|El mal uso de la Investigación en Ciencias Sociales y en los Datos en labatalla política sobre la Homosexualidad (Dale O|
Escrito por Dale O'Leary Martes, 03 de Febrero de 2004
THE DECONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
The Misuse of Social Science Research and Data in the
Political Battle over Homosexuality
Catholic Medical Association, November, 2001Research on Homosexuality,by Dale O'Leary.
As medical professionals you may assume that when you see a reference to a journal article after a statement, it means that the journal article contains ...
THE DECONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
The Misuse of Social Science Research and Data in the
Political Battle over Homosexuality
Catholic Medical Association, November, 2001
As medical professionals you may assume that when you see a reference to a journal article after a statement, it means that the journal article contains peer reviewed research which substantiates the statement made in the article. My work over the last 5 years has involved tracking down references in articles on same-sex attraction, and I have concluded that, in this area, one should never make that assumption. Time and time again when I tracked down the referenced article, I found more references. At the end of trail I frequently found, not carefully documented research, but opinion pieces, written with a strong political agenda and anti-religious bias or studies on small unrepresentative samples. Furthermore, in many cases, the articles I found did not claim what those who referenced them said they did. This search did not require the FBI, the articles were easily accessible, which means that those who presented these references either never looked up the original material or have willful chosen to misconstrue the material they referenced.
Before I begin, however, I have to point out that one of the major problems with any research on "homosexuality" is that the category "homosexual" is too broad to be a meaningful scientific term. When dealing with medical research, the CDC correctly speaks of men who have sex with men. When dealing with psychology of homosexuality, we speak of persons with same-sex attraction disorder -- stressing the psychological condition regardless of the behavior. It is important to remember that not all persons who engage in same-sex sexual activity suffer from same-sex attraction disorder. Others may speak of members of the gay community or self-identified lesbians and gay men. The more you study this phenomenon, the more the diversity becomes apparent. Almost all those who do research in this field admit that defining "homosexual" let alone collecting a pure sample of "homosexuals" is difficult if not impossible.
In this talk I will discuss the frequently made claims that there is substantial evidence from social science data supporting the homosexual activists assertions that change of sexual attraction is not possible and that except for sexual attraction patterns homosexual persons are no different than the general population and that there is "no evidence" supporting the opposing position. In this talk I will concentrate some of the most egregious examples of referencing ideology. The Surgeon's General's Report and the decision by the NJ Supreme Court on Boy Scouts.
There are other instances of misuse of data which I want to mention briefly
1) There is no scientifically replicated evidence that same-sex attraction is genetically or biologically determined. The studies referenced as proving such a link, do not make that claim and there have been reports that studies seeking to demonstrate a genetic cause for homosexuality has been compromised by the exclusion of data. Although the charges were not substantiated, other researchers have not been able to duplicate the results. There is material on this on Dale's Disk under genetic.rtf.
2) There is massive evidence that the research into homosexual parenting suffers from serious problems and lacks internal and external validity. Excellent reviews of this literature have been done by Belcastro and Wardle, and a new book on the subject No Basis: What the studies Don't tell us about same sex parenting. There is also material on this subject on Dale's Disk.
These reviews of the literature found that the samples were small and drawn from friendship circles, the interviewing techniques inadequate, and the researchers did not look for problems where problems would be expected. The controls were for the most part children in single parent or non-biological families, but when these studies are referenced, the writers say that the studies prove that children raised by homosexual parents are no different than children raised by a married male/female couple, ignoring the fact that none of the studies compared the biological children of married couples with children of homosexuals. This is, of concern, because these studies are being referenced in court cases and testimony before legislatures on custody, adoption, and same-sex marriage. The flaws in the research have been so egregious that recently some pro-gay writers have admitted that children raised by same-sex parents are not the same -- they are more likely to experiment sexually and with same-sex relationships and be gender non-conforming.
Surgeon General's Report
Last Sunday I noticed an article in the paper from the Associated Press on Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Satcher. The article said that the Surgeon General's report "Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior:"
" had found that there was no evidence that a gay person could become heterosexual."
I called the author, a Paul Recer, and pointed out that he had misquoted the report, what it actually said was:
"There is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed."
I pointed out that there are numerous reports from therapists, individuals, and ministries of change. According to the article
"Satcher said he was not taking sides in a political discussion but reflecting what scientific research showed."
