Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The junk science of homophobia

The following is an email sent to the Family Research Institute, an organization whose "one overriding mission" is "to generate empirical research on issues that threaten the traditional family, particularly homosexuality, AIDS, sexual social policy, and drug abuse."


Dear Dr. P. Cameron and Dr. K. Cameron,

I was reading your March 2014 blog post, Are Gay Parents More Apt to Commit Incest?, and couldn't help but notice that you make use of so-called 'survey' data from thirty ago that has since been called into question. In The Cameron Group's Survey Studies: A Methodological Critique, Dr. Gregory Herak listed what he believes are six fatal errors in the 1983-84 survey you continue to reference, namely:

  • Mischaracterized sample (r.e. not truly 'national' in scope, as claimed)
  • Unnacceptably low response rate
  • Unreliable analyses due to small sub-samples
  • Questionable validity
  • Biased interview procedures
  • Researcher's biases publicized during data collection

As Dr. Herak concludes, empirical study manifesting even one of these six weaknesses would be considered seriously flawed. In combination, the multiple methodological problems evident in the Cameron group's surveys mean that their results cannot even be considered a valid description of the specific group of individuals who returned the survey questionnaire.
Because the data are essentially meaningless, it is not surprising that they have been virtually ignored by the scientific community.
In light of the above, as well as other similar critiques of your methods, it would appear that you are peddling advocacy research as scientific research. (The fact that you had already lobbied against anti-gay discrimination laws by the time the survey was carried out, and while it was in progress had publicly stated that it would "provide ammunition" for anti-gay advocates, is evidence enough that the survey was contaminated with your bias from the start.)

As I'm sure you're already aware, childhood sexual abuse is a very serious topic, and one deserving of solid research carried out in an objective manner for the sake of discovery, and for the cause of improving life for everyone involved. Therefore, I question the morality of your use of other people's childhood traumas as cheap political theater for the purpose of spreading anti-gay fervor, and providing "ammunition" for those who hate.

Such an affront to sex abuse survivors (and science itself) is not only indefensible - it's just plain sick.


James Deagle
Ottawa, Canada

PS: This message will be posted on my blog, as will any response received from your organization.

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