Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Call out a phony anti-gay study and you are a Nazi

Mark Regnerus' bad study continues to cause chaos.
And yet another person has risen to defend Mark Regnerus' fraudulent study on gay parenting.

Karl D. Stephan, a professor of electrical engineering (you read that right) has published a piece in the Crisis magazine lambasting the critics of Regenrus' study and claiming that Regnerus is being personally attacked because he supposedly dared to publish a politically incorrect study.

And to do so, he even invokes images of Nazi Germany and its persecution of Jewish people:

In the 1930s, many prominent scientists and engineers in Germany lost their reputations, their jobs, and some eventually their lives because of a non-scientific reason: they happened to be Jews, or outspoken Christians, or simply opposed to some political aim of the government. Everyone now agrees that this was a grievous violation of human rights, an early warning sign of the greater wrongs the German government would do in World War II. While that situation differs from the one Regnerus finds himself in by degree, does it differ in kind from what Jewish scientists suffered in Germany in the 1930s?

Regnerus has reached scientific conclusions that oppose the prevailing political winds. Though his punishment has come from activists rather than official government sources, it is no less politically motivated and no less unjust. Smith thinks the integrity of the social-science research process is threatened by the “public smearing and vigilante media attacks” mounted against Regnerus. If such attacks are successful, we have taken a long step away from scientific integrity and a long step toward the encouragement of a political atmosphere that is totalitarian in its effects.

It probably would have been better had Stefan had just addressed the reasons why folks are questioning Regnerus' work. He briefly talks about it in this mind-boggling paragraph in which he pretty much says he isn't going to address the study's errors:

Regnerus’s study, which he himself admits is not perfect, found otherwise. There were significant negative consequences of being raised by parents who were gay, according to the study. I am not going to address the controversial question of defining “gay” or how extensive the negative consequences were or how accurate and scientific the study was.

Stefan then attempts to make it seem that he is merely criticizing the process in which the peer-review of the study was attacked:

A journalist and self-described “minorities anti-defamation professional” whose pseudonym is Scott Rose wrote a letter to the University of Texas administration alleging that Regnerus’s paper falsified data. This is the most serious professional charge that anyone can level against a scientist, comparable to a malpractice charge against a doctor.

The first wrongdoing (as I pointed out in a letter published in the Austin American-Statesman) was for UT Austin to act on such complaints from a person who was not in a competent professional position to make such assessments. Scott Rose is not a sociologist. Rose has since published the full “evidence” he plans to present to UT Austin, and it consists of two kinds of arguments. One kind comprises disputes over methods and definitions that Regnerus used. If Rose had been selected as a reviewer of Regnerus’s paper, these arguments might have played a role at that point. But Rose, not being a qualified sociologist, has no professional standing to make them, and they must be assessed on their merits by other professional sociologists.

Scott Rose is a free-lance writer who has been calling out Regnerus' study from day one. He is probably the one most singularly responsible for a lot of the negative attention it has been receiving.

However, in calling his name, Stefan makes an error. He makes it seem that Rose is the only person responsible for Regnerus' study being criticized. This is not true.

In June, over 200 professors and therapists sent a letter to James Wright, editor of “Social Science Research,” the journal where Regnerus’s study was published, questioning the study and the process in which it was reviewed.

And it's not as if Stefan isn't aware of the letter. He even acknowledges it in an offhand way:

I have not even mentioned the press coverage with derogatory headlines, the letter signed by over a hundred sociologists objecting to Regnerus’s conclusions, and the politically motivated letter-mobbing of the journal’s editor, James Wright, which pressured him to request the review audit.

Furthermore, Stefan omits the other experts (pointed out by Equality Matters) who has condemned Regnerus' study.

 The grand irony of Stefan's sad defense of Regnerus' work is that he cites another defense of the study from sociologist Christian Smith. In his piece, Smith didn't even address the study's errors. Instead, just like Stefan, he attempted to make Regnerus a victim.

But at least he didn't have the poor taste to imply that Regnerus' critics were just like Nazis persecuting Jews.

What's that saying about if you have to invoke Nazis to describe your opponents, that's a sure sign that you have lost the argument?

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Unkakunk said...

It's called Godwin's Law ( "It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."In other words, Godwin observed that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler and the Nazis."

Franky Edder said...

Name calling and referring to the Nazis, is always the last refuge of a losing argument.

Anonymous said...

I'm still wondering what qualifications an EE has to defend a sociologist.

It makes no sense whatsoever. I'd probably have a better shot as I have an Info Sci degree with a specialization in sociology.

Anonymous said...

And you know Smith lied also in his article, right? When the article was first published Smirg said that he had been an acedemic advisor to Regnerus when he was a student but that he did not Chair Regnerus' Dissertation for his PhD.

If you read the comments way near the end, to the Smith article you will see how somebody went on the internet and pulled up Regnerus' Dissertation and Smith, LOL WAS the Chair, ha-ha-ha. So then Smith had to go in and re-edit his article and take that out so it doesn't show any more.

It is amusing to me when I read people defending Regnerus when they write things like, "Well the study isn't perfect" You should read my comments on the Karl Stephan article in Crisis Magazine. I am methodically pointing out the flaws


Loellie said...

"What's that saying about if you have to invoke Nazis to describe your opponents, that's a sure sign that you have lost the argument?"

I don't know how things are in the US, and i know for a fact that Godwin is wrong, because i also know for a fact, that Nazis still exist.
But to answer your question ... No,it's not about having lost an argument. Here in Germany you can be pretty sure, that a Nazi is trying to defend one of his own.

ol&p said...

Re: Goodwin's Law

Let us not forget that the Regeneres study would have been used by the Nazis to justify their persecution of homosexuals, just like the NOM, FOF, et al. Sometimes the comparison is apt.

Kathy said...

And Googling Mr. Stephan, the first citation that comes up is on a fundamentalist Christian website.