San Francisco Chronicle Confuses Cameron With Focus On The Family

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2007

Sometimes reporters are biased, sometimes they’re just careless, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ilene Lelchuk wrote this in an article on Focus on the Family’s opposition to gay foster parents:

Focus on the Family’s objection to same-sex parents is grounded in interpretation of biblical scripture and research by Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute in Colorado.

Believe you me, I’m no fan of Paul Cameron, and I’m the last person in the world to defend Focus on the Family for much of anything. But if there’s one thing I can’t stand is a reporter who doesn’t check her facts.

Paul Cameron generally works with less than $200,000 a year and has maybe four employees — all family members as far as I can tell. Focus on the Family has an operating budget of more than $138 million. Their 1,300 employees are more than capable of generating their own false statistics whenever the mood strikes. They have no need to get their hands dirty with Cameron’s work.

And in fact, Focus on the Family has been avoiding Cameron’s work for almost a decade. They’re even careful to avoid using his work indirectly — although occasionally it does manage to slip through.

Believe me, I’ve been watching for it. And after three years of watching them very carefully, I’ve only found a couple of isolated cases where they used his statistics indirectly. (One isolated example can be found in James Dobson’s book Bringing Up Boys, where he cites William Bennett instead of Paul Cameron to get to Cameron’s gay lifespan statistic).

A lot of people use Cameron’s research. Many more use his work discretely without attributing it to him by name. But Focus on the Family — as a rule — generally doesn’t. And by no means are their positions “grounded” on Cameron’s research. This is astonishingly sloppy reporting coming from the Chronicle.

So then, mark this day. I said something mildly positive about Focus on the Family — if saying that Focus can manufacture bad data without Cameron’s help is at all positive.

I’m sure it’s hard to keep track of all the anti-gay activists. They often sound so much alike. But I think it’s important to set the record straight when the media gets it wrong, especially when they overstate Cameron’s stature. Cameron’s bad enough, but when it comes to overall impact, he’s no Dobson.

Although Cameron’s statement to the Chronicle does beg one question: Would Focus on the Family prefer to keep kids institutionalized than have them go to same-sex couples?

David Lynn

May 22nd, 2007

A lot of people use Cameron’s research. Many more use his work discretely without attributing it to him by name. But Focus on the Family — as a rule — generally doesn’t.

Yeah…. just a couple of weeks ago, I went data-mining at family.org, focusonthtefamily.com, focusonyourchild.com, focusaction.org, and citizenlink.org to see what I could find of any Cameron research. They were all squeaky clean. I think that was all of their domains.

Michael Ditto

May 22nd, 2007

They’ve distanced themselves from Cameron for years because he’s so cuckoo bananas. Like so many members of the radical right, James Dobson likes to let Cameron tell the world what Dobson really means so that Dobson doesn’t have to look like a hatemonger.

We’ll see if they attack the message, distance themselves from the messenger, or just let it stand. I’m guessing it’ll be the middle option.

It’s not that they disagree with Cameron, they just don’t want anybody to know that they agree.

A. McEwen

May 22nd, 2007

Sometimes, references to Cameron do slip through via Focus on the Family.

The piece “Why Homosexuality Falls Short of the Ideal” by Glenn T. Stanton (who I think was employed there when he wrote this) is an excellent example (http://www.palmettofamily.org/Reports/Sexuality/ HTMLRpt/sex05.htm).

It references the work of Straight & Narrow? Compassion & Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate by Thomas E. Schmidt

But Schmidt used Cameron’s studies in this book

Phillips

May 26th, 2007

In reference to the “Gay Lifespan Study” link since there’s no comment section on that page:

Everything people are complaining about was noted at some time in the report (the new one about Denmark and Norway). This is what science is, or rather, what is should be. Work with the data you have, while noting any variables. The scientific method requires that studies be replicable. FRI has done this with gay obituaries in the U.S. and age distributions reported in sexuality studies from 1858 through 1993 (published in Omega, 1994), as well as 4 other lines of evidence published in Pyschological Reports, 1998 – 1) additional obituaries from the gay press, 2) findings from two national random-samle surveys, 3) the age distributions of registered homosexual couples in Scandanavia, and 4) the age distributions oh homosexuals and drug-abusers taking HIV tests in Colorado. As recent as ’02, FRI published another study in Psychological Reports using additional obituaries from the gay press and findings from two large, nationwide random sexuality surveys – both of which were consistent with a shortened lifespan (in one of these, the CDC study, the oldest woman who reported sex with a woman in the previous 12 months was 49 yr., the oldest man who reported sex with a man in the previous 12 months was 54 yr.) No one has produced any empiracle evidence to refute their conclusion, only complaints, and I predict no one will.

A. McEwen

May 28th, 2007

“[The CDC] does not collect statistics on the life span of gay men. While gay men continue to be severely impacted by HIV and AIDS, AIDS-related death data cannot be used to indicate that homosexual men live shorter lives than heterosexual men overall.” – Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention

This is from – Weird anti-gay science, The Washington Blade, June 17, 2005

This would mean that Cameron’s usage of CDC data to prove that gay men have a short life span is incorrect.

Phillips

June 7th, 2007

Actually, they did do it, once, in collaberation with the National Household Survey of Drug Abuse. The CDC was responsible for a series of questions on sexuality, but they were apparently so appalled at the data that they never did did it again, nor did they send out hard-copies of the data. FRI actually had to find the data online via a footnote they found.

a. mcewen

June 19th, 2007

Sorry you are incorrect

Cameron tried to use that survey to make a claim that gays are more criminal than heterosexuals.

But another CDC spokesperson, Karen Hunter, said that he was incorrect.

And the survey was not used to judge “life spans.”

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