I pointed out that this statement was disingenuous and that Satcher and those who promote this point of view are hiding behind the words "valid scientific" They know about the numerous reports of change, but discount therapist, client and ministry reports as biased and unreliable (while of course using the same kind of evidence to substantiate their own claims). They can do this because since 1973, funding for studies to determine the effects of therapy on sexual orientation has not been available and many professional journals have refused to publish the articles which have been written. If you don't ask the question, you won't get an answer you don't want to hear.
I further pointed out that the quote in the Surgeon General's report references an article by Douglas Haldeman "The Practice and Ethics of Conversion Therapy," giving the impression that the article contains evidence that change of sexual orientation has never happened. In fact, Haldeman admits the contrary. Haldeman acknowledges that there are spontaneously occurring shifts in sexual orientation over the life span. I could have said more but Recer was not interested.
In his article, Haldeman admits that he does not believe that sexual orientation is a fixed category: He writes
"Essentially, the fixed, behavior-based model of sexual orientation assumed by almost all conversion therapists may be invalid. For many individuals, sexual orientation is a variable construct subject to changes in erotic and affectional preference, as well as changes in social values and political philosophy that may and flow throughout life. For some, 'coming out' may be a process with no true endpoint. Practitioners assessing change in sexual orientation have ignored the complex variations in an individual's erotic responses and shifts in the socialcultural landscape."
Haldeman admits that persons can change their behavior and suggests that some of those who claim change may have been bisexual.
Haldeman did not interview those who had reported change nor did he interview the therapists who treated them, instead he dismissed the work of therapists, such as Bieber and Nicolosi, not because they don't report successful outcomes, but because according to Haldeman, they assume that they there is something wrong with homosexuality. "Why," writes Haldeman, "should a detached father be selected as the key player in causing homosexuality unless an a priori decision about the pathological nature of homosexuality has been made?" Haldeman is undoubtedly aware of the massive evidence showing patterns of dysfunction in the family background of persons with same-sex attraction and therefore seeking to shift attention away from this by claiming bias.
But it is not bias, it is experience that leads therapists to conclude that same-sex attraction can be the result of a developmental disorder -- the product of childhood traumas and deficits. For example, When therapist Eileen Siegle was asked to treat 12 women self-identified as lesbian, she believed that lesbianism was as normal as heterosexuality for women. She did not "set out to 'cure' them or to dissuade them from their lifestyle" but according to her book:
"I came to understand their difficulties as developmental arrests that precluded heterosexual object choices... As conflicts were resolved and distanced from, anxiety was reduced and life became more joyful and productive for all these analysands... With the attainment of firmer inner structures, interpersonal relationships also solidified and became more permanent..."
"Although I never interpreted homosexuality as an illness, more than half of the women become fully heterosexual."
According to Siegle her efforts were not appreciated by the groups who had referred their members to her:
"The homosexual community and networks to which ... my patients belonged reacted very much like the families of disturbed children when the child, as a result of treatment, is no longer forced to express conflict for them.... I was struck by their common need to idealize homosexuality as better than heterosexuality and by the volatility of their suffering..."
"To be a liberal and liberated woman and yet to view homosexuality as the result of untoward development seemed at times a betrayal of all I then believed. But viewing my patients through the lens of psychoanalytic thinkers and clinicians soon showed me that allowing myself to be seduced into perceiving female homosexuality as a normal lifestyle would have cemented both my patients and myself into a rigid mode that precluded change of whatever nature."
She discovered that to treat the clients presenting problems, it was necessary to deal with the underlying causes and when these were addressed, the same-sex attraction diminished or disappeared, although this was neither the client's nor the therapist's goal.
Haldeman appears aware of the research documenting change, but he only references discredited techniques and ministry failures and ignores the positive outcomes. The Haldeman article contains no original research proving that the reports of change are untrue. It deals with the politics of homosexuality, not the efficacy of therapy. Haldeman argues that therapy is bad thing because:
"Psychology cannot free people from stigma by continuing to promote or tacitly endorse conversion therapy... The appropriate focus of the profession is what reverses prejudice, not what reverses sexual orientation."
Therapists may be surprised to learn that the goal of their work with clients is political change. Haldeman quotes others who agree with him, for example:
"Conversion treatments by their very existence exacerbate the homophobia which psychology seeks to combat."
"There would be no reorientation techniques were there no interpretation that homoeroticism is an inferior state, an interpretation that in many ways continues to be medically defined, criminally enforced, socially sanctioned and religiously justified."
