Monday, July 06, 2009

The American College of Pediatricians and the Laundering of Junk Science

Two weekends ago, I was embroiled in an intense discussion about gay parenting on the webpage

Comments had gone back and forth, spurred by someone who spouted what he thought was credible information proving that gay marriage was not a good idea.

The subject drifted to gay parenting. Naturally the person did not agree with the idea and he cited information by a group called the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) that supposedly proved his point.

I took a look at this group's webpage and from what I saw, it looked like a group masquerading as a legtimate medical organization while spouting religious right dogma about the lgbt community.

Mike Airhart, a writer employed by Truth Wins Out and a very good friend of mine, broke it down like this:

The “American College of Pediatricians” screens its membership according to a pro-life philosophy spelled out on its “Core Values” page and an anti-gay philosophy spelled out here. The organization’s Bible Belt charter members are listed here.

According to
Concerned Women for America, ACP formed in retaliation against the American Academy of Pediatrics after AAP released scientific studies finding no significant harm to children in same-sex parenting. ACP accuses the AAP of “bad science” but does not say how AAP’s studies were flawed.

The ACP’s family resources
page links primarily to religious-right organizations. In contrast to the scientific approach of the AAP, ACP employs what it considers a predetermined “moral” filter to pediatrics.

Translation: The American College of Pediatricians is a group masquerading as a legtimate medical organization while spouting religious right dogma about the lgbt community.

I pretty much said the same thing already, but didn't Mike say it much better than me?

Seriously though, I took a look at the work ACP put out about the lgbt community, particularly a piece called Homosexual Parenting: Is it Time for Change?

What I found was a hot mess of the usual lies put out by the religious right. I'm sure those who keep up with this blog have heard these before but I'm a stickler for consistency when it comes to religious right distortions, so bear with me.

The distortions of the ACP piece can be broken down in three brackets:

1. Outdated data

The paper says:

Homosexual partnerships are significantly more prone to dissolution than heterosexual marriages with the average homosexual relationship lasting only two to three years

As proof of this, the ACP paper cites sources from over 15 years ago:

David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, The male couple: how relationships develop (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 252-253.

M. Saghir and E. Robins, Male and female homosexuality (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1973), p. 225; L.A. Peplau and H. Amaro, "Understanding lesbian relationships," in homosexuality: social, psychological, and biological issues, ed. J. Weinrich and W. Paul (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982).

M. Pollak, "Male homosexuality," in western sexuality: practice and precept in past and present times, ed. P. Aries and A. Bejin, translated by Anthony Forster (New York, NY: B. Blackwell, 1985), pp. 40-61, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), pp. 124, 125.

To make matters worse, the ACP is inaccurately using the data to generalize about all lgbt couples.

The authors of The Male Couple said their book could not be used to generalize about the lgbt community:

“We always have been very careful to explain that the very nature of our research sample, its size (156 couples), its narrow geographic location, and the natural selectiveness of the participants prevents the findings from being applicable and generalizable to the entire gay male community.”

Another outdated source the ACP piece uses is:

A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: a study of diversity among men and women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 309

Homosexualities was published in 1978. And with it, the APC paper continues to inaccurately generalize about lgbt couples.

A passage in Homosexualities clearly says:

“. . . given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator will ever be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals.”

Generally speaking, if you looked at all of the sources in the ACP paper, you see that the majority of them are over 10 years old. And many of the ones that can be construed as current are misused.

But that is the next section.

2. Misusage of studies

Many of the studies the ACP uses to claim that children will suffer adverse effects in lgbt households in fact did not have anything to do with looking at children in lgbt homes at all. They include:

A. Marie Xiridoui, et al., "The contribution of steady and casual partnerships to the incidence of HIV infection among homosexual men in Amsterdam," AIDS 17 (2003): 1029-1038. [Note: one of the findings of this recent study is that those classified as being in "steady relationships" reported an average of 8 casual partners a year in addition to their partner (p. 1032)]

As pointed out in a post two weeks ago , this study only looked at casual relationships between gay men. It had nothing to do with the lesbian population and certainly nothing to do with children in lgbt households. The ironic thing is that this study has been used to also claim that lgbts have no concept of monogamy in marriage even though the data was compiled before marriage was even legalized in the Netherlands.

B. Joanne Hall, "Lesbians recovering from alcoholic problems: an ethnographic study of health care expectations," Nursing Research 43 (1994): 238-244.

In my 2007 book, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, I talk about how this article in Nursing Research was distorted. The author of the article, Joanne Hall, Ph.D. of the University of Tennessee’s College of Nursing, wrote me a letter outlining how it was being misused. She said that not only did the study have nothing to do with gay parenting but also:

“My study was an investigation of experiences of lesbians who ALREADY have self-identified as having ‘had an alcohol problem.’

They were not recruited as ‘alcoholics,’ ‘addicts’ or such terms, because I realized people have different understandings and preferences about ‘labels.’ These women were not necessarily under treatment at all, but living in the community. I did not ‘verify’ either their sexual orientation (that was also self-identification), nor a ‘diagnosis’ of substance abuse. They responded to a flyer. They all lived in the Bay Area. There were 35 women in the study. ONLY 35. They do not REPRESENT a population. My point was to try to get a handle on what they were experiencing—to UNDERSTAND their patterns . . . . "

C. Gwat Yong Lie and Sabrina Gentlewarrier, "Intimate violence in lesbian relationships: discussion of survey findings and practice implications," Journal of Social Service Research 15 (1991): 41-59.

