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The Sciece and Politics of Sexuality

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posted on Oct, 13 2013 @ 02:35 AM
When I give my opinion on homosexuality, I can't help but give my honest appraisal. Having spent a good chunk of my life studying the brain and keeping up on the literature, I know that the brain is essentially plastic. Wide ranging areas of the brain (of all creatures with nerve cells) respond to stimulation, or conversely, lack of stimulation.

A blind persons non-use of his eyes causes the brain to reorganize itself: the area which processes visual information (the occipital lobe in the back of the brain) since it is not receiving stimulus from the eyes, begins to process the adaptation made by the blind person i.e. the use of his hands to feel and sense his environment. MRI's of blind people have the occipital lobe lighting up when they feel an object, or when something is heard. The neural real estate for sight is replaced by migration. Areas which cover hearing and touch migrate into the visual cortex and use up that empty real estate.

Think about what this means. This is an astounding example of neural reorganization. The brain is alive, moving and responding to external forces. All it needs is to be stimulated, and it will change, or conversely, not be stimulated, and it will degrade.

The London Cab driver study is another great example. On the neurological side, we know how drastically impaired the brain is when a certain area ceases to function. In multiple scleroris, a cell in the brain called the glia - a subtype of which is a cell called oligodendrocytes - begins to die off. This cell does something called myelination - when a cell wraps around the axon fiber of a neuron to add greater electrical conductivity within the cell. This break down, you get MS. That simple.

Homosexuals feel the way they do because of a specific array of neurological idiosyncrasies that create just this type of experience. As of now, brain scientists think the INAH-3 area in the hypothalamus is directly responsible.

So there you have it. Homosexuality is the consequence of genetic and developmental events. At the same time, given the brains plasticity, it is theoretically possible for someone to change it - if they so wish.

There's no godly reason to stifle and suppress honest scientific debate just because there's the possibility that such knowledge would fortify the argument of religious conservatives, thereby strengthening their cause.

Think about that for a second. Should political considerations manipulate scientific dialogue? Or should we trust each other as human beings to live as each of us see fit to live. Not trying to coerce or misrepresent the facts; the just leave them as they are.

If the brain is plastic, and homosexuality can be changed, that doesn't mean diddly squat. As a life choice, homosexuality can be supported or disproved using aspects of the same fact; for homosexuals, the fact of their being "born this way" would be their primary premise. All else would derive meaning from this basic focus. For conservatives, who operate from the perspective of moral human intervention, will argue that man's power to cause change obligates him to overcome this unnatural lust.

But it doesn't end there. Even if it is an unnatural i.e. not ordinary and normal phenomenon, it still does occur, albeit, in single percentages for most species.

But conservatives may argue back: "divine law is indicated in the natural order". The female and male can be imagined as central opposites in cosmic complementarity.

So what? The liberal will respond. Of what value or significance is such philosophizing? It is speculation at heart - an unverifiable hypothesis, merely something you have faith in. Can it be proven? No? Well, then, it is your opinion, emanating from a feeling you have, reflecting some existential need.

Back and forth they can argue, and back and forth each side will defend their own arguments - logical and consistent from their respective perspectives.

So, were at a stalemate. Nobody has philosophical truth; there will always be people who believe different things, and to think it is remotely possible to coerce others to see your way - or some way you and your kind feel others should see, you are blind. You have very little understanding of the human experience.

Live and Let Live. The morality of homosexuality isn't easy to determine. If you want to overcome it because you feel a certain way, and you would discover meaning and purpose in seeking to "reorient" yourself to a preconceived metaphysical picture, good look - I hope the best for you.

At the same time. We have one life to live. We have one personality, shaped by forces completely beyond our control. We become a certain person with deeply rooted beliefs and attitudes. If I am an essentially good person, and I want to do good in this world, how would my living, loving etc with a member of my own sex worsen the world? In what practical way does that harm society?

It really doesn't harm society. Only via some abstract theologizing or philosophizing could one claim that the world would be harmed - and since that can't ever be gauged, tested, or established, it means nothing.

