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What Fraction of the Population is Gay or Lesbian?

This question comes up every so often, so I thought I'd pass along what seems to be the best data out there -- from Laumann et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality 311 (1994). All numbers are percentages.

1. Sexual partners:

Last year (men / women)Past 5 years (men / women)Since age 18 (men / women)Since puberty (men / women)
No partners10.5 / 13.35.9 / 7.13.8 / 3.43.3 / 2.2
Opposite gender only86.8 / 85.490.0 / 90.791.3 / 92.590.3 / 94.3
Both men and women0.7 / 0.32.1 / 1.44.0 / 3.75.8 / 3.3
Same gender ony2.0 / 1.0 2.0 / 0.80.9 / 0.40.6 / 0.2

2. Sexual identity ("Do you think of yourself as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or something else?"):

MenWomen
Other0.30.1
Heterosexual96.998.6
Bisexual0.80.5
Homosexual2.00.9

3. Sexual attraction ("In general are you sexually attracted to only men, mostly men, both men and women, mostly women, only women?"):

Sexual attractionMenWomen
Only opposite gender93.895.6
Mostly opposite gender2.62.7
Both genders0.60.8
Mostly same gender0.70.6
Only same gender2.40.3

Naturally one has to be cautious about even well-conducted random studies of small sexual minorities, especially when some respondents might lie. Also, note that even though the study tried to be precise in the questions it asked, other studies might not, or might focus on different questions -- whether someone is "gay" or "lesbian" is not unambiguously defined, and the definitions may vary from survey to survey and respondent to respondent. Still, this seems to be the best approximation I've seen.

FantasiaWHT:
I wonder if straight people can claim sexual orientation discrimination in the popular media? I would hazard a guess that more than 2% of men and 1% of women in sitcoms are homosexual.
7.13.2007 1:49pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):

Why do you think this is "the best data out there"?
7.13.2007 1:51pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
FantasiaWHT: Maybe straight people are just less funny.
7.13.2007 1:52pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Tyrone Slothrop: Because it seems like a solid study, my sense is that it is well-regarded, and I haven't seen anything better (certainly not the old Kinsey 10% study). Point me to other studies that yield different results, and I'd be happy to look at them (if I hadn't already) and consider whether they are better.
7.13.2007 1:56pm
FantasiaWHT:
EV: Ah, but then homosexual people would have a complaint that their status is being treated as a joke.
7.13.2007 2:09pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
I would hazard a guess that more than 2% of men and 1% of women in sitcoms are homosexual.

Clever statement, but the facts are almost certainly not supportive of your assertion. I know that when one's sole news sources are Rush Limbaugh and Fox "News", you may be under the impression that everyone on tv is a homo, but that is not the case. Actually, I very much doubt that especially if we used every sitcom character ever -- I would venture to guess it would be much, much, much less than 2 and 1 percent respectively (thouh I think the numbers the Professor quotes reflect a better estimate of about 4 and 3 percent respectively if we factor in liars and those who are apparently engaging in a lot of homosexual conduct but are not considering themselves, for whatever reason, homosexual).
7.13.2007 2:23pm
Smokey:
My wife is a Principal in a school district that is controlled by homosexuals. It wasn't always like this. The Superintendent is gay, and has only promoted homosexual staff members. It's somewhat shocking to go to one of the many district parties and see all the mannishly-dressed women, and the obviously ghey men.

This isn't a big deal to me, since my wife is only about a year from retirement. But it's got me to thinking. Maybe the reason all societites have uniformly pushed homosexuals to the fringes is because whenever a homosexual gets into power, [s]he fills job openings with people who have the same sexual identities.

I've seen this first hand, so it's not just speculation.
7.13.2007 2:24pm
Ben Snitkoff:
I can't help but notice that this is a 13 year old study. Surely there must be more recent data out there that's just as, or close to being as, accurate. I mean, if nothing else the stigma surrounding being homosexual has diminished (in some groups) a great deal since then that'd certainly make people more willing to be open and honest.
7.13.2007 2:26pm
DCP:

I'm dubious of most surveys, but particularly those that deal with sex. It's just human nature to lie about sex.

I think there have been studies where husbands an wives were separately and blindly surveyed about their sex lives and there was a large dispairity in their responses.

Also I remember reading about a condom company that used to obtain data for product size manufacturing by asking men to take private measurements and submit anonymous confidential results. After growing suspicious, the company decided to hire a team of nurses to do the measurements for improved accuracy and surprise, surprise the average penis size went down about two inches from the self reported data.

That being said, I think the incidents of homosexuality are probably slightly underreported here, particularly in the female category. 3% seems pretty low in my experience. Although I'm not sure how they classify sex between two females since intercourse is impossible.
7.13.2007 2:28pm
erics (mail):
Smokey:

If you weren't homophobic it wouldn't be shocking. As far as your penultimate sentence, I'm totallly speechless.
7.13.2007 2:29pm
Spartacus (www):
I very much doubt that especially if we used every sitcom character ever -- I would venture to guess it would be much, much, much less than 2 and 1 percent respectively

So, should the current percentages be adjusted to redress the past wrong of underrepresentation? Perhaps this form of affirmative action could be employed in the educational setting as well?
7.13.2007 2:36pm
Guest 3L (mail):
Pardon my ignorance, but how is it possible that only 87% of men have had sex exclusively with women in the past 1 year, yet 90% of men have had only sex w/women in the past 5 years?
7.13.2007 2:36pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I'm looking in my files for a much more recent study reported in the NYT. As I remember, it shows something similar for attraction to only same gender, mostly same gender and both genders (around 3 or 4%). But for attraction to "mostly opposite gender," it shows much larger numbers.

The figures above, for women, seem to me, unbelievable. I know a small % of women are strictly lesbians (like 1 or 2%). But a much larger % of women (the study I'm thinking of put it at over 10%) are "mostly" attracted to men and somewhat attracted to other women.

B/n some survey data, knowledge or cross-cultural human nature, and informed speculation, I'd imagine the number of incidental bisexuals -- that is folks who are mostly attracted to the opposite sex, but somewhat attracted to the same sex -- is underreported in that particular study and most studies on the matter.

And this I believe is caused by the fact that any admission of any same sex feelings or behavior, no matter how minor, gets one put in the "gay or bi box" in terms of identity. And most folks with incidential homosexual feelings or experiences feel completely comfortable with a "normal" heterosexual identity.
7.13.2007 2:36pm
Guest 3L (mail):
whoops - i guess the other 3% didn't have sex that year.
7.13.2007 2:38pm
Ben Snitkoff:
Guest 3L, because 3.2% of those men haven't had sex (at all) in the past year.
7.13.2007 2:41pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Ben Snitkoff: These studies are very expensive and time-consuming to do well; I wouldn't expect them to be done well often. Jon Rowe: If you can point me to a more recent study, I'd love to read it.
7.13.2007 2:51pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Smokey writes:

Maybe the reason all societites have uniformly pushed homosexuals to the fringes is because whenever a homosexual gets into power, [s]he fills job openings with people who have the same sexual identities.
This isn't just a problem with homosexuals. It is very common for people to hire people like themselves. Sometimes it is a conscious decision to exclude less worthy groups. A friend worked for the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, and overheard hiring discussions that focused on whether the applicant might be a fundamentalist. (Obviously, that would be a hopeless situation for employment.) Napa College some years back settled out of court for $30,000 with a psychology instructor who claimed that he was denied promotion because he wasn't homosexual. Maybe they just settled out of court to get this out of their hair, but that's a pretty wild claim--so I suspect that he had some evidence to back up his claim.

Often, people hire people like themselves because they were "comfortable" with the applicant that they hired. They don't know why. This is why affirmative action, when it first started in the 1960s, was not a quota program. It was an attempt to get hiring managers to examine why they were comfortable or uncomfortable with an applicant, and get past cultural aspects of minorities that weren't relevant to the job.

