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Is There a Point to Conducting Polls About Whether or not Sexual Orientation is Chosen?

Companies like Gallup do surveys all the time on a wide range of issues: Who do you intend to vote for in the next election? What issue are you most worried about? Do you approve of the job George Bush is doing as president? Are you in favor of higher taxes? While we’ve expressed skepticism about the answers people might give to such questions, I can understand the value of survey questions like this and the information they generate.

On the other hand, asking people whether they think sexual orientation is a matter of choice seems like a different matter. (The answer, by the way, is that the majority of Americans now think that homosexuals cannot change their sexual orientation; this did not used to be the case.) Such a poll seems more a question of science than opinion. See, for instance, our New York Times column discussing the research of economist Andy Francis.

Should I care what Americans think about this? Maybe it is an indirect reflection of general views on homosexuality and its acceptability. But if that is the point, why not ask questions that tackle that issue more directly?