So again, let people live. Don't worry about little Johnny or Peter. Not everyone thinks being gay is wrong, and not all people will approve of homosexuality. Whether they do or don't depends on their own sphere of influences, true; but it also depends upon feeling.

There are conservative ideologies and liberal ideologies in our world today. Can one be extirpated? That is what both sides probably want. However, I don't think either side will win.

If life is governed by a complementarity (as I believe) perhaps the complementarity conservatives feel to be essential in the man-female dynamic also exists more fundamentally between liberals and conservatives. Not all people are as open or closed; were on different levels and wavelengths from each other. A significant truth is there to be recognized: don't push or be over-aggressive with other people. Seldom does anything good come of it.
edit on 13-10-2013 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 13 2013 @ 04:50 AM
Well, if science is correct in it's theoretical plausibility of rewiring the neural pathways in the brain to the extent of changing sexuality, it ought to be remembered that if one can be reset to a heterosexual orientation then it is also possible to make someone gay.

The real use for this, should in the future a method is developed would be for those who voluntarily want to change. There are many gay people out there who are perfectly happy being the way they are and it is not for anyone else to tell them that they have to change.

posted on Oct, 13 2013 @ 12:05 PM
reply to post by Astrocyte

Atrocyte, I want you to perform a simple experiment for the benefit of all of ATS. Seeing as how it's clearly so easy to turn sexuality off or on...

I want you to choose to be homosexual for a day. That's right. Choose to be gay for 24 hours. That is the only way to prove it's a choice. If you didn't experience any homosexual desires, then you're wrong. If you did, then you're right. But mind you, you have to be HOMOSEXUAL, and nothing else during that whole period. Not just abstaining. I mean you must be ATTRACTED to your own sex. You must want to sleep with those of the same sex as yourself. Go to a bar and start admiring them, thinking how good it would be to get in bed with them. Hell, if you're single, try going the whole nine yards. Physical contact, rapport, all of it. The more, the better. Let there be no doubt you were actually a homosexual during those 24 hours. Then turn it off. Become purely heterosexual again.

If you can do that, I will concede the point. But not until you do. Please demonstrate to us how easily a person can change their sexuality.
edit on 13-10-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 13 2013 @ 04:09 PM
reply to post by AfterInfinity

I think rather than berate the author of the OP, we should be asking more questions.

i.e. The way I understand all of this is;

The human brain is essentially an organic supercomputer. It has it's basic operating system that we all come with that governs things like breathing, eating, sleeping etc etc. Sexuality is a part of that basic operating system in that we all have a sex drive.

Then on top of that we have all of our 'files' i.e. memories of our emotions and experiences as well as constantly being fed and storing new information.

Just like any computer, our operating system is updated throughout the lifetime of the brain via stimuli such as our 5 senses and so on (you can download programs and files to a computer and install them etc) and we therefore over time end up with a totally unique system that is quintessentially 'me'

So, if we were to make a major change to our operating system, what are the consequences going to be on our past experiences. i.e If I were to overnight change from being gay to straight, what are the psychological consequences?

i.e. What becomes of all my happy memories of past boyfriends etc now that I find men sexually inert? I will still have those memories but now I am going to feel slightly sickened by them. Since I personally am middle aged, there are a lot of them and consequently those memories are a big part of who I am.

How far do you need in changing a person's sexuality to overcome the above problem? Do you now have to erase the person's memories too? Do we need to become classic amnesia cases?

You can begin to understand the problems that it might cause fiddling with someone's brain in doing so. Updating one part of our operating system may cause conflicts and poor system performance as a result. You might be able to reset the entire system to factory settings i.e wipe most of my memories but in a case like mine you then have a middle aged bio computer that needs to re-learn everything from scratch again.......

Quite simply, the OP might be right, there may be one day a way to update brains on all sorts of things including sexuality, but the challenge would be doing so in a manner that does not upset the delicate balance that is the quintessential 'me' in people.

edit on 13-10-2013 by markosity1973 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:30 AM
reply to post by markosity1973

But no one asks questions about heterosexuality. We flaunt it. We abuse it. And we degrade it. Sexuality used to be respected medium of expression. It used to be sacred, a holistic means of portraying our most precious emotions and abstractions. Now it's a toy. A filthy, disgusting toy. Or maybe it's just filthy disgusting people treating it like a toy. Either way, I am asking why we're asking questions.

