The Green Marketing Façade

Eyes on EnvironmentI wrote another piece for Nature’s Scitable blog, ‘Eyes on Environment’.

The Green Marketing Façade
The misuse of green buzzwords in marketing and why we shouldn’t automatically condemn ‘unnatural’ methods of food production.

Give it a read folks.

http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/eyes-on-environment/the_green_marketing_fa231ade

Should Same-Sex Couples Be Allowed To Adopt?

Of course they should. But I was at a wedding last weekend and found myself listening in to a heated argument that centred on whether or not gay men should be allowed to adopt and raise children. The opposition to said rights was shocking in his distorted understanding and use of the principles of evolution and what is natural, in defending his position. He passionately argued that since gay men could not naturally produce a child together they should never be provided with this opportunity. “It’s not natural, it’s not natural”, he kept repeating. He is right about the impossibility of two men conceiving a child, however his beliefs were a perfect example of the naturalistic fallacy, as I pointed out to him. This fallacy is easily simplified as ‘the misunderstanding that everything that’s natural is good, and everything that’s unnatural is bad’. Infanticide, rape and war are all perfectly natural components of many animals’ societies, including our own, but this does not mean that they are right or good. As an intelligent and moral species we can see that these behaviours are terrible and should be penalized in order to reduce their occurrence.

Coming back to the topic of having children, many heterosexual couples find that they are unable to conceive naturally, but IVF treatment allows them the joy of bringing a child into this world. The process is as unnatural as you can imagine, and using a Darwinian moral compass they should be denied this right along with homosexual couples. But nobody in their right mind uses this compass and falls for the naturalistic fallacy so completely that they would seek to deny the right to have children to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

That being said, this man’s beliefs ran further still and he went on to argue that homosexuals in general were not natural since they couldn’t reproduce. This simply isn’t true. Being homosexual is partly genetic and there are no right and wrong genotypes; there are many variations each with their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the environmental conditions. Being homosexual usually results in less offspring but may allow greater care of nieces and nephews, resulting in overall greater fitness. The frequency of male and female homosexuals worldwide is far higher than would be predicted, given the fact that they don’t directly pass on their genes. So it is probable that their relatives (who share their genes) have a corresponding increase in reproductive output, which their homosexual kin lose, thus maintaining the genes for homosexual orientation. There is absolutely nothing unnatural about homosexuals. And there’s nothing unnatural about homosexuals raising children that aren’t their direct descendents. If there were evidence suggesting future psychological problems for adopted children then this would need considering, but there is no grounds for denying these rights by virtue of it being unnatural.

This is a classic case of people twisting and distorting principles of natural selection in order to justify their prejudices. Some people dislike homosexuals so they try to demonize them and limit their rights as human beings. It is the exact same principle as eugenics that the Nazi’s infamously took to extremes. But the idea is completely flawed. There is no right set of genes that make up a human or any other animal, so there can be no perfect specimen to try to breed towards. Any person advocating or subjugating a particular race or trait is simply imposing their opinion with absolutely no scientific evidence to support it. And we must not take such behaviour lying down.