By Dr. Mikle South, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brigham Young University
In the past couple of days, a number of friends have asked for my opinion on a recent blogpost from Mormon Women Stand (MWS) entitled “Groundbreaking Research on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Backs up the Family Proclamation and Teachings of Prophets” with the subtitle “Almost Everything the Media Tells You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong.”
The MWS blogpost reviews a recent article in a publication called The New Atlantis which claims to have definitively shown “that some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence.” The upshot of the MWS claim is that homosexuality has no biological basis and that LGBTQ people have deliberately chosen their sexual orientation. There is an additional subtext discounting the role of discrimination against LGBTQ people as an underlying factor for their high rates of depression and suicide.
I have now heard about a number of well-meaning LDS bishops who have sent a link for this post to members of their flock concerned about the experience of LGBTQ youth in the church, with a note along the lines of “so here is what science has proven and you should let your worries go.” Unfortunately, the MWS blog post has things all wrong, and has the potential to cause extensive harm.
Let me state my agenda upfront. First, as a mental health researcher and a practicing psychologist, my highest priority is to help improve human welfare. Because LGBTQ youth and adults—especially those rejected by family and close friends–are at increased risk for poor health and mental health outcomes, including suicide, I have extra concern for their welfare. I believe that is why so many friends have asked for my opinion on this, and why I want to respond.
Second, I am not an expert regarding the science of sexuality. I am aware of substantial evidence supporting a strong biological influence on sexuality, but the nature of science makes it impossible to ever “prove” anything one way or the other. My commentary is not about whether sexuality is innate or a choice. Rather, my point is to examine the accuracy and the consequences of the MWS blogpost. In brief, I have three concerns.
- The original New Atlantis report does not represent good science, despite its claim that “this report is about science and medicine, nothing more and nothing less.”
- I examined the original article in terms of standard benchmarks for establishing acceptable quality of scientific research, as recognized by other scientists, universities, and funding agencies. These benchmarks provide an important context about whether other scientists find that the research methods are adequate and the conclusions are appropriate to the findings. The article does not meet any of these benchmarks. Specifically, it was not peer reviewed prior to publication. The journal itself, The New Atlantis, does not appear in the Journal Citation Reports database, the premier source for tracking how often other scientists cite articles from that journal. While the authors of the The New Atlantis article criticize the findings of other scientists who used acceptable methods, they themselves did not use acceptable statistical techniques such as meta-analysis, and the research they review is highly selective.
- Much of the MWS blogpost is cut-and-pasted material from a scholar employed by the Heritage Foundation named Ryan T. Anderson. Anderson received his PhD in Economic Policy but is known primarily as a political philosopher. He does not have a background in psychology or psychiatry and is thus an unusual choice to rely on for a scientific review of the research. Anderson’s pick of entertainer Lady Gaga as a primary representative of the scientific viewpoint was equally puzzling.
- The “research” cited in The New Atlantis report is not groundbreaking, rather it is a lengthy recycling of previous arguments.
- Science as a discipline is imperfect, but concluding that the body of work on the nature of sexuality is “wrong” is simply not tenable–and an affront to the scientific method of inquiry, hypothesis-testing, and replication. Science is a dynamic entity and putting a definitive “stop” to the process is inappropriate.
- The link between The New Atlantis report and The Family Proclamation is tenuous and overstated.
- While the author of the MWS blogpost repeatedly affirms that the findings of the report support the truths contained in the LDS church’s Family Proclamation, my own view is that this is a misappropriation of church materials to suit her own bias.
- I first note considerable confusion over the use of the term “gender.” In psychology and biology, “sex” is used to refer to the biological characteristics of a person’s sex organs, i.e. the plumbing they are born with (while also acknowledging that, for a few babies, this is not clear cut at birth). “Gender” refers to a societal construction of what it means to be “masculine” or “feminine.”
