The Secular Right

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You probably already know this, but in case you don’t, I’m somewhat involved in a new website, Secular Right. Heather Mac Donald, Derb and Walter Olson are current contributors. My own postings there will be mostly about philosophy, history and data analysis, as opposed to rapid response to other weblogs or commentary on current politics.

116 Comments

  1. So are you declaring yourself secular right or are you setting it up as you have sympathies to them and wish to engage? 
     
    I don’t know exactly what you “are” politically but, since you stated you were leaning towards Obama, I did not see you as “right” 
     
    Not that no right people voted for O but, I would guess, that McCain would be the preferred candidate for non-religious righties.

  2. Sorry, but the webpage is still a mess on my laptop, using IE6.

  3. who still uses IE6???

  4. Can’t read the right parts of the posts. Never happened before.

  5. Razib asked: 
    who still uses IE6??? 
     
    Many people in the soon to be larger category of “former GNXP readers”.

  6. Many people in the soon to be larger category of “former GNXP readers”. 
     
    i have google analytics. there aren’t many of those readers. i don’t make comments like that out of a vacuum, perhaps you noticed? :-)

  7. You are a very busy man, Razib. Good luck and keep up the good work.

  8. The secular right is the evolutionary right, the right of Nietzsche, Darwin, Mencken, Fisher, Galton, Summers, and Watson.  
     
    It’s the ideological Linux for those who have long since uninstalled the factory OS of the public schools.  
     
    And Steve Sailer’s site is the new kernel.org.

  9. IE6 isn’t the problem and the laptop isn’t either. IE7 on a desktop has the same problem. The right side of the lines is cut off by the side bar. This comment is really off topic so deleting it would be fine by me but I’d like to see the problem solved.

  10. IE7 on a desktop has the same problem, etc… 
     
    Might the problem just be Microsoft making up their own “standards”? 
    Anyway, all this is Software, Rule 1 – shit happens…

  11. “who still uses IE6???” I use Firefox for Important Stuff and IE6 for mere pleasure reading.

  12. Hi, Steve Sailer. Are you there? Do you regard yourself as secular? 
     
    By the way, Fisher is the Odd Man Out in the above list of men of the evolutionary right. He was an Anglican. Perhaps WD Hamilton fits better. I believe he rather admired Mrs Thatcher.

  13. i thought darwin was a political liberal? and summers & watson are both left-of-center as well. as for steve, he’s a catholic. i personally take a rather broad church approach to ‘secular,’ and emphasize the criterion of public reason. i tend to think using thomistic logic, or “‘cuz the bible says so,” violates public reason, but i don’t see much of a contradiction in adhering to a religion on the one hand, and focusing on public reason in terms of political debates (even if, as is the norm, religious beliefs interact with political beliefs).

  14. Perhaps WD Hamilton fits better. I believe he rather admired Mrs Thatcher. 
     
    yes. he was an agnostic and a supporter of thatcherism (see defenders of the truth and darwin wars).

  15. There is a blurry realm of “secular” rightism. It seems to me that some positions make no sense outside the context of their religious origin. This is most clear for “secular” creationism: Behe and Dembski type arguments. Maybe these arguments are secular on a technicality, but they would be illogical or incoherent if everyone, especially including the intended audience, didn’t know the real point is that science supports their inherited supernatural folklore. 
     
    But a lot of secular right social arguments seem disingenuous in this respect to me as well. For instance the idea that homosexuals will undermine the institution of marriage. Again presented as a secular theory, but without the tacit religious assumptions behind it, I don’t see the same thought processes existing.

  16. For instance the idea that homosexuals will undermine the institution of marriage. Again presented as a secular theory, but without the tacit religious assumptions behind it, I don’t see the same thought processes existing. 
     
    Marriage accrues certain very valuable benefits, for example cut-rate health benefits from one’s employer and favorable tax treatment. These benefits depend on the assumption that marriage is an arrangement that is not entered into lightly. Should that assumption fall apart, those benefits will as well. I doubt that there’s any good evidence that this will happen, but I also doubt there’s any evidence it won’t. 
     
    Another source of opposition is that homosexual marriage elevates homosexual relationships to the same level of acceptance as heterosexual relationships. It does not require religious belief to object to this – it’s a social preference. All you need to come to this conclusion is a belief that monogamous heterosexual marriage is essential for society to function and that homosexual marriage is useless for anything but the egos of the betrothed. Sure, the religious have the benefit of being able to believe this without reference to data, but in the absence of good data how is this not a reasonable conclusion for a secularist to draw?

  17. Jason, could you point to a book or article which explains the secular right’s position on homosexuality/same-sex marriage?

  18. Jason, interesting that you use homosexual marriage as an example. While I think the overall weight of the argument favors homosexual marriage, there is a secular argument against that doesn’t strike me as religiously motivated nonsense. Consider by analogy the effect of the involvement of homosexual men in theater. The institution is now shunned by heterosexual men seemingly because of the association with homosexuality. It stands to reason that a similar transformation of the notion of marriage might occur. 
     
    There are, of course, further secular right positions that aim to promote marriage in the context of male-female relationships. While these views too are associated with religion on a population-wide level, I see a defensible secular right position here as well. 
     
    BTW, I said the overall weight of the debate favors allowing marriage equality. My reasoning is that marriage is seemingly already dieing in Europe absent the influence of homosexuals, so it seems inevitable.

  19. Okay, this hits one of my spots. lol, do you have statistical proof that theatre is predominantly gay and avoided by straight men as thus? I’m not disputing that it’s a gay haven, but even if you disregard the huge amounts of local theatre troupes (which are the overwhelming if non-paid bulk of the social group), can you say that all the dudes teching the lights, building the sets and handling the set directions and changes are gays as well? Even restricting it to onstage, has anyone really numerated the ratio of gay performers to straights in theatre? 
     
    Really, this is the bad kind of “folk wisdom”, in which a plainly observable situation is used to draw an absurd conclusion sans any data presentation.

  20. I personally find the fuss over gay marriage to be largely silly. 
     
    If you’re going to ban gay marriage because only a man and a woman should be married or should raise kids, you will also have to ban single parenting, or pass a law that says that whenever a man or a woman is widowed, they have to immediately re-marry for the sake of their children’s emotional stability. 
     
    Moreover, gay parents often go to great lengths to provide role models of the appropriate sex for their children, e.g., lesbian mothers with sons often involve male friends or family members as godfathers so that the child actually ends up with three or four parents, which is even better than the two-parent situation. 
     
    Laws should be protecting us, not usurping our conscience.

  21. but in the absence of good data how is this not a reasonable conclusion for a secularist to draw? 
     
    Says it all. 
     
    It stands to reason that a similar transformation of the notion of marriage might occur. 
     
    Man, read your comment again. You just wrote that gays being able to marry will in and by itself drive heterosexuals out of marriage.  
     
    Looks like at least some of this “secular right” is just made of people who are not quite aware of how easy it can be to rationalise one’s prejudices.

  22. If you’re going to ban gay marriage because only a man and a woman should be married or should raise kids, you will also have to ban single parenting, or pass a law that says that whenever a man or a woman is widowed, they have to immediately re-marry for the sake of their children’s emotional stability. 
     
    Huh? Gay marriage has never been allowed anywhere before very recently, while widows and single mothers have always been allowed to raise their children. Where did you come up with this rule? 
     
    Toto – the point is that conservatives uphold tradition in the absence of solid evidence to the contrary. Since there is zero evidence that gay marriage benefits society, the secular conservative position supports maintaining the traditional definition of marriage. 
     
    You might feel differently – you might feel that we should overturn tradition absent convincing evidence that the change is bad. That’s fine – that simply means you’re not a conservative.

  23. spike, the actual % of gays in the theater has no necessary relationship with the effect of the perception of the theater being ‘gay’ on theater attendance. however, check the gss. if you do a multiple logistic regression on attitudes towards homosexuality (pro vs. con), you’ll find that attitudes towards drama is a better predictor than education or even gender. 
     
    toto, i think you’re underestimating the magnitude of anti-gay bias among men. and i resent your suggestion that i have prejudices towards gays. i used to be strongly in favor of gay marriage until i realized that it was hasty to ignore the possibility of negative consequences. nontheless i voted against prop 8 because at that point i thought it was just cruel.

  24. I’ve been over a lot of these points at Inductivist.  
     
    The Inductivist himself was forced “out of the closet” on this one: Even though he’s a secular conservative (not meaning that he isn’t religious, but that he premises political arguments outside of religion), the real reason he opposes gay marriage is because it offends the religious beliefs of others. i.e. there is no secular root to the opposition: 
     
    “To be perfectly frank, I don’t find most arguments against gay marriage to be particularly compelling. The real reason I oppose it is that it insults the beliefs of most religious people, and I generally side with this very large group of people.”

  25. yeah, i’d accept it as self-evident that if there was less concern about homosexuality, then there’d be no secular-right opposition to gay marriage. but we don’t live in that world. the solution is to make more people tolerant of homosexuality and then gay marriage will come along with lower opposition.

  26. First off, lol, that’s not what you were arguing. You said theater is “shunned” by heterosexual men. Not that theater is shunned by heterosexual men with a negative attitude towards homosexuality. Don’t move the goalposts around please. It’s pretty damn obvious that folks who don’t like gays aren’t going to go somewhere where the subculture is chock full of them. The fact remains that you don’t have a whit of evidence that the behind the scenes work in theater is as gay as the onstage players, nor that the male audience is predominantly composed of gay men (and to pre-empt you, yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if a disproportionate amount of the audience is gay compared to the general population, the point is specious reasoning and lousy language use on your part). 
     
    Not to mention you didn’t drop a GSS cite for your notion that “the magnitude of anti-gay bias amongst straight men is underestimated”.

  27. Spike your goalpost complaint is off base. On average men have a more negative attitude towards homosexuality than women, men attend theater less than women, etc. It’s all one and the same finding. The composition of theater workforces and details of the attendance of theater, however, is not my real concern. Theater was used as an analogy to the expected effect of non-zero magnitude and negative direction that homosexual marriage will have on the view of marriage in general among heterosexual men. Given the low level of actual homosexual marriage, I can’t know what will actually happen and I doubt that social science research could parse out that effect with any certainty. However, in general I’m sticking by the maxim that any social change of this magnitude is likely to have unintended effects, and I’d wager that this will be one of them.

  28. the idea that homosexuals will undermine the institution of marriage.  
     
    Jason – 
     
    This is fact, not speculation. Polygamy is already en route to being legalized in Canada, with gay marriage cited as explicit precedent. It’s already tacitly legalized in Muslim communities governed by sharia courts (which are legally binding in Canada).  
     
    Just 35 years ago, homosexuality was classified as a mental disease by the APA. I would appreciate it if you engaged with the content of this comment, as I compiled a bunch of links there, which can be summarized as:  
     
    1) Homosexuality was only declassified as a mental disease because of the APA protest, not science 
    2) People afflicted with mental diseases [such as schizophrenia] often protest the diagnosis 
    3) Significant funding is allocated towards a cure for schizophrenia, despite the fact that many of those afflicted believe they’re “ok” 
    4) Homosexuality itself is a risk factor for many other diseases; in this respect it’s like AIDS itself, in that it increases disease susceptibility [and causes a predictable and large drop in average life expectancy, ranging from 10-20 years] 
    5) We have altered sexual behavior deterministically in complex metazoans (namely flies). 
    6) Flies are a model organism for many neurological diseases and the conclusions are often extensible to mammals 
    7) Research on even more closely related sheep has occasioned protests by gays. Andrew Sullivan thinks it is “right” to pass laws against fetal treatments for homosexuality, and Navratilova and co. want the research to be ended. Many portray a cure for homosexuality as “genocide”.  
     
    Please tell me if you disagree with any of those premises.

  29. Spike, a better way to put it is that theater shuns heterosexual men.  
     
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2008/11/here-is-an-exce.html

  30. That’s the thing, it was a crappy analogy based on specious reasoning and poorly thought out language. I don’t dispute that men are on the whole more apt to be homophobic, nor do I dispute that theater is more popular with women and has a large gay subset.  
     
    What I dispute is the imputation that heterosexual men “shun” theater. Looking at the GSS data, there’s no way you can interpret the two correlated data points as leading to a straight shunning of theater. Straight men are still a statistically significant part of the theater-going audience. 
     
    Secondly, if you need an explanation of why drawing an analogy from a rather small subset of voluntary leisure-based activities (in the large scale of things, theater is pretty damn niche, and most people don’t consume it for reasons that have nothing to do with gays and much to do with it being uninteresting to them) to a large, historically important, universal social custom with daily life significance that’s on the top ten list of importance in a huge proportion of humanity’s lives… well… 
     
    It’s time to take Razib’s example and cut my losses. This is getting too ‘tarded for me to handle. Stick a fork in it, I’m done.

  31. Just to throw it out there: gay men (2-3% of the male population) constitute over 50% of male dancers, hairdressers, and librarians, and some 20-50% of artists, writers, and performers. 
     
    So gays have ‘colonized’ the arts to a remarkable degree in general. This suggests gays have a comparative advantage at art, that straight people/men willingly subsidize. To whatever extent that gays were involved in the ‘golden age’ of the musical, I’m sure they were already overrepresented, meaning that they were contributing to that success. 
     
    And that’s just one problem with the ghettoization theory, it isn’t trying to say that gay dominance in an arena (50%+) pushes out straight men, but that gay presence in an arena pushes out straight men. This is false, and the analogy to the arts more appropriately suggests that gay presence (overrepresentation, in fact) increases straight male consumption. 
     
    Of course gays won’t be dominant or overrepresented in marriage. It’s a drop in the bucket.

  32. @ziel: 
     
    “If you’re going to ban gay marriage because only a man and a woman should be married or should raise kids, you will also have to ban single parenting, or pass a law that says that whenever a man or a woman is widowed, they have to immediately re-marry for the sake of their children’s emotional stability.” 
     
    “Huh? Gay marriage has never been allowed anywhere before very recently, while widows and single mothers have always been allowed to raise their children. Where did you come up with this rule?” 
     
    The point is that the anti-gay-marriage people have only one argument: tradition. It’s not an ethical argument, not a moral argument, just argument-from-posterity. It is irrational not to question tradition or not to allow it to evolve. If everyone did this, there would never be any social progress. 
     
    See also Jason’s comment which quotes a conservative as being opposed to gay marriage only because it threatens people’s beliefs or their perceived sense of social stability, not because it is actually right or wrong on its own merits.

  33. Jason: 
     
    Thanks for the data point, though I do think it’s important to note that a lot of theater is the behind the scenes stuff that’s less predominantly gay, and that musical theater was and is always more of a gay haven than regular drama. 
     
