95% of Gay Dolphins Agree: Card is Right About Homosexuality’s Unnaturalness

Orson Scott Card as done it again and written another masterwork in which he tries to evaluate the science of homosexuality! I hardly ever agree with him when he writes about science (although I must admit I’ve always been a closet fan of his science fiction) but as he writes about the unnaturalness of homosexuality it struck a resonate cord. Now, of course, I don’t really know as much about the science of homosexuality as OSC does, well human homosexuality anyway, but that is not my concern. Since I’m a biologist, I am concerned with another unnatural form of male homosexual behavior. I’m speaking of gay dolphins. Scientists have discovered that homosexuality is running rampant in dolphins. I find this outrageous. Now don’t get me wrong as OSC says:

After a lifetime spent in theater and the arts, of course, I am well-acquainted with many homosexuals; and because of who they are and who I am, I am close friends with several.

Some of my best friends are gay dolphins. And who can argue that they have not provided much to the entertainment industry, as OSC says? Sure I was a little surprised when Flipper came out of the closet. But, hey, these actors! What are you going to do with them?

OCS again:

Science does not say that gays have no choice whatsoever

I think this is true of gay dolphins as well. Certainly to say they have no choice would be an insult to their intelligence (which is equal to that of chimps). Of course, I don’t know that science really says much about free choice at all, preference maybe (as in taste-tests of various colas (can I say ‘colas’ on a Mormon blog—dang there goes my chance to get on NothingWavering.org again)). Of course, some people confuse science for ethics. Because they are so much alike. . . um . . . well, never mind. Even though he’s set up a strawman here with a statement about something which science has no ability to discuss so of course it hasn’t said anything, OSC did not set up a straw dolphin so we can believe him. Right?

Likely the causes of homosexuality are the same in dolphins and humans:

The study does not allow for the possibility that the physical appearance of the subjects might have played a role. If seduction, molestation or other sexual trauma contributes to homosexuality, and if those are influenced by the perceived attractiveness of the subject to a molester, seducer or rapist, then the greater physical resemblance between identical twins may account for some of the results.

Obviously tragic events in the young dolphins life are the real cause of this queer turn in their lives. Never mind that OSC is completely wrong about this in humans. In dolphins it’s the rule (Gay killer whales are also known and likely contribute to young dolphins’ poor sexual self perception, especially when they bully these dolphins in this young impressionable cetacean stage). Thus they ultimately end up hanging out at the gay sand bar waiting for their favorite food: pink salmon. (Yes, even dolphins play into these stereotypes.)

But there can be no serious question that homosexuality, to the degree that it cannot be overcome or outlasted, is a reproductive dysfunction. A human body that has evolved with functional organs of sexual reproduction is redirected to sexual activities that are reproductive dead ends.

Hello. True in Dolphins? Check. Check. And Double check. They are fighting Darwin in this reproductive dysfunction just as OSC argues. How are they going reproduce if they are pair bonding with another dolphin of the same sex? The species is in grave danger. It’s not enough that the tuna boats are catching our smooth skinned friends, we’ve got gay dolphins not doing their duty and reproducing. Holy cow, this is the sine qua non of biology: eat and reproduce. What are they thinking? Now I know some of you well versed in evolutionary biology are going to try and point out that it’s not individual survival that counts, but genes. And you are going to point out that a helping sibling that doesn’t breed can be a huge evolutionary advantage to a genetic line, and you’ll point out that in lots of animal species some forgo their reproductive opportunities for the betterment of their genes, like in bees (Wait. Are bees gay? I don’t know. Homosexuality in insects is not studied much, but all those female bees do do a lot of waggle dancing in those dark hives!), but that does not change that fact that dolphin gayness is just flat out unnatural.

And it’s spreading. Big horned sheep have homosexual male behavior now too. What’s with that? I mean those are like the stud muffins of the animal kingdom—Big burley chests, great horned heads that they the knock together in oh so manly of ways. (And not that gay dolphins aren’t manly, mind you. Some of my best friends are manly dolphins.)

And I could go on with species after species of unnatural homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom: Elephants, bears, raccoons, ostriches, penguins the list goes on and on. And it’s unnatural in all of these. The natural world seems chalk full of these unnatural behaviors. It’s got to stop.

