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Daphne, Welcome! It's good to see that you and others are studying economics. If you're given free reign you'll learn a lot about the flaws of both the US and China. Ha! perhaps you can teach Americans to save more and consume less and we can teach Chinese to live it up a bit by saving less and consuming more.

As for your thoughts about gays they were socially "unacceptable" in the US during many of our lifetimes....... ie before the 70's or so. And, of course, seemingly rare. Odds are the percentage of gays is likely similar in your country as any other though they may be inhibited from acting on their feelings or do so very secretly to avoid being "unacceptable" or heaping shame on themselves and families.

It's unlikely that you'll get an answer from either of the Profs here so I'd offer that the economic aspects of gay life is negligible in either nation whether they openly marry or remain "in the closet" so I doubt you'll have to study it.

Instead you've other huge challenges. One example Chinese will all want to buy cars as they become wealthier, but that era is waning fast, so there is the challenge of providing mobility without going through the whole cars, roads, more cars, more roads cycle as have the "advanced" nations for the last century. Starting from a smaller automotive base at this point would seem to hold some advantages.

Good luck! Econ should be a good field there. Jack


HH, Just as there is evolution, so there is de-evolution. "Are we not men? No, we are amoebas"!
What brought us forth from the pond scum was the ability too constrain our behaivor.


"What brought us forth from the pond scum was the ability too constrain our behaivor. "

Interesting [and wrong] view of evolution, both social and biological. There can't be de-evolution since evolution doesn't have a direction. It just happens. Whoever survives, survives. In fact, the most interesting theory I've heard yet about the origins of homosexuality is that, as population becomes too large and starts draining its environment of necessary resources, homosexuality acts as a constraint on population growth. If this were true [I have no idea] then making homosexual behavior more acceptable would actually be to everyone's benefit. There's no way to judge, ex ante, what constitutes a "decline."
You talk about drawing the line regarding "unnatural" sexual expression. What's unnatural? Clearly people are engaging in it. [As do bonobos, various other primates, and some other mammals.] Also, why conflate what's natural with what's good and moral? Murdering rivals and infanticide are also natural, for us and many other species. Does that make it good? [No.]

All of these fears of a decline remind me of some comedian's response to the "moral crumbling of America":

"Right. Like my generation invented sodomy."

Chris Graves

This is a reply to Jack's critique of my post commenting on Judge Posner's views on homosexual marriage. My replies are denoted by "CR" as in "Chris Replies" at the start and end of my current comments.

Jack's post begins here:

Chris; A few of your conclusions do not seem valid:

“A genetic study of male sexual orientation,” Archives of General Psychiatry, vol. 48:1089-1096, December 1991 show that only 52% of identical twins are both homosexual. If genetic structure determined sexuality then the percentage of identical twins both being homosexual would have to be 100%. So, other factors must be at work.

jjjjjjjj No. A 52% correlation is enormous by comparison to a 5% rate in the population as a whole. 1 in 2 compared to 1 in 20??? And, of course other factors are at work; human beings and their relationships are complex and diverse.

CR: My argument is deductively valid. Here is the argument.
Premiss 1: If homosexuality is deterministically caused by genetic factors, then in cases where one identical twin is homosexual, the other should be homosexual in 100% of such cases.
Premiss 2: From empirical studies, in cases where one identical twin is homosexual, the other is not in far less than 100% of such cases.
Therefore: Homosexuality is not deterministically caused by genetic factors.

Please notice that in my original post, I did acknowledge that genetics may play a factor. But from the available evidence so do other factors, which you acknowledge in your reply. So, apparently we agree that Judge Posner, along with many who speak on this issue, greatly overstates the role of genetics in strictly determining one's sexuality. CR

"Second, there are cases of people deliberately experimenting with homosexuality as well as other deviant sexual practices. Some young women deliberately choose to pursue lesbian relationships while in college and then move to heterosexual relationships later in life in order to avoid pregnancy and other complications while in college. Even when free choice is not so explicit, one can choose to open oneself to certain practices and cultivate a taste for them even if one is not inclined in that direction. Consider Tom Wolfe's analysis of sexuality in *I am Charlotte Simmons* where constant exposure to promiscuous sex opens the title character to sexual behavior she had never engaged in nor would have considered engaging in previously."

jjjjjjjjjj Tom Wolfe is a story teller and neither he nor I know how prevalent female "gay til grad" behavior is.......... nor whether and how often it continues post graduation. It's "interesting" that college women who are but 25% of the population seem most mentioned in this ............ mythology?

