Monday, September 9, 2019

As you might expect, Mad Mat Staver is not a geneticist

“One thing that I am reasonably certain of: You cannot pray away the DNA.”
Mat Staver
Hate group leader, Mad Mat Staver is as profoundly confused as he appears to be. 
via CBN/YouTube
The subject line of Monday's email from Liberty Counsel reads: Study Confirms Genes Don't Determine Homosexuality:
A study conducted by scientists from Harvard and MIT once again refutes the “born that way” reason for homosexuality. This massive study of nearly half a million people sought to determine if genetic factors contribute to same-sex sexual behavior.
For starters, this study did not compare gay people with straight people. Contrary to Staver's claim, this was not an exploration of homosexuality. I will have more on this in a few paragraphs.

Peter Sprigg at Family Research Council attempted to create a similar inference while stating that genetics constitute about a third of factors responsible for homosexuality based on the study. (Liberty Counsel and Family Research Council are both anti-LGBTQ hate groups.) The title of the Sprigg's masterpiece is titled: Landmark Study Determines There Is No “Gay Gene”.

I have been reluctant to respond to the anti-gay lunatics for a few reasons:
  1. This involves a very complex discussion of heritability that I am unqualified to engage in.
  2. I am troubled by the sample demographics. Participants were 51 years of age on average.
  3. The article is not written for public consumption.
  4. This is not a study of homosexuality. It is “ever and never.” “Have you ever engaged in same-sex behavior?”
  5. Therefore, this study does not identify gay people who have never had (or admit to having) gay sex due to religious, parental or societal disapproval. They are “nevers.”
Quoting from the study abstract:
Although a more complex continuum beyond two categories of ever having sex with someone of the same sex was possible by using the 23andMe cohort, these data had an unusually high number of individuals who ever had same-sex partners (19%), potentially biasing the data.
They discovered five loci that correlate with ever having same-sex behavior: two loci across both sexes, two in males, and one in females.
A locus is a specific, fixed position on a chromosome where a particular gene or genetic marker is located. So right off the bat, Mr. Staver is bats. Genetics are very much an influence over whether or not an individual is predisposed to have same-sex sex.

Sprigg is also nuts. The study discusses heritability several times with differing statistics. Presumably, the Sprigg is referring to this:
By modeling the correspondence of relatedness among individuals and the similarity of their sexual behavior, we estimated broad-sense heritability—the percentage of variation in a trait attributable to genetic variation—at 32.4%.
Sprigg would have people believe that sexual orientation is about one-third genetic and two-thirds environment (which he would incorrectly have people believe is attributable to parenting). According to NIH:
Heritability does not indicate what proportion of a trait is determined by genes and what proportion is determined by environment. So, a heritability of 0.7 does not mean that a trait is 70% caused by genetic factors; it means than 70% of the variability in the trait in a population is due to genetic differences among people.
Bottom line, according to the study:
Same-sex sexual behavior is influenced by not one or a few genes but many. Overlap with genetic influences on other traits provides insights into the underlying biology of same-sex sexual behavior, and analysis of different aspects of sexual preference underscore its complexity …
The questions that I have are fairly simple.
  • What is the relevance of genetic influences on same-sex sexual behavior?
  • How does this relate to sexual orientation? (I have had heterosexual sex and that doesn't make me any less gay.)
  • How does heritability correlate to influence and would that be different for behavior in contrast to sexual orientation?
One thing that I am reasonably certain of: You cannot pray away the DNA.

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