5.0 out of 5 stars A Milestone in the Battle against Ignorance and Homophobia
This book finally and unequivocally puts to rest the notion that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is somehow "unnatural".
The first half is a very interesting read, which throws a stark spotlight on how homophobic attitudes within academia and the scientific community contributed to extraordinary distortions of science. Ultimately, the scientific method...
Published on Dec 3 2002 by Arturo888
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary of Data, but some questionable analysis
It was a very comprehensive listing and explanation of the various form of homosexuality, transgender, etc found in nature, though it entirely concentrated on birds and mammals. it also deals very, very well with biases, both intentional and unintentional in biological analysis and data gathering on the subject.
however, in one section, the author deals with all the...
Published on Sept. 29 2003 by Henry C. Astley
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary of Data, but some questionable analysis,
This review is from: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (Paperback)It was a very comprehensive listing and explanation of the various form of homosexuality, transgender, etc found in nature, though it entirely concentrated on birds and mammals. it also deals very, very well with biases, both intentional and unintentional in biological analysis and data gathering on the subject.
however, in one section, the author deals with all the many proposed 'causes' of homosexuality in nature, refuting them with examples of individual discrepancies, but then asserting that all are thus totally flawed, and there is no reason. Surely he should have realized that you cannot expect a single universal purpose across even the modest diversity of birds and mammals. I analogize it to expecting a single purpose of forelimbs. We see many applications and variations (hands, flippers, wings) and even total limblessnes, yet we do not assert them to be purposeless because one purpose cannot cover them all. It would have been far more logical to posit that homsexuality, or sexual plasticity, evolved at some point, and nature has since altered it in every species it is incorporated into, so that it's purpose in one species might be opposite that of another, or it might have no current purpose, simply tagging along as a neutral trait that offers neither benefit nor penalty until the species reaches a point where selection acts on it. I also feel that further investigation into homosexuality etc in "lower" organisms which are more instinct-driven would have added some valuable insight into this, and cannot help but wonder at their ommission.
the last section, however, was thoroughly disappointing. incorporating myths of anciet tribes as a source of knowledge (when we know they're wrong more often than not), extoling the virtues of these tribes in natural resource management (when we know they're responsible for the death of much of the pleistocene megafauna, and can watch species disappear in the fossil record the moment human fossils appear in a location), adding in Gaia theory (which can be falsified with even cursory examination of paleoecology), and an obscure philosophy about exuberance (which offers no qunatative analysis to support it), he concocts an awkward theoretical explanation which seems to be mostly a hasty addition in the need for some sort of conclusion.
4.0 out of 5 stars Secondary Research Brings Traditional Values into Question,
This review is from: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (Paperback)The largest payoff for "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity" is its author's thorough research through published materials to gather observations of homosexuality in the animal kingdom. It has been traditional for biological field observers to place any such information in footnotes or appendices, maybe with a joking, slighting reference. A result of this, in combination with pressure from Family Values pressure groups, is a complete absence of the mention of animal homosexuality in standard biology textbooks. Bagemihl's compilation of others' research empowers exploration of alternative views.
The author presents various attempts at explaining the causes and uses of homosexuality. As science moves along, these themes will get more detailed attention and explanation.
For me, the transforming lesson runs like this. Everywhere scientists look there is evidence of homosexual behavior in primates, other mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, and insects. Occam's Razor (I.e., the simplest solution is the best one.) suggests that when they differentiated themselves from the rest of animals over 400 million years ago, vertibrates and insects were designed to allow a minority of individuals to display some homosexual behavior. Despite ongoing evolution and the mass extinctions at the end of the Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous, and other periods, the occasional homosexual proclivities of these species was not eradicated. This says to me that homosexuality is a part of Original Design and has been reaffirmed by its survival from crises that obliterated many species. The true religious view is that homosexuality is a part of creation that God wants and loves, for whatever reason.
Human civilization is quite recent. Abrahamic religion is two- to three-thousand years old and has been molded partially into the role of supporting the secular culture, which is centered on child-rearing, property ownership and inheritance, and on cultural precepts of majority rule and nobody is above the law. Homosexuals do not fit easily into the mainstream secular paradigm, as it is glorified and reinforced by organized religion.
If one takes this view, it becomes logical to say that criticisms of homosexuals as unnatural or against God's intent are blasphemies against God and His Creation. Pronouncements that homosexuality is to be punished because it is against God's will are takings of the Lord's name in vain. People who rely on the winks or preachings of religious leaders to excuse violence against or stealings from homosexuals may be in for a surprise when they arrive at the Pearly Gates.
