LGBT, Science

Lesbian and Straight Twin Sisters Might Unlock Sexual Orientation Once And For All

This is fascinating stuff; you can’t get a more closely comparable genetic makeup than identical twins.  If sexual orientation is, in fact, genetic, then this might be the key to figuring out how it manifests itself in DNA.

A lesbian twin and her straight sister have been studied by scientists who are searching for answers about human sexuality.

Researchers hoping to identify genetic and environmental factors associated with sexuality hit the jackpot when they discovered identical twins Sarah Nunn, who is attracted to men, and Rosie Albewhite, who is attracted to women.

The 29-year-old sisters were investigated by scientists as part of a study aiming to learn more about how sexuality develops in childhood.

Of course I’ve always said this might end badly, as well, because once parents can determine a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality they might just decide to not have the child at all.

via Lesbian and her straight identical twin sister may hold key to human sexuality | New York Post

Science

Cat Domestication Is Different From That Of Dogs

Unlike dogs, whose bodies and temperaments have transformed radically during the roughly 30,000 years we’ve lived with them, domestic cats are almost identical to their wild counterparts—physically and genetically. House cats also show none of the typical signs of animal domestication, such as infantilization of facial features, decreased tooth size, and docility. Wildcats are neither social nor hierarchical, which also makes them hard to integrate into human communities.

Source: Cats are an extreme outlier among domestic animals | Ars Technica

Science

Sesame Street’s New Autistic Character Is Female, Unlike 80% of Autistic Children

Many people have pointed out that the show realistically presents Julia’s difficulties (she gets upset upon hearing loud noises and has trouble engaging with other characters) as well as her strengths (she is a good artist). But if the aim were to present viewers with a typical autistic kid, why did they choose to make the character a girl?Boys, after all, are between four and five times more likely to be diagnosed with autism as girls are.

Scientists are not entirely certain why this is the case. Some speculate that the causes might be genetic. Marjorie Solomon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California Davis MIND Institute explained, “The basic thought is that girls have less vasopressin and higher natural oxytocin . . . And oxytocin is a social hormone, so that would be protective.” Vasopressin in animals is linked to aggressive defense of territory and mates.Regardless, if you were going to present children with the autistic kid they are most likely to encounter, it would be a boy.

Even the puppeteer who plays Julia has a son who is autistic. It’s not that there are no girls who suffer from autism, of course, but being “on the spectrum” is a burden that is borne most heavily by boys in our society.

Diversity trumps reality.

Source: Why is ‘Sesame Street’s’ New Muppet with Autism a Girl? – Acculturated

Science

Irish Scientists Link Area of the Brain With ASD Diagnoses

A team of scientists has discovered that a particular region of the brain is affected in those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They believe that finding the brain region which causes social deficits in those with the condition could point towards new types of therapies.The team included scientists based at ETH Zürich, Trinity College Dublin, Oxford University and Royal Holloway.They ran MRI brain scans on people with ASD, and on healthy volunteers, in an attempt to track down the brain region linked to some of the behaviours seen in those with ASD and find differences between the two groups.

Source: Dublin-based scientists find an area of the brain linked to autism

Science

Porn Doesn’t Lessen Love for Partners.

Yet another “study” that is “accepted science” whose results can’t be reproduced.  You know what that means?  It ain’t science.

A study from the 1980s found that heterosexual men who viewed images of Playboy and Penthouse centerfolds reported less love for their romantic partners than men who saw images of abstract art. Since then, this study has been cited frequently as evidence of the damaging effects of porn. However, I’ve always had some concerns about this study and everything that has been made of it in the media, which I expressed a few years back on my blog (see here). It turns out that there’s now even more reason for skepticism in light of the fact that a group of researchers who just tried to replicate this finding couldn’t.

Source: 3 Studies Refute Idea that Exposure to Sexy Centerfolds Harms Men’s Relationships — Sex And Psychology