PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Schalk van Zyl
 
Comments: 56
Article views: 797
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all Schalk van Zyl's badges.
 

Finding the Gay Gene

03 March 2014, 05:30

So today I was told that assuming correlation and causation are liked is a massive logical fallacy unbecoming of scientists. But is it really?

How does research actually work when we're looking into complex matters such as homosexuality and a potential genetic basis?

The first step is (whether you like it or not) to find a correlation between variable factors, so we start by gathering a nice big group of people. The bigger the group is, the better, since larger numbers mean that any correlation has less chance of just being random.

So we start with the hypothesis ('theory' in layman's terms, whereas 'theory' in scientific terms comes later) that homosexuality is hereditary, then we see if the evidence can support this idea.

Then we start looking into these people, how do the chances of being gay compare to the subject's brothers and sisters? There we find that homosexual men have higher chances of having homosexual brothers – thus we see a correlation.

Linking correlation to causation is where a bit of thinking comes in. The brother can be gay due to the shared genetics, but they were also raised in the same house – so is it nature or nurture?

Well let's look at people who share genes with this homosexual individual but weren't raised in the same house.

So we find that their uncles or cousins also have a higher incidence of homosexuality, even though they were raised in different households. This pulls the possibility of causation away from the environment one is raised in and toward a genetic basis.

But finding that – regardless of nurture – there is an increased incidence of homosexuality is not enough to merit saying that it is indeed genetic. This is when we start to look at the actual genes, and their epigenetics (that is the way in which our body regulates these genes), for any possible answers.

If we find genes (or epigenetic factors such as promoters) present among the test group in frequencies which are higher (or lower, it works both ways) than could be expected by random chance as compared to those genes in the general population, then we say that the correlation between these genes and homosexuality is 'statistically significant'. Now while that doesn't guarantee causation it does mean that there is something to the whole 'gay gene' idea, since it's consistently non-random.

Only after all this has been done can we start to theorise that homosexuality has a genetic component, and then the challenges start! The paper is submitted to a journal in the relevant field (genetics in this example) and then fact checked by a panel of people holding degrees in the field the paper covers. If they are satisfied with the paper, it gets published.

When this research is published in a journal it gets looked at by many biochemists and statisticians (the readers of said journal) who can then deliver an educated critique on the assumptions, methods, conclusions and such of the research paper. This allows for public (within the scientific community) discussion of the work and for any errors or misunderstandings to be ironed out.

That's how we decide what's real and what isn't, through slow tedious weeks and months spent looking at every possible factor. The process is a bit more complex than what I've presented here, but I think it covers all the major points of how a study of this nature would work.

Hard math and statistical methods are used to connect correlation and causation, not assumptions.

So don't tell scientists how to do their job when you don't even understand how the method works, they've got this under control.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
56 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Bongani Manjanja
Free Tender Alerts Available At L...

Getting tender alerts by email have always been costly for those seeking to tender. Read more...

0 comments 304 views
Submitted by
Maraika van Wessem
The Flying Sharks of Gansbaai Hav...

Get Out of the House this Winter and Witness Nature’s Greatest Spectacle An Airborne One Tonne Shark Right Next to Your Boat. Read more...

0 comments 524 views
Submitted by
Lets Go!!
DA'S van Damme

As Malema calls them"another one for the kitchen" van Damme concentrate on the millions of EC refugees. Read more...

0 comments 682 views
Submitted by
Leon Nel
Reader: 3 generations of Ford Mus...

Wheels24 reader Leon Nel has been driving Ford Mustangs since 1964. Here's his version of three generations of Mustang in SA... Read more...

0 comments 4304 views
Submitted by
Kdoggy dog
Transformation is like a plant

Transformation is at the heart of South African Sport. Its just like a hemorrhoid, this issue just won't go away,even if you wish it.  Read more...

0 comments 739 views
Community development forum in Kr...

I have been asking myself if we are really free. We are living in a democratic system under the status quo of the apartheid. That in a nutshell means we are not free. Read more...

0 comments 226 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2016 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.