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Darwin Day 2015 Questions: #4 How does evolution explain homosexuality?

Darwin Day 2015 Questions: #4 How does evolution explain homosexuality?

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25 comments

  1. I have a small suggestion, and I am sure I am not the only one who has made
    it. May I suggest you stop with the camera switching, as on the closeup
    there is a lot of vibrant colors and it looks really great.
    But when you switch it all turns a drab gray color and it does not look all
    that great. It’s quite a jarring experience to watch with all these
    switches.

    But fantastic content as always :)

  2. There are many other alternatives to the ones proposed here.
    here are some:
    Why can’t it be a hormonal response by the mother when there is a large
    number of male children.

    How about a hierarchy or bonding strategy used by males to improve group
    cohesion (since social animals reproductive fitness benefits from this)

    Or a trait that is has a reproductive benefit to women, that is being
    selected for and male homosexuality is just a by product of it (thus is a
    net plus evolutionarily)

    Or there are many genes that contribute to homosexuality and most
    combinations contribute to reproductive fitness, while some fewer
    combinations results prominent homosexual preference (also an evolutionary
    net plus for these genes).

    Or why not all or some combination of these and other strategies (they
    don’t appear mutually exclusive).

    I think people only see this as a problem because we think of genetics like
    a computer algorithm, instead of chemistry.

  3. Good talk, but you and your camera people have to coordinate :D

  4. Since homosexual couples still find ways to have children and therefore
    have not ‘taken themselves out of the gene pool’, doesn’t the question
    become moot?
    What do you think of the idea of homosexuality being an incidental
    expression of any number of other genetic traits like for example improved
    liver function?

  5. Natural selection only completely selects out a trait that is essentially
    disadvantageous or deleterious to a species, such as, for example, having
    no legs. Therefore, there’s no reason to assume that any trait that is not
    essentially disadvantageous or deleterious would be completely selected
    out, for example, homosexuality. As long as the species can get along just
    find with a small amount of a certain trait in the gene pool, then there’s
    no reason for that trait to completely disappear. As for why the trait for
    homosexuality even exists to begin with, well, I believe it has something
    to do with our ad hoc evolution. That is to say, the trial and error way
    that evolution goes about constructing living things allows for a margin of
    error, where organisms may not function at 100% but within a high enough
    percentage that the efficiencies greatly outweigh the inefficiencies. Think
    of the human knee, for example. The knee is good enough for what it does,
    but it’s certainly not 100% efficient. If an engineer were to design the
    knee it would look and function much more efficiently. Nature doesn’t work
    that way. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is nature’s motto.

  6. Or perhaps the gay “gene” doesn’t have a negative societal effect and is
    therefore not weeded out.

  7. Perhaps the degree of penetrance has something to do with it as well.

  8. while we are at this, can anyone please enlighten me as to why almost all
    cultures and religions across the globe have shown hatred and antipathy
    towards homosexuals? from a psychological/environmental point of view that
    deals with behavior and survival of one species as a whole; is there any
    natural factor that could generate such common behavior towards them? I
    understand the possible fear a specie could have which is the increase in
    number of homosexuals could be a potential threat to its survival, but
    other than that, why?

  9. “commonest”? Is that even a word? :D

  10. Just out of curiosity; is there a “Alfred Russel Wallace Day”…?

  11. As many others have noted, this is a very thought-provoking answer to this
    question, but I don’t see any point in two cameras. The one, well-lit angle
    where he talks directly to the camera is enough.

  12. Well, identical twins have same environment, similar experiences, in fact,
    if one is gay then having a gay brother is a pretty particular
    environmental case… so it’s correlation but not full causation that is
    proven with that… in fact, 1 being gay and the other being 50% or less
    chance of being gay, proves, if anything that, while there might be genetic
    influence, there is DEFINITELY social influence as well… genetic twins
    ALWAYS have same colored eyes, this does not apply for homosexuality..

  13. Since homosexuality seems to represent a relative statistical minority in
    every population, one could also assume that the genetic potential for
    homosexuality might not necessarily serve a survival-oriented purpose, but
    that it was simply a genetic potential that was able to hang around since
    it wasn’t harmful to survival. After all, natural selection doesn’t
    optimize or selects only traits that are productive, it only gets rid of
    traits that are relative worse for survival than others. But a gene pool
    that every so often produces 5% of gay people or so in a given population
    simply isn’t harmful to the survival of that population. (And if the worker
    bee hypothesis is true, there might even be social functions).
    So, in that case, it might simply be a random occurence that natural
    selection wasn’t bothered about and so it still exists. Think of the colour
    of our blood, for instance: There doesn’t have to be a specific,
    survival-oriented purpose to why it has this specific colour. One colour
    just developed, and since the colour didn’t have any effect on survival one
    way or the other, it hung around. It is “survival-neutral” so to speak.
    Homosexuality as a phenomenon might be equally “survival-neutral” for any
    given population.

  14. Hehehehe, for a moment there I thought that the mic near his neck was a
    cross, and I was like “what the fuckin fucckity fuck???”

  15. randomintrestsperson

    I’ve read a few journals on the subject, and one group proposed that it can
    sometimes be the result of the mother’s immune system not fully recognizing
    the child as a part of the woman’s body due to the difference in hormones.
    The woman’s body would then fight off these hormones and replace them with
    more estrogen. This hormonal replacement affect’s the fetus as it develops
    and, if subjected to this early on, can cause the fetus’s brain to develop
    female hormones instead of male hormones. I’m not sure if this is entirely
    true, and if anyone would like a link to the study I can try and find it
    again :)

  16. I suspect it’s genetic. In my family across the generations and cousin
    level two of us are acknowledged gay, a third and forth suspected. And it’s
    all on dear old Dad’s side. 

  17. Frances Haypenny

    Homosexuality is not genetic. There is no gay gene, never was. It’s just a
    behavior, a preference. People are so brainwashed by political propaganda
    that even biology is now bigotry.

    Humans exhibit all sorts of disadvantageous behaviors. We are a species
    that can willfully destroy ourselves. Why hasn’t that been ‘weeded out’ by
    natural selection as well? Can’t evolutionary biologists let go of all the
    many areas where Darwin was clearly wrong and simply chronicle what can be
    observed rather than having to push everything through to make it fit
    Darwin?

  18. Question: #5 How do we know homosexuality is not a disorder? How do you
    define disorder?

  19. InvalidMemberAccount

    Any person that believes homosexuality is a choice, is admitting that they
    are capable of choosing to become homosexual, themselves.

  20. Does anyone know of this atheist quote??? I do not remember exactly the
    quote but it basically talks about how religion is like sitting in a nice
    warm cosy room, but giving up god is like opening the widow to a
    refreshingly cool gust of wind. I have been trying to find the exact quote
    for a long time and it is driving me crazy. 

  21. Arthur Hakhverdian

    I am not a homophobe and I have utmost regard for Prof Dawkins but I think
    he’s being highly speculative here.

  22. TheDystopiaInside

    I’m gay and I don’t like that first hypothesis — no one better expect me
    to take care of their kids!

  23. Worth thinking about is that virtually all (?) other animals have
    homosexuality as well. So it shouldn’t just be thought about in ways of
    human behavior.

  24. Could you give a real example of a gene that is expressed differently in
    different environments?

  25. I’m an Atheist, but I still think we should kill all the gays. It’s wrong.