Saturday, February 26, 2011

Homosexuals and verbal ability

A reader wanted to know in the last post if I had a measure of verbal ability. The Add Health Study gave respondents a vocabulary test. Here are the means by sexual orientation:

Mean vocabulary score (sample size = 6,150, whites only)

Straight males 105.8*
Gay males 104.0
Straight females 104.2
Lesbians 107.7

*significantly higher than straight females

It's unexpected, but straight guys score significantly higher than straight girls. While the mean is low for gay guys and high for lesbians, they do not differ significantly from other groups.

15 comments:

bgc said...

I wonder this is a representative sample of the general population?

I read somewhere that homosexuals have on average higher IQ than straight men and that seems anecdotally true.

On the other hand, and slightly off-topic - have you seen Greg Cochran's 'gay germ' paper?:

http://gc.homeunix.net/home/post/5

Although male homosexuality is presumably multi-causal, this is the best argued single theory of homosexuality I have seen.

I cherished the hope that GC would write it up formally as a paper in Medical Hypotheses, but sadly that never happened.

Anonymous said...

"I read somewhere that homosexuals have on average higher IQ than straight men and that seems anecdotally true."

I think this is a meme pushed by advocates and gays themselves simply because we don't see or hear about gays who are at jobs that garner no attention, whereas those in the communication fields, the arts, etc. are visible.

It may turn out to be true but I don't think I've ever read this conclusion from any scientific source. In fact, I know of no such study.

My experience in teaching tells me otherwise but until it's really studied, who knows?

Anonymous said...

I think a hefty percentage of people who frequent this blog and GNXP/Razib's and Sailer's and Peter Frost's and others have read Greg Cochran and Paul Ewald's hypothesis and just judging from what I've read, most of us think theirs is the explanation that makes the most sense.

There are several times on the net and in a few papers that Cochran has explained/addressed this, but you are like Frost, who wishes he'd write it up in a peer-reviewed paper, "as if that means something" according to Dr. Cochran.

Last time I read GC's mentioning this, he said he'd been asked by an editor of some mag to write about it--he didn't say if he agreed to or not. As that was over a years ago, perhaps he declined, but I am with you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again, Ron.

I expected the verbal results for gay and straight men to be about the same rather than straight men scoring higher.

I am most surprised that straight males are higher than straight females and by that degree.

Anonymous said...

I am most surprised that straight males are higher than straight females and by that degree.

Males consistently outscore females on the verbal portion of the SAT, so Ron's finding is consistent with that. The fact the women do so much better than men in college is attributable, IMO, to simple discrimination.

My own experience in college was that being female resulted in a very large boost to ones GPA - as much as one entire letter grade. I always asked my classmate if I could read their papers, and I was always surprised at the good marks women received for what seemed, at best, like pretty indifferent work.

Anonymous said...

bgc,

Simon LeVay, who, as far as I know, was the first researcher to report that gay men seemed to have hypothalmic structures that differed from those of straight men (something Charles Roselli has reported in his studies of male-oriented versus female-oriented domestic sheep) and a man who, I think, has been much respected for his science, has published his book, "Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation."

I just went to Amazon and managed to peruse the book. While LeVay says his purpose is to put forth the several hypotheses and all the recent science" about the etiology of homosexuality, I noticed that he still included at least two psychosocial/psychosexual models of causation: Daryl Bem's model, commonly called "the exotic becomes erotic" and a model put forth earlier by Green, similar in nature to Bem's.

Their inclusion is certainly reasonable and fair given what LeVay says is the purpose of his book, and indeed LeVay offers a fair explanation of them, concluding his treatment of them by saying that he is skeptical of these models.

What I was interested in checking was whether LeVay, a gay man himself,a respected researcher in the field, would even mention the pathogen hypotheses of Paul Ewald and Greg Cochran. There is no reason to expect he doesn't know of its existence. Of course he would know. This is the work he has done for

The 1999 Atlantic Article on the Germ Theory made a splash for a lot of reasons, one of which was that it included the mention that PE and GC felt that the idea that male homosexuality could be caused by a germ was a reasonable, hypothesis given the difficulty of explaining homosexuality from a neo-Darwinian perspective, and given recent evidence that pathogen worked in ways we were only beginning to suspect.

Since then, Cochran has written enough about the "gay germ theory" that there is no way a researcher like LeVay doesn't know of its existence. They all know of it. Researchers Sanders and Bailey of Northwestern know of it. Roselli knows of it. Breedlove and Vilain know of it.

It's out there. The science bloggers speak of it, social science bloggers bring it up, yet LeVay includes a description of two psychosexual models of the development of sexual orientation and mentions not one word about it.

When a guy like LeVay can't put aside his bias, it just makes me think science will never escape the molasses of politics.

Sorry for going OT, Ron.

Anonymous said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/sep/23/gay-britain-ons

The UK ONS survey shows gay people in the population at large as having much higher levels of education than heterosexuals.

But this isn't necessarily indicative of greater intelligence, necessarily. It's also probably mainly explained by their relative youth in that sample and the inflation of higher education in the population over time (which isn't an issue in your sample here).

Anonymous said...

Re: theories of homosexuality,

For gay people, what would interest me is perhaps if there was a way to test whether the kin benefiting models held in the agricultural past, but do not in the post-industrial present. After all, for peasants, everyone works the same fields and there aren't opportunities or obligations for the consumptive lifestyle spending that is a vampire on the income created by gay men and women in present day post-industrial societies, mooching it away from their nieces and nephews.

This would reconcile the fact that there is no kin benefit for having a "gay uncle" in the present with the fact that obligate homosexuality doesn't seem to exist amongst hunter gatherers (or at least at high frequencies).

But the population genetic maths still might not work out.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"For gay people, what would interest me is perhaps if there was a way to test whether the kin benefiting models held in the agricultural past, but do not in the post-industrial present."

For this to work, the guy with same-sex lust in such a society would have to be responsible, in one way or another, for providing for twice as many children as what a straight counterpart could provide for --just to break even. That's hard to see as possible. And, don't forget, as a person with sexual desires, he'd not have the "time on his hands" we often think of eunuchs as having to devote to the group. In fact, his sexual desires are an argument against his having productive benefits for the group--unless somehow providing sex for the other men in the group when their females were otherwise indisposed was his function. Seems more likely he'd be a source of conflict and not productive.

Anyway, evolution is about re-production, and a sensical explanation for his being able to "pay his way" in reproductive benefits hasn't been offered. I do think, btw, that the math has been worked out and found lacking.

Underachiever said...

I don't think the gay uncle theory makes sense. However, if gay genes were linked to the x chromosome and if it provided half the reproductive benefit to woman with it as it took away from men, it could spread.

Anonymous said...

Ron,

Any way of figureing out the visuo-spacial aptitudes of gay males versus straight males?

Males in general have higher scores than females in the VS realm, and many gay men go into design fields that require rotation skills. I wonder if many gay males are in engineering or if they take those VS skills to the fields more aligned with the arts.

Saint Louis said...

Thanks to all the posts lately with the word "homosexuality" in the title, the Google ads in the sidebar are offering me a gay dating service.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks to all the posts lately with the word "homosexuality" in the title, the Google ads in the sidebar are offering me a gay dating service."

Go to it, if you need that kind of thing.

Sideways said...

For this to work, the guy with same-sex lust in such a society would have to be responsible, in one way or another, for providing for twice as many children as what a straight counterpart could provide for --just to break even

Well, perhaps the spare women are soaked up by (official or not) polygamists. If you're just talking about a couple percent of the population, that doesn't seem too unlikely.