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"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

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“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, August 28, 2016

They Don't Give Up

There's a new "study" out that purports to debunk the "liberal" narratives on sexual orientation and gender identity. David Hart, at the Slowly Boiled Frog, points out some of the problems:

 Ryan T. Anderson writes at Heritage Foundation's blog:

A major new report, published today in the journal The New Atlantis, challenges the leading narratives that the media has pushed regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Co-authored by two of the nation’s leading scholars on mental health and sexuality, the 143-page report discusses over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences, painstakingly documenting what scientific research shows and does not show about sexuality and gender.

Back the fuck up.

There is nothing new about this and it is not a major report. Major reports are published to peer reviewed scholarly journals. The New Atlantis is not peer reviewed and it is a project of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. EPPC is a conservative Catholic organization headed by Ed Whelan with an assist from  George Weigel. The authors did not engage in an independent investigation of anything. Rather, this is a cherry picking of existing research to suit a predetermined ideological conclusion.

Those two “leading scholars” are Lawrence S. Mayer (who is out of his depth on sexuality — he is a biostatistician-epidemiologist) and Paul R. McHugh. McHugh insists that transgender people do not exist. Everyone involved in this, … paper is a Defender of the Faith™, as is Ryan Anderson.

Hart's points, although rather vehemently stated, are valid: The New Atlantis is not a scholarly journal -- it doesn't seem to publish origina research, it is not peer reviewed, there seems to be no mechanism for vetting submissions other than ideology: It is an organ of the Catholic Church, ultimately, through several layers. Just skimming through on my own, it appears that the authors have followed the path so beloved of anti-gay "Christian" voices -- cherry-picking data and using it to support their predetermined conclusions, while ignoring any data that doesn't. I call it "Faith-Based Science." It's the sort of thing that got Paul Cameron (remember him? He's the guy whose work is still being cited by the likes of Tony Perkins, although they no longer mention him by name -- he's that radioactive) kicked out of every professional organization he belonged to.

Anne Hilt has a more detailed rebuttal. She concludes:

In the end, we must ask why McHugh and Mayer went to such lengths to produce such a long and deeply flawed paper for a journal that isn’t even peer reviewed. First and foremost, it provides a scientific veneer for the public policy goals of their church. Ultimately this paper is about using cherry-picked science to justify religious views rather than an actual review of what the research suggests should be best practice. This public policy work was put in to practice when much of this same paper was used in a deposition in support of HB2. They have somehow contorted themselves to twist the commonly accepted answer of , “it’s complex” into “there’s no evidence.”

In this they have gone against all current medical wisdom, standards of care, and practice. There does not appear to be any awareness or concern that such a contrarian position which could cause so much harm to so many people requires an extraordinary level of proof.

This paper does not suffice as such when it cuts so many corners, resorts to logical fallacies, and claims without either evidence or citation. A solution of “more reparative therapy” is far less supportable than their claims about the biological origins of gender identity. In the end, they have forgotten their vow to “do no harm,” while advocating against both civil and human rights for highly vulnerable minorities.

I have to confess, I simply don't understand the motivations of people who do things like this. I really can't find a point of entry on that. I can understand it better on the part of the Church: it's a matter of power and influence, and the Church has been losing ground steadily over the past few decades, as more and more people come to see that reality and Church doctrine have very little to do with each other. And the Church's behavior during the sexual abuse scandals did nothing to help: it's hard to take seriously as a moral arbiter an institution that is so obviously morally bankrupt.

I am, as it happens, deeply offended by anyone calling this sort of garbage "science." I big portion of my education has been in science, specifically psychology, and this kind of thing is one of the worst perversions there can be, in my book. Not to mention the complete lack of ethics involved.

At any rate, this "study" is now being touted everywhere by the right wing, and as Hilt notes, has already been used in an amicus brief. One only hopes that the opposing counsel can lay hands on someone who knows what they're talking about to rebut it.

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