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Nofear

Largest Same-Sex and Genetics Study to Date

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The New York Times has a write up of the largest population survey of genetics of sexual orientation.  Some key findings, but people are encouraged to at least read the NY Times article before posting (pretty please :)). It's not long.

  • A person was considered same sex or bisexual if they reported a same-sex sexual experience and that included between 2 to 10% of the sample (varied between which group they got data from)
  • Between 8-25% was associated with a plurality of genes (no one single gene) with a few other genes that maybe were influential but couldn't quite be quantified well for an estimated 32% genetic influence whether someone will engage in same-sex sex at least once in their life
  • The rest of the influences were assumed to be social or environmental

There is some controversy as to whether or not this study should even have been published lest the science be misused socially.

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Posted (edited)

It's amazing to me how people can put so much effort into thinking about things that are so blatantly obvious.

Genes come from parents, right?  And my mother has some genes which show that she is sexually attracted to men, am I right?

So,  yeah, it's theoretically possible that I inherited some of my Mom's genes which theoretically could include some of her genes which show a sexual attraction to men.

How much more time do you think I should think about this, do you think?

Edited by Ahab
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From a different article

"Dr. Neale, one of the study’s senior co-authors. “I thought it was important that we do it in a way with multiple scientific expertises and advocacy groups because that actually enriches the science and hopefully improves public communication of the work.”

 

Would 'advocacy' involvement with a study necessarily introduce bias?

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1 hour ago, Nofear said:

The New York Times has a write up of the largest population survey of genetics of sexual orientation.  Some key findings, but people are encouraged to at least read the NY Times article before posting (pretty please :)). It's not long.

  • A person was considered same sex or bisexual if they reported a same-sex sexual experience and that included between 2 to 10% of the sample (varied between which group they got data from)
  • Between 8-25% was associated with a plurality of genes (no one single gene) with a few other genes that maybe were influential but couldn't quite be quantified well for an estimated 32% genetic influence whether someone will engage in same-sex sex at least once in their life
  • The rest of the influences were assumed to be social or environmental

There is some controversy as to whether or not this study should even have been published lest the science be misused socially.

Do you recall if the article looked at epigenetics?  What I have heard and read seems to make a compelling argument that epigenetics is likely the cause of homosexuality, not genetics.

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1 hour ago, provoman said:

From a different article

"Dr. Neale, one of the study’s senior co-authors. “I thought it was important that we do it in a way with multiple scientific expertises and advocacy groups because that actually enriches the science and hopefully improves public communication of the work.”

Would 'advocacy' involvement with a study necessarily introduce bias?

Even though Neale is himself gay, he was referring to discussion of the GWAS results with advocacy groups only after the study had been done.  Moreover, this is merely the largest such study to date, and it confirms what we have found before -- that there is a large genetic component to same sex desire.

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1 hour ago, rockpond said:

Do you recall if the article looked at epigenetics?  What I have heard and read seems to make a compelling argument that epigenetics is likely the cause of homosexuality, not genetics.

No. The study wasn't about epigenetics. Twins are suggestive of it. The testosterone thing seems ... fishy (which could be thought of as a fetal pun). XX babies get more testosterone and therefore are masculanized and like girls?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetic_theories_of_homosexuality

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1 hour ago, rockpond said:

Do you recall if the article looked at epigenetics?  What I have heard and read seems to make a compelling argument that epigenetics is likely the cause of homosexuality, not genetics.

Although this article does not mention epigenetics, there have been a number of such studies:  https://www.pnas.org/content/115/2/234  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetic_theories_of_homosexuality  

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25172350  

Quote

. . . both the environment and individual lifestyle can also directly interact with the genome to influence epigenetic change. These changes may be reflected at various stages throughout a person’s life and even in later generations. For example, human epidemiological studies have provided evidence that prenatal and early postnatal environmental factors influence the adult risk of developing various chronic diseases and behavioral disorders. Studies have shown that children born during the period of the Dutch famine from 1944-1945 have increased rates of coronary heart disease and obesity after maternal exposure to famine during early pregnancy compared to those not exposed to famine. Less DNA methylation of the insulin-like growth factor II (IGF2) gene, a well-characterized epigenetic locus, was found to be associated with this exposure. Likewise, adults that were prenatally exposed to famine conditions have also been reported to have significantly higher incidence of schizophrenia............

