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3.7 out of 5 stars
Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth
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124 of 149 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2001
John Peteet, M.D., of the Harvard University and the Brigham and Women's Hospital called this book "Courageous, clear and practical." It is that and more. As a research scientist trained in genetics and having published in neuroscience, the chapters on genetics alone are worth the cost of the book. (Another review notes that the book easily could have been two--see below)Because of Satinover's deft hand with language, the book is nonetheless easy to read.
But I especially appreciated the fact that there is scarcely a statement the author makes that is not backed up by numerous peer-reviewed research studies from prominent scientific journals written by researchers with long-established track records. Even if one disagreed with Satinover's overall position, the genral public would be very well-served indeed to absorb his exposition on behavioral genetics in general. That would go a long way to innoculate us against the terrible distortions that are now passed off on us by the press--and, sadly, by unscrupulous scientists with various agendas to press--concerning all matters, not just sexuality. (Incidentally, I decided to follow-up this book with Satinover's newly-released The Quantum Brain. If there were any doubts as to his scientific credentials and reputation in the scientific community, this book will surely lay them to rest.)
Now on to the rest of the book. I'm not as big on religion as I was when much younger, but I've always been an avid student of history. While the first half of Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth is devoted to the science and psychology of sexuality, the second half is devoted to the western religious treatment of it. But it's not at all what you'd think: no bible-belt passage-rattling in the least. Instead, Satinover carefully explains--rather in the mode of a patient anthropologist who loves the tribes he's studying--exactly how the strange and archaic formulations of both Old and New Testaments, and surroundimg commentaries, make remarkably good sense when seen through "their" eyes. He shows how a biblical world-view anticipates a keen modern psychological understanding of human nature that in certain respects remains unsurpassed. I came away from these chapters with no greater desire to attend church (or synagogue) than before, but rather humbled even so: There's clearly alot more here than meets the jaundiced, oh-so-modern eye.
There were certain claims that Satinover made, both in the first part and in the second, of which I was dubious: for instance, that no research study cited popularly as having found evidence for the direct genetic transmissibility of homosexuality ever made such a claim, and that the authors themselves acknowledged the weakness of their hoped-for-conclusions. But sure, enough, when I went to the sources, there it was, again and again. (A colleague pointed out some actual errors, but it turns out these were caught and corrected in later reprints.)
In sum, let me second E.L. Patullo, former chair of behavioral sciences at Harvard in calling Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth "...must reading for the millions who, thinking themselves compassionate, have recently come to endorse homosexuality as a legitimate alternative expression of man's sexual nature."
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93 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 1999
As an openly gay man having lived in the lifestyle for 12 years, I found Dr. Satinover's book refreshing and poignant. His book reflected an amazing and timely understanding of homosexuality and current gay culture, and its position in our society as a whole. His analysis of the role of religion in this issue is refreshingly objective for such a controversial and emotional subject. This book will challenge the perspective of openly gay people--whether atheist, agnostic, or persons of faith--who honestly answer the questions it poses in their own lives.
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97 of 128 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2001
In this book, Dr. Satinover takes the time to address 3 key questions regarding the homosexuality debate (Is it genetic? Is it normal? Can it be changed?). He successfully presents his arguements by analyzing the current research of behaviour geneticists, social scientists, neurologists and other scientific specialists. If anyone cared to follow up on Satinover's sources or even LOOKED at the back of the book to read the number of references made (17 pages in all), one will quickly discover that this is not "quack research" gleaned from hours of surfing the Net. This is compelling, first rate stuff. The first half of the book (which deals with the purely scientific viewpoint) is convincing enough to show that there is a conflict between the realities of gay life and typical media portrayals/gay lobbyist dogma. But Dr. Satinover doesn't stop there; he proceeds to explore the issue from a spiritual/moral/faith-based perspective in the second half. Far from being hostile and hateful, he displays sensitivity to the genuine struggles of those homosexuals who want to break free from their destructive behaviour(s).
I wish that the detractors of this fine book would at least voice their critiques in the same logical, articulate and researched manner as Satinover has done. A reasoned, point-by-point rebuttal would be ideal. Instead, they resort to personal attacks, negative labelling, knee-jerk loathing and fear mongering. In this age of political correctness and soundbite information, somehow I'm not surprised by that reaction.
For those who are seeking a more in-depth, thoughtful look at a current issue; for those who, for the sake of fairness and knowledge, want an alternate view in the homosexual debate; for people of faith and reason...I would highly recommend this book to read. I guarantee you this: whether you love it or hate it, accept it or reject it...you will go away from it being challenged. Maybe even changed.
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26 of 37 people found the following review helpful
I read this book -- twice. It is worth reading. You may not agree with it, you may not like it, but you will NOT leave it feeling you've read something penned by a lightweight: Satinover is a heavyweight through and through. That the majority (if not the totality) of the negative reviews here do not proffer a reasoned challenge to even one of Satinover's main points is quite telling. (Surely Satinover, like any of us, cannot be right about everything. But even if 50% of this book is tripe, which is impossible, the remainder would still represent a major challenge to the zeitgeist.)