According to Haldeman:
"...perpetrators of violence and antigay political groups justify their actions with the same devaluation of homosexuality that is used by conversion therapists."
Those who have come out of homosexuality have been so frustrated by this denial of their existence that they have protested the APA meetings. These protesters attracted the attention of Dr. Robert Spitzer who had been a leader in the fight to have homosexuality removed from the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in the 1970s. Dr. Spitzer talked to the protesters and agreed to collect their testimonies. The evidence, as Dr. Spitzer found convinced him that change, while difficult, is possible.
Interestingly the claim that change is impossible is rarely made in journal articles where documentation would be required. These tend to simply jab at the reports of change, but the claim frequently appears in the popular literature or press releases from pro-gay professional organizations. For example, William Pollack in his best selling book Real Boys writes:
"There is a broad consensus that homosexuality is "constitutional" in other words, that being gay, like being straight, is a natural unchangeable part of who a person is."
"Today, even the most conservative psychoanalysts are beginning to accept that homosexuality is a normal part of human life and that being gay is not something that mental health professionals should attempt to change (or that they can change)."
My next example comes from the NJ court case, in which the Boy Scouts were ordered to accept homosexual scout masters. While the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court, the battle continues, and the Boy Scouts are being demonized as a discriminatory organization. NJ Judge Handler's concurring opinion in the case is particularly troubling. He wrote:
"One particular stereotype that we renounce today is that homosexuals are inherently immoral. That myth is repudiated by decades of social science data that convincingly establish that being homosexual does not , in itself, derogate from one's ability to participate in contribute responsibly and positively to society. See Gregory M. Herek, Myths about Sexual Orientation: A Lawyer's Guide to Social Science Research in Law and Sexuality (presenting "considerable body of social science data" that counter" long-standing cultural myths and stereotypes that depict lesbians and gay men as immoral, criminal, sick and drastically different from what most members of society would consider 'normal'")
"In short, a lesbian or gay person, merely because he or she is a homosexual, is no more or less likely to be moral than a person who is heterosexual."
Does the Gregory Herek article referenced by Handler prove homosexual persons are just like everyone else?
Herek highlighted the 1957 study by Evelyn Hooker "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexuality." I would suggest that all of you read it because it is one of the most egregious examples of advocacy research around and because it is so frequently cited as a landmark study. It is so badly done that there is an editorial note on the first page which reads in part:
" it seemed desirable to the editors that [the Hooker results] be made public even in their preliminary form. If some of Dr. Hooker's comments, as cautiously presented as they are seem premature or incompletely documented, the blame must rest on the editors who exercised considerable pressure on her to publish now."
Hooker chose a totally unrepresentative sample of 30 homosexual men from a group interested in promoting the acceptance of homosexuality. She rejected anyone in therapy and then eliminated 5 more during the preliminary interview in whom evidence of considerable disturbance was discovered. Of the 30 chosen, as a result of Rorschach, TAT, and MAPS tests, 7 were placed in category 4 or 5 (that is below normal or disturbed) with comments such as near psychotic, pathological, and high level narcissism. She admits that from this material:
"one could defend the hypothesis that homosexuality is symptomatic of pathology, but that the pathology is fined to one sector of behavior, namely the sexual."
Herek then quotes John Gonsiorek who writes:
"... homosexuals as a group are not more psychologically disturbed on account of their homosexuality."
Which Gonsiorek claims means :
"... that the proportion or base rate of disturbed individuals in homosexual and heterosexual populations is roughly equivalent."
This assertion has been totally discredited by three recent, carefully design studies which show that homosexuals as a group have significantly higher rates of psychopathology
Herrell et al. Sexual Orientation and Suicidality: A Co-twin Control Study in Adult Men, which found that same-gender sexual orientation is significantly associated with each of the suicidality measures.
Fergusson et al. "Is Sexual Orientation Related to Mental Health Problems and Suicidality in Young People?" a birth cohort study from New Zealand traced over 1007 persons from birth to age 21. The results: Gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people were at increased risks of major depression, generalized anxiety, conduct disorder, substance abuse and/or dependence, multiple disorders, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. The findings support recent evidence suggesting that gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people are at increased risk of mental health problems, with these associations being particularly evident measures of suicidal behavior and multiple disorder.