Note: I wrote this in response to OSC particularly poisonous and hurtful blog on Mormon Times. He’s got almost everything wrong about the science and his ugly and harmful idea that all homosexual behavior has its roots in child abuse is particularly reckless and dangerous. I believe unquestioningly that those who have feelings for members of the same sex, have those feelings rooted in the identical biology that attracts me to the opposite sex. Scientific studies currently support this and findings continue to accumulate. Even at BYU, the policy specifically states that having homosexual feelings is not against its strict honor code (which covers such moral issues).

From the Church’s newsroom: ‘The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility towards homosexual men and women. Protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not affect Church members’ Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people.”

This is not the time for OSC to offer rants on his uninformed theories of why people are homosexual and whine about how he thinks science says that what they genuinely experience is as fake as Global Warming (yes, OSC is a Global Warming denier, isn’t there suppose to be some science in Science Fiction?)

Might I suggest that in this time when feelings are running so hot on political issues orbiting gay themes that, rather than writing rants, we especially reach out in meaningful and Christ-like ways to the Faithful Mormon gay community?

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31 comments to 95% of Gay Dolphins Agree: Card is Right About Homosexuality’s Unnaturalness

  • steveP

    Once again a reminder that I’m in Vienna and I will appear slow to approve comments (because I’ve gone to bed). But rest assured I’ll do it first thing in the morning!

  • Tim

    OSC and his rants…
    I do, however, like his anti–suburban-sprawl mentality.
    It seems to me that homosexuality is a complicated thing. We know genes can contribute to it.
    I worked with troubled teenagers for about a year. Most of them came from troubled homes, and many of them (especially the girls) had been sexually abused. I noticed that these teenagers (as opposed to other teenagers I’ve worked with in other settings) were more likely to be homosexual–especially the girls. From my limited experience, it seems that the environment (sexual abuse) may be a contributing factor in some cases of homosexuality.

  • Bees waggle dancing in dark places. You should win a prize for that comment! Very funny!

    “And it’s spreading. Big horned sheep have homosexual male behavior now too….”

    Of course, the reason homosexuality is spreading among animals can be traced to zoos. All those innocent hippos next to a couple of gay sheep, and next thing you know the hippos are gay too. Monkey see, monkey do.

  • Steve,

    I too am a fan of OSC’s scifi writing and other literary pursuits. He has had a tendancy to rant on everything under the sun or at least since I came of age (www.hatrack.com and http://www.ornery.org).

    On this post and his global warming denials he seems to feel that a “silent majority” needs a voice. I don’t know quite how I feel about it. For kicks and giggles (ok really to feed my angst) I listen to conservative talk radio regularly and I’m still trying to figure out how denial of observation makes you 1) A True Red Blooded American and 2) Deserving of so much attention 3) Probably a heretic of some kind deserving unabashed and uncivil persecution.

  • jhayes

    I do enjoy his books and short stories. I was honestly hoping that he would keep his mouth shut when the whole prop 8 in ca thing broke out but he didnt. Unfortunately, this really is the state of way way way too much of the Church in their attitude towards homosexuality.

    There is an overwhelming abundance of evidence saying that in most cases it cant be reversed. In some it can but they are the exception and not the rule. Most fail to realize this and then go off and make excuses claiming persecution against traditional morality because there arent any published studies confirming the efficacy of so called reparative therapies. I often hear people say that gays who have gone straight through these therapies dont speak out because they want privacy but how does that stop a study from being conducted?

    Us Mormons are unfortunately big players in the reparative therapy scene having leaders from Evergreen now leading a national group of reparative therapists (NARTH). If I remember correctly, Dean Byrd (former commissioner of LDS Family Services,) is also a major player in that organization.

    Ive heard BYU used to be heavy into researching cures for homosexuality in the 70s and 80s but dont know how accurate that is. I do know they did electroshock therapies and aversion therapies ala A Clockwork Orange in futile attempts to change sexuality. That was a different time in the church though where simply being attracted to others of the same sex was an offense worthy of excommunication.

    Orson Scott Card’s rants on evolution and the superiority of intelligent design are also amusing. Just goes to prove that you dont have to know how science works to write science fiction.

