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ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture

I’ve had this theory of human sexuality for some time now. I want to test and develop it here. I call it the Hungry Hippo Theory (just named it).

I called it the Hungry Hippo Theory, because I believe hunger gives a great analogy for it. Sexuality is fluid in my theory. That means there is nothing preventing me from being homosexual, etc., just like there is nothing preventing homosexuals from enjoying sexuality with the opposite sex. We may feel disgust or apprehension at the thought, but I don’t think those feelings are biological nor set in stone. I might feel disgust and apprehension towards Asian cuisines, but clearly the cause of that disgust isn’t a gene making me like Big Macs over Octopus. My taste in food is able to change.

Hunger is a biological need, much like sexuality. The foods we eat also have functionality. We can know how many calories we’re supposed to be eating; and what percentage of fats, proteins, and carbs those calories are supposed to consist of. However, that does not mean its impossible to binge eat, or become anorexic, or go on unhealthy diets. Some people eat things that are clearly not food, such as paint, or rocks. Some people eat food, but its clearly unhealthy. Other’s don't eat unhealthy, they just don’t eat the optimal.

Sexuality is the same. There is the functional aspect, which revolves around reproduction, and the desire to reproduce. However, the ways in which people can satisfy that desire is limited only by their imagination. Some people are sexually aroused by nonhuman things such as leather or animals. Others are attracted to humans, but in an unhealthy way, such as pedophilia, necrophilia, etc. Other’s are attracted to normal consenting adults, they just don’t happen to have the function of the opposite sex.

1. Genetics are redundant to the theory. We are built from genes, thus everything about us will always correlate with genes. Genes rarely gives us insight into causation. Far more efficient is to focus on neurological differences, if any exist, since it is the brain that more directly contributes to behavior.

2. The theory is not concerned with normal vs abnormal. To the theory, the only abnormal sex act is the one you can’t perform. However, it does distinguish between functional and nonfunctional acts and behaviors.

3. The theory builds a bridge between biology and behavior. It asks what the needs of biology are, and then asks what are the behaviors that satisfy it.

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California Girl's picture
This is not a new theory.

This is not a new theory. Just Google "theory on fluid human sexuality."

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Well, my idea is a bit

Well, my idea is a bit broader that what is normally mentioned, but I'm definitely incorporating fluidity into my theory. When talking about sexual fluidity what people have in mind is typically a spectrum between heterosexuality and homosexuality, with bisexuals somewhere in between.

My idea isn't limited to a spectrum. Pedophilia, necrophilia, and bestiality are all incorporated along with homosexuality, and everything else. My theory also incorporates the reason we have sexuality in the first place, which is reproduction.

algebe's picture
Food taboos can be pretty

Food taboos can be pretty compelling. We once lived next-door to an Indian family who were strict vegetarians, right down to rejecting ice cream because of the gelatine in it. They told us that even the smell of cooked meat, such as on bacon-flavored potato chips, made them feel physically sick.

I think contemplation of certain sexual behaviors would have the same effect on people who did not have those particular urges, and that could make those acts physically impossible.

Is there such a thing as a "desire to reproduce"? There's a drive to have sex, but I'm not sure that's the same as a drive to reproduce.

California Girl's picture
Maybe I'm dense or just too

Maybe I'm dense or just too tired, but I'm not clear on what exactly your theory is Breezy. All I've gotten so far is that you recognize that sexual preferences vary greatly amongst individuals. That's a fact, not really a theory. Please elaborate.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Right, so the purpose of a

Right, so the purpose of a theory is to explain those facts. The way I explain the variation is not with genetics, which I find redundant, but which is the most popular explanation. My explanation is that there is a blind sexual need, intended for reproduction, which can be met in a million possible ways. This idea explains the diversity and it predicts change. You can't account for both with a biological lense. You would need a gene for every possible attraction, from shoes to animals and everything in between. That's a lot of genes. Genetics also prevents change. A leopard can't change it's spots, and people can't change their sexuality.

algebe's picture
"You would need a gene for

"You would need a gene for every possible attraction, from shoes to animals and everything in between."

