from "Born that way" theory
The mainstream media is reporting on the latest research that purports to show that gay males and heterosexual males respond differently to certain pheromones.
May 11, 2005 - The New York Times has just reported on findings from Swedish researchers who claim to have found that gay males are attracted to a different kind of scent than heterosexual males.
"For Gay Men, an Attraction to a Different Kind of Scent," by Nicolas Wade (5/10/05) quotes Swedish researchers with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm who have studied pheromones and the different ways women, gay males and heterosexual males react to them.
Lead researcher Dr. Ivanka Savic studied a testosterone derivative produced in men's sweat and an estrogen-like compound in women's urine. Both of these have been suspected of being pheromones.
Savic and her associates found that that gay males responded to these pheromones in the same way women respond. Heterosexual males responded differently.
This study is being reported in the mainstream press as more evidence for a biological basis for homosexual behavior. However, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a lecturer in Civil Liberties and Constitutional Law at Princeton University disagrees. According to Dr. Satinover*:
The key statement in the New York Times interview with one of the authors of the article is this:Dr. Warren Throckmorton has also examined this latest study and draws the following conclusions:
"We cannot tell if the different pattern is cause or effect," Dr. Savic said. "The study does not give any answer to these crucial questions."
The same discussion arose after LeVay's study and he finally conceded--years later--that repetition of homosexual activity can change the brain to produce the effects he discovered--likewise here as the researchers state directly.
This study says nothing about homosexuality being innate (whether on a direct genetic or indirect, epigenetic hormonal-developmental basis). Likewise, if one changes the state of one's sexuality. The pheromone response would presumably change in consequence of behavioral-induced alterations in the underlying hypothalamic structures.
Because it is tacit and not explicit, the widely-held and erroneous presumption that brain structures are fixed and unresponsive to experience generates a second presumption, also tacit: That if a brain structure or function can be correlated to a behavioral trait then the trait must be both unchangeable and innate. Unaddressed and left non-explicit, this two-step sequence of tacit presumptions attached to explicit, high quality scientific data but of only a correlative kind, almost invariably generates in the mind of the scientifically unsophisticated something akin to a "belief."
Every single study that has emerged since the original LeVay study that falls into the above class--looking for or finding bimodal statistical physiological correlates (nervous system or otherwise) to homosexual versus heterosexual populations, in both males and females, however defined--comes with the same essential caveat: That cause and effect cannot be distinguished by the study.
Yet the press invariably editorializes, by implication or openly, that each new study somehow builds upon the last; that there exists a slowly but surely growing literature supporting the case that "homosexuality is biological," that "homosexuality is innate," "...genetic," "...unchangeable." Nothing could be further from the truth.
It would be identically and oppositely tendentious to say that "yet another study fails to find a biological, genetic, innate basis for homosexuality."
The study is interesting and gives some information about the brain, particularly the hypothalamus. The information is not conclusive and only provides information.
Their studies of straight and gay man were not confirmed by their equal studies of lesbian and straight women. Furthermore, males who identify more with their mothers, and may appear somewhat more "effeminate" in behavior, may still function very adequately and comfortably in normal heterosexual relationships, including marriage and family. There is no study of this group of males. In addition, there is no study of a select group of very masculine appearing and acting (husky) males. The same consideration applies the study of women.
Males who have anxiety about feeling love and closeness to their mothers would unconsciously and--neuroendocrine-wise--erect barriers to similar responses to other females. This might delay their movement into adult heterosexuality but not necessarily or even likely to prevent it. Similar reasoning applies to lesbian females.
The difference between identical twins and fraternal twins has been noted in many other areas of psychological consonance. Identical twins very commonly develop a private language and communication that no one else in the family (especially the mother) can translate. This can last for many years. Therefore, the twin studies (identical and fraternal) do not establish any validity for organicity for homosexuality.
It is well known that rodents usually produce multiple births. It is also well known that when a male embryo lies between two female embryos that it will be a less aggressive male adult rodent than those male rodent embryos who were not so juxtapositioned. What is true for rodents is not true for humans as many other hormone studies have demonstrated.
More than 50 or 60 years an accidental hormonal study was done as I recall in Puerto Rico. Young women were given a drug that affected their sexual hormone balance. This resulted in many children being born whose genitals appeared to be females. These children were raised as little girls without any evidence of discomfort in this social structure. However, when they reached puberty, normal male genitalia developed. What had been thought to be a clitoris turned out to be a penis; and undescended testes descended. Following this unexpected event, the girls-now-turned boys were treated as boys and grew up to be men. Follow-up studies did not indicate any significant increase in homosexuality or decrease in percentage of marriages in this group. This old and infrequently referred to accidental study clearly demonstrates that it takes a great deal of psychological problems in the first five years of life to produce the imperfect conflict resolution of homosexuality.
The emotionally charged corridor in the brain is the amygdala and the hypothalamus leading to the pre-frontal cortex. Any emotional charge will cause this area of the brain to show increased activity. Therefore, increased activity in any part of this corridor only indicates an emotional charge, which could be anxiety, anger, depression, or love (to name a few). The study is interesting; but that is all.