    If I may attempt to summon Michael Blowhard, the arts are filled with a lot of behind the scene stuff that actually makes it all work. Some branches of it are quite demographically different than the public face of it.

  34. This suggests gays have a comparative advantage at art  
     
    If the state of art had improved since the gay colonization of it, this might be an interesting line of argument. But I’m not sure how you could quantify artistic ability. Do gays actually excel at representational art?  
     
    Are they better actors than straights? I can easily think of arguments pro (able to be in the closet) & con (lisp & voice are a giveaway).  
     
    Simple overrepresentation in arts programs isn’t a sufficient argument. The question is whether 
     
    a) is this straight flight, like white flight from NY public schools? The simple overrepresentation of blacks in NYC public schools doesn’t mean that the schools have improved, but rather that whites fled 
     
    or  
     
    b) is this like the internationalization of math at MIT, where quantitative metrics show that the average quality of student has increased as selection has gotten more intense?

  35. geecee says: 
    1) Homosexuality was only declassified as a mental disease because of the APA protest, not science 
     
    It is of my understanding that in 1974 it was put to a vote whether homosexuality should continued to be listed on the DSM as a psychiatric disorder and some 58% of the American Psychiatric Associations members decided to delist it. Your theory might be plausible if it was top-down decision by the heads of the organization that were copping flack for the DSM, but I doubt that the decision would really affect the lives of the thousands of unknown members of the organization. The protesters weren’t outside their houses with protest signs. 
     
    I suspect the decision has more to do with the increasing spread of liberalism amongst the psychiatric community, just like the rest of the academic community. The decision merely reflected the normative values of the majority of psychiatrists in 1974.

  36. Tim – The point is that the anti-gay-marriage people have only one argument: tradition.  
     
    Well that kind of defines ‘conservative’, doesn’t it? You stick with tradition unless there is a proven and clearly defined better way. Heterosexual, monogamous marriage has served Western Civilization pretty well over the last 2000 years, so a conservative would want to see damn good evidence that overturning it does not present a danger to society. And that is my basic point, in response to Jason’s contention that all anti-gay marriage arguments are ultimately based on religion – that a rational, secular conservative position is to oppose gay marriage on the principle that it overturn 2000 year tradition without any obvious societal benefit and with a number of potential downsides. The jury is out – and that favors the status quo. 
     
    Also, the progressive position could easily be characterized thusly: 
    The point is that the pro-gay-marriage people have only one argument: fairness. It’s not a logical argument, not a practical argument, just argument-from-equality. It is irrational not to question fairness or to insist that it always triumph. If everyone did this, we would be living in a Maoist hell.

  37. Whether opposition to gay marriage is defensibly secular or not, I don’t find “tradition” a bad reason in and of itself. 
     
    Marriage has already taken a hell of a beating– why, exactly, do we yearn to subject it to another round of experimentation? To appease a tiny minority of the population and to stroke the egos of their progressive allies?  
     
    (I would like to know what the percentage of “gays with kids” in the population is. I would guess that it’s pretty tiny, but very SWPL, if you know what I mean.) 
     
    Really, though, opposing gay marriage is a losing battle. Progressives will get what they want, whether through public education or the court system, and then roll in the smell of victory.

  38. 1) Homosexuality was only declassified as a mental disease because of the APA protest, not science 
    2) People afflicted with mental diseases [such as schizophrenia] often protest the diagnosis
     
     
    I think most important in the classification of something as strongly (though not entirely) normative as “mental illness”, is that it’s there to genuinely help the people with the illness (or for the sake of those who might be victimized by them). If, e.g., homosexuals don’t think they are “mentally ill”, and that they don’t want to change, then in most cases this is not how it should be approached. 
     
    Two exceptions are illnesses that are defined by victimization behavior (e.g. psychopathy, pedophilia), or illnesses characterized by cognitive disorder (e.g. schizophrenia), since judgment and volition are the targets of the disability. 
     
    The problem with defining homosexuality as an illness solely by its elevated risks is that there are countless other volitional behaviors with the same or higher risk, most of them engaged in by men: football player (life expectancy: 53-59), smokers (- 10 years) stuntman, boxer, crab fisherman, logger, soldier in wartime, etc. These men don’t see themselves as ill either, they just have risky preferences. Unlike homosexuals they may disproportionately crave the risk, and endanger themselves for the love of endangering themselves.  
     
    Also the actual reason homosexuality is risky has nothing to do with a mental disorder at all, but the incidental vulnerability of anal tissues to disease transmission. Homosexual men have the exact same sexual psychology as heterosexual men. Heterosexual men would be at the exact same risk if their genital tissues were as receptive to viral infection, and they could find more willing partners. If the difference between a classification of mental illness and no mental illness is a hypothetical pill that makes the rectal tissues a little thicker, I don’t think we’re talking about a “mental” disorder at all. 
     
    4) Homosexuality itself is a risk factor for many other diseases; in this respect it’s like AIDS itself, in that it increases disease susceptibility [and causes a predictable and large drop in average life expectancy, ranging from 10-20 years] 
     
    Right, so we should be heavily promoting and encouraging gay monogamy, and giving gays a stake in normal society. 
     
    As for questions 3, 5, 6, 7, I strongly support research into the biological underpinnings of human sexual behavior. I also strongly support parental choice in fetal eugenics (including gay couples who want to make gay babies).

  39. Isn’t the real issue about egalitarianism? 
     
    If you believe all people are created equal, you’re probably on the left. If you believe that people are innately unequal, you’re probably on the right. 
     
    If you’re on the right and an atheist to boot, you’re probably pretty well educated.

  40. Heterosexual, monogamous marriage has served Western Civilization pretty well over the last 2000 years, so a conservative would want to see damn good evidence that overturning it does not present a danger to society. 
     
    Couldn’t the same have until recently been said of heterosexual, monogamous, and monoracial marriage? And if so, was there a similar imperative to compile “damn good evidence” that overturning anti-miscegenation statutes did not present a “danger to society” before taking the plunge? 
     
    I think a purer conservative argument hinges on the proven — and traditional — utility of marriage and monogamous social structure, regardless of the beneficiaries. 
     
    Regarding “fairness,” a clear distinction may be drawn between equalitarian fairness (fairness before the law, i.e “equal protection”) and an egalitarian-redistributivist concept of fairness. The former is a foundational principle of property rights and religious liberty. The latter paves the way to Maoist hell.

  41. You stick with tradition unless there is a  
    proven and clearly defined better way.
     
     
    equality under the law is a tradition as well. why does it not take precedence?  
     
    (and to preempt people who will say equality under the law is new relative to marraige, i’ll point out that the same can be said in comparison to the age old tradition of slavery, and most secular conservatives don’t argue for that last time i checked) 
     
    People afflicted with mental diseases [such as schizophrenia] often protest the diagnosis 
     
    We ignore this in schizophrenia because schizophrenics are not in touch with reality.

  42. I’m not all hot under the collar about the existence of interracial marriage, but has it really been a tremendous boon to Western Civ?  
     
    As a whole, is our society better-ordered or happier for being able to marry aborigines from the outback if we like? 
     
    As my grandmother wails, “there are millions of nice white girls out there; how much wider a net does a boy have to cast??”  
     
    Having more choices doesn’t always make for better families… my grandparent’s generation contracted more successful marriages in their backyards than most people my age can, even with the freedom to roam the countryside and the internet in search of The One.  
     
    Basically, I am just a little dubious that “promoting gay monogamy” and “giving them a stake in normal society” will have any effect whatsoever on their actual behavior. People used to think that promoting minority homeownership would have a similar effect.

  43. How about this argument: We have to be worried about world opinion, and I suspect that, except for part of Western Europe, much of the globe thinks we’re freaks for instituting gay marriage.  
     
    Careful in your response or you’ll sound like a right-winger: “Screw the world!”

  44. this debate looks civil. so long as it remains so, i’ll keep this thread open.

  45. I’m glad I actually read some of the posts on secularright.org; if my only acquaintance with “secular conservatives” were reading these comments, I’d think that their predominant characteristic was an obsession with homosexuality and gay marriage — which hardly distinguishes them from religious conservatives. 
     
    More seriously, I like Razib’s definition of “secular” as focusing on the use of public reason (rather than on the religious beliefs of those offering reasons), and I agree that any serious political philosophy (of the left or right) has to take into account what we know about how the world works, with science the most reliable guide to that. The tension is clearly apparent in the comments between conservatism grounded in such knowledge and conservatism that privileges tradition as such regardless of its origins. It will be interesting to see how that battle plays out.

  46. If you believe all people are created equal, you’re probably on the left. If you believe that people are innately unequal, you’re probably on the right. 
     
    Nope, I believe that people are innately unequal (and an atheist) yet I cannot be neither on the left nor on the right. 
    There are so many idiotic stances on each side basically coming from the same hubris about so-called “ethics”: We are gonna “improve” things! 
    WTF? 
    Isn’t the existing mess entangled enough for anyone to add on their, Oh! Sooo well meaning, “intuitions” about how much better it will be for the “greater good” if we tweaked this or that? 
    On the right, unequality “justify” more competition and associated cheating (toward the Ãœbermensch). 
    On the left, equality “justify” cutting down all talents to the lowest denominator (Harrison Bergeron). 
     
    Just sorting out the shit as we encounter it is hard enough. 
    And BTW I am against any “regulation” of gay marriage, either pro or con, as well as of straight marriage as matter of fact, that should be a sacrament in Bateson’s sense (even for atheists) and nothing more. 
    The economics of partnership is already regulated as an aside even in current marriage laws so it’s a different question altogether.

  47. All the above comments interesting. As an intellectual atheist, but emotional agnostic (as in I wish there might be a God), it is almost amusing that sexuality is so tethered to religion. 
     
    Since homosexuality has not been eliminated, even diminished, by evolution, is there perhaps some redeeming quality in it that religion has overlooked? On the other hand, if religion were useless, would not evolution have eliminated it by now? 
     
    Perhaps homosexuals feel a need to reproduce that is discounted by heterosexuals. It would seem (from anecdotal evidence) that this occurs more often in females (who I also, from anecdotal evidence consider more bisexual than males). However, there is evidence that male homosexuals want to reproduce also, is there not? 
     
    Is the desire for family and children a universal human attribute, or is it merely a sexual attribute? I tend to believe it is human, not sexual. 
     
    To believe that, I have to think humans are not defined by sexuality, but rather some higher cognitive value.

  48. we should be heavily promoting and encouraging gay monogamy  
     
    This is a common talking point, but IMO it strikes me as more Blank Slatism. Legalizing gay marriage isn’t going to reduce gay promiscuity for two reasons.  
     
    First, only a tiny fraction of gays will avail themselves of it (in the range of 1%, depending on how you calculate — see that Sailer thread comments section for more).  
     
    Second, I am extremely skeptical that:  
     
    1) “anger management” classes reduce anger 
    2) “credit counseling” classes turn credit risks into future-time oriented payers 
    3) “sex education” classes significantly change sexual behavior 
     
    I’m sure that for some of these one might find a study or two, but I’d wager that demographics and macrocultural trends (e.g. saturation newsmedia) dwarf the effects of 30 minute classes and seminars.  
     
    The key difference between “classes” like this and classes in (say) mathematics is that these classes attempt to change *personality* rather than transmit concrete knowledge.  
     
    The funny thing is that liberals are completely skeptical about religious interventions from the church aimed at changing gay behavior (e.g. “Former Gay Ministries”), yet they are opportunistically optimistic [at least when arguing with conservatives] about the potential for formal marriage to turn gays from hedonists into homebodies.

  49. That said, there are cultural changes that *can* change behavior. In general however the empirical data on what kinds of cultural changes actually achieve effects is IMO on the opposite side of that which is amenable to the left.  
     
    The reason is that leftism:  
     
    a) doesn’t recognize fundamental biological drives as constraints and limits on what can be accomplished via culture/law.  
     
    b) doesn’t recognize that existing traditions are frequently *evolved structures*. Asking your average churchgoer to explain to you why heterosexual marriage is the foundation of society is like asking your average joe to give you a lecture on the function of his gall bladder. It is much easier to ask “why” than to explain “why”, which is the reason that secular liberals often come across in such exchanges as superficially reasonable. That average joe isn’t capable of really thinking through why the structure is there or what it’s doing, but will react strongly and instinctively to an attempt to rip it out and replace it with some untested modernist construct [where I use "modernist" in the architectural sense].  
     
    Now, can culture have an effect? Is it possible to reduce (say) gay promiscuity or black crime rates via culture?  
     
    Well:  
     
    1) when gays were in the closet that certainly reduced gay promiscuity!  
     
    2) Similarly, in the 50′s blacks were encouraged/expected to abide by white mores and emulate whites — rather than today when the reverse is true, viz. rap, baggy pants, ebonics, etc. And at that time, blacks commited much less in the way of crime.  
     
    3) Sex ed is another example. Were people more promiscuous before or after the things discussed during sex ed (the pill, the condom, abortion, etc.) became not only cheap & accessible but legal and socially acceptable as well?  
     
    4) International reputation is another. The conventional leftist wisdom is that other countries will like us if we supplicate to them more — that is, the more we agree to be bound by the IPCC, pay money to the UN, apologize for slavery & racism, and generally put the US military at the service of “the world”.  
     
    However, check out this Volokh thread  
     
    Did Black Africans Really Admire the U.S. More in the 1950s Than Today? 
     
    James Taranto (Best of the Web) makes an excellent point. In the debate, Sen. Obama said: 
     
    Well, let me just make a closing point. You know, my father came from Kenya. That’s where I get my name. 
     
    And in the ’60s, he wrote letter after letter to come to college here in the United States because the notion was that there was no other country on Earth where you could make it if you tried. The ideals and the values of the United States inspired the entire world. 
     
    I don’t think any of us can say that our standing in the world now, the way children around the world look at the United States, is the same…. 
     
    Taranto points out that the senior Obama’s attempts to come to the U.S. must have happened in the late 1950s (since he actually arrived in 1959), and that Sen. Obama is suggesting that the standing in the world is lower now than back then. But can that really be right? As James Taranto points out, “In 2008, Obama fils has an excellent chance of becoming the next president. In 1959, there were large portions of the country where Obama père would have been treated as a second-class citizen.” If our standing in the world — especially in places like Kenya — is lower now than it was in 1959 (a pretty big “if”) I’d say that says more about the world than it says about us. 
     
    Neither Obama nor Volokh nor Taranto really understands the import of that paragraph. Let me give you one more to chew on, a quote from a friend:  
     
    A Brazilian friend of mine once asked me why it was that the most 
    anti-American people in Brazil are the most Americanized
    , whereas the 
    ones who would stick out like a sore thumb in a Google conference room 
    (my friend mentioned an in-law who owns a video store) are the most 
    pro-American. 
     
