Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gay germ theory and month of birth

You can find a great analysis over at Congenial Times reporting GSS evidence for Cochran's "gay germ theory." According to the theory, homosexuality is caused by infections affecting brain development. The GSS data shows that a disproportionately high number of gay men are born in June. According to the analyst, if an embryo were conceived in September, he would be exposed during the crucial first trimester to the peak flu season, and would then be born in June.

The problem with this is that, according to the CDC, the peak month for flu for the past 26 years has been February (see the graph above). The peak conception month should be December since Mom and embryo are exposed to three bad months. Looking over a longer period, November through February would be the worst 4 months. The best four months for conception would probably be April through July since you are exposed to no months with a particular flu problem. Focusing on the month of birth instead of conception, the worst period should be August through November and the best, January through April.

I'm looking at 4-month periods because the GSS has a small number of homosexual respondents, and cell sizes increase as we merge them. We can also boost sample size by combining homosexuals and bisexuals (as Congenial Times did, N = 167).

Percent born between August and November (bad months)

Straight men 33.9
Gay and bisexual men 34.2

Percent born between January and April (good months)

Straight men 32.9
Gay and bisexual men 28.8

Gay and bisexual men are a bit less likely to be conceived during the low-risk months, but do not differ from straights during the flu season peak. The evidence here for the theory is weak.

1. Exposure to UVB light suppresses the immune system. Shingles is more likely to erupt in summer, and surgery patients or transplant recipients are more likely to get infections when it's done during summer.

The germ theory of any disease cannot really be determined by seasonality. Evolutionary arguments, transmission, finding the germ, etc. But you can spin the seasonality pattern any way.

2. Anonymous6:02 PM

Perhaps we should mention what Larry Auster MIGHT say:

Romans Chapter 1, Verses 26-28:
"26For this cause God GAVE THEM UP UNTO VILE PASSIONS: for their WOMEN CHANGED THEIR NATURAL USE UNTO THAT WHICH WAS AGAINST NATURE: 27and likewise also the MEN, LEAVING ASIDE THE NATURAL USE OF THE WOMAN, BURNED IN THEIR LUST TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due (Aids Larry?). 28And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a REPROBATE mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperersRomans Chapter 1, Verse 27:

How would Larry Auster critique this passage? I wonder....

3. The Undiscovered Jew6:33 PM

Do hormone levels in pregnant women fluctuate during the four seasons?

4. Rats. Actually, since I'm gay, I should be saying, "Good." The whole germ theory of homosexuality, if true, would permit people to get rid of us fairly quickly once they found the pathogen.

Kudos on the follow-up analysis, btw.

5. Anonymous12:50 PM

Wanted to comment on your post in the archives about Hispanics having the highest incidence of self-reported homosexual orientation in GSS.

Explanation could be nothing to do with Hispanics per se, but more to do with expatriot status. Hispanics in the US GSS are more likely to be living far away from their families and more free to discuss socially discouraged behavior.

Would these respondents give the same answers in their native country, speaking their own language to a surveyor of their own ethnicity, while grandma is in the next room? Probably not.

6. The Undiscovered Jew1:45 PM

This William Saletan article discusses an at least partially genetic explanation of homosexuality:

http://www.slate.com/id/2194232/

Gay couples can't have biological kids together. So if homosexuality is genetic, why hasn't it died out?

A study published last week in PLoS One tackles the question. It starts with four curious patterns. First, male homosexuality occurs at a low but stable frequency in a wide range of societies. Second, the female relatives of gay men produce children at a higher rate than other women do. Third, among these female relatives, those related to the gay man's mother produce children at a higher rate than do those related to his father. Fourth, among the man's male relatives, homosexuality is more common in those related to his mother than in those related to his father.

Can genes account for these patterns? To find out, the authors posit several possible mechanisms and compute their effects over time. They conclude that only one theory fits the data. The theory is called "sexually antagonistic selection." It holds that a gene can be reproductively harmful to one sex as long as it's helpful to the other. The gene for male homosexuality persists because it promotes—and is passed down through—high rates of procreation among gay men's mothers, sisters, and aunts.

7. Mark, look at the flip-side: If a gay-bug is found, it would allow parents to engineer their offspring for gayness by the simple expedient of contamination!

8. Jim,

Yeah, but if a germ makes kids gay by derailing their normal brain development, it probably puts them at risk for all sorts of other minor things, in which case even people who think homosexuality is morally neutral would have a moral dilemma with deliberately infecting their young.

9. "... morally neutral ..."

Oh, what a beautiful phrase. I think this phrase needs to be vigorously applied to 90% of personal behavior.

I think we have lost sight of the difference between perceiving that something is neutral, and not really knowing or caring about it.

10. Anonymous8:50 AM

Most gay people i know are born in June and thats a fact , the reason for it i dont know , for the guy who comment about the scripture about God turning over people to their reprobate mind there are many cases of gay children across the world some develop the feelings from a tender age many even hurt themselves becuse they cant deal with being a gay even though they try to stop . The people who claim that they are straight instead of ridiculing gay and bisexual people since they know a better way should be helping them instead of hurting them .

11. This comment has been removed by the author.

Meta-analysis of clinical trials: Eat walnuts

I am always looking for easy eating choices that are good for you. This new meta-analysis of 26 clinical trials looked to see if walnuts ma...