- The terms are often used interchangeably, but in this context it is important to know what is meant. The LDS church usually uses “gender” to mean what psychologists and biologists typically call “sex.” One could thus accurately interpret the Family Proclamation as saying “Boys are born as boys and they will always be boys. Girls are born girls and will always be girls.”
- The author of the MWS post has chosen to interpret this statement from the Proclamation as a statement against the biological nature of sexual preference, but this is only a matter of opinion. To claim this viewpoint as factual is vastly overstated and also in contradiction to numerous recent statements on the issue by LDS general authorities.
- Most importantly, the content and the tone of this post focus much more on blaming the victims of discrimination–our LGBTQ brothers and sisters–rather than encouraging more acceptance and love for everyone.
- LGBTQ youth and adults, whether LDS and not, suffer immensely from discrimination and rejection. If you have doubts about this, please talk to any LGBTQ friends, family members, or neighbors. They will tell you multiple examples of small and big ways they have been ill-treated on account of their sexuality.
- LDS members are repeatedly counseled to seek out the afflicted as Christ did, to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”
- No one but God knows the balance of innate biological versus environmental influence (including trauma, abuse, as well as societal pressures) versus some sort of “choice” for each individual’s sexuality. It is inappropriate for any of us to claim we know better, and whatever our beliefs on the matter, it is inappropriate to discriminate against others on account of it,
- The take-away conclusion of the MWS blogpost is this: “If you’re LGBTQ and you are feeling rejected, it’s only because you were mentally ill to start with. Besides, your choices about sexuality are your own fault anyway so don’t ask us to assuage your tender feelings.” My own view is that this post and similar writings promulgate feelings of rejection that further contribute to the epidemic of depression and suicide among our LGBTQ neighbors and friends.
- I encourage us to have much more of an “Is it I?” mentality about what we can do, individually, to love others as Christ did. Christ repeatedly had harsher words for the self-righteous who judged others poorly, while reaching out to and serving those whom the ruling righteous judged as sinners.
For these reasons and others, I plead for responsible people to stop sharing the MWS blogpost, the source post from Dr. Anderson, or The New Atlantis article which at its core is a scientific travesty. In contrast to the provocative title of the MWS post, the article in question does not represent valid or groundbreaking research, does not factually affirm the divinity of the Family Proclamation, and it has more potential to increase rejection and discrimination than it does to encourage Christlike love for LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Instead, I recommend that all of us ask ourselves: how can I be more welcoming and loving? It might help to seek out an LGBTQ friend, family member or neighbor and ask for their opinion on the same question. Listen, don’t judge, and help make the world a better place for everyone.
- These views are entirely my own and are not intended to represent the viewpoint of my employer, the church I belong to, or any friends or family members.
- I sent a request more than a week ago to the Mormon Women Stand site to respond to my concerns but have not heard back from them.
- As stated at the outset, this article addresses the accuracy and tone of the MWS blogpost and its sources and does not comment on the nature of sexuality and sexual orientation, or the structure of marriage. I suggest to the moderator that any comments on this question are not germane to my article and should be removed.
Thank you for this.
The New Atlantis article made me feel like I was being thrown back under the bus, so to speak, to the days nearly 20 years ago, when I was blamed as a parent for my son becoming gay. I was told I was too overbearing and controlling in our marriage relationship and too maternal toward my son. Fortunately, I was able to find research disproving such views, but it felt shocking to see this article making the rounds, re-airing many of those old opinions. SO damaging to parent AND to gay children.
I’m very sorry it happened then and that it still happens. I pray that it doesn’t happen for much longer. ~MS
Thanks for the heads up. Misuse of science, in this case where the desired (and therefore pre-determined) conclusion comes first, only then to be followed by the (selectively selected) “evidence,” which fortuitously falls in line, is always a nuisance.
Doesn’t it seem a little too suspicious when sexual orientation, in its entirely, is now said to have one simple explanation – namely, it’s chosen at will? What a break! Everything made easy and unambiguous. And science says so! The entire experience explained away.
It reminds me of the stuff the anti-climate change people come up with – science subjugated to politics.