Here's the harsh reality: homosexuals are just like other people when it comes to abuse of power. Having been a victim doesn't ennoble anyone. You can find blacks who respond to racism by whites with racism against whites. Whites who have been victimized by affirmative action programs are more inclined to listen sympathetically to neo-Nazi sorts. And I therefore find nothing surprising at the concept that once homosexuals get in charge, they take care of their own.
7.13.2007 2:53pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe writes:

B/n some survey data, knowledge or cross-cultural human nature, and informed speculation, I'd imagine the number of incidental bisexuals -- that is folks who are mostly attracted to the opposite sex, but somewhat attracted to the same sex -- is underreported in that particular study and most studies on the matter.
Are you sure that you aren't confusing the circles you move in with the larger society? I can remember some years ago reading a homosexual's utter disbelief that homosexuals were only 10% of the population. Almost everyone he knew was homosexual or bisexual. He was convinced that gay/bi people were actually the majority.

Think of the famous quote from Pauline Kael after the 1972 election. She couldn't figure out how Richard Nixon one--no one she knew had voted for him.
7.13.2007 2:55pm
Spitzer:
To reverse Guest 3L's query, how is it that 2%/1% of M/W have had sex with others of the same gender within the past year, but only 0.6/0/2% have had sex with others of the same gender since puberty? That cannot be correct - the first number, in this case, simply must be larger than the second, unless the table is supposed to convey a different meaning.
7.13.2007 2:57pm
Spitzer:
Oh wait - the number CAN be lower if the proportion of respondents captured in the penultimate row (sex with members of both sex) includes those who experimented with heterosexual relations and later shifted (within the past five years, apparently) to homosexual-only sex.
7.13.2007 2:59pm
Triangle_Man:
Spitzer: Huh? It makes sense that fewer people have had *exclusively* homosexual relationships sense puberty than have had them in the past year.
7.13.2007 3:04pm
Aultimer:

Are you sure that you aren't confusing the circles you move in with the larger society? I can remember some years ago reading a homosexual's utter disbelief that homosexuals were only 10% of the population. Almost everyone he knew was homosexual or bisexual. He was convinced that gay/bi people were actually the majority.


It would be interesting to see data from that study that further divides the partner/identity/attraction across data surrounding often repeated sterotypes (fields of employment, higher levels of education, population density, national geography, etc.) to see if selection bias explains the difference between "everyone's" experience and the apparent facts.
7.13.2007 3:12pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
The college department where I was an undergrad had a homosexual dean and a larger than usual number of more or less open homosexual instructors.(This was 40 years ago.)

But Smokey's assertion is impossible. Even homosexuals are somewhere around 5% of the population, then it would be difficult to recruit all homosexuals.

Heck, Catholic schools cannot even get all Catholic teachers, and Catholics are more like 20% of the population.
7.13.2007 3:34pm
Tek Jansen:
As others have noted, I think that the study is a bit dated. The paper is 13 years old, which presumably means the study was done 14-15 years ago, possibly pre-Clinton. I expect that the number of self-identified homosexuals is larger today, though I offer no evidence (and am skeptical of most of these studies).
7.13.2007 3:41pm
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Wow. Who would have thought that life-long virgins outnumber homosexuals?

Looking at the data, you can see where the old saw about "10% of the population is gay" came from. It's because 90% of the population is pretty firmly heterosexual, so it seemed reasonable to assume that the other 10% were gay. What they forgot about is the shockingly high number of celibate people.
7.13.2007 3:44pm
Ramza:
One thing that is always curious to me is that if homosexuals/bisexuals are a larger part of the political active population when it comes just to straight voting (it is pretty obvious to me from antecedents that gays/bis are more active in the grassroot/local level for all the gay right progress has been made at the local/state level with the exception of the last 2 years). But when it comes to voting people that identify as gay/bis/other is 4%. These 4% make up about 6% of the the total democratic turn out and almost 2% of the republican turn out. Republicans almost always get 23% of the total gay vote, while the Democrats get from 66% to 77% the rest going for independent parties.

Link for Stats

Thus are there more gay/bi voters? If 4% of the voters identify as gay/bi while the non-political surveys find the percent to be about 3%?
7.13.2007 3:52pm
Jeff R.:
Pedantic Point: How is it that 3.7% of the women have had partners of both sexes since age 18, but only 3.3% of them have had partners of both sexes since puberty? Even if the sample overrepresented gymnasts and models, delaying puberty that long is surely not that common.

Other Point: It certainly seems that people are claiming bisexuality far less frequently than their histories or attraction patterns would imply. (But, of course, coming out as bisexual doesn't give one the 'Don't force me to go back to living a lie' excuse against any prior relationship commitments that coming out as homosexual does...)
7.13.2007 3:52pm
JBL:
I would guess that there's a tendency based on anecdotal experience to think that the gay/bi percentages are higher among people one knows than in the study, especially for the Since Puberty column. I think there are two reasons for this.

First, because homosexuals are in the minority, they tend to stand out. A homosexual person will often be noted as such, heterosexuals seldom so.

Second, I would guess that once homosexuals are old enough to relocate, they would tend to congregate. The few homosexuals born in a small town in rural America probably won't stay there. Partially due to prejudice and hostility, but also because 2 or 4 (or even 10)percent of a town of 2000 people doesn't give one a very large selection of potential partners. So in a number of cities, the percentage of homosexuals is significantly higher than the national average.
7.13.2007 3:53pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
These numbers aren't very compelling except as a lower bound on the number of homosexuals. Virtually every homosexual I know (except for a few from *very* accepting families) went through a long period of claiming to be heterosexual. Many even dated women and I've heard plenty of historical accounts of gay men marrying women just to fit in. My girlfriend's firt boyfriend actually realized he was gay at some point after they had dated (not a great surprise to her or anyone else who knew him...he was just trying hard to deny it).

I mean c'mon people you KNOW those numbers are totally wrong for women. 95% of women are attracted only to the same gender? I've yet to meet a woman I knew well enough to ask and was sure would answer truthfully who didn't feel any attraction to other women.

--

The best way to get good numbers on these things is look at how the rates change with very accepting societies. In particular compare the number of people who admit same sex attraction who were born in the US at large versus San Francisco versus the Netherlands and so on. Now look at that trend line and try to estimate the upper bound.
7.13.2007 3:55pm
FantasiaWHT:
Greedy Clerk- I'm curious how you equate "I would hazard a guess" with "making an assertion". For the record, I can't stand Rush Limbaugh and I don't have cable.
7.13.2007 4:11pm
Spartacus (www):
Looking at the data, you can see where the old saw about "10% of the population is gay" came from. It's because 90% of the population is pretty firmly heterosexual, so it seemed reasonable to assume that the other 10% were gay. What they forgot about is the shockingly high number of celibate people.

Close but not quite: while the life long virgins are a significant part of the solution, note that the 90% figure comes from those who have never had opposite gender relations. There is a higher number of both-gender responses since puberty (5.5% for men) than in the later categories. All this means is that a significant number a people tried it when they were young, but gave it up-most for opposite gender relations, some for celibacy, or at least recent celibacy (i.e., for the past year).

The best way to get good numbers on these things is . . .compare the number of people who admit same sex attraction who were born in the US at large versus San Francisco versus the Netherlands and so on.

Hardly even worth the response, but did it ever occur to you that tere might actually be more homosexuals in SF, not just more of them who were out of the closet? Or do you really think that 1 in 10 (or more) self-identified straight guys (or girls) is just afraid to come out? That is as ridiculous as the "homosexuality can be cured" line.
7.13.2007 4:16pm
Spartacus (www):
How is it that 3.7% of the women have had partners of both sexes since age 18, but only 3.3% of them have had partners of both sexes since puberty?

