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Limited Available Information on Study has Confusing Numbers

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2007

Dr. Warren Throckmorton is reporting some of the findings from the Yarhouse and Jones book. It appears that the study was over four years and included 98 people who were referred by various Exodus ministries.

  • 33 people reported change in the desired manner (from gay at time 1 in the heterosexual direction at time 3)
  • 29 reported no change
  • 8 reported change in the undesired direction
  • 3 were unsure how to describe their experience of change

and 25 people discontinued participation in the study during that time. The study also reports:

  • Success: Conversion – There were subjects who reported that they felt their change to be successful and reported substantial reduction in homosexual desire and addition of heterosexual attraction and functioning at Time 3. 15% met these criteria.
  • Success: Chastity – These people experienced satisfactory reductions in homosexual desire and were living chaste lives. 23% were in this category.
  • Continuing – These persons experienced only modest change in the desired direction but expressed commitment to continue. 29% were in this category.
  • No-response – These people experienced no change and were conflicted about the future even though they had not given up. 15% were here.
  • Failure (from their perspective): Confused – No change reported and had given up but did not label themselves gay. 4% were in this group
  • Failure: Gay identity – No change, no pursuit and had come as gay. 8% were in this category.

Assuming that these are percentages of the 73 participants who made it to the fourth year, this would break out as follows:

  • Success: Conversion – 11
  • Success: Chastity – 17
  • Continuing – 21
  • No-response – 11
  • Failure: Confused – 3
  • Failure: Gay identity – 6

With four people left unaccounted for.

Try as I might, I can’t get these two findings to reconcile. Did 33 people report a change in the positive direction, or did 28? Did 8 people identify as gay or did 6?

We will have to wait for Jim’s analysis of the book for better answers. At present, we can only conclude that, at best:

Perhaps eleven percent of an nonrepresentative sample of 98 highly motivated gay people who went through Exodus programs reported that after four years there was “substantial reduction in homosexual desire and addition of heterosexual attraction and functioning”.

Christianity Today provides further clarification on those eleven successes.

Most of the individuals who reported that they were heterosexual at Time 3 did not report themselves to be without experience of homosexual arousal, and did not report heterosexual orientation to be unequivocal and uncomplicated. … We believe the individuals who presented themselves as heterosexual success stories at Time 3 are heterosexual in some meaningful but complicated sense of the term.

These sound less like Mom and Dad heterosexuals and more like Larry Craig heterosexuals. In other words, the number of individuals who went from plain old gay to plain old straight: zero. Not an overwhelming success story, I’m inclined to think.

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Ex-Gay Watch » Exodus Puts Upbeat Spin on Ex-Gay Study Finding Little ‘Change’
September 14th, 2007 | LINK

[...] reading Prof. Warren Throckmorton’s preliminary look at the study, Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin finds cause for ex-gays to be concerned: Only 11 percent of study participants — all active members of ex-gay political/religious [...]

Samantha Davis
September 14th, 2007 | LINK

And regarding the 17 chaste people. I seem to recall that if you present an animal (dog) with food accompanied with pain you will eventually get the animal to starve themselves to death in the abundance of food.

David
September 14th, 2007 | LINK

“Most of the individuals who reported that they were heterosexual at Time 3 did not report themselves to be without experience of homosexual arousal, and did not report heterosexual orientation to be unequivocal and uncomplicated.”

This really sounds like a description of a less than satisfying experience of bisexuality.

I think one of the crucial elements of ‘ex-gay’ claims that has to be evaluated for any study to be useful, is determining exactly how ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ someone is at the start and end of the study. Given that bisexuality exists, Occam would tell us that, most likely, those few people who report change were simply bisexual all along, and have only become more aware of the opposite sex attraction component of their bisexuality, and learned to tune out the same-sex attraction component.

