Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Gay Gene: The Politics of Cryptogenetics

I don't know when I'll have time to invest in a more lengthy treatment of the "gay gene"; there are many interesting aspects: correlation vs. causation, nature vs. nurture, description vs. prescription, etc.

The pervasive thought (in spite of a "massive" campaign to dose the masses with "critical thinking" education components is to confuse correlation with causation.  There are any number of correlations of moral, ethical, and emotional dimensions of human personality with biogenetic and hereditary factors.  Any sort of correlation of sexual behavior with genetics is taken as proof of genetic determinism.  The urban legend of the gay gene depends on a common acceptance of this fallacy.

Any reference to Orson Scott Card on this topic may or may  not mention that he has written sympathetic treatments of homosexual characters in his fiction or attended homosexual wedding ceremonies (only with the greatest sense of wonderment and irony), but it will certainly mention how Card pointed out the naturalistic fallacy of the "gay gene" thinking with the impolitic expression that a genetic predisposition to homosexuality is not just irrelevant but "almost laughably" so, since for most people, this allows them to imagine Card sitting on his front porch with a banjo having a good laugh at a homosexual's inner turmoil and suffering from harrassment, and all sense of the absurdity of the naturalistic fallacy is lost in the process.

This, of course, depends on folks having the same kneejerk reaction to words as in the case of reading all sorts of malevolence into the use of "legitimate" by Todd Akin.  Fortunately, there are all too many freethinkers out there who freely think using their limbic brain with involvement of the neo-cortex being optional, so it is great sport to make Card into an unfeeling fiend, so the loss of the sense of the statement is both welcome and hoped for.  

But maybe the most interesting aspect is the unwelcome fact that among identical twins, there is only a 50-50 chance that a homosexual's gay twin is also homosexual.  While it is unsurprising fro the standpoint that a predisposition should be that high, it is unacceptably low for those who dearly longed for a scientific justification for a forced social embrace of homosexuality (qua social liberalism), absurd an idea as such a justification may be.

With so many identical twins also sharing similar environmental nurturing, it is a shocking discrepancy.  There are a great many identical twins (though certainly not all) that actually look for ways to differentiate themselves and be unlike the other.  This, of course, is politically unacceptable as a factor in the development of sexual identity, since it is important.  If people are naturally homosexual, God must have wanted them to be that way; just as anyone who is naturally sociopathic must have been intended to be.  Of course, the same peddlers of the "legitimate rape" pseudo-scandal would dearly love to characterize this as a proposed equivalency of sociopathy and homosexuality, rather than address whether or not the naturalistic fallacy has been exposed.
. . . [I]t is possible to conclude that, given the difference in sexuality in so many sets of identical twins, sexual orientation cannot be attributed solely to genetic factors.  -Wikipedia
Nevertheless, the disparity among identical twins is, naturally, not taken by many to be evidence against the hypothetical "gay gene," but merely an opportunity for the creative storytelling powers of Darwinian fiction.  To support the hypothesis of the "gay gene," a new hypothesis has been formulated such that if one identical twin is gay, there is a hormonal suppression system at work in the amniotic fluid that stops the other twin from "getting the gay."  Apparently, gayness has so much raw adaptational value to the species that, rather than suppress homosexuality altogether, Natural Selection has invented a clever way to leave one gay and also leave the other free to perpetuate the genes.  Well played, Natural Selection. Well played. Very clever.

I'm not making this up.  This might seem like an unfortunately elaborate epicycle in any other science, but few sciences lend themselves so well to both politics and fiction as the flexible science of Darwinian speculation.  Immutability makes as good an explanation (much better in my opinion) of the pervasiveness of this particular naturalistic fallacy as any Darwinian story.  
Gringas and Chen (2001) describe a number of mechanisms which can lead to differences between monozygotic twins, the most relevant here being chorionicity and amniocity..  -Wikipedia
"Gay" is good, so therefore it should be adaptive, therefore if there is some evidence against sexual orientation being genetically pre-determined, there must be a mechanism that acts to effect the discrepancy.  One might wonder at some counterpart to Todd Akin saying that if one of two twins is gay, the woman's body has a way of shutting it down so that both twins don't have "the gay."  Of course, some would claim that this a gross misinterpretation of the hypotheses -- that what researchers are in fact suggesting is that these "mechanisms" merely highlight that sexual orientation is simply highly sensitive to epigenetics and/or the chorionic and amniotic environments.  

Realize here that there is much political mileage, both legal and polemic, to be gained out of classifying homosexuality as an immutable characteristic.  Which is one of the primary reasons that ex-gays are marginalized and denied by leftists and homosexual activists.  As long as it is a characteristic that is immutable after a baby leaves the womb, it still makes political, if not biological, sense.