CR: First, Wolfe is not simply a fiction writer who he makes up his facts. He is a journalist who bases his fictional work on his reporting. There are cases where females have chosen to engage in homosexual acts. Some are college students, others are porn actresses, others are simply curious and experiment. There are males who have also explored homosexual acts. In each case, these folks have chosen to open up to an experience that they did not feel compelled to act on. We can clearly classify these sexual interests as chosen, again refuting the claim that free choice plays no role in sexual expression. CR

"(1) Do such moves as recognizing homosexual "marriage" that acts to legitimize homosexuality reduce the cost of engaging in deviant forms of sexuality thereby increasing their frequency?

jjjjjjjjjj Who knows? But surely marriage and perhaps the task of child rearing lessens the frequency of sex with different partners.

CR: Surely, it does lower the stigma, which lowers cost. As you know from economic theory, if costs are lowered, then the quantity of anything produced and consumed will increase, all other factors constant. Judge Posner noted that the underlying issue in this controversy is this goal of removing the stigma of homosexuality in the general public. Homosexuals want equality with heterosexuals. I believe that goal should be resisted. CR

"(2) Does providing less costly, competing outlets for sex and emotional attachment make the costly and demanding institution of marriage less attractive for people to invest in?"

jjjjjjjjjjj Like what prostitution? I guess it IS true that some very poor societies engage in the sharing of a "wife" when no one man can afford to do so, but I don't think we've become that poor so far.

CR: We are moving in that direction and have been for some time. Marriage and family are currently in jeopardy (declining marriage rate, birth rate, higher divorce rate). I could tie this point in with Professor Becker's overly optimistic discussion of societal decline.
Again, if we just apply economic theory here, we can see the principle very clearly. If we artificially lower the costs of competing products, so to speak, then people will move to them. Forcing people to recognize homosexual marriage, which they clearly do not want to do given referenda on this issue in states around the country, is one means of artificially lowering costs of alternatives to marriage. The same can be said of government subsidies of AIDS research and anti-discrimination laws and policies. Yes, the same can be said for other competitors for traditional marriage, such as couples living together outside of marriage. CR

"Finally, Judge Posner makes a strange distinction between being a homosexual and engaging in homosexual behavior. Would he use the same analysis in discussing adultery? Most every man is potentially an adulterer, but he is not one until he actually commits the sin."

jjjjjjjjjjjjj Surely such a "strange distinction" is the position of many a church and I suppose for the most part we'd like to assume that the celibates of some religions are hetro but who don't practice. BTW when does the "adulterer commit the sin?" Pres Carter "lusting in his heart?" Flirtation and engaging in 'hot chat' at work, party or on the net? The technically "non-sex" of Bill and Monica? Other?

CR: The sin is committed when one commits the sin. Otherwise, if the thought crosses my mind that I would like to rob the bank as I stand in line, then I would be guilty of bank robbery. An action is required to say that I have committed the action. Incidentally, oral sex is sex. The other examples mentioned here are attempts at evasion. If there is not a clear boundary, then one is not justified in claiming that there are no boundaries.
This point and the previous one is why Patrick Devlin argued to retain laws governing sexual mores. Society is an organic whole that is brought into harmony by all sorts of practices that cannot be clearly articulated and defended--until they fail. Michael Polanyi also makes a similar point about tacit knowledge. We know when things have gone too far, but cannot exactly articulate what all that is involved and why. What Judge Posner and Professor Becker do very well is to articulate only a small fraction of what is involved in a matter. The common sense of the average person as they act provides much more information than all of the books and decisions written by these scholars. We can see a similar phenomenon in the price system. Price condenses a lot of complex information that no one mind could grasp in a short time. Culture and tradition act in a way similar to price. As Edmund Burke observed, they transmit the collected experience of generations in a form that we tend to process subconsciously in gut reactions, intuition, and prejudices.
Finally, the comments by Jack in this segment of his critique returns us to the free will issue. Just because one has an urge does not entail that one has to act upon it. Jesus' point on the Sermon on the Mount about evil intentions is not to justify acting on impulse. CR

