Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LaBarbera flunks basic science comprehension

Peter LaBarbera
Conservative Christians simply do not recognize how comical they can be at times. If you are not familiar with the Northwestern University study, researchers have identified two genetic markers that they claim are 40% responsible for our (male) gayness. The other 60% comes from environmental factors which they caution should not be confused with anything that is "socially acquired."

So here's the headline and sub-heading on American Family Association's blog:

Replication is Achilles' heel of 'gay gene' argument, says LaBarbera

A theory that a gene predisposes people to be homosexual isn't true, according to an authority on the subject who is reacting to a recent study supporting that theory.

Who knew that Pete was a geneticist? Pete bloviates:
According to the Telegraph report, the study builds on work done by Dr. Dean Hamer in 1993, a man who left his wife after deciding he was homosexual.

"But he could not replicate his study – and so he left the field and became a gay activist documentary maker," notes LaBarbera. "So Dean Hamer was not an impartial scientist; he was out to show 'born gay.' He couldn't replicate his own study, and so building on Dean Hamer's work doesn't really mean much."
Apparently Pete is unable, or unwilling, to look into the matter further or to fully appreciate the stellar bio of Dr. Dean Hamer. Quoting Wikipedia (emphasis added):
The study population included 409 independent pairs of gay brothers, who were analyzed with over 300,000 single-nucleotide polymorphism markers. The data strongly replicated Hamerʻs Xq28 findings as determined by both two-point and multipoint (MERLIN) LOD score mapping. Significant linkage was also detected in the pericentromeric region of chromosome 8, overlapping with one of the regions detected in the Hamer labʻs previous genomewide study. The authors concluded that "our findings, taken in context with previous work, suggest that genetic variation in each of these regions contributes to development of the important psychological trait of male sexual orientation."
Mr. LaBarbera has the intellectual curiosity of a toad. I suspect that he doesn't check into these things because he is afraid that he will find that they are refuted, as in this case. By the way, Dean Hamer continues to be one of the most important and influential genetic scientists in the world. He never left the field.

Hamer's movie making and activism are represented by Out in the Silence. It's an extraordinary and powerful film about homophobia and hope. It has inspired a campaign aimed primarily towards gay kids.

The aim of the Out in the Silence Campaign is to increase the visibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people in rural and small town America and to promote dialogue and action that will help strengthen the struggle for fairness and equality for all. By all accounts it is a successful endeavor.
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