Friday, March 11, 2005

More on equating homosexuality with pedophilia

Here is a good editorial about equating homosexuality with pedophilia.

Also, I got the following from Knitress, who commented on the March 8 CAP post on this topic. She did some further research on Dr. Cameron and his methods, and I thought her results were worth posting. To quote her credentials from that post, she is "a social scientist -- an economist (Ph.D, tenured prof, etc. etc.) [She doesn't] do research on homosexuality. If it matters, [she's] straight and a practicing Catholic." A huge thanks to her for researching this, sending me her findings, and allowing me to post them here.

Here's my reaction to my digging on Paul Cameron. I'm emailing rather than posting as a comment on Bad Methodist because of the length. The short version is that his methods aren't just weak -- they're lousy. The way that he leaps to conclusions has no scientific merit and seems to me to be totally driven by his preconceptions.

I've done expert witness work, and I'm not surprised to hear about the judge's reaction to his testimony.

The "obituary study" he did is a truly fine thing, btw. He argues that being gay is unhealthy. None of our datasources for lifespan tell us if the dead person is gay or straight, so instead he looked at the obituaries in gay community papers and compared the age at death to the reported age at death in "regular" newspapers.

And what do you know? Gays and Lesbians die decades earlier than their straight peers!

Except. . . suppose your uncle Jim just died. You kinda think he might have been gay, but heck, the man was 80, and you never really knew the details of his life. Do you think that you'd ask the local gay newspaper to run an obituary?

In short, the data he used are so bad that you just can't trust the conclusion.

I've had trouble locating his study. As far as I can tell, it was published in the March issue of Psychological Reports, which looks to be a not-at-all-impressive but peer reviewed journal.

Based on the newspaper coverage, it seems that he looked at children in foster care or in a "subsidized adoption" (eg, special needs kids who are adopted; parents in this case get a stipend similar to a foster care stipend) in Illinois from 1997 - 2002. The study results (as far as I can tell) are:

(1) 1% of the kids were molested each year; 3% were physically abused. I am very nearly certain that Cameron didn't survey the kids or the families directly; more on this later.
(2) Over the period, 34% of the molestations were "homosexual in nature" by Cameron's definition; in other words, fathers molesting sons or mothers molesting daughters.
(3) In 69% of the cases where a mother was the abuser, the victim was a girl. In 14% of the cases where a father was an abuser, the victim was a boy.

Cameron goes on to claim that between 1.5% and 3% of the overall adult (ages 18 - 59) population is gay. (More on that later as well). He's quoted in an Illinois paper as saying that these findings "suggest that a child's risk of being molested is considerably higher when their parent engages in homosexuality".

Why? Well, as far as I can tell, his argument is that if gays molested children at the same rate at which straights did, then only 1 - 3% of the molestations would be same-sex. Because straight people would only molest children of the opposite sex, and gay people would only molest children of the same sex. What that conclusion doesn't take into account is that it's entirely possible -- indeed, it's likely -- to be a father molesting a foster son while still having sex with his wife and identifying as straight.

I also have serious questions about how the sample was selected and the data source; I'm willing to bet quite a bit that Cameron didn't survey the families, but is relying on DCFS records. If "straight" abuse is less likely to be reported than same-sex abuse, his results are meaningless.

What's repugnant to me -- as a social scientist -- is the way in which Cameron is willing to jump from his results to a blanket conclusion that the children of gays (foster or not) face a higher risk of molestation. His data simply don't support anything remotely like that conclusion.

I also did a little digging into Cameron's overall record. He's done some amazingly and appalling bad "research"; it all reaches anti-gay conclusions, and he then goes on to make blanket statements about how dangerous it is to be gay. I see no sign that he's done anything that I'd consider to be serious academic research. The best example of what's wrong with his work is his "obituary study".


At 2:24 PM, Blogger the-unintentional-blogger said...

Thanks Knitress. That's the kind of critique of Cameron I was hoping for. Your right, he's a quack. And quacks with agendas are particularly annoying.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Liberator_Rev said...

Color me slow, but I can't figure out how to communicate with you on this blog to invite you to check out my http://www.LiberalsLikeChrist.Org/ web site, where you will see that the "official UMC position" against gays has been imposed on it by the majority created by an ill-advised reunioun of a great denomination with the Neanderthal "Southern Methodists", who are now oppressing gays, because they lost the war and weren't allowed to continue oppressing their African American brothers and sisters. Ray Dubuque Liberal U.M.C. clergy from a slave-free state, which is about to recognize Civil Unions and came close to going all the way (Gay marriage).

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous the_methotaku said...

1. Thank you and bless you for posting this, Bad Methodist. The info will come in handy, and it's also nice to see someone with no ulterior motive stand up for LGBT rights. Sorry that I'm so late to convey my thanks.

2. Liberator_Rev, I can't access your profile and I want to see your blog. I've long thought that the reunion with the M.E. Church, South was a mistake. Something begun badly, as the Southern M.E.s “church” was, will never bear good fruit.


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