Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Anti-gay groups and their supporters have a disturbing history of distorting scientific research

Mark Regnerus
This so-called culture war over lgbt equality is so immersed in the religious angle and the "personal story" angle that there is scarcely attention paid to how anti-gay groups make attempts at either distorting scientific research or relying on junk science in order to denigrate the lgbt community.

An incident - reported last week by Science Insider and brought to my attention via Truth Wins Out - should give us an idea of how dangerous it is for the lgbt to not bring attention to this aspect:

On 24 February, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, signed a draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, after 2 months of declining to do so. Science, he says, changed his mind—in particular, the findings of a special scientific committee his Health Ministry had appointed earlier in the month. “Their unanimous conclusion was that homosexuality, contrary to my earlier thinking, was behavioural and not genetic,” Museveni wrote to President Barack Obama on 18 February, in response to Obama’s pleas that he not sign the bill. “It was learnt and could be unlearnt.”
But some scientists on the committee are crying foul, saying that Museveni and his ruling party—Uganda’s National Resistance Movement (NRM)—misrepresented their findings. “They misquoted our report,” says Paul Bangirana, a clinical psychologist at Makerere University in Kampala. “The report does not state anywhere that homosexuality is not genetic, and we did not say that it could be unlearnt.” Two other committee members have now resigned to protest the use of their report to justify the harsh legislation . . .

What seems like a deliberate attempt by Museveni to distort science in order to justify that awful bill puts him in a wide company of folks guilty of the same offense, i.e. distorting science to justify anti-gay persecution or stances against lgbt equality. For over two years, bloggers and activists in the lgbt community and the scientific community in general have been waging a war against a bogus study created by University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus.

This study, which denigrates same-sex households, has been criticized by experts for several methodological flaws, including the fact that it never really established a link between same-sex households and negative outcomes regarding children.It was also condemned by the American Psychological Association and over 200 professors and therapists (in fact, those particular experts all signed a letter condemning the study's publication and methodology).

But these two recent cases only scratch the surface. Over the years, I have documented at least 11 other times in which anti-gay groups have been caught distorting research. And after they are called out, these so-called Christian groups continue their tactics. Their reason is simple. No one seems to give enough of a damn to make a fuss about their actions so perhaps they figure they can get away with it.

Other examples of anti-gay scientific distortions I alluded to earlier include:

National Institute of Health director Francis Collins, who rebuked the right-wing American College of Pediatricians for falsely claiming that he stated sexual orientation is not hardwired by DNA.

Six researchers of a 1997 Canadian study (Robert S. Hogg, Stefan A. Strathdee, Kevin J.P. Craib, Michael V. Shaughnessy, Julio Montaner, and Martin T. Schehter), who complained in 2001 that religious right groups were distorting their work to claim that gay men have a short life span.

The authors of the book Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States (Professors Richard J. Wolitski, Ron Stall, and Ronald O. Valdiserri), who complained that their work was being distorted by Focus on the Family.

University College London professor Michael King, who complained that the American Family Association was distorting his work on depression and suicide in LGBT individuals

University of Utah professor Lisa Diamond, who complained that NARTH (the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), a group which also share board members with the American College of Pediatricians, distorted her research on sexual orientation.

Dr. Carol Gilligan, Professor of Education and Law at New York University, who complained that former Focus on the Family head James Dobson misrepresented her research to attack LGBT families.

Dr. Kyle Pruett, Ph.D., a professor of child psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, who has also complained that Focus on the Family distorted his work.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, who has consistently complained that religious right groups distorted his study to claim that the LGBT orientation is easily changeable.

 Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology at New York University, who has had to, on more than one occasion, cry foul over how religious right groups distorted her work on LGBT families.

Greg Remafedi, Professor  at the University of Minnesota, who has complained several times about how religious right groups such as the American College of Pediatricians and PFOX have distorted his work, all to no avail. The American College of Pediatricians refused his request to remove his work from their site.

In 2010, John Horgan, a science journalist and Director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology, became the 11th researcher to complain.

In 2011, Tom Minnery, a spokesman from Focus on the Family, was dressed down by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) during a Congressional hearing for deliberately misrepresenting a study. Minnery initially used the study to claim, as Fitzgibbons did in his misrepresentation, that same-sex households are inferior to two parent mother/father households.

1 comment:

BJohnM said...

I will never ever forget the video of that Congressional Hearing when Sen. Franken looked down at the guy and said, "Well I did read it, and..."

As soon as the "I did read it" came out of Sen. Franken's mouth, you could see Minnery start to cringe. He knew he'd been caught, and was about to embarrassed. I love that video to this day.