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Scientists reject the idea of a single “gay gene;” the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo grows bigger.
Many genes, not one, influence same-sex sexuality
- The findings of the largest study to date that analyzes the genetics of same-sex behavior suggest there is not a single “gay gene” in human organisms. [Washington Post / Lindsey Bever]
- The study of nearly half a million people shows several different genes play a role, however small, in someone’s sexual orientation, making it impossible for researchers to use genetics to predict people’s sexualities. [NYT / Pam Belluck]
- In addition to genetics, social and environmental factors — among others — play a role in determining someone’s sexuality, much like every other human characteristic, from height to attention span. [Guardian / Nicola Davis]
- In an op-ed for the New York Times, one of the study’s authors and another scientist, both of whom are gay, wrote that “your sex life is influenced by your genes,” but that the relationship between genetics and sexuality is far more complex than what was previously believed, and that the role of genes should not be overstated. [NYT / Steven M. Phelps and Robbee Wedow]
- The concept of a gay gene was first introduced to the scientific community — and later, the public — when a group of researchers in the US linked a region of the human genome called xq28 to male homosexuality in 1993. The team, whose findings have not been replicated since, were associated with the firm 23andMe, popular nowadays for its ancestry reports. [The Economist]
- Despite the lack of scientific validity on the matter, though, reports of the gay gene sparked discussion, debate, and most often controversy both within and outside LGBTQ circles. For example, a Daily Mail story published around the time of the 1993 study ran with the headline “Abortion hope after ‘gay genes’ findings,” which the author went on to say would “cause a storm among radical gay and pro-life groups.” [Twitter / Antony Tiernan]
- Sexual rights campaigners have welcomed the results of the 2019 study, saying they provide “even more evidence that being gay or lesbian is a natural part of human life.” [Reuters / Kate Kelland]
Ebola tops 3,000 cases
- More than 3,000 people have reported Ebola symptoms in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the past 12 months, making this the second-largest outbreak of the epidemic since its onset in 2014. [ABC News / Morgan Winsor]
- In one of the latest cases, a 9-year-old Congolese girl tested positive for Ebola after having crossed the border to Uganda. The Ministry of Health released a statement saying there is no danger for the outbreak to hit the nation, though, since the girl was identified at the Port of Entry. Both she and her mother will be repatriated to Congo so the former can follow a treatment regimen. [CNN / Bethlehem Feleke and Stephanie Busari]
- Nearly two-thirds of the Ebola patients have died as a result of the disease since last August. According to Reuters, 77 people per week are diagnosed with the virus, with the outbreak showing no signs of slowing down despite access to an experimental vaccine and developmental treatments. [Reuters / Djaffar Al Katanty and Aaron Ross]
- Just last month, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in Congo a public health emergency of international concern. Now, the group is asking its partners to “fulfill promises” they made to the community, performing more vaccinations and screenings so the epidemic may stop. [WHO]
- The older brother of Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles has been arrested and charged with three counts of murder in Cleveland, Ohio, in a New Year’s Eve shooting. [People / Greg Hanlon]
- If you’re planning to spend Labor Day in one of the northern US states or Canada, you might be in luck. The northern lights, or aurora borealis, will be visible as far south as Wisconsin and Michigan over the weekend. [CNN / Ryan Prior]
- Know what you’re doing in a couple decades? Five-time Academy Award-nominated director Richard Linklater is trying to outdo himself once again by shooting Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along over a 20-year period, a considerable stretch from another ambitious project of his, Boyhood, a picture he shot over 12 years and released in 2014. [Deadline / Anthony D’Alessandro]
- Most of some 250 pigs that escaped their enclosure in Vermont in the past month have been returned to their owner, thanks in part to several farm workers and other volunteers who helped corral them using hot dog buns. [AP / Lisa Rathke]
“I don’t get along with people who prefer Miracle Whip.” [Grub Street catches up with Katie Couric ahead of her podcast relaunch / New York magazine]
Cosmic rays are hitting us all the time. What are they? [YouTube / Brian Resnick and Gina Barton]
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Author: Stavros Agorakis