Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Something worth knowing about NARTH

NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality) is one of those religious right organizations masquerading as legitimate purveyors of science.

Amongst other things, it espouses reparative therapy, or the belief that homosexuality can be changed.

Recently Dr. Phil had the founder of NARTH, Joseph Nicolosi, on his show as a credible voice regarding gender identity.

Naturally a lot of us weren't exactly happy over this. Despite the fact that Nicolosi demonstrated his abject ignorance and was destroyed on the air by the mother of a transgendered child, the fact that he was deemed an expert didn't sit right with a lot of us.

And as far as I'm concerned, it still doesn't.

For the record, NARTH have been in a few controversies regarding the theories of its "experts."

In 2006, NARTH had two major controversies. In the first, psychiatrist Joseph Berger, MD, a member of their “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a paper encouraging students to “ridicule” gender variant children.

In the second controversy, Gerald Schoenwolf, PhD, also a member of NARTH’s “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a polemic on the group’s website that seemed to justify slavery.

(NARTH founder Joseph) Nicolosi is also known for his strange theories, such as encouraging his male clients to drink Gatorade and call friends “dude” to become more masculine. He also believes that “Non-homosexual men who experience defeat and failure may also experience homosexual fantasies or dreams.”

Schoenwolf, by the way, continues to be a member of NARTH's scientific committee.

And so does George Rekers.

You remember Dr. Rekers, don't you?

In 2004, he was an expert witness in a case involving gay adoption in Arkansas. The state had banned gays from adopting in 1999. In January 2005, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy White ruled against the state of Arkansas. Furthermore, he called Rekers' testimony "extremely suspect." He also accused Rekers of testifying solely for promoting his "own personal agenda."

In 2008, Rekers was also an expert witness in a case defending Florida's gay adoption ban. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman ruled against the state. In her decision, she said "Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy."

Despite this, not only is Rekers currently a member of NARTH's scientific advisory committee, but he is also listed as one of the organization's officers.

Now some people may think I'm trying to "kill the messenger because I don't like his message," but that's a serious breach of logic.

Rekers has been discredited by two different judges in two different cases, but NARTH seems to think nothing of having him as not only an officer but a scientific advisory committee member.

What's next? The APA having a purveyor of lobotomies on its committees?

My links to Rekers are here.

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