Just make a deal with yourself. Tell yourself to keep an open mind; in other words, tell yourself to keep a scientific mind, one open to doubt and inquiry. Anyone who tells you that "science" has "settled" a matter does not know science: science is always challenging its own conclusions. Satinover not only knows this, he embodies it: his conclusions about the biogenesis of homosexuality are broad and fair. He does not land on some simple theory or fact; he gives broad attention to the many influences that form the human spirit, soul and mind. Seriously, any person who concludes that the issues of identity and sexuality are COMPLEX is a person worth listening to.

Moreover, he does not reach easy and populist conclusions. For instance, it is thoroughly pop, even faddish, to suggest that because a characteristic is genetic it is ipso facto irresistible or desirable. Satinover is not given to such lazy and easy conclusions; he even rejects the very premise that behavior is CAUSED by one's genes. His methodology is that of a scientist, not of a populist. And he is hardly a politician.

Lastly, his challenge to Christians to rethink their approach to homosexuality is sure to rile the hard-liners on the far right. In fact, this book offers challenges on nearly every page. You will learn something, I promise. Besides, it is worth reading this book just to get to Satinover's concluding chapter. Brilliant.

(Also, let me say that Satinover as scientist and philosopher is a true friend of humanity and freedom, for he denies the mechanistic view of the human brain, and hence strikes a blow at determinism. Satinover believes in free will: he refuses to accept -- and does so on scientific and philosophic grounds -- that we each MUST ACT according to our genetic makeup. He denies that we are prisoners of our genes, at least insofar as genes influence behavior. Anyone who believes in freedom will find this aspect of Satinover's work refreshing. And any shrewd reader will note that it is the propagandists who deny this essential freedom; who deny that we are truly free to be changed, to be healed, to be something other.)

Peace.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2012
The first half of the book, which deals with the medical and psychological aspects of homosexuality, as well as with the political (not scientific) pressure behind the 1973 APA decision to drop homosexuality from its DSM, is great. The second half, a quick presentation of secular and faith-based treatments, is welcome. The chapter on orthodox Judaism and homosexuality is illuminating, but the last chapter, on the pagan and gnostic roots of today's post-modern polymorphic code of ethics, is downright phenomenal, arguably deserving its own book and certainly alone worth the price of this one.

The author clearly has a lot of compassion for homosexuals, but very little patience with homosexual activists. Once you read the book, you'll understand why.

Considering the centrality of homosexuality in today's culture war, this book should be in your top-five list of books to read.