  • Big burley chests, great horned heads that they the knock together in oh so manly of ways.

    I’d never thought of homosexual behavior as the result of head knocking and brain damage before …

    Too bad Card rubs you so wrong.

  • Cap

    Now here is an interesting thought. Sense, obviously dolphins are born gay, and it is in their genetics, does that mean after the resurrection they will continue to be gay? I vote yes. I hope people… I mean dolphins genetics wouldn’t change when being made perfect. And also, who decides what perfect is.

  • Cap

    By the way…
    Excellent post!

  • Mark B.

    I’m looking for an explanation for why my Yellow Labrador retriever bitch is forever humping the cushions on our couch. She’s a female, for crying out loud!

    And, she was spayed at six months. Could that be the reason?

  • amri

    “Too bad Card rubs you so wrong.”

    So wrong it’s right? Is there a double meaning in this?

    Very funny post. I’m also offended by gay dolphins. It’s why I eat tuna.

  • Jeremy

    Excellent post. Thank you.

    I’m glad to see someone in the know answering OSC’s crazy rants. It seems he’s decided to take a new career path as a professional concern troll.

  • smw

    As I’ve thought about the verified homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom, it has seemed to me that such is the normal order of things for about 5-10% of the population — whether that population be dolphin, big horned sheep, or human. Clearly, the argument about this behavior leading to the end of a species is misleading. Not only has such behavior not resulted in the extinction of dolphins, I don’t see it ending the human species either. My seeing two men embracing and having a committed life together is not going to cause me to switch teams and suddenly stop wanting to enjoy a sexual life with my wife.

    Furthermore, I don’t see the logic of a reproductive dysfunction as any relevant argument against homosexuality. If biological “dead ends” are a reason for discrimination, why isn’t OSC arguing for the marginalization of the the deaf, the blind, the colorblind, the mentally handicapped, the physically handicapped, the barren, & etc. OSC’s argument seems to be that if something isn’t working the way “God intended” then we need to work towards having amendments to the constitution to marginalize them. Maybe women who can’t have children should be divorced and made to live alone so they don’t tempt someone else with their biological dysfunction. What if our Young Women see someone who doesn’t have children? Oh, my.

    I was thinking about this topic and OSC this morning as I read a blog from bycommonconsent.com — it was entitled “Grandma’s Final Preparations.” In it, the author tells of a family that came to terms with homosexuality through a brother and his partner and the rich relationships that existed because of that. Ultimately it was about love, acceptance, and tolerance. I find these experiences much more life-affirming than anything written from the conservative right urging me towards revulsion and disgust.

    As I read the blog, my mind went to OSC comments that I have read. I find his remarks unkind. Even statements like “I am well acquainted with many homosexuals …I am close friends with several” feel like they are little more than exclusionary comments dressed up in language that ostensibly makes the bearer look open-minded. But after such a statement there is always a “but” that reveals much about a person. While I enjoyed OSC’s book “Ender’s Game,” I do not agree with his social philosophy.

    Thanks Steve for pointing out the “unnaturalness” that occurs in nature.

  • Matt

    So, now that we know there are gay dolphins and sheep, we should redefine marriage to include their relationships as well. Wouldn’t want any of these natural unions to go unvalidated.

  • Steve,

    This subject certainly isn’t my specialty, but I do have a question. How many of these dolphins studied are actually homosexual rather than bi-sexual?

    The fact that the neighborhood male dog will mount another male dog (or a human leg for that matter) is hardly proof that the are truly homosexual dogs (or dolphins) that are exclusively attracted to their same sex after all…

  • OSC an authority on homosexuality? My goodness. Even I know my limitations.

    I have researched the issue and taught it in college classes. Here is the deal with homosexual tendencies.

    -The data (concordance rates in relatives with varying levels of genetic similarity) indicate that there is a biologic component in some cases. At the same time, for many people there is an environmental trigger (something in the environment that triggers gay tendencies).

    -In the end, however, none of the above negates personal choice.

    p.s. I saw a dog ‘accidently’ attempt copulation with another dog of the same sex – I don’t think that makes the dog ‘gay’, just a little haywire.

