Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Science geek-out

So how cool is this?

It's a study that suggests that men with several older brothers are more likely to be gay. They hypothesize that it's a prenatal effect: the results only affected men with the same mother - whether or not they had the same father or were raised together.There's something about successive boys who had in common: coming from the same womb.

As a huge science geek and a person who's fascinated with genetics and evolution I find this awesome. They point out the RH factor as a similar effect. The first child of an RH negative mother is fine, but then her successive children are actually attacked by her own body as if they were parasites.

Is there some evolutionary reason for the gay factor? Is it somehow beneficial to the genome for females to produce a few boys then, if there are more male fetuses, begin altering them to be individuals less likely to reproduce? How would that be beneficial?

Perhaps since primates are not generally monogamous and you only need one male to breed many females, then it would behoove the species to have non-breeding males. Face it, the life of a male in the wild sucks ass. They get killed in fights between each other, eaten by predators trying to defend their females, get shoved out of the group very early and have to live in 'bachelor herds', and so on. If a female could 'gay' her younger sons then she would have non-threatening (to other males) family members to help her care for their siblings. It would also protect her younger sons from being ostracize to living on the fringe of the group with the rest of the overabundance of males.

Richard Dawkins definitely needs to write a book, LOL.

What do you think? Do you think it's even true (that being gay might be a prenatal effect)? Do you think it's totally random? If you're religious do you really still think that people just choose to be gay? How does this news make you feel? If you have multiple sons, does it make you nervous or are you cool with it?

Speaking personally, I will adore my children no matter what their biological makeup. I prefer dark hair but if I have a blond child I'll love him just as much as the others. I'm right-handed but a left-hander is cool by me. The mindless hatred of homosexuality out there and the prejudice scare me but it certainly wouldn't affect my love for my baby.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 8:04 am   9 comments

9 Comments:

At 9:02 am, Blogger Zach & Brie's Mom said...

I also think it's a fascintating study- geeks unite! Who knows how some sperm get to the egg first and what wacky combination of genes you get?

Also makes me laugh because my husband is the youngest of four boys, and one of his sisters-in-law started a rumor that he was gay years before he met me because he hung out with his best friend (a guy) a lot, and brought him to family functions and stuff.

Turns out they were both pretty lame at picking up chicks so they just hung out together riding their motorcycles a lot.

 
At 10:05 am, Blogger macboudica said...

I am a geek, too! If that is true, then probably one of my many many baby boys will be gay and so friggin what. I love them no matter what.

Thanks for your comments on my blog, Blu. LMAO, but you are so right!

 
At 10:05 am, Blogger macboudica said...

See, I can typo, too.

 
At 10:33 am, Anonymous VegaVixen said...

Interesting theory you have, Blue. And it makes a lot of sense. Except. If there is a biological etiology for homosexuality for males, then there must be one for females. So now, what would be the reason for female offspring to be born homosexual? Your theory, so far, falls short on this. So there must be something more to do with mother's hormonal functioning as she ages, and/or as number of pregancies and/or births increase. Perhaps they'll find, besides a link with number of older brothers, a link with the age of the mother, or with her levels of various hormones during successive pregnancies.

By the way, did you see the article that says if you want to live to be 100, you should have been born to a young mother? My own paternal GM just turned 95, eats what she wants, is overweight (but non-diabetic), and kicking along just fine. And her mother was about 18-20 when she was born. Hm. I was last-born, to an older mother. Ooh, I think I feel the "big one" coming on!

 
At 10:38 am, Anonymous Contrary said...

Heh. I'm going to send this to my brother, who is the youngest of 4 boys. I don't think he'll find it as funny as I do.

 
At 11:14 am, Blogger Johannah said...

DH and I have a saying in our house, "He's my son, and I love him."

My oldest I have some suspicions about. He's 16, and *seems* to be interested in girls, but he's not really. When he gets obsessive about home decor and personal grooming, which he does often, we use that phrase. And we mean it. If he is gay, we will love him just the same. We just want him to be happy.

DH's sister and cousin are both gay. I do believe there is a genetic component. Both of them have said clearly that the would never, ever have chosen to be this way because of the shame and struggle in their everyday life. Who would choose that?

 
At 12:03 pm, Blogger HomeFireBlue said...

VegaVixen, I grok your theory about a mother's age and hormonal changes.

I didn't adress lesbianism simply because the study didn't. I have no data on birth order, number of kids, and incidence of female homosexuality.

HOWEVER (lol, there had tobe a 'however'), the advantage of helpmeets(sp?) to a female is huge. In some birds, for example, older siblings will NOT leave the group and mate even if they can because it is more beneficial to the genome to have them help raise their younger sibs. Obvioulsy a probably-not-reproducing female would fit that bill.

On that note, I wonder if more female homosexuals DO end up reproducing than males?
Either because of society (for so long women have been just chattal and had no choice about reproduction) or biologically (a male generally has to be aroused to ejaculate).

-Blue

 
At 12:53 pm, Blogger Mrs.Chili said...

This is a topic near and dear to me. My sister is gay, and a lot of people I really care about are homosexual. Anything that gives them the credibility and respect (and safety) that is their right is okay by me.

I can't begin to address the biological issue, but I know for sure there is one. I mean, how many of us straight people made a choice to be so? I'm betting that answer is "none of us, it's just who we are." Why, then, should it be any different for homosexuals?

A girlfriend of mine worked in agriculture for a time, and she tells me that homosexuality is NOT reserved for humans only; that she'd witnessed pigs and chickens and even some horses once exhibiting homosexual behavior. There's got to be some sort of chemical or biological componant to it.

The thing that scares me about this whole discussion, though, is that, if we figure out what those chemical or biological componants are, some holier-than-thou, know it all asshole will try to figure out a 'cure' for gayness. The haters will fire up an all out campaign to push for research to erradicate homosexuality from the human experience. And that's just WRONG. I love my sister just the way she is; she'd be someone else if she loved men, and I'm not sure I could live wth that.

And I shouldn't have to.

 
At 8:15 pm, Anonymous VegaVixen said...

Mrs. Chili, you needn't worry about the holier-than-thou haters looking for a cure. This would likely require use of embryonic stem cells. Doh!

Blue, I'm outta touch with today's slang (or is that Ferengi?). What's grok?

Speaking of benefits of raising siblings, Frontline had a piece on last night about a matriarch society in a remote part of China where the women have total freedom and autonomy, there is no marriage, and the brothers of a man (but not the man himself, for he helps raise the kids of his brothers) help raise the kids, even if the couples don't stay together. Anyone else see this?

 

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