I know this article should be a continuation of our telecom case study on customer segmentation and cluster analysis. Though it’s not intended, but possibly is apt that the articles on cluster analysis are separated by articles on other topics – forming them into perfect clusters. Last time, we had the article ‘Murder Cases, Evidence and Logical Rigor’ squeezed between part 1 and 2 of series on cluster analysis. In that article, we have discussed a few aspects of Bayesian logic in the context of a murder case. This time, let’s continue with the addendum for the same topic.
In this article, we will discuss two of the breaking news stories from the recent few weeks
1) Royal pardon to Alan Turing
2) Article 377 – revival of a 150-year-old law against homosexuality terming it unnatural
This article will continue on our theme of evidence and logical rigor. Though this has nothing to do with murder cases, instead some would call it a murder of personal choices and freedom.
Alan Mathison Turing
Let us start with Alan Mathison Turing, the man who allegedly overturned the outcome of the World War II through his skills in cryptography and code breaking. Imagine the Nazis winning the war. If Turning was not the only reason that the ‘Allied Forces’ won the war, he had certainly reduced the duration of the war by at least a couple of years and in turn saved millions of innocent lives. If that is not enough for Turing’s credentials, he is also widely considered as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
It would be fun to explore the mathematical exploits of Alan Turning such as the Turing machine, the Turing test and deciphering codes of the Enigma machine. However, I will keep them for some later articles. In this article, we will continue with the reason why he was prosecuted by the British law and eventual died prematurely. Alan Turing was a homosexual and he revealed this to a policeman while reporting a case of burglary at his residence in 1952. Homosexuality was illegal in Britain in those days and he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’. He pleaded guilty in front of the law though he had no remorse over his sexual preference. As a punishment, he chose a treatment that involved chemical castration to cure homosexuality over imprisonment. He had started developing breast because of hormonal imbalance caused by this treatment. He lost his job and work that he loved dearly of designing next generation computers. Eventually, he was found dead in 1954 at the age of 41; the investigators alleged suicide as the cause of death. However, the shoddy nature of investigation left both accidental consumption of cyanide and murder as possible reasons for Turing’s death. Conspiracy theorists believe murder is a possibility since he knew way too many secrets while working as a cryptographer during the World War for the government.
Turing was granted a royal pardon for his crime of ‘gross indecency’ by the Queen on 23rd December 2013. However, from the tone of the pardon, it never seemed that the British government has acknowledged that there was anything wrong in the law against homosexuality. Let us move on to the second breaking news just a couple of weeks before this event.
Article 377 – A 150-year-old law
On 11th December 2013, the Indian Supreme Court, the highest court of justice in the country, upheld a 150-year-old law against homosexuality terming it unnatural. Incidentally, this law was created under the British Raj in India. Apart from homosexuality, the British laws seem to be another common link in these two breaking news stories.
The biggest argument against homosexuality is that it is unnatural. I believe there is a need to logically test this argument. In the next segment, that is exactly what I am going to do.
Homosexuality is unnatural
In order to test the above argument, let us start with agreeing with the above statement and set the null hypothesis i.e.
H0: Homosexuality is unnatural
We will challenge this null hypothesis through an alternative hypothesis. The challenge will be completely on the basis evidence and facts. The alternative hypothesis is
H1: Homosexuality is not unnatural
Note that H0 and H1 are mutually exclusive and only one of them can hold true. The first thing to test this hypothesis is to define nature. In general, this is similar to defining the complete population set for which hypotheses are tested. Then we will test for presence or absence of homosexuality in this population through evidence. The population, in this case, is the set of creatures that practice sexual reproduction. Now let us move to the evidence biological science offers.
There is concrete evidence of homosexuality or bisexuality in groups of species as diverse as birds, insects, fishes, reptiles, amphibian, etc. Closer to home several mammals including lions, elephants, monkeys, and chimpanzees display homosexuality. In fact, there is evidence of more than 1500 different species having a tendency for homosexuality. This evidence is good enough to reject the null hypothesis that homosexuality is unnatural. Some people may have a religious belief against homosexuality or some other kind of homophobia but to term it unnatural is completely wrong and illogical.
In fact, nature is completely freaky. Earthworms, for instance, are hermaphrodites i.e. a single earthworm has both male and female sexual organs. If you have seen the movie “Finding Nemo” where Nemo and his father are clownfish, you may be surprised to know that clownfish are all born male and when two males mate with each other, one of them becomes female! So what is your definition of unnatural?
I guess only think about Alan Turing that was unnatural was his intellect for mathematical and logical thinking. He was a complete outlier and much ahead of his time when it came to logic. It is only apt that Barack Obama described him along with Newton and Darwin as the greatest British scientists.
We will continue our discussion on customer segmentation and cluster analysis in the next article.
I must thank my wife for her contribution to this article. The last bit about hermaphrodites and Nemo was her idea. I really admire her being a biologist, through her I get to learn so many wonderful things about nature!