Uh, because 0.4% waited until they turned 18 to have their first lesbisn experience?
7.13.2007 4:20pm
rarango (mail):
FantasiaWHT: I was also quite curious about Greedy's prescience about your listening and viewing habits. Complete with scare quotes around fox "news." Is that like BBC "news?" Greedy: play the futures market and stop commenting. With your abilities you'll make a killing!
7.13.2007 4:21pm
Spartacus (www):
No, you're right, that doesn't make sense either . . . "since puberty" should include post-18 experiences as well.
7.13.2007 4:21pm
rarango (mail):
Spartacus: I believe that 10 percent figure came from the Kinsey reports of the 1950s; only fairly recently were their data debunked.
7.13.2007 4:22pm
Prison love?:
Does this list include the prison population? Does prison sex/rape (male-male interaction) count against those who have said they have had sexual interaction with people of the same gender? Should it?
7.13.2007 4:28pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I was talking about a recent CDC survey. Only 86% of the women in this survey said they were attracted only to males. 10% admitted being attracted "mostly to males," meaning 10% of women -- a much greater number than those who identified as pure lesbians -- admitted to what seems some kind of incidential bisexuality. I blogged about it here.


Same-sex activity

Three percent of males 15-44 years of age have had oral or anal sex with another male in the last 12 months (1.8 million). Four percent of females had a sexual experience with another female in the last 12 months (tables A and B).

The proportion who had same-sex contact in their lifetimes was 6 percent for males and (using a different question) 11 percent for females (figure 5).

About 1 percent of men and 3 percent of women 15-44 years of age have had both male and female sexual partners in the last 12 months (table B).

Sexual orientation

In response to a question that asked, "Do you think of yourself as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or something else?" 90 percent of men 18-44 years of age responded that they think of themselves as heterosexual, 2.3 percent of men answered homosexual, 1.8 percent bisexual, 3.9 percent "something else," and 1.8 percent did not answer the question (figure 8). Percents for women were similar. These findings are similar to data collected in 1992 by Laumann et al.

Sexual attraction

Survey participants were asked if they were sexually attracted to males, to females, or to both. Among men 18-44 years of age, 92 percent said they were attracted "only to females," and 3.9 percent, "mostly" to females. Among women, 86 percent said they were attracted only to males, and 10 percent, "mostly" to males. The percentage attracted "mostly to males" was 3 percent in a survey conducted in 1992, compared with 10 percent in the 2002 NSFG.
7.13.2007 4:39pm
Aleks:
Back in the 2000 election there were exit polls that asked voters to identify who they voted and place themselves in various varuous deographic group, and the GLB gateory was one of these. Four per cent of those queried identified as GLB. A very different study of the electorate that show revealed that GLB (self-identified) persons voted at about 80% the rate of the general public (this below average voting rate isp robably linked to the fact that the self-identified GLB piopulation is disproportionately young). Put those numbers together and you will find that about 5% of the population is GLB, or at least willing to claim this to strangers taking polls.

By way of pure anecdote, out of 16 first cousins (both sides of my family) two are openly GLB. That's %12 (and at 40 I am the youngest of this sample, some of whom are in their early 70s). I wonder what other readers here would come up from an unscientific survey of their extended fanmilies, assuming they know them well enough.
7.13.2007 4:44pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
The best way to get good numbers on these things is look at how the rates change with very accepting societies. In particular compare the number of people who admit same sex attraction who were born in the US at large versus San Francisco versus the Netherlands and so on. Now look at that trend line and try to estimate the upper bound.


Don't you think this would give an erroneous upper bound as a result of migration? See this study of gay migration in America, for example; they also claim that the population of the entire San Francisco Bay area (not the City and County of San Francisco) is 8.2 percent gay. I've seen various claims that "The City" is anywhere between 20 and 50 percent gay, which seems a tad high as a meaningful upper bound for the nation as a whole.

Selection effects can introduce powerful statistical biases. Your idea is sort of like saying that to overcome the effects of racial prejudice in our society, we can get a better idea of the true percentage of Black people in America by looking at the number of Black people in the NAACP or the Nation of Islam.
7.13.2007 4:55pm
Smokey:
''If you weren't homophobic...''

Hey, it only took 3 posts before being labeled a ''homophobe,'' for explaining what I saw in a school district. Wake up & get with the program!

However, words do have specific meanings. 'Homophobe' means fear of homosexuals. I don't think many straight people are in any way afraid of homosexuals, who only comprise a tiny fraction of the population.

I agree with Clayton E. Cramer's 1:53pm post, but I admit that I'm struggling a bit trying to understand why human societies/cultures have pretty much universally rejected homosexuality. There must be a good reason. Anyone ...?
7.13.2007 4:56pm
liberty (mail) (www):
1. I find it hard to believe that only 3.4% of women have had both genders partners. About 40% of women between the ages of 18-24 are enrolled in college. Now, I don't think we have stats on girl-on-girl kissing at sorority parties but it isn't a myth that girls experiment in college. That should produce at least a 5% overall rate of "Both men and women" partners.

2. Certainly one must be careful gathering data for this kind of thing -- not only for lies and under-reporting, but also for clustering of communities. Just like you can't get the percent of workforce in dot com jobs by sampling across the country, but need to look in CA and NY and so forth; the same is true for other sub-cultures, because people move to where the action is.
7.13.2007 4:56pm
Spartacus (www):
Jon Rowe: the numbers in the study you cite are comparable to the one posted by EV. EV's study provides a bit more detail, though.
7.13.2007 5:08pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Clayton Cramer wrote:


Are you sure that you aren't confusing the circles you move in with the larger society?


I am not really a social butterfly, so it's not the social circles in which I travel. But one thing that has always stuck in my mind from being imbibed/growing up in a heterosexual male oriented environment (listening to Howard Stern and friends who like to go to female "go-go bars" and watch pornography aimed at heterosexual men) was what seemed like a shockingly high % of stereotypically "loose" heterosexual women had some type of incidental bisexuality -- that is willingness to experiment with and enjoy lesbian behavior even though their primary attraction was men. All of the women who 1) star in pornography aimed at heterosexual men, 2) are strippers, 3) are prostitutes, 4) women who go on the Howard Stern show. These women tend to be stereotypically more attractive and more feminine than average women. And are hence the polar opposite of the "butch" lesbian stereotype. It could be that that 10% of women who are "mostly attracted to men" are mostly drawn from this subgroup. This would also explain why some studies show a disproportionate number of so called WSW have HIV even though such is almost impossible, if not impossible, to transmit through lesbian sex.

Similarly, the "rough trade" -- men who are primarily heterosexual but can enjoy homosexual experiences -- likewise tend to possess the opposite stereotype of gay men. They tend to be more masculine, more manly, they always play the "male" role in their homosexual encounters. They seem to be more gruff, less educated, less refined more likely to come from lower class circles. The opposite of the "gay man" in every way. It could be that these are simply heterosexual men who have the highest testosterone levels and hence the greatest need for release such that they can "get it up" and perform even for a homosexual encounter. Many of them who are especially down on their luck become male prostitutes and sometimes show hostility to gay men (the worst case -- murder their gay male Johns).

