Political Compass #60: No one can feel naturally homosexual.

Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 61 questions to assess one’s political orientation in terms of economic left/right and social libertarianism/authoritarianism (rather like the “Libertarian diamond” popular in the US).

And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 61 questions. I will give which answer I chose and provide my justification and reasoning. Others are, of course, invited to do the same including those who wish to “question the question”, as it were.

It would also be useful when posting in these threads to give your own “compass reading” in your first post, by convention giving the Economic value first. My own is
SentientMeat: Economic: -5.12, Social: -7.28, and so by the above convention my co-ordinates are (-5.12, -7.28). Please also indicate which option you ticked. I might suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation, but seeing for yourself what kind of answers are given by those with a certain score might be more useful than second-guessing the test’s scoring system.

Now, I appreciate that there is often dissent regarding whether the assessment the test provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” (??) or because some propositions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory. The site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and there is also a separate thread: Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading? [size=2]Read these first and then, if you have an objection to the test in general, please post it there. If your objection is solely to the proposition in hand, post here. If your objection is to other propositions, please wait until I open a thread on them. (And for heaven’s sake, please don’t quote this entire Opening Post when replying like this sufferer of bandwidth diarrhea.)

The above will be pasted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly, and I’ll try to let each one exhaust itself of useful input before starting the next. Without wanting to “hog the idea”, I would be grateful if others could refrain from starting similar threads. Finally, I advise you to read the full proposition below, not just the thread title (which is necessarily abbreviated), and request that you debate my entire OP rather than simply respond, “IMHO”-like, to the proposition itself.

To date, the threads are:

Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading?
Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.
#2: My country, right or wrong
#3: Pride in one’s country is foolish.
#4: Superior racial qualities.
#5: My enemy’s enemy is my friend.
#6: Justifying illegal military action.
#7: “Info-tainment” is a worrying trend.
#8: Class division vs. international division. (+ SentientMeat’s economic worldview)
#9: Inflation vs. unemployment.
#10: Corporate respect of the environment.
#11: From each according to his ability, to each according to need.
#12: Sad reflections in branded drinking water.
#13: Land should not be bought and sold.
#14: Many personal fortunes contribute nothing to society.
#15: Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
#16: Shareholder profit is a company’s only responsibility.
#17: The rich are too highly taxed.
#18: Better healthcare for those who can pay for it.
#19: Penalising businesses which mislead the public.
#20: The freer the market, the freer the people.
#21: Abortion should be illegal.
#22: All authority must be questioned.
#23: An eye for an eye.
#24: Taxpayers should not prop up theatres or museums.
#25: Schools shouldn’t make attendance compulsory.
#26: Different kinds of people should keep to their own.
#27: Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.
#28: It’s natural for children to keep secrets.
#29: Marijuana should be legalised.
#30: School’s prime function is equipping kids to find jobs.
#31: Seriously disabled people should not reproduce.
#32: Learning discipline is the most important thing.
#33: ‘Savage peoples’ vs. ‘different culture’
#34: Society should not support those who refuse to work.
#35: Keep cheerfully busy when troubled.
#36: First generation immigrants can never be fully integrated.
#37: What’s good for corporations is always good for everyone.
#38: No broadcasting institution should receive public funding.
#39: Our civil rights are being excessively curbed re. terrorism.
#40: One party states avoid delays to progress.
#41: Only wrongdoers need worry about official surveillance.
#42: The death penalty should be an option for serious crimes.
#43: Society must have people above to be obeyed.
#44: Abstract art that doesn’t represent anything isn’t art at all.
#45: Punishment is more important than rehabilitation.
#46: It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate some criminals.
#47: Businessmen are more important than writers and artists.
#48: A mother’s first duty is to be a homemaker.
#49: Companies exploit the Third World’s plant genetic resources.
#50: Mature people make peace with the establishment.
#51: Astrology accurately explains many things.
#52: You cannot be moral without being religious.
#53: Charity is better than social secuity.
#54: Some people are naturally unlucky
#55: Schools and religious values.
#56: Sex outside marriage is usually immoral.
#57: Gay couples should not be excluded from adoption.
#58: Pornography should be legal.
#59: Adult bedroom activity is no business of the state.

**Proposition #60: No one can feel naturally homosexual.

SentientMeat** (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Strongly Disagree.
What would the homosexual Dopers here (perhaps after bawdily informing us how many natural homosexuals they’ve felt in their time) tell us with their first-hand accounts of puberty? How, along with the hormonal and physical changes, they came to realise that they felt attraction to members of one sex far more than the other?

Because guess what: I, a heterosexual male, experienced exactly the same thing! I could not explain why I fancied girls but not boys, and I certainly can’t remember making any choice in the matter. And I can see absolutely no reason why heterosexual females, nor homosexual males or females, should have experienced any difference whatsoever.

