The notion of a Gay Germ—homosexuality transmitted as some sort of infection—probably horrifies many mainstream intellectuals unfamiliar with the details of modern evolutionary biology. Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that my recent column discussing that subject quickly provoked a striking example of Internet censorship. But the circumstances were different than people might naively expect.
Most of the responses to my analysis were quite reasonable and respectful. Anthropologist Peter Frost published a column questioning some of my arguments, which generated an extended comment thread. George Mason University’s Genetic Literacy Project also provided a brief summary and link.
However, a target of my critique had been Dr. Gregory Cochran, a leading Gay Germ advocate, who had recently ridiculed the intelligence of my old professor E.O. Wilson for remarks supporting the contrary Gay Gene hypothesis. I merely pointed out that to the extent powerful selective pressures would have weeded out any hypothetical Gay Gene, exactly those same selective pressures would have tended to remove susceptibility to a Gay Germ as well, so that to a considerable extent the two theories suffered from similar theoretical weaknesses and were not so obviously distinct.
Now Cochran is a notoriously arrogant and irascible researcher, and he reacted to my views by launching a blistering attack on his own blogsite, sharply questioning my intellect and knowledge. Moreover, when I showed up to explicate my analysis as a commenter, he quickly banned me, possibly because I was defending my position a bit too well, and perhaps thereby “confusing” his coterie of worshipful fanboys. My impression is that publishing a lengthy blog attack against someone and then banning the victim when he politely attempts to provide his own side of the argument is considered “bad form” on the Internet, but there are obviously individuals for whom these usual rules do not apply. Continue reading