Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation by Chandler Burr, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation

Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation

1.0 1
by Chandler Burr
     
 
In Aug. 1991 a neurologist announced the finding of a physiological difference between the brains of heterosexuals & homosexuals. This was science that not only challenged accepted beliefs but carried profound legal, political, & social implications. Two years later a team of geneticists reported finding a likely genetic basis for homosexuality in men. This book

Overview

In Aug. 1991 a neurologist announced the finding of a physiological difference between the brains of heterosexuals & homosexuals. This was science that not only challenged accepted beliefs but carried profound legal, political, & social implications. Two years later a team of geneticists reported finding a likely genetic basis for homosexuality in men. This book explores the rich & varied research that is currently being carried out in neurobiology, endocrinology, & genetics. It also considers the awesome ramifications of research that may well come to explain the origins of one of the fundamental components of our humanity.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Burr's detailed, elegantly written report takes us to the front lines of research into a possible biological or genetic basis for homosexuality. He dispassionately reviews the scientific and political controversy surrounding the report in 1991 by gay British neuroanatomist Simon LeVay that a cluster of cells in the brain's hypothalamus is larger in straight men than in gay men. National Cancer Institute molecular geneticist Dean Hamer's 1993 finding that a specific region of the X chromosome is linked to homosexuality in some men led to intense debate over how a "gay gene" might function in creating a homosexual orientation. Boston University geneticist Richard Pillard theorizes that the sexual centers of gay men's brains are not "defeminized"a hormone-regulated process that routinely occurs in the embryonic brains of male heterosexuals. Burr, whose 1993 cover story in the Atlantic Monthly led to this book, ponders the ethical issues swirling around Affymetrix, a Santa Clara, Calif., company that is building a semiconductor chip made of silicon and human DNA that may make possible widespread testing for a gay gene. Illustrated. Author tour. (June)
Ray Olson
Burr is that rare bird, the journalist who writes well about science. Here, seemingly acting out of the journalistic lust for controversy, he reports on the neurological, endocrinological, and genetic inquiries into why some people are homosexual. But although he regularly notes the politics involved and concludes with a chapter comparing the conflict over homosexuality with the Renaissance battle between church and science over heliocentrism, Burr concentrates on science and sends us on a modern odyssey full of intellectual adventure and revelation. He explains how one researcher discovered a possible difference between homosexual men and others in a particular neural nucleus in the brain; how the "gay gene" (actually, an allele, or alternative form of a gene) was found and how it works; and how genetic surgery (contemplated to be nonintrusive) might alter sexual orientation in adults. However far afield from the subject of sexual orientation Burr seems to stray, the side trips always reconnect with the main road. To counteract how the popular press has misrepresented certain research findings, such as that apparent gay brain difference, Burr reports what the researchers think their discoveries' significances are: the brain difference's discoverer actually claims his findings show only that further similar research holds promise for investigating sexual orientation. Burr also relays the counterarguments, many of them more persuasive, of scientists who think particular findings are either not so significant, misleading, or downright erroneous. Enthralling--unputdownable!--this may be both the gay studies book of the year "and" the popular-science book of the year.
Kirkus Reviews
A thorough, often riveting review of research on homosexuality and male-female differences.

"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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780788166976
Publisher:
DIANE Publishing Company
Publication date:
09/28/1999
Pages:
354
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >