Originally Posted by coaster
I agree with that. I just don't think that study was unbiased. The researchers were approaching their research with a particular point of view and looking for evidence to support that point of view. So they found similarities in brain structure between straight men and gay women and between gay men and straight women. The similarities were in portions of the brain that don't govern sexual behavior. In any cross section of the population you'll find a percentage of men with effeminate traits and women with masculine traits. It only stand to reason those traits would be due to neurobiological similarities with the opposite sex. However, a man can be effeminate and hetereosexual and a woman can be masculine and still hetereosexual.
Your absolutely right here, however this is where it starts. Now with a beginning science must unravel this. They may even decide it is completely wrong. As I said before this is the very first step in trying to understand. Actually brain mapping is very, very new and to say that the similarities were in a part of the brain that doesn't govern sexuality is not correct. We don't know if it covers sexuality or not. As I said before it is a good place to start because we know sexuality is a "primal" response. Again this is just a first step, where nothing is known thus far.
Originally Posted by coaster
So the research proved nothing and the researchers using it to support a particular point of view about the origins of sexual orientation are not being true to the scientific method, IMO. My education was as an electrical engineer, so I've had some of that, too. A couple of mistakes they made, as I see it: the sample group was 90 volunteers, so that's the error of self-selection (maybe that's not quite the correct statistical term), also the sample size is quite small. I'm not sure of the actual number, but I think it's in the neighborhood of 500 or higher that polling outfits use to represent the population, and that's with an uncertainty of around five percent. So, the study group should have been much larger, and more importantly, it should have been a random sample. And the article didn't say what percent of the sample group showed these brain structure similarities, but because of self-selection, whatever the percent was, wouldn't be representative. And if it was just a few individuals out of 90, that would make the result even more irrelevant. Maybe someone else, someone unbiased, will make another study without the errors.
While there are lots of basic similarities for science and experimentation in general, medical experimentation has a whole other set of rules. First line experimentation, vivisection, is NOT allowed. Sample sizes always tend to be very small in the beginning because medical research is extremely expensive. Once some basic conclusion are founded larger sample sizes are tested.
Random samples do not occur in behavioral science specifically because you are trying to understand a specific behavior. If you don't look at people with that specific behavior then you are never going to learn anything about it. Same with cancer, diabetes, lupus etc. Random sampling in medicine does occur when trying to establish normal ranges ( ie the ranges on ones blood tests for example. This is also why different labs have different ranges). However for medical experimentation what is usually done is to compare a control group with the experimental group in "matched pairs" So if you have a 42 year old, college educated, middle class lesbian you would pair her with a 42 year old college educated middle class heterosexual female and a 42 year old college educated middle class heterosexual male. ( just a basic
One is looking for differences and similarities. Something that can be examined further.
The last factor is this is a newspapers watered down simplified version of the research that was actually done. I am sure the reporter didn't understand 99% of what was being explained so everything was broken down to the very basics to give a very general understanding. That is why I said I would also love to see the full research article. If it is published in a peer reviewed journal all method used must be described in detail, as well as all results. I have had my research published in the past, so I am familiar with the process.
As to polling numbers etc. Those numbers are nowhere near high enough to statistically accurately represent the population they say they do. Statistical process control is a very confusing science all of its own. It is used to determine just how much sampling is necessary to give an accurate determination of the entire "batch". Almost no one uses anywhere near a high enough sample rate, especially when they want to apply the results to the entire human population.
This study was not intended to be the end all be all determination. It is a start, just scratching the surface of one area of the very new science of neurobiology.