What are the roles of nurture and nature in this? Hetero/homosexuality and the strength of the sex drive can probably be explained by genes, but aren't the more specialized urges, like necrophilia, Oedipus, pedophilia, etc., more likely to be result of upbringing? I can't imagine a gene for foot fetishes or cross-dressing, but I can imagine some kind of imprinting mechanism that makes people more likely to acquire such preferences.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Well, I don't subscribe to

Well, I don't subscribe to the Nature vs Nurture dichotomy. I think its clear that we are Nature, our bodies are Nature, and our brains are Nature. Nurture then becomes the way the environment interacts with our Nature, aka us. I don't subscribe to determinism either. I think biology produces organism capable of making choices. I believe free will is an emergent property of brains. Traditional Nature vs. Nurture views individuals as nonexistent, you simply mix your ingredients and produce your desired behavior. So I view the individual (Nature) as autonomous and capable of interacting with Nurture to the same degree that Nurture interacts back.

The problem with genetics is that genes are blind to the world. I can't communicate with my genes, and my genes can't communicate with me. Genes have one job here, and that is to build a brain. They have no control over the environment, no way of knowing that somewhere out there exist such things as males or females, cats and dogs. These things need to be learned. Just like language needs to be learned.

Even if a strong correlation exists between some behavior and some gene, the next question to ask is what is this gene doing to the brain to cause the behavior. That's a question we could have asked from the beginning without looking at genes. We could have just looked to the brain for a correlation. That's far more relevant.

Genes determine what is and isn't possible, what I can or can't do. In other words they set the boundaries, not where you plant the flag. We can see that better with disorders. If your genes didn't come with instructions for building an amygdala, it doesn't matter how hard you try, you will never feel fear. But if it does give an amygdala, and you are able to feel fear, you won't know what things will make you afraid until you interact with the environment.

So if we ignore any disorders, then genes should build the mechanism that gives us a sex drive. Perhaps even how much drive you have. But not what you have a drive for. That requires you interacting with the environment. How would genes know the difference between male and female, but not between a child and an adult, a dead person and a living person. If there's a gene for one, there's a gene for them all. Or as I suggest, genes merely produce a biological drive to reproduce, and as you interact with your environment you come across different things which satisfy the same drive.

algebe's picture
@John: "you won't know what

@John: "you won't know what things will make you afraid until you interact with the environment"

Really? Aren't we born with an innate fear of falling, for example. Falling doesn't hurt, but we instinctively find the weightless sensation of free fall disturbing, even though we don't interact with the environment until we hit the ground.

I'm not really seeing the direction of your argument. Is your theory that nothing is innate, and that everything, including sexual orientation, is acquired learned through environmental inteactions?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
The moro reflex? Its

The moro reflex? Its definitely triggered by the sense of falling, and that sense is already an interaction with the environment, not just when you hit the ground. I don't know if it qualifies as fear. Reflexes are very unique things.

I'm not saying nothing is innate, since sex drive and its intensity, are innate. But what isn't innate is what can satisfy that desire. Those are learned more or less.

algebe's picture
@John 61X Breezy: "I don't

@John 61X Breezy: "I don't know if it qualifies as fear."

Well it looks like fear, but it's not the result of any experience of injury or pain. How does a baby know it's dangerous to fall, to the extent that they automatically stretch out their arms (to catch hold of branches perhaps)?. So where does it come from if not genetics?

I've got a phobia that I learned from my mother. It's unlikely that a phobia would be genetic, but don't we have an innate mechanism to detect fear in those around us and react accordingly? You can see that in bird and animal behavior.

"But what isn't innate is what can satisfy that desire."

Do you include basic characteristics, such as hetero/homosexuality in that, or just the the more detailed variations? For example, do you think there is a fetishism gene that would cause us to become imprinted by leather, feathers and so on as a result of chance encounters in the environment?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
So that's the thing, what is

So that's the thing, what is a basic characteristic and what is a detailed characteristic?

