Is homosexuality a healthy form of sexuality?
Debate Rounds (4)
I'll accept that debate. BOP is on Con to demonstrate that same sex attraction is inherently unhealthy and maladaptive.
First, let's dispense with some myths about homosexuality; such as "We know people are born this way, or it's caused by genes". This is what the American Psychiatric Association says about homosexuality:
What causes Homosexuality/Heterosexuality/Bisexuality?
No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. Homosexuality was once thought to be the result of troubled family dynamics or faulty psychological development. Those assumptions are now understood to have been based on misinformation and prejudice. Currently there is a renewed interest in searching for biological etiologies for homosexuality. However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality. Similarly, no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.
The American Psychiatric Association does not agree with my position on homosexuality. I would like to point out that the APA including the word "Heterosexual" in their statement is absurd, heterosexuality is caused by our need to continue to exist as a species. This is evidence of the power of political correctness to influence an organization. Furthermore, it doesn't actually matter whether gay people are born that way or not when it comes to my argument. Lots of people who have illnesses are born with those illnesses. I just wanted to point out that there are allot of things that you've heard dogmatically stated to you that just aren't true. I want you to be open to considering other ideas about homosexuality than what you are used to.
Let's start out by asking ourselves a question; what is the point of sex? I mean what is the point biologically of sex? It's to reproduce. The sex drive is the second strongest urge a human being possesses. The first is to survive. The urge is powerful because without it a species will die out. A great deal of our minds and bodies resources are tied up in the search for a mate. Our sexual anatomy is almost perfectly adapted to interact with the opposite sex's organs.
Homosexual attraction is antagonistic to this entire process. Energies that are normally spent on the vital task of reproduction are misdirected toward a person of the same sex. Neither person has anatomy appropriate to that sexual relationship. Anal sex is unhealthy. It damages the anus and risks transmitting dangerous microbes. It's a bad idea for strait couples to do it as well.
The Homosexual's sexual energies are tied up in behavior that will not succeed in reproduction. This, despite the fact that that is the purpose of the sex organs. I think the word maladaptive fits this behavior. In the game of evolution the rules are he who leaves the greatest number of surviving off spring wins. Nature demonstrates that she isn't using homosexuality as a common strategy as some have claimed. Homosexuals make up 2 1/2 to 3 percent of the population according to studies. The number is more likely 1 percent when you eliminate bi-sexuals and people who were merely going through an experimental phase although that is a bit speculative.
Thanks to Con for his arguments. Political correctness can go screw: how do we improve our education if we're not allowed to express opinion freely? I believe that Con's opinion represents a majority view, even in those pockets of society where stating such an opinion is frowned upon. Popular opinion, however, tends to oversimplify complex questions. The problem of defining LGBT identities is complex. The question of LGBT orientation and genetic inheritance is complex. The question of the evolutionary durability of maladaptive traits is likewise complex.
Con begins by characterizing biologic homosexual etiologies as myth, but fails to offer an alternative hypothesis. Con cites the APA definition, disagrees with the definition without explanation, and than dismisses the question of etiology as unimportant. I think we can agree with the APA's position, that no specific cause has been defined, while at the same time recognizing that genetic, hormonal, and social factors are all influencing LGBT orientation.
*A preponderance of studies show a familial component to male homosexuality. Individual gay male offspring are four times as likely to have at least one gay brother than a straight male individual.  An identical twin brother of an individual gay male has a 52% likelihood of also identifying as gay, while a fraternal twin brother of an individual gay male has a 22% likelihood of also identifying as gay.
*A preponderance of studies also demonstrate endocrinological difference between gay and straight individuals. Many sexually differentiated behavioral, physiological, or even morphological traits are statistically verifiable between straight and gay populations.