Another interesting point is Richard Dawkins' contribution to the melee.  He can be seen on Youtube commenting that homosexuality is not necessarily adaptive, as the genes for gayness may have had a different effect when they evolved:
". . . When we talk about a gene for something or other -- a gene for anything, a gene for X, a gene for being aggressive, a gene fir, um, having blue eyes, a gene for being gay -- uh, it doesn't always have to be a gene for that thing. It's a gene for that thing under the right environmental conditions.  [at time= 4:36]
Dawkins here suggests another exaptational alternative to the other Darwinian speculations for the adaptational value of homosexuality.  He imagines that the genes that now make people desire the opposite sex at one time may have had a completely different, unrelated effect.

And lastly, it is interesting to note that there is evidence that whatever genetic factors predisposition one for homosexuality, they are different in men and women.  That is, genetic factors that make a male more likely to develop a sexual interest in the same sex (in our modern environment and modern physiology--as we may qualify it according to Dawkins) are in general different from those factors that are similarly at work in women.

Post-script:  One new avant-garde hypothesis postulates that many so-called genetic human conditions could have pathogenic factors, including same-sex attraction. While Ewald and Cochran warn that this does not necessarily make a condition a disease, Cochran opines, “Should we drop a theory that has a chance of being correct on the grounds that it might upset people?”  Interesting question.  Let's take a vote among the Sociology faculty and see what the response is.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

That's Not Your Body

I've never spoken out about abortion to anyone.  Never gone on record as pro-life or pro-choice.  Never even discussed the topic. Mostly because I realize that after decades of debate I really have nothing to add.  Heck, no one does.  It seemed to me that all the the rational arguments had long ago been made and what was left was nothing but emotional and/or dogmatic slogans.

But apparently my subconscious had been thinking about it, because the other day it abruptly dumped an entire line of reasoning on my conscious mind.  Something that, so far as I know, hasn't been brought up before.

Here is the primary argument in favor of taxpayer-funded, on-demand, unrestricted abortion: “whether or not a pregnant woman aborts her child is her personal choice, as it involves her body, personal health, and future.”

Well, in 2009 Chris Brown used his body to severely beat his girlfriend Rihanna.  Is there anything wrong with that?  They’re his hands- doesn't he have the right to choose what to do with them?  No, of course not, any right to choose what to do with your body ends when you’re harming (especially violently) someone else.  Any abortionist will tell you that Chris Brown beating someone up is certainly not analogous to abortion.  Because abortion is not a woman terminating a child, it’s a woman having a blastocyst removed via elective surgery- no different than a mole or a tumor.  Similarly, it would be no big deal for Chris Brown to use his left hand to beat up his right hand- or his own face.

Okay, so what’s the fundamental difference between Rihanna’s face and Chris Brown’s face? More generally, what is the difference between your body and not your body?  The difference can be found in the nucleus of every cell.  I assert it as an axiom that not your DNA = not your body.  Your tissue may completely surround it, you may provide it with sustenance, but that baby is nonetheless not your body. It’s someone else. And that means it is completely analogous to any other form of violence between two people.

Well, now that we've dealt with “choose what to do with her body,” let’s address “health and future.”

Suppose you and a co-worker are both up for the same promotion which comes with a hefty raise.  This promotion is something that would further anyone’s career.  Get the promotion and your future is assured.  Additionally, suppose you are planning to use the money from the raise to get your deviated septum fixed, something that’s not covered by your HMO.  Getting your septum fixed will cure your snoring (allowing you to get better rest), reduce the number of times you get sinusitis per year, and just overall provide an improvement in your health. So, given that it affects your future and your health, is it morally correct for you to kill your co-worker, thus ensuring you receive the promotion?  If not, why not?  How is this not analogous to killing a baby?  Does morality have an age limit?

After having said all this, I must admit that I don’t give abortion a lot of thought. My town doesn't have a single “clinic,” although we do have a Pregnancy Center where they present women with a range of alternatives to abortion.  For me it’s “out of sight, out of mind” I guess.  But perhaps my detachment has allowed me to see abortion as it really is:  It is not any kind of solution, nor is it merely a moral problem; it’s perhaps better thought of as an engineering problem.

Here’s the thing: There’s really only one kind of woman who even considers an abortion- a pregnant one.  Even among pregnant women only one kind seeks out an abortion- someone who desperately wishes they were not pregnant.  Now abortion might seem like a fine solution for Democrats looking to keep the black and other minority populations down.  But the dirty little secret is that abortions (especially the cheap, assembly-line style ones the Democrats tax us all to pay for) cause scarring to the uterine wall.  Scarring that makes it increasingly difficult for a woman to ever carry a child to term.  So, ironically, the more abortions you have the less you actually need them.  Other than disposing of a child neither the mother nor the Democrats want, abortion is really no good for anybody.

