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A new, massive study suggests five genes are weakly associated with self-reported same-sex encounters. But the results, released Aug. 30 by a group that included the Broad Institute and 23andMe, are underwhelming. The genes predicted less than 1 percent of people’s behavior. The researchers struggled at a news conference to tell reporters what the take home message was. We can assume that 23andMe won’t be offering a “gay gene” test any time soon.

But the result still has meaning, seen in the context of history. It’s the latest chapter in a scientific quest that got woven into a massive cultural shift. Science sometimes led, and sometimes followed.

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