Gay men, for example, tend to have a larger bundle of nerve fibers connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. Because some traits are known to be organized by prenatal steroids, especially testosterone, these differences suggest that during development, LGBT offspring are exposed to a different course of endocrinological conditions. Some types of endocrinological changes in test animals consistently result in homosexual behavior. Scientists have found that altering the fucose mutarotase gene in female mice alters estrogen production, causing female mice to exhibit male behavior.
*Homosexuality clearly also contains some societal components. Consider the Etoro people of New Guinea, where male homosexuality is the norm and heterosexual coupling is reserved for procreation. Nobody would suggest that every Etoro male is biologically inclined towards homosexuality, indicating a strong cultural influence. 
Although the mix of biological and social influences that indicate sexual preference are complex and may never be completely understood, no serious biologist would dismiss the importance of genetics and hormones, or support Con's dismissal of those factors as "myth."
We do well to remember that homosexuality is a relatively modern concept, especially the current Western conception of LGBT as some set of exclusive and identifiable traits. When Con proposes that 1% of the population is homosexual, he fails to define his terms or back his claim with citations.
Speculation is forgivable to some degree because homosexuality is an amorphous concept. If, for example, we accept the APA definition of Sexual orientation is "an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectionate attraction toward others" then what label applies to the Larry Craigs and Ted Haggards? Both identify as straight, father children, pursue enduring relationships with women, but then have occasional, secret sex with men. The APA would call them straight, but popular culture thinks of these men as gay.
Most studies find that women are equally aroused by male or female erotica, while men tend to focus on one gender in preference to another. Are all women bisexual then or are we just applying male gender fixations where none are relevant? Gebhard & Johnson found that about 12.7% of men engaged in exclusively same-sex contact in any 3 year period between the ages of 16-55, and 36.4% had at least one same-sex Although society would clearly label such activity gay or bisexual, those percentages don't match any study of self-identifying gay men. And that's just in the U.S. What are we to do with the Etoro people where 100% of the men have sex with other men? Or Brazil, where having sex with a transvestite and same sex masturbation are relatively commonplace, but not considered homosexuality?
Defining Homosexuality is a difficult task, but fencing off 1% of human sexuality on a scale of continuity and labeling that group as "other" or "unhealthy" is simply not representative or educational.
Heterosexuality is likewise a modern concept. Generally speaking, until the 20th century, sexual preference wasn't much of a public consideration. Marriage was an economic, political, and religious contract. Sex was more often a question of responsibility than a matter of attraction. Homosexuality, accepted or not, was not a reason to avoid marriage or parenthood, so homosexuals had children and passed on their genes.
Even in the 20th century, LGBT people generally share the procreative urge with straight people. American LGBT people currently have about one-fifth as many children as straights. That's certainly not a replacement rate, but it also suggests a far more significant contribution than Con's absolutes.
Furthermore, we need to ask what happens to a procreative drive deferred? Con thinks that all LGBT energies are simply wasted because the only kind of creation he considers relevant to human survival is baby-making. Which brings us to a consideration of maladaptive traits.
The notion of maladaptive traits is susceptible to superficial thinking. Take the Kennedy Family, for example. Their history suggests a more than fair portion of traditionally maladaptive traits: sex addiction, drug addiction, suicide, depression, risk-taking, aggression to a degree sufficient to evoke the notion of a "Kennedy Curse." Four of Joe & Rose's nine children died violent deaths relatively young, one was too disabled to bear children. Nevertheless, that couple's descendants include 72 (legitimate) great-grandchildren of remarkable accomplishment and prosperity and there can be little denying that those same maladaptive traits (or at least aspects of those traits) contribute much to that family's prosperity.
Similarly, the genetic persistence of homosexuality may be accounted to non-obvious contributions to human prosperity.
*As Zoologist Petter Boeckman puts it: "No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue."  Indeed animals that we think of as most intelligent (or, at least, most similar to human intelligence) all demonstrate high correlations for homosexual activity. Dolphins, dogs, monkeys, elephants, whales, and particularly primates all have established patterns of homosexual interactions to a more common degree than humans. Clearly, homosexuality must have some adaptive properties, particularly in animals of complex social orders.