If homosexuality is “unnatural”, then what of the animals in which homosexuality has been documented? Are 8% of sheep rebelling against bovine society by showing less cytochrome P450 aromatase in their sexually dimorphic nucleus? Do Humboldt penguins have some psychological problem with their fathers? Are bonobo apes a danger to the entire fabric of simian culture? “But they’re not homosexual like humans are homosexual, ie. exclusively” comes the response, which has never struck me as being particularly relevant even if it’s true. There is a neurophysical correlate in those animals who do try to mate with members of their own sex which is not found in those which don’t: that their cognition is not advanced enough to translate this into eradicating heterosexual activity (since, after all, both males and females exude the pheromones which these animals, respond to, just in different amounts) is not fundamentally important. In any case, human males , who respond similarly, sometimes identify as bisexual also (and, again, bisexual men show differences in precisely which type of pornography excites them more in the first place: where could the “choice” possibly be being made here, and why do men who say they are attracted to both sexes not show more equal neurophysical attraction if it really is a “choice”?). A homosexual man could very well mince down the street brazenly showing various PET-scan results which display consistent …ahem… deviations from heterosexual male brains (“I’ve got differences in my anterior commisure, supra-chiasmatic nucleus and interstitial nuclei of my anterior hypothalamus and I’m proud”) just as those with other physical characteristics such as a particular skin colour or age group might assert their identity.

Humans are remarkably biologically similar, but culturally very different: that homosexuality is found in at least 5% of the population worldwide suggests … what, exactly? If upbringing or postnatal environment were the cause, why do the separately-raised identical twins of children who grew up to be gay show a vastly higher incidence of homosexuality (up to 65% versus the expected 5%: the varying penetrance of the gene explains why it’s not 100%) themselves? Clearly, there is a definite genetic element, which might be triggered by some as yet undetermined uterine or pre-school factor. By school age, way before puberty, children who eventually become homosexual already display vastly more gender-atypical behaviour.

From the American Psychologcal Association:

If these examples, do not show beyond all reasonable doubt that homosexuality is natural (even if it not statistically normal but, heck, who is?), I would have to ask for a pretty rigorous definition of what “natural” means: If homosexuals did not choose to be so, just as I did not choose to be heterosexual, they are surely not unnatural.

I’m also having to query the rigour of the usage of natural. It seems to be so vague in this context that it’s meaningless. The usual meaning of ‘natural’ is essentially a synonym for ‘non-anthropogenic’. For example we have natural fibres, natural heritage etc. Natural means something that isn’t the product of people or, at the extreme, intelligent life.

And natural isn’t always good, nor is everything non-natural bad. A work of art certainly isn’t natural but it often good. And snakebite is natural but distinctly un-good.

So what does natural even mean in the context of a human emotion/desire? All human emotion is the product of a human, of course. It has no objective existence. So all emotions would seem to be natural. I’m assuming the statement is meant to suggest that it’s impossible to feel that desire without somehow working up to it. That is that it’s impossible to simply wake up one day and feel attracted to the same sex without making a conscious effort to do so.

But would anyone on the planet agree with that proposition? I can’t imagine that even the most hard line Fundamentalist Christian believing that every single homosexual spent many years working thmeslves up to liking exclusively members of their own sex. After all isn’t that the whole basis of what they preach that these people have given into a temptation or appetite? But nobody can create a temptation or appetite, I can’t work myself up to feeling hungry for iorn filing no atter how hard I try. Desires have to begin natural, even if we can focus on them and make them stronger.

I totally disagree with the proposition as stated, but I think the writers have made a very poor choice of word with ‘natural’. I just can’t see how you can construct a meaningful sentence using natural and human desire in conjunction.

Unless of courseit simply menas ‘natural’ as ‘in keeping with the Divine Plan’. But if that’s the case they should have said that rather than using this ambiguous phrasing.

That’s a little bit more contentious. Unnatural has some really odd connotations that don’t just mean non-natural. I always cringe when comparing homosexuality to criminal activity, but bear with me.

Everything you’ve said there could be equally applied to pederasty, necrophilia or serial killing. But most people and the law would consider those things to be unnatural. So while the evidence you’ve given has shown that homosexuality is natural stangely enough it hasn’t necessarily shown that its not ‘unnatural’.

Please note that I do not personally equate homsexualty with pederasty, necrophilia or serial killing, or suggesting that it is in any way connected to those things. I am simply pointing out that just because something occurs widely in the animal world and is the result of an ‘uncontrollable’ desire does not mean that it is not unnatural.

And that’s the whole problem I’m having with the proposition. Someone can believe that an act is natural and undesirable as in pedeasty, or they can believe that it’s unnatural and desirable as in art. I don;t quite see how taking either stance on the proposoition as stated is going to accurately divine someone’s politics. As I said above, I suspect most Fundamentalists would believe that homosexuality is a ntural desire, but one that should be fought, much like the desire for pre-marital sex.

Sage Rat (1, -1) Disagree

The dual-twins argument is certainly convincing, and really I see no reason that a random gene couldn’t be flipped causing reversed sexual desires.