But what if that woman didn't get pregnant in the first place?

Yes, I can hear you all saying “brilliant, Sherlock, you've invented birth control!”  Yeah, yeah, but have you ever stopped to think just how much our current methods of birth control really suck?  It  comes down to a handful of things: There’s condoms, which are uncomfortable for everyone, expensive, leak, and have to be applied at the absolute worst time.  There’s various pills, which increase the risk of stroke, can cause vision problems, and are easy to forget to take.  And then there’s the appliances like a diaphragm or IUD.  Inserting a diaphragm can be thought of as trying to rebuild an engine by reaching through the tailpipe, and it is failure-prone.  The IUD is possibly the best idea of the lot and can be thought of as essentially paper-clipping one’s uterus shut.  Its main drawbacks are that it’s expensive, requires a doctor’s visit, and is ridiculously uncomfortable to have installed (imagine your dentist accessing your teeth through your anus).

I sometimes find it useful to imagine what the end-product solution to an engineering product should look like to solve a particular problem.  In the case of birth control, wouldn't it be nice if we all came with a convenient selector knob that can switch between fertile and infertile?

We live in an age of pacemakers, implanted insulin pumps, mechanical heart valves, cochlear implants, intra-ocular lenses, and increasingly advanced bionics for the thousands of brave troops who have lost limbs fighting terrorism in the Middle East.  Is it really such a leap forward to imagine a remotely controlled valve that can selectively block or allow to pass eggs through the fallopian tube or sperm through the vas deferens?  Wouldn't that really be the best choice we all should have the “right” to: The choice to conceive or not?

At this point I suspect what’s holding us back is not technology but the billion-dollar industry dedicated to manufacturing the terrible choices already on the market.  They will fight tooth-and-nail and bribe the FDA to keep something better off the market.  So not only is this an engineering problem, it’s a political one. One that’s worth fighting, though.  Because with genuinely good birth control we can put an end to abortion once and for all without needing to overturn Roe v. Wade. Without passing any laws.  Without having to endure the wrath of the pro-choicers.  At this point, the engineering solution is the only clear path to winning this battle.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Global Hoaxing

Can anyone name the most profitable scam in human history? No, not Ponzi schemes- even at best those never cross the billion dollar mark (unless you count Social Security). Not extended service plans- although Squaretrade is reported to pull in over $13B a year. At this point a liberal would smugly inform us that religion is the greatest scam of all. And that's ironic since they came up with the only con that's poised to cross the trillion dollar mark: Global Warming.

Earlier this year the World Economic Forum's "Davos Report" called for extorting- sorry, I should say extracting $14T from various countries to "help fight Global Warming."

Let's go through some history:

First, we got told that these scientists had computer models that predicted dire things- all the coasts underwater from the melted ice caps (although that prediction did lead to the movie Waterworld, so I guess we can't claim Global Warming didn't cause some human suffering). A dramatic increase in hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning. Possibly even earthquakes and volcanoes!

"Oh, my!" We all said. And then it occurred to someone to ask "if your computer models are so great, why can't you accurately predict what the weather will be like tomorrow?!"

"Uh, well," the Climate Change Hoaxers stammered, "there's a very good reason for that but you wouldn't understand that because you're not a scientist. See, only fully-funded climatologists can understand this stuff. Speaking of which, we know Global Warming to be a fact because 97% of all scientists agree.  We have a consensus.

About a billion people (roughly one-sixth of the Earth's population) have already brought up the point that science isn't a popularity contest where scientists vote on which theory becomes the Prom King.  It's not a Trident commercial ("...four out of five dentists surveyed recommend Global Warming to their patients who seem dumb...").  Supposedly what makes Science so superior to Religion is the strict adherence to measurable, repeatable observations.  Hard data.  You know, actual facts.  So the whole consensus nonsense is a non-starter right out of the gate.  It's just as ridiculous as saying "we can't tell you the weather tomorrow but we can tell you the climate fifty years from now."

But, as long as they brought it up, it turns out the "97% consensus" is a complete fraud anyway.

"But, but, but, the UN says Global Warming is real! They won a Nobel Prize for it!"
Man, that had to be the proudest moment in Al Gore's life. He flew on his private jet to Stockholm, spewing more carbon than a million Priuses in a year, to receive a Nobel Prize for his contributions to the very scam that paid for the private jet to begin with!

