Failure of Experiments to Show Genetic Determinism For Homosexuality

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Dr. Dean Hamer is a researcher often cited to show that there is empirical data supporting the notion of genetic determinism in regards to homosexuality. News organizations like National Public Radio and Newsweek have done news stories regarding his work.[1] In respect to the press trumpeting various findings genetics-of-behavior research uncritically the science journal Science stated the following in 1994:

Time and time again, scientists have claimed that particular genes or chromosomal regions are associated with behavioral traits, only to withdraw their findings when they were not replicated. "Unfortunately," says Yale's [Dr. Joel] Gelernter, "it's hard to come up with many" findings linking specific genes to complex human behaviors that have been replicated. "...All were announced with great fanfare; all were greeted unskeptically in the popular press; all are now in disrepute."[2]

Martin A. Silverman, M.D. wrote regarding a famous study of Dr. Dean Hamer:

On July 16, 1993, it was reported in Science (pp. 291, 321) that geneticist Dean Hamer and his team at the National Cancer Institute had reported on a study involving 40 pairs of brothers both of whom were gay that had led them to conclude that they had discovered a factor on the X chromosome through which gayness was genetically transmitted to them from their mothers. This was hailed as proof that homosexuality in men is biological in origin. Two years later, however, Eliot Marshall reported in Science (June 30, 1995, p.268) George Ebers and George Rice of the University of Western Ontario had unsuccessfully attempted to replicate Hamer's findings and had "found no evidence that gayness is passed from mother to son" genetically. He also reported that the Office of Research Integrity in the Department of Health and Human Services was investigating Hamer's work.[3]

In May of 2000, the American Psychiatric Association issued a fact sheet stating that "..there are no replicated scientific studies supporting a specific biological etiology for homosexuality."[4]

See Also