Saturday, December 16, 2006

Penis size, estrogen levels linked to Authoritarian Family Values

World Net Daily never fails to entertain. This excerpt provided by Right-Wing Watch, who were content to show what sort of bizarre and alleged thinking leads to ultraconservative christian posturing. Amusing as it is to point out the particular panic button the author is trying to push, I will point out that context makes this paragraph seem to be almost reasonable.

The real absurdities, as I point out below, are the unreasonable assumptions that are assumed by implication.

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.

The fun thing here is that the premise is reversible. A diet rich in testosterone, taurine and other hormone analogues that enhance aggressive alpha-male posturing are just as anomalous as a diet rich in estrogen-enhancers. (Aside from the observation that generations of Samurai argue that the effect high soy-protein consumption cannot be all that profound.)

If the above argument is to be taken seriously, it must therefore be seen as a potential cure for behavior that can be linked to Testosterone Poisoning, a terrible affliction that can lead to absurd public posturing and an irrational obsession with penis size.

Taking the above argument seriously as evidence of doctrinal soundness is also quite entertaining. Note the argument from authority. "Homosexuality is always deviant." Alas, neither the Bible NOR the DSM-IV are reliable supports for this argument, homosexuality has been eliminated from the DSM as a disorder or deviance, although a recognition of clinical homophobia may well be on it's way toward inclusion. In regard to the Bible, serious study of the bible in the original texts and in relation to what we know about the relevant cultures they were speaking to, we find little evidence that there was any widespread concern about homosexuality outside of the context of Levitical ritual purity laws.

In order for the Bible to support this argument, we must accept that the Sin of Sodom was unbridled homosexual lust, instead of willful violation of cultural norms regarding the rights of guests, while also supporting that the Centurion and his Companion, who he loved enough to petition Christ for a miracle had a completely platonic relationship.

In historical context it would be surprising - almost astonishing, actually - had the relationship not been sexual. This behavior was something that did very much get up the noses of the religious Jews of the day; an added cause of friction and resentment between the cultures that Jesus could not have been ignorant of.

Odd that He said nothing. He was not noted for his ability to remain silent in the face of clear, systemic immorality, even when the consequences were potentially dangerous for him. Most spiritual leaders would have refrained from flogging the money changers and dove-sellers from the Temple. Indeed, most spiritual leaders would have wanted their own piece of the action.

But, having said that, I have to say that diet does profoundly effect human behavior, maturation rates, intelligence and health. It's not insane or indeed even particularly radical to be concerned about the individual changes in sexual development that a diet rich in soy might bring about.

What is bizarre is what is assumed - that our current diet is not affecting our socio-sexual development equally strongly; that high per-capita beef consumption has nothing to do with some of the more obviously failed cultural imperatives - such as the idea that pre-emtive aggression would solve the problem of terrorism.

By way of contrast, Gandhi's diet consisted largely of rice. We know that starch-laden diets tend to suppress aggressive tendencies and going to the extreme of a macrobiotic diet seriously impairs critical thinking, which is why diet is such an important issue to most cult leaders; it's possible to select the mindset you wish by restricting and/or mandating certain food items.

It is matter of undisputed fact that consuming large amounts of soy as an infant will have effects both immediate and long term. This is also true of diets generally high in protein (height), carbohydrate (width) and male hormones (aggressive behavior, possibly ADHD, binary thought processes associated with fight/flight hunter-killer reasoning.)

Thing is, whether these changes are good or bad are a matter of context, and the judgment as to what things you and your children should eat is generally based on what sorts of behaviors and thought processes any particular advocate or disadvocate finds distasteful.

The essential message here is "High levels of testosterone in boys is good. High levels of estrogen in anyone are bad." I'm not at all sure that's a defensible assumption.

For myself, I rely on my gut for decisions of this sort and my gut has eclectic, even catholic tastes.

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