If you’re GAYDAR is broken, well, there’s an app for that. No, we’re not talking about firing up a hook-up site to see if that guy across the room is a growling scruffy friend of Dorothy, but we’re talking a little more scientific-y.
Earlier this week, Futurism reported on the creation of an app called “How Gay Are You?” What does the app do? It claims to combine and analyze data from those commercial DNA tests that we love and trust and buy as birthday presents (including those from 23andMe and MyHeritage).
Can this happen? Will it happen? Well if Star Trek can predict flip phones and iPads and the Simpson’s can predict Trump running for president, what’s next? The app is based on questionable science that experts told Futurism amounted to “garbage,” an ethical disaster, and based on flawed, totally inaccurate science.
So do we download this app? Well the researchers who conducted the study that the app cites as its scientific underpinning, those researchers are urging that the app be taken down.
A dozen of the research scientists sent a letter to GenePlaza, the DNA-centered app store through which “How Gay Are You?” (sounds like it should be off exit 322 from the turnpike). In the letter, the scientists told GenePlaza that they were aware that their research was being used to bring credibility to the “How Gay Are You?” app, an app that claims to show an individual’s genetic score for same sex attraction. The dozen researchers then urged that the app be taken down immediately.
GenePlaza, the DNA-centered app store through which “How Gay Are You?” (sounds like it should be off exit 322 from the turnpike) is available for purchase.
I actually went to sign up to see if I could test the app out.
“The ‘score’ you are marketing through this app is a total misrepresentation of the conclusions of the work,” they wrote. “Our study indicated that individual-level prediction is impossible for same-sex sexual behavior. The promotion of this app and, in particular, the claims it makes are a gross and dangerous mischaracterization of the work.”
In response to the criticisms of the app, GenePlaza has added new disclaimers to make clear that the tool does not predict same-sex attraction. In addition, [Alain Coletta, the cofounder and CEO of GenePlaza] says that the company is currently in discussion about changing the name of the app to help better reflect the fact that the scores they generate simply indicate how users’ DNA compares to those who participated in the original study—and shouldn’t be considered a predisposition score. “It’s true that the title [of the app] is misleading in the sense that it says something but then the disclaimer says another thing,” Coletta says. – thescientist.com
Back in August, we covered the foundational study in Is Homosexuality Affected By Genetics? A New Study Says So! No, there is not a gay gene, but genes play one of the many roles in the complexity of scientific-y things that make us … us. But the scientists warned that their results couldn’t be and shouldn’t be used to predict a person’s sexuality based on their DNA, the simpler minds went forth and made an app to do just that.
How did the effort to diminish the credibility of the app go? from the screen shot below, you can see that the app is no longer present on GenePlaza.com
Was the app a good idea? Fun old-timey parlor trick? Or just an app that was just no good from the beginning? We all know how gay we are, but how many of us remember (or still use) HotorNot.com? We all search for public opinion and scientific proof to tell us how we are and how we should be.
But don’t forget, GenePlaza was not the creator of the app, just the webpage where you could buy it. It’s still out there somewhere.