Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Being Gay: An Infectious Disease?

I found this article on BornGayProCon.org. It's interesting...not sure if it's since been debunked.

Caleb Crain, freelance journalist, in a 1999 article for Out magazine entitled "Did a Germ Make You Gay?" wrote:

"Paul W. Ewald, a biology professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts, and Gregory Cochran, an independent physicist in Albuquerque, New Mexico, have a new theory about homosexuality: You catch it. Right now their theory is just that — a theory...

According to the best available estimates...3 to 4 percent of men and 1 to 2 percent of women in the United States are exclusively homosexual. That's a lot of homosexuals. Too many, Cochran and Ewald believe, for the condition to be genetic. No one has found a virus or a bacterium for homosexuality. (So far no one seems to have looked.) But recently, a slew of ailments that were long thought to be caused by stress, high living, or genetic bad luck have instead been pinned on microbes....

Ewald and Cochran boldly predict that we will eventually find germs for every condition that carries a high fitness cost, strikes more often than a random mutation (that is, more than one person in 50,000), and cannot be explained by a new environmental hazard such as pesticides or cigarettes."
10/17/06 Caleb Crain

Judith Hooper, freelance journalist, in a February 1999 article for Atlantic Monthly entitled "A New Germ Theory," wrote:

"Genetic traits that may be unfavorable to an organism's survival or reproduction do not persist in the gene pool for very long. Natural selection, by its very definition, weeds them out in short order. By this logic, any inherited disease or trait that has a serious impact on fitness must fade over time, because the genes that spell out that disease or trait will be passed on to fewer and fewer individuals in future generations...

The best estimates of the fitness cost of homosexuality hover around 80 percent: in other words, gay men (in modern times, at least) have only 20 percent as many offspring as heterosexuals have. Simple math shows how quickly an evolutionarily disadvantageous trait like this should dwindle, if it is a simple genetic phenomenon.

No one, of course, has ever isolated a bacterium or a virus responsible for sexual orientation, and speculations about the manner in which such an agent would be transmitted can be nothing more than that. But [Paul] Ewald and [Gregory] Cochran contend that the severe 'fitness hit' of homosexuality is a red flag that should not be ignored, and that an infectious process should at least be explored."
10/17/06 Judith Hooper

4 comments:

Will said...

I might almost think this a parody article unless someone can give proof of the academic bona fides of the authors.

There are MANY genetic traits that impact neither a very small part of the population nor a huge segment. How we jump from the percentage of homos in the general population to an infectious disease is beyond me. It sounds like something that's preached from some mega-church pulpit in darkest, most bigoted Biblebeltland. "See, we CAN cure homos--just give them an antibiotic!"

Have the authors never encountered the studies done on gay twins, or tracing homosexuality down through generations in a family? Do they not read studies that show how homosexuality appears in progressively greater and greater percentages in rat population studies when population density gets above a certain level? In point of fact, one could make a case for homosexuality being a natural safety valve in nature, taking a certain percentage of the citizenry out of the breeding pool to control too rapid expansion of the population. in other words, the lucky ones get to be gay and the rest just go on doing the same old breeding dance.

But if it IS a bug, I'm very happy I caught it.

Donnie said...

Gayness is a "disease"?? I don't think I buy it.

dbv said...

i'm almost positive i got "it" from the germs in my grandmother's jewelry box that i was constantly playing in!!! it just couldn't have come from anywhere else!!!

Rian said...

Well, this theory is weird. And not just a little bit.

And I don't care why I'm gay. I'm thankful I am, whatever germ, protein, radiation, mineral or parenting caused it. And if I had an absolutely free choice, I would choose to be gay.