Measured Against Reality

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In fruit flies, homosexuality is biological but not hard-wired

Wow, take a look at this: In fruit flies, homosexuality is biological but not hard-wired. A group of researchers have found a specific gene that triggers homosexual (technically bisexual) behavior in fruit flies, and they can actually turn it on and off using drugs or genetic manipulation.

The gene is called "genderblind", and "it has the unusual ability to transport the neurotransmitter glutamate out of glial cells -- cells that support and nourish nerve cells but do not fire like neurons do. Previous work from his laboratory showed that changing the amount of glutamate outside cells can change the strength of nerve cell junctions, or synapses, which play a key role in human and animal behavior."

"Based on our previous work, we reasoned that GB mutants might show homosexual behavior because their glutamatergic synapses were altered in some way," said Featherstone. Specifically, the GB mutant synapses might be stronger.

"Homosexual courtship might be sort of an 'overreaction' to sexual stimuli," he explained.

To test this, he and his colleagues genetically altered synapse strength independent of GB, and also fed the flies drugs that can alter synapse strength. As predicted, they were able to turn fly homosexuality on and off -- and within hours.

"It was amazing. I never thought we'd be able to do that sort of thing, because sexual orientation is supposed to be hard-wired," he said. "This fundamentally changes how we think about this behavior."

Now, of course this isn't going to be an exact model for human sexuality, we're much more complicated psychologically than fruit flies, but it is quite interesting. And even if it does have some kind of analog in human sexuality, I very much doubt we'll some day be able to turn homosexuality on and off, as I said we're just too complicated. Although that raises some interesting questions about whether or not we would even want to, it seems to me like we wouldn't, but I suppose that would be an intensely personal decision. At the very least this is yet more evidence that homosexuality is biological, and not just "a choice" that can be made on a whim. Unfortunately the people who believe homosexuality is a choice will never be persuaded by evidence.

Another interesting aspect of this research is that fruit flies can show homosexual behavior. I didn't even realize that animals as simple as insects could show it at all, I guess homosexuality even more ingrained into nature than I thought. All the more reason to laugh at the bigots who call it unnatural and a sin. Idiots.


  • It is kinda ironic to me that most homosexuals or homosexual activists point to these studies with myopia for vindication without considering the future implications of what this knowledge will lead to. In this particular case the experimenter is ALTERING the sexuality of the insect.It intrigues me that you clearly accept it's possible to manipulate this behavior in teh fly, but then you point to the complexity of the human body not just an impediment but an unchangeable system that will never present its' on off swtich. When we completely understand the foundations of homosexual development in humans, people will obviously develop or atleast consider a way to ALTER it. If you truely believe that science ends with the fruit fly, then examine that sentence over and over until you realize how insane it sounds.

    Fundamentalist and even mildly religious who have disdain for the gay community may possibly support these pharmacological products and these people do generate a lot of offspring: " go forth and multiply". These may be applied during gestation, and we all know that parents make medical decisions for their children. Even non-religious people may consider that it's better for their child to not be traumatized in their youth or have a harder time finding a partner. That possition be somewhat easy for the government to assault because one can argue that the child must make the decision themselves. Might we see an underground or black-market here? However what if there are these chemical interventions for adults ? It's easy to say babies cannot make that decision, but can an adult choose his sexuality without somebody saying to him, no you cannot you must remain homosexual.

    Here is a direct quote from "4. The biblical condemnation of all homosexual behaviors would not be compromised or mitigated in the least by such a discovery. The discovery of a biological factor would not change the Bible's moral verdict on homosexual behavior."
    I belive you can download the actual mp3 of his sermon about "CURING" homosexuality hoisted on the endeavors of researchers hoping to reveal it's incipience as genetic/developmental noise( environment of the womb.

    This very push to gain mainstream acceptance will, if human nature and our constant struggle against inconvenience remains immutable will likely result in homosexuals slipping further and further into the minority. Inevitably , maybe even being eliminated from the population. That is the irony

    By Anonymous fullmentaljackpot, at 3:18 AM, December 11, 2007  

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