  • steveP

    In the case of dolphins, and other social animals, the animals can form long term same sex pair bonds like they would with a member of the opposite sex. Sex is a part of the bonding, but there also appear (at least in higher animals) friendship, helping, and staying together to build a nest. It is more than just mounting the same sex, it’s the playing out the complete repertoire of sexual courtship rituals and being together for whatever makes up the time for normal pair bonds. Sometimes for life, sometimes for a season. Whatever comes natural for that species.

  • Interesting stuff.

    As and aside — I think the “natural” argument is fatally flawed in Mormonism anyway. Isn’t the natural man an enemy to God in our scriptures? I thought the whole point was that being Godlike was not natural and it takes deliberate effort.

  • Cap

    Geoff,

    I am not sure if I understood you correctly, but I am going to respond to your comment how I think you meant it to be understood. (I may be a little slow).

    ‘The natural man is an enemy to God.’ I agree. Now what does that mean? Not sinning, which typically is our natural behavior. Now, if homosexuality is in someones genes, just like heterosexuality is. How can you fight that?

    To me, I try to flip it around. What if being straight was a sin? And you were told that you being married to your wife was wrong. How would you do it? I know, personally, I could not do it because I love my wife. I have a hard time seeing our Heavenly Father condemning them for something they cannot help.

  • Maybe I’m missing your point too cap. As I understand things same sex attraction itself is not considered a sin in Mormonism. Just like opposite sex attraction in itself is not considered a sin in Mormonism.

    My original point was largely that the “it’s unnatural” argument is not a strong argument to make for Mormons in light of the famous natural man verse in the BoM.

  • I’m with Geoff J. on this one. I don’t think the “it’s perfectly natural and it feels good” argument is going to go very far in Mormon circles at least. For that matter, I don’t think the “I don’t really have choice to keep my pants on” argument is going to go very far either. Come to think of it, the “dolphins do it so it must be morally Ok for us humans too” isn’t much of an argument either. How about the “gays have no more choice than dolphins,” argument? Nope, doesn’t sound promising to me either. How about the “all day animals are the same” argument. Well, I never came across that argument before but it just doesn’t persuade me much. How about the “dolphins have the same moral obligations as humans” argument? Nope, nope. I just don’t think that is going to fly.

  • BTW Steve, I never told you. I really liked your paper on consciousness. I’m a process emergentist on the mind-body issue, so I think that at least we have that in common.

  • BTW I’m not a global warming denier. But I don’t believe humans are solely to blame either. Yes, I believe we’ve been coming out of an ice age the past 10,000 years and I think, nah, I know that accounts for all but .02% of the warming. Darned Neanderthals, I don’t know what they did to start the earth warming like that, but I bet it was the discovery of fire. Hold it. Wasn’t there lightning before those darn Neanderthals that caused massive forest fires? Darned that lightning.

  • One more thing Steve: The notion that homosexuality is in the genes is no more troublesome than that heterosexuality is. Except it ain’t. The research suggests a very wide range of orientations. One thing that isn’t genetic — taking one’s pants off.

  • SteveP

    Hi Blake,

    I will admit there are complexities here that I’m not touching about genetics and environment and I’m not making any moral arguments here. Just a capacity/propensity argument. And that homosexuality is widespread in the animal kingdom and genes are a causal factor. (There is lots of debate in the biology world right now about the role of genes and noncoding regions of the DNA and how environment, and development add deep complexity to all these facts of life).

    The carbon balance was influenced by humans from the beginning quite likely, but it really took off once we started digging it out of the ground to industrialize.

    Thanks for the comment on consciousness. It’s one of my favorite topics!

  • baileydh

    OSC’s science is hopelessly in error. Here are three recent studies that should lay to rest any doubts on this matter.

    This first study, just published two weeks ago, shows, by direct brain scans, that gay brains are fundamentally different than hetereo brains — in many ways they have structures and operations similar to those of hetereo brains of the opposite gender:

    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/mg19826613.900-gay-brains-are-hardwired-at-birth.html

    This next study analyzes orientation by physiological measurements. It shows that orientation is even more strongly defined than previously believed — many persons self-declared to be “bi” are really one way or the other.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/05/health/05sex.html

    This Swedish study is, as far as I can tell, the most thorough and carefully conducted examination yet of the question of to what extent orientation is genetic. The authors conclude that male orientation is about 34-39% inherited (ie explained by genetic factors), versus 18-19% for women. In any event, as you are aware, other “environmental” factors (meaning womb environment, not social environment) likely explain the remaining percentage, especially in light of the first study above.