Aaron McKinney was one such guy. And like a lot of these macho-masculine men who are primarily heterosexual/incidentially homosexual, they/he denies it.
7.13.2007 5:09pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Spartacus,

I just posted an excerpt. I linked to the original document which shows much greater detailed. I acknowledged that in terms of those fully, predominantly or equally attracted to the same gender, the numbers were the same -- about 3-4%. Though the CDC surveys shows a much higher % of "incidental" bisexuals -- that is folks predominantely attracted to the opposite gender, less so to the same gender. If you throw all of these in to the "gay or bi box" (which perhaps we shouldn't do, because most of them feel comfortable with their "normal" heterosexual identity), then the number of gay or bis is about 10%.
7.13.2007 5:13pm
Spartacus (www):
Another thing worth noting in the data is that between puberty and age 18, the percentage of dual-gender experiences declines (for men: the increasing female figure still doesn't make sense to me) while all other categories go up. In the case of gay and stright, this seems to reflect early experimentation giving way to a single choice. But what about the constant increase in the celibate category? Some of these may have come out of the straight/gay population, or many out of the bi category; but would these celibates self identify as gay, straight, bi, or other?
7.13.2007 5:14pm
Spartacus (www):
one thing that has always stuck in my mind from being imbibed/growing up in a heterosexual male oriented environment (listening to Howard Stern and friends who like to go to female "go-go bars" and watch pornography aimed at heterosexual men) was what seemed like a shockingly high % of stereotypically "loose" heterosexual women had some type of incidental bisexuality

Don't you think that teh HS Show and strip clubs might give a disproportionate impression of the incidence of lesbianism?
7.13.2007 5:18pm
Spartacus (www):
If you throw all of these in to the "gay or bi box" (which perhaps we shouldn't do, because most of them feel comfortable with their "normal" heterosexual identity),

I would say defnintely not. The whole notion of the GLBT movement is that we should allow folks to self identify. If a straight male has had "incidental" attraction (perhaps not even acted on, as indicated by the rest of the data) at some point in his life, he need not be classed as bi. Both studies put the combined figure of people who have had actual same sex conduct in their lives at around 5-6%. Now, if we assume a similar proportion of the celibates are actually gay, that adds an insignificant fraction of a percent. So we cannot approach 10% realistically, unless there are a disproportioante number of celibate gays.
7.13.2007 5:23pm
Spartacus (www):
you can't get the percent of workforce in dot com jobs by sampling across the country, but need to look in CA and NY

This is exactly wrong: if you want the percent of the workforce in dot coms, you have to sample representatively across all regions, not favor those with more dot coms.
7.13.2007 5:40pm
Hoosier:
"Other"?
7.13.2007 6:31pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Smokey:

Then you should definitely support laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. You do support such laws, right?
7.13.2007 6:44pm
Smokey:
JosephSlater:

Of course I do. So go ahead, have at it. I just don't want to know about it.

Particularly the man-on-man French kissing at our local shopping mall.

Sorry to draw that line. But there it is.
7.13.2007 7:23pm
liberty (mail) (www):

This is exactly wrong: if you want the percent of the workforce in dot coms, you have to sample representatively across all regions, not favor those with more dot coms.


No. Its not about favoring. You just can't sample equally across the whole country, taking samples from randoly chosen communities and determine that because only 0.000001% of people in most of rural America work for dot coms, that the total workforce working for dot coms is that low.

You say "representatively" -- but how do you determine what is representative: that is key.

Random sampling, for example, might completely miss the two places in the country where there is a high concentration, and hence seriously underestimate the answer. If you random sample across America for car manufacturing jobs, you might happen to miss Detroit. If you happen to miss the one place where it all happens, you'd determine that 0% of Americans have car manufacturing jobs, and you'd be wrong.

In statistics, you have to take samples. If you only choose randomly, trying to get a broad sample, you sometimes miss things. This is why statisticians don't do things totally randomly, they try to get proportional cross sections. For example, they specifically try to get a certain amount of inner cities and a certain amount of rural areas, or try to get a certain number of low income and a certain amount of high income. The way the sampling is designed depends on the question being asked and the heterogeneity of the population.

If I wanted to find out the amount of dot com workers or car manufacturing jobs, I would not take random samples from all across the country only. I might do that to confirm my assumptions, but I would not do only that.

I would find out where the heavy concentrations are -- like Silicon Alley and Valley for dot com, and Detroit for car manufacturing -- and get percentages or hard numbers there, and then I would get percentages or total numbers for overall employment. Then I could say that there are 100,000 workers of such and such a type in Detroit and less than 0.0001% in the rest of the country (based on my random sampling) and there are 100 million workers in the country, so the approximate amount of this type of worker is 0.1%.

Similarly, if you want to find out good numbers for gay populations, you can't just get random samples across the country.

There are little clusters of gay populations in all kinds of small suburban towns across the country (I know a few in upstate NY for example). If you do random sampling with only urban/rural proportionality, you could easily happen to skip over the clusters. If you have equal proportions of samples from each state, you may also underestimate with random sampling since you may find only some of the clusters in NY and they will be a certain proportion of NY and then your sample from the Western states with a total population size equal will be considered equal, yet it is low in part because all the gays from those states for example moved to NY to one of the clusters that you missed.
7.13.2007 7:47pm
Michael B (mail):
Prager presents an anthropological view, a 5k word condensed version of a lengthier 30k word essay entitled "Judaism, Homosexuality and Civilization," though only the lengthier version is adequately sourced and footnoted. A substantial, thoughtful and in many respects highly probative offering.
7.13.2007 7:49pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe writes:

But one thing that has always stuck in my mind from being imbibed/growing up in a heterosexual male oriented environment (listening to Howard Stern and friends who like to go to female "go-go bars" and watch pornography aimed at heterosexual men)
That's a "heterosexual male oriented environment" in the same way that a leather bar is a "homosexual male oriented environment." In both cases, the statement is true, but misleading, because you are confusing a subculture with the whole culture. Most heterosexual men (at least that I know) would find Howard Stern, "go-go bars" and watching porn to be signs of serious immaturity. Some of them went through that stage when they were 19, but most grow up.
7.13.2007 7:52pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe writes:

I'm looking in my files for a much more recent study reported in the NYT. As I remember, it shows something similar for attraction to only same gender, mostly same gender and both genders (around 3 or 4%). But for attraction to "mostly opposite gender," it shows much larger numbers.

The figures above, for women, seem to me, unbelievable. I know a small % of women are strictly lesbians (like 1 or 2%). But a much larger % of women (the study I'm thinking of put it at over 10%) are "mostly" attracted to men and somewhat attracted to other women.
They may well be attracted to women, but have no intention of ever following through on it. When I was a kid, I fantasized about knocking over the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's gold stash (the plan involved positron beams to vaporize the door), but that doesn't make me a bank robber.
7.13.2007 7:56pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Smokey:

Then you should definitely support laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. You do support such laws, right?
You are assuming that such laws will be fairly operated on behalf of all victims. The example I gave--of a friend who overheard discriminatory hiring discussions aimed at fundamentalist Christians--would simply not have taken place if the target had been blacks, or Jews, or Muslims. The harsh reality is that the because the intellectual community has chosen to engage in little games like definining racism as something that can only be done by white people (because they define racism as being a system of oppression done by those in control), there are always excuses for discrimination against some groups, but not others.
7.13.2007 7:59pm
Smokey:
Clayton:

Whoa! You're attributing that comment above to me, when it was made by JosephSlater, who was cleverly trying to box me into a corner.
7.13.2007 8:15pm
Ramza:

Prager presents an anthropological view, a 5k word condensed version of a lengthier 30k word essay entitled "Judaism, Homosexuality and Civilization," though only the lengthier version is adequately sourced and footnoted. A substantial, thoughtful and in many respects highly probative offering.

Aghhh not this essay again. It was addressed 1 year ago on volokh, and way too much attention was given to it and its badly thought out process.
7.13.2007 8:30pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I would have more confidence in this study if I could see what error measures they assign to these numbers. When you get small percentages such as 0.9% of women who identify as homosexual, it’s likely a small number of people identified so in the sample. This could lead to a high error unless the study were very large or used advanced techniques to overcome this problem. It would be nice to know the sampling frame and the study design.

Is the MSM still pushing that 10% figure that came from Kinsey’s flawed 1948 study? We’ve known that figure is bogus for over 50 years.
7.13.2007 9:45pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Whoa! You're attributing that comment above to me, when it was made by JosephSlater, who was cleverly trying to box me into a corner.
Sorry, I knew Joseph Slater said it, and I screwed up when I quoted his use of your name.
7.14.2007 12:34am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Is the MSM still pushing that 10% figure that came from Kinsey’s flawed 1948 study? We’ve known that figure is bogus for over 50 years.
In the mid-1990s, the "10% of the population is gay" figure was constantly thrown around to scare politicians into doing the gay lobby's bidding. You can't afford to offend 10% of the population; you might be able to offend 3% of the population, especially if you expect that a strong majority are going to vote Democrat no matter what you do.
7.14.2007 12:35am
JosephSlater (mail):
Smokey:

Glad to hear you're in favor of laws barring discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Sorry you felt I was trying to "box you into a corner," but if you felt that discrimination was a problem in this area, it seemed like these laws would be a good way to address it.