"I want to contest the view that homosexuality is not chosen but is an innate characteristic for those who are homosexual as well as open homosexuality not being a threat to (heterosexual) marriage."

jjjjjjjjjj And, how does any of this "threaten" hetero marriage

CR: Homosexuality and other deviant forms of sexuality provide alternative sexual and emotional outlets for people. A practice such as civil unions has been taken up by heterosexuals as an alternative to marriage. Civil unions make it less costly to enter and leave the relationship thereby making the more demanding institution of marriage less attractive--in the short-run. The costs from these deviant sexual arrangements are hidden from view in the short-run. The long-run costs explode for all concerned, including neglected children and the public at large who must pay the social welfare costs that should be borne by the family as well as having to interact with those who have not been socialized in a loving home. The majority of men in prison for violent crime come from broken homes. The culture pays by dying as fewer people have children and raise them in a secure, loving environment (see the work by John Bowlby and his successors in Attachment Theory).CR


"If homosexuality is deterministically caused by genetic factors, then in cases where one identical twin is homosexual, the other should be homosexual in 100% of such cases."

Genetic development is ridiculously complex. Even identical genes can result in different people, much like the same recipe creates similar, but not identical cakes every time you use it. The slightest deviation in the chemical reactions and protein productions that genes influence, and you've got different people. Given the strong natural default toward heterosexuality, these deviations can easily create a "low" correlation of 52%. The logical validity of your demand for 100% correlation is only true if the processes are identical, but they chemistry is not as deterministic as we'd sometimes like it to be.

Chris Graves

Thanks for your comment, HH. How would you propose testing for genetic determinism so that you do not make such a claim non-falsifiable?


HH, Our world, our lives, our reality, our social structure, etc., etc., etc., is Anthropocentric. No matter how much the biologists, geneticists and the like would simply like to call any and all evolution an open ended and an ongoing process, the reality is, that we (anthropos)are the culmination and pinnacle of evolutionary development. In the new, wonderful, and strange world of Sociobiology, evolution-devolution is a hotly contested issue.

There are many other things that can come into play that can impact and change an organism. Such as the principles of Eugenics and Law. Which is one of the reasons for the proscriptions against "unnatural" sexual activity.

To paraphrase H.G.Wells take on Eugenics and his interpretation in "The Island of Lost Souls":

The speaker: -Cracks the whip- "What is the Law"?

Sayer of the Law: "We are not to walk around on all fours. Are we not men?"

Crowd of animal-men: "Are we not men"?



"Thanks for your comment, HH. How would you propose testing for genetic determinism so that you do not make such a claim non-falsifiable?"

Probably a better question for a biologist. I imagine our testing ability is improving. I don't see why it should be technologically impossible someday to observe the chemical processes that occur as identical twins develop, and to note any differences that may or may not occur. That would probably be helpful: does it matter which protein is synthesized first? What influences the order, if it varies at all? I don't think we're close to knowing everything there is to know, or even enough to settle this debate, but it seems to me the claim is as much or more falsifiable as the opposite: as we know, you can't really prove a negative. Proving there is no genetic component will be at least as hard as proving there is one.

In the short run, I guess the origins of homosexuality do matter, at least to some. The question then simply becomes, what are some people allowed to do if others don't like it? Drink, yes. Do drugs, no. Be gay, we'll see. We can have that debate, too, but it helps to see the two distinct components.


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