Wednesday, April 8, 2009


This time, it IS all about you.

There's hardly a better way to start a group of people arguing or giggling than to bring up homosexuality. Some people have this idea that human sexuality is binary - that you can only be male or female.

Sorry - that's not true - and this is not just my opinion, either.

Go look up Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.

Whether you think God Almighty™, the Invisible Pink Unicorn or the Flying Spaghetti Monster is in charge, thousands of people in the USA and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are born with serious genetic differences from "normal".
You may not properly address them as "Mr." or "Miss", and this is NOT a matter of their personal preference, as we have seen in the news recently - some are without gender. They have both traits, or neither.

Do you think you have the experience and expertise to tell the whole story about this issue? I suggest that is not the case - in fact, people who have spent their entire lives practicing medicine, in the research fields, at the most prestigious hospitals on the planet still have questions, as illustrated in the following link:

[Warning: content contains descriptions which may seriously disturb the reader]

Yes, surgeons and parents cut children.

Now, there's a funny thing: the US Constitution doesn't let anyone's life, liberty or property be stripped without due process, and you cannot show how someone born in the USA isn't automatically a citizen and remains one.

Now, the linked article shows that "how you are built" doesn't stop with external appearance. Libido and sexual orientation, two different things, are determined by genetics. Yes, some behavior is learned, but to make an analogy, it is the internal parts that make a car move. You can't see them.
You should have noticed that the "CSI"-type TV shows have shown you that detectives do not have to have genitalia present to determine the gender of the deceased...

There's a lot of fear in the straight community. The evidence is in their own words, such as "Gay marriage will devalue the concept of marriage", and so forth. Some of this fear is understandable (although such people are notoriously silent about their own misbehavior in bars). How could anyone be in doubt about the attractiveness of a healthy member of the "opposite sex"?

Go read the links. Sometimes, there is no "opposite".

But there is an awful lot of foolish noise, brought on by fear and sustained by ego. Have you heard the cry, "...but science hasn't found the 'gay gene'!" Umm, fearful fellow, there's no single "straight gene". Why would you even try that argument?

Are you on the other side of this argument, trying to make points about individual responsibility, autonomy and so forth, trying to get people to let you live the life you imagine others are having? You still have to beware of logical fallacies.
For instance, it isn't "homophobia" when a gay person is called a name. Don't believe me?
Do you think when somebody calls a black man a name that they have an unreasoning fear of blacks? No. Of course not. You're engaging in the fallacy of projection, because people who calls homosexuals a name are not afraid of gays - they are afraid of themselves. They have never, not once, had genetics or any other human behavior explained to them in a rational manner. They learned an automatic response from a loved one who cannot be challenged, sometimes cherry-picking a part of a religious text to back their, umm, mistake.

For those of you who think, "being gay is only a choice": not only should the above links show you how you are completely wrong, you should ponder the irony of insisting that it is only choice that caused you to pick Miss Pink or Mr. Black for the dance.
Gee, that means that with a simple choice, you could have porn-star sex with someone of your own gender!

Of course not.
Mechanical ability doesn't mean anything in gender determination. Some people are left-handed, some are ambidextrous, some are right-handed. Using your left hand doesn't make you left-handed. Using both doesn't make you ambidextrous. Using your right... you know.

You should know. But somehow, you're afraid to think. Maybe that's because you have been taught that sex or other intimacy is always dirty. That's completely unreasonable, so perhaps you shouldn't think that.

Bases, Part 2: Principles

Not morals, principles. The things that establish relationships between ideas, objects, observed phenomena, etc.

If you learn about principles, you have a ready way to determine if what you are watching is fact or fiction. If you've been shocked at the amount of learning you have to do to understand something you might take for granted, like DNA or the JPEG 2000 standard, well, that's understandable. But the people who figured this stuff out couldn't forget fundamental principles, and so, neither should you.

One thing to look out for: these are not subject to personal opinion. If you think so, check yourself and start over.

Some, but by no means all of these principles are:
1) At least 4 fundamental forces work on matter and energy all the time: gravitation, magnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Look them up; magnetism, especially, isn't what you might think.

2) Conservation of mass and energy; a little-observed correlation of Einstein's famous equation is that it is only true if the sum of matter and energy in the Universe is a constant, and for short periods of time such as you might observe, there isn't much to contradict this idea.

3) Demonstrated by Newton's laws.

4) Cause and effect.

5) The inflexibility of definitions. You don't get to call something a "soul molecule" without showing your work. You can find a standard for a Bohr magnetron at the NIST's Web site - which means somebody actually uses that thing on a regular basis - but the point is that definitions enforce logical rigor. That is the only way you can produce useful results.

6) Statistics. This is one thing people shy away from, because their only experience with stats is when someone lies to them. You can get a toehold on what statistics really are with a couple of simple observations.
Zero (never happens) and One (always happens) are rare. One is so rare that it practically means the event predicted already happened.
Every stat has a domain. If I told you that the probability of Hank Aaron hitting a home run in Williams-Brice stadium was zero, that's because it's a football field. So you have to establish what the domain is when someone cites a statistic.
The word random is an absolute. Commonly, it is used for things that are just unpredictable, like the lottery - but notice something here: the lottery has a domain, within which the result always appears. The lottery is NOT random!

7) All measurements have uncertainty factors. This is repugnant to those who prefer everything explained to them in nice neat packages, but the world is not that way. Get used to it.

I'll add to this later. Some principles are really obscure, and I have to figure out how to explain them.