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Alfred Kinsey

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Alfred Kinsey
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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.
—Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male (1948)[1]

Alfred Charles Kinsey (1894–1956) was an American biologist and sexologist. He was brought up by strict conservative Christian parents, but rose above that limitation to use his mind anyway. In adult life he decided to study the realities of sexual practice and culture, with the aim of de-mystifying the whole shebang. He succeeded admirably and in doing so brought the wrath of the conservatives down upon himself, because conservative Christians do not like people who do their own thinking — and especially despise those who produce actual science that refutes long held, but completely unsupported traditions.

He is perhaps most famous for the Kinsey Reports. It was published in two volumes, the first being Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) followed by Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953). James H. Jones writes in his Pulitzer Prize nominated biography of Kinsey[2] that some of the data in Kinsey's research came from “a predatory pedophile. Over the course of his long career as a child molester [a man known as Mr. X] masturbated infants, penetrated children, and performed a variety of other sexual acts on preadolescent boys and girls alike. Betraying a huge moral blind spot, Kinsey took the records of Mr. X’s criminal acts and transformed them into scientific data."[2]:1253 Data on child molestation was in fact included in the Kinsey report on men. Furthermore, Jones also reports Kinsey had a "benign view" of pedophilia, with a colleague reporting "[Kinsey] would always tell us [...]that pedophilia wasn’t as black as it was painted, that it could be, under proper circumstances, beneficial or something like that”.[2]:1257-1258

He also created the Kinsey scale, a broad measure for defining sexual orientation, and founded the Kinsey Institute (originally known as the Institute for Sex Research) at Indiana University. The Institute operated independently from 1947 until 2016 when it merged into the University of Indiana. Unsurprisingly, the Republican supermajority in Indiana attacked the Institute in 2023, withdrawing all state funding.[3] What is surprising is why it took long, Republicans have had a supermajority in Indiana since 2010.[4] Did they have their heads in the sand? Answer: Yes (the legislation was based on conspiracy theories).[3]

Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was also bisexual.

In 2011, then-U.S. Republican Presidential Nominee Candidate Michele Bachmann claimed that the Kinsey Reports were "myth" and had been for a long time,[5] unlike other books she mentioned being a big fan of.

In popular culture[edit]

The Kinsey Sicks are a drag a capella troupe, named in his honor.[6]

He was portrayed by Liam Neeson in the 2004 biopic Kinsey.

See also[edit]


  1. "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male", American Journal of Public Health. 2003 June; 93(6): 894–898. PMCID: PMC1447861
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 James H. Jones, Alfred C. Kinsey: A Life. New York, WW Norton & Company, 2004, ISBN 0393327248.
  3. 3.0 3.1 In Indiana, the culture wars aim at Kinsey — the heart of sex research by Justin R. Garcia (May 10, 2023 at 7:45 a.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  4. Indiana Republicans maintain supermajorities in state House, Senate (November 9, 2022) WFYI.
  6. The Kinsey Sicks