Although our epigenetic marks are more stable during adulthood, they are still thought to be dynamic and modifiable by lifestyle choices and environmental influence. It is becoming more apparent that epigenetic effects occur not just in the womb, but over the full course of a human life span, and that epigenetic changes could be reversed. There are numerous examples of epigenetics that show how different lifestyle choices and environmental exposures can alter marks on top of DNA and play a role in determining health outcomes.  https://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/ .

 

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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5 minutes ago, Nofear said:

No. The study wasn't about epigenetics. Twins are suggestive of it. The testosterone thing seems ... fishy (which could be thought of as a fetal pun). XX babies get more testosterone and therefore are masculanized and like girls?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetic_theories_of_homosexuality

Or the effect of fetal androgen exposure.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetic_theories_of_homosexuality#Effects_of_fetal_androgen_exposure .

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If there is a genetic connection, then would be possible to treat or cure it through drugs or gene therapy.  I however am not convinced DNA has anything to do with it unless they explain the actual mechanism of how one goes from the gene, to the expression of those genes to how it tells someone to be attracted to X and not Y.    DNA goes to RNA which goes to make proteins.  I have a hard time with the idea that if Steve has certain levels or types of proteins in his body that lead him to be attracted to Jack over Jane. 

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2 hours ago, carbon dioxide said:

If there is a genetic connection, then would be possible to treat or cure it through drugs or gene therapy.  I however am not convinced DNA has anything to do with it unless they explain the actual mechanism of how one goes from the gene, to the expression of those genes to how it tells someone to be attracted to X and not Y.    DNA goes to RNA which goes to make proteins.  I have a hard time with the idea that if Steve has certain levels or types of proteins in his body that lead him to be attracted to Jack over Jane. 

Just believe...like Darwinism...ya know....

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Interesting - I don't see the word "feel" in either link.  This is a study based on behavior, not on people who identify as gay.   

There is a portion of people who engaged in the behavior once, but don't identify as gay.  I wonder what that does to the 2-10% figure. 

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3 hours ago, carbon dioxide said:

I have a hard time with the idea that if Steve has certain levels or types of proteins in his body that lead him to be attracted to Jack over Jane. 

At a much more basic level, we have zero evidence that anything biological can even detect another's gender.

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1 hour ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

At a much more basic level, we have zero evidence that anything biological can even detect another's gender.

I am not sure what you are saying here - are you separating gender from one's sex? I tend to reject the I "feel" like this gender thus I am. That seems to be more the product of a mind out of sync, disturbed, etc. The mind left without any guidance can convince itself of anything from being God to being an ant. 

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16 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

I am not sure what you are saying here - are you separating gender from one's sex?

Gender or sex -- I don't buy the distinction -- the point holds. There is nothing in our biology that tells us that another person is a male or a female. The recognition that another person is a man or a woman happens mentally. It's cognitive, not biological. As researchers have pointed out, we can't identify a biological root for gendered attraction when there is no biological mechanism for recognising gender in the first place.

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5 hours ago, carbon dioxide said:

If there is a genetic connection, then would be possible to treat or cure it through drugs or gene therapy.  I however am not convinced DNA has anything to do with it unless they explain the actual mechanism of how one goes from the gene, to the expression of those genes to how it tells someone to be attracted to X and not Y.    DNA goes to RNA which goes to make proteins.  I have a hard time with the idea that if Steve has certain levels or types of proteins in his body that lead him to be attracted to Jack over Jane. 

The article and the study upon which it was based give examples of how that works:  Like many mammals, humans are attracted to one another (normally the opposite sex) by olefaction (smell) via pheromones.  Same sex attraction can be mediated by pheromones of people of the same sex in those with that genetic difference.  It is not their fault and they are not making a conscious choice.  There are many such genetic differences.

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1 hour ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Gender or sex -- I don't buy the distinction -- the point holds. There is nothing in our biology that tells us that another person is a male or a female. The recognition that another person is a man or a woman happens mentally. It's cognitive, not biological. As researchers have pointed out, we can't identify a biological root for gendered attraction when there is no biological mechanism for recognising gender in the first place.

Like other mammals, we can detect gender differences by physical as well unconscious means: Pheromones, for example, are not consciously detected, but they do transmit gender differences just the same.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Like other mammals, we can detect gender differences by physical as well unconscious means: Pheromones, for example, are not consciously detected, but they do transmit gender differences just the same.

