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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 21.3 > The Gadfly

The Gadfly

What is Sexual Orientation?

IF YOU WANT TO STUDY SEXUAL BEHAVIOR, choose the fruit fly. Its behavior is not nearly as obvious as you might think, and you aren’t likely to raise a storm of protest from opponents of sex research or from advocates of the fruit fly.

If you want to study human sexuality, though, watch out. Just about every aspect of sexuality evokes powerful beliefs and prejudices, causing people to scrutinize research findings through the prisms of their own sexual behavior, their political and social ideologies, and wishful thinking. Add to this Congress’s antediluvian attitudes toward sex and sex research (Congress apparently acts on the theory that “if we don’t study it, no one will do it”), and no wonder it’s so difficult for science and skepticism to even get their foot in the bedroom door. And if your interest is sexual orientation —its causes, expression, variations, development—you’ll have to steer a course between the Scylla of conservatives who know that same-sex orientation is a sinful, psychologically determined “life-style choice” and the Charybdis of liberals who know that it is biologically determined and no more “chosen” than eye color.

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About Skeptic

INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY SPECIAL SECTION: IS PORNOGRAPHY BAD FOR YOU?; How Porn Is Messing with Your Manhood; Skeptical of Porn Skeptics; Hazards of Herbal Medicine: Lessons from Aristolochia; What is Sexual Orientation?; Did a Teenager Discover an Ancient Mayan City on Google Earth?; Paleo Diets and Utopian Dreams; Does AA Work? Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-Step Programs, and What We Really Know About Substance Abuse Treatment; The Clash of Eschatologies: The Role of End-Times Thinking in World History; Nightmares from the Id: The Neurophysiology of Anomalous Psychological Experiences; Terror Attacks that Never Were; Electromagnetic Fields and Parental Panics: A Case Study in How Science Can Bring Comfort; REVIEWS: Who Invented Science?; Science and the Creation of the Modern Mind; Heaven Is Not For Real; When Scientific American Put Psychics to the Test; JUNIOR SKEPTIC: MammothMysteries! Part One. The Hidden History of Mammoths and Mastodons
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