• Kimberly Cornuelle

    Kimberly Cornuelle Profile

Comments & Discussion

Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English. Statistics or facts must include a citation or a link to the citation.

There are 33 comments on Nature vs. Nurture: The Biology of Sexuality

  1. Maybe you should also present the viewpoint of some notable researchers who believe homosexuality is NOT necessarily biologcallh predetermined. Because there is overwhelming evidence that points the other way too.

    Personally I think it falls out somewhere in the middle between 100% nature and 100% nurture.

  2. Christianity takes a lot of hits for being anti-gay but I have to say that in my Catholic high school the students were by far more supportive of gays than my public high school friends and especially my non-religious friends.

  3. Doesn’t research that shows that family members are more likely to be gay if another is equally lend itself to the conclusion that “nurture” is the root cause? (seems this research could lead to either conclusion if they are not involving genetics, etc…_

    1. That is exactly what I was thinking, if you have 2 kids and they both grow up in the same household (assuming how they are raised causes being gay), if one is gay than the other would most likely be gay as well since they are both in the same conditions

  4. To “Maybe you should also”:

    The speaker is not saying that it is 100% nature or nurture. I think he is saying that nature plays a big role, and now we have stronger evidence to confirm this. This does not imply that it is all nature. It only implies that the evidence we have for saying nature is now stronger. This is natural, because our tools for gathering and examining evidence have improved many fold over the past few decades.

  5. It shows it is largely genetic because the experimenters used a control group. The control group, adopted siblings who are gay, had only a 5% correlation – the nurture made little impact and the genomes were utterly different. Furthermore, fraternal twins, who have genes as different as siblings but the same basic nurture, are 22% correlated, while nonfraternal twins, ones with much closer genetics, are 52% correlated. So nature plays a big role.

    1. That is not a control group. A control would be identical twins raised together versus identical twins raised apart, in sufficient numbers so as to form a usable sample.

      Using identical twins and fraternal twins raised in practically the same environment isn’t a control. It’s very interesting, but it makes no case for biological determinance. Twins are treated very differently from non-twin siblings. This really can’t be controlled for in a non-longitudinal study.

  6. A person is no more born a homosexual than they are born a heterosexual. If my sexuality is genetic, then there also has to be a gene that explains the behavior of those involved in beastiality and sex with children (even infants). It is substantially more reasonable that a person is born sexual, period; and for any number of reasons, chooses how to act on that sexuality. This also explains how people’s views on how to “act out” their sexuality change over time.

    Christian or not — sin or not — legal or not — people will act out their desires. Making this a genetic issue suddenly makes this “not my fault”. If I’m a drug addict, chances are somewhere along the line, I made a decision. If I’m a practicing homosexual, same thing. I choose.

    If it’s genetic, then it isn’t my choice. My eyes are blue. That’s genetic.

    1. wrong. first, the a priori “reasonableness” of your position is debatable. the notion that anyone chooses whom to be attracted to seems eminently unreasonable. second, even if the nurture side were more reasonable than the nature side, science does not answer questions by adverting to reasonableness. if it did, the earth would still be flat and an electron would be either a particle or a wave. while homosexuals do make the decision to have gay sex, that hardly implies that they decided to be attracted to same-sex partners. finally, because one element of sexuality is genetically determined, that does not mean that all elements of sexuality are. your eyes may be blue but mostly they just appear to be closed.

      1. Sorry, nothing is debatable about it. If something is sexually genetic, then what makes incest wrong? Besides, the only reason people are against incest is because of deformations, but science and technology has invented… Wait for it… Birth Control and Condoms. OMG don’t say it is so?!

      2. Nothing in the results of this study are definitive and the “reasonableness” on both sides of this issue are about equally valid at this point in time. What should be obvious to every one though is the gay community is desperately looking for science to back them up that: they were born that way. It is about equally true that conservative are equally determined to have supporting evidence that being gay is environmental. The real scientists have yet to weigh in with any factual data that proves things either way. The Pyschologist leader of this study rightly said he is unqualified to make a genetic statement on the subject. Meanwhile both sides of this issue should be a little more humble and kindly toward each other. They have only anecdotal information and minor correlations. And that is not science.

