Readers here will recall my recital of Greg Cochran’s hypothesis that obligate male homosexuality is caused by a pathogenic agent, likely a virus (please see 100 Blog Posts – A Reflection on HBD Blogging And What Lies Ahead: Homosexuality (the “gay germ” hypothesis)). This is by far the most likely explanation for male homosexuality (see my post above and links therein for an explanation of why this is so). OK good, but if that’s so, what happens if people find out about this? As with knowledge of HBD, the existence of a “gay germ” is likely to be an explosive subject, with real ramifications for society and how people treat gay men. Cochran touched on this issue in a post (Heads exploding), in which he sought opinions on how knowledge of the true cause of homosexuality (be it a pathogen or not) would affect society. I offered my thoughts there:
Assuming the culprit is a virus, I suspect that once infected, homosexuality is irreversible. Our best bet for now then would be a vaccine that prevents new infections. My fiancée is rather adamant about one concern should it be discovered that homosexuality is an infection: gays will be treated as pariahs. Imagine the idea going around that gays carry a disease that makes your children gay? She would not be surprised if there were calls to quarantine gays for the “good of society.”
I have to say I can’t put it past people. A lot depends on the mode of transmission.
Think of the treatment gays receive. Much of it, at times, has been awful. But, truth be told, the situation for gays is much better today than it was in the past. And in America, treatment of gays is much better in some regions as opposed to others (as one can see by comparing these two maps):
As well, treatments of gays varies significantly by race. In my earlier post, A Gay Germ? Is Homophobia a Clue?, I suggested that homophobia may be an evolved response to the presence of the gay pathogen, as a way of shielding sensitive people (young boys) from infection. Homophobia exhibits substantial heritability, being about 50% heritable (as opposed to the <11% for homosexuality itself). As well, the people who are the least homophobic tend to be White liberals – primarily those of Northwestern European ancestry. That is, the people that went down the “special evolutionary path” as described by HBD Chick. As far as I know, data on the heritability of homophobia comes from NW European-derived peoples. Perhaps then these unique people have shed their “natural” aversion to homosexuality as they evolved higher levels of social tolerance in general (largely captured by the trait openness to experience, which may lead to Western liberals’ downfall – also here). This may explain the heritability we see.
This implies that if there is some intolerance of gays in the West, there is even more intolerance elsewhere. See my next comment over at Cochran’s:
I will add that should the world find out that homosexuality is caused by a virus, the backlash in the West will be one thing, but it’ll probably be nothing compared to what happens in the rest of world. There are a lot of groups that I can’t see losing much sleep over “doing what they have to do” to protect people from the gay germ…
This is borne out by events in Russia. See a new piece from The Atlantic:
The Russian Duma unanimously approved a law on Tuesday that prohibits the distribution of homosexual “propaganda” to minors. Holding gay pride events, speaking in defense of gay rights, or equating gay and heterosexual relationships can now result in fines of up to $31,000.
The argument that a young person can be “propagandized” into turning gay may seem outdated (not to mention an overestimation of the power of propaganda), but it’s actually not out of place in modern Russia.
“Children maimed by pedophiles jump out of windows, they take their own lives. Pedophilia is an attempt on a child’s life!” cried one St. Petersburg lawmaker when a similar ban in that city passed last year, seemingly confusing homosexuality and child molestation. Madonna was recently sued for speaking in favor of gay rights during a St. Petersburg concert. When a 23-year-old man in Volgograd revealed he was gay to some drinking companions last month, they beat him, shoved beer bottles in his anus, and crushed his head with a stone.
In the Soviet Union, homosexuality was a crime punishable by prison and hard labor, and Stalinist anti-gay policies persisted throughout the 60s and 70s. Gays were considered “outsiders,” and homosexuality was thought to be the domain of pedophiles and fascists.
Measures like the propaganda ban show that many Russians still haven’t shed that view, even decades after the fall of the regime that kept homophobia in place.
“When the Stalin anti-homosexual law was repealed in 1993, there was no amnesty for those still sitting in prison for sodomy,” wrote history professor Dan Healey, an expert on homosexuality in Russia, on Facebook.
Only 16 percent of Russians today say homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with 42 percent in nearby (and also formerly communist) Poland.
I suspect that knowledge of the gay germ would be devastating for gays. This would be especially so in the non-Western world, where, bereft of ideas of human rights, there would be little to stop hostile backlash.
Indeed, a scatterplot featured in this article seems to support the notion that NW outbreeding is involved in tolerance for homosexuality:
The most tolerant countries are the ones with the lowest historical levels of inbreeding. The least tolerant countries have the highest historic levels of inbreeding. This pattern of tolerance by outbreeders seems to hold for aspects about people, a trait many have lamented as the Achilles Heel of NW Europeans.
Edit: note that the above plot is essentially the same as this one, from the World Values Survey (WVS), simply rotated 90 degrees. Religiosity negatively correlates with average IQ (as plotted here), while the acceptance of homosexuality correlates with the “traditional vs self-expression” dimension from the WVS (more tolerant scoring higher on self-expression). I have previously noted that this is roughly correlated with historical rates of inbreeding, with historical outbreeders being the most tolerant and least concerned with “traditional” values. (See my post An HBD Summary of the Foundations of Modern Civilization).
If the “gay germ” is real – which it almost certainly is – and if widespread knowledge this will be bad for gays – as I suspect it will, then I realize by talking about this, I am acting to potentially hasten this backlash. But, as with HBD in general, I think, ultimately, the truth is important. As Cochran notes, one day, someway, somehow, the true cause will be known. Discovery of the pathogen will allow for the prospect of developing a vaccine for it, which would greatly ameliorate its impact. I admit, that’s a long-term prospect, and in between, things are likely to be rough, but if we must get there, we need to get started. One can only hope I am wrong about the impact of this knowledge…