know with 100% certainty what a person will do, even with perfect knowledge of everything about them. You can predict with very high confidence, but never certainty, because people can (and occasionally do) act randomly.

That said, I do believe that people are more or less the sum of their parts and I accept that genetics are especially important. However, there are always people who defy expectations. I just don't except that it is a totally deterministic connection.

> They don't determine everything is my point

What else affects agency? I think you have to look to religion, rather than science, to come to any conclusion other than human actions being essentially deterministic.

The universe can be deterministic and still practically unknowable.

Chaos theory: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

Here's a fun one. A transcendental real number which is not computable: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaitin%27s_constant

None of us are dealt an equal hand in life. Having a genetic predisposition that advantages or disadvantages someone does not absolve them of the responsibility of their actions. If we were unchanging machines, that may not be the case, but it's much more complex than we give it credit for, and the debate is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

> Physics and mathematics have made it long since clear that the universe is deterministic

Have they?

As I recall, the theologists held similarly self-promoting illusions centuries ago. I also recall that early scientists declared that the universe is a clockwork. I also recall that Lord Kelvin, in the late 1800s, declared that physics was all finished except for a few minor details.

The physical universe is not a complete mystery. To the extent that certain phenomena can be agreed to procede from other phenomena in a repeatable fashion, there is indeed reason to celebrate. As many wise men have pointed out, however, we are very small and the universe is very great. The extent of that which we do not understand at all is good reason to suspect that we must continue to deliberately blind ourselves if we are to keep patting ourselves on the back.

Sure, John Calvin told us so. And then we rejected it. And then it became a sure thing again. And then not . . . and now here we are.

Can the universe be deterministic if our knowledge of whether the universe is deterministic is not deterministic?

At the macro level.


Physics gave up being "deterministic" (in the sense you used the term in) about 120 years ago.

And mathematics is just a convenient tool with which we describe reality, no one would seriously think today that our math is deeply inscribed in the essence of reality as Galileo thought.

Apart from this, and the fact that the paper shows a very weak statistical significance, I agree fully with your last statement.

> no one would seriously think today that our math is deeply inscribed in the essence of reality

This is straight up wrong; most physicists I know, regardless of subdiscipline, basically agree on some variation of the idea that reality is somehow underpinned by algebraic structures.

Reality is just a convenient tool with which we can discern mathematics.

> the paper shows a very weak statistical significance

How so? The p values are quite low.

They're not low enough to account for the look elsewhere effect[1] (known by a different name in this field, but the idea is the same). In this case they look at 500,000 measurements so finding p-values of 10⁻⁵/10⁻⁶ is expected.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look-elsewhere_effect

Not just genetics, but also our gut microbiome. The studies linking depression and other thinking to our gut bacteria raise some profound moral implications.

I've had really interesting conversations with some of the gay people I know where I've urged them to at least start thinking about what would happen if science found a biological or genetic basis for homosexuality. If human sexuality can be altered with a probiotic, targeted antibiotic or gene therapy, the LGBT community should be prepared for the renewed attack on their way of life that would bring. Just because they intuitively consider it part of their identity doesn't mean that it is biologically so. Science isn't going to avoid investigating or finding these kinds of things, no matter how much opinion shifts towards acceptance of non-majority sexual preferences.

I can also envision a world in which increased understanding of the mechanics of our sexuality poses some interesting moral questions and scenarios. What if all sexual preferences are governed by these mechanics, not just gender? Even straight people have a wide variety of preferences when it comes to race, body type and other physical characteristics. Could surreptitiously trying to alter someone's preferences be considered rape in much the same way that using GHB to bypass consent currently is? Could we have a world where gene therapies to increase compatibility become part of marital counseling? Might 23andme.com become the world's best online dating site? Might people in cultures with arranged marriages start forming the arrangements pre-birth and then selecting embryos for IVF based on the compatibility of their offspring?

This field of study offers so many really interesting /r/WritingPrompts for near-future science fiction writers. So many of our institutions, customs and culture revolve around the propagation of the species that demystifying it could really turn society on its head in some interesting ways.

> law and order assumes the criminals are acting of free will

It doesn't really matter if there's no "free will", while a behavior of an individual can be approximated as a behavior of rational agent who properly reacts to an expectation of positive or negative consequences.

If a person can react rationally, then it is rational to disincentivize them. If they can't, then it is rational to move them to a psychiatric hospital, where they'll have better chances at fixing the problem knowing exact genetical causes.

The same as now.

> To be human is to be different.

Within Overton window. No one is going to embrace pedophiles anytime soon.