Lynn David
September 14th, 2007 | LINK

In truth this study will add nothing to our knowledge concerning homosexuality. Unless, that is, if people like Jones & Yarhouse (etal, including FotF/Exodus etc…) come to realize that real [biological] sexual orientation is simply repressible, but not immutable.

There is nothing new from this study. The numbers are meaningless. Nothing is new, we have ex-gays who have said much as what happened in their lives. Just because two scientists documented it by questioning people three times over five years might be scientific but it adds no real knowledge.

grantdale
September 14th, 2007 | LINK

Thanks Timothy — it begins!

But… first up… we’d prefer if all of us refused to follow their lead in using the (value-laden, coded, weasel) words “chaste lives”. While J&Y may indeed feel they want to state it that way, as perhaps the participants do… let’s call it for what it really means for a person:

Celibacy.

(I presume all the others therefore “not chaste” fall off the wagon every now and again? In an airport, or someplace?)

And I’m not even going to try guess, at this point, what “heterosexual in some meaningful but complicated sense” actually means.

I suspect, though, therefore, that it will not be something our het. friends and family (or even the gay ones) would nominate as “heterosexual”… let alone “meaningful”.

Thanks a heap Exodus — can we have our money, and dignity, back now?!

Truth in Technicolor
September 14th, 2007 | LINK

Unfortunately, these multi sexual people who feel insecure about their sexuality due to religious beliefs, go to the very people for “healing” that fostered these very beliefs to begin with. This puts alot of $$$ in the Bank of Religious Guilt, a very big cash cow.

Many of these desperate confused people are simply born bisexual hoping for some semblance of acceptance.

Regarding quotes from the Yarrow/Jones study thus far; I find it irresponsible dim lit and through error, potentially destructive. Bisexuality is the missing mantra in the study deeming it moot, as this third of the sexual triangle runs missing.

A great orator once said, “don’t try and change the world, simply change your mind about how you view the world.” I would say to these tortured sexual souls; forget changing your sexuality, that’s impossible. Work more on removing the blocks to its beauty, so as to view your sexual matrix in a loving balanced way.

Lynn David
September 14th, 2007 | LINK

Yikes!! According to the Baptist Press those 4 missing people (5%) is due to audio tape failures.

And talk about hyping the numbers the Baptist Press is doing that. They prominently display a pie chart as if those percentages would apply across the board to all gay peoples [even providing a downloadable version, see: http://www.bpnews.net/download.asp?file=images/IMG20079146185HI.jpg ]. Baptist Press makes no mention (unlike some other Christian publications) that the numbers are basically meaningless. Instead they create a pie chart such that perspective makes those who are “Continuing” and “Success: Conversion” appear to be bigger than they actually are.

They also state:

In addition, 67 percent of men and 69 percent of women reported having been touched sexually prior to age 13.

Oh boy….

Ben in Oakland
September 15th, 2007 | LINK

Very similar to the Masters and Johnson “change” study many years ago. It turns out most of the people that were “changeable” turned out to be bi to begin with.

Jason
September 15th, 2007 | LINK

Another way of looking at these results.

Since the ex-gay industry is so famous for equating gays with some sort of disease of the soul, let’s pretend for a moment that we’re talking about cancer instead of homosexuality.

Look at “sucess” from this viewpoint

Success: Conversion – There were subjects who reported that they felt their change to be successful and reported substantial reduction in cancer cells and addition of healthy functioning cells at Time 3. 15% met these criteria.

So they still have cancer.

How exactly is that a “success” ?

grantdale
September 15th, 2007 | LINK

Hmmm, maybe not so fast on the “good methodology” etc. (from our perspective, first readings).

*** not satisfied with their blow-off of the 25 that refused to continue. The book may contain more details, but the verbals in the current media releases etc are not a good sign.

*** particularly noted their “Truly Gay” category. (don’t know why the capitalisation, but they obviously thought it mattered). One would imagine that means 100%-far-right-on-the-scale, but it’s not… “above average hom. attraction” AND “hom. behaviour” AND “past embrace of gay identity”. So, in-reality-bi included… huh??? It’s this type of convenient (value-laden) labelling of people that should make one pause and examine the nitty-gritty, rather than accept the interpretations made by Jones or Yarhouse.

