By now you’ve probably heard the recent news that male bisexuality is in fact real, in stark contrast with a 2005 study by some of the same scientists that claimed just the opposite. Bloggers and news outlets have unleashed a torrent of witty headlines and snarky remarks about the research, such as CBSNews’ “Study says bisexuality real, but bisexuals say ‘duh.’” Even the Gray Lady herself, The New York Times, got in on the fun with its quip, “No Surprise for Bisexual Men: Report Indicates They Exist.”
Presumably the studies aren’t picking up on a real increase in bisexuality over the past six years, so what’s the deal here—why the sudden change of heart for the Northwestern University researchers?
Several MIT students have created quite a project for their class on “ethics and law on the electronic frontier” [ed note: Does no one take Modern British Poetry in college anymore?]. According to the Boston Globe:
Using data from the social network Facebook, they made a striking discovery: just by looking at a person’s online friends, they could predict whether the person was gay. They did this with a software program that looked at the gender and sexuality of a person’s friends and, using statistical analysis, made a prediction. The two students had no way of checking all of their predictions, but based on their own knowledge outside the Facebook world, their computer program appeared quite accurate for men, they said.
Even their professor, a computer scientist, was amazed. The project, which was done in 2007 and dubbed “gaydar” by the class, has yet to be published in a scientific journal. The data plugged into the program consisted of the friend links of 1,544 men who said they were straight, 21 who said they were bisexual, and 33 who said they were gay. According to the Globe:
Gay men had proportionally more gay friends than straight men, giving the computer program a way to infer a person’s sexuality based on their friends.
Other similar programs have been created to ferret out info like political affiliations. Granted, less germane perhaps than How these programs are created is the question, Why would we want them to be?
Reality Base: Charged With a Crime? Better Check Your Facebook Pictures
Discoblog: Desperate For Facebook Friends? Buy Some!
Discoblog: Stole a Piece of the Internets? Prepare to Be Arrested.
• “We didn’t pay 37 million zlotys [7.6 million pounds] for the largest elephant house in Europe to have a gay elephant live there” —Polish politician Michal Grzes.
• A chocolate inhaler now provides calorie-free indulgence in four flavors: raspberry, mint, mango, and plain. Inhaled mango-flavored chocolate powder? Really?
• What to do if you—oops!—swallow the Higgs boson.
• A divorced couple fights over frozen dog sperm.
• Watch a spider roll like an eight-spoked wheel.
• And, a humpback whale was spotted swimming under New York City’s Verrazano Bridge! Watch it surface here.