A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation is a 1996 book about the development of sexual orientation by journalist Chandler Burr. The book received a mixture of praise and criticism from reviewers.
Expanding on his 1993 Atlantic article "Homosexuality and Biology", Burr discussed the work of researchers such as Simon LeVay, Laura A. Allen, Roger Gorski, and Dean Hamer, and compared the clinical profiles of sexual orientation and handedness, arguing that the best analogy for homosexuality is left-handedness.
Burr described the different views that researchers have expressed of sexual orientation, observing that while some believe that sexual orientations are distributed across a population in a way that could be mapped onto a bell curve between poles of heterosexuality and homosexuality, with most people having some measure of bisexuality, others believe that sexual orientation is bimodally distributed, with most people being either heterosexual or homosexual and few being bisexual. Some researchers, including an anonymous colleague of Hamer who would not let Burr identify him, think that erotic interests divide neatly into sex-specific types. Burr also discussed the various ways in which same-sex behavior among animals is and is not similar to human homosexuality.
In his account of LeVay's research, Burr wrote that LeVay's 1991 neuroanatomical report was the first major biological investigation of sexual orientation. Burr described some of the limitations of LeVay's study. Neurobiologist and psychiatrist William Byne, as Burr noted, pointed out that testosterone effects, medications being used by subjects with AIDS, and disease effects may have had an effect on the comparative size of INAH 3 (the area of the brain LeVay studied), and that measuring these tiny cell groups is difficult. Regarding attempts to change people's sexual orientations through therapy, Burr cited Byne's view that the literature on the subject shows that very few people have been able to successfully achieve such change, and that sexual orientation is largely immutable. Burr mentioned the concern of some commentators that current sexual orientation research has the potential to reinvigorate pathological interpretations of homosexuality. He quoted biologist Richard Lewontin's assertion that researchers need to show why the origins of homosexuality is an important question, and described the views of clinical geneticist Philip Reilly, who believes that women should have the right to abort a fetus predisposed to become gay.
A Separate Creation was reviewed by Ray Olson in Booklist, philosopher Michael Ruse in The Times Literary Supplement, Genevieve Stuttaford in Publishers Weekly, physician Lawrence D. Mass in Lambda Book Report, Gail Vines in New Scientist, Stephen H. Miller in the New York Native, historian Roy Porter in The New York Times Book Review, author Jonathan Kirsch in the Los Angeles Times, and Jon Turney in the Times Higher Education Supplement. Porter suggested that researchers into sexual orientation have made exaggerated claims based on limited and sometimes flawed evidence, and called Burr's book "dispiriting ... for what it reveals about the state of science." Mass considered Burr a "gay-positive essentialist" and A Separate Creation "a valuable historical document with personal and dramatic moments", comparable to journalist Randy Shilts' And the Band Played On (1987). Kirsch called A Separate Creation a "mostly successful" effort to explain the findings of genetic research.
Philosopher Timothy F. Murphy wrote that Burr is incorrect in claiming that LeVay's 1991 neuroanatomical report on the hypothalamus was the first major biological investigation of sexual orientation, as scientific study of its determinants dates to the 19th century and many investigations of the possible biological basis of homosexuality preceded LeVay's work. Philosopher Edward Stein, writing in The Mismeasure of Desire (1999), considered Burr "unsophisticated" for failing to discuss social constructionist views and uncritically accepting claims about the factors that cause homosexuality in fruit flies, including the discovery of a single gene that supposedly controls courtship behavior between male flies. Stein maintained that such animal research commits the fallacy of anthropomorphism and is irrelevant to understanding sexual orientation in humans.
Feminist Germaine Greer praised A Separate Creation. Professor of Biology Marlene Zuk described Separate Creation as an, "Excellent discussion of the various findings about the biological basis of sexual orientation." Retired Psychology Professor Louis A. Berman described Burr's evaluation of the biological evidence as optimistic. Berman, who believes that writers supportive of gay rights have ignored professional literature dealing with efforts to change sexual orientation, noted in this connexion that though Burr conducted a two-hour interview with psychoanalyst Charles Socarides, Burr does not mention this either in "Homosexuality and Biology" or in A Separate Creation.