Clayton:

I know you're pretty much insane on the issue of gays, but for the record, the evil, pro-gay "intelligentsia" don't enforce laws. Do you think courts are completely taken over by gays and lesbians such that antidiscrimination laws couldn't be enforced against them? And FWIW, despite your (typical) argument by personal anectodoe, whites and men do win employment discrimination suits.
7.14.2007 1:02am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I also find the moving percentages confusion. At minimum I'd like to see the Venn diagrams and such.

I hope the "sexual partners" question had a clear, and well-explained, definition. There may for instance be long periods where a husband and wife share a bed but don't get around to intercourse -- have they had zero opposite-sex partners during the dry spells?

3% or 10% I know a lot of folks who are strictly gay. I haven't counted it out, but a lot of these are in what I'd think to be random samples (eg immediate family of friends of ______ )

Question 3 has particularly odd wording:
("In general are you sexually attracted to only men, mostly men, both men and women, mostly women, only women?")

Suppose a self-identified straight man is generally sexually attracted to only women, but he once agreed with his (female) lover that yes, Sean Connery is damned sexy (distinctly somewhat beyond "I can see why women are attracted to him") -- is he required to shift his box from "only women" to "mostly women"? (Substitute RuPaul, or when Bugs Bunny dresses up in women's clothing, as appropriate.)
7.14.2007 1:29am
Smokey:
Is this a good time to mention the two gay prosecutors, Patrick Fitzgerald and Gerald Fitzpatrick?

No?
7.14.2007 10:06am
Clint:
One of the more interesting factoids to pluck from this study (though perhaps not significant):

2.0% of men identify as homosexual.
2.4% of men claim to be attracted only to other men.

It would perhaps be quite informative to understand what the 0.4% of men in the difference group are thinking.
7.14.2007 10:53am
Tony2 (mail):
On the Prager article:

Wow, what a loathsome argument. It bases all of civilization on crushing people that don't toe the line, while entirely ignoring their suffering. If that's what Western civilization is all about, he can stick it where the sun don't shine. I'd rather live in a mud hut.

Even if his thesis were correct, what would make him think that something which helped develop "civilization" in an agrarian society would have any relevance at all in a post-industrial one? We're more different from the early Jews than were the pagans of that time. I suspect that if we hadn't rolled back at least some of that sexual repression, we'd have destroyed ourselves by now.
7.14.2007 11:35am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Some of them went through that stage when they were 19, but most grow up.


That's when I was at that stage. Many men, even quite "conservative" ones, do stuff like that till their mid or late 20s or so.

And most of these friends, save for listening to Stern, no longer do those things for one reason: They got married.
7.14.2007 11:36am
Ramza:
I hope the "sexual partners" question had a clear, and well-explained, definition. There may for instance be long periods where a husband and wife share a bed but don't get around to intercourse -- have they had zero opposite-sex partners during the dry spells?

If the husband hasn't had sex with his wife, and his wife with her husband, and they hadn't had any other sexual partners on the side, and they been doing this for a year then they are celebrate.

Suppose a self-identified straight man is generally sexually attracted to only women, but he once agreed with his (female) lover that yes, Sean Connery is damned sexy (distinctly somewhat beyond "I can see why women are attracted to him") -- is he required to shift his box from "only women" to "mostly women"? (Substitute RuPaul, or when Bugs Bunny dresses up in women's clothing, as appropriate.)

Yes if he is attracted to sean connery and is not just saying he recognizes sean connery's sexual appeal to others.
7.14.2007 12:07pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
2.0% of men identify as homosexual.
2.4% of men claim to be attracted only to other men.

It would perhaps be quite informative to understand what the 0.4% of men in the difference group are thinking.


There was a clique of straight men at school who weren't gay because they only had sex with other straight men.


is he required to shift his box from "only women" to "mostly women"?


Yes if he is attracted to sean connery and is not just saying he recognizes sean connery's sexual appeal to others.


Then what does the word "generally" mean in the question?
7.14.2007 12:21pm
a knight (mail) (www):
Asymmetrical, but here are some amusing, as well as illuminative extras regarding the trustworthiness of data used in sociological sexual studies. Much of this was data I pulled since Representative Foley's trolling of male Congressional pages became public knowledge, and I was appalled by prevalent misstatments of reality surrounding it; which can be largely distilled down to two categories: 1) that Foley's reprehensible behavior was often defined as "child molestation", even though Foley was approaching late adolescent boys, not children; and 2) that persons with anti-gay political agendas have a predilection to mischaractorise relative genders between perpetrators and victims in child molestation as a valid indicator of heterosexual or homosexual preferences, instead of recognising that it is a predatory crime, in which opportunity, not gender is generally the reason for choice of victim.

First, a cite from "The Social Organization of Sexuality", page 284 (emphasis mine):
"The findings from our research need to be understood in this context. The widespread, strongly negative view of homosexuality shapes both behaviors and our attempts to measure them. While we have attempted to be nonjudgmental in our inquiries, many respondents are likely to have been reluctant to report behaviors and feelings that they think might reflect badly on them in the eyes of the interviewers or the researchers. The estimates derived from survey data on socially stigmatized sexual behaviors and feelings, whether they be masturbation, homosexual relations, anal sex, or extramarital affairs, are no doubt lower-bound estimates.

Richard C. Lewontin, published a critique of this publication, "Sex, Lies, and Social Science" in the New York Review of Books, Volume 42, Number 7, April 20, 1995 (available from a wisc.edu server). Lewontin challenged the notion that sex surveys should be properly considered real science. My favorite feature of literate Book Review Publications are the letters to editors, because they often contain strongly worded replies from interested parties, as well as counter-replies. This is an exemplary case: John H. Gagnon, Edward O. Laumann, Robert T. Michael, Stuart Michaels et al, "'Sex, Lies, and Social Science': An Exchange", The New York review of Books, Volume 42, Number 9 · May 25, 1995. In this reply, Lewontin's professional competence was questioned with a CV assault:
"We do not think it appropriate for a biologist, even a noted population geneticist whose empirical work is on the Drosophila fruit fly and other "simple" animals, to review a book that describes its principal task as formulating a social perspective on human sexual conduct in the United States."...

The URL for this also has two more published letters. One, with slashing bi-directional satirical ripostes from Richard Sennett, Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Professor of the Humanities at New York University. Yhe other, a reply from Richard Lewontin, ably defending his knowledge and expertise in statistical sciences.

A more recent University of Chicago NORC study, brings into greater focus the unreliability of data obtained from polling individuals about their personal sexual behaviors: Tom W. Smith, Trends, Socio-Demographic Differences, and Risk Behavior", National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, GSS Topical Report No. 25, March, 2006. Smith flailed about as he attempted to rectify the disparities between female and male polling data regarding frequency of sexual intercourse, which was one a flaws Lewontin had pointed out in his review, and Sennett joked about. Smith used unsubstantiated estimates of the number of sexual partners female prostitutes have. Footnote 20 on page 24 is a significant argument against the veracity of their own data:
"...males 15-29 in 1995 0.7% said they had ever had sex with a prostitute on a paper self-completion form, but 2.5% report such behavior on an audio-computer-assisted, self-completion form"

If the fidelity rate of married couples stated in the Laumann (1992) study is to be believed, it seems some other infection vector besides sexual transmission needs to be ascribed to HSV-2 Genital Herpes to account for its estimated infection rate in the general population to be "approximately one out of four women", and "almost one out of five" men as cited in a document published by the State of Oregon's Department of Human Services, in June, 2001.