For example, what does it mean for me to be attracted to another male? How do I know the difference between a man and a woman? Its not the long hair, since men can have long hair and woman short hair. Its not the body shape, that varies as well. Its definitely not the genitals, those are hidden. Its also not feminine and masculine behavior, since woman can be masculine and men can be feminine. Knowing what is and isn't leather, or what is and isn't a child, is far easier than knowing what is and isn't the same sex.

Not only that, but the difference between an asian girl and an african girl can be greater than the difference between an asian girl and an asian guy. A lot of the distinguishing factors between males and females is not even biological but cultural. Genes would need to be hyperaware of those minute differences, and come knowing that there even is such a thing as Asians somewhere out there.

So I don't make those sort of distinctions. Anything that can satisfy our sex drive, will have people that become attracted to it.

chimp3's picture
The funny thing is your

The funny thing is, your awareness is a product of your genes. They built your brain and awareness is an effect of that construction. How do you separate - scientifically - your sense of free will from its builders - genes?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I don't make a distinction

I don't make a distinction between us and our genes. We are our genes just as much as we are our brains. That's why I keep saying genes are redundant. That does not mean we are born knowing anything of the external world. Our brain has a Broca's area, there are obviously genes behind that, but our genes don't know there's such a thing as English or Spanish out there.

Genes tell you what you can do, not what you must do.

algebe's picture
@John 61X Breezy: "How do I

@John 61X Breezy: "How do I know the difference between a man and a woman?"

Presumably you grew up with other children, including girls. As girls and boys grow, their bodies, voices, and behavior changes. You would be aware those changes and increasingly conscious of the difference between males and females. Your genes (through your endocrine system) would produce hormones that heighten that awareness. And then there's the pheromones. You're not even aware of those, but your genes are.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
But can you see how half of

But can you see how half of these things are learned differences? I can't speak on pheromones, never had to learn about them.

I'll give you a better example. Some psychologist put light patches on the joints of people, and record their movements. By just observing dots on a screen, we can identify if the person walking is male or female. But. we can also tell if they are fat or not, if they are happy or sad, or if they're someone we know or not.

These things sound like they need to be learned. So I don't find it too far fetched to assume we need to learn most of the difference between men and woman, and then become attracted to those differences later.

You can play around with light patches here:

algebe's picture
@John 61X Breezy: "But can

@John 61X Breezy: "But can you see how half of these things are learned differences?"

But they're learned in a different way from say learning to drive a car or do arithmetic. Experience might awaken the knowledge of gender differences, but it doesn't create it. Language learning is in the same category. We learn our first language quickly and easily because our brains are genetically programmed for it. What that language is depends on the environment, but I think the language instinct is innate in our genes.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Well language is a great

Well language is a great analogy. The language instinct is innate just like the reproduction instinct. But what isn't innate are the languages we speak or the things we are sexually attracted to.

Perhaps just like language, which has a critical period. Maybe sexuality also has a critical period. So that if we don't learn heterosexuality or homosexuality or whatever else before that point, we might not learn it at all.

Flamenca's picture
@Breezy: Maybe sexuality

@Breezy: Maybe sexuality also has a critical period. So that if we don't learn heterosexuality or homosexuality or whatever else before that point, we might not learn it at all.

What do you mean by learning in this context? Do you mean having a sexual experience? Because for lots of people the innate sexual desire for same-gender people would come up when they are children, but some of them don't engage in a same-gender act until they are even senior for fear, because of being a cultural and religious taboo. I've met quite a few.

Homo/hetero/bi/etc. sexuality is innate, regardless its practice. Millions would have died (and will) in the closet.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
No, not having sexual

No, not having sexual experience, but being sexually attracted to a specific gender. So lets' say a child is lost in the wild since a baby, and is never found until sometime after puberty. We know they won't be able to learn language. So would they come already having a sexual orientation? Or do they have to learn everything from scratch? More importantly, are they able to learn at all? Maybe they can't. We won't know until it happens.

Flamenca's picture
Hey, @Breezy. but being

Hey, @Breezy. but being sexually attracted to a specific gender. Hmm... I could grant that...

But anyways, I've just written a long thread on language's critical period hypothesis, because I basically disagree on it:

CyberLN's picture
“These things sound like they

“These things sound like they need to be learned. So I don't find it too far fetched to assume we need to learn most of the difference between men and woman, and then become attracted to those differences later.”