But still the people kept turning away from THE TRUTH. They kept listening to the people pointing out the really inconvenient truths, like the fact that the Earth's climate varies all by itself. That the planet had warm periods and ice ages long before the industrial age. That the temperature of the Earth may have something to do with that oft-forgotten orb at the center of our Solar system, the Sun. And so the Hoaxers found the one piece of irrefutable evidence on which they could rest their whole case: THE ARCTIC ICE IS MELTING!!!

They had pictures from NASA! They had pictures of polar bears swimming and (according to the Hoaxers) feeling really sad about it! The Northwest Passage would be completely free of ice by 2013! God help us all if there are ships north of Canada. That would be worse than dogs and cats living together!

The climate change skeptics (pejoratively dubbed "Deniers" by the Hoaxers) patiently pointed out that the temperature's only gone up 0.8degC in the last fifty years- and none at all in the last fifteen. They tried explaining that the ice melts every summer and polar bears actually enjoy swimming. They even produced evidence that the Antarctic ice sheet is thicker than ever. But none of that mattered. Because the Arctic ice is almost gone! Irrefutable proof of Global Warming.

Here's the problem in two pictures from NASA:

Yep, the Arctic ice sheet has grown by 60% in one year. The very year the last of the ice was predicted to have melted.

Hilariously, the captains of fourteen yachts and one cruise ship believed the Hoaxer's lies about the "Northwest Passage" and are now firmly stuck in the ice.

It's tough to say which is more embarrassing: The Arctic ice that spontaneously grew back or the over-the-top Hurricane Doom 2013 predictions handed out by climatologists a few months before the quietest start to the Atlantic hurricane season in decades.

Yes, I am aware that the generally accepted term for these people is Global Warming Alarmists. I don't think that quite fits, though. An alarmist is a Chicken Little, someone who runs in circles and screams hysterically about some genuinely perceived threat. These are people who are making trillions of dollars off of something they know to be a lie.

How do I know they know it's a lie? It doesn't take a genius to realize that if Al Gore really believed in Global Warming he'd get rid of the private jet and start bicycling places. Anyone remember in 2007 when he got busted for having a house that consumed twenty times the electricity of the average home? It shamed him into retrofitting his home with Green Technology... which made his power bills increase by 10%. He claims his actual consumption doesn't matter because he purchases carbon offsets... the very thing he himself sells to make billions of dollars.

So please, stop calling them "alarmists."  It doesn't accurately reflect the fact that these people aren't just falsely claiming the sky is falling, they're enriching themselves in the process.  Hoaxers is what they are.  And now that their last shred of evidence, the vanishing Arctic Ice, has magically re-appeared hoaxers is what we can all see them for.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Hillary's minions are doing a full court press on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and (not surprisingly) the Craigslist Joke Forum.

Today they trotted this out:

I was all set to start rebutting this prime example of liberal nonsense and discovered someone had beaten me to the punch: Politifact investigated this in such excruciating detail that I really have nothing to add except to note that maybe there wouldn't have been so much legislation about Religion and Gun Control if it weren't for Harry Reid and Barack Obama's relentless assaults on the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution.  There wouldn't be "445 Bills on Gov't Investigations" if it weren't for the most corrupt President ever and his continuous "phony" scandals like Benghazi, Solyndra, Fast 'n' Furious, NSA spying, IRS targeting of conservatives, Black Panther voter intimidation, illegal (not authorized by Congress in stark contrast to Iraq) war in Libya, selective law enforcement, and blatant influence peddling.

So, sorry this post is so short. But here's something I also came across on Jofo:
  1. I voted Democrat because I love the fact that I can now marry whatever I want. I've decided to marry my German Shepherd. 
  2. I voted Democrat because I believe oil companies' profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene, but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn't. 
  3. I voted Democrat because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would. 
  4. I voted Democrat because Freedom of Speech is fine as long as nobody Is offended by it. 
  5. I voted Democrat because I'm way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves. 
  6. I voted Democrat because I believe that people who can't tell us if It will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don't start driving a GM Chevy Volt. 
  7. I voted Democrat because I'm not concerned about millions of babies being aborted so long as we keep all death row inmates alive. 
  8. I voted Democrat because I think illegal aliens have a right to free health-care, education, and Social Security benefits, and we should take away the social security from those who paid into it. 
  9. I voted Democrat because I believe that businesses should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the Democrats see fit. 
  10. I voted Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters. 
  11. I voted Democrat because I think that it's better to pay billions for their oil to people who hate us, but not drill our own because it might upset some endangered beetle, gopher or fish. 
  12. I voted Democrat because my head is so firmly planted up my ass it's unlikely that I'll ever have another point of view. 
Sounds about right.