Autism, Homosexuality and AIDS - Evolutionary Adaptations?
Thu, 08/12/2010 - 11:43pm — decibel.places
This is not a theory - not even a hypothesis - more like the result of a dorm room rap session in the 60s or 70s before the Counterculture became a marketing segment, when the educated elite tried to think for the masses and hoped their lottery number did NOT come up. Some free association plus a bit of education can produce some high-flying ideas.
I was just sitting around with my friend Arlene, not watching the enormous HDTV, and we started talking about autism. Arlene is a MSW psychotherapist, and I studied cultural and physical anthropology, so we had some basic background info we could use to frame our "ideas."
We discussed theories that the increase in autism is being caused by environmental and cultural factors specific to our highly technological society: electromagnetic waves, pharmacological side effects, fertility treatments allowing people to have kids who previously could not procreate, and to have them later in life... remember fertility, that could be important.
The subject morphed to homosexuality. It's not just that many gays have come out of the closet, they seem to represent a larger percentage of the population than ever before (this is not based on any statistics, just casual observation, and maybe also an ad for RuPaul's Drag Race). As a therapist, Arlene saw many patients who grew up "queer" - they were different and did not fit into "normal" society - and the gay community provided a welcoming brotherhood. Some of these patients actually said they did not enjoy sex with men, but considered themselves gay nonetheless. I am no expert in sexuality, nor am I a homophobe, and I realize that many men also prefer sex with other men. This is not really about sex anyway, except as a procreative act.
Then I had an "idea" - what if autism and homosexuality are a genetic - or epigenetic - and evolutionary response to overpopulation of the planet and environmental stress? Remember in the 60s when we were warned of impending worldwide famine? Well the crisis was only postponed by agribusiness and GMOs. Now we are also aware of impending environmental doom, and "going green" is a pretty lame (but well-intentioned) response. Our species as a whole could be responding by limiting the "breeders" - sure, some gay men have kids, but not the majority, and someone with severe autism is not likely to form the relationship with another person required to breed either. Another clue: people with autism and gay men are more likely to be male. Take away the seed and the earth remains barren.
Ok, I thought on my way home, but what about AIDS? - doesn't that disease affect the gay community disproportionately, and what does that have to do with procreation anyway? Hmmm. Well, gay men are a terrific carrier for the AIDS virus, a suitable group of hosts. It is unfortunate that they also die, but they have served their purpose for the virus to breed and mutate and spread - and it's not as if they would procreate more gay men anyway. This accidental victimhood in fact could indicate that evolution is at play - adaptations are not always logical, but it's the end results that matter, to augment the species as a whole. There are also the intravenous infections through drugs and transfusions, another unfortunate circumstance created by modern medical technology. What about heterosexual AIDS? Bingo! The female is much more likely to be infected by AIDS through heterosexual sex. Ahah! So the AIDS virus is also reducing the female breeding population.
Somebody probably wants to shoot me by now. Probably a lot of people. Maybe somebody wants to do some actual research?