"Data Don't Cringe, People Do"

Will Wilkinson, Mike the Mad Biologist and Jeremy Yoder have all taken issue with a recent post by Jesse Bering. Bering revisited Gordon Gallup's 1983 research which attempted to find an adaptive, or evolutionary, explanation for homophobia. Gallup's basic point:

In its simplest form, parents who showed a concern for their child’s sexual orientation may have left more descendants than those who were indifferent.

Yoder's main problem:

[Gallup] hypothesized that treating homosexuality as taboo helped to prevent homosexual adults from contacting a homophobic parent's children, which would reduce, however slightly, the prospects of those children growing up to be homosexual, and ensure more grandchildren for the homophobe.

Gallup supported this adaptive hypothesis with ... evidence that straight people were uncomfortable about homosexuals coming into contact with children. Here's the opening sentence of that paper's abstract:

In a series of four surveys administered either to college students or adults, reactions toward homosexuals were found to vary as a function of (1) the homosexual’s likelihood of having contact with children and (2) the reproductive status (either real or imagined) of the respondent.

If you've noticed that this doesn't mention evidence of heritability or a fitness benefit to homophobia, that's not because I left it outthat's because Gallup's work contains no data to support either.

Bering defends himself:

But, and I’ll stand by this claim, with the possible exception of artificially populated communities such as certain neighborhoods in San Francisco, there is not a single human society on this planetand there probably never has been, even in ancient Greece, even among the Sambia of New Guineawhere two men can share a romantic kiss and embrace, especially in the presence of children, without meeting palpable disapproval. ...

I, for one, would like to know why this aversion to gay people is, always has been, and always may be, so endemic to our species. Evolved social biasesin whatever form they takecan only wither away the more by shining a mercilessly bright light of science on them. If this reveals unsavory blemishes, such as the stereotype that gay men are pedophiles, so be it. Some areand as Blanchard’s data reveal, homosexual males are in fact overrepresented in this category. Most aren’t. As I’ve said before, data don’t cringe; people do.

But why could it not be simply the universal human suspicion of the other? Like racism or anti-Semitism, homophobia springs from the same roots of in-group defense. Moreover, the relationship of this xenophobia to children is easily expained, it seems to me, without having to find an evolutionary explanation. The deepest smear against gay people is that they molest children, just as Jews were also long seen as a threat to children. This means the xenophobia is very extreme in both case - in some ways murderously so. There's a reason gay people were a small but real part of the Holocaust. Germans were protecting their youth from blood-sucking Jews and butt-fucking homos.

I agree that homophobia will always be with us, to which I say: bring it on. Why should I care? I also agree that many parents don't want gay kids, for a variety of reasons, not least of which a lack of grandchildren. That's also explanation enough for me.

But homophobia is only genetic in the same way racism is. People hate people from other groups. And everyone hates the Jews and the fags.