We're not asking questions to educate ourselves. We're looking for a way to demonize homosexuality. And that's why I made the point I did. If it's a choice, please, choose to be gay for a day. I want to see the OP prove his/her case. But it looks like no one has accepted my challenge.

Case closed.
edit on 14-10-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 21 2013 @ 05:58 PM
reply to post by markosity1973

It such a shame that the only open-minded educated response - framed in an original way (using the computer as an analogy) - received no stars.

posted on Oct, 21 2013 @ 06:02 PM
reply to post by Astrocyte

It such a shame that the only open-minded educated response - framed in an original way (using the computer as an analogy) - received no stars.

It is such a shame that my suggestion went completely ignored by the person to whom it was directed.

posted on Oct, 21 2013 @ 06:02 PM
reply to post by AfterInfinity

I'll respond to this naive post with a question.

Can someone who is depressed become "happy" with a flick of a switch?

Or, rather, can they be happy, in theory? The answer to the first question is a resounding "unlikely". To the second question: absolutely!.

The more you exercise a feeling, or exercise a type of experience (to experience something again and again) the more synapses are formed and the more myelenation occurs along axon fibers. At the molecular level, psychological attention spurs genes to code and transcribe proteins that form synapses; synapses are gaps between neurons (specifically, between axon terminals and dendrytes of neurons). The more of these that exist, neurologically, the "Stronger" a connection, and psychologically, the stronger an experience.

If you have experienced homosexual feeling your entire life, you will probably have difficulty experiencing heterosexual feelings. This is due to a few factors: first, there's the issue of cognitive distortions. Most homosexuals experience identity issues growing up; they feel that their experience intersects with females in many ways. According to this theory, their "anxiety" over gender-identity channels sexual attraction upon puberty in the "feared" direction. When sexual attraction to the same sex is first experienced, it is ramped up by feelings of anxiety and fear. Most homosexuals start out "not wanting" to be gay. This "not wanting" disposition, as any thoughtful person has noticed, strengthens the feared experience, in this case, experiencing attraction to the same sex.

Thus, a major difficulty many homosexuals would face (if they wanted to reorient themselves) are these feelings/beliefs they built up in their mind when their attractions were forming. As adults, although they have accepted their feelings and pursued relationships with other homosexuals, they still have this anxiety, albeit, a repressed one, hidden in their unconscious, with a corresponding neuronal basis in their brains.

In order to "overcome" emotional issues, your assumptions need to be brought to consciousness and deconstructed in order for fluidity of motion to be reinstated.

After anxiety is out of the way - a tall task for those of us who lack self awareness (prejudice is an intellectualized anxiety) all you need do is exercise your imagination. Question is: do you want to?

Me, personally, I am completely happy with my heterosexuality and have no desire to complicate my experience by fomenting sexual passion for the same sex. I know it is possible, and in fact, I would wager most people would admit to it.

If we did a poll, I also bet more women would admit to same sex attraction than men. Why? Because men are far more insecure about the thought of experiencing attraction to the same sex than women are.

posted on Oct, 21 2013 @ 06:04 PM
reply to post by Astrocyte

You're dodging the issue. You are coming up with excuses why you can't control your sexuality. I didn't ask for excuses. And don't tell me about how naive my post was. I have homosexual parents. I have lived with homosexuality for years. I am not gay, but I have been around it long enough to know it is exactly the same as my own sexuality in the way that people play basketball for the same reasons others place baseball. It's not the same sport, but it evokes the same emotions, the same principles and rewards.

Now stop giving me excuses. If you can't switch your sexuality, then just admit it.
edit on 21-10-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 21 2013 @ 06:18 PM

Or maybe it's just filthy disgusting people

This is the crux of the entire issue. The hate comes from an observation and a reaction to what is labeled abnormal. I like your test. Makes one think, doesn't it?

posted on Oct, 21 2013 @ 06:25 PM
reply to post by Snarl

This is the crux of the entire issue. The hate comes from an observation and a reaction to what is labeled abnormal. I like your test. Makes one think, doesn't it?

