Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Defender of anti-gay parenting study makes HUGE error

Professor Christian Smith makes sad defense of flawed study.
You simply have to hand it to the folks attempting to defend Mark Regnerus' flawed study on gay parenting.

Not necessarily for truth, mind you, but for chutzpah. Regardless of how many times the study has been called out for its faults, these folks continue to hang in there in their attempts to defend it.

But in doing so, they cause more criticism to rain down on it.

Christian Smith, professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Center for Social Research at the University of Notre Dame, recently wrote a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education defending Regnerus' work.

In the article, An Academic Auto-da-Fé, Smith claims that Regnerus and his work are being unjustly attacked by progressives:

Whoever said inquisitions and witch hunts were things of the past? A big one is going on now. The sociologist Mark Regnerus, at the University of Texas at Austin, is being smeared in the media and subjected to an inquiry by his university over allegations of scientific misconduct.

Regnerus's offense? His article in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research reported that adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships, including same-sex couples as parents, have more emotional and social problems than do adult children of heterosexual parents with intact marriages. That's it. Regnerus published ideologically unpopular research results on the contentious matter of same-sex relationships. And now he is being made to pay.

In today's political climate, and particularly in the discipline of sociology—dominated as it is by a progressive orthodoxy—what Regnerus did is unacceptable. It makes him a heretic, a traitor—and so he must be thrown under the bus.

. . . Regnerus has been attacked by sociologists all around the country, including some from his own department. He has been vilified by journalists who obviously (based on what they write) understand little about social-science research. And the journal in which Regnerus published his article has been the target of a pressure campaign.

It's an interesting piece with two flaws - one relatively minor and one which can be seen as major.

In his piece, Smith did not disclose that he was one of 18 professors who defended the study for “help[ing] to inform the ongoing scholarly and public conversation about same-sex families in America.”

The site Equality Matters points out how this group has no credibility when it comes to defending Regnerus' study.

Now some could argue that Smith's lack of candor is an irrelevant point. However, the next flaw in Smith's defense of Regnerus' study cannot be argued as the same.

In his zeal to make Regnerus seem like Joan of Arc tied to the stake and paint progressives (and the gay community) as the rabid villagers with torches in hand, Smith neglected to address the reasons why folks have been criticizing Regnerus' study.

That's right. Not once did Smith refute any of the points made about the flaws in Regnerus work. Not once did he address the legitimate problems that critics of the study had, including:

1. The Study Doesn’t Compare Married Gay Parents To Married Heterosexual Parents.

2. The Author Admits The Study Doesn’t Establish Causation Between Same-Sex Parenting And Negative Outcomes.

3. The Study Arbitrarily Ignores Overlaps In Its Subpopulations.

4. The Study Doesn’t Accurately Define Gay And Lesbian Parents.

5. The Study’s Author And Funders Have An Agenda.

The fact that Smith choose to neither refute nor address these points says a lot about why the study is flawed.

Smith accuses Regnerus' critics of having an agenda, but he seems to have one himself.

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Anonymous said...

Please see my comments on this article and be sure to read the links I provide.

Regnerus, [begin quote]We had only two cases in which mom and her partner were together for 18 years. We’ve got only six cases where mom and her partner were reported to have stayed together for 10 or more years, and 18 cases for five years. We’re still seriously in small-sample-size territory, prone to making what’s called a Type II error, meaning we could erroneously conclude that there are no differences when there really are. How about those 81 cases wherein respondents reported living with mom and her partner for at least a good share of a year or more? [end quote]

2 -18 Years
6 – 10 Years
18 – 5 Years
26 Long Time

81 cases of living with mom and her partner a good share of a year or more. (short time)

26 (long time)+81 (short time)= 107

175 respondents
175 – 107(Long and short time) = 68 (39%) who NEVER LIVED WITH THEIR MOTHER AND THEIR MOTHERS GIRL FRIEND

AND for my money I BET that the 81 he talks about above I BET included in that 81 is the 26 Long Time numbers. I think he was being sneaky by the way he wrote that.


Cat said...

Dr. Smith did make those errors, but it is all for naught unless he is called out on it by his peers. In fact, if he's not corrected, that many more people will believe the study is legitimate. Unless he is slaughtered (figuratively) by other educational professionals for his vague and misleading article, there is no reason to celebrate that he screwed up. That being said, please do let us know if the reprimanding occurs.

oruboris said...

We can simplify our defense against this study even further: all it really does is compare outcomes between intact and non-intact families. We all know kids subjected to more chaos have a harder time, we didn't need anther study to tell us that.

Our response should be to insist that families with same gender parents should be given more support-- including fully equal marriage-- in order to minimize the upheaval in the lives of their children.

EvilI said...

Wow. I notice that he actually acknowledged that it compared multiple variables, that it only considered intact families to be heterosexual but happened to include a few families that actually had gay parents as examples of gay parents (and doesn't even specify whether there were any intact families in that group).

Considering that this, the primary criticism, is enough to throw the study out completely even if it was minor... actually acknowledging that discrepancy, but failing to admit that it's a flaw at all, kinda utterly destroys the defense.

EvilI said...

Oh, and inquisitions and witchhunts?

He's one individual, accused of doing something bad (and, major point here, something that he objectively DID DO).
A witchhunt is what the people defending him are hoping for.