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Science turning gay sheep straight

JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
edited January 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
[quote=Times Online]Science told: hands off gay sheep
Isabel Oakeshott and Chris Gourlay


Experiments that claim to ‘cure’ homosexual rams spark anger

SCIENTISTS are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of “gay” sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.
The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.

It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the “straightening” procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.

The research, at Oregon State University in the city of Corvallis and at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, has caused an outcry. Martina Navratilova, the lesbian tennis player who won Wimbledon nine times, and scientists and gay rights campaigners in Britain have called for the project to be abandoned.

Navratilova defended the “right” of sheep to be gay. She said: “How can it be that in the year 2006 a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments?” She said gay men and lesbians would be “deeply offended” by the social implications of the tests.

But the researchers argue that the work is valid, shedding light on the “broad question” of what determines sexual orientation. They insist the work is not aimed at “curing” homosexuality.

Approximately one ram in 10 prefers to mount other rams rather than mate with ewes, reducing its value to a farmer. Initially, the publicly funded project aimed to improve the productivity of herds.

The scientists have been able to pinpoint the mechanisms influencing the desires of “male-oriented” rams by studying their brains. The animals’ skulls are cut open and electronic sensors are attached to their brains.

By varying the hormone levels, mainly by injecting hormones into the brain, they have had “considerable success” in altering the rams’ sexuality, with some previously gay animals becoming attracted to ewes.

Professor Charles Roselli, the Health and Science University biologist leading the research, defended the project.

He said: “In general, sexuality has been under-studied because of political concerns. People don’t want science looking into what determines sexuality.

“It’s a touchy issue. In fact, several studies have shown that people who believe homosexuality is biologically based are less homophobic than people who think that this orientation is acquired.”

The research is being peer-reviewed by a panel of scientists in America, demonstrating that it is being taken seriously by the academic community.

Potentially, the techniques could one day be adapted for human use, with doctors perhaps being able to offer parents pre-natal tests to determine the likely sexuality of offspring or a hormonal treatment to change the orientation of a child.

Roselli has said he would be “uncomfortable” about parents choosing sexuality, but argues that it is up to policy makers to legislate on questions of ethics.

Michael Bailey, a neurology professor at Northwestern University near Chicago, said: “Allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further a parent’s freedom to raise the sort of children they want to raise.”

Critics fear the findings could be abused.

Udo Schuklenk, Professor of Bioethics at Glasgow Caledonian University, who has written to the researchers pressing them to stop, said: “I don’t believe the motives of the study are homophobic, but their work brings the terrible possibility of exploitation by homophobic societies. Imagine this technology in the hands of Iran, for example.

“It is typical of the US to ignore the global context in which this is taking place.”

Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, said: “These experiments echo Nazi research in the early 1940s which aimed at eradicating homosexuality. They stink of eugenics. There is a danger that extreme homophobic regimes may try to use these experimental results to change the orientation of gay people.”

He said that the techniques being developed in sheep could in future allow parents to “play God”.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the pressure group, condemned the study as “a needless slaughter of animals, an affront to human dignity and a colossal waste of precious research funds”.

The tests on gay sheep are the latest in a long line of experiments seeking to alter the sexuality of humans and animals.

Günther Dorner, a scientist in the former East Berlin, carried out hormone-altering tests on rodents in the 1960s in the hope of finding a way to eradicate homosexuality.

In 2002, Simon LeVay, an American neurologist, claimed to have discovered that homosexual and heterosexual men had physically different brains. His tests on the corpses of gay men who had died of Aids were widely criticised.[/quote]

So, this is a huge can of beans. On one hand, if proving successful from a scientific standpoint, it pretty much effectively throws out the argument that homosexuality is NOT biological. By the same token, it can be interpreted as a move back to considering it a disease, something which can be "cured." And it catapults the concept of "designer babies" into something far, FAR more serious than, say, choosing eye or hair color. At the same time, in animals, such as what is shown in the research itself, it could prove to be quite useful in ensuring that the herds be more efficient and profitable.

So - do you feel this research is ethical when applied to animals? How about humans? Is this potentially setting a dangerous precedent?

Jragghen on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    How much fucking around with people's brains neo-natally do we really want to do?

    Thanatos on
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    SavedSaved Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    oh man what have i done

    Saved on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I have no problems with this research being applied to animals, and I'd be doubtful that it would be ongoingly successful if applied to humans. Not to mention I'm willing to bet there'll be some surprises when it turns out it doesn't really work out that way in people anyway (just because so far, nothing like this ever has).

    electricitylikesme on
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    SenjutsuSenjutsu thot enthusiast Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Gattaca

    Senjutsu on
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    FinalGamerFinalGamer Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Well.....no.