Highly recommended.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover wrote in the Introduction to this 1996 book, "the deep complexity of the scientific research into homosexuality is easy for people to misinterpret and easier still to misuse. To disentangle this confusion and form solid principles by which to reach responsible conclusions requires effort... In the end the debate over homosexual behavior and its implications for public policy can only be decided conclusively on moral grounds, and moral grounds will ultimately mean religious grounds... We must make a choice: Shall we determine good and evil for ourselves...or shall we stand on a word outside ourselves, a word from the one between whose first word of creation and last word of judgment we live our fleeting lives?" (Pg. 27-28) He states, "My purpose... is to warn against the general lifting of sexual constraint, which the philosophy that undergirds gay activism necessarily promotes." (Pg. 62-63)

He notes, "the twin studies failed to demonstrate genetic causation... Although an early recollection of `being different' is thus common among homosexuals, the evidence suggests that this sense of difference is in fact NOT something genetic." (Pg. 87)

He criticizes the famous study by Dean Hamer [purporting to show a genetic basis for homosexuality], "the Hamer study is seriously flawed. Four months after its publication in Science, a critical commentary appeared in the same publication. It took issue with the many assumptions and questionable use of statistics the underlie Hamer's conclusions...Although Hamer later issued a disclaimer/caution in the pages of Science (Pg. 111), Satinover comments, "Needless to say, none of the disclaimers were given equal time in the press as the original overblown claims... There was no fanfare this time on National Public Radio." (Pg. 113) He summarizes, "for all the public fanfare, science has accomplished almost nothing we did not know from common sense: One's character traits are in part innate but are subject to modification by experience and choice." (Pg. 117)

He states, "Secular psychology is far more effective in helping homosexuals to change than most people think and many nonprofessionals would like us to know---or know themselves. Nonetheless, even among those professionals who understand that homosexual change is possible. There is too little appreciation for either the spiritual dimension of homosexuality or for the spiritual dimension of its `cure.'" (Pg. 196)

He concludes, "Each individual's homosexuality is the likely result of a complex mixture of genetic, intrauterine, and extrauterine biological factors combined with familial and social factors as well as repeatedly reinforced choices... The role of genetic influence is small, and in any event means very little in terms of compelling an individual to become homosexual... Homosexual behavior is difficult to modify because, like other forms of compulsive behavior, it involves innate impulses and reinforced choices by which sinful activities become embedded in the brain... Because deeply ingrained behaviors are to difficult to modify, homosexuals, like all people, have two choices: to capitulate to the behavior and its consequences or to depend on others, and on God, for help...Secular programs that modify homosexual behavior are more numerous and more effective than popular opinion is led to believe... Spiritual programs that lead people into dependency on God, and support them there, are even more effective. The best of these integrate into their spiritual approach the best that is offered by the secular approaches as well." (Pg. 245-246)

This is an excellent overview of recent research from an evangelical Christian perspective.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2013
While the book is dated, I found it refreshing to hear statistics on both sides of the argument. I appreciate the detail delivered and an author who is willing to say that unwanted same sex attraction does have options.
I wish there was a follow up to some of the current research which presents both sides without choosing to prove their own opinion.
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25 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 1999
I have read just about everything there is on the subject pro and con. After years of seeing both sides, from the inside out, Dr. Satinover is the first author that really knows what he's talking about. He pulls no punches, speaks from experience, is very familiar with the literature--and with all the stuff slung by both sides out of ignorance or political expediency. If you're an outsider looking in, read this book for a balanced, authoritative, serious overview. If you're an insider and ever wondered if it's possible to get out--read this book and understand how, why it's hard, and why you've been told and are telling yourself it's not.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2010
AS a social worker who has worked with countless children, youth, and families I can certainly tell you that their are far more dysfunctional aspects to the homosexual lifestyle and its impact on children than is being repored in the media. Homosexuality is not genetic as has been proven by countless twins studies that have shown otherwise.

This book is well researched by an expert in the field of medicine, psychiatrity , and years of working with many gays and lesbians...the charges of bigotry are unfounded and troubling. Moreover, what is more troubling is the political pressure being applied by gay activists groups throughout the world to have science and medical findings altered to suit their lifestyle. More people need to demand inquiry into this most important moral and political issue of our times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2015
Describes the generally Judeo-Christian viewpoint on homosexuality without condemnation or disrespect. Uses facts, science, and history to counter some of the popularly believed misinformation propagated by our very "PC" mass media. Explains the reliable science and research about homosexuality and why the religious views are what they are (you'll be surprised). If you can read this without letting your personal biases (either way) color your interpretation too much, you will find it very informative.
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