Again a study having nothing to do with children in same sex households. The original study was conducted in 1985 at a Michigan Women’s Music Festival. It included only 1099 participants and all were lesbian.

According to a reviewer of the study, Suzana Rose, Ph.D., of the 1099 lesbians participants, most were white and between the ages of 20-45. - Intimate Violence in Lesbian Relationships: Discussion of Survey Findings and Practice Implications, Journal of Social Science Research, 1991

D. "Sex survey results," Genre (October 1996), quoted in "Survey finds 40 percent of gay men have had more than 40 sex partners," Lambda Report, January 1998, p. 20.

Not only did this Genre article have nothing to do with children in same sex households but check out the entire citation. The Lambda Report was an anti-gay publication put out by an old friend of ours - Peter LaBarbera - before he began Americans for Truth.

So in all honesty, it can be said that the ACP paper does not misuse Genre article because it does not cite the article at all, but what LaBarbera (a man with an anti-gay bias) claims the Genre article says.

3. Researcher complaints

A consistent factor of religious right studies is how they inaccurately use studies even after complaints by the work's original author. There are two in the ACP paper:

A. It cites the infamous 1997 study Canadian study as proof that lgbts have a short life span even though the study's authors complained in 2001 of its misusage by the religious right. (This is getting to be a favorite citation of mine. In almost every religious right paper I've talked about on this site, the distortion of the Canadian study is included.)

B. Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz, "(How) Does the sexual orientation of parents matter," American Sociological Review 66 (2001): 174, 179.

Judith Stacey has said repeatedly that nothing in her work says that same sex parenting is a bad idea.

Finally, the most interesting thing about the ACP paper is that it is not original. Some of the citations and passages in the paper are identical to a Family Research Council paper, The Negative Effects of Homosexuality.

This is the same paper is considered "outdated" by the Family Research Council.

So basically, the American College of Pediatricians is a puppet organization that can do damage if no one researches its background.

The folks who founded this organization are clearly sacrificing the integrity of their profession by laundering religious right propaganda as credible medical research.

And it makes one wonder as to how many other "groups" like ACP are out there. And also what can we do to bring attention to these groups.

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Unknown said...

This is organization is equal to NARTH which was founded by a psychiatrist who did not like the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental disorders.

BlackTsunami said...

So he sacrifices truth for the sake of his personal beliefs. Sad.

Unknown said...

Charles W. Socarides, M.D. was one of the founders of NARTH. The following is link to a tribute page at NARTH to him. What is ironic is that he had a son, who is gay activist.......and also an medical doctor.

BlackTsunami said...

Socarides was a phony. BTW does NARTH have a tribute page to George Rekers, the one who thinks that Native Americans as well as gays shouldn't be allowed to adopt children?

Unknown said...

I think Socarides was sincere in his belief. The science just outran him. And, I can't blame my parents for their reaction in September 1969. at the age of 18, when I told them that I was gay or the first psychiatrist that they had me see within five hours .............. on a Saturday. I was distraught and suicidal. It was a different time. The great error that I made was not to honestly talk about my sexuality for decades after that event.

Mr. Wonderful said...


I think it was common then to come out and then not talk about it. Easier, or so we thought. I came out in '85 and was disowned by my family. My mother met my man for the first time last year - a year after we'd celebrated our 20th anniversary! With all of the anti-gay rhetoric there is these days I think it's easy to forget how far we've come. I live in Canada, where gay marriage has been legal since 2005. I never thought I'd see the day!

In reference to the American College of Pediatricians, thanks to the blog author for drawing attention to this scurrilous group. I encountered them a few years ago and was shocked at what is written on their site.

Anonymous said...

The core case against gay marriage is extremely simple: If a mother's missing, that's important; if a father's missing, that's also important. There has been an ideology, a kind of religion since the Seventies that says that psychological differences between the genders were mere social constructs, but the advent of brain scanning devices and new research in social psychology are now shifting the balance back to show that nature shapes us to some extent after all. All this has enormous significance in the area of child-rearing, which is far-and-away the most important reason why society should keep committing itself to giving economic benefits and social recognition to mother-and-father couples.
Social Psychology. Studies in social psychology confirm the common observation that women tend to describe themselves more in relational terms, welcome more help, experience more relationship-linked emotions, and are more attuned to others' relationships (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Gabriel & Gardner; 1999; Tamres & others, 2002; Watkins & others, 1998, 2003).
Neuroscience. Behavioral differences between the sexes are the result of compelling forces set in motion before birth. For a woman, emotional structures in the female are larger than the male, while a male has about 20 times more testosterone than the female. All of these play important roles that make male-female relationships radically different than same-sex relationships. It's wired right into the chemistry of the brain. (Research by Dr. Louann Brizendine and many others).

BlackTsunami said...

But my friend, when you make that judgement as a way to dismiss gay parenting, you are way off base because none of the work you cited compares gay parenting to the mother/father dynamic. It sounds as if the work you cite compares single person parenting to the mother/father dynamic.

And we haven't even mentioned parenting done by a gay couple.