    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/630/1

  • SteveP

    Thanks for the excellent links! It’s striking how clear the story is becoming with every new study that comes in. Many thanks for this update!!!

  • ApricotKiller

    Here is a detailed point by point rebuttal of Card’s hate mongering:
    http://drownedinink.livejournal.com/933794.html

  • [...] his life exposure have brought.  His blog is fantastic as long as he stays away from ranting about gay porpoises (Seriously Steve, what is that all [...]

  • Steve: What is striking is how uncritically you’re accepting these studies. First, the brain studies don’t show much. There is a vast variation and the supposed commonalities are also common to hetero brains. Not much of a conclusion to draw except by scientists desperate for evidence and funding.

    The Swedish study fails to account for the fact that they count as homosexual conduct and orientation what most of the rest of us wouldn’t.

    Look Steve, you’re a better scientist than simply accepting these studies uncritically. As I said, there is a range of orientation issues and these studies fail to address them. One thing I am sure of — if we begin with only nature and nurture as the total explanation, then there is no moral accountability. Of course, that is just what those who fund such studies want to see. But you don’t accept that everything is merely nurture and nature do you?

  • SteveP

    Hi Blake,

    I’m not sure what you are expecting from science. The brain studies are actually really pretty good. I’ve attached the abstract to the Swedish study at the end of this. You will not find any science of which I’m aware that there is no variation present in the study. If that’s a fault it’s wide spread in science. I’m not sure any science escapes it.

    I’m not sure why you would not count self reporting as a valid selection criteria. It’s like pain studies. It’s all we have. Subjective expereince (as you know) is unavailable. If someone reports they are in pain, we have reasons to suppose they may be, and we are going to study pain, it’s about as good as we can get. I suppose you could demand that the paper be titled “Brain differences in people who, feel like they are homosexual” and that is a concern as in all studies that involve self reporting. Indeed, you could argue that a study that all Mormon’s who self-report a testimony is invalid for the same reasons you are criticizing.

    Most important is look at the reference list in this paper. You are not dealing with a couple of studies, those provided are just current examples. The literature is vast.

    On Nature-Nurturer of course that’s not the whole story, but I would argue that whatever our spirits add to the equation they do exist in a biological context that cannot nor should not be ignored.

    PET and MRI show differences in cerebral asymmetry and functional connectivity between homo- and heterosexual subjects
    Ivanka Savic* and Per Lindström
    +Author Affiliations

    Stockholm Brain Institute, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden
    Edited by Jan-Åke Gustafsson, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, and approved April 30, 2008 (received for review February 27, 2008)

    Abstract
    Cerebral responses to putative pheromones and objects of sexual attraction were recently found to differ between homo- and heterosexual subjects. Although this observation may merely mirror perceptional differences, it raises the intriguing question as to whether certain sexually dimorphic features in the brain may differ between individuals of the same sex but different sexual orientation. We addressed this issue by studying hemispheric asymmetry and functional connectivity, two parameters that in previous publications have shown specific sex differences. Ninety subjects [25 heterosexual men (HeM) and women (HeW), and 20 homosexual men (HoM) and women (HoW)] were investigated with magnetic resonance volumetry of cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres. Fifty of them also participated in PET measurements of cerebral blood flow, used for analyses of functional connections from the right and left amygdalae. HeM and HoW showed a rightward cerebral asymmetry, whereas volumes of the cerebral hemispheres were symmetrical in HoM and HeW. No cerebellar asymmetries were found. Homosexual subjects also showed sex-atypical amygdala connections. In HoM, as in HeW, the connections were more widespread from the left amygdala; in HoW and HeM, on the other hand, from the right amygdala. Furthermore, in HoM and HeW the connections were primarily displayed with the contralateral amygdala and the anterior cingulate, in HeM and HoW with the caudate, putamen, and the prefrontal cortex. The present study shows sex-atypical cerebral asymmetry and functional connections in homosexual subjects. The results cannot be primarily ascribed to learned effects, and they suggest a linkage to neurobiological entities.

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