    The key truth is that many of the people in the world who were ostensibly “anti-American” are not really anti-American. They are pro blue-state American, in the sense that they have accepted the blue-state narrative of what America is, was, should be. They have been indoctrinated with the propaganda from one side of the ongoing ideological civil war in the US.  
     
    Remember, even bin Laden and Zawahiri have been mixing standard issue Muslim jihad with copious clips from Chomsky and Moore. More to the point, just take a look at the blowback that Zawahiri got for using an anti blue-state talking point — a racial insult (“house slave”) against Obama. This earned significant condemnation among his own jihadists and forced him to backtrack and clarify! 
     
    Make no mistake, world opinion is controlled by CNN and the international newsmedia, who are all Americans. Those few outlets (e.g. Al Jazeera) that are not owned by Americans would be shut down and/or discredited immediately if blue state America so desired. How hard would it be to select a few Al-Jazeera reporters and name & shame in the manner of Goebbels and Riefenstahl?  
     
    The point is that in the early/mid 60′s the Horatio Algier story hadn’t been deconstructed as a “myth”. The world newsmedia was far more pro-American and less controlled by Massachusetts than it was today. That is why people in other countries were pro-American — because we were strong and unapologetic. Now that we are constantly apologizing for our past sins and criticizing our history of racism/imperialism/etc., the world isn’t going to defend us to ourselves! Who will respect — or obey — a man who doesn’t respect himself?  
     
    Again, completely counter to the liberal narrative, where it was the use of force that doomed the American image. Of course it was not. All that matters is and was the news coverage of that use of force. WW2 is glorified, Korea is down the memory hole, Vietnam and Iraq are demonized.

  50. interracial marriage  
     
    So, here’s another common talking point re: gay marriage that I want to address.  
     
    The technique of invoking interracial marriage as part of the catechism — as something which all right-thinking people must agree is good — is extremely similar to religious apologetics.  
     
    In Islamic countries, one can always win an argument by being the most Muslim. It’s a scramble for the taboo, first one there wins. “Burkahs for all — what, are you against modesty? Do you disbelieve in Allah?” 
     
    In PC countries, one can always win an argument by invoking the axiom of equality. Again, a scramble for the taboo, first one there wins. “Gay marriage for all — what, are you against interracial marriage? Do you think group X possesses undesirable neurological characteristics that may be genetically influenced?”  
     
    The point is to reduce the discussion to a premise which has a large enough capital investment behind it that it has attained 99.9% penetration (“racism bad”) rather than just say 50% penetration (“homophobia bad”). A neutral observer in the crowd who might be on the fence re: the second premise will almost certainly agree with you re: the first.  
     
    Now, this is fine as a strategy if that premise really is *true* rather than just *popular*. Indeed, the strategy is laudable as it the fundament of mathematical argument (“reduce something to a chain of basic uncontestable premises”).  
     
    But is the premise here actually true? Is it true that the current state of opinion (legal & social) re: interracial marriage is always a good thing, for the individual and/or for society? More to the point [b/c this is the subtext in the American context], is the current state of opinion re: marriage of whites & blacks a good thing for the individual and/or for society?  
     
    It’s a big topic, but a few observations:  
     
    1) Black women oppose IR marriages in large numbers. Black in general are able to voice opposition without losing their jobs. Whites are not.  
     
    2) If you look at the statistics…suppose one found a group X which had the following attributes.  
     
    a) group X males commit crimes at higher rates than any other group in the US. 
    b) group X males commit domestic violence at higher rates than the males of any other ethnic group. 
    c) group X males have AIDS at higher rates than the males of any other ethnic group. 
    d) group X males are vastly more likely to be unemployed than males of other ethnic groups 
    e) group X males have lower SAT scores than the males of any other ethnic group. 
     
    Of course there would be exceptions. But tell me, purely as a matter of statistics, would your daughter be better or worse off *on average* when marrying a member of group X?  
     
    One might argue that your daughter would marry an exception due to assortative mating. This used to be my position. However, if you look at the data for a particular value of group X, assortative mating is only a partial rather than a full compensation. In general, women marrying men from group X — even taking assortation into account — are more likely to get a man with worse characteristics on the above variables than if they selected from another ethnic group.

  51. Finally, I’ve got a lot more to write in response to comments on homosexuality, but will get to that later this week.  
     
    In the interim though I do want to point this out:  
     
    Until something is pathologized, resources will not be allocated for a cure.  
     
    I would imagine most would concede that:  
     
    a) many parents don’t want their children to be gay, and would jump at a cure or prevention 
     
    b) many gays themselves — particularly in their adolescent years — would prefer to be straight 
     
    c) gays have extremely low levels of reproductive fitness in the technical sense — essentially “behavioral sterility” 
     
    So: there is definitely a large contingent of people who *do* consider homosexuality a disease and *do* want a cure. The media tends to make fun of them when they go to “ex-gay ministries”. But we should think deeply about why a cure is not being sought, why it is not a funding priority at the NIH.  
     
    Would any of the gay marriage proponents here disagree that research into a cure: 
     
    a) would be desired by a large number of people 
    b) should be funded by NIH 
     
    Why or why not?

  52. if my only acquaintance with “secular conservatives” were reading these comments, I’d think that their predominant characteristic was an obsession with homosexuality and gay marriage — which hardly distinguishes them from religious conservatives.  
     
    Please state whether opponents of Prop 8 are “obsessed with homosexuality and gay marriage”.

  53. geecee says: 
    there is definitely a large contingent of people who *do* consider homosexuality a disease and *do* want a cure. The media tends to make fun of them when they go to “ex-gay ministries”. 
     
    And deservedly so, not so much because it immoral to convert someone to heterosexuality, but because the methods currently utilized by ex-gay organizations are hilariously asinine. If you think bible-study, praying and same-sex cuddling cures homosexuality, you deserve to be laughed at.

  54. This is a common talking point, but IMO it strikes me as more Blank Slatism. Legalizing gay marriage isn’t going to reduce gay promiscuity for two reasons. 
     
    First, only a tiny fraction of gays will avail themselves of it (in the range of 1%, depending on how you calculate — see that Sailer thread comments section for more). 
     
    Second, I am extremely skeptical that: 
     
    1) “anger management” classes reduce anger
     
     
    You’re going to have to better articulate why you oppose gay marriage then. Why you believe the legalization of polygamy is destructive. One of the prominent reasons gay marriage is being opposed is because it ostensibly threatens straight male monogamous behavior, because it “undermines” the same sexually pacifying social pressures and incentives I’m asking we apply to gay males partly for the same reasons. 
     
    On the one hand this “blank slatism” is completely justified since the last 50 years have seen a radical shift away from monogamous behavior and institutions. e.g. 3% illegitimacy among whites to +33%.  
     
    On the other hand, unlike most pundits, I don’t believe this has much to do with the spread of poison values from [insert disfavored ideological enemies here] at all, but with larger technological and economic forces (e.g. the pill; diversified, well-paying job opportunities), that human nature can’t resist. Now that it’s there for the taking, everybody wants economic self-sufficiency, and in the modern world, nations with the most traditional gender values are actually the nations with the lowest birthrates (Japan, Iran, Italy). While nations that better accommodate female economic interests, end up having relatively higher birthrates. Either way, I’m a big fan of single mothers, late marriage, promiscuity, serial monogamy, low birth rates, and the awesomeness of modern well-being in general. So even the alleged gay-induced destruction of heterosexual monogamy (as unreasonable and blank-slatist I believe that thinking is) does not strike me as terrifying. 
     
    As for Blank Slatism, actually my beliefs here are more genetic determinist than anyone’s. As I already argued on the Inductivist threads and with you in other threads, the evidence from all appropriate probability samples (as opposed to unrepresentative convenience or clinical samples) shows that the sexual behavior of gay males is not that different from straight males. The reasons for this are A) The relative amount of sex partners you want in life is genetically determined, B) The biological underpinnings of homosexuality are unrelated to this normal variation in desired number of sex partners, but only to the orientation of this desire, C) most males are relatively monogamous; there is a relative window in youth where people are promiscuous, but most males have a relatively strong nesting instinct, and D) the opportunities for gay and straight men to fulfill their genetic “quota” for sex partners is relatively similar. Even though gays do not have the same barriers of female sexual reticence, I believe straight males more or less meet their programmed “quota” one way or the other. Most obviously through prostitutes. 
     
    I believe gay marriage will have a modest effect on disease spread. The primary reason to care, is to allow gays to lead more dignified, normal lives, which does not realistically come at the expense of anyone else. 
     
    1) when gays were in the closet that certainly reduced gay promiscuity! 
     
    More like it created nonparticipating victims in the wives and families destroyed by a surreptitious homosexual lifestyle. It’s one thing when two consenting partners unknowingly trade a fatal disease, another thing entirely when its passed to an unwitting wife.  
     
    Is this your realistic solution? Shame people you view as handicapped back into the shadows of tortured, stunted non-lives? For whose protection? Their own? Revealed preferences will show anybody would choose the free life with the probability of early death, over the life you describe. A life lived freely and with dignity is desirable above all such externalities.  
     
    Obviously you don’t recommend this for the benefit of gays themselves, but then we’re back to the idea that it’s better for society as a whole. So far there has been no evidence that gays injure society, rather than the other way around. 
     
    Until something is pathologized, resources will not be allocated for a cure. … research into a cure should be funded by NIH… Why or why not? 
     
    Because it’s not a mental illness or recognized as one by the relevant scientific bodies. Nor does it fit the logical criteria of a mental illness. Nor does smoker or football player. I already explained this. The ONLY purpose of illness classification (not description) is to help people — the individual, first — not shape society into your desired order, by hammering down every nail you perceive as sticking up. 
     
    Now I AM all for research to identify the biological underpinnings of all human phenotypes and behavior. And even though homosexuality is not an “illness”, neither are a lot of attributes of normal human variation, like IQ, or law abidingness, time preference, religiousness, or even red hair. And I would like for parents to have a choice in selecting whatever phenotype they want (including homosexuality). That is a niche for the market to fill. 
     
    But, no, I don’t want the government involved in eugenics (policies to influence nonmedical phenotypes). I don’t believe the political safeguards are strong enough to prevent coercion and abuse. And I think your calls to medically pathologize homosexuality in government funding with the political intent of eradicating the phenotype sets an unacceptable precedent where the government has undue powers to wage war against targeted segments of the population. 
     
    [the funny thing here, is that you would assume from our argument that my natural allies here are on the left, and yours are on the right. But the reality is probably the opposite. Though there is definitely a Who? Whom? aspect to all this. The real "mental illness" you'll probably see the government trying to "cure" like this for the purpose of political eradication is "homophobia" or "fundamentalism". Before someone calls for the radical extension of government power (e.g. the ability to define mental illness at will), they better damn well be sure that "their" people are the ones really in power, and that that power is well-secured into the long foreseeable future!]

  55. if my only acquaintance with “secular consevatives” were reading these comments, I’d think that their predominant characteristic was an obsession with homosexuality and gay marriage — which hardly distinguishes them from religious conservatives. 
     
    Also, this is only being discussed in this thread because of Jason’s quip that there is no true secular argument against gay marriage – that all such arguments are ultimately religious arguments. Comments were made refuting that point, counter-arguments were proposed, etc. For you to then refer to this as an “obsession with homosexuality and gay marriage” is a bit cheeky, no?

  56. Is this your realistic solution? Shame people you view as handicapped back into the shadows of tortured, stunted non-lives? For whose protection? Their own? Revealed preferences will show anybody would choose the free life with the probability of early death, over the life you describe. A life lived freely and with dignity is desirable above all such externalities. 
     
    This is worth repeating given how frequently the “gays were better off when society kept them in the closet” argument is trotted out by social conservatives. I’m gay and I much prefer a life with the risk of HIV and the chance of finding love and companionship to a life without either. Ask yourself if you would trade your time with your wife or girlfriend for the assurance that you would, say, never contract cancer. I don’t think any straight person would.  
     
    Until something is pathologized, resources will not be allocated for a cure.  
     
    I don’t see how this is the case. As we learn more about the root causes of homosexuality, treatments will become available for those who want them. Gay activists will not be able to stop it without stopping scientific inquiry into the subject wholesale, which is not something they will be able to accomplish. (You underestimate the general public’s commitment to science and free inquiry if you think that they will.) In short, there is no need to pathologize homosexuality for research into its origins to continue.  
     
    Of course there would be exceptions. But tell me, purely as a matter of statistics, would your daughter be better or worse off *on average* when marrying a member of group X?  
     
    One might argue that your daughter would marry an exception due to assortative mating. This used to be my position. However, if you look at the data for a particular value of group X, assortative mating is only a partial rather than a full compensation. In general, women marrying men from group X — even taking assortation into account — are more likely to get a man with worse characteristics on the above variables than if they selected from another ethnic group.
     
     
    How is this an argument for the government banning interracial marriage? Adults are adults, and they are free to make their own decisions as they see fit. If a member of group Y wants to marry a member of group X despite the statistical risks that such a partnership entails for her, that’s her decision.  
     
    Now, I agree that there should be more frank and open discussions about observed racial differences and the possibility that these differences are rooted in biology. Working in the field of adoption, I see the consequences of blank-slatism to good-hearted adoptive parents who can’t understand why their adopted child didn’t turn out like their biological ones. But what right does the government have to deny marriage benefits to a woman because she chooses to marry a member of a generally underperforming group? It’s like denying marriage benefits to everyone who doesn’t marry a lawyer.

  57. inductivist said: “How about this argument: We have to be worried about world opinion, and I suspect that, except for part of Western Europe, much of the globe thinks we’re freaks for instituting gay marriage.” 
     
    not only western europe. thailand openly tolerates gays, lesbians and cross-dressers. it even openly allows gays in the military. it doesn’t allow gay marriage (it does have civil unions), but there are certainly many advocates for it there. 
     
    cambodia is also relatively tolerant. it’s king actually shows support for gay marriage in 2004, but no law was passed in regards to this. 
     
    there have been attempts in other parts of asia to allow gay marriage by law. these laws haven’t passed, but i don’t think they would necessarily consider us “freaks” for allowing it in a few states.

  58. BB:  
     
    but because the methods currently utilized by ex-gay organizations are hilariously asinine  
     
    Sure, but “ex-gay ministries” are to “a molecular genetic cure for homosexuality” as the KKK is to “a judicious study of human intelligence”. In any case, only a tiny proportion of the millions of people who want a cure go to such ministries.  
     
