The “Trojan Couch”

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This complicates analysis considerably, for it is difficult enough to study a poorly -defined behavioral trait that is static in a cohort of individuals. It is more difficult to study a poorly -defined behavioral trait in a cohort of individuals that mutates as they age, and yet more difficult when that mutation is variable, inconsistent and itself hard to define. It is then e xtremely hard to study that trait when the aging cohort is embedded in various location -dependent cultures that clearly have a large—indeed statistically the largest—effect on the age-correlated prevalence of the trait, such that location itself influences prevalence. This was shown to be the case when the erstwhile “gay gene” researcher Dean Hamer was pressed by his fellow scientists and forced to admit, contrary to his sworn testimony in the Colorado “Proposition 2” case that ultimately led to Romer, “The relationships among genes and environment probably have a somewhat different effect on someone in Salt Lake City than if that person were growing up in New York City.” 40 Matters become extraordinarily tricky when it is found that only in certain location-dependent cultures, there is a sharp sex-related partitioning such that for half the individuals in the cohort, one thing is true, and for the other it isn’t. Thus, in this Australia study, the authors’ findings and conclusions in their own words are: A strong age cohort difference was found for women, with younger women more frequently reporting a homosexual or bisexual identification. By contrast, no age cohort difference was found for men…These findings suggest that a heterosexual orientation may have become less common in younger cohorts of Australian women. This finding is consistent with data from other recent studies. If one hasn’t actually tracked a specific group of individuals over time, checking periodically on their sexual orientations, but, instead, assessed people of different ages, taking a snapshot in time, then indeed, one can legitimately argue that any changes that correlate with age might have nothing to do with individual development, but instead are caused by the changing culture. Thus, the process of mutability over time that the authors implicitly point to is taking place not so much in the individual as collectively; in this view, “sexual orientation” is not so much a true characteristic of an individual (like height, weight, sex, or e ven stable, measurable personality traits – recall Laumann et al.’s warning that homosexuality is neither easily measurable nor stable), but rather a collective trend or fashion that waxes or wanes with the times. 41



As quoted in an interview by C. Mann, “Genes and Behavior,” Science 264 (1994), pp. 1686-89.