My last cite for this post is specifically related to the rate of male homosexuality in the general population as stated by respondents to polls:
"...As discussed in our paper, we considered the possibility that asking male participants about male before female sexual partners could have affected respondents' answers, artificially increasing our estimates of men who have sex with men. Arguably, however, offering the opposite sex as sexual partner first may introduce a bias toward a socially desirable answer"

Preeti Pathela, DrPH, MPH; Julia A. Schillinger, MD, MSc; and Bonnie Kerker, PhD, "Reply: Discordance between Sexual Behavior and Self-Reported Sexual Identity", The Annals of Internal Medicine, April 2007, Volume 146 Issue 7, Pages 540-541
7.14.2007 1:30pm
Michael B (mail):
"It was addressed 1 year ago on volokh, and way too much attention was given to it and its badly thought out process." Ramza

Yes professor, a year ago or more it was addressed in roughly the same fashion you and Tony "addressed" it, via the avoidance of thought and engagement and with imprecations of loathing and disdain. Whatever happened to all that respect for "the other" and respect for the life of the mind?
7.14.2007 1:36pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I know you're pretty much insane on the issue of gays, but for the record, the evil, pro-gay "intelligentsia" don't enforce laws. Do you think courts are completely taken over by gays and lesbians such that antidiscrimination laws couldn't be enforced against them? And FWIW, despite your (typical) argument by personal anectodoe, whites and men do win employment discrimination suits.
I think that the pretty clear liberal bias of the federal courts about homosexuality means that in comparable situations, homosexuals will get more benefit from such a law than straight people will.

Yes, I know that whites and men win employment discrimination suits. But I don't have any confidence that their success rates relative to the amount of discrimination is equivalent to that of preferred groups.
7.14.2007 2:21pm
Luis (mail) (www):
Late to the party, but:

Laumann et al. is a good national dataset for the US, but for something a bit more overarching, that gets into how we define "gay" etc., and how that affects our prevalence estimates, look at Savin-Williams, R. C. (2006). Who’s gay? Does it matter? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15,
40–44.

@Clayton Cramer: Don't forget that the "10%" figure comes from, or is at least arguably traceable to, Bruce Voeller, the gay activist, biologist, and AIDS researcher. See Voeller, B. (1990). Some uses and abuses of the Kinsey scale. In D. P. McWhirter, S. A. Sanders, &J. M.
Reinisch (Eds.), Homosexuality/heterosexuality: Concepts of sexual orientation (pp. 32–38). New York:
Oxford University Press.

Cheers,

Luis
7.14.2007 4:04pm
Luis (mail) (www):
Whooops -- I misunderstood Clayton Cramer's reason for mentioning the 10% figure. Anyway, it's an interesting history.
7.14.2007 4:09pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Clint -

The 0.4% in question probably are attracted to other men, but don't act on it.
7.14.2007 9:22pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Clayton:

Sorry all those years of Republican presidents still gave us federal courts that, in your view, are so pro-gay they can't give heteros a fair shake.

As to who wins employment discrimination suits, you really, really, really should look up the percentages for different types of plaintiffs in different types of suits. Based on what you say, they would surprise you.
7.14.2007 11:26pm
Randy R. (mail):
I always have to laugh when I see these sort of stats, and the following discussions.

Please, everyone. Go to your local gay bay on a weeknight sometime and count the number of men who are wearing wedding bands. There are always quite a few.

Better yet -- get onto a gay chat room or posting board somewhere and start reading. You won't have to get far to find a married guy who is 'curious' or a married man who needs a quickie from a guy, or is even looking for a special friend to hang with. Ask them if they are gay, homosexual or even just attracted to men, and they will loudly and defensively say Oh No! This is what all guys do! What difference does it make what hole you put it into!

My favorite story comes from one of my best friends, Scott. He somehow has this specialty of picking up married men for sex. He lives in the suburbs, and he trolls around looking for guys mowing the lawn, gardening, walking the dog or the toddlers, and he brings them home for sex. One day, he found a guy who would come by often for sex. This guy would go on and on about how his wife is his best friend, he tells her everything in his life, blah, blah, blah. So after getting a blowjob from Scott, Scott asks him, do you tell your wife you get sex from me?

The guy got angry, and said you don't have to be nasty, and left, never to be seen again.

Let us not forget the sad story of Rep. Mark Foley, who was living with his partner, and adamantly denied that he was gay.

A study came out several years ago (maybe someone can find it) which stated that Americans thought that about 20% of the population is gay. My own mother (not terribly pro-gay) thought that 10% was too low a figure. Why? because she's a good gossip and knows what's going on in town. She also worked for a motel for many years.

So, dear friends, there are plenty of men out there having sex with other men. They deny it, they excuse it, they find ways to justify it, but they claim they are 100% red blooded all American heterosexual male. (And I haven't even discussed other societies, like the Greek or Italian ones, where men often have sex with other men as part of their culture, but being openly gay is taboo) Are they gay or not? Who knows and who cares.

But anyone who actually believes that only 3% of all men are gay is a fool.
7.15.2007 11:49am
Randy R. (mail):
Of course, what is more interesting is how stats like these are used. So people start to accept the 3% number, but they ratchit it down to about 1% (somehow) as a way of showing why gays don't need any laws to protect them. If it's only 1%, as Pat Roberson suggests, then we should go through all this business of gay marriage, or gay rights for employment or housing, or anything else, because we shouldn't waste so much time and energy on such a small population.

But on the other hand, these same people claim that gays have SO MUCH POWER that we control our nation's leaders, we can destroy civilization with a single marriage ceremony, we can transform millions of kids into gays just by seeing us, and we will bring down the wrath of God.

So .... We are too small to be concerned about, but so large and powerful that we have and do whatever we want. If only I had a fraction of that supposed power.....
7.15.2007 11:53am
JosephSlater (mail):
Randy:

Nice points all. See especially Clayton C.'s posts for the "there are so few of them and yet they've TAKEN OVER" tension.
7.15.2007 12:38pm
Michael B (mail):
"If it's only 1%, as Pat Roberson suggests ..." Randy R.

Which is one example as to why Robertson can be so superficial in terms of his comprehensions and/or articulations; also why Prager's thesis reflects the realities so well, so incisively and so comprehensively, both as pertains to the general population and as pertains to all the particulars.

Though too, the contrasting manner in which you exaggerate is, ironically, Robertson-like itself; anecdotally and subjectively based, and trumpeted zealously. Though on second thought any irony is more perceived than real.
7.15.2007 1:12pm
Beth B:
All purely anecdotal, of course, but I have one lesbian friend whose last 3 serious girlfriends have been "straight" girls. Where I work (in a pretty heteronormative field), out of 15 women, 2 are openly lesbian, 1 is officially straight (but she privately told me that she was in a sexual relationship with another "straight" girl for over a year), and 1 has told me she's bi-curious.

I have a female friend who recently married a butch woman, and neither of them consider themselves lesbians. I know a lot of women-loving women who don't identify as lesbian, per se. So getting meaningful statistical information can be tricky.

Oh, and I'm real skeptical about the validity of a 13-year old study. 13 years ago, I was not openly lesbian and would have said "no" if asked in a survey - despite the fact that I was involved with a woman at the time (the same woman I'm with today).
7.15.2007 5:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
Let's not forget the study that came out of Emory Univ. in the 90s. There is lore in the gay community that the most homophobic guys are gay themselves. A researcher realized that would be pretty easy to test. So he sent out questionnaires to college men, and the ones who responded the most virulently anti-gay, he brought in for further study.

He hooked up electrodes to their penis, and then showed them short excerpts of porno: hetero porno, gay porno, and lesbian porno. The results? About 80% of these guys -- these are self-proclaimed anti-gay people, mind you -- turned out to have gotten erections only during the gay porno parts.

So, in other words, they are gay, or at least sexually attracted to men, or are excited by the thought of sex with men. Does this make them homosexual? Probably. Will they say yes if asked on a survery if they are gay? Absolutely not.

Therefore, any studies which rely upon self-identification are basically worthless.
7.15.2007 11:20pm
Randy R. (mail):
We discussed Prager's essay last year. It's total crap. Somehow, Prager thinks that homosexuality was 'invented' and that it can be prevented, or limited. BS.