Theories regarding those adaptive properties, as well as the advantage of fraternal ordering and social contribution will have to be expanded in my next round.
In regard to animals. Animals don't have homosexual sex in a fashion much resembling humans. Humans claim the following: they are born gay, will stay gay, and are only gay. None of these things are true of animals. Animal behavior can be explained in three ways. One alpha male dominance which is non-sexual, riddance of sexual frustration, and social bonding. It is a bit dishonest for scientists to claim that homosexuality exists in animals when we have no way of establishing an animals psychological reasons for what they are doing which makes all the difference in determining homosexuality. I DON'T BLAME MY OPPONENT FOR THIS. There is a disgusting rash of dishonesty in the scientific community when it comes to supporting homosexual behavior.
My counterpart has mentioned some studies in his post. Some of them were done some time ago. The APA statement was released after those studies were done. The APA took those into account.
We're talking about why homosexuality is maladaptive; not if people are born with the maladaptive trait. It is my fault in that I brought up the issue.
Seems like a distinction without a difference. The concept of maladaptivity is an essentially evolutionary term: is homosexuality an evolutionary strategy or some non-productive aberration? We can't discuss whether homosexuality is maladaptive without assessing homosexuality as a genetically, hormonally, and/or socially defined trait.
In round 2, Con wanted to dispense with the "myth" of homosexuality as genetic by offering up an APA pamphlet that said that nobody has quite pinned down to causes for homosexuality- hardly a refutation of genetic etiology. By Round 3, Con says he is sorry he brought it up, but Con continues to bolster the APA "we just don't know for sure" statement:
My counterpart has mentioned some studies in his post. Some of them were done some time ago. The APA statement was released after those studies were done. The APA took those into account.
So Con disagrees with the APA and wants to continue citing their pamphlet. Con is sorry he brought up etiology of homosexuality and wants to continue to defend non-genetic etiology. Con wants to undermine the notion of genetic gayness (because that blows up his maladaptive/unhealthy argument) without offering some alternative philosophy about gay origins. I expect this is because any alternative theory that presents homosexuality as unhealthy becomes difficult to back up.
Something that my counterpart has not addressed yet is the bare facts at hand. The cold steel and hard iron facts of human anatomy. Our bodies were never intended for sex with those of the same sex.
In order to support that argument, Con would have to demonstrate that human anatomy was created with intention, and somehow prove that our creator had no interest in introducing homosexuality into the mix: a difficult proposition, to be sure. If animals were intentionally designed, and if homosexuality was not meant to be part of the plan, then the prevalence of species with at least some homosexual behaviour would indicate a fair degree of incompetence in design. The intention argument implies a divinity competent enough to intentionally create humanity, but so incompetent as to unintentionally create homosexuality in many or most species. Since the argument is contradictory and at best speculative, I think we should set it aside.
Besides which, I don't find the anatomy argument particularly compelling. The average woman is 5" or 6" shorter than the average man. The average vagina is a few inches lower than the average penis. Lying or standing face to face, men and women often don't quite match. To kiss, woman have to crane up, men down, sometimes leading to considerable neck and back discomfort. Same-sex partners are more likely to be of similar leg/torso heights and are therefore better suited for face-to-face contact, "69" positions, etc. Furthermore, relative size and strength differences between men and women lead to all kinds of awkwardness and unintentional pain. Same sex couples demonstrate superior affinity in size and strength, (and improved familiarity with the fundamentals of partner anatomy) so sexual inequities are less of a problem. To reduce the man to a plug and the woman to a socket is to narrow the definition of sex to baby-making only. Gays and straights alike participate in sex far more often for recreation or for enhancing intimacy than for baby-making. So, the anatomy argument is too simplistic.
