Alfred Kinsey

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Alfred Kinsey

Alfred Charles Kinsey PhD (June 23, 1894August 25, 1956) was a sexologist, entomologist and zoologist who founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University at Bloomington (now called the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction).


  • The history of medicine proves that in so far as man seeks to know himself and face his whole nature, he has become free from bewildered fear, despondent shame, or arrant hypocrisy. As long as sex is dealt with in the current confusion of ignorance and sophistication, denial and indulgence, suppression and stimulation, punishment and exploitation, secrecy and display, it will be associated with a duplicity and indecency that lead neither to intellectual honesty nor human dignity.
  • Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories. Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon-holes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning human sexual behavior, the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex.
  • The very general occurrence of the homosexual in ancient Greece, and its wide occurrence today in some cultures in which such activity is not taboo suggests that the capacity of an individual to respond erotically to any sort of stimulus, whether it is provided by another person of the same or opposite sex, is basic in the species.
  • Some scientists hesitate to continue in a given field of research as soon as its application becomes apparent. This refusal to apply knowledge when it exists seems to us, however, to be as unrealistic as the attempt to apply knowledge before it exists. (page 8)
  • With the right of the scientist to investigate most aspects of the material universe, most persons will agree; but there are some who have questioned the applicability of scientific methods to an investigation of human sexual behavior....It is as though the dietician and biochemist were denied the right to analyze foods and the processes of nutrition, because the cooking and proper serving of food may be rated a fine art, and because the eating of certain foods has been considered a matter for religious regulation. (page 8).
  • There is an honesty in science which demands that the best means be used for the determination of truth. Certainly there are many sorts of truth in the universe, and many aspects of truth must be taken into account if man is to live most effectively in the social organization to which he belongs. But in regard to matter---the stuff of which both non-living materials and living organisms are made---scientists believe that there is no better way of obtaining information than that provided by human sense organs. No theory, no philosophy, no body of theology, no political expediency, no wishful thinking, can provide a satisfactory substitute for the observation of material objects and of the way in which they behave. (page 9).
  • There is an honesty in science which leads to a certain acceptance of reality. There are some who, finding the ocean an impediment to the pursuit of their designs, try to ignore its existence. If they are unable to ignore it because of its size, they try to legislate it out of existence, or try to dry it up with a sponge. They insist that the latter operation would be possible if enough sponges were available, and if enough persons would wield them. There is no ocean of greater magnitude than the sexual function, and there are those who believe that we would do better if we ignored its existence, that we should not try to understand its material origins, and that if we sufficiently ignore it and mop at the flood of sexual activity with new laws, heavier penalties, more pronouncements, and greater intolerances, we may ultimately eliminate the reality. (page 10).
  • It cannot be too frequently emphasized that the behavior of any animal must depend upon on the nature of the stimulus which it meets, its anatomic and physiologic capacities, and its background of previous experience. Unless it has been conditioned by previous experience, an animal should respond identically to identical stimuli, whether they emanate from some part of its own body, from another individual of the same sex, or from an individual of the opposite sex.
  • The inherent physiologic capacity of an animal to respond to any sufficient stimulus seems, then, the basic explanation of the fact that some individuals respond to stimuli originating in other individuals of their own sex-and it appears to indicate that every individual could so respond if the opportunity offered and one were not conditioned against making such responses. There is no need of hypothesizing peculiar hormonal factors that make certain individuals especially liable to engage in homosexual activity, and we know of no data which prove the existence of hormonal factors (p. 758). There are no sufficient data to show that specific hereditary factors are involved. Theories of childhood attachments to one or the other parent, theories of fixation at some infantile level of sexual development, interpretations of homosexuality as neurotic or psychopathic behavior or moral degeneracy, and other philosophic interpretations are not supported by scientific research, and are contrary to the specific data on our series of female and male histories.
  • The impression that infra-human mammals more or less confine themselves to heterosexual activities is a distortion of the fact which appears to have originated in a man-made philosophy, rather than in specific observations of mammalian behavior. Biologists and psychologists who have accepted the doctrine that the only natural function of sex is reproduction, have simply ignored the existence of sexual activity which is not reproductive. They have assumed that heterosexual responses are a part of an animal's innate, "instinctive" equipment, and that all other types of sexual activity represent "perversions" of the "normal instincts". Such interpretations are, however, mystical. They do not originate in our knowledge of the physiology of sexual response (Chapter 15), and can be maintained only if one assumes that sexual function is in some fashion divorced from the physiologic processes which control other functions of the animal body.
  • The mammalian record thus confirms our statement that any animal which is not too strongly conditioned by some special sort of experience is capable of responding to any adequate stimulus. This is what we find in the more uninhibited segments of our human species, and this is what we find among young children who are not too rigorously restrained in their early sex play. Exclusive preferences and patterns of behavior, heterosexual or homosexual, come only with experience, or as a result of social pressures which tend to force an individual into an exclusive pattern of one or the other sort. Psychologists and psychiatrists, reflecting the mores of the culture in which they have been raised, have spent a good deal of time trying explain the origins of homosexual activity; but considering the physiology of sexual response and the mammalian backgrounds of human behavior, it is not so difficult to explain why a human animal does a particular thing sexually. It is more difficult to explain why each and every individual is not involved in every type of sexual activity.

Abortion in the United States, Report of a Conference Sponsored by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., (1958)

  • At the risk of being repetitious, I would remind the group that we have found the highest frequency of induced abortion in the group which, in general, most frequently uses contraceptives.


See also



  1. Abortion in the United States, Report of a Conference Sponsored by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., at Arden House and The New York Academy of Medicine, (1958), Mary Calderone, M.D., editor, Hoeber-Harper, New York, ch. 8, Abortion and Contraception, p. 157. [1]