    Jay:  
     
    I have much that I agree with and much that I quibble with in your response, but I just want to pick out a few points for now:  
     
    Why you believe the legalization of polygamy is destructive.  
     
    Well, I think Sailer articulated this one best — polygamy destroys the incentive for males to cooperate on large scale projects.  
     
    It’s one thing when two consenting partners unknowingly trade a fatal disease, another thing entirely when its passed to an unwitting wife.  
    Is this your realistic solution?
     
     
    Hey, don’t get me wrong. I freely concede that in one key respect — the widespread availability of homosexual sex — that the closet was worse for gays. However, you should also concede that the frequencies of said fatal or serious diseases (including ones like MRSA which are about to jump out into the general population) are much higher as a consequence of social sanctioning of homosexuality.  
     
    Because it’s not a mental illness or recognized as one by the relevant scientific bodies.  
     
    Hold on a second.  
     
    1) First, this reasoning appears circular to me. You don’t want to seek a cure because medical associations are currently not labeling it a disease. Yet I thought we already established that the APA didn’t remove homosexuality as a mental illness because of new scientific findings, but because of the pressure of the 1973 protest.  
     
    2) Will you concede that deaf people have their own subculture which they wish to preserve, up to the point of choosing deaf babies and angrily denying that their condition is an illness? And do you support their position?  
     
    3) Finally, what if it’s found that homosexuality has a microbial etiology, as appears increasingly likely?  
     
    The ONLY purpose of illness classification (not description) is to help people — the individual, first — not shape society into your desired order, by hammering down every nail you perceive as sticking up.  
     
    Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is not about “hammering nails”. Please agree or disagree with the following statements:  
     
    1) A large number of gays wish they were straight (esp. in adolescence) 
    2) A large number of parents — meaning millions upon millions — want to ensure their child is not gay, if only to make sure that their family line does not die out.  
     
    To me, that’s all that’s needed to pursue a cure aggressively — at least as aggressively as we pursue a cure for HIV. I think this is our key philosophical difference — you are not assigning any weight to the wishes of gays who want to be straight or parents who don’t want gay children. I no more want to “wage war on gays” than I want to “wage war on deafness”.  
     
    Marc:  
     
    Adults are adults, and they are free to make their own decisions as they see fit.  
     
    Adults are adults, but they can only make informed decisions if the facts conveyed to them are true. If you look at the reality of the situation, the vast majority of adults do not know any true facts that they have not been told by other people. Researchers [and GNXP readers!] are among the very few exceptions to this rule — they seek out truth for its own sake on their own time.  
     
    For all the rest, we have an affirmative responsibility to make sure that what they are told by other people is actually true — rather than the current model of both telling people lies and shaming truth tellers.

  59. And I would like for parents to have a choice in selecting whatever phenotype they want (including homosexuality). That is a niche for the market to fill. 
     
    Do you think there would be also a possibility of litigation of these children against someone who had turned them intently fro e.g., deaf or homosexual? I for one wouldn’t be happy knowing that I could have been a “normal” person, but someone (and yes, my dear parent/s) wanted me to be different and not in the positive sense.

  60. The religious right is actually on the left. The secular left is actually on the right. That gives me hope.

  61. Marc:  
     
    I don’t see how this is the case. As we learn more about the root causes of homosexuality, treatments will become available for those who want them. Gay activists will not be able to stop it without stopping scientific inquiry into the subject wholesale, which is not something they will be able to accomplish. (You underestimate the general public’s commitment to science and free inquiry if you think that they will.) In short, there is no need to pathologize homosexuality for research into its origins to continue.  
     
    Hmmm, I’m surprised you can’t see the line of argument here. Take a look at any discussion of NIH funding priorities.  
     
    You will see frequent, explicit reference to:  
     
    1) “diseases” = pathological states 
    2) “disease burden” = the severity of given diseases 
     
    Those variables — along with the size of the activist community — have an extremely strong influence on funding priorities. Curing cancer is seen as essential, curing homosexuality is seen as taboo.  
     
    Focused research on a cure for homosexuality is not only not happening, it is about as taboo as focused research on raising human intelligence. Clever researchers are working around it at the margins, but it’s nothing at all like the massive institutes and manpower allocated towards (say) HIV research.  
     
    As for whether gay activists can stop it — of course they can, or at least radically slow it to the point that interested researchers are working in the margins. Note also that gays can certainly *start* funding for projects — HIV funding is off the charts relative to disease burden because of gay activism. 
     
    Jason’s comments in this thread about “making war” on homosexuality will in fact be the way in which large scale funding for a cure for homosexuality will be received by many gays. See above quoted statements by Navratilova or google any discussion of selective termination of gay fetuses. Other gays will welcome it, of course — but these are the ones who don’t want to be gay and are thus much less likely to come out and openly identify as gay.  
     
    Again, let me be clear here: when it comes to research, the first step is identifying a problem and agreeing that it is in fact a problem. Then you can start breaking ground on the new institute for studying the condition and recruiting faculty. Is it a coincidence that there are dozens of centers for curing mental illness, AIDS, schizophrenia, and deafness — but not one for curing or preventing homosexuality?

  62. The analogy to deafness doesn’t work here. Deaf people want to be able to hear so they can receive sounds. Regardless of what society thought of the deaf, they would still be limited in their interactions with the world. 
     
    Gays who wish they were straight do so not because they want to experience lust for a woman, but rather to do away with the negative social effects of not being straight.

  63. Gays who wish they were straight do so not because they want to experience lust for a woman, but rather to do away with the negative social effects of not being straight.  
     
    How do you know this? Maybe they want to have a normal life with a wife and two children and a dog. That is the common refrain among “questioning” youth — “I just want to be normal.”.  
     
    Now, one response to that is to deny that homosexuality is considered a disease by millions of people, and to attack these people as homophobes. That is, you can normalize the pathological and pathologize the normal. I submit that this is not the optimal course of action.

  64. Gays who wish they were straight  
     
    Moreover, you seem to be acknowledging that there are *are* many gays who wish to be straight. In other contexts you reason that the individual’s will is paramount — gays who want to be gay should be left alone. Fine, but what about gays who want to be cured? Why shouldn’t the needs of these people be met?  
     
    Simply because you believe they’re a minority? Yet that is inconsistent with the general philosophy of minority rights.

  65. How do you know this? 
     
    Well, my presumption is that there’s no *innate* desire among gays to have two kids, a dog, and a wife. 
     
    Yet if there *are* many gays who wish to be straight — and you do not seem to be denying that this is true — why shouldn’t their needs be met? 
     
    they should be allowed to do whatever they want. take a pill for straightness if they like, i’m ok with that. at the same time, gays who don’t want to go this route should be allowed to marry each other.

  66. godless, 
     
    Well, I think Sailer articulated this one best — polygamy destroys the incentive for males to cooperate on large scale projects. 
     
    What I meant was, if you think human sexual behavior is invariant regardless of socially encouraged monogamy, then why should the introduction of polygamy be threatening? In other words, if institutional monogamy has the ability to tame straight male behavior, then why shouldn’t it have similar effects on gay males with the same male psychology? 
     
    However, you should also concede that the frequencies of said fatal or serious diseases (including ones like MRSA which are about to jump out into the general population) are much higher as a consequence of social sanctioning of homosexuality.  
     
    Of course, but the former is far worse from the standpoint of normal human dignity and happiness. A military dictator could take every car, cigarette, and cheeseburger away from Americans tomorrow. Maybe give us all little chastity belts to boot. Every major cause of death would go away, but we’d all feel like animals.  
     
    Gay people don’t deserve to be treated like that either. They don’t want it, and wouldn’t choose it if given the option.  
     
    First, this reasoning appears circular to me. You don’t want to seek a cure because medical associations are currently not labeling it a disease. Yet I thought we already established that the APA didn’t remove homosexuality as a mental illness because of new scientific findings, but because of the pressure of the 1973 protest.  
     
    No, I argued repeatedly above that it doesn’t logically meet the appropriate criteria of a “mental illness”. If medical associations argued otherwise I would still disagree. 
     
    I believe it’s a good thing that scientific bodies are given a high degree of authority, this is one reason this whole “race does not exist”, “IQ does not exist”, “no group is worse at anything” jihad from the highest scientific authorities drives me so fucking crazy. 
     
    I’m always fighting for the ultimate power of scientists over government and society even while they consistently show me they love to abuse their power. 
     
    It’s sad but necessary. 
     
    Will you concede that deaf people have their own subculture which they wish to preserve, up to the point of choosing deaf babies and angrily denying that their condition is an illness? And do you support their position?  
     
    There is a much larger normative difference between the classification of mental illness and physical disability. To the extent that some activists argue hearing impairment/deafness isn’t a disability or oppose treatment research, I disagree with them.  
     
    3) Finally, what if it’s found that homosexuality has a microbial etiology, as appears increasingly likely?  
     
    Either way, note that I already think there is a strong need for funding into the etiology of homosexuality. The difference between such research and research into “a cure for homosexuality” is probably very thin indeed. 
     
    The important thing is that the government doesn’t get to decide at its political convenience that something is a “mental illness” against the judgment of the appropriate scientific bodies. 
     
    There is a stronger case to be made for treatments of an infectious agent than a made-up “mental illness”.  
     
    First establish the infectious agent, and then we sure do have a game changer.

  67. Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is not about “hammering nails”. Please agree or disagree with the following statements: 
     
    1) A large number of gays wish they were straight (esp. in adolescence) 
    2) A large number of parents — meaning millions upon millions — want to ensure their child is not gay, if only to make sure that their family line does not die out. 
     
     
    No, I don’t see a large number of gays pushing for a cure for homosexuality. And that wouldn’t make it an illness. Sullen teens also wish they were taller. That doesn’t make normal height a disability. 
     
    As I said, homosexuality can be treated like IQ (which parents would also change). The etiology can be studied neutrally, but it shouldn’t be subsidized by the government with normative/eugenic intent. 
     
    There is church/state separation, there also needs to be eugenic/state separation. 
     
    In that sense, no there does not need to be federally funded research into a “cure” for homosexuality. 
     
    The line between treatment research and etiology research may be thin. So be it. 
     
    To me, that’s all that’s needed to pursue a cure aggressively — at least as aggressively as we pursue a cure for HIV. I think this is our key philosophical difference — you are not assigning any weight to the wishes of gays who want to be straight or parents who don’t want gay children. 
     
    No, I do assign weight to those needs, but not in a way that abuses government and/or science to meet them. The ends do not justify the means. Every rule doesn’t get to bend or break whenever it’s convenient. Traits that do not qualify as medical or mental disability/illness should not get to be pursued inappropriately as if they were disability/illness on the federal dime. Low IQ is not an illness. Ugliness is not illness. Religiousness is not an illness. Republicanism is not an illness. Racism is not an illness. Homosexuality is not an illness. 
     
    I look forward to the day when parents can make choices about these attributes, but there are good ways to get there and bad ways.

  68. 1) First, this reasoning appears circular to me. You don’t want to seek a cure because medical associations are currently not labeling it a disease. Yet I thought we already established that the APA didn’t remove homosexuality as a mental illness because of new scientific findings, but because of the pressure of the 1973 protest.  
     
    Why was homosexuality included as a mental illness in the first place? Because it wasn’t normative, or because it has, in itself, a significant and detrimental impact on one’s quality of life? 
     
    I have mental illnesses and I am a homosexual. I have Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a panic disorder and bipolar disorder. At some point in my life I was not receiving proper treatment for one or all of these disorders, and my quality of life suffered significantly. My quality of life doesn’t suffer because I’m gay. My homosexuality doesn’t cause me unhappiness, nor does it cause me to struggle. Of course, I am but one data point. Still, you have yet to present evidence that homosexuality in itself negatively affects one’s quality of life. I think this evidence would be necessary if you’re going to argue that homosexuality is a mental illness, and not just something that was pathologized because it is unusual, like left-handedness. 
     
    Those variables — along with the size of the activist community — have an extremely strong influence on funding priorities. Curing cancer is seen as essential, curing homosexuality is seen as taboo.  
     
    Focused research on a cure for homosexuality is not only not happening, it is about as taboo as focused research on raising human intelligence. Clever researchers are working around it at the margins, but it’s nothing at all like the massive institutes and manpower allocated towards (say) HIV research.
     
     
    Ok, I can see your reasoning that if homosexuality were viewed as a disease, more money would go into understanding its origins and ultimately, “curing” people who are gay. But your statement that finding a cure for cancer is seen as essential whereas finding a cure for homosexuality is a taboo, while correct, implies an equivalence between the two that I just don’t buy. People aren’t pushing for a cure for homosexuality because most people don’t view homosexuality as akin to cancer, for reasons that I’ve touched on above.  
     
    Again, let me be clear here: when it comes to research, the first step is identifying a problem and agreeing that it is in fact a problem. Then you can start breaking ground on the new institute for studying the condition and recruiting faculty. Is it a coincidence that there are dozens of centers for curing mental illness, AIDS, schizophrenia, and deafness — but not one for curing or preventing homosexuality?  
     
    Again, I don’t think that that many people see homosexuality as a problem for the individual on par with AIDS, schizophrenia and deafness.  
     
    Now, one response to that is to deny that homosexuality is considered a disease by millions of people, and to attack these people as homophobes. That is, you can normalize the pathological and pathologize the normal. I submit that this is not the optimal course of action. 
     
    So, not seeing homosexuality as a disease is abnormal? What about the millions of people who don’t and never did see homosexuality this way? Are they pathological?  
     
    And, again, what of left-handedness? If you were to come into a society that viewed left-handedness as pathological, does this majority viewpoint make it so? I would say no, that you need objective criteria, that you would need to show that being left-handed in and of itself negatively affects one’s quality of life. I don’t think being left-handed does, nor do I think being a homosexual does. 
     
    Gays who wish they were straight do so not because they want to experience lust for a woman, but rather to do away with the negative social effects of not being straight.  
     
    How do you know this? Maybe they want to have a normal life with a wife and two children and a dog. That is the common refrain among “questioning” youth — “I just want to be normal.”.
     
     
    Maybe you should ask gays what they think and feel. I think Ben G. is closer to the truth on this than you are.

  69. if the institution of marriage has the efficacy to tame straight male polygamous instincts, then why shouldn’t it have similar effects on gay males with the same male psychology?  
     
    Because:  
     
    1) Only a tiny fraction of gays are getting married, whereas polygamy nonlocally affects all males in a society  
     
    2) Those gays who get married are probably self-selected for being the least promiscuous members of their group 
     
    3) The only intervention which has been shown to reduce gay promiscuity is social shunning (i.e. the closet) 
     
    People respond to incentives. Do you really think that gays — or straights for that matter — are going to shun gays who have adulterous sex? I find that highly unlikely, not least because many of the men in the community *are* committing adultery (on their wives), and gays are the least likely group to accept the validity of traditional sexual morality. And this kind of shunning is the only mechanism by which gay marriage would increase monogamous tendencies.  
     