Further, the "iron facts" of human anatomy tell us that there are significant physiological differences between straight people and people who identify as LGBT. For example:
*Gay men tend to have larger penises 
*LGBT people are 39% more likely to be left-handed, a physiological difference observable in the womb.
*Lesbian auditory and startle responses correspond with masculine norms 
*Gay men and straight women tend to have equally proportion brain hemispheres. Straight men and lesbians tend to have larger right brain hemispheres. As I said in Round 2, gay men also tend to have larger nerve bundles linking the two hemispheres. 
If our bodies were never intended for same sex couplings, why do human bodies demonstrate pre-natal physiological changes in preparation for those lives we recognize as belonging to self-identifying gays?
It stands to reason that our brain is malfunctioning. There are two fundamental drives a human being possesses. The most powerful is the will to survive the second and nearly as powerful is our sex drive. If a person suffers from a serious distortion in regard to his or her sexuality it could have a profound effect on his or her personality.
Well, most psychologists tend to identify more than just two fundamental drives. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs provides one classic theory:
Con seems to be suggesting that LGBT people cannot possibly satisfy their sex drive in the absence of baby-making (ignoring, of course, that we have seen that plenty of LGBT people make babies). Are we then to conclude that all infertile, asexual, and post-menopausal people are likewise incapable of sexual satisfaction and therefore "malfunctioning?" Obviously not. We must conclude that sex as recreation and sex as intimacy can satisfy needs exclusive of baby-making.
Humans claim the following: they are born gay, will stay gay, and are only gay.
There is certainly some minority percentage of modern humans who self-identify as gay and might agree with those statements. As we saw in Round 2, however, self-identifying LGBT people encompass only a portion of all homosexual activity. Republican senators and Brazilians were two examples of some of the many groups who engage in same-sex activity while never making any of the above claims. Homosexuality is a spectrum of human behavior for which Con's generalizations do not always apply.
Animal behavior can be explained in three ways. One alpha male dominance which is non-sexual, riddance of sexual frustration, and social bonding. It is a bit dishonest for scientists to claim that homosexuality exists in animals when we have no way of establishing an animals psychological reasons for what they are doing which makes all the difference in determining homosexuality.
Firstly, those two sentences stand in direct contradiction. Either animal behavior can be explained in 3 ways, or we have no way establishing an animal's reasons.
Secondly, Con makes some big generalizations without substantiation. Some animals, like black swans and flamingos, engage in same-sex pairing as a superior child raising strategy.  Although different-sex couplings between elephants are always fleeting, same-sex pairings tend to last for years. I would not pretend to fathom the homosexual motivations of dragonflies or bedbugs, but animals mate for dominance, release, bonding, and other reasons. Humans likewise mate for dominance, release, bonding and other reasons. I fail to discern Con's distinction.
Thirdly, biologists might not know the inner mind of an animal, but they can observe same-sex coupling and theorize regarding its role as an adaptive strategy. Since we're discussing whether homosexuality is necessarily unhealthy or counter-evolutionary, examining animal behavior seems perfectly relevant. If homosexuality is a normal, healthy aspect of all other primate socialization, why should we assume that human primates are the exception?
We still haven't gotten into the potentially adaptive aspects of homosexuality. Hopefully, we'll get there in Round 4.
My counterpart criticizes my description of our reproductive system as having "intention". If my counterpart would avail himself of a book on the philosophy of biology written in the last 20 years say Ernst Mayer's "Toward A Modern Philosophy Of Biology" he would quickly discover that it is perfectly acceptable to use terms like design or intent with out necessarily implying teleology (a designer). He can feel free to use the word adapt in place of any words he's uncomfortable with.
Now, my counterpart insists that if homosexuality is genetic then my argument that it is unhealthy falls apart. OK, let's test that. Genetic illnesses: cystic fibrosis Tay"Sachs disease, breast cancer, heart disease, Huntington's Chorea, Downs syndrome, autism, bi polar, depression... I could go on for pages. The above issues are all inherited genetic conditions and I don't know of anyone who would describe them as healthy. The issue is what is the outcome of the condition.