Here's what I don't get: we glorify the Theory of Evolution and science in general, but at the same time we let politics and activism get involved. So, which of these is true, at the end, when we remove politics from our decision: homosexuality is a) "nature (not a disorder)", b) "nature (disorder)", or c) "nurture"? In addition to removing politics, let's remove emotions before answering. Science doesn't and shouldn't care if its conclusions are easy to digest or what we expect.

Call me naïve, but I'm optimistic. All of those assumptions you ascribe to society fall under the umbrella of the just world fallacy. The sooner that thing dies, the better.

Evolutionary-biologist Will Provine's perspective on free will helped very much to inform my own:


(Edit: this is apparently an intelligent-design advocacy publication, but it is telling how much his opponents respected him. Provine would have been touched. Here's another link, for context: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/ptb/6959004.0007.003/--william-...)

He had a lot of thoughtful and kind things to say, and a lot of courage to back it up. Have a gander at some of his work if it piques your interest.

Thanks for your post -- it led me to the news that he had passed away. He had so long surpassed the odds on his specific guaranteed-to-recur cancer that I almost believed him to be invulnerable.

Thank you, Will. We lead best by example; yours was superb.

> law and order assumes the criminals are acting of free will, education assumes all students are equal, and societal success rests on the notion that all men are equal

None of this is true. We would still imprison those who break the law, despite a deterministic universe, for quarantine, if nothing else.

We punish for dissuasion. Some who would break the law in the absence of punishment will "choose" (however one wants to interpret that word in a fully deterministic world) not to do so because of the possibility and cost of punishment.

Even punishments such as fines still make sense in a fully deterministic world, and in one where there is no societal desire to be "fair" or give people what they "deserve".

> Physics and mathematics have made it long since clear that the universe is deterministic

Except none of them have any idea whats really going on...

Compared to what? Yes, we can rest on the technicality that science is only an ever-expanding and ever-solidifying theory, but can't–by fallibility of perception–ever reach perfect truth. So what though. What else do we have to go on?

Regardless, the fact that we've made any strides at all within these fields is proof of determinism. If not 100% determinism, then enough to dispel notions of a "just world."

We know a lot of things. We simply focus all of our effort on the things we do not yet understand.

Not according to Thomas Kuhn, we don't.

That's a misreading of Kuhn. He believed in scientific progress -- he says so explicitly.

I was responding to the statement that "We simply focus all of our effort on the things we do not yet understand."

Kuhn (short summary) pointed out that paradigms arise which, after a time, cause scientists that have 'bought in' to resist attempts to modify them. Many scientists get 'stuck' in the current paradigm and pooh-pooh attempts to modify them. The history of science demonstrates this over and over ... EG Wegener, EG Clovis.

Yep, Kuhn recognizes progress. His major point is that progress doesn't come from the orthodox establishment.

Ah I see. My bad, I assumed you were talking about the first part.

My government will be ecstatic. More and more catholic church makes it to the ruling party. I imagine some other states (China?) would also want to tamper with its population genome.

Do you know what's happened to China's sex ratio since it became possible to selectively abort female foetuses? If some hormone were found to be associated with men becoming same-sex attracted, the commies would probably put it in the water.

So... what about bi/pansexuality?

First critique that immediately comes to mind is how the 1,077 homosexual men and 1,231 heterosexual men were selected. If Republicans have taught us anything, it's that self-reporting is not an accurate measure.

From the paper: "classified men as homosexual based on both their self-reported sexual identity and sexual feelings"

Furthermore, how does this study explain sexual fluidity? IE: I liked kissing boys when I was 13 but I married a woman at 25?

Next paper: Two genes in Chromosomes 13 and 14 linked to willingness to participate in scientific studies.


LUG: Labrat Until Graduation

Is this a troll? How do you intend to determine whether or not if someone is of an orientation EXCEPT for asking them?

"I'm gay."

"Well my 'science test' says that you're not."


The inability to avoid selection bias doesn't preclude selection bias.

Not to say the above comment makes any sense...

I mean, there's no real other way to classify sexuality beyond self-selection. There might be bias in it, but that's okay and can be accounted for.

And it doesn't have to explain sexual fluidity. Human sexuality is pretty flexible by nature, but you could easily see that some genetic changes could lead to predisposition.

The intro to the paper discuss male fluidity a bit (more Kinsey scale extremes for men, ie all gay all straight). I was wondering why it seems always focused on male sexuality and that was an interesting explanation.


Could you please describe the moment you decided your sexuality?

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