Recessive Minded

While in personal discourse I decry gossip amongst friends (or at least try to…sometimes its just so good), I do get my fix by monitoring a couple of new groups/ list serves that tend to be sounding boards for local folks to bitch about one another. Sometimes they are good debate and sometimes they are just ad hominem attacks with little more than dribble. I much prefer the former but sometimes, being internet based commentators somewhat unaccountable to anyone, the later emerges with baseless supposition and little to no evidence. In a recent exchange two individuals debated the propriety of the “gay agenda.” I’m not sure I understand what the “gay agenda” is but I think the people that use that term to reference support for gay marriage (i.e. gay civil rights) and a general acceptance of homosexual lifestyles (which is another term I have trouble with because I find it a bit too categorical and running close to dangerous  stereotypes). With that definition, I suppose that I’m in favor of the “gay agenda” which I really view as just an issue of civil rights. I don’t see the morality issue in it at all and to be quite honest the only moral failings I see are on the other side amongst those that would do harm to fellow human beings over something that doesn’t concern them in the slightest. All that for another post. The point of the matter is that someone on the list serve brought up the point that the “gay gene” is recessive and that it could never survive evolutionary pressure because gay people don’t reproduce and if the gene is recessive that means that only 0.4% of the population has it which doesn’t explain why so many more people claim to be gay. Ugh! If for no other reason than avoiding the creation of fodder for hateful bigots you should support the teaching of evolution and modern science in the public schools. This is totally bunk on so many levels. I will try to address the issues one at a time. First off the bat, the “gay gene” has not been categorically identified. There is strong evidence supporting a genetic link to homosexuality (at least in men…women have proven to be tougher) but there is also evidence to suggest that it is likely a multi-gene phenotype (measurable trait). Secondly, a gay gene could very well be carried through the population through a variety of mechanisms of evolution. For instance, a woman could carry the gene for male homosexuality and no one would notice…she might then pass it along to her son who then  might be gay or her daughter who then might pass it on to her son and so on. Secondly the prevalence of the gene is totally off here too. Recessive is a term used to describe an allele or version of a gene. In this case a recessive allele is one that doesn’t not produce a measurable phenotype. It says nothing of the prevalence of the gene. Thankfully some recessive genes are more prevalent in the population than their dominant counterparts. For instance, Marfan syndrome (that may have affected Abraham Lincoln) is a dominant disorder caused by a dominant gene that is very rare in the population. Thankfully, most of us have the recessive form of that gene and show no disease. This is my little contribution to science education amongst the masses but really we need so much more because unfortunately while science is trusted to a fairly high degree in society, bad science and pseudo-science is also trusted. Its important to evaluate your source of information (especially when it comes from me) and think about whether what you’re reading makes sense or is just being used to make a point, especially when those points are bad. Patrick OUT!!!


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