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Gay men and straight women have similar brains


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We don't know much about qualia.

 

An old word Oxford philosophers used for sense data?

Particularly, I thought, our sense of sense data. Isn't it used any longer?

 

From the most cursory of searches, it looks like it might have come back into fashion. Wiki (have a pinch of salt) says it was first used in the modern sense in 1991. And yet it was regarded as rather old-fashioned when I was at university, some time before that.

 

How old are you exactly? :unsure:

There's actually quite a bit of work done about qualia and the explanatory gap in the 90's and up until now.

Here's a better summary than wikipedia.

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Wow.. For a liberal crowd its pretty funny that people are actually discussing this seriously.. Scientist don't know a damn thing about the brain but, somehow they know this?

 

Another study finds that many foodies express conservative opinion, but are later discovered to have been closet liberals.

 

 

Haha.. I am wondering if this is linked to brain size.. Brought to you by the large brained people over at princeton..

 

There is plenty of data that shows that Right-wingers are happier, more generous to charities, less likely to commit suicide - and even hug their children more than those on the Left.
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Wilfrid and Kiku are denying this position, stating basically that any statistical observation such as the one presented shouldn't be made, even if it is probably true, or that such an observation couldn't be true because it shouldn't be true. Wilfrid is also making the argument that this could just be a fluke, which is of course true of any finite experiment, but not very likely.

 

 

* chance is used to indicate a horribly complex and inherently unpredictable universe (which is why I linked to that discussion)

 

That's not fair, of course. I was being dense about the misclassification issue, and ceased advancing that objection.

 

In this one, very small study, there does appear to be an association between people reporting a certain sexual preference and brain shape. The interpretation of the result remains speculative for a number of reasons (and I still haven't read the study). There is evidence that being gay means different things to different people (and even more so in different places at different times).

 

From an austere scientific viewpoint, I think it has to be admitted that what one can observe, record and measure are things like states of the body (and brain) and bodily behaviors. The classification of certain clusters of brain states and certain behaviors as "gay" or "lesbian" or "bi" is a shifting and unstable social phenomenon. There are obvious examples in this society of men engaging in sexual behavior with other men who would certainly not self-report as gay.

 

The predicament for all such studies is mapping observations against social constructs.

 

And as far as this study is concerned (and I think it was pointed out in the article) is that the direction of causation isn't clear (and there's also the possibility that some unconsidered factor is responsible for the association - i.e., if factor X is present then the risk of being gay and the risk of having a brain that shape are both increased).

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My own position (and a very obvious one, I would think), is that everything about a person is encoded in the physical state of the brain (and body) at any given point in time, and that the state at a latter time is fully determined by that initial state and the set of inputs introduced. Therefore a person describing themselves as "gay" are reflecting the operation of society and "chance"* on their initial state. If you believe that, then it shouldn't be terribly surprising that someone with a brain that's wired (or shaped) in some way may respond differently. If you don't believe it then you may as well believe in ghosts.

 

I just think we have to have accept that a) there is certain type of behaviour that can be referred to by the term homosexual, b) those who self-report homosexuality are aware what this term refers to, c) there may be a correlation in the brain to those exhibiting a) & b); this brain characteristic may be genetically determined, or culturally acquired; or cultural acquisition may result from a genetically determined predisposition, which itself may be present in all, many, or few of the subjects who present the behaviour.

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P.S. Of course the observation should be made. If it can be made in larger groups of subjects in diverse communities, it would be pretty interesting. We just have to be clear about what is being observed.

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I just think we have to have accept that a) there is certain type of behaviour that can be referred to by the term homosexual, b) those who self-report homosexuality are aware what this term refers to, c) there may be a correlation in the brain to those exhibiting a) & b); this brain characteristic may be genetically determined, or culturally acquired; or cultural acquisition may result from a genetically determined predisposition, which itself may be present in all, many, or few of the subjects who present the behaviour.

This study reports what it reports, but it is one study of 90 subjects. I think at the very least one wants to see the results replicated elsewhere.

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My own position (and a very obvious one, I would think), is that everything about a person is encoded in the physical state of the brain (and body) at any given point in time, and that the state at a latter time is fully determined by that initial state and the set of inputs introduced.

 

Orik you're quite a few decades (if not more) ahead of science. While I strongly disagree with Daniel's statement some pages back that science knew basically crap all about the brain, I've yet to meet a study or a book or a scientist for that matter who claimed to know as much as you think we do about the workings of our brain.

 

Wilfrid and Kiku are denying this position, stating basically that any statistical observation such as the one presented shouldn't be made, even if it is probably true, or that such an observation couldn't be true because it shouldn't be true. Wilfrid is also making the argument that this could just be a fluke, which is of course true of any finite experiment, but not very likely.

 

...um....I thought Wilfrid was just saying that self-report is prone to error due to a whole host of social factors and that could perhaps be a cause to look slightly askew at the conclusions drawn :huh:

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I have withdrawn the claim that it could bias the result in this particular study (after Professor J explained it slowly enough times). It remains the case that the association observed (in a very small population) is between self-reported "homosexuality" and brain shape.

 

Note this comment from the Sci Am article:

 

Robert Epstein, emeritus director of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Concord, Mass., agrees that the study offers compelling evidence that sexual orientation is a biologically fixed characteristic. But he cautions that these findings may vary in different people whose sexual orientation is not that clear-cut, which his own research shows includes a majority of the population.

 

 

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I have withdrawn the claim that it could bias the result in this particular study (after Professor J explained it slowly enough times). It remains the case that the association observed (in a very small population) is between self-reported "homosexuality" and brain shape.

 

Yes. This got through to me too..

The question is really this: why would men with symmetric brains be more likely to describe themselves as gay than men with asymmetric brains?
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...um....I thought Wilfrid was just saying that self-report is prone to error due to a whole host of social factors and that could perhaps be a cause to look slightly askew at the conclusions drawn :huh:

 

There's what Wilfrid was saying (which was wrong, as it could only cause things to look askew in the direction of a negative result) and there's what Wilfrid was saying.

 

 

 

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Note this comment from the Sci Am article:

 

Robert Epstein, emeritus director of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Concord, Mass., agrees that the study offers compelling evidence that sexual orientation is a biologically fixed characteristic. But he cautions that these findings may vary in different people whose sexual orientation is not that clear-cut, which his own research shows includes a majority of the population.

The study we're discussing doesn't generalize its findings to the entire population. And the findings support the possibility that the brains of those with no clear-cut sexual orientation will vary.

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Wilfrid and Kiku are denying this position ...

 

I missed the bit where I did that. As far as I remember, all I did was point out the Grauniad's misreporting of the earlier study (which misreporting did suggest a superficially neater congruence with this new study than actually exists).

 

The butches v femmes comment was flip but not un-meant; however, I don't think it constitutes a 'denial'.

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