I hope this review gets a wide readership; I’m not sure how much of a reach Rational Faiths has. Are you posting this in other places?
I think RF encourages people to post it wherever they wish. I’m quite busy at the beginning of the semester and not really connected to lots of places anyway, but feel free to share! I do believe this article has had quite a bit of readership today. ~MS
Dr. South informed us late last night that Dr. Ryan T. Anderson (Heritage Foundation) who is cited in the Mormon Women Stand article will be speaking at BYU today.
Timing is too perfect.
Thanks for your thinking on this Dr. South–and I agree. I find it a fascinating that this little article is making waves in the small minority of folks who seem to want to cling to outdated (and inaccurate) theories of the past, while in the larger and more informed scientific community it’s not even being cited. My guess: In a year from now we will have forgotten it even exists–it’s neither groundbreaking nor revolutionary. More like an infomercial for “the world the way we as conservative Mormons wish it were.”
Thanks for your comments Mitch. I hope you are right that it’s a “small minority” but I still hear too many cases where this line of logic is causing damage. Ryan T. Anderson gave a forum at BYU this afternoon (I wasn’t able to attend) and I’m sure he touched on this stuff to hundreds of students trying to learn about life. I suppose and hope you are right about the New Atlantis article but more will come. It was a convenient time to get my thoughts on paper (so to speak). My response is no more groundbreaking that the New Atlantis gig, of course, but now I’ve said it. ~MS
Remember the skinny, brown-haired kid that lived across from you guys on Emerson Ave? Well, turns out he’s gay. Who knew! Certainly not us, his parents. Thankfully, we got connected early-on with good people at places like PFLAG and Affirmation who helped us clearly understand that there was nothing “wrong” with our son. He was still the same nut he’d always been–just a gay one! And for us, five years on, he couldn’t be a better son, or a better brother for his sisters, or a better uncle for his nieces and nephews. – Jim and Merrie
Jim and Merrie,
Thank you for your touching comment. Thank you for being good parents and I’m glad to hear your son is doing well. We miss living by you! God bless. ~MS
There was a post about this at Millennial Star a few weeks ago, too. It and the comments horrified me, and I was disappointed not to see any refutation elsewhere in the blogs (I could’ve missed it, admittedly). But it didn’t seem to be getting much traction more broadly. I guess MWS has a broader distribution. Thanks for taking this on.
Unfortunately it seems to appear repeatedly in a lot of places. In the case of suicides, one is too many and any addition to that burden is too much. We can’t keep up with all the attacks on LGBTQ but we can do our best when possible. ~MS
I think it is reckless to tie this to LGBT suicides. This narrative has to stop because it is not true. We need to be better at being objective in our search for answers (even if it doesn’t make the LGBT community look good). There is merit to all reports and studies. We cannot honestly claim that literally all this research is rubbish. This shows our obvious bias against anything that touches research that dares to contradict our desires outcome. Confirmation bias goes both ways.
“I think it is reckless to tie this to LGBT suicides.”
I encourage you to read the following research that Dr. Parkinson and I have done on this very subject. It will appear in this summer’s issue of Dialogue as well.
It was simply a cherry-picked review of the studies dressed up to appear scientific. There was no new research in the New Atlantis report. In fact, it ignored the latest actual research on LGBT issues.
In response to the M* post I made a very tame comment about taking the study with a grain of salt because the study’s author is known to be not friendly towards LGBT. My comment was deleted by the moderators. Apparently I’m too controversial for their taste.
I don’t recall seeing your comment and deleting it. I just looked at our trash bin and didn’t see it. Post your comment again please. And who is M*? I don’t see anyone with that username commenting on this blog post.
Mike, he’s talking about the Millenial Star blog, which also did a post praising the same study that Mormon Women Stand did.
I had a conversation with someone about this and they had read the full report (I have not) and said that they could see how TBM’s link it to the Family Proclamation because it talks about family structure, marriage, gender, abuse of offspring (quoting the proclamation) and so on. If I were to take a guess, most people not in our circles could quite easily see how this report makes a connection to the teachings of prophets and the proclamation. We may not like the report, but the link is clear enough.