    FinalGamer on
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    CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    That shit's going in our drinking water. Our precious bodily fluids are in danger.

    bradley-clock-talking-strangelove.jpg

    Cantido on
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    JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    theSAVED wrote:
    oh man what have i done

    This thread would have existed without your thread.
    Thanatos wrote:
    How much fucking around with people's brains neo-natally do we really want to do?

    See, as long as the technology exists, someone is going to use it, whether legally or illegally. The question is whether we simply draw the line and say "none of this pre-natal stuff is legal, period" or point at some specific things which are alright. And true enough, certain things are, comparatively, harmless. But should we even allow that small amount?

    If we're starting to worry about this now, and abortion became the huge deal it was a few decades ago, I worry about what we'll be having to deal with by the time I'm 50.

    Jragghen on
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    Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2007
    Senjutsu wrote:
    Gattaca
    That piece can only be played when you take it up the ass.

    Premier kakos on
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    SenjutsuSenjutsu thot enthusiast Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Senjutsu wrote:
    Gattaca
    That piece can only be played when you take it up the ass.
    Concerto in F'd Major, with occasional grunting.

    Senjutsu on
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    SithDrummerSithDrummer Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Jragghen wrote:
    So - do you feel this research is ethical when applied to animals?
    Yes.

    SithDrummer on
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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Thanatos wrote:
    How much fucking around with people's brains neo-natally do we really want to do?

    None. This technology will never be studied in human neonates - small shifts in hormones during growth do bad enough things to them already. The endpoint of human homosexuality is not harmful enough for independent backers to fund it, and the risks of damage to the neonate (in cost of medical care, lawsuits, ethical capital) during study will not be palatable to either government or independents.

    Won't stop any layperson or anyone in the media from battling over it, though. I guess an outside country could try to do the studies on the downlow and somebody could try to market it there, but it'll never see use in Europe or the US.

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Thanatos wrote:
    How much fucking around with people's brains neo-natally do we really want to do?
    None. This technology will never be studied in human neonates - small shifts in hormones during growth do bad enough things to them already. The endpoint of human homosexuality is not harmful enough for independent backers to fund it, and the risks of damage to the neonate (in cost of medical care, lawsuits, ethical capital) during study will not be palatable to either government or independents.

    Won't stop any layperson or anyone in the media from battling over it, though. I guess an outside country could try to do the studies on the downlow and somebody could try to market it there, but it'll never see use in Europe or the US.
    Yeah, this is pretty much what I figure.

    I don't really have a problem doing it to sheep, though. Could help us understand the brain better.

    Thanatos on
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    stiliststilist Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Isn't it the mother's right to use the anti-gay stuff on an unborn child?

    stilist on
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    SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I don't see any reason to deny women the ability to slap on a hormone patch. I don't know exactly what sort of laws might be in effect to preserve the life of babies(aside from abortion laws) but as long as smoking and drinking while pregnant is legal, I see no reason to deny an FDA approved patch for women to use that would theoretically have no harm on the child.

    Edit: Yeah, I think the research necessary would be the massive obstacle here. After that, fair game for women.

    Septus on
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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Thanatos wrote:
    Thanatos wrote:
    How much fucking around with people's brains neo-natally do we really want to do?
    None. This technology will never be studied in human neonates - small shifts in hormones during growth do bad enough things to them already. The endpoint of human homosexuality is not harmful enough for independent backers to fund it, and the risks of damage to the neonate (in cost of medical care, lawsuits, ethical capital) during study will not be palatable to either government or independents.

    Won't stop any layperson or anyone in the media from battling over it, though. I guess an outside country could try to do the studies on the downlow and somebody could try to market it there, but it'll never see use in Europe or the US.
    Yeah, this is pretty much what I figure.

    I don't really have a problem doing it to sheep, though. Could help us understand the brain better.

    I'm with you. 10% more productivity in rams is good for farmers, and a scientific model for studying developmental psychology is always a good thing.

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    stilist wrote:
    Isn't it the mother's right to use the anti-gay stuff on an unborn child?
    You could try to make the same argument regarding smoking crack or drinking during pregnancy. It won't fly then, either.

    Thanatos on
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    CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    My knowledge of biology is pretty much nil, but is it safe to assume its a pretty big leap in terms of time, funding and research from messing around with sheep to messing around with humans?

    Corvus on
    :so_raven:
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    stiliststilist Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Thanatos wrote:
    stilist wrote:
    Isn't it the mother's right to use the anti-gay stuff on an unborn child?
    You could try to make the same argument regarding smoking crack or drinking during pregnancy. It won't fly then, either.
    To be more serious, are you actually damaging the child's life by influencing their sexual orientation before birth?