    I mean, look, even AIDS isn’t enough of a penalty to seriously reduce gay promiscuity.  
     
    http://www.timeout.com/london/gay/features/3892/London-s_gay_scene_in_crisis.html 
     
    Something scary is happening on the gay scene. Doctors know it. Club promoters know it. Clubbers know it, too. But nobody is talking about it, at least not openly. Twenty-five years after Aids was first identified, much has changed in the fight against the disease. A generation has grown up with the message that safer sex saves lives. So why are new infection rates so alarmingly high? And why do some gay men seem so hell-bent on destroying themselves? On Friday, the day before World Aids Day, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is hosting a night called ‘The Biggest Suicide Cult in History’. Strong words, and no less than you’d expect from the man responsible, performance artist David Hoyle. But the flyer goes even further. ‘All over Vauxhall they are fucking without condoms’, it reads. ‘All over Vauxhall they are dancing till Tuesday morning. All over Vauxhall they are taking G, K, C, V and E [that's GHB, ketamine, cocaine, Viagra and ecstasy]. All over Vauxhall they are dying.’ 
    Feature continues 
    Advertisement 
     
    ‘I truly believe that a lot of gay men would prefer to be dead,’ says Hoyle. ‘They clearly have deep-seated self-esteem issues and they go out seeking oblivion because, deep down, they don’t believe their lives are worth living.’ Hoyle is an outspoken critic of the commercial gay scene, and his words are clearly designed to provoke a reaction. But you don’t have to look too far on the scene to find people behaving in a manner you might describe as ‘self-destructive’. In the past eight years, the number of gay men with HIV in the UK has almost doubled. Partly this is due to an increase in the numbers coming forward for testing since the advent of lifesaving combination therapy. But partly it’s due to a rise in unsafe sex or ‘barebacking’. Dr Sean Cummings of Freedomhealth is a leading expert on gay male sexual health, and has warned for years of a second epidemic. Today he confirms that sexual health clinics ‘have reached crisis point with rocketing rates of new STD diagnoses’. And where there’s syphilis and gonorrhoea, HIV often follows. 
     
    If death isn’t going to increase gay monogamy, the unlikely prospect of shunning of “extramarital” gay intercourse certainly isn’t going to do it.  
     
    Either way, note that I already think there is a strong need for funding into the etiology of homosexuality. The difference between such research and research into “a cure for homosexuality” is probably very thin indeed. 
     
     
    Jay, thanks for engaging in a constructive discussion (I mean that seriously and non-sarcastically). I think the main thing here is that I can see how much of a difference it makes to study something as a disease vs. studying something as a curiosity. Even at NIH, pure biological research is constantly under pressure from Congress to “show results”.  
     
    It’s *much* easier to get a grant to look at (say) heart disease or AIDS than to look at other things, like naturally varying or non-pathological traits.  
     
    I mean, think about the Hapmap — it was justified on specious grounds via the CDCV hypothesis (“common disease, common variant”). It’s been a boon for population genetics research, but it had to be justified as a disease related project to receive that level of funding. Same with the Human Genome. As a third example, one of Aubrey de Grey’s biggest goals is to pathologize death — because he knows that if death is legally classified as the ultimate pathological state, that funding & personnel levels will evolve accordingly.  
     
    Anyway, I don’t think you’re disagreeing with me on the practical fact that pathological conditions receive more funding. Ought does not determine what is, but ought *does* determine how aggressively we decide to *find out* what is.  
     
    The line between treatment research and etiology research may be thin. So be it.  
     
    Certain kinds of hypotheses about the molecular origins of homosexuality — that it involves a damaged hypothalamus, for example, or that it involves a microbial cause — probably would not have been articulated in the first place without a conceptual framework which looks at homosexuality as a disease condition.  
     
    Anyway, there is much else that can be said, but for now I’ve said my peace here and I’ll summarize:  
     
    1) I made a case for why homosexuality can reasonably be considered a mental illness (in short, predictable sterility + predictably reduced life expectancy due to disease + suggestive evidence for microbial etiology). The literature tends to suggest that gays have higher rates of other mental diseases as well (e.g. bipolar), which may be related to general neurological problems.  
     
    2) You can disagree with that normative framework, but you can’t disagree that there are many millions of people who agree that it is a mental disease and want a cure — indeed, would pay great sums of money for a cure.  
     
    3) As such I hope you can see why there is in fact a logically consistent secular framework for opposing legal concessions to homosexuality. This was the original reason I responded, b/c you said:  
     
    But a lot of secular right social arguments seem disingenuous in this respect to me as well. For instance the idea that homosexuals will undermine the institution of marriage. Again presented as a secular theory, but without the tacit religious assumptions behind it, I don’t see the same thought processes existing. 
     
    If you really believe they suffer from mental illness, you don’t think our legal system should be changed to accomodate them. You don’t hate gays anymore than you hate schizophrenics — you simply think that considering the condition pathological rather than normal has *beneficial* effects in the long term as it will lead to more efforts for a cure.

  70. It is useful to have an understanding of the hardware when talking about a lot of these issues, and it seems to me that all males must have some hardware in their brains for recognizing appropriate targets for sexual activity. 
     
    That hardware develops during gestation and can be affected to a certain extent by social pressure as the individual matures. 
     
    There are several things that can go wrong with that hardware: 
     
    1. It might have faults that cause it to select individuals of the wrong/same sex. 
     
    2. It might have faults that cause it to select individuals of the correct/opposite sex but wrong age, either too young or too old. 
     
    From the perspective of such individuals their choices of sexual partners are entirely natural, but for some reason, of late we have chosen rather arbitrarily, it seems to me, to accept that one such hardware defect is fine, but others should be excoriated and subject to jail terms and chemical castration and so forth. 
     
    I wonder why?

  71. Maybe they want to have a normal life with a wife and two children and a dog. That is the common refrain among “questioning” youth — “I just want to be normal.”. It’s a common refrain among straight adolescents, too. It’s a common refrain among teenagers who have any feature that sets them apart from their peers or from the idealized concept of ‘normal’ – which is most of them. 
     
    ‘Gifted’ teenagers often say the same things. Does this mean that we need to research a cure for higher-than-average intelligence? 
    Now, one response to that is to deny that homosexuality is considered a disease by millions of people, and to attack these people as homophobes.Another, more rational response is to note that it’s not particularly useful to determine what’s a disease by taking a consensus vote. It wasn’t valid when the APA voted to no longer consider homosexuality a disease, yes? Then why would it be valid if they voted to make it a disease? 
     
    Quite a lot of people do not consider homosexuality a disease. A significant majority of young people, in fact. Now: when they’re the ones dominating our culture, will you change your tune? Or will you continue to insist that gayness is a disease no matter what the consensus says? 
     
    If so, as I strongly suspect you would, why then would you argue that we should obey the current consensus? 
     
    It seems to me that you have a fixed position and are making rhetorical gestures – otherwise known as loud noises – in support of that thesis, regardless of whether the arguments you recite actually support the thesis or not.

  72. Ziel wrote: “…Jason’s quip that there is no true secular argument against gay marriage…” 
     
    I’m not sure that JM actually said that but since some folks are interested in such an argument here is one: 
     
    The legal institution of gay marriage would require employers to provide “marriage benefits” to the partners of married gay employees, which could include health care. Thus, employers offering such benefits would have increased expenses. There is a reason to have such benefits for heterosexual couples where one of them is raising children but for homosexuals it would typically be just a mandate of corporate socialism. Of course, employers could choose whether to offer spousal benefits or not but they could not choose to not offer them to unreproductive spouses. 
     
    Marriage is something that is deeply embedded in our society and changing its definition could have other unintended consequences.

  73. geecee is presumably right to say that homosexuals have reduced reproductive fitness.* Reduced reproductive fitness can be regarded as a disability, so medical assistance might be provided for those who wish to avoid it. But a cheap and effective ‘cure’ for this disability is already available, without further research: the sperm of homosexual men can be used to inseminate lesbians, thus killing two birds with one stone. I presume that geecee will applaud this solution – unless of course he or she just doesn’t like homosexuals, in which case (assuming that homosexuality has non-zero heritability) his concern for their reproductive fitness is somewhat misplaced. 
     
    *at least under modern conditions, when thay are not pressured into (heterosexual) marriage.

  74. Jay, thanks for engaging in a constructive discussion… 
     
    Tradition! 
     
    People respond to incentives. Do you really think that gays — or straights for that matter — are going to shun gays who have adulterous sex? 
     
    To the extent I think it will increase monogamy, I was thinking more along the lines of setting sub-cultural precedent for starting families (which men may have a biological desire to do — I’m uncertain about this). I think this is the primary incentive that keeps young heterosexual people in dyads long-term. (The secondary incentive is when people get old and they just want to secure a companion for their stable, low-key earthly remainder) 
     
    And to answer your question, ‘yes’, once gay people are integrated into a religious community that considers them normal members, I can see the same social incentives taking place. 
     
    But once again, the data does show gay men simply aren’t that promiscuous as a group to begin with.  
     
    I made a case for why homosexuality can reasonably be considered a mental illness (in short, predictable sterility + predictably reduced life expectancy due to disease + suggestive evidence for microbial etiology 
     
    I think I’ve made my case here as well — these are not sound criteria for a mental illness — so one additional point: gay men are not “sterile”, and any number of traits reduce child-bearing (high IQ being one such terrible illness). According to the General Social Survey the average completed fertility of a homosexual male is 1.10 children. This is about twice the average fertility of men and women pushing 40 in the Mathematically Precocious Youth sample! (0.57 and 0.54 children respectively) Gay American men are outreproducing men and women in Singapore (1.08), Macau (1.05), and Hong Kong (1.00).  
     
    Gay males are perfectly capable of creating biological children, and the obstacles they have to go through if they want them are not insurmountable
     
    As such I hope you can see why there is in fact a logically consistent secular framework for opposing legal concessions to homosexuality. This was the original reason I responded, b/c you said:  
     
    Looking back, I think you are right that I was wrong. Not wrong that there isn’t a reasonable case against treating gays compassionately (i.e. normal), but wrong that religion is the only source for such resistance. Michael Bailey points out that there are even homosexuals in remote Papua New Guinea villages, and he says that they are subject to ridicule. Come to think of it, cog scientists have shown that Creationism is innate too, so even Behe/Dembski arguments are appealing to intuitions that go beyond specific American religious traditions. 
     
    So in that sense it is plausible that Secular rightists can hold many positions similar to Religious rightists even if they do not share the same broader religious/cultural background. But more often than not I suspect this is not the case, and the primary motivation is tribalism (cf. Inductivist quote above) and/or Crypto-Secularism (e.g. Discovery Institute and “The Wedge”).

  75. geecee is presumably right to say that homosexuals have reduced reproductive fitness.* Reduced reproductive fitness can be regarded as a disability 
     
    But then wouldn’t high IQ be considered a disability, given the inverse correlation – at least in modern societies – between intelligence and lifetime reproductive success?

  76. Jason, could you please tell me how you found the completed fertility statistic for homosexual males. I tried using the GSS site, and I must be doing something wrong. Thanks in advance.

  77. Keith, 
     
    Go to GSS web application — Go to ‘Analysis’ drop down — Select ‘Comparison of means’ — In ‘Selection Filter’ box put ‘SEXSEX5(1)’ (meaning exclusively male sex partners in the last five years) and ‘AGE(40-*)’ — In ‘Dependent’ box put ‘CHILDS’ — In ‘Row’ box put ‘SEX’ — Push the ‘Run the Table’ button. 
     
    And that is how you use the GSS.

  78. Jason Malloy 
     
    Religiousness is not an illness 
     
    I disagree, the fact that it is much more prevalent than schizophrenia doesn’t make it less of a handicap, most especially with respect to the social impact
     
    I have been arguing about that at various places
    May be you can elaborate on what makes a maladaptive feature an illness or not. 
    To me this seems akin to the homosexuality condition, maladaptive to both the individual and society.

  79. “But then wouldn’t high IQ be considered a disability, given the inverse correlation – at least in modern societies – between intelligence and lifetime reproductive success?” 
     
    Yes, it would, and on Darwinian principles so it should. As a (moderate) eugenist I would seek to remedy this by encouraging higher fertility among those with high IQ, perhaps through the tax system. But if they won’t play ball, I wouldn’t try to force them to breed against their will. Would you?

  80. “equality under the law is a tradition as well. why does it not take precedence?” 
     
    Nothing about opposition to same-sex marriage violates this principle. Heterosexuals can’t marry their male best friends and homosexuals can’t marry their blow buddies. That it will effect one group disproportionately is incidental to the principle.

  81. G Man, 
     
    True, straights and gays have equal rights to marry the opposite sex. the law-based inequality that i’m referring to is the fact that the law does not allow gays to marry each other and get the government benefits that follow. 
     
    as an analogy, one could rephrase your argument as: “nothing about opposition to interracial marraige violates [equality under the law]. Whites can’t marry other races, and blacks can’t marry other races. That it will effect [people with interracial partners] disproportionately is incidental to this principle.”

  82. Nothing about opposition to same-sex marriage violates this principle. Heterosexuals can’t marry their male best friends and homosexuals can’t marry their blow buddies. That it will effect one group disproportionately is incidental to the principle. 
     
    Yeah but marriage in the West isn’t something that people enter into with their friends or “blow buddies,” it’s something that people enter into with their lifetime or hopefully lifetime romantic partners. Your statement implies that you think that gay relationships can be nothing more than friendships with sexual benefits, which isn’t true.

  83. I see equality under the law as meaning the gov should create laws in such a way that privileges aren’t offered on the basis of certain personal immutable characteristics like race or sex or orientation. 
     
    If anyone can find something wrong with this, or can offer an instance where its absurd to follow it, please go ahead.

  84. “as an analogy, one could rephrase your argument as: “nothing about opposition to interracial marraige violates [equality under the law]. Whites can’t marry other races, and blacks can’t marry other races. That it will effect [people with interracial partners] disproportionately is incidental to this principle.” 
     
    I think geecee dealt with this pretty well. Offering up laws against miscegenation as a way to skirt the responsibility of having to make a good argument in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage because no good human could ever defend such a thing. The problem with doing this is that even if one assumes the position that such laws are bad (I do not) the argument that they are bad because they will inevitably effect those with certain proclivities disproportionately still isn’t a good one. All laws prohibiting behavior disproportionately effect those most likely to engage in the prohibited behavior. You and I are likely not effected by arson laws but the poor pyromaniac is. Ultimately we’re left to decide whether the behavior in question is or is not detrimental to the greater good.

