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I wonder if years from now, we will see this brain science as the new phrenology

Laurie Essig

Gods, I hope so.


Furthermore, as I pointed out then, there is no actual EVIDENCE of the androgen wash in the womb- it’s a hypothesis. The only way to test such a hypothesis would be to stick amniotic needles into pregnant women’s bellies at various times and then see finger length of the children after birth.

This study has been done and it confirmed the finger ratio / prenatal exposure hypothesis. The link has also been confirmed in a study of children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.


Now wait a minute. Yes, the man in the CNN interview is a moron for stating something so hyperbolically. Of course it's only correlation. But I've seen many studies (the actual papers, not media-driven press releases) on the correlation between in utero sex-hormone exposure and sexual orientation, and the science itself is pretty sound. We can and do manipulate fetal sex-hormone exposure in small mammals and even primates, and we DO see the mentioned changes in sexual behavior. We can't do these studies in humans, so we have to use markers for sex-hormone exposure, and finger length happens to be one of them. Women with CAH, exposed to too much testosterone, do show the trend in both orientation and finger length. You're right, and nothing should be said about your feelings simply by looking at your fingers, but REAL scientists wouldn't say anything that foolish in the first place. If you look at studies on otoacoustic emissions too, you'll see that there's a correlation between orientation and fetal hormone exposure, with manipulation showing the expected results. Scientists are simply trying to find out why we are attracted to the people we're attracted to, and as the technology advances (I'm a huge fan of fMRI, can't lie to that machine), the more we'll learn.

I also read your previous post on finger length and while I agree with the general idea, I disagree when you said "...the study wants me to assume that gender...resides in the brain, even though there is no evidence of such a claim." Where else would it reside? Our attractions are driven by how our brains are wired. fMRI studies show that gay male brains are more like straight female brains, and I'm OK with that, because I do have attractions that women normally have (I only say this from a purely evolutionary standpoint- if someone took that stance moralistically with me, my fist would have a problem with their face). I've seen studies showing that gays respond to putative pheromones in the anterior hypothalamus similarly to how the straight opposite sex does, and NOT like the straight same sex. There's no higher order cortical thinking involved there. So I do think that orientation is hardwired, and there are many solid hypotheses as to why we are wired the way we are, though none is 100% accurate and I don't expect that there ever will be one, and I also think that there may be cases where being attracted to the same sex is purely environmental, and there shouldn't be a problem with that either.

Sorry to sound so contrary, however being someone in the sciences I just had to disagree with both kfox's and your comments about the basic science. The science is just fine, it's people who misuse the data who should be taken for quacks.


I had no idea I was supposed to be a lesbian....

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