However, I do know that some amount of people who are gay became so due to non-genetic, but rather childhood experiences. Specifically, some men who were molested as children by men, grow up and seek out homosexual encounters as adults. This was a fairly common theme in interviews with child molesters; much higher than 5%. And I find it doubtful that gay children are more prone to be molested.
In studies with animals that I have read, most cases of animals having homosexual encounters seems to be either due to an overactive libido (“If it’s got a hole, I’m gonna plug it!”) or where the animal has been genetically modified to be gay. In this second case, these are described as having many feminine traits (e.g. smaller, less aggresive, etc.), but gay humans are just as often big burly fellows.
And even in the case of the twin studies, there is the possibilities that shared homosexuality has to do with similar reactions (based on genetic personality) to upbringing and growing up so close to a person of the same sex.

So, I do disagree and do think it is naturally possible, but in studies I have seen there hasn’t been enough of a smoking gun where I would say that it necessarily is or has to be. But regardless of whether it is or isn’t–if two people love each other, why should I care what genitalia they possess?

Actually, Blake, psychopathy appears to have a genetic element also, and whether this manifests as serial-killing or serial abuse of minors might then be resultant from the environmental feedback that condition caused in how others dealt with it. But the difference here (as, I think, in necrophilia) is that these are often recognised as forms of mental illness, which the APA takes care to make it clear that homosexuality is not: These conditions require isolation and treatment to avoid negative consequences for others, while no such social impact arises from considering members of one’s own sex attractive.

Fundamentalists do indeed think that homosexuality is a sin, a choice, an unnatural desire: that all males are a priori attracted to females, but some choose to pursue other males instead. Like I said, I don’t know how they explain psychological research (and indeed, it seems that they simply prefer to remain ignorant of it), but they would certainly agree with #60. Incidentally, how would you have rephrased #60 so as to more clearly distinguish people politically? (I think #60 is fine myself).

Just to clarify, these are studies of separately raised identical twins, having very different environments and experiences.

Much better evidence then. Thank you.


Sexuality is a tricky thing. Men and women really aren’t that different. The differences between the sexes are subtle, and sometimes nature gets the wires crossed so to speak.

Some people are born with the mind of one gender and the body of another. Some people lack any sexuality at all. Some people are born with a natural attraction to the same gender, instead of the opposite. I do also think that some “gay” people today are not born that way and instead choose that lifestyle, but clearly many people are making the statement false.

Disagree, but it’s totally irrelevant. One’s “natural” urges are not neccessarilly good or bad. They should be examined, considered, and, if required, controlled.

Actually, this particular claim I have always been suspicious of. There are differences between men and women. I have always found the claim that someone was “born into the wrong body” to be very convenient. It’s a binary case; there is more than just MAN and WOMAN here to consider.

Cite? I didn’t see anything in the link you gave that indicated that the twins were raised seperately.

Ah, yes, this was the link which directed me to that article, which I cited since it named specific authors and papers. The separately raised identical twins formed only a subset of those statistics, but as the former link states:

Doh! I misread the thread–I wasn’t questioning that the gay studies involved seperately raised twins, I was questioning that the psychopath studies involved seperately raised twins (and it looks like they didn’t). But you weren’t asserting that they did, you were speaking of the gay studies.

Strongly agree. -5.00, -4.82

Personally, I don’t just think that homosexuality is natural, but is also good for humanity. I can not find it now, but I seem to recall reading a claim that homosexual has an evolutionary cause. Specifically, if all cavemen where heterosexual, they would spend all their time fighting over the womenfolk, or trying to win their favors. By adding homosexuals to the mix, you get people supporting other men. It works out so that most people do not have to stand alone. Something like that. I can’t recall where I read it, or to many details.

What? :confused:

It made sense at the time.

Strongly Disagree <-

D’oh. :smack: I am not suppose to agree or disagree with the OP, but rather, with the title of the article.

JonTheGeek (-3/-7) ticks strongly disagree.

There is evidence that at least some people feel “naturally” homosexual (which I take to mean “they didn’t conciously decide to be homosexual, they just are”). Moreover, as SentientMeat said, I don’t remember choosing to be heterosexual. I don’t see why it should be different for others.

(-3.75, -4.97)

Hmm…no one out of 6 billion people? I’d say Strongly Disagree. Just one person who thought so would make this false.

Tim Staab (3.75, -3.38) ticks Agree. Due to evidence that the behavior occurs in animal populations, it seems almost certain to me that homosexuality is a natural condition for some humans.

Disagree. While I don’t discount the firsthand anecdotes others have, I am prevented from Strongly Agreeing because my own heterosexual experience differs. I never woke up and said to myself "ahhh! Look at how good those girls look! I must be heterosexual! Inasmuch as homosexuality, just as heterosexuality, is a social construction, no one can feel naturally homosexual, or heterosexual.

Strongly [del]Agreeing[/del] Disagreeing.

I strongly disagree. The use of the word “feel” in this question (in place of “be”) makes it even more absurd.