  85. “privileges aren’t offered on the basis of certain personal immutable characteristics like race or sex or orientation.” 
     
    Same-sex marriage, or marriage itself for that matter, is not an “immutable characteristic.” There may be certain immutable characteristics that make an individual more likely to desire to be married (same sex or opposite), but that isn’t good enough. You could argue that an immutable characteristic might be the complete lack of desire to be romantically linked to anyone at all and that therefore any type of lawful marriage represents an inherent inequality of law.  
     
    Is there a cure for the sexual attraction that some adults have towards the very young? I don’t know and as far as proscribing the actual activity of pedophilic sex I don’t care. The characteristic attraction may be immutable but that doesn’t mean we can’t outlaw the behavior.

  86. your three counterexamples are a pyromaniac, a pedophile, and a person who’s uninterested in romantic love. 
     
    the first two seem easy to address: the pyromaniac should not be allowed to light peoples’ property on fire because he’d be violating their property rights. likewise, the reason pedophilia is banned is because of how it effects children. so these aren’t good counterexamples to the principle i stated. 
     
    however, this is a harder argument to address: You could argue that an immutable characteristic might be the complete lack of desire to be romantically linked to anyone at all and that therefore any type of lawful marriage represents an inherent inequality of law. 
     
    several lines of response come to mind here (ideals vs. practice; rights vs privileges; etc.), but i’m not sure i can argue them adequately. perhaps the principle i described was inconsistent/problematic in some way. i’ve actually been trying to form my own ethical philosophy for a while now, but I haven’t had the time (my schooling and social life kind of get in the way of reading Rawls, Nozick, Singer, Burke, etc.).

  87. You and I are likely not effected by arson laws but the poor pyromaniac is. Ultimately we’re left to decide whether the behavior in question is or is not detrimental to the greater good. 
     
    But how is providing gay couples the same legal benefits as straight couples detrimental to the greater good? This is where I think opponents of same-sex marriage stumble. If I am in a committed relationship with another man, that isn’t hurting anyone and it benefits both of us, as anyone who has ever been in a healthy committed relationship will testify. What harm does it do to provide us with the same benefits as a straight couple?

  88. Quite a lot of people do not consider homosexuality a disease. A significant majority of young people, in fact. Now: when they’re the ones dominating our culture, will you change your tune? Or will you continue to insist that gayness is a disease no matter what the consensus says?  
     
    So, this really gets back to the question of what is a disease. Ultimately this is a fuzzy concept, but normative assessments (i.e. public and expert opinion) certainly are part of it. Another part of the assessment is the objective reduction in life expectancy (multiply through the effects of AIDS, syphilis, etc. and you get some big numbers) as well as the potential communicability (both of AIDS/MRSA and possibly of homosexuality itself, if you’re familiar with the ‘gay germ’ theory).  
     
    But let’s get back to normativity (= poll data) for a second. You and Jason are arguing that if support for gay marriage does increase beyond a certain threshold, then eventually what was a disease becomes no longer a disease.  
     
    However, suppose some kind of cure or preventive measure for homosexuality was available. The very same SWPLs who are most vociferously in favor of gay marriage will doubtless *sprint* to the clinic to get a vaccination to prevent little Noah from becoming gay. This is as sure a bet as it was that the Obamas would send their children to Sidwell Friends to avoid the DC schools.  
     
    See this highly relevant book that I recently discovered… 
     
    http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/KURPRI.html 
     
    Private Truths, Public Lies 
    The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification
     
    Timur Kuran 
     
    Preference falsification, according to the economist Timur Kuran, is the act of misrepresenting one’s wants under perceived social pressures. It happens frequently in everyday life, such as when we tell the host of a dinner party that we are enjoying the food when we actually find it bland. In Private Truths, Public Lies Kuran argues convincingly that the phenomenon not only is ubiquitous but has huge social and political consequences. Drawing on diverse intellectual traditions, including those rooted in economics, psychology, sociology, and political science, Kuran provides a unified theory of how preference falsification shapes collective decisions, orients structural change, sustains social stability, distorts human knowledge, and conceals political possibilities. 
     
    A common effect of preference falsification is the preservation of widely disliked structures. Another is the conferment of an aura of stability on structures vulnerable to sudden collapse. When the support of a policy, tradition, or regime is largely contrived, a minor event may activate a bandwagon that generates massive yet unanticipated change. 
     
    In distorting public opinion, preference falsification also corrupts public discourse and, hence, human knowledge. So structures held in place by preference falsification may, if the condition lasts long enough, achieve increasingly genuine acceptance. The book demonstrates how human knowledge and social structures co-evolve in complex and imperfectly predictable ways, without any guarantee of social efficiency.  
     
    Private Truths, Public Lies uses its theoretical argument to illuminate an array of puzzling social phenomena. They include the unexpected fall of communism, the paucity, until recently, of open opposition to affirmative action in the United States, and the durability of the beliefs that have sustained India’s caste system.  
     
    Bottom line is this: the people arguing so resolutely in this thread against the idea that homosexuality is a disease will NOT make good predictions. In particular, they will fail to anticipate the overnight collapse of the ideology that will happen once a cure (of whatever form) is available.  
     
    PS: As for the line of argument that contends that high IQ is disease because it lowers fertility *in the modern environment*, it can easily be dismissed as follows:  
     
    1) high IQ did correlate with high fertility not very long ago; it still does among Mormon groups and Orthodox Jews.  
    2) high IQ leads to societally desirable outcomes — you know, little things like the Internet and running water :) 
    3) Consequently, a society which manages to drive out or “treat” its high IQ population quickly returns to a starvation state. In the absence of external high IQ aid-providing meddlers, this is catastrophically fitness reducing for the greater society — though obviously it restores the IQ/fitness correlation. See South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc.  
    4) And obviously if you take my vaccination example above, the same SWPL parents would line up for IQ booster shots if they’re available — just as they guzzle crude nootropics like caffeine 
     
    There’s more that can be said, but it’s not a very good parallel.

  89. the average completed fertility of a homosexual male is 1.10 children. This is about twice the average fertility  
     
    Jason, you do realize that is a HIGHLY misleading summary of the GSS data? The distribution is *extremely* skewed. I know you well so I don’t think you were trying to mislead, but boy, there are a ton of problems with this.  
     
    1) First, of the 120 men who have been exclusively homosexual in the last 5 years in the GSS, the distribution is as follows:  
     
    ROW = SEX 
    COLUMN = CHILDS 
    FILTER = SEXSEX5(1) AGE(40-*) 
     
    70 w/ 0 kids 
    9 w/ 1 kid 
    20 w/ 2 kids 
    9 w/ 3 kids 
    5 w/ 4 kids 
    4 w/ 5 kids 
    2 w/ 6 kids 
    0 w/ 7 kids 
    1 w/ 8 or more  
     
    So 70/120 = 58% are childless! That kind of left-skewed distribution is very poorly summarized by an average. Leave aside the question for now of whether these 120 gay men are a representative sample of 1.5 million gays (= 1% of .5 * 300 million).  
     
    2) Contrast this to what happens when you set SEXSEX5(3) and look at the 4088 males who exclusively had sex with females over the past 5 years.  
     
    536 w/ 0 kids 
    516 w/ 1 kids 
    1345 w/ 2 kids 
    872 w/ 3 kids 
    440 w/ 4 kids 
    191 w/ 5 kids 
    75 w/ 6 kids 
    63 w/ 7 kids 
    49 w/ 8 or more 
     
    So only 536/4088 = 13.1% are childless among males who have sex with females. Surprisingly enough, more shots on goal = more goals! :) Moreover, the distribution is centered at 2. Taking both whole distros into account, any reasonable statistical test will show that gay males have a radically left shifted distribution relative to straights.  
     
    This is hardly unexpected! 
     
    Jason, I’m not trying to be mean, but this is what I mean when I say that you need to have a better nose for data. This is just one example — another one was the set of arguments in the “porn hasn’t become mainstream” thread that didn’t account for the obvious factor: the internet.  
     
    Here’s the point: Stereotypes tend to be true. They represent prior information that is not easily “overcome” with one study. Particularly in social science, when you dig into the “stereotype busting” paper or dataset it usually turns out to be bogus (viz. Lewontin’s fallacy, Boas’ faked data, Steele’s stereotype threat, Geoff Cohen’s BS paper in Science, the Nature paper on women catching men at track, and so on & so forth).  
     
    PS: I should hardly have to write another PhD dissertation to establish  
    *another* true stereotype: *gays tend to be highly promiscuous*.

  90. Marc:  
     
    (FYI, I know you’re gay, and I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings here. You’re a GNXP commenter, though, so I expect a thick skin re: inadvertent offense.) 
     
    But how is providing gay couples the same legal benefits as straight couples detrimental to the greater good?  
     
    These “what could possibly happen” arguments have a bad history . No one imagined that gay marriage would lead to polygamy in Canada — but it’s happening. No one imagined that a photographer who worked with Christian weddings would get brought up by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission for “bigotry” — but it’s happening
     
    And no one imagined that black women would actually have children out of wedlock to get more money, or the overall effect on the black community.  
     
    Actually, that’s not true — many people *imagined* it, but the taboo on accurate generalizations meant they could not publicly *state* it. Public Lies, Private Truths again.  
     
    We’re in for a replay of that with gay marriage. Gays are not just straights who take a different route, so to speak. They have radically different patterns of sexual behavior, patterns that will inevitably lead to extremely low marriage rates and high divorce rates. Given that gays also tend to be litigious, this will be followed in short order by a legal redefinition of “marriage” to be ever less binding — the better to accomodate a quicky breakup.  
     
    (Btw, this is not theoretical at all — I can fish out several links from email about exactly this kind of thing happening in Canada.) 
     
    Again — just like people discussed welfare in a theoretical vacuum, free from the actual predictable behavior of NAMs, so too is the gay marriage issue being discussed in a vacuum. Gay males are *much* more promiscuous than straight males. Jason’s GSS numbers are the only contrary evidence I have ever seen — and they involve a sample of 87 out of a US population of 1.5 million men (assuming 1% prevalence). It is not even close to a representative sample. By contrast, here are a few samples of several thousand gay men.

  91. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18615938?ordinalpos=8&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum 
     
    … 
    RESULTS: Of the 2,312 MSM who completed the survey, 766 (33.1%) had used the internet to find a partner in the past year. In logistic regression analyses, MSM who found partners on the internet were more likely to have had more than 10 sexual partners in the past year (overall, insertive and receptive), and to engage in sexual activities in public venues. They were also more likely to agree with the statement “I think most guys in relationships have condom-free sex.”… 
     
    and: 
     
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE7DE153DF932A35756C0A9629C8B63 
    Edward Laumann of the University of Chicago and several other academics have recently published a research project called ”The Sexual Organization of the City.”…The authors of the study culled data from thousands of interviews in several Chicago neighborhoods and compared behavior across the communities. 
     
    Shoreland is an affluent white neighborhood on the near northwest side. There is a large gay and lesbian population, and sex is more likely to be impersonal. About 43 percent of the gay men in Shoreland have had more than 60 partners. This neighborhood, too, has developed its own social institutions. A local softball league has become a place where lesbians can go to meet possible partners. Though people here are better educated, their social lives are still tightly bounded. Over 75 percent of the gays and lesbians interviewed said that most or all of their friends are gay, lesbian or bisexual.  
     
    Gay marriage cannot be discussed in a vacuum. Gays are not just straights with a different entry point, they have substantially different disease/fertility/longevity/promiscuity/litigiousness profiles, and this affects a lot of things.

  92. Gee Cee, 
     
    My issue is whether homosexuality should be considered a mental disorder or not. I contend that it should not be considered a mental disorder because my understanding of the term is that it is reserved for those conditions that significantly, negatively and directly impact one’s quality of life. Yes, homosexuality can shorten one’s lifespan indirectly by causing one to engage in behaviors that will put him at an exponentially higher risk for contracting HIV. But an early death due to HIV is an indirect, not a direct, result of homosexuality, and many homosexual men (and nearly all homosexual women) will never contract HIV. Many gay people lead lives that are no different from those of their straight counterparts aside from the fact that they date members of the same sex. This is not true for schizophrenics, people with bi-polar disorder, people with Attention Deficit Disorder, etc… 
     
    I do want to make clear that I don’t have an emotional resistance to labeling homosexuality a mental disorder. In other words, the idea doesn’t personally offend or upset me, perhaps because I don’t see having a mental disorder as any big deal – it’s just part of being human.  
     
    You contend that high intelligence should not be considered a disease because, while it certainly affects reproductive success in this society, 1) it has not done so in every society and 2) it leads to many social benefits. Regarding your first point, I could imagine a society in which homosexuality does not negatively affect fertility among men or women. A highly religious society in which gays are forced into the closet, for example. Regarding your second argument, I think the benefits to the individual that come from a high IQ are beside the point. If you are going to define a disorder as something that reduces reproductive fitness, then anything that reduces reproductive fitness should properly be considered a disorder. It may be a disorder that provides benefits to the individual and society, but it is still a disorder. As for your argument that homosexuality can be considered a disorder because of the privately held beliefs of the masses… that isn’t an objective definition. Again, left-handedness, in some places and times, would have been viewed as a disorder under this definition.  
     
    Regarding gay marriage and polygamy, I don’t support polygamy because – as others have noted – you can point to the direct, negative effects that polygamy has on society. I don’t see gay marriage as having direct, negative effects on society. I don’t think it’s fair or necessary to block gay marriage out of a fear that it will lead to a slippery slope that redefines the institution. In short, there is no rational reason why we can’t argue for gay marriage because it would represent a social good and against polygamy because it is socially harmful. 
     
    Gays are not just straights who take a different route, so to speak. They have radically different patterns of sexual behavior, patterns that will inevitably lead to extremely low marriage rates and high divorce rates.  
     
    Agreed that this is true among men. Not true for lesbian women.  
     
    Given that gays also tend to be litigious, this will be followed in short order by a legal redefinition of “marriage” to be ever less binding — the better to accomodate a quicky breakup.  
     
    No, this is a supposition too far. You are ascribing more power and motivation to gays than we actually have. Gay men who are not interested in marriage will simply not get married, not push for a less binding definition of the institution. In fact, there are countries where gay marriage has been legal for some years. Do you have any evidence that gays in these countries are engaged in an organized push for a less binding definition of marriage? You say you can fish out some examples from emails… I’d be interested in seeing them.