In sum, "Biological Exuberance" provides a useful counterweight to traditional biological research, standard textbooks, and rote religious attacks on homosexuality. This book is not a special pleading but an objective gathering of information from sources who had no intention of helping the cause of homosexuals. The book may trigger some rethinking of the legitimacy of homosexuality in the world.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Milestone in the Battle against Ignorance and Homophobia,
This review is from: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (Paperback)This book finally and unequivocally puts to rest the notion that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is somehow "unnatural".
The first half is a very interesting read, which throws a stark spotlight on how homophobic attitudes within academia and the scientific community contributed to extraordinary distortions of science. Ultimately, the scientific method is a one of humanity's most powerful tools for seeking truth. However, the observation of phenomena, which is the cornerstone of the scientific method, is obviously vulnerable to the subjective views and biases of the observer. Baghemil exposes how this vulnerability contributed to 150 years of distortion, obfuscation, and misinterpretation in biology and zoology.
The first half of the book is very engaging, but the second half of the book, The Wondrous Bestiary, is the real gem that you keep going back to again and again and want to read out loud from to friends and family. In this section, Baghemil profiles the sexuality of more than a hundred different species ranging from the Mute Swan to the Bottlenosed Dolphin. My favorite is the description of the "necking" behavior of Giraffes, which, it turns out, is a sexual/affectionate activity exclusive to MALE Giraffes. Think about that next time you see a photo of one Giraffe wrapping its neck around anothers.
Finally, I believe that this book should be required reading for every religious person who harbors homophobic views or who has accepted the distorted interpretations of scripture that have been used to justify persecution of individuals with variant sexualities for hundreds of years. As a person of faith and an environmentalist, I think there is no more elegant a statement of the fact that gay people are an instrinsic facet of the beautiful mosaic that is Creation than the incredible diversity of species that are profiled in this book. I highly recommend it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book!,
This review is from: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (Paperback)Now, this is a book that definitly can not be read in one sittiing! But it is filled with information about nature and animal sexuality. Most of which, has been hidden. ...the next time someone says homosexuality does not happen in nature, point them to this book!
4.0 out of 5 stars At 800 pages, it exceeds my interest, but good,
This review is from: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (Paperback)As a straight person, I guess I only have so much interest in the animal homosexual behavior - and this book exceeds it. It is 800 pages and I really didn't finish all of it. But, I have some amount of interest as I at least used to hear Christians claim that homosexuality is "unnatural" which this books seems to show fairly convincingly otherwise.
I enjoyed the chapters discussing possible reasons for the existence of homosexuality. The author agrees that it doesn't serve any obvious purpose. However, he discusses a few possible theories. One theory about at least one species of bird is that male pairs do better at gathering food and protecting territory. So, a male pair, so long as at least one of the males engages in some heterosexual activity to produce an offspring, could have some evolutionary advantage. But the author admits the evidence for this or other theories is scant at best. The conclusion seems to be that much sexual behavior, in animals and people, serves no obvious purpose - it just is.
So, if you have some interest in the subject, I'm sure you'll like it. But if your interest is only moderate, it may be too much.
4.0 out of 5 stars A wealth of information,
This review is from: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (Paperback)I first saw this book being discussed on television. Then I bought a copy for a friend's birthday gift.
I've now read through some of the book, and it is amazing how much information is in this book. It full of "did you know" information.
It's not a book you'd read cover-to-cover, but instead you might pick through it, sharing information and laughs as you go.
5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating,
This review is from: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (Paperback)Next time people say something like "Homosexuality does not occure in nature, it is merely a lifestyle choice" you can point them to this book.
Backed by years of reasearch it points to numerous examples including ones as dramatic as Male Swans pairing for life AND adopting chicks to raise. Other interesting subjects are homsexual pair-bonds among species that do NOT usually form pair bonds. However one of the most facinating aspects are how other researcers or scientists will explain away the behavior, misreport it or even leave it out altogether. A Must for anybodys collection.
5.0 out of 5 stars A scientific look at animal behavior and physiology,
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly important, foundational study.,
5.0 out of 5 stars I agree: this book will outlive us all!,
However, the book succeeds BRILLIANTLY at presenting the sexual landscape from which we emerged. We are mammals, you and I. We are primates, or at least evolved from primates. And it is now absolutely clear that we evolved from other creatures who had all kinds of exuberant sexuality in their lives. The phony old model of animal "husband-and-wife" entering Noah's Ark is demolished forever.
A wonderful book!
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Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl (Paperback - April 10 2000)
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