Compelling evidence: how much is enough?

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: December 22, 2013

Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation
Excerpt: p. 210 – 211 “Still, even in fruit flies, other sensory input besides pheromones — acoustic, tactile, and visual stimuli — play a role in sexual attraction, and sex specific responses to these stimuli appear to be innate rather than learned by association [36.]. We simply don’t know where the boundary between prespecified attraction and learned association lie in our own species, nor do we have compelling evidence for the primacy of one sense over another.”

My comment: There has always been compelling evidence for the primacy of olfaction over the other senses in the context of the de novo creation of olfactory receptor genes or the de novo creation of genes for receptors that enable nutrients to enter through the cell wall of different cell types in different individuals of different organisms. There has also always been compelling evidence that shows species-specific pheromones control the physiology of reproduction in species from microbes to man. How much more compelling evidence must be offered before researchers examine it? Instead, some researchers claim we don’t have enough compelling evidence to clearly state that adaptations to the sensory environment are nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled in all species. Is the compelling evidence in this open access article enough to establish the primacy of olfaction in sexual orientation?
A Bidirectional Circuit Switch Reroutes Pheromone Signals in Male and Female Brains by Kohl, J. et al (2013)
Excerpt: “Our study reveals principles of neural circuit organization and development that are of general significance. First, we show that two populations of neurons, present in both sexes, show reciprocal, sex-specific responses to the same stimulus. Second, we demonstrate that these responses result from differential wiring of a common input to different outputs. Together, these results define an elegant principle of neural circuit organization: a developmental circuit switch directly analogous to an electrical changeover (or single pole, double throw, SPDT) switch that efficiently reroutes a common input signal to one of two possible outputs. This model appears directly applicable to sex-specific processing of mouse pheromones…”
My comment: For comparison, how much compelling evidence is enough to make pedophilia appear to be a variation of naturally selected sexual orientation? See for example: Is pedophilia a sexual orientation? and watch the video [this link opens to where you can view the video]: “Survival of the Fabulous
Article excerpt: “Perhaps surprisingly to some, he says he was never attracted to his daughters, citing an innate repulsion to incest.”
Species-specific pheromones have been associated with genetic diversity in mice, humans, and other species and linked to incest avoidance in humans, which is reported in the context of the Westermarck effect.
My comment: “The works that led to the question: Is pedophilia a sexual orientation? can be addressed in the context of an evolutionary perspective on ecological variation and brain development. This would enable discussion of what Anne Perkins indicated in the video (see from 28:25 – 30: 30) is currently known about affective neuroscience, which has been learned from experiments.
Experimental evidence details the conserved molecular mechanisms that have established the foundational level of what is currently known about hormone-organized and hormone-activated behavioral affects in invertebrates and vertebrates. This experimental evidence led to the following claims in: Affective Neuroscience with Jaak Panksepp (BSP 65)
Excerpt 1 page 7  “My feeling is that the social brain has many levels. If you don’t understand the foundational level, then you can do brain imaging until you’re blue in the face, but you still will not understand the process at a deep causal level.”
Excerpt 2. page 7 “In order to understand the mind—especially the emotional mind, there’s no alternative but to take an evolutionary perspective. The only organ we have in the body that is clearly evolutionarily layered is the brain.”
See also: Comparative approaches in evolutionary psychology: molecular neuroscience meets the mind
Excerpt: “…considerations have previously led us to argue that the human brain can acquire a large variety of epigenetically derived functions via interactions of a limited number of evolutionarily conserved affective/motivational systems (situated largely in subcortical areas) with a set of plastic general-purpose learning mechanisms in neocortex…”
See also: and Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology by J. Kohl et al (2001)
My comment:
The argument for epigenetically derived functions is pervasive outside the social sciences. There are few people who rival James Cantor’s personal antagonism, which appears to be based in what he thinks his studies show about sexual orientation.
It is becoming much more difficult for anyone to continue to ignore what is currently known about how the epigenetic landscape becomes the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genome of all species, which is clearly via the nutrient-dependent de novo creation of genes for receptors that
1) allow nutrients to enter the cells;
2) differentiate the cell types of different individuals; and that
3) differentiate behaviors in individuals and in species.
Instead of asking biologists “What makes those rams gay?” or why human sexual orientation varies, we can now look at the conserved molecular mechanisms in species from flies to mice. If decisions must be made about how to treat people whose sexual orientation is different than our own, we could consider differences in other species. We might then make it a priority to treat other people as we would like to be treated if we were more like them, instead of treating people who are not like us like they are animals.

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