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"Amid the chaos of debate is the virtual certainty that the biological origins of sexual orientation will become known to us," writes journalist Burr, who penned a controversial 1993 article on the subject for the Atlantic Monthly. He has to be congratulated for providing a fine summary and preview of what is politically one of the hottest topics today. He does it by stressing the science, by using lengthy quotes from the investigators, and by asking questions that go beyond the disputes and data to tap the attitudes and philosophies of the scientists themselves. The recent furor dates to 1993, when National Cancer Institute investigator Dean Hamer reported that sexual orientation was at least in part due to maternal inheritance of a gene located on the X chromosome. But Burr and his corps of experts underscore that genes are not destiny and exhort all to bury forever the nature/nurture dichotomy. The X locus Hamer has found is a part of the biological picture, and to explore it, Burr treats the reader to a primer on fetal development, the role of androgens and estrogens in creating males from the "default" female pattern, and the influence of hormones on the brain. His concluding chapters touch on the heart of the political/social/ethical dilemmas—the guarantee that there will be not only tests for the sex-orientation gene (or genes) but micro- gene-chips that will tell you what could be in store for your potential offspring—with all the Brave New World scenarios that engenders. Burr ends with a brief commentary on the conflict between science and religion and the peculiar irony of the current debate, which finds conservatives plumping for homosexuality as an immoral "lifestyle choice" while liberals may say it's all in the genes.
By this time the savvy reader—thanks to Burr's excellent exposition—can say, A pox on both their houses.
|1||The Black Box||3|
|2||The Debate: Definitive Proof that Homosexuality Is Biological||21|
|3||The Debate: Definitive Proof that Homosexuality Is Not Biological||37|
|4||How to Look at a Brain||49|
|6||Genetic Grammar 101: A Crash Course||127|
|7||The Gay Gene: The Discovery of Xq28||158|
|8||What Does "Genetic" Mean?||198|
|9||How the Gay Gene Might Work||238|
|10||How Genetic Surgery Can Change Homosexuality to Heterosexuality||270|
|11||The Knowledge of Good and Evil||309|
Posted October 19, 1999
Although Chandler Burr is a good read, it is especially bothersome in this day and age that some journalists not only assume they know the subject they choose to write about, but that they are somehow experts on topics of personal interest. Obviously, science is not Mr. Burr's expertise, and it is doubtful he has had much science education at all. Unfortunately, there are many readers of this trash that know no more than Mr. Burr about science, and will thus choose to believe what they read. Being 1999, it has become very evident that the 'science' Burr uses as the basis of all his sociological and political arguments is garbage. Even though the scientific community questioned this research upon it's release, Burr did not have enough understanding of science to see the reason for the questions. To date, there we have not seen any 'science' regarding the origins of homosexual attraction and orientation. There are years of ethological evidence regarding homosexual behavior, which is, of course, an entirely separate topic. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to anyone who is not well-trained in the sciences and scientific method. For such readers, this will make a possibly good conversation piece regarding 'good' and 'bad' science and the ethics of particular types of biological research. My advice to readers--both gay and straight: for your own well-being and welfare, look closely at who writes what you read and what their motives might be for writing it.
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