Thursday, January 25, 2007

There's an interesting article in the Times today entitled Of Gay Sheep, Modern Science and the Perils of Bad Publicity, about the attempts of PETA and gay rights advocates to shut down basic research into sensitive subjects. From reading the article, its pretty clear none of the activists actually understand the science in question:
Mr. Gala, who asked that he be identified as openly gay, cited the news release for a 2004 paper in the journal Endocrinology that showed differences in brain structure between homosexual and heterosexual sheep.

The release quoted Dr. Roselli as saying that the research “also has broader implications for understanding the development and control of sexual motivation and mate selection across mammalian species, including humans.”

Mr. Newman, who wrote the release, said the word “control” was used in the scientific sense of understanding the body’s internal controls, not in the sense of trying to control sexual orientation.

“It’s discouraging that PETA can pick one word, try to add weight to it or shift its meaning to suggest that you are doing something that you clearly are not,” he said.
This is pretty standard scientific lingo across many different fields - see for example control theory.

This part is the most ridiculous of all:
By discussing the human implications of the research, even in a somewhat careful way, Dr. Roselli “opened the door” to the reaction, Dr. Wolpe said, and “he has to take responsibility for the public response.”

If the mechanisms underlying sexual orientation can be discovered and manipulated, Dr. Wolpe continued, then the argument that sexual orientation is based in biology and is immutable “evaporates.”
Except if human sexuality is not immutable, then its not immutable. Dr. Wolpe seems to be concerned that reality will take a shape he finds unattractive, which leads him to be critical of research that might lead to discoveries that settle the question.


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