    2. This is a free country. Everyone is free to identify themselves with any gender they want, express themselves the way they want and sexually orient themselves to any gender they want, as long as they are not imposing their views on other adults.

  7. Homosexuality is not a choice. Just like you don’t choose the color of your skin, you cannot choose whom you are sexually attracted to. If you can, sorry, but you are not heterosexual, you are bi-sexual. Virtually all major psychological and medical experts agree that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Most gay people will tell you its not a choice. Common sense will tell you its not a choice. While science is relatively new to studying homosexuality, studies tend to indicate that its biological.

    (Change *** to www)
    Gay, Straight Men’s Brain Responses Differ

      1. Ah, but why are you not attracted to a person you once were before? The answer: the personality of the other person. At first, you were attracted to your “ex.” Over time, that attraction dissipated as you learned more about them, and no longer wanted to be with that person. What difference does the person’s scientific sex make? Not very much. Every person has their own distinct personality, which is where (I believe) the nurture element of this debate comes into play. For instance, does one choose to be viewed as annoying for telling the same stories over and over again? No. Most likely, that is the type of person they were raised around; however, that does not change the fact that for some reason, they were initially attracted to you. Surely, you’ve met someone who was attracted to you but you were not at all attracted to them. Maybe they were a normal person with no real “deformities,” mental or physical, you just simply did not want to be with that person on a more intimate level. Why? That’s just how you were wired. You do not choose who you want to be friends with if the other person does not want to be your friend as well. Love is not a conquest to be chosen; it is a treasure to be found.

  8. the nature/nurture distinction is one that is increasingly irrelevant in current biological work, with the advance of epigenetics and the advanced understanding of developmental biology. framing this debate and most other discussions in these terms is not very fruitful… let’s say you have a whole array of genetic dispositions – what your physical and cultural environment exposes you to will have an enormous effect on which genes get turned on and off. this starts in the womb and never stops. nature or nurture? exactly.

    1. Of course it isn’t. It is logical, but you disagree with the conclusion. Either there are genetic elements to sexual preference or there are not.

      The choice isn’t necessarily the attraction, as gay people and pedophiles will tell you. The choice is to act upon the attraction. If one isn’t religious and doesn’t believe homosexuality is immoral, it shouldn’t matter if a person acts on that attraction, as long as it is legal. If it is not legal, then regardless of one’s predilictions, one should not act on it.

      We should not conflate the individual moral and biological arguments with societal decisions about what makes a society “work.”

      There is nothing wrong with making a genetical sexual case for all matters of attraction. What is the difference between sexual attraction and those who can’t stop gambling? Or hoarding cats? Or addiction? The same reinforcing pleasure mechanisms in the brain are at work. That isn’t a causal argument, but there is no reason to exclude that premise because if one accepts that, one must accept a marriage argument for siblings and multiple partners. There is simply no biological distinction.

      Policy matters should be argued on a basis of societal worth, not individuals’ preferences.

  9. I agree entirely with this post.
    Especially the part about the comparison with bestiality and pedophilia; it logically makes sense. Reason triumphs in your argument…however, you will most likely be met with hostility…that is the way of the “emotionally driven”.

  10. I agree with Pillard completely in that I believe homosexuality is a function of the way you’re wired; you’re born with it. No one would willingly choose to be a minority that society has ridiculed and deemed less than equal. I’m not gay but I am a middle-aged woman and I’ve dealt with discrimination from men my entire life. It is very difficult to be a minority – so why would anyone choose that if they could avoid it? I believe that Pillard’s work will be supported soon and there will be additional evidence brought forward to corroborate it.

    What I found disturbing about the interview though was his assertion that he is a hard-core atheist. I would like to appeal to Pillard’s scientific side and ask that he read the book: “The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus” by Lee Strobel. It is written by an ex-atheist who set about making a case to debunk Jesus as the Christ. Instead he found, after extensive scientific and legal analysis, that it was impossible to draw that conclusion. As a result of his research Strobel is no longer an atheist.