My counterpart says it's evolution that's important. I agree that is an important issue here. To be successful in evolution one must: LEAVE BEHIND THE GREATEST NUMBER OF SURVIVING OFFSPRING. No one can deny that homosexuals are at a grave disadvantage in this regard.
However, evolution is NOT the sole issue. The current effectiveness of a given strategy is equally important. I think it's hilarious that my counterpart attempts to argue that our reproductive system is defective for it's task yet somehow ideal for homosexual behavior. Frankly I don't want to get into a commentary about it because I'm not sure how to avoid ridiculing my counterpart. My counterpart brings up a tribe of people practicing homosexuality. I can just as easily bring up the tribes of the Solomon Islands who ended up dying of a horrible disease similar to Mad Cow disease because of their culture of cannibalism. Just because lots of people do it doesn't make it smart. I would encourage the readers voting on this to avoid any temptation toward emotionalism. Try to keep the facts of human reproductive anatomy in mind. Please note that just about every argument you see defending homosexuality is a distraction from the central facts. Human anatomy and the main goal in evolution.
I will concede the point that homosexuality is caused by genetics.
My argument was that that the etiology of homosexuality is at least a complex mix of genetics, hormones, and social factors and that Con was oversimplifying the question by stating that "no one knows" the cause. In so far as Con's concession represents a step towards appreciation of that complexity, it is welcomed.
Now, my counterpart insists that if homosexuality is genetic then my argument that it is unhealthy falls apart. OK, let's test that. cystic fibrosis Tay"Sachs disease....
As I argued in Round 2, the notion of maladaptive traits is susceptible to superficial thinking (Kennedy analogy). The genetic persistence of apparently unhealthy traits can often be connected to adaptive traits in the larger picture. The cystic fibrosis gene, for example, protects against cholera in the larger population. Tay-Sachs is so prevalent in Jewish and Cajun communities because that gene promotes resistance to tuberculosis. Both communities were particularly devastated by TB until they adapted a communal resistance by carrying Tay-Sachs: some less healthy individuals, yes, but generally healthier communities. Likewise, sickle cell disease is prevalent in African descendants because that gene carries a resistance to the deadlier threat of malaria. 
So, what are some potentially adaptive traits of homosexuality?
*Balanced Polymorphism- Like cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs, it is possible that possible that an as-yet unidentified gay gene(s) is paired with some larger protection valuable to human adaptation.
*Sexually Antagonistic Selection- One proposed balance is that the same genetic, endocrinological mix that results in gay men in the XY chromosome may result in improved fertility in the XX chromosome. Some studies have shown a relationship between gay men and large families in the matrilineal line. A 2004 study of the families of 98 gay men and 100 straight men demonstrated some statistically significant fecundity in the maternal lines. 
*Group Selection- Some biologists suggest kin selection to explain seemingly maladaptive, altruistic traits that are linked to more successful evolutionary strategies. The "gay uncle" theory, for example, posits that close relatives with no children of their own may assist in the upbringing and education of nieces and nephews in non-obvious but ultimately more productive ways.
*Military Advantage- The higher levels of male hormones associated with both gay men and lesbian women may confer some advantages in aggression, dominance, and risk-taking when its comes to warfare. Historically, there has long been a complex inter-relationship between the military and same-sex behaviour. Certainly we know that even when LGBT are banned from military service, they choose to risk punishment in numbers far outweighing their per-capita presence. Additionally, we know that the male bonding of soldiers in war often achieves levels of intimacy and loyalty to rival that of familial ties. The degree to which homosexual attraction and behaviour are a factor in the cohesiveness and interdependence of troops at war may never be honestly evaluated, but military history suggests that LGBT often make for superior soldiers, which may translate into advantages at group and even national levels.