*** including a high % of people who were sexually abused as children is problematic in all sorts of ways — least of all that such people could begin and end with a very confused sense of self/sexuality. Not sure, therefore, about validity of self-reporting at a most basic level. Again, may have more details in book itself.

*** they mentioned “one” (yes, singular) woman had established a “successful heterosexual relationship” in the period. Even given the limited time period, as for the rest??? (we realise this is no measure of being heterosexual, but it’s perhaps worth a mention for any potential exgay hoping for that as an outcome)

*** 40 of the 72 males had had sex with a woman, previously; many with multiple. Ditto, for the female participants and male partners. 34 had even been het. married (6 were divorced /1 separated) at the start of the study. Hope the book explores this in detail.

*** very, very interesting results comparing Time 1 to Time 2 to Time 3 changes. They noted “even slightly eroding” reports of change for the latter period compared to the first. First question that comes to mind… the claimed “success rate” declines with time, therefore? Ooops.

Maybe it’s just as well they didn’t continue the study for the entire 2000-2007 period. (if they commenced in 2000 it appears? they stopped counting about 2003/04/05?).

This failure to SUSTAIN “change”, even given a generous definition for that — and even given the very modest self-reported changes in K-scores etc — has for decades been the primary critique of reorientation efforts and the claims made by pro-change therapists.

All this, and we haven’t even begun with the (frankly, egregious) language they’ve used at times.

Ben in Oakland
September 16th, 2007 | LINK

I have not read the study, and probably won’t. Christian polemics thinly veneered as science have little attraction for me. But i have read a number of articles about it, and they seem to agree in these particulars. 15% experience change, but it is change that is “meaningful but complicated”, not “unequivocal and uncomplicated.” This implies that they have been able to change behaviour, but not orientation. They believe they have changed, but admit that it isn’t quite so simple. 23% are celibate–no change in orientation, just behaviour. And the rest– well, they didn’t change. And a whole bunch of people left the study. And it relies on self-reportage, not rigorous testing. Self reportage by people who are highly motivated to report change and to appear to have changed, and who are highly motivated to “fudge” (giggle) their results? Shades of Ted Haggard.

I say that what the study has proved beyond a doubt is not that change is or isn’t possible, but that belief in Jeebus and giving money to ex-gay ministries has no effect on sexual orientation. it just keeps feeding the people who make money off of promoting hatred and fear of gay people.

Alan “Ex”ambers is at least somewhat honest, though disingenuous. but as Mark Twain observed: “Tell me where a man gets his corn-pone, and i’ll tell you what his ‘pinions are.”

Alan “Ex”hambers has a lot invested in his opinions– his job, his family, his status among people whose approval he seeks, and the whole story he has been telling himself for years. very similar ot Michael Glatze. as far as I can tell, Glatze is someone who needs his story to be true so that he can not take responsibility for the life he created for himself.

Rick Brentlinger
September 17th, 2007 | LINK

Wow, what an amazingly informative study.

When the most highly motivated, self-loathing evangelical homosexuals make a serious effort to become heterosexual, only 11 of 73 achieve modest success and none becomes what any unbiased observer would view as a full-fledged heterosexual.

Anti-gay evangelicals admit in writing that Biblical texts are not about homosexuality

http://www.gaychristian101.com/Sodom.html

and still some in the church keep pushing the failed reparative therapy mantra.

Does anyone else detect the desperation Ex-gay businesses convey when mediocre results like this represent their best effort?

Rick Brentlinger

Jason
September 17th, 2007 | LINK

Something just occurred to me. Through this study (at least the numbers we have available) as well as other similar studies, I think the ex-gays, religious right, and whoever else is invested in these results, might be undermining their whole viewpoint.

