But eight major studies of identical twins in Australia, the United States and Scandinavia during the last two decades all have arrived at the same conclusion: homosexuality primarily and overwhelmingly (90%) is an acquired disposition, instead of genetic.
The findings of those studies are presented in Chapter 10, “Twin Studies: the strongest evidence,” of Neil E. Whitehead, Ph.D., My Genes Made Me Do It! – Homosexuality and the scientific evidence (Third edition, Oct. 2013). (You can download the book, free, in PDF format here; or buy a copy here.)
Dr. Neil Whitehead is the author of over 140 published scientific papers. His Ph.D. is in biochemistry, 1971, New Zealand. He was employed as a scientist with the New Zealand government for 24 years, at the United Nations for 4 years, and more recently as a scientific research consultant to Japanese universities on the effects of radiation exposure.
Before I present the findings in Dr. Whitehead’s Chapter 10, “”Twin Studies: the strongest evidence,” we first need to know the importance of studying identical twins.
IDENTICAL TWINSIdentical or monozygotic twins occur when a single egg is fertilized to form one zygote (hence, “monozygotic”) which then divides into two separate embryos that grow and develop into identical twins. Being formed from the same zygote, identical twins therefore have identical genes or DNA. Furthermore, being in the same womb, the twins also share identical pre-natal biological conditions.
As a result of having the same genes and prenatal conditions, identical twins are perfect subjects for scientific study to determine whether a disease, disposition or personality attribute is caused by nature (genes) or nurture (acquired). If homosexuality is caused by genetics and/or prenatal conditions in the womb, then identical twins will always be identical for same sex attraction. That is, if one identical twin is homosexual, the co-twin should also be homosexual. In other words, the same sex attraction (SSA) concordance should be 100%.
(In contrast, fraternal or dizygotic twins usually occur when two eggs are separately fertilized by two different sperm cells, but are implanted in the uterus wall at the same time. The two eggs or ova form two zygotes, hence the term “dizygotic twins”. Fraternal twins have different DNA and really are two ordinary siblings who happen to be born at the same time.)
Identical twins and homosexualityTwin registers are the foundation of modern twin studies. We now have very large twin registers in many countries, one of the largest in use is in Australia with more than 33,000 pairs of twins on the books, all of whom are prepared to assist in general research. A team of Australian researchers used that twin register and, in 2000, published their findings as:
- J. M. Baily, M. P. Dunne, and N. G. Martin, “Genetic and Environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlates in an Australian twin sample,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78:524-536.
- S. L. Jones and M. A. Yarhouse, Homosexuality. The use of scientific research in the church’s moral debate (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2000).
A same sex attraction (SSA) concordance of 11% means that when one of a twin pair from a general twin registry is homosexual, his co-twin is homosexual one time in nine, or 11% of the time, which is not very much.
Note: Don’t confuse the 11-14% SSA concordance in studies of identical twins with the 2-3% incidence of homosexuality in the general population. 11% SSA concordance among identical twins does NOT mean that homosexuality was found in 11% of identical twins; it means if one of a pair of identical twins is homosexual, there’s an 11% chance that the other twin is also homosexual.Since DNA and prenatal conditions account for 11% SSA concordance, that means the percentage due to genes or DNA is even smaller, less than 11%. Furthermore, identical twins usually also grew up in the same family environment. All of which means that “neither genes nor upbringing is very important” as determinants of homosexuality. Instead, something(s) else that was not shared by identical twins accounts for the SSA.
Put simply and bluntly, homosexuals are not born that way. (In fact, no homosexual gene has been found or is expected to be. See Chapter 9 of Whitehead’s book.)
Nor do people become homosexual because of upbringing. Fuller studies, which include fraternal twins, show that for SSA the effect of upbringing is low and even less than that of genes. Results from twin studies for very many traits show family influence is less than genetic influence. In other words, parents are usually not directly involved in making a son or daughter homosexual, either genetically or through parenting.
Dr. Whitehead writes:
This degree of concordance [11%] now has the backing of half a dozen major twin studies so is very unlikely to change. So the following conclusion will not change in the future either: The predominant cause of SSA both in men and women is individual post-natal random reactions to biological and environmental factors.
Random events and homosexualityUnusual random events, e.g., some early sexual experience such as pornography or molestation, can have extraordinarily powerful influences by impressing themselves on our memory, and affect our responses and behavior for years. If an event or feeling has been mulled over numerous times for years, it is important, possibly formative, and may even be a mind habit.
Whitehead writes, “There is a wrong but popular impression that SSA development is a great mystery. But in many ways it’s no more mysterious than the development of heterosexuality.” Many homosexual men and women, recalling incidents which they believe were instrumental in the development of their SSA, recount clear early memories of one particular thing done or said in families that deeply influenced their later choices. Otis and Skinner in a non-twin study identified some of them by sampling a group of SSA men and women who said the factors in the figure below had at least some influence on their orientation, such as positive same-sex experiences.
So what are the random factors experienced by one identical twin but not another which play a greater role (89%) than DNA and prenatal conditions in developing same sex attraction? Here are some examples:
- Sexual abuse (same sex for men, opposite sex for women).
- Exposure to “gay” porn (mostly for men).
- Parental preference.
- Rejection by a parent.
- Bad experience with or rejection by opposite sex.
- Gender-atypical physical feature(s), e.g., slight body built (for men); obesity, physical unattractiveness or unfemininity (for women).
- Middle age (for women): note the Hollywood actresses who, in middle age, have come out as lesbians, e.g., Kelly McGillis (Top Gun) and Meredith Baxter (Family Ties).
- Parental encouragement to be gender atypical, e.g., dressing little boys in girl’s clothes.
- Single parent family (no male role model for boys).
- Cultural approval/disapproval.
ConclusionGiven the scientific findings that:
- Homosexuality overwhelmingly is not inborn or genetic, but is acquired as a result of random experiences (and reaction to those experiences), which include pornography, broken homes, and cultural approval/disapproval;
- Sexual orientation in adolescence is very malleable.
H/t FOTM Facebook reader Dianne Allyn-Fowler
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