View Full Version : The Scent of a Man
05-22-2005, 06:43 AM
What the brain and the nose tell scientists about sexual desire--and orientation--in the human male
By MICHAEL D. LEMONICK
Posted Monday, May. 23, 2005
If you want to stir up trouble at a party--or better still, a bar--try bringing up the question of whether homosexuality is something people are born with or something they choose. The issue has always been controversial, and it's currently at the center of a national political debate as well, thanks to the question of gay marriage. As a result, whenever science has something to say about the biology of sexual preference, it's bound to make headlines.
That's exactly what happened last week. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden who had earlier shown that hormonelike pheromones stimulate the human hypothalamus--a part of the brain that governs sexual arousal--took the experiment one provocative step further. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they reported that gay men don't respond to the chemicals the same way that straight men do. "It clearly substantiates the idea that there's a biological substrate for sexual orientation," says Dean Hamer, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health and the author of Science of Desire: The Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior (Simon & Schuster; 272 pages). "This is a highly significant result."
The experiment was elegantly simple. Just as they had in a series of tests in 2001, the Swedish scientists isolated two substances suspected of being human pheromones--an estrogen-like chemical distilled from women's urine and a testosterone-related chemical derived from male sweat. Using both MRI and PET scans, the researchers found that women registered the female pheromone in the smell-processing part of the brain. But when women sniffed male pheromones, their hypothalamuses lit up as well. In men, the results were exactly the opposite.
All that had been shown before. What was new in the recent experiments was the inclusion of gay men. "Gay men are a great control group for this kind of study," says Hamer, "because they're pretty much the same as straight men except for that one factor." Sure enough, when the Swedish scientists ran the experiment this time, the results were striking: when gay men were exposed to male pheromones, their hypothalamuses lit up just like a woman's. Female hormones did nothing for them.
What the study doesn't show, however--despite what some scientists claimed--is that sexual preference is biologically hardwired and thus present from birth. That idea is pretty much accepted by most gays and by many biologists as well. But it is refuted by those--generally on the religious right--who have a stake in believing that homosexuality is a personal choice rather than an inborn trait.
Even though last week's study strengthens the argument that desire may be triggered in part by chemical signals, it doesn't necessarily prove that gay men are preordained to pick up on male pheromones. It could also be that their brains learn to respond to them over time and with experience.
You might be able to test the proposition, says Hamer, by doing the experiment on people at different ages, to see if the response changes after early childhood. Nobody has tried that yet. The Swedish team is currently working on a related study to test how lesbians respond to female pheromones. Last week's paper also can't answer the question of how important a role pheromones play in desire. Conventional wisdom used to be that people could not detect them at all.
That's because the vomeronasal organ, a pheromone-sensitive structure in the nose that's very active in mice, for example, is largely vestigial in humans. Although it now seems that pheromones are somehow involved in arousal, their role could still be minimal. Says Hamer: "They're certainly not as important as they are in the mouse, who can't rely on gawking at cheerleaders to get turned on." Still, there's no harm in taking a sniff next time you meet someone attractive--as long you do it discreetly.
web page (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1061508,00.html)
05-23-2005, 05:10 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr>
By MICHAEL D. LEMONICK
Posted Monday, May. 23, 2005
What the study doesn't show, however--despite what some scientists claimed--is that sexual preference is biologically hardwired and thus present from birth. That idea is pretty much accepted by most gays and by many biologists as well. But it is refuted by those--generally on the religious right--who have a stake in believing that homosexuality is a personal choice rather than an inborn trait. <hr /></blockquote>
If it is biological, then possibly the rise of "Gay Marriage" will breed them out of the population. Having a wife and family and remaining "in the closet" allowed their genes to be passed along. I doubt that will happen without a woman being involved /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
05-23-2005, 11:04 AM
I agree that experiences can cause our brain to give off certain chemicals that somehow change the way we operate.Those experiances that we go through are largely the result of our own choices in previous experiances.Choices can also be what we are thinking about so its not limited to actual actions.If a person entertains a thought long enough then eventually it becomes more apart of them like say an addiction.Ill share an experiance of mine that for many years influenced me greatly.As i child i always thought that i would be a failure in life even though i knew that was not true deep down.Because i entertained that thought i was for many years suffering from a form of depression.Little mistakes i made in life got me very depressed and i often thought about suicide.Over time of thinking negatively about myself my brain produced certain chemicals that have caused the depression.I was not born with depression but due to my negative thinking i brought about a form of depression which only very recently have i started to fight back and I'm slowly reversing it.I believe this is why there are gay people in the world.These people have entertained certain thoughts that have produced certain chemicals that have made them think they have the hots for other men.Our own thought life can evoke massive changes.The 1 thing i don't know is can Can chemicals produced by the brain change our genetic makeup which in turn transfers the change to a newborn child?Regardless there are ways to kill addictions(EXE..alcohol,depression and sexual issues) if the person is willing to fight back.
