For years now, we have been told, for one thing, that psychologically speaking, homosexuality is perfectly normal. As proof we are given evidence such as that the American Psychological Association no longer considers homosexuality a pathology because science had shown that it isn't. Never mind that the APA changed its position purely on the basis of political activism within and outside the organization. This was admitted both by liberal members of these organizations who protested the change at the time and the radicals who pressured the APA, through political pressure, including the disruption of APA meetings.
Whether it is a pathology or not, it's hard to justify the process by which the question was answered, which was almost exclusively political.
But we all must look the other way, think scientific thoughts, and pretend it had something to do with, I don't know, like, evidence or something. Bad science is no problem with research that supports pro-gay orthodoxies, unlike research that questions the Approved Opinions, like that of Mark Regnerus, which are held to the highest scientific standards.
If your conclusions follow the party line, you're celebrated no matter what. But violate the current orthodoxies, and a witch hunt ensues, as it did with Regnerus.
One of the most important claims of gay orthodoxy is that "sexual orientation" is immutable. This is politically important on gay issues because, in order to be considered a "suspect class"—one that cannot be discriminated against--one of the four criteria (all of which need to be met) is that the class of person be defined according to immutable characteristics.
Not only do gay rights groups make this claim—and cite studies that purportedly demonstrate it, but courts now regularly accept these claims with almost no critical inquiry into whether they are, in fact, true. When these claims are questioned in judicial proceedings, the defense you get is not exactly compelling. This was the case in the Prop 8 case when, Gregory Herek, a social psychologist at UC Davis, testified that "eighty-seven per cent of the gay men and seventy per cent of the lesbians he questioned said they felt they had little or no choice in their sexual orientation."
In reality, no study has proven that homosexuality is immutable. It is not a scientific belief: It a creedal belief in the religion of Political Correctness that is automatically accepted in order to further what is now a popular political agenda. In fact, gays themselves deny it when they talk about "gender fluidity," which they do about as much as they talk about it not being a matter of choice.
So it wasn't a surprise when, at the end of last week, headlines blared that a team from UCLA announced at a meeting of the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics announce that they had creation "An algorithm using epigenetic information from just nine regions of the human genome can predict the sexual orientation of males with up to 70 percent accuracy."
Just as we have come to expect, the uncritical headlines followed:
"Homosexuality can be predicted by a gene scan with 70 percent accuracy, study reveals," Latinos HealthAnd on and on. You get the idea.
"Study: DNA test can reveal male sexual orientation," San Diego Union Tribune
"Epigenetic algorithm accurately predicts male sexual orientation," Medical Press
"Real-Life ‘Gaydar’: Gene Scan Predicts Who’s Gay with 70 Percent Accuracy," Healthline News
"Epigentic ‘gaydar’ proven to be 70 percent accurate," Examiner.com
Now first of all, you wonder what all the fuss is about concerning a study finding something we already know. If we all know now that homosexuality is immutable, then why would the results of this study be hailed so widely?
Scientific American summarized the study soon after the announcement:
It followed 37 pairs of identical male twins in which one was homosexual and one heterosexual, and 10 sets of twins in which both males were homosexual. The study found that the presence of specific epigenetic marks in nine areas of the human genome could predict homosexual preference with up to 70% accuracy.But something went wrong. Someone didn't get the memo that bad science is perfectly permissible when it comes to gay issues. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, comes this chorus of scientific voices casting doubt on this study's results. Scientific American was one of the first:
... genetics experts warned that the research has important limitations and will not provide definitive answers to a potential biological basis for sexual preference.Two days later, there came a fairly devastating article in the Atlantic, where, after reiterating the excited headlines, author Ed Yong said:
Meanwhile, the mood at the conference has been decidedly less complimentary, with several geneticists criticizing the methods presented in the talk, the validity of the results, and the coverage in the press.It went on to explain how the study was done, and then this:
...The problems begin with the size of the study, which is tiny. The field of epigenetics is littered with the corpses of statistically underpowered studies like these, which simply lack the numbers to produce reliable, reproducible results.
Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there. The team split their group into two: a “training set” whose data they used to build their algorithm, and a “testing set”, whose data they used to verify it. That’s standard and good practice—exactly what they should have done. But splitting the sample means that the study goes from underpowered to really underpowered.
There’s also another, larger issue. As far as could be judged from the unpublished results presented in the talk, the team used their training set to build several models for classifying their twins, and eventually chose the one with the greatest accuracy when applied to the testing set. That’s a problem because in research like this, there has to be a strict firewall between the training and testing sets; the team broke that firewall by essentially using the testing set to optimise their algorithms.
If you use this strategy, chances are you will find a positive result through random chance alone. Chances are some combination of methylation marks out of the original 6,000 will be significantly linked to sexual orientation, whether they genuinely affect sexual orientation or not. This is a well-known statistical problem that can be at least partly countered by running what’s called a correction for multiple testing. The team didn’t do that. (In an email to The Atlantic, Ngun denies that such a correction was necessary.)He goes went on to point out problems with potential confusions between cause and effect. Yong concludes by calling the study an "underpowered fishing expedition."
What happened to all the credulity?! Where did all of this actual critical analysis come from? And what are we going to do now that countless courts have treated the immutability of sexual orientation as a settled issue, partly depending on it to justify their conclusions about gay marriage?
Just move along folks.