How is your gaydar working?
June 20, 2007 Leave a comment
David France (who, coincidentally interviewed me for an article on the neuroscience of partisanship yet to appear in GQ) has a fascinating new article in New York Magazine about all the biological differences between gay and straight men. The hook is that maybe your gaydar (the ability to pick out a gay person based on superficial characteristics) is based on certain elements of physical reality. Exactly a year ago I wrote about scientific research that found that handedness is tied to the direction the hair on the crown of your head swirls. Turns out the swirl of your hair is even tied to sexuality. Roughly 8% of straight men swirl counter-clockwise, as opposed to 23% of gay men. If you followed the previous link, you realize that this also means gay men are more likely to be left-handed than are straight men. Sexual orientation also appears to be correlated with the relative length of your ring and index finger and even the pattern of your thumbprint. Amazing stuff. It also, of course, matters socially and politically.
Politically, there is something very powerful about the notion that
sexual orientation is a matter of biology, not choice. In poll after
poll, of the one third of Americans who believe homosexuality is
socially influenced, in other words ?a choice,? about 70 percent think
being gay is ?not acceptable.? But for those who believe it is
biologically mandated, the statistic reverses, and four out of five
Americans find gayness ?acceptable.?
Its fascinating stuff. And just for the record, my hair swirls counterclockwise and my ring finger is longer than my index finger . On a slightly related note, the BBC has a really fun interactive website on how all these subtle biological differences relate to male/female differences.