Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gay Germ and HBD

Greg Cochran over at West Hunter has put forward a simplified version of the hypothesis that male homosexuality is caused by an infectious organism. Well sure, that's going to be popular.  That's one of the things you can't think.  You have to say that gayness is heritable, and thus unavoidable.

Lesbians - and I know more than a few, working in human services - will privately say that they think that gay men are overselling that point.  For themselves, they think that some lesbians are born and some are made, some are mixed, and what's the problem?  But they don't like getting into arguments with gay men about it.

Don't ask me why.  Ask them, thanks.

For a society, the more salient point is "Is it damaging to the group?  Enough so that a government has to get involved?"  That gets very tricky.  A good debate, if one has calm people discussing.  BTW, the various theories of how gayness is adaptive, really, because of epigenetics (the modern incantation of great power.  It should be a special card in Magic: The Gathering.) or various odd just-so stories, are all considered by Cochran if you read back.  Those aren't necessarily disproven, but they don't have a lot of evidence for their truth-values.  Forget the recent circulating theories.  They are stretches.  HBD is the study of science about humans we would rather not know the truth about.  Everyone gets crushed here:  conservatives, liberals, libertarians, socialists, greens, everyone.

Note:  I suspected that all the asserting that Native American Spirituality was very supportive of shamans who understood both male and female sides of nature (like, oh yeah, that was totally a respect for homosexuality) was a retrospective imposition of modern ideas on earlier cultures, but I didn't have evidence.  It was nice to read an anthropologist asserting that hunter-gatherer societies have almost no male homosexuality. Not so much that I wanted to discredit gayness, but for the idea that there was all this subtlety and advanced thought in Amerind religion.  Religions don't develop complexities and nuance until there is reading and writing; then the few smart people can work out the implications over distance and time.  Absent that, it's all pretty much animism, with occasional rises into polytheism. 

I find the current - by which I mean these few decades 1970-2020 - debate uninteresting, frankly.  I step back and look at long-term issues.  If parents can choose for or against the likelihood of homosexuality, they will choose against it, whether it is a specific allele, a virus, or whatever, unless the risk is tied to a significant chance of some real advantage for their children.  This is not necessarily the most important issue of child-choosing, but it is a dramatic and vivid one.  It launches the though processes into the correct questions quickly.

What will it mean when parents can choose, with increasing percentage accuracy, what qualities their descendants will have?  Because remember, it is not just one's children, but their children as well, and all of posterity, if we can write certain features out of the human race.  We'll mostly get it right and do smart things, I suspect.  But it is also a tyrannical parent's paradise.

CS Lewis noted that those who can control and choose the future (genetic or environmental) will then be able to easily control the past, because they will write out all inconvenient history.  Who will stop them?

Change of topic, but not really:  one of the enormous damages the Hal Lindsey through Tim LaHaye speculators on the end times have created is steering the popular thought into certain types of evil that the Antichrist might bring.  There are a world of opportunities here, and one-world government and barcode scanners are only 1% of the possibilities.  Mankind will tend toward evil while striving for good, because we are fallen.  Conservatives know the liberal horrors, and liberals know the conservative horrors, but that still only gets us up to 5% of the narratives.

Science fiction writers probably bring another 20% of the possibilities to the table.

So play your political/social fantasy: get rid of homosexuals.  Or triple their number.  Or give black people all the best survival-genes.  Or give them none.  Tweak the number of people congenitally sympathetic to religion, or congenitally hostile.  See those societies 100 years out.

BTW, we won't be globally boiling then.  Forget that one.


Anonymous said...

Here's a bunch of experts worrying about stuff. Some of them are scarier than the stuff they're worried about, like the guy who's worried about a "eugenics gap" with China.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Eugenics Gap. The story is that Yao Ming's parents were more than encouraged, were forced, to mate and produce a possible world-class competitor. It sorta worked. I suppose if you did it often enough, it would. Human nature still has a way of sabotaging most plans.

In a generation or two it could be a problem. A government with no conscience, armed with technologies that the bugs have been worked out of, could produce a few Scaries. And in a generation, many more.

It is why I do not get terribly excited about environmental catastrophe claims, but people without children do. There is no evidence that we will approve of the lives and choices of our descendants even a few generations hence, and even less that we will approve the choices of the general culture. Why shoudlwe care about posterity at all beyond 100 years? My own grand chils in adulthood and great grans, maybe. Maybe. My church, maybe, and The Church is God's problem.

Screw 'em.

Sam L. said...

Heinlein suggested something like this with the Howard families, selecting for longevity. See "Methuselah's Children".