Thanks for this insight. I could see how this would work, but my own post did not try so much to make the same links on my own, rather only to deal with the internal logic present in the MWS blogpost itself. However, the methods used in the New Atlantis report is deeply flawed and therefore, even if people want to make those logical leaps, lack the justification to do so. Here is a summary of the original report, which someone sent me later today though I hadn’t seen it before. ~MS
But surely there are many pro LGBT studies and so-called research that falsify claims or stretch the truth. To be objective, we need to acknowledge at least some of the studies and reports that don’t support our personal bias. I don’t think this article will change any minds for those that believe LGBT behavior is wrong or risky.
The scientific method and peer reviewed journals are not perfect but are the best we have at approaching objective truth. Yes, claims have been falsified, but given enough time, the false data will be found as the findings cannot be repeated or closer examination of the data reveals problems. A recent example of this can be read about in the following link:
I saw the conclusion that suicide rates and anxiety is higher among homosexuals which I assume he was trying to say that being homosexual makes you suicidal. That is such an ignorant comment. Being homosexual doesn’t make you suicidal, it’s the way that they are so poorly treated. Now I may be wrong in that interpretation because I don’t think he flat out said that but I can’t believe people feel that way.
To which conclusion are you referring? The MWS blog post?
In the article by MWS, if you click on the link.
That’s what I assumed you meant. When Dr. Parkinson and I did our large research paper regarding LBBTQ suicides, one big question I had was regarding depression in LGBTQ people. That is, is being depressed just part of being gay like being fair skinned is part of being a red-head? The answer is definitely NO. Being depressed is a symptom of being rejected, not of being LGBTQ.
I would say I don’t quite agree with your take or Barker’s take on my statement. What I will say is that the question of increased suicidality in LGBT+ folks is very complicated and no one knows “the answer.” What is certain is that ANY behavior which exacerbates that, including discrimination and rejection, is anathema to Christ-centered living. It may not be the only cause but if it adds any burden to suffering people, it does not belong. What I take HUGE issue with is people blaming high suicide rates in Utah on church policy towards gays etc. Perhaps this is true in the end but data do not support it at present, only hearsay. As you can probably tell, I am one who believes in relying on data as much as possible, with the understanding of inherent flaws in science, to support our positions no matter which side of an argument you take. http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/3495255-155/op-ed-misuse-of-utah-suicide-data
It’s always revealing how quickly groups like Mormon Women Stand and Meridian Magazine grab onto bogus scientific studies to try to justify their bigotry. It’s like when supporters of racial bigotry and segregation embraced the bogus science of eugenics in the 1920s and 1930s to rationalize their hatred. Anyone who believes sexual orientation is a choice has never had an LGBTQ friend or family member.
Thank you for this article. It was sent to me numerous times. It felt like a “Nyah Nyah” defensive shield that was sent to me as an “ha ha turns out you were wrong” more than anything else. And THANK YOU for clarifying the benchmarks of research. A lot of people do not understand the process. I wish folks would just trust the folks that are LGBTQIA+ instead of thinking so much about how to navigate and explain things to us heterosexuals. When my best friend told me he was gay, that was enough “proof” for me, because I love and trust him. We need to do the same for all of our LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters. There is room for all at His table. Thank you again for this article.
My comment is about science… You stated that “the nature of science makes it impossible to ever “prove” anything one way or the other.” Unfortunately that is not what science would have us believe. Scientists say that they have proven definitively that evolution trumps creation. I have change the very nature of public education by their belief that science can definitively prove everything. I believe that your comment is not supported by the majority of scientists or current thought in research. Using that as part of your argument unfortunately weakens the remaining stand. That doesn’t mean that what you say is wrong it simply means that this particular justification is unfounded. If the entire field of education hinges on science proving anything, then perhaps you would rethink your statement that science can’t definitively prove anything.
