Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fall out from yesterday's blog on San Francisco Chronicle and Paul Cameron

Yesterday, I wrote about how the San Francisco Chronicle cited Paul Cameron in its article about gay adoption. The article omitted his dubious history of rebukes and censures.

Several blogs, including Americablog, picked up the story.

And today, the error has been corrected:

CLARIFICATION: In an article about San Francisco's campaign to get more gays and lesbians to adopt foster children - as well as an opposing evangelical campaign to get more Christian families to adopt -- the Chronicle quoted Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute. The article should have noted that Cameron, who believes gays make unfit parents and self-published dozens of articles he said were based on his research, was expelled from the American Psychological Association in 1983 when he refused to subject his work to peer review. The article also should have reported that his Family Research Institute was named a hate group in 2006 by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Of course that makes me happy for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is that it establishes the presence of a "watchdog" system of blogs that will spot and expose anti-gay industry distortions.

This is how you win a war; by being assertive.

In that spirit, I want to add more to the story of how Cameron's information can slip through and be thought of as credible. I talk about the following in my book and I know that the Southern Poverty Law Center made mention of it.

The following passage is from my upcoming book:

In July 2005, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter asked that the national Health and Human Services look at a certain web site because it allegedly showed inaccurate information about homosexuality and contraception.

The web site, 4parents.gov, received information from an organization called the National Physicians Center for Family Resources. The chairman of the National Physicians Center for Family Resources board, John Whiffen, said the organization was correct regarding what it had printed about homosexuality.

He said:

“It’s fairly well-accepted that smoking is not a good idea. It takes seven years off of your life. It appears that male homosexuality takes more than that off your life.”—Specter seeks review of teen health site, Washington Blade, July 29, 2005

So why is this significant? Because of this passage:

In May 2005, Cameron announced the completion of another study that supposedly proved that homosexuality is more dangerous than cigarette smoking and being overweight.

What he did was take over 10,000 obituaries from the gay newspaper the Washington Blade and compare them to a CDC report entitled AIDS Cases in Adolescents and Adults, by Age—United States, 1994-2000.

He claimed that this supported his gay life span study. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said otherwise.

Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC’s National
Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, said Cameron uses bad methodology.

He also said:

“[The CDC] does not collect statistics on the life span of gay men. While gay men continue to be severely impacted by HIV and AIDS, AIDS-related death data cannot be used to indicate that homosexual men live shorter lives than heterosexual men overall.”

Now is it really fair to claim that Mr. Whiffen and his group received their information from Cameron? His name was not mentioned.

I think that it is fair. It is too much of a coincidence that Cameron would come out with a certain study and Mr. Whiffen just happens to make references to the findings of the study almost two months later.

If Mr. Whiffen and his group was citing Cameron, it would mean that the national Health and Human Services used information by a group that thinks Cameron, despite his infamous history, is legitimate.

That is scary.