    Edit: I'm talking in a theoretical sense more than a practical; I know absolutely nothing about the actual mechanics being used.

    stilist on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Septus wrote:
    I don't see any reason to deny women the ability to slap on a hormone patch. I don't know exactly what sort of laws might be in effect to preserve the life of babies(aside from abortion laws) but as long as smoking and drinking while pregnant is legal, I see no reason to deny an FDA approved patch for women to use that would theoretically have no harm on the child.

    Edit: Yeah, I think the research necessary would be the massive obstacle here. After that, fair game for women.
    Fucking with neo-natal hormones is not "theoretically having no harm" on the child.

    And I'm reasonably sure you can be prosecuted for engaging behaviors which can foreseeably cause serious damage to a child you intend to carry to term.

    Thanatos on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    stilist wrote:
    Thanatos wrote:
    stilist wrote:
    Isn't it the mother's right to use the anti-gay stuff on an unborn child?
    You could try to make the same argument regarding smoking crack or drinking during pregnancy. It won't fly then, either.
    To be more serious, are you actually damaging the child's life by influencing their sexual orientation before birth?
    Anything you do to hormone levels pre-birth has a very significant chance of damaging the child's life.

    Thanatos on
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    Controversy CowControversy Cow Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Corvus wrote:
    My knowledge of biology is pretty much nil, but is it safe to assume its a pretty big leap in terms of time, funding and research from messing around with sheep to messing around with humans?


    Yes. Ethics and Red Tapewise anyhow.

    Controversy Cow on
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    stiliststilist Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Thanatos wrote:
    stilist wrote:
    Thanatos wrote:
    stilist wrote:
    Isn't it the mother's right to use the anti-gay stuff on an unborn child?
    You could try to make the same argument regarding smoking crack or drinking during pregnancy. It won't fly then, either.
    To be more serious, are you actually damaging the child's life by influencing their sexual orientation before birth?
    Anything you do to hormone levels pre-birth has a very significant chance of damaging the child's life.
    See edit. :)

    stilist on
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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Corvus wrote:
    My knowledge of biology is pretty much nil, but is it safe to assume its a pretty big leap in terms of time, funding and research from messing around with sheep to messing around with humans?

    Yes.
    Septus wrote:
    I don't see any reason to deny women the ability to slap on a hormone patch. I don't know exactly what sort of laws might be in effect to preserve the life of babies(aside from abortion laws) but as long as smoking and drinking while pregnant is legal, I see no reason to deny an FDA approved patch for women to use that would theoretically have no harm on the child.

    Hormones are already known to influence development, so it's a bigger risk to toy with it than nicotine or alcohol. Assuming the research was somehow successful elsewhere, though, you're probably right. That's a big assumption.

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Thanatos wrote:
    stilist wrote:
    Thanatos wrote:
    stilist wrote:
    Isn't it the mother's right to use the anti-gay stuff on an unborn child?
    You could try to make the same argument regarding smoking crack or drinking during pregnancy. It won't fly then, either.
    To be more serious, are you actually damaging the child's life by influencing their sexual orientation before birth?
    Anything you do to hormone levels pre-birth has a very significant chance of damaging the child's life.
    In fairness we've suspected for a while that it is in fact small shifts in hormone levels during development which predispose people to homosexuality.

    electricitylikesme on
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    FinalGamerFinalGamer Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Don't we have enough fucked up people without making more fucked up people from the womb?
    I mean, for all we know, we might end up with more heterosexual rapists if you screw something up.
    Not saying we will but just....no, leave the foetus alone.

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    RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I'm generally in favor of playing god but the benefit you get from this is so slight I'd only think it a good idea if it was completely harmless and noninvasive. It probably wouldn't be very widespread even then; the rates of homosexuality aren't that high, and it's not like it's a total disaster to have a gay kid.

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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2007
    Yes, let's stop a scientific experiment because it offends a group of people.

    :roll:

    Reminds me of the Grand Canyon thread.

    ege02 on
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    Zephyr_FateZephyr_Fate Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ege02 wrote:
    Yes, let's stop a scientific experiment because it offends a group of people.

    :roll:

    Reminds me of the Grand Canyon thread.
    Are you gay? Of course your response would be that. Put yourself in someone else's shoes.

    Zephyr_Fate on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ege02 wrote:
    Yes, let's stop a scientific experiment because it offends a group of people.

    :roll:

    Reminds me of the Grand Canyon thread.
    This is also my position. No one's proposing we start fucking around with gay babies, and regardless of what causes homosexuality it is an issue for society to deal with, not scientists to remain ignorant and make conveniently fitting hypotheses about.

