Introducing the ‘gay gene’: media and scientific representations

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From Public Understanding of Science 

There is an established link between genetics and male homosexuality, popularly dubbed the ‘gay gene’. This article examines the reporting of the ‘gay gene’ in the British press compared with scientific journals to illustrate the conflicts between science and the media, it attempts to suggest steps to improve the relationship to enable serious debate. Focusing on both homosexuality and science, it identifies not only the problem of representing science in the media, but also argues there is a need for a scientific understanding of the media and public to enable better public debate.

Abstract

In 1993 a paper in the prestigious scientific journal Science announced the discovery of a linkage between genetics and male homosexuality. The linkage was promptly dubbed the `gay gene’ by the media, and the paper was widely reported. This article examines the reporting of the `gay gene’ in the British press and television news, and compares it with commentary in scientific journals. The article focuses on the representation of homosexuality and the representation of science. It considers the charges levelled at the media by some critics and finds many of them wanting. Finally, it concludes with some comments about the public understanding of science and the need for the scientific understanding of the media and the public.

 

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Article details

Miller, D. (1995). Introducing the ‘gay gene’: media and scientific representations Public Understanding of Science, 4 (3), 269-284 DOI: 10.1088/0963-6625/4/3/005

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