  93. “They have radically different patterns of sexual behavior, patterns that will inevitably lead to extremely low marriage rates and high divorce rates” 
     
    Huh? You can’t actually have both, because there is no divorce without marriage. Perhaps what geecee means is that among the small minority of homosexuals who choose the option of marriage, a high proportion will subsequently divorce. Maybe, but what is the evidence? The small minority of homosexuals who choose to marry are likely to be unrepresentative of homosexuals generally, so it is not safe to draw inferences about their behaviour from ‘average’ homosexuals (amusingly, the same error which geecee accuses Jason of making). 
     
    Incidentally, geecee systematically ignores lesbians, yet it is likely that they would account for a high proportion of those wishing to marry, and their behaviour patterns are entirely different from those of homosexual men.  
     
    On the issue of homosexual marriage, I do not see how one can generalise on either side without considering the rights and obligations conferred by marriage as a legal institution. These vary from time to time and place to place. During much of western history, the ‘husband’ has had legal authority, and sometimes even the power of life and death, over the ‘wife’. Presumably this is not what homsexuals want. The rights and obligations of modern marriage are more equitable, and on the face of it should be open to anyone who wishes to enter into a durable life-partnership, e.g. so that they can use the law on division of property in the event of separation. But there could be exceptions, e.g. where the tax system encourages marriage in order to promote child-bearing etc. (Maybe in France?) In these cases, if they still exist, there would be no strong reason to extend these advantages to homosexuals, but equally they should for consistency be withdrawn from those heterosexual couples who fail to produce children.

  94. Jason, you do realize that is a HIGHLY misleading summary of the GSS data? 
     
    Unlike that entirely not misleading claim I was responding to that gays are “mentally ill” because they are “sterile”?  
     
    I checked the frequency numbers first, it was not relevant for the purposes of that reply. Surprisingly, I know that homosexual males don’t have much sex with women. The fact that over 40% of them have children, if anything, may suggest they are hyper-fecund (and this is in fact one of the kin-selection theories for how the phenotype persists).  
     
    Jason, I’m not trying to be mean, but this is what I mean when I say that you need to have a better nose for data. This is just one example — another one was the set of arguments in the “porn hasn’t become mainstream” thread that didn’t account for the obvious factor: the internet.  
     
    The data does not support you. As agnostic demonstrated, the Internet has not increased the percentage of people who consume pornography. 
     
    My nose for data is just fine. I do my homework, and know where to look, I don’t appeal to anecdotes as “proof”, I choose population samples over clinical or convenience samples, etc. 
     
    PS: I should hardly have to write another PhD dissertation to establish *another* true stereotype: *gays tend to be highly promiscuous*…. Gay males are *much* more promiscuous than straight males. Jason’s GSS numbers are the only contrary evidence I have ever seen  
     
    No, please do write that dissertation. Find me some probability samples instead of all the unrepresentative studies and stories you keep digging up. 
     
    My GSS numbers shouldn’t be the only contrary data you’ve seen, since I’ve linked to more data for you in the past (including in the link you just provided). For instance the largest probability sample in America, The National Health and Social Life Survey found that the mean number of lifetime sexual partners was 16.9 for heterosexuals and 26.6 for homosexuals. Unfortunately the medians were not reported since they would probably be close if not identical, as with the GSS: 
     
    Straights//gays 
     
    Mean: 35//42  
    Median: 4//4 
     
    Further probability samples of sexual behavior have been collected all throughout Europe, and the fascinating thing is that sexual behavior is pretty much invariant from country to country. The second constant finding is that homosexuals do not have a higher median number of lifetime sex partners than straight men, but have a higher standard deviation (which indicates unusual promiscuity only at the tails, something I have never denied): 
     
    Heterosexual males//Homosexual males 
     
    UK: 
    N: 6409//241 
    Median: 5//2 (straights more partners) 
    Mean: 12//35 
    SD: 107//322 
     
    France: 
    N: 6495//199 
    Median: 5//3 (straights more partners) 
    Mean: 12//17 
    SD: 32//64 
     
    Norway: 
    N: 1684//71 
    Median: 5//2 (straights more partners) 
    Mean: 12//5 
    SD: 87//12 
     
    The central tendency of gay male behavior is the same as the central tendency of straight male behavior. The reason for this is the same reason the central tendency of sexual behavior is similar across nations: the number of sexual partners you desire and take is mostly genetic. 
     
    This is also why the sexual behavior differences between racial groups (which have undergone natural selection for sexual behaviors) are greater than the sexual behavior differences between gays and straights of the same race. (who share the same underlying behavioral motivations)

  95. But let’s get back to normativity (= poll data) for a second. You and Jason are arguing that if support for gay marriage does increase beyond a certain threshold, then eventually what was a disease becomes no longer a disease.  
     
    No I explicitly did not argue this. It never should have been listed as a “mental illness”. 
     
    So, this really gets back to the question of what is a disease. Ultimately this is a fuzzy concept, but normative assessments (i.e. public and expert opinion) certainly are part of it. Another part of the assessment is the objective reduction in life expectancy (multiply through the effects of AIDS, syphilis, etc. and you get some big numbers) 
     
    Read what I wrote about football players and smokers, among many other demographics. If you want to define something as a mental illness, it should be because the mind is dysfunctional, not because the environment is dangerous and the behavior is rare. If homosexual orientation shared an etiology with impulsiveness, addiction, risk-taking, or other aspects of mental behavior that have a functional and generalized relationship with self-endangerment then it would make sense to give it a cognitive classification. There is no evidence this is the case. Homosexuality reduces lifespans because there are specific diseases that homosexuals are more vulnerable to. They respond to this vulnerability in ways consistent with the typical bell curve of male cognitive variation (that is, whatever causes homosexuality affects the orientation of sexual arousal, and some aspects of gendered behavior, but not aspects of cognition like self-control, self-harm or danger-seeking). 
     
    AIDS is a disease, homosexuality is not. If gays are no longer “mentally ill” the same minute AIDS is cured (by the logic of your classification) then that’s a pretty big hint that the virus was actually the disease, and not the sexual orientation. 
     
    Bottom line is this: the people arguing so resolutely in this thread against the idea that homosexuality is a disease will NOT make good predictions. In particular, they will fail to anticipate the overnight collapse of the ideology that will happen once a cure (of whatever form) is available.  
     
    No, again, read what I wrote
     
    “Traits that do not qualify as medical or mental disability/illness should not get to be pursued inappropriately as if they were disability/illness on the federal dime. Low IQ is not an illness. Ugliness is not illness. Religiousness is not an illness. Republicanism is not an illness. Racism is not an illness. Homosexuality is not an illness.” 
     
    Traits can be socially disfavored or raise risk profiles without being a medical disease. Low IQ being a really good example. And, yes, I’m pretty sure homosexuality would be a popular market eugenic item.  
     
    But the interests I’m arguing on behalf of right now aren’t the nonexistent gay babies of the future, but all the homosexuals who exist right now, who need to be allowed to live normally and without the kind of incredibly inhumane attitudes and recommendations you’ve espoused in this thread (e.g. that they need to be shamed back into the closet “for their own good”). I find it hard to believe you don’t understand why people strongly, and without exception, prefer to live their lives fully and freely, as themselves, and accepted by their society, even if that free living carries disproportionate risks. 
     
    Freedom is a gamble every human being wants to take. And taking that gamble is being human. Gays need to be allowed to live as human beings.

  96. - Skimming the thread I came across the idea that the best known explanation of homosexuality is microbe based. How does that get by twin study results for example? 
     
    - Are gay and straight statistics directly comparable when looking only at males or is there a factor of two somewhere?

  97. - Is there a factor of two between gay and straight fertility rates when looking only at males (when looking at whether someone is shouldering his burden, so to speak)? As in, for the former case looking at females (lesbians sleeping with straight men) gives you something new, while for the latter (straight women sleeping with straight men) it doesn’t. 
     
    - How do microbe theories of homosexuality get around the twin studies? 
     
    (are comments held up for moderation, or are mine just being lost in the ether?)

  98. As agnostic demonstrated, the Internet has not increased the percentage of people who consume pornography. 
     
     
    No, he didn’t. There were absolutely no raw internet numbers in his post — he was using self reports. Go back and look at it again.  
     
    The claim never passed the smell test. Look at my comment re: the AOL search logs which are raw data of *actual usage* rather than reported usage.

  99. Huh? You can’t actually have both  
     
    Of course you can. A rate presumes a denominator. 
     
    P(Married|Gay) less than P(Married|Straight) 
     
    has no necessarily implication for the value of 
     
    P(Divorce|Married,Gay) vs. P(Divorced|Married,Straight)

  100. Do you have any evidence that gays in these countries are engaged in an organized push for a less binding definition of marriage? You say you can fish out some examples from emails… I’d be interested in seeing them.  
     
    Sure. See this long article about all the ways in which same sex marriage is going to cause a more general redefinition of the concept of “marriage”. Polygamy, which I linked above, is only one such innovation. 
     
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/01/AR2008010101734.html 
     
    Same-Sex Divorce Challenges the Legal System 
    Most States Lack Law, Precedent To Settle Issues 
     
    Nearly 10,000 gay and lesbian couples married after the ruling. Massachusetts does not keep records on the number who have divorced, but lawyers who specialize in family cases say it is in the dozens. Those who choose to end their marriages soon discover that the trauma of divorce is compounded by legal and financial difficulties that heterosexual couples generally are spared. 
    ad_icon 
     
    “One of the benefits of marriage is divorce,” said Joyce Kauffman, a Boston divorce lawyer who has handled a dozen same-sex divorce cases. “But for a lot of couples, that benefit is very complicated and very costly in ways that heterosexual couples would never have to experience.” 
     
    …For same-sex couples, divorce can be financially ruinous. Heterosexual couples claim a tax deduction for alimony payments, but that benefit is not available to gay and lesbian spouses because the Internal Revenue Service does not recognize their marriages.  
     
    Etcetera, etcetera. The whole article is in this vein, about the legal problems with gay divorces. Of course this is presented sympathetically — the point is to get media support for changing the laws around alimony, childcare, and so on to accomodate gay/lesbian couples — a tiny, tiny fraction of all married couples.  
     
    Because people with radically different behaviors have now been bundled into the same legal category of “married”, no doubt some of the innovations made for gay divorce (e.g. less alimony payments) will eventually be claimed by some enterprising straights on equal protection grounds. Laws really don’t even matter, all you need is a creative HLS grad and a sympathetic judge to set the precedent in our krytocracy. 
     
    In particular, note the harping of the article on the *penalties* associated with divorce. Whether intentional or not, such penalties have a *deterrence* effect. If you tax something, you get less of it. Gays are going to lobby to reduce those divorce penalties. They won’t call it “making it easier to get divorced”, but that is exactly what will happen. 
     
    You can google “gay divorce” and follow the references to find many more along these lines.

  101. Here’s another 
     
    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/25/local/me-gaydivorce25 
     
    Because federal law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, the federal government doesn?t extend many standard divorce benefits to same-sex couples. As a result, say lawyers familiar with the issues, even in states where gay couples are allowed to divorce, they face financial consequences that heterosexual couples don?t. Among them: 
     
    * If a judge orders a heterosexual couple to divide a pension during a divorce, federal law allows the pension to be divided without triggering early-withdrawal penalties. Divorcing gay couples must pay the penalties. 
     
    * Court-ordered alimony payments can be deducted from federal income taxes in straight divorces, but not in same-sex divorces. 
     
    * In gay divorces, when a judge orders one party to give money or other assets to a spouse, those assets may be subject to gift or income taxes. 
     
    * When real property is transferred from joint ownership to one gay spouse by a court order, capital-gains taxes are often triggered. 
     
    Opponents of same-sex marriage say the issues were to be expected.  
     
    Indeed. There’s a saying — “everyone is reactionary about what they know well”.  
     
    I too used to be a blase libertarian supporter of gay marriage — that’s certainly the zeitgeist, as it seems *weird* for someone to be intensely opposed to it. What are they, some kind of Christian wacko?  
     
    But then, as with race/IQ and so many other issues, I actually dug into the question and sought out some un-PC viewpoints. Let’s just say that quotes of the sort found in Richard Berkowitz’s biography aren’t going to make the front page of the NYT anytime soon. The directive is from on high; heck, the NYT itself has acknowledged being institutionally supportive of gay marriage. They lobby for it far more powerfully than the Mormons could possibly lobby against it. And their lobbying colors the entire tone of the discourse in this thread and the wider world.  
     
    The bottom line here is that many of the facts I’ve presented here *are not widely known*. They are in fact usually suppressed and taboo, and if mentioned at all they are spun sympathetically. How many articles have you seen on gay marriage that mention the partner distribution? Our discourse is blinded — public lies, private truths.  
     
    PS: it is worth noting that this is a familiar leftist tactic — call the right-winger ‘paranoid’ — that filters down to the masses who then emulate it. Similar tactics were applied to make McCarthy a ‘witch hunter’, when of course Venona reveals that the USG was riddled with Communist spies)

  102. The claim never passed the smell test. Look at my comment re: the AOL search logs which are raw data of *actual usage* rather than reported usage. 
     
    The data agnostic looked at allow us to track pornography usage in the population over 40 years. 
     
    These are indeed self-reports, but if what you are trying to establish is that pornography has become much more “mainstream”, then isn’t it contradictory to insinuate people are increasingly lying about using it? Agnostic already dealt with these issues in his post, with supporting data that people aren’t lying. And no one had any good response, they just continued on, pretending like the arguments and supporting evidence didn’t exist. Like you are now. 
     
    Meanwhile the link you point to tells us nothing. It doesn’t tell us what percentage of the population uses pornography. It doesn’t tell us how pornography usage has changed over time. It doesn’t tell us how much or if the Internet has increased the number of people who consume pornography. It’s infinitely worse than self-report. It’s nothing. 
     
    So agnostic’s analysis is the better established conclusion. As are the many different analyses I left in that thread. 
     
    Additionally, what were we wrong about exactly? You never had a well-articulated disagreement with us. I did not disagree with your one concrete claim. 
     
    So this is a particularly odd example of how I “need to have a better nose for data”. 
     
    Speaking of that, you made an additional concrete claim in that thread, that: “gay men in general are significantly more promiscuous than straight men (with estimates of the median number of partners ranging from 1.5-4 X)” 
     
    Now with my terrible nose for data and all, I am unable to find the appropriate references to support this estimate. All I can find is large, independent population samples from a number of different countries, all showing the same results. 
     
    So will you use your superior “nose for data” and provide me with these references?

  103. Jason:  
     
    1) Jason, first, the population sample that you chose made the inverse point re: fertility that you were claiming. If we leave aside the issue of representativeness for now, gays have substantially decreased fertility relative to straights — it is not even close.  
     