Would you consider that ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I don't make those

I don't make those distinctions. I seek to understand how nature (us) behaves and interacts with the environment.

Sheldon's picture
Breezy "you won't know what

Breezy "you won't know what things will make you afraid until you interact with the environment."

Except our imagination can create fears that have nothing to do with reality or our environment.

Nyarlathotep's picture
What predictions does your

What predictions does your "theory" make? What additional unexplained phenomenon does your "theory" explain; that was not used to formulate the "theory"?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
That's a difficult one since

That's a difficult one since I'm trying account for everything we know about sexuality, not trying to predict anything. But I suppose the simplest prediction would be the rise of new sexual paraphilias.

Sheldon's picture
"That's a difficult one since

"That's a difficult one since I'm trying account for everything we know about sexuality, not trying to predict anything. But I suppose the simplest prediction would be the rise of new sexual paraphilias."

I believe he meant predictive in the sense they could be tested to validate your 'theory', not predictive in the sense you have a crystal ball, or are simply guessing. You see a scientific theory must have predictive powers, again not guesses or hunches but testable evidence based predictions that could only be true if the scientific theory is true, a real scientific theory like evolution would be required to provide a lot of these, and has of course. I also think his question was an attempt to point out that calling your hunch a theory may have been perceived as a dishonest attempt to either malign the scientific use of the word, or lend gravitas to your use of it here that it doesn't deserve.

What has your 'theory' to do with atheism btw? Only this is a forum to discuss atheism and related issues, and you do love to whine about others straying off topic.

Sheldon's picture
Could you cite the peer

Could you cite the peer reviewed publication that have published your 'theory' or did you not mean to allude it was scientific at all, but just your own supposition or idea? In which case why should anyone care what you think, and what relevance has it to atheism?

chimp3's picture
I am failing to see a theory

I am failing to see a theory here. Perhaps a "gotcha". Sexuality is a choice?

Sheldon's picture
What we do with our sexuality

What we do with our sexuality involves choices, but our sexuality and who we are attracted to does not. We can also divide sexual choices like sexual desires into two distinct categories, those that are pernicious because they victimise and harm others, and those that involve consent and do no direct harm.

Pitar's picture
"We may feel disgust or

"We may feel disgust or apprehension at the thought, but I don’t think those feelings are biological nor set in stone."

This doesn't gel. I can only connect revulsion for certain sexual relationships with genetic chemistry, aka biological blueprinting, and having those relationships despite the revulsion I can connect to doctrinal imposition only. A street whore will provide pleasures of the flesh on-demand to either sex for a fee without outwardly revealing her feelings for it. She can't. He livelihood depends on her ability to mask her innermost revulsion and get on with the job. Her chemistry, however, has a genetic preference.

We are who we are at birth, genetically engineered in the womb, yet fully unaware of who we are until life reveals it. In that set of life's circumstances our sexuality is silently revealed to us as one of the building blocks of our identities. There's no changing the chemistry that controls it or sanctioning (theorizing) some other influence that can modify it to make a natural change.

Moreover, disconnecting genetics from the brain is pretty much an invalid proposition. We are imprinted with a genetic make-up that is the brain. The body alone can sense what it will but information alone is useless without the processing and filtering of a brain and it's genetically imprinted.

Homosexual men are genetically imprinted differently than heterosexual men. Where and how that strand of DNA distinguishing sexual preference is and acts is the first question regarding the possibility of engineering, or re-engineering, and the next question is can it be detected in the womb, or even in the seed and egg, and changed at will?

Never mind the morality of the technology permitting that kind of engineering. If we got all nancy about that we'd never move the species away from its current actuary tables. Personally, I see medical technology as the god theists are unwittingly worshiping, with regard to immortality, and longevity suitable to exploring the stars as the heaven it seeks. Never mind the pleasures of the flesh. When non-addictive pharmacology can chemically replicate human orgasms sex will become passe and a new world order of junkies will have a few hundred years of life to enjoy it while traversing the stars searching for the sake of searching.


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