Homosexuality - Media Misrepresents Research
A recent study outlining experimental support for the existence of human pheromones, that scent that stimulates physical attraction, has bee reported widely in the media as support for a biological basis of Homosexuality. The study basically showed the same sort of brain activity in women and homosexual men when exposed to a particular scent.
The Boston Globe, Kansas City Star, The Washington Post all carry a story source from the associated press. National Geographic and CTV has it's own story. All these papers have quotes from people not involved in the study concluding that it is more evidence that sexual preference is not all learned or that there is a biological substring for sexual orientation.
The New York Times tells a much clearer story that shows how far from science this conclusion is based. From the Article
The different pattern of activity that Dr. Savic sees in the brains of gay men could be either a cause of their sexual orientation or an effect of it. If sexual orientation has a genetic cause, or is influenced by hormones in the womb or at puberty, then the neurons in the hypothalamus could wire themselves up in a way that permanently shapes which sex a person is attracted to.... "We cannot tell if the different pattern is cause or effect," Dr. Savic said. "The study does not give any answer to these crucial questions."It seems that the other papers conclusions are way out of line. Perhaps their report was colored by some sort of bias?
What is even more interesting however is that the New York Times and National Geographic both quote Dr Dean Hamer, a geneticist from the National Institutes of Health. From NG
"This is one more line of evidence that there's a biological substring for sexual orientation," said Dean Hamer,and from the NYT
"The big question is not where homosexuality comes from, but where does sexuality come from," said Dr. Dean Hamer .... But the technique might provide an answer, Dr. Hamer noted, if it were applied to people of different ages to see when in life the different pattern of response developed..... Gay men have fewer children, meaning that in Darwinian terms, any genetic variant that promotes homosexuality should be quickly eliminated from the population. Dr. Hamer believes that such genes may nevertheless persist because, although in men they reduce the number of descendants, in women they act to increase fertility.
It sounds to me like Dr Hamer was caught out by the NYT reporter who questioned his original statement and then had to cover it using 'Their technique might provide an answer.' Clearly, Dr Hamer knows the study did not support any conclusion on the source of sexuality. Well done NYT! (Didn't think I would ever be saying that).
Dr Hamer's final comments are pure speculation.