*Social Prestige- Anthropologists have long noted a relationship between homosexuals and religious roles, like priests and shaman. Since these positions can transmit social advantage to the larger family group, some reproductive advantages may also be discerned. I would expand this advantage further into the larger community and add to religion many of the positions that define and transmit our culture. Anecdotal reflection alone can demonstrate that there is a profound relationship between cultural dominance and the relative prominence of homosexual people. Think of the high-water marks of civilization: Egypt, Greece, Rome, Ming Dynasty China, Medieval Monasteries, 16th Century Italy, 17th Century Ottoman Empire, 18th Century France, 19th Century England, Turn of the Century Germany, Mid-Century New York: whenever and wherever culture is expanding, that time and place is also famous for being particularly gay. Think of the most prominent cultural cities in the US today: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, Memphis, Miami, even smaller cities like Austin, Boulder, Santa Fe. Places that are famous for culture typically support a more prominent LGBT community than places that don't. This is strictly unscientific, but I connect the creation and transmission of cultural identity to the procreative impulse as channeled by LGBT from baby-making into making civilization.
To be successful in evolution one must: LEAVE BEHIND THE GREATEST NUMBER OF SURVIVING OFFSPRING.
One last non-obvious group advantage is also a response to Con's insistence that procreation is the only evolutionary advantage that counts: population growth is not always an advantage. Many scientists consider the Earth's current human population of 7 billion unsustainable, and it may not be an accident that LGBT awareness and acceptance seems to be expanding at a time when prolific baby-making is taking on more maladaptive characteristics. In fact, there may be an important biological determinant to discourage large families.
"The fraternal birth order effect is the strongest known biodemographic predictor of sexual orientation. According to several studies, each older brother increases a man's odds of having a homosexual orientation by 28–48%. The fraternal birth order effect accounts for approximately one seventh of the prevalence of homosexuality in men." 
So homosexuality may be an adaptation to population overgrowth.
If my counterpart would avail himself of a book on the philosophy of biology written in the last 20 years say Ernst Mayer's "Toward A Modern Philosophy Of Biology" he would quickly discover that it is perfectly acceptable to use terms like design or intent with out necessarily implying teleology.
It's Ernst Mayr, not Mayer, and his use of teleological key words like "intent" was prominently criticized by the likes of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould for giving fodder to the intelligent design philosophy. Adapt is a less suggestive word, to be sure.
I think it's hilarious that my counterpart attempts to argue that our reproductive system is defective for it's task yet somehow ideal for homosexual behavior
A bad misreading of my argument. Plugs and sockets are fine for the reproductive "task," to use Con's word, but not necessarily superior for promoting intimacy or pleasure- aspects of human sexuality that Con consistently ignores.
Frankly I don't want to get into a commentary about it because I'm not sure how to avoid ridiculing my counterpart.
I would encourage the readers voting on this to avoid any temptation toward emotionalism
Non-responsive and contradictory.
Most of Con's argument has been that reproduction is the sum total of the human experience. Since the health of humanity is only defined by the number of children left behind, homosexuality is unhealthy and maladaptive. My argument has been than this singular line of reasoning is not supported by science or common sense. Although science has offered many theories and studies with few conclusions, I think we can safely say that few biologists would concur with Con's reductionist line. I believe Con's resolution stands refuted. Homosexuality is an ordinary, healthy, and probably even adaptive trait employed by many species with effective evolutionary results.
Thanks for the debate. Please VOTE PRO!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by kbub 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did an amazing job in this debate. Also, great job using real psychology sources; I'm very impressed. The arguments go to Pro. (Although, for the sake of postarity, homosexual behavior and how one displays one's sexuality in general is societally-produced, but the case of sexual orientation is one of the rare cases in which one's natural tendencies are almost exclusively biologically produced. The same percentages are seen are seen across cultures, and of course the twin studies. Not that I would ever include any of this in the voting. Just thought I'd throw that out there....)
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