Will Wilkinson takes apart the hypothesis that homophobia is in our genes
So, okay. This is a fine hypothesis. Is there any evidence for it? Well, no. There isn’t. This is not to say that Gallup conducted no studies in the attempt to test his hypotheses. He did a bunch of them fifteen or so years ago. Bering lays these out in detail, resurrecting what had been a dormant line of argument in the hope that “it might spark new research.” Noting that Gallup’s “studies are imperfect, ” he goes on to praise Gallup for his courageous willingness to do science that is “exceedingly rude—unpalatable, even,” implying, it seems, that there has been little follow-up on this question due to the weak-kneed liberal fear that experimental confirmation would help “antisocial conservatives to promote further intolerance against gays.”
But it could also be that Gallup’s hypothesis lacks merit in the way that hypotheses in evolutionary psychology so often do.
Beating up on Ev-Psych is a favorite hobby of Will’s, however, there is a intriguing question to be answered: why is homophobia so widespread and why does it exist in such varied cultures? Its not obvious why this should be. If there was a widespread violent vitriol against freckles, wouldn’t you wonder why?
Indeed, in admittedly amateurish speculation, I wondered if homophobia evolved in order to increase the prevalence of homosexuals. Or, more to the point, to increase the prevalence of genes linked to homosexuality. Presumably, those carry some benefit as there is a heritability component yet an obvious reduction in reproduction.
Do I have any evidence for this whatsoever, no. However, unlike Will I do think its useful to encourage folks to dig down these lines.