Evolutionary Novelty of Homosexual Identity and Behavior - Why Homosexuals Are More Intelligent than Heterosexuals

The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn't Always the Smart One - Satoshi Kanazawa 2012

Evolutionary Novelty of Homosexual Identity and Behavior
Why Homosexuals Are More Intelligent than Heterosexuals

In order to examine the extent to which our ancestors might have identified themselves as homosexuals and engaged in homosexual behavior, I have once again consulted the same ethnographic records of traditional societies throughout the world that I use in earlier chapters. When it comes to homosexuality, contemporary hunter-gatherers, while not exactly the same as our ancestors, are probably a lot more similar to our ancestors than are residents of San Francisco or Brighton today.

The 10-volume compendium The Encyclopedia of World Cultures13 mentions male homosexuality in seven different cultures (Foi, Gebusi, Kaluli, Keraki, Kiwai, Marind-anim, and Sambia). However, these are phylogenetically closely related tribes all in Papua New Guinea, and all practices of male homosexuality in these Papua New Guinean cultures occur strictly as part of initiation rites for boys.

For example, “Gebusi believe boys must be orally inseminated to obtain male life force and attain adulthood. Insemination continues during adolescence and culminates in the male initiation (wa kawala, or ’child becoming big’) between ages 17 and 23.”14 And among the Sambia, “male maturation requires homoerotic insemination to attain biological competence. Initiation rituals thus involve complex homosexual contact from late childhood until marriage, when it stops.”15

These homosexual practices in Papua New Guinea appear highly ritualized and culturally mandated. There appears very little individual choice involved, and, as such, homosexuality does not appear to be an individual-difference variable (where some people practice it while others don’t, where some people are homosexual and others are heterosexual). It therefore appears quite different from what we normally mean by “sexual relations,” which involve choice, emotions, and attachment. At any rate, it is very difficult to suggest that homosexuality was a routine part of our ancestors’ life if its present-day practice on a large scale among traditional societies is limited only to one island in the South Pacific far outside of the ancestral environment of sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition, I have also consulted the five extensive (monograph-length) ethnographies of traditional societies around the world which I rely upon in earlier chapters.16 In any of these ethnographies, there is no mention of explicit homosexual relationships among the members of the societies under study. The only potential exception is the panegi among the Ache.17

Some men in our sample never had any children and others never acquired a wife. One category of men in Ache society opts out of the male mating pool altogether. These men, called panegi, take on a female socioeconomic role (the world pane means unsuccessful or unlucky at hunting). Men who are panegi generally do not hunt, but instead collect plant resources and insect larvae. They weave baskets, mats, and fans, and make tooth necklaces, bowstrings, and other female handicrafts. They spend long hours cooking, collecting firewood or water, and caring for children. Most informants stated that “panegis” did not ever engage in homosexual behavior (oral or anal) prior to first contact. A few informants said they were not sure, but had never heard of such behavior.

Panegis are apparently small in stature.18 And, at least in North America, homosexual men are shorter than heterosexual men.19 So perhaps the panegis among the Ache might have been genetically and hormonally predisposed to homosexuality. But the ethnographic records make it clear that they nonetheless did not engage in homosexual behavior prior to first contact with the western civilization.

It is very important to point out, however, that even very extensive ethnographies, based on long-term fieldwork by very experienced anthropologists familiar with the local culture and language, may not always detect instances of homosexuality. This may especially be the case if homosexuality is condemned and negatively sanctioned in the local culture. So the absence of references to homosexuality in these ethnographies is not by itself conclusive evidence of its absence in traditional societies.

However, the same ethnographers and anthropologists have nonetheless been adept at uncovering evidence of other negatively sanctioned and concealed behavior like murder, theft, infanticide, and extramarital affairs in the same traditional societies. So the near total absence of any documentation of homosexual behavior as an individual choice may suggest that it may be relatively rare in such societies. It may also suggest that widespread practice of homosexual behavior may have been rare in the ancestral environment, and it may therefore be evolutionarily novel.

If homosexual identity and behavior are evolutionarily novel, then the Intelligence Paradox would predict that, regardless of their true sexual orientation, more intelligent individuals may be more likely to identify themselves as homosexual, report homosexual feelings and desires, and engage in homosexual behavior than less intelligent individuals. All three main data sets for this book (the GSS, Add Health, and the NCDS) allow me to examine the association between intelligence and homosexuality.