The claim that these problems are caused by homophobia in undermined by a 2001 study by Sandfort done in the Netherlands -- long noted for its tolerance of aberrant behavior -- which found the lifetime prevalence of one or more DSM III disorders among men engaging in same sex behavior is 56.1% (versus 41.4% among men who do not engage in such behavior. The rate for two or more DSM III disorders is 37.8% (versus 14.4%). For women engaging in same-sex behavior, the rate for one or more DSM III disorders is 67.4% (versus 39.1%) and for two or more disorders 39.5% (versus 21.3%).
Herek then attacks as a myth the idea that "lesbians and gay men are not capable of sustained relationship", but admits that:
"Whereas sexual monogamy is an issue for heterosexual, lesbian, and gay male couples alike, same-gender couples may be more likely that male-female couples to discuss and negotiate the issue directly."
It is clear from the research that sexual fidelity is the exception rather than the norm among homosexual men and the duration of the relationships are relatively short.
Using the same discredited studies mentioned before, Herek argues that empirical research has shown "that there is "no evidence exists that having a gay parent or role model is harmful to the child. Nor do the children of gay parents differ significantly from children raised in heterosexual households in their development of gender identity or sexual orientation." Even the homosexual advocates admit that this isn't true.
Social Constructionist Ideology
Why do Haldeman and Herek and those they quote play fast and loose with social science research? Because they subscribe to the ideology of Social Constructionism. In an article entitled "On Heterosexual Masculinity" Herek writes:
"Social roles and their attendant psychological identities are not "given" by nature. Variables such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation are human creations, based on certain observable phenomena that come to be defined in certain ways through social interaction over time.
"The social constructionist positions holds that what most people call reality is a consensus world view that develops through social interaction."
"By highlighting human plasticity, the constructionist view also allows for the possibility of change. what has been constructed can be deconstructed and reconstructed, albeit with considerable effort. Gender and sexual orientation thus should be understood as changeable ideologies rather than biological facts."
According to Herek, to be "a man... in contemporary American society is to be homophobic-- that is, to be hostile toward homosexual persons in general and gay men in particular. "
And he believes that "A long term strategy for eradicating homophobia, however, must focus on heterosexual masculinity" and that formulating alternatives to heterosexual masculinity "must constitute an agenda for all who hope to improve our society." Herek doesn't want tolerance, he wants to restructure masculinity.
Social Constructionism ideology is extremely difficult to understand because Social Constructionism begins with an attack on everything. Social Constructionists see the world as made up of individuals objects and actions which have no inherent meaning or relationship to one another. All meaning is constructed (that is created) by persons interested in imposing their self-interest on others. This imposition is oppressive and the oppressed are encouraged to rise up and claim the power to construct new words and meanings, not because these new words and meanings are any truer than the old ones (remember they don't believe in truth) but because the new constructions give power to the oppressed.
Social Constructionist theory undermines social science research. How can you search for the truth if you don't believe that truth exists. How can you seek to understand human nature, if your ideological position is that the idea of human nature is a mere social construct?
Social Constructionists use various techniques to effect the overthrow of the oppressive paradigms. They claim to suffer oppression from the old paradigm. We would argue that truth and reality can certainly be oppressive to those who wish to ignore it. They insist that anyone who does not agree with them is intolerant, bigoted, discriminatory, and must be silenced. Such a demand is, of course, an even more pernicious form of intolerance and discrimination, but this does not deter them because according to the Social Constructionist paradigm, the oppressed have the right to discriminate against oppressors. They prove discrimination by referencing their own feelings; "What you do makes me feel bad?" But it is the truth that makes them feel bad and it is the truth they wish to silence.
I have developed a hypothesis as to why homosexual advocates have invented and adopted Social Constructionist theory.
Social Constructionist ideology may be a symptom of same-sex attraction disorder. To develop a healthy sense of self a child needs to have his legitimate developmental needs meet in a timely fashion. When these needs have not been met the child is left with a sense of loss, confusion, emptiness, anger, and fear. Homosexual persons often express these feelings of alienation, saying "I never fit in. I always felt different." And so they construct a self out of lies, fears, defense mechanism, self-comforting behaviors. This constructed self is not stable nor authentic. It is artificial -- a role to be played -- a social construction. They assume that everyone is playing an equally artificial constructed role and perhaps within their social sphere everyone is. They want desperately to believe that they are normal and, therefore, insist that heterosexuality is as artificial as homosexuality and that they are superior because they know they are playing a role and heterosexuals are trapped by outmoded concepts like human nature. They imagine that heterosexuals fear and hate them because the heterosexuals feel threatened.