They come at homosexuality full of preconceived notions. One of which is that being gay is merely a behavior, not a fixed characteristic.

Well the research presented here, especially concerning their success stories suggests the opposite.

If being gay were merely a bad habit, merely an addiction, there would come a point where the attractions, the cravings, the sexual thoughts would stop, right? I’m not an addiction specialist, but having completely given up both smoking and drinking, I’m at a point (3 years for both) where I have absolutely no desire for either of them. I’m dating a smoker, and I go to the bars with friends sometimes. I haven’t experienced any sort of craving for either substance in over a year.

The research suggests that the most highly motivated people, who have prayed, and worked, and dedicated a great deal of their time — can’t overcome homosexuality, they can merely avoid expressing it. These people have found coping mechanisms to deal with their desires, but the desires don’t stop.

If the highest of highly motivated people cannot stop their attractions, that would strongly suggest that those attractions are not changeable. It not only provides some proof that being gay is more than just a habit, or behavior, it strongly points to it being a fixed characteristic.

Pandagon :: What on earth is ex-gay ’success’? :: September :: 2007
September 17th, 2007 | LINK

[...] Kincaid of BTB has already noted that the study, which followed 98 people who were referred to various Exodus [...]

William
September 18th, 2007 | LINK

Jason derides the notion that being gay is comparable to a habit like smoking. He is absolutely right.

I knew when I was in my teens that I was gay, although it took me a long time to admit it to myself – I kept hoping that it was only a phase. I was in my early twenties before I actually had sex with another guy.

I started smoking when I was 19. At no time prior to that (or afterwards) did I ever dream that I was smoking a cigarette and then wake up to find my pyjamas mysteriously sprinkled with tobacco ash.

b
September 18th, 2007 | LINK

I wonder if at some point all the people who use these studies as their lifeline for “boo homosexuality” are going to see that no matter how they change words around and make an ambiguity out of the word “change”, at the end of the day, after this “therapy” you have one gay man or one gay woman that still responds to the same sex on a mental level, PERIOD. And is their message of “we can successfully free you from being gay” really all that relevant to the majority of the population in the U.S.? Or in the rest of the world? Anytime one of these guys (or women) goes on U.S. television, extolling the “successful change” of a few individuals, even when they trot out the ones who say they’ve done a 180 (forgive the generalization of “doing a 180″), anyone that goes back and checks out some of these studies is going to see not one iota of homosexuality disappearing and transforming into heterosexuality 100% completely. And before the pressure from certain organizations compelled him to qualify his words later, even Alan Chambers said that he has still desired men since he went ex-gay (not to say that these were his EXACT words).

I don’t know, it just seems that if more people could see that the notion of change purported by some in the Right is based on a lexicon all their own and doesn’t really mean that homosexual people can do things to make themselves sexually respond to the opposite sex ONLY, then would all this “debate” in popular culture over homosexuality (or any non-heterosexuality between consenting adults) just end? I mean what more than these supposed studies is there that gives ANY non-religious credit to holding an adverse view towards homosexuality and homosexual people in the U.S., and Western world in general (well besides thinking ill of two men or two women knocking boots)? Because thus far even with any new “studies” coming out, the premise of “gay going straight” seems to be heading out the window fairly quickly. I just think that premise is quickly shaping itself up to say something more like “we can’t truthfully say we’re not 100% gay anymore, but if you’re gay wouldn’t you like reacting to it in a manner like we do, instead of going with it?” today.

just some musings I felt compelled to leave after checking out the article above…sorry, rambling tends to get the best of me on these blogs. :p

btw william, that last statement in your entry…effing brilliant dude, lol.

Ephilei
May 24th, 2009 | LINK

In the dark recesses of the report, J&Y say they had a “taping failure” of 5% (of 73 or 4 people). This is never really explained. Hopefully that helps account for the missing people.

Is this a amateurish mistake for a professional study? And then to pretend that it didn’t happen . . .

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