An antiboy antibody? Problems for the “maternal immune hypothesis”

In June 2006, Anthony Bogaert released a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science which created a world wide buzz about a possible biological basis for the same-sex attraction of some men.

A recent Journal of Biosocial Science article by Neil Whitehead takes on this hypothesis and finds several problems. I don’t have time for a detailed analysis at this time (I am behind on as it is on these – notably on the Witelson brain study), but I do want to get this on the radar. Here is his concluding section:

An antiboy antibody? Unlikely. Gooren (2006), in his review on psychosexual development, bluntly concludes ‘The biological basis advanced for the fraternal birth order hypothesis lacks any experimental support’. The present paper argues further that there is a significant weight of evidence against the MIH, whatever the explanation of the FBO [fraternal birth order] effect may be. The MIH was an intellectually clean and satisfying explanation for the FBO effect, and its original authors are to be commended. However, present evidence is for alloimmune reactions being probably too rare to account for the SSA prevalence observed, no support for macrostructural-level attack, unlikely attack on brain if not on testes, no MIH-related lower birth weight, healthier late-birth-order males. At the least, any modification of the MIH would demand serious consideration of the apparent disproportionate deaths of female fetuses during immune attack. One might sincerely hope that any revised theory will be simpler than the present one – which in any case attempts to account for only 17% of SSA.

The very division of SSA into FBO origin and other more major origins seems to raise difficulties. Twin study conclusions are challenging because they simultaneously dispose of most biological and social reasons for SSA; erratic and individualistic causes should predominate.

Because of the erratic nature of SSA in later-birth-order boys, even an acceptance of the MIH would seem to demand an acceptance of a principle that something akin to chance predominates.

This is close to my current view of orientation development on the whole – not terribly satisfying, but an honest appraisal of the research as it is. Note this is an assessment of the development of SSA and says nothing about how changeable it might be. Nothing here relates to women either. As an aside, I have been reading some research which suggests that the erotic orientation of men becomes more channelized than for women; meaning that in brain scans, for instance, men show very specific reactions to their preferred object of sexual attraction, whereas, women more frequently demonstrate sexual arousal to images of both gender.

Heartland Church purity siege video describes sexual identity struggle

Commenter isea metaphor referred to another video featuring a gay man involved in a Purity Siege in Cedar Springs area of Dallas. This man’s story does not involve a sudden change but rather he gives a sincere description of his inner experience of struggle between his sexual desires and his beliefs and faith.

In the comment section for this video, someone, perhaps James Stabile, with the name “jmstabile88” says:

I am living proof that the people above are not changing anybody. The guy in the cowboy hat is a gay regular at Round Ups.(a gay bar in Dallas) I have been “saved by them” and have come back to my life because I am telling you what they do is they “save you” and then ditch you. I tried to be straight and, I AM STILL A FLAMER. The only other thing I would say is JESUS never 1 time says gay people are going to hell.

No matter what your religious views, you have to empathize with the young man in the video, Greg and his sincere desire to find encourage in his faith and acceptance in his struggle.