Same sex attractions occur in all societies at all points of history. It is an organic part of the human condition. One can fight it, condemn it, legislate against it, demonize it (as Prager is wont to do), but you can't make it go away. You can make gays the scape goat for all of societie's ills, and you can even contruct a society in which gays are a threat to it's existence.

But you can't make gays go away, not now, not ever. Our society has become more open and accepting of gays, and we have not seen the sky fall, or society collapse. It has, however, let to more honesty. Gay men are marrying less and less.

See the movie, "Trembling before G-d." It's a doc about Orthodox jews who are gay. One of the points I thought wasn't discussed much and deserved more attention was from an orthodox female therapist, who stated that you cannot understand the tremendous mental and emotional damage done to the women who marry men who turn out to be gay. They are taught their whole lives how to be the perfect orthodox wife, and no matter what they do, they can't get their husbands to love them as they should.

Well, not wonder. He's gay! And so not only is the gay husband's life ruined, so is the wife's. But Prager obviously doesn't care at all about these people. as long as gay are somehow discriminated against and made to feel they have destroyed society, he is happy.

That is hardly a 'thoughtful' analysis.
7.15.2007 11:29pm
Randy R. (mail):
Just a little more. Prager states: "Men are designed to make love to women, and vice versa."

He offers this at the end of his essay, as though it is a conclusion. But it is obvious that this was his *premise* and the essay is an explanation of his premise.

Perhaps most men are in fact designed to make love to women, perhaps even I was physically designed. But the fact is that I have loved only men, not women. Love is an emotional state of being, not a physical one. To not understand this is to not understand anything at all about sexual orientation. So Prager doesn't understand anything about it.

Furthermore, he doesn't even understand physical love, which is the basis of his premise. A man having anal sex with another man? He would no doubt say that isn't the 'right' way to have sex. Fine. Then a man having anal sex with a woman isn't the right way to have sex with a woman, but I don't see him (or the Talmud, for that matter) prohibiting that form of sex.

Furthermore, Prager would have to condemn all forms of oral sex, since the mouth was not designed to accept a penis or enjoy going down on a woman. Yet these forms of sex are accepted universally. And society, family and marriage have not collapsed as a result.

Finally, anal sex between men. If we were not 'designed' for this, the please tell me, Michael B., why is it that the prostrate, when properly stimulated through the anus, provides an explosive orgasm? Why are there sensors right around the prostrate that provide for that sense of pleasure? If God didn't want men to have anal sex, then why would any of this be there?

So no, Prager's own thesis can be used against him. He doesn't know a darn thing about what he's talking about. His essay is an excuse to bash gays and make people hate them, nothing more.
7.15.2007 11:40pm
a knight (mail) (www):
The problem is what is accepted as valid demographic data. Statistical Science is able to manipulate data sets, deriving meaningful results from them.

The maxim learned in Engineering 101 is relevant though:
{garbage in = = garbage out}.

Sociologists often disagree (they have a vested interest), but data sets derived from question polling humans about their perceptions and beliefs are inherently dirty data, and as yet, there is no proper method devised for correcting this. There is not even a proper method for cleaning survey data sets of consciously dishonest answers provided by respondents, but that is only the very tip of the liner sinking iceberg.

This has nothing to do with demographic facts. Gender, aptitude test scores, age, G.P.A., etc. These facts can be used as data and have methods of statistical science applied to them, yielding results with a high conficence of veracity. Personal sexual preferences and practises are not valid demographic data. They belong in the realm of opinion, not fact. The results from 'Sexology' studies might be fine subject matter for consumer glossies, but they do not belong in Scientific Journals, nor should they be portrayed as 'hard science'.

A consciously dishonest respondent may represent an insignificant percent of the population, but there is no way, other than conjectural assumptions of population frequency to assert or correct for this. Even more confounding are the respondents who believe they are answering the survey questions honestly, but have filtered their responses through sense peripherals they use to interact with reality. Reality is. It is the processes humans have at their disposal to perceive reality which are transitory and imperfect. All humans have anchored part of their foundations onto unprovable premises that are taken as axiomatic. The closer a survey gets to these assumptions, the greater the variance from reality within the data set.

{Lies, Damn Lies, and Sociologists} OR {I've got them old post-deconstructionist blues again, mama}
7.16.2007 12:13am
Randy R. (mail):
Thank you, knight. That is one of the best statements I've seen about these sorts of studies. It could be applied to many discussions here at the VC.

This is exactly why I find any study that purports to tell us how many gays there are is ridiculous. Just trying the frame the question is fraught with landmines.
7.16.2007 12:27am
Michael B (mail):
"He offers this [the design issue] at the end of his essay, as though it is a conclusion. But it is obvious that this was his *premise* and the essay is an explanation of his premise." Randy R.

reflects the fact you either did not read or did not comprehend what the essay (here) addresses.

And your all too predictable crutch concerning "hating" people reflects yet additional corruptions or miscomprehensions. In sum, it's difficult to believe you read or comprehended anything, beyond that which you wanted to perceive, your own projected sense and sensibilities. But you should more simply let it pass, you're only digging a hole for yourself, in addition to reflecting trite, inconsequential projections.
7.16.2007 11:51am
Ramza:
a knight

You are disregarding how useful the data is way too quick. I agree it will never tell you the real percentage of people who are sexually attracted to the opposite gender, same gender, and both; in a qualitative medical/scientific sense.

Yet at the same time it is still very useful for it does give a perspective on how people view themselves. While it may not answer medical/scientific questions it does give a better perspective from sociological and anthropological perspectives.
7.16.2007 2:14pm
Randy R. (mail):
Really, Michael B? And where exactly does Prager show any interest at all in gays as human beings? Did he interview any to see why they are gay? Does he have even a basic curiousity in why gay people are gay? Does Prager think we need psychiatric help to become straight, even though even the ex-gay movements don't believe that can happen? Does he think we should be just outlawed? Has he cited even ONE instance of a gay person destroying or destabilizing society?
Does he consider the fact that families were stable in ancient Greece? In renaissance Florence? In pre-Meiji Restoration Tokyo? Even though in all these places homosexuality was widely practiced, even accepted to varying degrees?

Nope. Prager addresses none of these issues. It's basically just an exercise in "why I think gay people are bad," and he grabs onto whatever evidence will support the notion. It's intellectually dishonest, lacking in any real historical context, and ignorant of how gay people really live their lives. If Prager has ever met even one gay person, you wouldn't know it. Yet he holds himself out as a someone who everything else about us.

If you want to hate gays, please by all means, go ahead. I really don't care. But as for our rights, we deserve them, we will demand them, and we will get them, regardless of how much that discomforts you and Prager.
7.16.2007 6:39pm
Michael B (mail):
Still throwing around the "hate" charge and continuing with your inattentiveness, incomprehensions and distortions, in addition to your strawmen and disdain. Again, you should let it pass. You may be preaching successfully to your own choir and to your own converted, but to any attentive and more disinterested reader your preachments and piously presumptive moralisms are unlikely to win much applause, if any.
7.16.2007 8:06pm
Ramza:
The same can be said about you Michael B. Maybe just maybe that is why people were disinterested in seeing that essay returned. It will not convince anybody that doesn't already have the same beliefs, it just preaches to its choir.
7.16.2007 8:49pm
Randy R. (mail):
Oh, did I miss something in the article, Michael B? Is Prager really saying that gay people should be treated with dignity and respect, as any other people? Or did I miss his point that gays should have the same rights as any one else? Or maybe I didn't read the part where he praises the contributions of gay people in the past? Please, go ahead -- correct me.

But you haven't corrected anything I said, except make ad hominen attacks upon me. An article makes a case for anti-gay discrimination, and me, being gay, should happily accept it? Not a chance.

Perhaps you would have better luck finding an article to justify discrimination against blacks, jews, native americans or women (or any other minority you find 'icky') and posting it here. There are plenty of articles similar to Prager's that provide 'evidence' to justify hatred and discrimination towards these groups. Fortunatley, the readers of the VC can see through it and have no interest.
7.16.2007 9:41pm
Michael B (mail):
Ramza and Randy,

People? The readers? What "people" and "readers" are you speaking for? The one or two who have agreed with you? Or others as well? All people?