    Homosexuality is a hormonal imbalance? So be it. This doesn't make suppressing it necessarily right in the first place. I mean for fuck's sake, it's a short step between disallowing this research and disallowing evolution research because of the implications it may or may not have for other types of morality because the logic behind it is exactly the same.

    EDIT: To be clear, I'm agreeing with ege and calling Zephyr_Fate an idiot.

    electricitylikesme on
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    DeepQantasDeepQantas Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ege02 wrote:
    Yes, let's stop a scientific experiment because it offends a group of people.

    :roll:

    Reminds me of the Grand Canyon thread.
    Are you gay? Of course your response would be that. Put yourself in someone else's shoes.

    Sheep don't wear no shoes.

    DeepQantas on
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    ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited January 2007
    ege02 wrote:
    Yes, let's stop a scientific experiment because it offends a group of people.

    :roll:

    Reminds me of the Grand Canyon thread.
    Are you gay? Of course your response would be that. Put yourself in someone else's shoes.

    Even if I was gay my response would be the same.

    So they are doing some experiment on gay sheep. Who cares?
    I'm not selfish enough to demand that they stop the experiment because it offends me, for fuck's sake. The world doesn't revolve around me and my beliefs.

    Jesus fucking christ, I swear people are looking for shit to whine about.

    ege02 on
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    Zephyr_FateZephyr_Fate Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I'm not offended, since it's just sheep. It's just the future that I'm worried about.

    Zephyr_Fate on
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    DeepQantasDeepQantas Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Well, when they start doing this to real people fetuses I'll join the rally with you.


    Either that or start profiting from 100% Efficient Anti-Gay nicotine patches. Mail order, of course. (Would nicotine harm the baby?)

    DeepQantas on
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    Controversy CowControversy Cow Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ege02 wrote:
    Yes, let's stop a scientific experiment because it offends a group of people.

    :roll:

    Reminds me of the Grand Canyon thread.
    Are you gay? Of course your response would be that. Put yourself in someone else's shoes.

    I guess we should leave it up to Gay Scientists to decide...

    Controversy Cow on
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    JeedanJeedan Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I remember arguing a while back on these forums: "The Its-not-a-choice-therefore-its-ok argument for justifying homosexualty is rubbish because it has several major flaws-One of them being that it provides no solid reason why you shouldn't stop someone becoming homosexual just like any unwanted affliction if it became feasable to do so."

    It didn't go down well I recall. But look now! IN YOUR FACE anonymous internet opponants.

    Jeedan on
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    FinalGamerFinalGamer Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    This is also my position. No one's proposing we start fucking around with gay babies
    Sorry, that sentence completely made me go :shock:

    But I agree, don't control evolution, if hormonal imbalance or choice comes into it then, fine.

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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Jeedan wrote:
    I remember arguing a while back on these forums: "The Its-not-a-choice-therefore-its-ok argument for justifying homosexualty is rubbish because it has several major flaws-One of them being that it provides no solid reason why you shouldn't stop someone becoming homosexual just like any unwanted affliction if it became feasable to do so."

    It didn't go down well I recall. But look now! IN YOUR FACE anonymous internet opponants.
    I think I agreed with you then, but thought you were selling it badly.

    Either way - exactly - if I want to fuck guys one day then I damn well should be able to.

    electricitylikesme on
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    Ant000Ant000 Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Its interesting that one in ten rams seems to be gay, but a lot of people are adamant that gay humans make up about 1 or 2% of the population max. I'm constantly amazed just how many gay people I meet on the internet, where anonymity is a central tenant of the experience. From communities about World War II, to gaming forums, teenager communities, movie groups: It has definitely been more than 2% :). It's kind of depressing at the same time though, that so many are probably living in the closet :(.


    If they do find a treatment, I'd be concerned of the expense and its restrictions. If it can only be cured in newborns, than how would existing gay people be viewed? A diseased sub-population that will thankfully be eradicated soon enough? And if it was possible to treat older patients, but was expensive, it could pose some interesting class issues. Turned down for health insurance because you're gay?

    Edit: Not that I would discourage such research, I just wouldn't be surprised if society used such findings in a negative fashion, from current experiences.

    Ant000 on
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    Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    First they came for the sheep.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ant000 wrote:
    Its interesting that one in ten rams seems to be gay, but a lot of people are adamant that gay humans make up about 1 or 2% of the population max. I'm constantly amazed just how many gay people I meet on the internet, where anonymity is a central tenant of the experience. From communities about World War II, to gaming forums, teenager communities, movie groups: It has definitely been more than 2% :). It's kind of depressing at the same time though, that so many are probably living in the closet :(.
    I've always heard the estimate at 10%.

    Of course, I live in a ridiculously liberal area, and I have no idea where that comes from.

    Thanatos on
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