05-23-2005, 12:05 PM
Sorry to hear about your depression. I hope you never consider taking your own like again. However, while the chemicals in your brain may have, in fact, caused your depression, I don't think negative thoughts made them into depression and I cenrtainly don't believe people have control over their base sexual preferences. I don't think homosexuality is a mental disease but maybe an abberation of normal sexual function. While I don't favor homosexual lifestyles, I don't condemn them either as long as both partners consent. I do not, as well, believe that you can "pass on" chemical brain changes to offspring (aside from already present genetic make-up)and,of course, I don't think our thinking can change our or our off-spring's actual genetic make-up either.
In addition, I don't think rational people, and I think homosexuals are rational people, would ever choose a lifestyle as difficult as that of a homosexual if they had a choice.
Good luck, man.
05-23-2005, 07:11 PM
Thx for your concern deeman2.Im feeling much better about myself now.I believe its been scientificaly proven that our own thought life can cause our brain to develope a lack of certain chemicals.I meant to say a lack of certain chemicals and not produce more chemicals.I think its possible for someone to be born with a tendancy to be depressed more often and possibly a desire for the same sex but people do have a choice and can choose to fight it or give in to it.Some people have an inborn tendancy to get angry easier but theres help out there for that and we can change if we put forth the effort.Its not always easy though.I said in the last post that i didn't know if the chemicals produced or depleted would effect us genetically which in turn would effect a new born child.After thinking about that i started to think about my mom,aunt,grandmother, and my grandfather(Moms side of family)and i know that they all suffer from mild-severe depression and so i almost have to believe that i got my tendancy to be depressed from them.What is rational though depends on your beliefs.
05-23-2005, 07:59 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote GreenLion:</font><hr> I think its possible for someone to be born with a tendancy to be depressed more often and possibly a desire for the same sex but people do have a choice and can choose to fight it or give in to it.
Do you have any gay friends? Have you talked with any gay people about their feelings in this regard? If you haven't perhaps some day you will. You may learn that almost universally they believe that they are homosexual by nature and not by choice.
Society exerts tremendous pressure on all males to conform to heterosexual norms. It is this pressure to conform and the huge penalties that society heaps on gay males for failure to conform that keeps many of them pretending that they are 'normal' when their true nature constantly tells them otherwise.
During my life I've come to understand that one does not 'choose' to be gay. With that understanding it has been much easier for me to accept that gays can live happily among us as vital contributing members of our society without the need to condemn them out of hand for their choice of sexual partners. In the final analysis their choice of sexual partners is their own private business (as has been my choice of the women that I have slept with in my life time) and that is as it should be.
Snake <---Married for thirty-two years and happy with the choices he's made.
05-23-2005, 10:44 PM
When homosexuals say there gay by nature and not by choice then its an excuse.Even though there thoughts or inborn genetic problem may have caused there homosexuality that gives them no excuse for not fighting it.Instead of dealing with it,they give in.I have a case of depression but it would make no sense for me to say its just my nature.Theres help out there for depression so it only makes sense to get help instead of living with it.The same applies to Homosexuals.Of course like i said before,Your beliefs are what determines what you think is right and whats wrong.You say that there true nature tells them there not normal so what your saying by that is that they know there in the wrong by being gay.Knowing whats right and wrong opens up choice so they most definitely have a choice.The terrible tragedy is not the fact that there gay but that they will not get help and so they live with it.A person who is depressed and does not get help is a walking tragedy.
05-24-2005, 11:45 AM
Have you presented your theory to the American Psychological Association, or similiar board, yet?
So many are struggling with their sexual identity, self-loathing, family rejection,mockery, depression, suicidal tendencies, etc....and spending thousands on therapy....if they only knew that you have found both the cause and a simple solution....