  11. Ah Richard — what a delight to read your comments. Brought back so many wonderful memories of our work together at HCHS! Guess at our mutual age of 80 we are both still in there working to end discrimination toward GLBT persons. I have used the twin study in lectures here in Florida and found the audience excited about the results. I have no doubt orientation is genetic – how it is expressed, lived is nurture. That is no different than heterosexual orientation. It is curious how in the 21st century homosexuality still scares the hell out of people. Fear then brings corrupt theology and philosophy, and pseudoscience. Keep up the good work dear friend.

    1. My 16 yr. old daughter recently “came out” to me. She expressed having felt “different” for quite some time and was only now able to understand what she was feeling. I held off telling my husband because I didn’t think he would accept what she was telling me. I finally did tell him and sure enough his response was, “let’s see how she feels in a few years”. I was speechless. We are at complete opposing sides on whether she was “born this way” or whether she is “choosing” to be gay. I’m so saddened by his response and I’m not sure how I deal with him going forward. I love and support my daughter 100% and want her to know that (I have told her so) If she knew how my husband felt I believe it would push them even farther apart (she chose not to tell him herself and told me I could)Do you have any advice?

  12. To say that being attracted to the same sex is a choice is simplifying the debate to a fault. Like, I choose to have mashed potatoes over fries…REALLY?
    Ask most gay men about the earliest memories. Mine is typical. When I was 5 years old, I “knew I was different”… could I define “that” then (?), of course not. I didn’t know didly about sexuality then, much less morality. It wasn’t until I was 8 that I started acting out my sexuality, being only attracted to boys, and still, not really attaching “morality to it”…. then, as I hit my teens, I started noticing it as being anti social behavior, and not until then did I realize that society would treat me differently, thus, the struggle began.
    Please don’t inject into the fray terms like beastiality as a genetic phenomenon, and link it too sexual preference. We are discussing attraction to men or woman here.

  13. 1. Epigenetics: environmental factors and genes interact.
    2. Abuse in childhood seems to be a pattern looking at my gay friends. I assume that often it feels safer to not become perpetrator themselves by abstaining from heterosexual sexuality. Have seen strong dissociative symptoms there and quite some violent behavior once sexuality switched from homosexuality to heterosexuality (yes, it did, in the gayest gay one can imagine).
    3. Twin studies: it’s likely that identical twins identify more with each other than fraternal twins. From a psychological perspective it doesn’t make sense to believe twin studies to be indicator for genetic aspects. Then again: Epigenetics.
    4. Fear and vulnerability: Gay people I know have a lot more of that than the usual heterosexual I know (who have a lot too). I don’t lie what stupid test this was for proving its not about environmental factors. There ARE differences. But it’s unlikely to detect them with a Rorschach test.

    There are too many taboo topics intermingled. As long as researchers are not willing to look at these the findings won’t be anywhere near useful.

    1. Um, plenty of researchers investigate sexual orientation. There is no evidence that child abuse causes male homosexuality, but instead that the early gender nonconformity that homosexuals usually show makes them targets for abuse and maltreatment. You can’t explain the fact that 2% of men are Fa’afafine in Samoa by claiming its a result of social influence, the Samoans (who are deeply Christian!) would laugh at you! They recognise this gender nonconformity early and put them into a third gender category (a man in the manner of a woman) because they do not approve of homosexuality. If you want to learn something I recommend the Bailey et al. review from 2016 which was authored by a number of leading researchers in this area: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1529100616637616

  14. At the moment, however, I suspect that rather than biology being destiny, our sexual preference is shaped by a combination of early experiences, peer pressure, opportunity, circumstances and fate. Do the heterosexuals reading this ever wonder how they ended up straight, especially since so many of you will have had crushes on or even sexual contact with someone of the same sex at some stage?

  15. At the moment, however, I suspect that rather than biology being destiny, our sexual preference is shaped by a combination of early experiences, peer pressure, opportunity, circumstances and fate. Do the heterosexuals reading this ever wonder how they ended up straight, especially since so many of you will have had crushes on or even sexual contact with someone of the same sex at some stage?

  16. A bit disturbing. How does one explain t-e human anatomy? Men having organs specifically designed for a particular purpose and so are women? What of the reproduction function? If born that way, would that mean the end of the human race?

  17. In response to Mukasa ^ . . .most heterosexual sex is not practiced with regard to ‘procreation’ anyway but rather for ‘recreation’. Is THIS ‘against nature’?

Post a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *