Saturday, September 20, 2008

One News Now distorts another study AND cites Paul Cameron

SC Gay Pride is over and it was a huge success. But more on that later.

As I sit here, an item from One News Now hit me:

A new study in the United Kingdom has revealed that homosexuals are about 50% more likely to suffer from depression and engage in substance abuse than the rest of the population, reports

After analyzing 25 earlier studies on sexual orientation and mental health, researchers, in a study published in the medical journal BMC Psychiatry, also found that the risk of suicide jumped over 200% if an individual had engaged in a homosexual lifestyle.

Warning signs went off in my head when I read this due to One News Now's penchant for distorting news items (which has been chronicled on many occasions on this site).

Warning sign 1: One News Now did not give the name of the study.

I found the study here. And the first paragraph says the following:

Homosexual and bisexual men and women may face higher risks of depression, substance abuse and suicidal behaviour than heterosexuals do, a new study suggests. The reason for this may lie in discrimination and rejection often associated with being homosexual or bisexual.

Warning sign 2: One News Now acknowledged what the study was saying about discrimination and reject and then tried to dismiss it:

While the Health 24 article suggested that homosexuals may be pushed to substance abuse and suicide because of anti-homosexual cultural and family pressures, empirical tests have shown that there is no difference in homosexual health risk depending on the level of tolerance in a particular environment. Homosexuals in the United States and Denmark - the latter of which is acknowledged to be highly tolerant of homosexuality - both die on average in their early 50's, or in their 40's if AIDS is the cause of death. The average age for all residents in either country ranges from the mid-to-upper-70s.

The first problem with this is the fact that One News Now claims that Denmark is "highly tolerant" of homosexuality without giving actual proof of the assertion. This is only to create a straw man argument that homophobia has nothing to do with gays engaging in negative behaviors.

But even if One News Now's assertion regarding Denmark is correct, the study talks about this factor too:

This study could not examine the reasons for the higher-than-expected rate of mental disorders and substance abuse. However, (Michael) King told Reuters Health, it is likely that lifelong stress is involved.

Even in relatively liberal societies, he said, gay, lesbian and bisexual people face both overt and subtle discrimination. They may also have to deal with social exclusion and rejection by their own families.

Warning sign 3: One News Now cites the work of discredited researcher Paul Cameron:

These findings strongly support the results of similar studies conducted in the United States, which have unveiled the severe physical and psychological health risks associated with homosexual behavior. Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron of the Family Research Institute revealed in 2007 that research shows that the lifespan of a homosexual is on average 24 years shorter than that of a heterosexual. As a health threat, even smoking pales in comparison, as studies show smoking can shorten one's life by only 1 to 7 years on average.

No, sorry. One News Now is telling a boldfaced lie. The study in question was actually conducted in the early 1990s. In addition, the study is indicative of why Cameron has been discredited, censured, and mocked by so many legitimate physicians, researchers, and other folks (this blogger included. )

Let's go into more detail regarding Cameron's study:

What he did was count obituaries in various gay community publications and claimed to be able to use them to calculate the average life expectancy for homosexuals.

The conclusion – that homosexual men and women have a shorter life span than heterosexual men and women – provides a textbook example of the perils of using data from a convenience sample to generalize to an entire population.

Most city newspapers include a section containing death notices for community residents. These notices – which can carry a small fee for printing – typically list the name, age, address, and survivors of the deceased, along with information about funeral or memorial services. Funeral directors often assist the loved ones of the deceased in submitting such notices.

Gay community newspapers do not have sections of death notices. When the AIDS epidemic began to claim the lives of so many gay and bisexual men in the 1980s, however, many gay newspapers began to print obituaries. Except in the case of prominent community figures, these obituaries are typically written by (or based on information from) the loved ones of the deceased.

Assuming that the deceased person wasn't famous, an obituary appears in a gay community newspaper only if (1) a loved one or friend notifies the newspaper about the death (and, in many cases, writes the obituary) and (2) the editor decides to print the obituary.

Consequently, many gay men and lesbians who die never have an obituary in a gay community publication. Here are just a few examples of who is left out of gay newspapers' obituaries.

gay men and lesbians who were not involved in the gay community

gay men and lesbians who were in the closet about their sexual orientation

gay men and lesbians whose loved ones or family didn't want their homosexuality to be known

gay men and lesbians whose loved ones or family simply didn't think of sending an obituary to a gay community newspaper

gay men and lesbians whose loved ones did not write an obituary for some other reason (e.g., they were too grief stricken)

gay men and lesbians who died without leaving anyone to write an obituary for a gay publication (e.g., those whose loved ones and relatives died before them).

An accurate estimate of the life span of gay men and lesbians would have to count such people. By restricting their analysis to obituaries in gay newspapers, however, the Cameron group systematically excluded them from the sample.

In later years, Cameron tacked on more data but the general reasonings as to why his study has been discredited remain unchanged.

Frankly, I am surprised that One News Now would have the nerve to cite Cameron. Maybe the phony news service thought that no one would be paying attention.

For more details about Cameron's lies, go here or here.

Or if you don't feel so inclined, allow me to give you a partial timeline of the man that One News Now feels is an expert on gay issues. This is taken from the timeline of my Anti-Gay Lies and Liars blog:

1982 - He invented a story about a child being mutilated in the bathroom by a gay man in Nebraska. When the police investigated and found the story to be false, he admitted to making it up.

1983 - He was kicked out the American Psychological Association after an investigation that he distorted the work of six researchers to prove negative theories about gay men.

1984 - A. Nicholas Groth, director of the Sex Offender Program at the Connecticut Department of Corrections, complained to the Nebraska Board of Examiners of Psychologists about Paul Cameron’s usage of his work to make the claim that gays molest children at a high rate.

1985 - The Midwest Sociological Society censures Paul Cameron. Also, the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems both pass resolutions against him.

What does it say about One News Now as a supposed Christian news service to cite a discredited researcher?

What does it say about One News Now as a supposed Christian news service to use a study against gays while at the same time discarding the part of the study that does not fit their stereotype of gays?

The sad thing is that what this phony news service did most likely contributes to more gays feeling isolated and abused which will most likely lead to more negative behaviors.

And when that happens, there will be studies to say so. And when this happens, One News Now will be there to distort the studies.

I think we are getting in a rut here.


Dale said...

I see that OneNewsNow merely ran LifeSite's article about the Health24 study. Do these right-wing Christian news sites often copy each other's stories?

MgS said...

Do these right-wing Christian news sites often copy each other's stories?


Lifesite is based out of Canada - essentially the mouth organ for Campaign Life Coalition.

Of course, that just tells you that the Canada has it's very own collection of insane wingnuts.

Scott said...

"homosexuals are about 50% more likely to suffer from depression and engage in substance abuse than the rest of the population"

Even if this were true, the people crowing these statistics are the ones responsible for it in the first place.

A so-called "christian" who would boast these statistics are no different than some school bully grabbing you by the wrist, hitting you in the face with your own hand, and then asking "why did you hit yourself?".