What you are actually describing is how the public often sees the work of scientists. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
You brought up evolution. Notice how it is not called, “the law of evolution,” but rather the “theory of evolution.” That is because (although there is lots of data that gives evidence of its truth) the theory can itself evolve. Laws in science describe the way things are, but don’t explain why things work the way they do. Theories explain why things happen. So technically the “Law of gravity” tells us things will fall to the ground but don’t tell us why. Newton’s theory of gravity explains why the object will fall to the ground.
In my line of medical work, we sometimes have to treat patients who have developed a post-operative infection. Our treatment with antibiotics is based upon what is called “germ theory.” We don’t call it “germ law.”
Theory is the closest word that the natural sciences have to the word “proved”. But the natural sciences won’t ever use it because, as Dr. South pointed out, “science doesn’t prove anything.” Someone who has not been properly trained in the scientific method might use the word “prove” or a rogue scientist who is just being an idiot might use the word “prove” instead of saying “gives evidence for”, but that should be the exception.
And I do think some scientists can be arrogant as well as some physicians. They will argue and debate as to why they think their hypothesis and theory is the right one. But in this debate, new hypothesis are formed and tested.
Here’s the thing though. Every scientist wants to be the next Einstein. What I mean is, a scientist wants to develop a theory that takes down or expands an old theory, like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. There isn’t some grand conspiracy to maintain the status quo (I’m not implying that you think or said that – a complete rambling side note).
Now with the hard sciences, such as chemistry, math takes this conversation to a whole new ball park.
Mike Barker has it right. I believe, actually, that if you ask any actual scientist they will agree that science cannot, by current definitions using the scientific method, prove things to be true. We can provide support for a theory and that is all. What science is good at doing is proving things wrong–the evidence shows the hypothesis CANNOT work. The notion of falsfiability is essential and taught in all introductory science textbooks: a theory that cannot be proven wrong is not useful. If I say “there is a large reptile in Loch Ness” and don’t find one it doesn’t convince the believers who will only say “the government hid all the evidence” and so forth. If I say instead “no alien ships have ever landed in Roswell, New Mexico” and I find one, then my theory is proven wrong. THOSE are the useful theories. Of course sometimes scientists are arrogant and overstate their claims–as is certainly the case in the New Atlantis article–but usually it is media and others who report stronger claims than the scientists make. We all know that we can’t prove our theories, only disprove them! Also, science can add nuance: Einstein’s relativity explained aspects of Newton’s Laws of Gravity that didn’t make sense when things get really big or really fast. Heisenberg’s (and others) quantum mechanics explains where Einstein’s theory breaks down, when things get really tiny. For a good take on this from a Mormon scientists, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFGCNv5O17Y ~MS
The problem with the New Atlantis article was that the authors systematically ignored research refuting their point and only chose stuff that (sort-of, not really) agreed with it. Thus there was no way for them to publish their opinion in a legit scientific journal–they ignored the rules of good science. What happened next was people like Ryan T. Anderson and “Mormon Women Stand” then reified the original findings, making the argument even stronger. But because it had no basis to start with, no truth was added, only hate and hurt.
I have read the article by Anderson & McHugh and the rejoinder above by Mikle South. This whole issue of human sexuality is complex and raises strong emotions. Before even approaching this issue we should recognize and remember that we are all children of God and entitled to kindness and compassion. Many with same-sex attraction have been mistreated over time, and we should all come to the point that we do not speak or act unkindly to or about them. Our focus should be on the total acceptance of them as persons of worth and, within the Gospel context, helping where we can so that they too can be happy and successful.
By the same token, though, those in the LGBT group and their supporters should also treat those with different views with kindness and respect. Those writing on different sides of this issue should be civil and not use words and expressions, such as South does unfortunately, like “wildly overstated” and “scientific travesty.” The use of such terms suggests that the author using them is not only disrespectful toward Anderson and McHugh but has difficulty being dispassionate.