To me, sexuality is a sacred thing. It is an emotional connection that defines the absolute barriers between one person and another, as clear an evocation of humanity and everything it stands far as you are likely to find. Whether it happens between heterosexual or homosexual partners is not my business. But sexuality should be respected in the same way childbirth is respected. It is a process by which we expand our emotional and psychological network, and it should not be abused.

posted on Oct, 21 2013 @ 11:30 PM
reply to post by AfterInfinity

You're dodging the issue. You are coming up with excuses why you can't control your sexuality. I didn't ask for excuses

You just want things to be black and white. I make claim, and my claim has to be absolute in every way; there can't be restrictions or qualifications.

Sorry afterinfinity. Reality wasn't built that way. The brain is an ever changing thing: FACT. Read a popular neuroscience book, there's hundreds of them on the market. Simply type into google "neuroplasticity" and read up. If you have ANY experience with using logic - and have the awareness to know the value in it - you will ultimately conclude that the brains plasticity - and everything that happens to "us" physically, mentally, in every way, has it's source in the brain - than you can't exclude from possibility that sexual orientation is malleable - not "fixed" as you illogically and naively - and blindly - assume.

If this premise is true - if you accept it, then you HAVE TO ACCEPT the implications. Like it or not, politically "wrong" or not, mature adults should be able to discuss scientific facts in a rational manner without bitch-slapping logic the way you've done in this horribly dismissive retort of yours.

I have homosexual parents.

This is what you call a conflict of interest. For the psychology buffs, people who really appreciate the forces which influence our conscious choices, it's not at all difficult to figure out how unequivocal your bias here is.

Your parents are homosexual? Congratulations. My post had nothing to say about the fitness of homosexual couples to raise children - they're probably quite able to. But for some reason (which I can see as clear as day, but you, being the person experiencing these emotions, are in a much more difficult position to tease fact from feeling) you prefer to make asinine complaints about my position.

Again, a LEADER in the field the scientific study of homosexuality acknowledges that it is possible. Do you not get that? Simon Levay, a neuroscientist at Cambridge university, cannot dismiss the evidence. So why in the hell are you dismissing the evidence, illogically insisting that without my "proving it" by making myself gay (which you wouldn't even be able to evaluate in the first place) you won't believe it.

Geeze. I don't want to get ad-hominical, but I feel a sincere feeling of sickness in my stomach when I talk with such unreasonable people, making such bad points on worthless objections that under analysis are poorly thought of; and if I write what I'm currently writing - which I know is bound to go in one ear and out the other - I'm wasting my words and my time.

It's torturous. I know other intelligent people out there know this experience.

I'm not saying I'm the most intelligent guy here, but I do make an effort to understand the arguments of my opponents, and If I recognize a merit, or see in my position a focus on different premises, I'll point that out; sometimes If I know i'm wrong, I gladly and humbly admit it. But this right here, what you're doing, what I know you'll continue to do - is annoying, political correctnessism; political correctness, by the way, is a political doctrine that tries to control public perception. It's acceptable when science isn't saying something differently, but when the science indicates that blacks of west african origin (as an example) are more athletic because they have longer legs (which saves energy in running), narrowers hips and have more fast twitch fibers on average, nobody wants to hear about that. It's "racist". When the neuroscience of neuroplasticity shows that sexual orientation is as plastic as any experience that has it's source in the brain - and all brain structures in the neocortex are subject to molecular processes that add/remove proteins that make synapses, or add/remove fats that mylenate (insulate) axon fibers - you ignorantly and obdurately deny it.

I'm sorry, but for all intelligent people who have to tolerate this nonsense on message boards, watching other people get influenced by such amateurish logic, that's sickening.

edit on 21-10-2013 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 21 2013 @ 11:31 PM
reply to post by AfterInfinity

And how does what I've written change that? Just because we have some degree of control in directing sexual desire does not say anything about the morality of it.

