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Shhhh! Media Downplay MIT Study Finding ‘No Gay Gene’

An international research team has just published a controversial genetic study that claims that “it is impossible to use genes to predict someone’s sexuality,” throwing more skepticism on the idea that homosexuals are born that way. However media sites reporting on the issue were quick to downplay the study’s implications, insisting that either way, “same-sex sexual behavior is ‘simply a natural part of our diversity as a species.’”

Both The Washington Post, and The New York Times ran more or less the same story and employed the same cover for researchers who were reluctant to publish the material for fear that it could be used to “bolster biases.” Sounds like the researchers found something inconvenient. Hey, at least they’re honest.

The international team of researchers, led by geneticists from the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard analyzed the “genetic data of 478,000 men and women” from a large “British database, the U. K. Biobank.” The research — touted by The Washington Post as providing “one of the clearest pictures of genes and sexuality” — reported “no one gene” determines sexual orientation, though there are “five genetic variants that were statistically associated with same-sex sexual behaviors.” However, none of these variants “had a large effect and none could predict same-sex behaviors.”

The only change or influence these variants have are when they are in combination with “thousands of others in the human genome that have smaller effects.” This genetic cocktail could account for “8 to 25 percent” of sexual variation.” The rest of the influence (meaning 75% of it or higher) comes from “social or environmental factors.” The New York Times clarified, saying that it’s “impossible to use genes to predict someone’s sexuality.”

(Though that sounds a little different than the Times’ misleading headline: “Many Genes Influence Same-Sex Sexuality, Not a Single ‘Gay Gene.’”)


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