Social Constructionists do research not to find the truth about the human person but to create ammunition for their battle for power and social change. Charlotte Peterson, one the primary researchers on homosexual parenting, encourages social sciences to expand the body of research in the field and use the research for legal purposes although she worries that lawyers:
"often fail to appreciate the value of social scientific evidence, believing instead in the superiority of moral and philosophical reasoning".
I do not want to give the impression that all articles on homosexuality are worthless. On the contrary, there is very interesting original research being done. If you ignore the reviews of literature at the beginning which regularly misstate the conclusions of other research, the unsubstantiated conclusions, and the rationalizations at the end explaining why they did not find what they wanted, the material in the middle can be very enlightening.
There are not two sets of competing facts, but one body of evidence. Persons with same-sex attraction are more likely to have problems with their relationships with their parents (just as the reparative therapists have pointed out), they are more likely to have experienced gender identity problems as children, they are more likely to have experienced sexual abuse. They are more likely to have substance abuse problems, to be the victims of violence, and have thought about or attempted suicide. The men are more likely to have been teased as children and to have been afraid of rough and tumble play. Men who have sex with men are more likely to have numerous sexual partners and to have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease. the research done on sexual attitudes and behavior by doctors trying to prevent the spread of AIDS is particularly valuable since the samples are large and the goal clear. The results are uniformly discouraging. There is no evidence that or condom education or distribution have been effective in stemming the spread of disease among men who have sex with men. In a 50 page article on the subject on Dale's Disk there is an explanation of how epidemic saturation has effected the reporting of this epidemic.
I have found the articles on gay affirming therapy particular valuable, since they reveal that many persons with same-sex attraction suffer from serious psychological problems which do not respond well to therapy aimed at making them happy at being gay.
It should be noted that in this field research on women tends to be much less revealing than that on men. The men appear more likely to tell the truth, even when it hurts.
Given all this how are we to proceed.
As the major mental health organizations and publications are taken over by Social Constructionist theorists who support the homosexual agenda, persons of faith will have to seriously consider how to protect their right to provide therapy to clients and the right of clients to come to a knowledge of the truth -- the truth which can set them free from self-destructive behaviors.
The Catholic teaching on sexuality is clear:
The problem faced today by Catholic mental health professionals is that while in the past there was general agreement on the self-destructive nature of sexual sin -- not simply homosexual sin, but compulsive fornication, adultery, addiction to pornography with masturbation, and sexual perversions-- there is no longer a consensus on the goals of therapy.
Under the old paradigm, therapists helped patients to find freedom, by helping them discover the roots of these behaviors and learn healthy ways to cope with stressors. The therapists might not deal explicitly with sin and repentance, but the search for truth through therapy would hopefully lead to behaviors which were not self-destructive.
Under the new paradigm, the goal of therapy is not to free a person from behavior which is both self-destructive and sinful, but to free the client from guilt over sexual behavior.
Under the new paradigm, sexual behavior, no matter how bizarre, is considered normal. Guilt and religious beliefs which define that behavior as sinful are considered evils to be eradicated from the individual and from society.
According to the new paradigm homophobia -- a failure to accept homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality -- and heterosexism-- a belief that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality-- are particularly noxious forms of bigotry, the equivalent of racism or sexism. These must be condemned as intolerance. Laws against discrimination are to be applied against persons or organizations which are judged homophobic or heterosexist.
The promoters of the new paradigm do not want clients to be given a choice between two types of therapy. Their goal is to totally eliminate the old paradigm entirely. Their reasoning is simple-- if guilt over sexual acts is an evil, then therapy to change sexual orientation -- no matter how much the client may want it -- oppresses other homosexuals because it perpetuates the belief that homosexuality is not totally equal to heterosexuality. It should be pointed out that a review of the articles on gay affirming therapy reveals that a significant number of homosexual persons suffer from internalized homophobia -- they don't believe that homosexuality is as good as heterosexuality. It may be that those pushing the new paradigm want to silence the truth that comes from their own hearts, by silencing every echo of that truth in the world around them.
The promoters of the new paradigm claim to have uncontroverted scientific evidence supporting their claims. They are not telling the truth and they must not be allowed to continue unchallenged to deceive others. This isn't just about homosexuality. When truth is no longer the standard, the right of every therapist to practice and every client to receive help is at risk.
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