    I choose population samples over clinical or convenience samples  
     
    2) Jay…trust me on this, I know a little something about statistics :) A small survey sample is not *always* preferable to a clinical sample — particularly if that sample is underpowered.  
     
    Do the math. Suppose ou’re trying to estimate a sample proportion (say, percentage childless) reliably from 1% of the population. Model it as a 99/1 mixture distribution. If you want to reliably estimate a sample proportion, you DON’T want to just use a standard survey — you need stratified sampling 
     
    When sub-populations vary considerably, it is advantageous to sample each subpopulation (stratum) independently. Stratification is the process of grouping members of the population into relatively homogeneous subgroups before sampling. The strata should be mutually exclusive: every element in the population must be assigned to only one stratum. The strata should also be collectively exhaustive: no population element can be excluded. Then random or systematic sampling is applied within each stratum. This often improves the representativeness of the sample by reducing sampling error. It can produce a weighted mean that has less variability than the arithmetic mean of a simple random sample of the population. 
     
    1. Proportionate allocation uses a sampling fraction in each of the strata that is proportional to that of the total population. If the population consists of 60% in the male stratum and 40% in the female stratum, then the relative size of the two samples (three males, two females) should reflect this proportion. 
     
    2. Optimum allocation (or Disproportionate allocation) – Each stratum is proportionate to the standard deviation of the distribution of the variable. Larger samples are taken in the strata with the greatest variability to generate the least possible sampling variance. 
     
    My understanding is that the GSS was only regionally stratified — it was not designed to provide reliable estimates of parameters in the gay subpopulation.  
     
    Bottom line — a clinical sample of several thousand patients with a condition is simply going to carry more evidentiary weight than a “probability sample” which is more than 20X smaller and which is underpowered for the population under consideration.  
     
    3) Finally, the link you provided (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sexual-Behaviour-HIV-AIDS-Europe/dp/185728819X) does not show the raw data or the details of sample collection. I assume you have the book and typed in the numbers yourself, as they’re not online.  
     
    Basically, I am *extremely* skeptical of a survey which purports to show that gay males have a *lower* median number of partners than straight males. Again, priors. As I said before:  
     
    Here’s the point: Stereotypes tend to be true. They represent prior information that is not easily “overcome” with one study. Particularly in social science, when you dig into the “stereotype busting” paper or dataset it usually turns out to be bogus (viz. Lewontin’s fallacy, Boas’ faked data, Steele’s stereotype threat, Geoff Cohen’s BS paper in Science, the Nature paper on women catching men at track, and so on & so forth).  
     
     
    The first variable of particular importance to measure here is whether the gay men in the study were closeted or not. It would be interesting if the distribution of their number of partners were sharply bimodal, with closeted gays often having zero partners and with out gays having very many.

  104.  
    Meanwhile the link you point to tells us nothing. It doesn’t tell us what percentage of the population uses pornography. It doesn’t tell us how pornography usage has changed over time. It doesn’t tell us how much or if the Internet has increased the number of people who consume pornography. It’s infinitely worse than self-report. It’s nothing. 
     
     
    You are kidding me. The AOL search logs are nothing?? Seriously, you are being autistic here. Obviously pornography consumption has massively increased with the presence of the internet. And in this sample of more than 500k AOL users — a cross section of the internet if there ever was one — the search logs confirm that this is not just a small group of people, but widely distributed. Download it yourself and see!  
     
    I’m done with this conversation. Stopping before I lose my temper. Looking back on this thread, it is exactly the same kind of BS I used to wade through in conversations about how “race doesn’t exist”. I had better uses of my time then, and I do now.

  105. I did present internet usage data, though I didn’t collect it. The people at the Nielsen ratings company did. Link from that post: 
     
    http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/internet/12/10/porn.business/index.html 
     
    “It’s an enormous business … There’s a lot of money to be made,” said Sean Kaldor, an analyst with Nielsen/NetRatings, which estimated that 34 million visited porn sites in August — about one in four Internet users in the United States. 
     
    That’s based on traffic data, not self-reports. And it’s the fraction we’d expect from GSS self-reports in recent years. More, this GSS fraction hasn’t increased significantly since the early 1970s, so the prevalence of porn-consumption probably hasn’t increased. 
     
    I don’t doubt that consuming porn to any degree (vs. not at all) has increased among some groups, but not among the pop as a whole. And I don’t doubt that, given that a person consumes porn, the amount consumed has gone up with easier access. 
     
    The world looks very different for young males in college / law school / etc., but for the pop as a whole, it’s not too different.

  106. All right. Sorry for getting annoyed. I am indeed signing off — I would have to buy the book Jason linked to continue the conversation in any case, and I just can’t justify a full research project on this.  
     
    But here is just one more point which is highly relevant to whether homosexuality will — when all is said and done — be considered a curable or at least preventable disease within our lifetimes.  
     
    Check this page out. It’s a good summary of the many kinds of mental illness that correlate with homosexuality. 
     
    http://gaydata.org/03_Knowledge/kn003_Mental_Health/kn003_Mental_Health.html 
     
    CONCLUSIONS: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or not sure youth report a significantly increased frequency of suicide attempts.  
     
    CONCLUSIONS: Students with same-sex experience may be at elevated risk of injury, disease, and death resulting from violence, substance abuse, and suicidal behaviors. 
     
    CONCLUSION: GLB youth who self-identify during high school report disproportionate risk for a variety of health risk and problem behaviors, including suicide, victimization, sexual risk behaviors, and multiple substance use. In addition, these youth are more likely to report engaging in multiple risk behaviors and initiating risk behaviors at an earlier age than are their peers.  
     
    CONCLUSIONS: These data provide further evidence of an increased risk for suicide symptoms among homosexually experienced men. Results also hint at a small, increased risk of recurrent depression among gay men, with symptom onset occurring, on average, during early adolescence. 
     
    CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence of a strong association between suicide risk and bisexuality or homosexuality in males. 
     
    CONCLUSIONS: Lesbian and bisexual women were found to have a higher prevalence of several important risk factors for breast cancer, CVD, and poor mental health and functioning outcomes. controlled by logistic regression.  
     
    CONCLUSIONS: Rates of distress and depression are high in men who have sex with men. These high rates have important public health ramifications. The predictors of distress and depression suggest prevention efforts that might be effective when aimed at men who have sex with men.

  107. CONCLUSIONS: MSM are at elevated risk for suicide attempts, with such risk clustered earlier in life. Some risk factors were specific to being gay or bisexual in a hostile environment. 
     
    … The results indicate that, for some health-related measures, there are important differences between the heterosexual population and the gay, lesbian and bisexual population. Among individuals aged 18 to 59, for example, 21.8% of homosexuals and bisexuals reported that they had an unmet health care need in 2003, nearly twice the proportion of heterosexuals (12.7%).  
     
    An epidemiologist would recognize that as comorbidity. Take it away, Sam! 
     
    http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-99-071.html 
     
    The NIMH encourages studies on the co-occurrence and co-morbidity of mental disorders, substance abuse, and with other medical conditions. An important goal of this program announcement is to identify potent, modifiable risk and protective factors amenable to intervention, and to translate the results of such studies into initial tests of theory-driven prevention and early intervention strategies. Major emphasis is placed on the identification of 
    principles motivating and sustaining behavior changes critical to reducing the risk for co-occurring and secondary regulatory and physical disorders, especially behavior change that is relevant to more than one disorder.  
     
    The observation that homosexuality is often comorbid with other mental diseases points at a common proximate neurological problem and possibly a common ultimate genetic, environmental, nutritional, or microbial cause. But of course this entire line of argument is premised upon the supposition that homosexuality is an abnormal, undesirable state — a disease state — just like the other conditions that it is comorbid with. Yet as shown in this thread, this normative stance is contested tooth and nail by SWPLs for ultimately political reasons — the same SWPLs who would never want their child to be gay.  
     
    The consequence is that research into homosexuality *as a disease* is essentially nonexistent. And for what? “Freedom”? Homosexuality is not the liberating expression of freedom that leftist propaganda would make it out to be.  
     
    1) It is a condition that frequently co-occurs with and/or causes suicidal tendencies and mental disease.  
     
    2) It causes great distress to parents and loved ones and can often end a family line.  
     
    3) It causes statistical yet predictable decrements in immune function due to behavioral modification. Note that this is just like HIV itself — HIV doesn’t kill directly, but it softens up the immune system by making previously difficult-to-contract pathogens more likely to gain egress. Similarly for homosexuality.  
     
    4) It is a major public health problem as the homosexual community is a disease reservoir for AIDS and many other STDs as well as newer, more threatening conditions like MRSA 
     
    5) There is extremely suggestive evidence that microbes may contribute to the condition, just as H. pylori contributes to ulcers, Clostridium to hardening of the arteries, and Neisseria to schizophrenia. Modern sequence census methods permit a direct test of this today: biopsy neural tissue from gay cadavers and apply environmental sequencing, and then compare to control samples. Of course, research into this would be extremely difficult to fund for all the obvious reasons.  
     
    Remember: every society has a moral system. In earlier times, they shunned promiscuity, homosexuality, and out of wedlock births. Today, we have an *inverse* morality where the people who are shunned are those who criticize promiscuity, homosexuality, and out of wedlock births! 
     
    So it’s not as if we have suddenly moved into this garden of Eden of freedom. Rather we have suddenly turned a much larger fraction of society into persona non grata, eternally unfit for the elite. Lest you think I exaggerate much, try stating that homosexuality is a disease at your latest faculty club meeting or in a corporate email — and watch how quickly you’re out on your rear.  
     
    And it’s a red herring to state that one kind of shunning is about biology while the other is about behavior. Once you are marked as a “racist” or a “sexist” or a “homophobe”, you can’t evade the label — it stays with you for the rest of your life and will always be a ready slur with which to attack you.  
     
    Anyway. As noted above, the bottom line here is both moral and pragmatic.  
     
    Morally, the normative position that homosexuality is “not a disease” is far from costless. How many of those quietly desperate, suicidal gay kids do you think might have wanted to be born straight — or better yet, to be cured? How many of their parents would have wanted a cure? Yet they count as nothing in the calculus of the NYT — the not-too-subtle message is that they should simply suck it up and accept their fate.  
     
    Pragmatically, no matter what lip service people have been shamed into providing, very few would have a gay child if it were possible to prevent it. All the digital trees that have been felled in this thread can’t get around the fact that for the *vast majority of people*, when push comes to shove they will most certainly *act* as if homosexuality is a disease if action is permitted.  
     
    I take grim pleasure in the fact that just as Pravda found itself outfoxed by jeans, so too will the NYT find itself outdone by genes. Public lies and private truths cannot coexist indefinitely.

  108. “A rate presumes a denominator.” 
     
    Gosh, yes – but if you wish to switch denominators when referring to two ‘rates’ in the same sentence, it would at least be helpful to say so. Of course, in my comment I went on to speculate on what geecee really meant to say, and it turns out that I was correct in my speculation. But geecee then ignores my further comment that married homosexuals are likely to have different characteristics from those of all homosexuals, so that his inferences from the behaviour of all homosexuals cannot be legitimately transferred to the small and probably unrepresentative subgroup of married homosexuals. (Which does not prevent him from imputing elementary statistical ignorance or incompetence to others!) Likewise, he makes no comment at all on lesbians, but continues to argue that ‘gays’, in general, are highly promiscuous, have high disease rates, etc, when these assertions are not true of lesbians. Incidentally, in the UK, where same-sex ‘civil partnerships’ have been permitted for several years without the sky falling, about half of these are female-female. In 2007 about 9000 civil partnerships (male-male and female-female) were entered into, while only 42 were dissolved, so that geecee’s assumption of ‘extremely high divorce rates’ has not (yet) been verified.

  109. geecee, 
     
    there seems to be a common pattern in your political views; you consistently use statistics on groups to argue that they’re better off oppressed, e.g blacks under segregation, blacks under apartheid, interracial couples, gays w/o marriage. 
     
    one could call this “naive utilitarianism.” As jason implied, people receive the greatest utility from a life lived freely and with dignity, not with external limitations by the government that are supposedly “for their own good” despite being unwanted and unfair.

  110. ben g, 
    I like geecee’s method for arguing his points. He avoids vague statements like “..a life lived freely and with dignity..” and loaded terms like “oppression” (who isn’t a victim these days?).  
    Facts and stats are good; try them yourself.

  111. It’s a good summary of the many kinds of mental illness that correlate with homosexuality. Confusing correlation with causation is a novice mistake. 
     
    Of the four possible explanations for any measured correlation, which are the most plausible? 
     
    Women in extremely repressive societies have an unusually high risk for suicidal behaviors. Clearly the solution is to eliminate women – femaleness must make you want to kill yourself.

  112. Perhaps it’s because this is a male-dominated forum, but as David B notes, the conflation of homosexuality with male homosexuality has been conspicuous throughout this thread. This seems very relevant to the question of SSM, since lesbians are more likely than gay men to marry (ss). It is also relevant to the question of pathology, since many of the stats cited in support of the view that homosexuality is a disease do not apply to female homosexuals.  
     
    I would be interested in hearing what geecee has to say about lesbians. If “lesbians are not gay” (to paraphrase Steve Sailer), does the disease model fit at all? Many of the arguments against SSM seem strange when the debate is narrowed to consider only female-female marriage. Shouldn’t the normative questions be segregated for the sake of clarity?

  113. The observation that homosexuality is often comorbid with other mental diseases points at a common proximate neurological problem and possibly a common ultimate genetic, environmental, nutritional, or microbial cause. But of course this entire line of argument is premised upon the supposition that homosexuality is an abnormal, undesirable state — a disease state — just like the other conditions that it is comorbid with. Yet as shown in this thread, this normative stance is contested tooth and nail by SWPLs for ultimately political reasons — the same SWPLs who would never want their child to be gay.  
     
    I wouldn’t be surprised if it were conclusively shown that homosexuality correlates with certain mental disorders for genetic or biological – as opposed to strictly environmental – reasons. But nor would I be surprised to find that homosexuality – at least among men – also correlates with greater creativity.  
     
    Speaking of which, hasn’t it been shown that creativity itself correlates with bipolar disorder? Yet no one would call creativity a mental disorder.  
     
    I think you have to weigh each condition’s impact on the individual seperately in judging whether something warrants designation as a mental disorder, regardless of co-morbidity.

  114. Chip, I believe Greg Cochran has stated that he doesn’t speculate that his pathogenic theory applies to women. He noted because of the smaller population size there is less that can be said confidently in general.

  115. TGGP, 
     
    By “disease model,” I was referring to diagnostic classification, not Cochran’s pathogenic theory. Moot point, since I see that geecee has signed off.

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