Didn't I already say that I wouldn't recommend a homosexual doing this? Didn't my post address the futility in getting locked up in moral arguments about it? and that in the end of the day, homosexuals can morally be homosexual without damaging the world?

It's as if you completely overlooked this, whitewashed my argument because I made a claim that you've expertly absorbed and mindlessly defended: that if you're gay, thats it; no more thinking beyond that. Someone wants to ask, so whats going on in the brain of such a person....hmm, ok, interesting. And then they point out: you know, the brain is constantly changing with experience...ergo..." and like a snapping turtle, you SNAP discussion shut by whining and complaining about irrelevancies.

I just want you to know, I'm trying, in all honesty, to keep this cordial. I would be happiest if you would take my response, accept it's logic, without thinking that you "lost" - the eternal reason for why people continue to disagree. I'm not even wanting a "you're right". I don't want to humiliate you or give you any reason to feel inferior intellectually. There's plenty of things you're probably more expert in then I am. I, personally, am a research psychologist. I study the brain; I got my PhD in neuroscience. I know the brain, and I know the arguments people have. I know how much political correctness riddles discussion. I know that you risk getting blacklisted to even talk about this subject: why no major publisher, let alone a major brain researcher, would write a book on this subject. Political correctness is a very powerful illogical force; the architects of society want to keep pesty facts at bay, lest the world cave in and things move in a way that the architects cant control - which they wont let happen, hence, why people are afraid to even write on this subject.

The professor of psychiatry, Norman Doidge, mentions in his book "the brain that changes itself" - a New York Times bestseller - that the brains neuroplasticity implies that sexual orientation might also be malleable; but then he stops. He knows too well that to go further beyond his innocuous suggestion was to flirt with fire.
edit on 21-10-2013 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 22 2013 @ 06:45 PM
It's interesting how up in arms people are getting over this subject.

As a gay person, I admit and genuinely accept that there are people out there that want to change their sexuality. I have no problem if a gay person wants to be straight, and conversely if a straight person wanted to become gay, well good on them, it's their life after all. My major concern is more if there were a successful way to change orientation discovered, how do you maintain the original personality and memories of the subject and reconcile their past and now polar opposite experiences with a totally new sexual orientation?

There are plenty of gay people whom were and perhaps still are involved in crude orientation changing programs, usually with a religious bent. Most of them use 'God hates gay' as one of the primary motivating factors. However, as with my original question, the big one is how far do you have to change a person's personality for this to actually work though?

Here are a few cold hard facts about changing sexuality and gender (as it relates to the same thing);

1)Gay people whom have tried orientation changing programs have an exponentially higher suicide rate than the average person. I would presume because it is simply not as easy as it is claimed and by using classic aversion type therapy all you are doing is creating a dangerous cocktail of self hatred by telling them that the most important being in the universe hates them for being who they are (i.e God in the religious programs)

2) Most of these people still admit to having homosexual attraction, but refer to it as 'temptation' instead. Once again, from the evidence I have seen so far the programs that are currently out there use aversion and scare tactics to try and make a person straight. The do not actually change the sexuality, they simply try and suppress it through an 'it's wrong' type of attitude and then focus on 'this is right' instead.

3) People whom have had gender reassignments tend to have an extremely high suicide rate as well. This may not sound like it has anything to do with gay, but in a way it does. Most sex change cases are men who are attracted to men, but believe that they are a woman living in a man's body. i.e they are gay as a man, but believe that they are a heterosexual woman. The problem is that when many of them get their wish and become a female in terms of genitalia, they realise that it does not work like they expected, that it is not exactly the same as being a woman and far too often, wish that they hadn't gone ahead and done it in the first place. And of course the operation cannot be completley reversed leaving the person in the same position as they were originally.

I personally think that through some of the people I have met that there is a place for conversion therapy for those who voluntarily want to enter it.

My real concern naturally lays with the long term psychological effects on the person. i.e. will they be happier once they change, or is it going to cause a whole new set of conflicting feelings and emotions that ultimately lead to depression, anxiety, suicide etc.

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