Study attempts to explain genetic fitness of homosexual men

Here’s another study that homophobic bigots can casually ignore; Two evolutionary psychologists (yes, these guys are making the news a lot recently) have offered a unique explanation as to the evolutionary value of homosexuality. You see, since gays tend to not breed, the basic question of “why would homosexuality persist if the genes for it would be selected out” hasn’t yet been answered definitively.

I’m not sure if homosexuality is actually a genetic trait. I tend to agree it might actually be caused instead by embryological  development (the best explanation I’ve heard has to do with birth order and how the brain may be masculinized or feminized depending on the level of testosterone exposure in the womb, but I’m no scientist). Either way, I think it’s a pretty interesting study, especially in light of how they conducted it. They studied a relatively small tribe in the Pacific called the Samoa, who don’t seem to share our intense bigotry, openly accepting and identifying their gays. Because of their close kinship, they hoped to examine how our more primitive ancestors lived (we tend to be way too independent in North America). Homosexual men were more likely to help take care of their nieces and nephews, and the consensus is that these “super uncles” helped the fitness of their kin, and therefore could help pass on their genes (albeit a smaller portion of them) by being good helpers.

You can read all about it here; that is, unless you have a ridiculous religious reason to hate people who have same-sex attraction. In that case, please refer to an ancient book of mythology for your answers…

Comments (13)

  • avatar

    Impy

    I think it’s pretty obvious why the gay “trait” hasn’t been bred out by natural selection… because it’s FAAAAAAAABULOUS!

  • avatar

    bobcat

    There’s more to having offspring than giving birth to them. You also nurture them and foster them. Its a tribe family thing.

  • avatar

    Tim

    Ok look its a bot! By the looks of it targeting WordPress sites

  • avatar

    The Mother

    Previous evolutionary psychology arguments to explain homosexuality have included a “Spectrum” approach–the traits that make a gay man such a girl magnet, for instance, would increase reproductive success if they were also just shy of producing homosexuality. Think of homosexuality as a polygenic trait (like height or hair color–it takes more than one gene). Full blown expression equals gay, but smaller amounts of the same traits equal reproductive success, and therefore evolutionary pressure.

  • avatar

    Remi H. Winther

    I just dont get it why people wouldnt want any other person to be happy, (‘even’) if it means they are gay. I (for instance) would never stand between the love of other people. Just sooo depressing, these homophobians…

  • avatar

    spelczech!

    Persistent misspellings undermine the blog’s credibility. A simple spellcheck could fix this. Thanks for your content and consideration.

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    Pascific

  • avatar

    Jon

    Even here in a relatively secular country like New Zealand, there’s still a disturbing amount of Homophobia. A lot of it boils down to ignorant visceral reactions of “Eeew! That’s disgusting!” And of course, there’s that bullshit double-standard of “Faggots are disgusting, but Lesbians? Can I watch?”

    I’ve got no data to back it up, but I blame our culture (or lack thereof). We glorify binge-drinking, anti-intellectualism, over-use of the word “mate” and thick-headed Rugby players who extol all three traits. As if there’s nothing *remotely* homoerotic about a group of muscular jocks in short shorts packing in tight into a scrum, groping around for a leather ball. Go figure.

  • avatar

    Infinite Monkey

    I’ve heard about similar studies in the Nepalize region. The first son is always super-masculinized, while the second child, regardless of gender, is brought up as female. My reference-Science…Sort of podcast, episode titled “Hilarity Ensues”.

  • avatar

    Isaac

    Jon, I had no idea New Zealand and Northern Ireland had so much in common!

  • avatar

    keeyop

    Seems like a cultural anthropology issue, really. More relevant to evolution are all the examples of homosexuality in the [non-human] animal world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals

    Still, less “culturally corrupted” attitudes (lasting thousands of years in relative isolation) towards naturally occurring states of being are always interesting. Thanks.

    As for the “birth order” study… With respect, if that’s the best explanation you’ve heard, you might want to do more reading. It boils down to correlating an incremental increase from 2% queerness (without brothers) to [brace yourself] 3%! with brothers. Weak. The author of the study is known for his bias, and mistreatment of subjects. http://www.tsroadmap.com/info/ray-blanchard.html

  • avatar

    Jon

    Oh yeah, Isaac… we’re a bunch of boorish alcoholics too! I’m guessing you guys have a bit of that “Bucket Of Crabs” syndrome too? You know, when one crab tries to climb out of the bucket, the other crabs collectively dig their claws in and pull it back down? I don’t blame Russel Crowe for burning his New Zealand passport. And oh yes, if someone (like Peter Jackson) has some success, we’re ALL partly responsible!

    I don’t *hate* my country, but I’m definitely not a blind patriot. Then again, they made my Opa register as an ‘alien’ and used him like an indentured servant when he emigrated, so fuck ‘em.

    I’ll close this can of worms now. Let’s just say that just because a country isn’t hamstrung by organised religion, this doesn’t necessarily mean less homophobia. There’s still a lot of boorish, ignorant bigots, religion or not.

  • avatar

    shaun mcneil

    I was just in human sexuality class at college and we covered how fetus’ are bi-sexual and there are genes that determine gender – and there are male and female brains, that have different ways of functioning…meaning you have have a penis and a 50% female brain

    but yea science…F that

  • avatar

    Mercer

    Jon, I know exactly what you mean. The problem is Australia is not far from that either. I used to live in NZ for 4 years and got sick of weather, tall poppy syndrom and norrow minded people.

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