05-24-2005, 06:01 PM
I think medical therapy is very helpful in controlling depression,and sexual problems but medicine can not solve the problem.Controlling a problem and solving a problem are 2 different things.Controlling a problem means that your limiting its influence on you.Solving a problem means you have removed its influence on you.To solve a problem you need to find the foundational reason for the problem.In the case of depression and sexual problems your thoughts are foundational.This being said,i think medicine is good to keep your depression and sexual problem under control while you in the mean time find out what the underlining foundational cause of your problem is which could involve some counseling.Once you deal with the foundation reason why you have the problem then its time to stop the medicine because you no longer have to control it because the problem is now removed.Your thinking has now changed and is much more positive.If you don't deal with the foundational reason for your problem then you will end up spending thousands of dollars on medicine for your entire life.Wolfdancer i think ill do that and thank you for pointing me in the right direction!The reason i knew this is because a good friend of mine told me this.
05-24-2005, 10:10 PM
If you can get a book called "The Red Queen," by Matt Ridley,the former science editor for Scientific American,you have a deeper insight into exactly why fags are fags. It really is a combination of nature,and nurture. Read the book. Hey did you know thirty nine of the Popes were married,and the idea of celebacy didn't come around until the thirtenth century. Did you know the writing of the Bible was ordered by Constatine in 326 A.D. Hey did you know Mary Magdalene,and Jesus used to make out: don't believe it,read the Book of Philip. Enjoy
05-24-2005, 11:58 PM
Ill check that book out at the library.The more knowledge i have the better even if its the wrong knowledge.Regardless it makes a person well rounded.Do you mean the book of Philippines in the bible or some other book when you say Philip?I'm not at all familiar with the reason for these claims so id like to check out the book of Philip to see what it says even though right off the bat i don't believe these claims.Id rather not get into a discussion about my spiritual beliefs on the public forum because some people don't want it talked about on here and i want to respect there wishes.Plz Private message me for now on if you have questions about my spiritual faith you want to talk about and ill be glad to discuss it with you.
05-25-2005, 01:16 PM
While I would tend to agree with Mr. Ridley, if he were the "authority" on the topic, the debate would end with his writings. Reading one book, of the many out there will not make me the expert, that you have become.
I'm not religious, and don't care how many Popes were married, but think how easy it would have been for them to get an annulment!!
A cursory look at some sites pulled up on a Google search for Bible origins...points out historical inaccuracies in the Old Testament, and states that some books in the New Testament may have been written between the 7th and 10th century AD.
The flaw I find in your reasoning is to question the Bible, but then cite the book of Philip as "Gospel" concerning MM and JC. I'm surprised that you didn't quote "The DaVinci Code" as well.But then, I'm not sure what, if any point, you are trying to make.
Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs....reading your two reference books would not change any of mine.
Re: Mr. Ridley's credentials, as guaranteeing what he writes, as the final answer..."it ain't necessarily so"
William Shockley was a genious, but espoused "dysgenics"
I'll read your books though, after I finish
"On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt
Here's a review:
"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit," Harry G. Frankfurt writes, in what must surely be the most eyebrow-raising opener in modern philosophical prose. "Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted." This compact little book, as pungent as the phenomenon it explores, attempts to articulate a theory of this contemporary scourge--what it is, what it does, and why there's so much of it. The result is entertaining and enlightening in almost equal measure. It can't be denied; part of the book's charm is the puerile pleasure of reading classic academic discourse punctuated at regular intervals by the word "bullshit." More pertinent is Frankfurt's focus on intentions--the practice of bullshit, rather than its end result. Bullshitting, as he notes, is not exactly lying, and bullshit remains bullshit whether it's true or false. The difference lies in the bullshitter's complete disregard for whether what he's saying corresponds to facts in the physical world: he "does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."
This may sound all too familiar to those of use who still live in the "reality-based community" and must deal with a world convulsed by those who do not. But Frankfurt leaves such political implications to his readers. Instead, he points to one source of bullshit's unprecedented expansion in recent years, the postmodern skepticism of objective truth in favor of sincerity, or as he defines it, staying true to subjective experience. But what makes us think that anything in our nature is more stable or inherent than what lies outside it? Thus, Frankfurt concludes, with an observation as tiny and perfect as the rest of this exquisite book, "sincerity itself is bullshit." --Mary Park
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