But no, it (*) does not simply preach to its choir, if that's all it did I absolutely would not have linked to it in the first place. In point of fact it offers a notably sound, a well grounded and well reasoned argument - and that is why I linked to it, due to its cogent appeal. Too, I merely offered it as a link for any who might be interested and very briefly described it, rather innocuous. Beyond that I've responded only to the mischaracterizations, at least to this point.
7.16.2007 10:11pm
Ramza:
I am very familiar with Dennis Prager, the conservative talk show host, who started as a radio host enouncing his idea of Judeo-Christian heritage, and how Europe has become decadent and faltered for it has renounced this heritage and become secular. I am well familiar with his success and much of his arguments in general, and on this matter.

I am well familiar with Dennis Prager and the controversies he has done.

*From his 18,000 word essay he wrote about homosexuality and Judeo-Christian history (not 30,000 as you are keep on stating).
*His 1996 DOMA testimony located here . Note is a several hundred page pdf, his testimony starts on page 126 goes to page 133 (130 to 137 in acrobat)
*And his most known controversy, the Quran Oath Controversy of the 110th U.S. Congress, where he had no problems legally with the idea of Keith Ellison. He was instead appalled that Ellison wanted to swear on the Quran and not the Bible and thus disregard the "rich tradition" of heritage this nation was built on. Eugene debated Prager on on this sitethis site and on tv

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On the essay, Prager's arguements historically don't make sense. It wasn't the mating of the sexes and the taiming of the sex that cause the rise of the western civilization. Far more things had much stronger influences. But if you truly believe this then there is probably nothing I can do to dissuade you so I will not waste my time.

Furthermore Prager essay rests on the assumption all humans sexuality is polymorphous. This is simply not the case, while humanity as a whole is a combination of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual, each individual human is not a combination of these three, they are one of these catergories. This cognative difference more or less throws Prager's essay in the trash. Because of this you can't "tame" homosexuality, you can't "put the genie in the bottle", you can't reorrient homosexuals as heterosexuals. Thus all you can do is force homosexuals and homosexuals acts underground culturally or you can embrace them culturally. Of course in Prager's essay he argues for reorientation, the science though proves him wrong.

Prager's essay though does not focus on homosexuals it though focuses on his idea of what a family is. His main and strongest arguements boil down to this pargraph.
Judaism cannot make peace with homosexuality because homosexuality denies many of Judaism's most fundamental principles. It denies life, it denies God's expressed desire that men and women cohabit, and it denies the root structure that Judaism wishes for all mankind, the family.

All three of the things Prager brings up in his strongest paragraph has been dealt to death on this site. Of course those other arguements were far less homophobic (note I didn't say he hated homosexuals, homophobic is not the same as hatred of homosexuals).

The essay boils down to a waste of time. I far rather read something written by David Blankenhorn or even Maggie Gallagher. They make similar points but do so in a far better way. At least I respect those people and their position even though I fervently disagree with them.

I repeat what I said before, way too much attention was given to this essay and its badly thought out logic.

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Prager is a waste of time when he starts talking on religous topics. On other matters he is okay, on political matters he is okay and isn't a waste of time but something I don't find entertaining or challenging. I do admit to listening to him occasionally when flipping through the Houston radial dial. For example I actually listened to him for 30 mins while driving today for he was interviewing Drew Western (the recent author of )
The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation . The segment was interesting.

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For Randy, Prager believes all bisexuals no matter how man focused they are (he wrote an article blasting calling McGreevy a gay american instead at the very least McGreevy was a bisexual who was mostly attracted to men) should marry or be celibate. For homosexuals (according to his congressional testimony) they should accept the tragic burden, they have the sympathy of society yet at the same time they should not seek to change how society views/treats them. Tolerance but not acceptance.
7.17.2007 1:30am
Michael B (mail):
Ramza,

You're all over the place. I'll keep to the issue of homosexuality and focus on that. (Though you should know Prager renounced his view concerning any legal coercion, vis-a-vis Ellison, and instead used the issue to forward some arguments. It's also a bit ironic, bringing up Ellison right now, immediately after Ellison compared 9/11 to the Reichstag fire of 1933.)

As to your assertion concerning the rise of western civilization, it is not being suggested that the channeling of human sexuality was the only thing that contributed to societal and civilizational inertia, rather it's being forwarded as a primary and foundational aspect of that shift.

Regarding the polymorphous quality of male sexuality, which is what he most prominently addresses, again you assert otherwise but you do not argue your point. The note concerning the polymorphous quality of human sexuality is covered in the fourth and concluding paragraph of the initial overview, it is also covered in other areas such as notes referencing Martha Nussbaum and David Greenberg.

As to the emphasis upon the family, in the sense male/female sexuality and love is enhanced, the elevation of the status of women is forwarded, the family structure in general is advanced - yes, all that is in fact forwarded as a primary result of Judaism's proscriptions, later Christianity's, against homosexuality, on cultural, moral and related grounds.

Regarding the choosing of life you're hugely simplifying that all important aspect of the paper (as you are some other aspects) and more obviously still are merely being dismissive when you state that's already been dealt with. But I cannot reduce that aspect of the paper to only a few words myself and won't attempt to do so.

Regarding homophobia and/or hatred, Prager has evidenced neither that I've heard and I've been listening for about three years now, on average several hours a week. In either case the charge reflects little of consequence, beyond an ad hominem attack. This is not about hating or fearing anyone.

But in general, scoffing at and dismissing an argument does not argue against it on more substantial grounds. We know we disagree on fundamental grounds, that much is obvious, but simply saying "no" or scoffing at an arguement does not more seriously address the argument and line of reasoning.
7.17.2007 11:17am
Randy R. (mail):
Ramza: "Prager believes all bisexuals no matter how man focused they are mshould marry or be celibate. For homosexuals (according to his congressional testimony) they should accept the tragic burden."

Thanks for helping to clarify. If true, then Prager is a bigger idiot than I thought. Who they hell is he to tell me that I should marry or be celebate? What exactly does that accomplish, except that by marrying a woman, I ruin her life as I do my own. Why should any woman have to marry a gay man? To have a sham marriage? Oh, I'm sure that would really advance civilization.
As for being celebate -- how easy it is for him to say that someone else should refrain from sex throughout their entire life. And why? Just because it makes Prager a little happier? Thankfully, my life and my happiness is not dependent upon Prager's approval.
7.17.2007 3:28pm
a knight (mail) (www):
Ramza, it is the use of opinion portrayed as fact I am discussing. As I mentioned in my first post in this thread, I became aware of this study when responding to persons who were actually claiming that Rep. Foley's behavior around 16, 17 and 18 year old males was pedophilia, and that male on male acts of pedophilia were defined as 'homosexual' acts, for that reason alone. Neither of these statements are true, and this was the first time I'd ever researched anything even remotely close to these topics. This study was used several times to distort the incidence of homosexual predation upon children, which if the standard for assessing the sexual preferences of pedophiles is their predominant preference in adult to adult sex, the ratio of homosexuals who are pedophiles in reputable studies is slightly less than the rate of homosexuality stated in the Lauder study.

I did not enjoy my research into this. I discovered that there is a term for sexual preferences for adolescents, and that pedophilia is a term that applies only to prepubescent children. The concept of pedophilia is utterly alien to me. I've never been married, and my age preferences in sexual partners have progressed along with my age in what has always struck me as a natural process. I do admit though that as I've aged, I sit a little lower in the water and the bow wave stretches out a little longer than it did when I was younger. Still, I cannot fathom having sexual relations with a woman anywhere near the age of my oldest niece, and she just turned 27.

Here are links to three site specific google searches I believe offer examples of this study's disabuse. I did not search further, nor am I inclined to presently, and I do not care to continue this discussion further.

one, two, and three
7.17.2007 4:43pm