This exchange points out also how important it is that all views be given a fair hearing. The antithesis of this is contained in South’s request that “I plead for responsible people to stop sharing the MWS blogpost.” Such a statement is anti-academic freedom, since the heart and soul of inquiry is to allow all voices a hearing.
What is needed is a dispassionate analysis of the issue, not attacking the messengers but carefully and fairly reviewing the methodologies and findings of past and present studies, seeking to discover not who is right, but what is true.
You make a very important point about needing to be fair and dispassionate on all sides, with an emphasis on mutual respect. I agree with you completely, in general. In this case however, I think it’s important to realize that sometimes more aggressive approaches are necessary to effectively combat the apparent problems. If the authors of the New Atlantis post had not made such strong claims about their work and their findings, with so much effort to discount good work being done by others; and if the Mormon Women Stand post had a gentler and kinder stance; then I wouldn’t be upset at all. Free speech is important, critical–but even in our society, libel is not acceptable, and that’s what this seems like to me. In this case, once Bishops start accepting the MWS report of “scientific support” for the anti-biology framework, and counseling their members to give up their questions and concerns about sexuality, the line has been crossed. The New Atlantis report IS a travesty of science no matter what definition of science you look at. By no acceptable standards does it qualify as adequate research. I’m not one to strain at gnats, but once the gnats start biting, so to speak, than intervention is necessary. I am only trying to work against harm for others, and felt that the strength of the attack on the science of sexuality required a strong response though much more toned down from those I commented on. I hope you can understand that perspective.
If someone believes a study is a scientific travesty and is willing to set out their arguments why this is so, she/he can, and should make that argument. Since the “heart and soul of inquiry is to allow all voices a hearing” then that would be a voice that gets to be heard as part of academic freedom, right? If someone wants to label something as a travesty, he/she gets to label it as a travesty and readers can judge. Should that person allow something dangerous to continue in the name of dispassionate inquiry?
Are we to pretend, in the name of good manners, that the eugenics arguments of the early 20th Century represent a legitimate, respectable scientific viewpoint? That proponents of that viewpoint (if any remain) should be allowed to make their case is obvious. And then we get to call it a scientific travesty if we want. We don’t have to pretend otherwise.
When I was in Boston at graduate school many years ago, Brandeis University for some reason found it necessary to host a forum for those who argued that the Holocaust in WW2 was a fiction, had never occurred. Did Brandeis have a right to do this? Sure. But were they obliged to? Of course not. Holocaust deniers don’t have a leg to stand on so why pretend they do? Someone finally had had it and got up and pointed out that the Holocaust was the best documented atrocity in history – there is a stack of documents that would reach the moon (not to mention surviving victims and perpetrators) – and that the debate on the historicity of the Holocaust was not one between two competing, respectable historical perspectives but a contest between the truth and a disease. He was right, but, in any event, gets to make that comment. (Brandeis didn’t get a lot of kudos for this event.)
If Bishops are promoting something masquerading as legitimate science, they should be warned of this and made aware of why it isn’t legitimate science. Maybe some of them will study up and decide that Anderson and McHugh are on to something. But at least they were warned and made aware that a strong countervailing argument exists. The fact that Anderson and McHugh bypassed peer-reviewed scientific journals says something.
Thanks again, Dr. South.
While I’m at it, does Philip Smith believe that the Anderson and McHugh study is, in fact, legitimate science? If so, make the case.
Dr. Williams, a top psychology professor disagrees with your take Mikel, as so do many, many others who are experts in the field (you are not). As you are not a professor of psychology not an exoert, I suggest you read his response in this article and admit your uninformed bias
A Victory for Science over Scientific Propaganda: A New Report on Sexuality and Gender
“Good scientists follow the data where they lead. They are constantly open to alternatives and remain mindful of scientific and intellectual rigor. To dismiss this scientific report as merely political is to misread it—not only cynically but unscientifically. The report, with its substantial body of analyses and findings, stands on its own ground, and it certainly provides sufficient material for study and response by serious investigators. Even serious cynics have a responsibility to deal with the data.”