Sounds good, but we have no evidence of that in humans. Blindfold a person and ask him/her to identify the sex of another person in close proximity (stripped, of course, of manmade cultural markers like gendered perfume), and the results are completely random. Lacking context and visual clues, we're not even very good with voice pitch except at the extremes of the spectrum. Much of what we use to distinguish between male and female voices are socially gendered patterns of speaking, and those naturally vary across cultures.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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Really, there are no smells more typical of one sex?  Not even during ovulation or menstruation?

I could have sworn the way my dad sweated was a smell more common found in boys’ locker rooms than girls’, but I suppose that might be volume/strength/intensity rather than type. What one eats definitely affects smell. I wonder if that is distinctive enough we can smell the difference between vegetarians and meat eaters.

Edited by Calm

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1 minute ago, Calm said:

What one eats definitely affects smell. I wonder if that is distinctive enough we can smell the difference between vegetarians and meat eaters.

Anecdotally, I've been told by a friend from a non-dairy-producing nation that we dairy consumers all smell like off milk. I suspect that's possible ... but still not gendered.

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Is this not gendered or am I misunderstanding?

https://www.livescience.com/3457-women-smell-men.html

Quote

The scientists also tested the female volunteers' reactions to odors from men versus odors from women. They found that even though the female sweat smelled just as strongly as the male sweat did, it was easier to mask with perfumes. About 19 percent of the fragrances tested successfully reduced the strength of male underarm odor, while more than 50 percent decreased the intensity of female underarm odor.

The new study, published in the Flavour and Fragrance Journal, fits in with other research on how women use their sense of smell romantically. A study published in December 2008 found that women can tell when a man is interested from the scent of his sweat. The scientists found that women's brains responded differently when smelling sweat samples from men who were sexually aroused and men who weren't.

 

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23 minutes ago, Calm said:

Is this not gendered or am I misunderstanding?

You're misunderstanding. Even if this study is not an outlier (which I suspect -- people are keen to find something in this area, but reputable scientific organisations haven't been convinced yet), it says that female sweat smells just as strong (not strongly!) as men's, but it's easier to mask with something artificial.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan

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Which suggests it smells differently.

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7 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Gender or sex -- I don't buy the distinction -- the point holds. There is nothing in our biology that tells us that another person is a male or a female. The recognition that another person is a man or a woman happens mentally. It's cognitive, not biological. As researchers have pointed out, we can't identify a biological root for gendered attraction when there is no biological mechanism for recognising gender in the first place.

Never really thought of it before. Some talk about pheromones seems to a biological response influencing attraction between those of the opposite sex. Is that not biologic? 

If it is all cognitive acknowledgement, then is not all forms of sexual attraction a choice? 

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

Which suggests it smells differently.

Possibly. Though most analyses of these kinds of studies turn up all kinds of in-built biases and irregularities.

But in any case -- and I should have made this point earlier -- we're dealing with mental cognition, not any kind of biological function. Organisms that produce genuine pheromones have cells that are triggered by exposure to those chemicals. They don't think about it; it just happens. Looking at an unclothed human body or looking at a human body that has gender-specific dress and grooming engages a cognitive process to occur. Hearing the pitch and gendered mannerisms of most voices will engage the same mental process.

Consequently, we can be fooled in all of these areas. For example, in places where I have lived, it is impossible to distinguish male prostitute from female prostitutes. Clothed, they look, sound, and smell identical. We are lacking any biological function that automatically detects maleness or femaleness with any kind of accuracy. It all happens in our thoughts, not in our bodies.

Which, interestingly, is accurately acknowledged in some cultures that have not yet adopted Western constructs of sexuality. I had a coworker some years back who liked to boast of his adventures with prostitutes. As a lifelong keeper of the Law of Chastity, I asked him one time how he dealt with male prostitutes. 'What do you mean?' he asked. 'It doesn't matter anywhere but in your thoughts. Bodies don't care about things like that'.

I protested, but he gave an example. He had taken a prostitute home the previous night, he said, and in the dark, she had performed oral sex on him before falling asleep next to him. In the morning, as they were dressing, he noticed that she was actually a he. 'Explain to me', he demanded, 'how that piece of information is supposed to alter my enjoyment of the sex act the night before'.

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