*Apologies for the above typos, my phone is difficult to type on.
At any rate, Mikel, I strongly suggest you have a chat in person with Dr. Williams if you are so adamant that the findings are incorrect. I suspect you will find yourself in a situation much like those who bring a knife to a gun fight 😉
First, you said, “As you are not a professor of psychology.” Please look at the beginning of Dr. South’s blog post and then scroll down to the bottom and read his complete bio. Dr. South is a PhD psychologist and has a clinical practice.
Second, you said, “Dr. Williams, a top psychology professor…” Let’s look at BYU’s Psychology Department:
Regarding Dr. South it states:
“Clinical Psychology, Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology.”
Regarding Dr. Richard Williams, it states:
“Wheatley Institution Director”
Does Dr. Williams even teach psychology anymore? I mean, it’s weird that what would be listed on BYU’s Psych Departments’ website would have nothing to do with Dr. Williams’ psychology credentials, but instead would mention that he is the founder and director of the Wheatley Institution. Bizarre.
For those readers who don’t know what the Wheatley Institution is, here is a link: http://wheatley.byu.edu
It has zero to do with psychology.
Interesting side note, Dr. Ryan Anderson, who is quoted in the Mormon Women Stand blog post to which Dr. South is responding, spoke at the Wheatley Institution the very day that this blog post by Dr. South came out. (https://news.byu.edu/calendar/32087)
Third, you missed a major point of Dr. South’s critique. The New Atlantis is not publishing science. It is not a peer-reviewed journal. Published science comes in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Williams knows this and so shame on him for endorsing a non-science journal as if it is science. That sounds like propaganda to me.
Fourth, if you are going to refer to Richard Williams as “Dr. Williams,” you should refer to MIkle South as “Dr. South.”
Lastly, since you are handing out advice with regards to reading science, sink your teeth into this review of the scientific literature about LGBTQ suicides – which, interesting enough, contains a study from BYU because it’s important to look at ALL the data we can and not cherry-pick.
I am not going to get into a war of words on this topic. I have already succinctly stated my reasons for dismissing those conclusions and I don’t back off any of them. Most important of the concerns is the increased potential for intolerance and harm against our LGBT+ brothers and sisters . But I want to offer a quick summary of some of the issues at hand:
1) No matter how much the New Atlantis authors, and their buddies, justify their conclusions from the data they reviewed, one cannot overlook the fact that they left out many important studies that do not support their views. I wholeheartedly support “following the data.” But that means following ALL the data. Cherry-picking findings violates a fundamental standard of science and resulting interpretations cannot be taken seriously. Those tempted by their repetitive boasts regarding how many studies they reviewed, should also ask about how many they left out.
2) As an active researcher of mental health concerns and as an active practicing clinician and as a believing Christian, I am most concerned about the welfare of individuals and families. I will oppose perceived threats to that welfare with as much vigor as I have.
Perhaps this would be a good place to get an educated response to a question I’ve had for a while, which is: If is is agreed that pedophiles have a strong, inherent sexual attraction to children which is very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to alter, why don’t we acknowledge pedophilia to be a natural, biologically based “orientation”, rather than a condition in need of treatment? Putting the object of the attraction aside and applying the same standard of “scientific” evaluation, wouldn’t both inclinations be unassailable as a biologically based preference?
SoHoMojo, we all know it’s gross to compare LGBT people to pedophiles.
That said, if pedophilia is an “orientation” I am open to using reparative therapy on pedophiles because what they do can harm people for the rest of their lives. Reparative therapy is dangerous and often doesn’t work, but if it’s being used to save a child it is definitely worth it.
I am not open to using reparative therapy on LGBT people because what we we do harms nobody, and so the risk isn’t worth taking.
This is why I find the whole “born this way” debate kind of silly. Because honestly speaking, it doesn’t really matter if we’re born this way or not. It doesn’t matter if we can control ourselves or not. There’s literally nothing wrong with loving another adult, even if you think some god-magick leaves you when you do.