Insure.com CEO Defends Paul Cameron
Timothy Kincaid and Jim Burroway
July 14th, 2008
Last Friday, Timothy Kincaid revealed for the first time that a popular insurance portal, Insure.com, is hosting false and defamatory anti-gay claims. This follows nearly six weeks of private communications with Insure.com CEO Robert Bland, in which we tried to work with them in resolving the situation.
Soon after Kincaid’s exposé appeared, Mr. Bland wrote a response defending his company’s material, and he has left other comments on this web site which suggest that Insure.com has little interest in factual accuracy or professional responsibility. With these latest comments, whatever hope we first held that Insure.com would act responsibly and in the best interests of their customers, shareholders and participating agencies has now vanished.
In a comment on Kincaid’s article, Mr. Bland wrote:
We expect to take another look at this article over the next 4 weeks because we want to make certain that we encompass all available current research on this topic. We think that there’s a human interest story to be researched here on why all U.S. life insurers decline HIV-positive applicants (many of whom are healthy and have been for two decades) but will not even attempt to segregate gays who, according to a growing body of evidence, may have a much shorter lifespan than non-gays. [emphasis ours]
This comment left us dumbstruck. There simply is no “growing body of evidence” to suggest that gays have a different lifespan — let alone a “much shorter” one — from non-gays. In fact, there’s no evidence for it at all. We challenge Insure.com to show us their “growing body of evidence,” because we certainly haven’t seen it in any of the hundreds of peer-reviewed journals that we continually monitor as part of our work.
Mr. Bland is not unaware that Insure.com’s claims are without merit. This is not an example of benign ignorance or lack of information, which was our assumption when Kincaid first contacted Insure.com on June 1. We both have provided him with evidence that the bases for Insure.com’s anti-gay article are either not relevant or are the product of a discredited anti-gay extremist.
We repeatedly told Mr. Bland about Paul Cameron’s professional misconduct. Kincaid even warned him that relying on Cameron has resulted in public embarrassment of those who quote him, including Secretary of Education William Bennett. Kincaid provided links to detailed analysis, and he advised Mr. Bland to search the Internet for additional information about Mr. Cameron.
This is not difficult to do — Cameron’s reputation is very well known. Even Exodus International, which works closely with Focus On the Family to lobby against civil rights for gays and lesbians, has pulled their references to Paul Cameron. Focus On the Family themselves scrubbed their materials of anything associated with Cameron more than a decade ago. And yet just last Saturday morning, Insure.com’s CEO returned to our web site once again to cite Cameron and his Denmark gay lifespan “study”:
Then, in early 2007, Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron reported at the Eastern Psychological Association convention that married gays and lesbians lived about 24 fewer years than their married heterosexual counterparts. This time, the Camerons extracted official data from Denmark, the country with the longest history of gay marriage, for 1990-2002. Married heterosexual men died in Denmark die at a median age of 74, while 561 partnered gays died at an average age of 51.
We found this surprising, as we had already provided Mr. Bland with Burroway’s analysis of that study when Kincaid first contacted Insure.com six weeks before. But if Insure.com doesn’t trust our analysis, then maybe they can trust conservative Christian psychology professor Warren Throckmorton. He examined Cameron’s Danish “Gays Die Young” notions and devoted a nine part series to the subject. Throckmorton concluded that the Camerons skewed their findings “to the point where any results cannot be trusted.”
And as insurance professionals, Insure.com surely can trust Dr. Morten Frisch. He’s the senior epidemiologist at Copenhagen’s Statens Serum Institut. Frisch described the Camerons’ report as having “little to do with science… The methodological flaws are of such a grave nature that no decent peer-reviewed scientific journal should let it pass for publication.” But Dr. Morton did manage to find one good thing to say about it:
Although the Camerons’ report has no objective scientific value, the authors should be acknowledged for providing teachers with a humorous example of agenda-driven, pseudo-scientific gobbledygook that will make lessons in elementary study design and scientific inference much more amusing for future epidemiology students.
As for what Drs. Cameron “reported” at the Eastern Psychological Association convention, Burroway wrote EPA president Dr. Phil Hineline in April 2007 to ask about the nature of the Camerons’ participation at the gathering. Dr. Hineline responded with a public letter condemning the Camerons for misrepresenting their participation at the convention. First, the Cameron’s didn’t present a report at all. All they did was participate in a “poster session,” in which they manned a table with a poster of some of their data in a large hall, alongside scores of other presenters. Not to be too condescending about it, but this is more like a science fair for grown-up professionals than a formal presentation before the convention as the Camerons portrayed it. What’s more, Dr. Hineline confirmed that the data they submitted to the EPA had nothing to do with lifespans at all — that had been added later — and he said they would not have been accepted it if it did.
We both tried to disabuse Insure.com’s CEO of the notion that most gay people have HIV, as he appeared to have alluded to such an argument in an earlier email. On June 12, Kincaid explained that at most, perhaps 15% of gay men and almost no gay women have HIV. And yet last Saturday morning, Mr. Bland continued his “gay = AIDS” smear by quoting from a Canadian doctor who said that once diagnosed with HIV, the average lifespan of such a person is 8 to 10 years, and that’s why we all die so much earlier. But even if that “gay = AIDS” canard were true — and it clearly isn’t — we suggest that the Canadian doctor and Mr. Bland read last week’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that the life expectancy of those with HIV is actually approaching something closer to normal.
Our readers have suggested that Insure.com pull down the disputed article until pending verification of its sources. As an insurance portal providing relevant information to its many customers, that would be the prudent thing to do. But instead of following that sensible advice, CEO Bland reposted the entire article as a comment on our web site, saying that Insure.com has “no intention of ‘taking (it) down’ because it contains no factual errors and no editorial bias or slant whatsoever.”
Insure.com is a well-known, publicly traded company. In our private communications with CEO Bland, he reassured us on June 2 that Insure.com has no political agenda, and that in their 24 years in business they have never asked about anyone’s sexual orientation before hiring them. We took them at their word, which is why we waited nearly six weeks before going public with our concerns.
Mr. Bland kept delaying and asking for more time, claiming that “other priorities” interfered with Insure.com’s investigation of the article. But since Friday, Insure.com’s busy CEO has found the time to write several comments on this web site — and on at least one other web site as well — claiming that “Box Turtle Bulletin is too anxious to bash Insure.com.” He decided it was a priority to take the time to write these comments, and yet he hasn’t found it to be a priority to simply have someone hit the delete button on the false information promoted by Insure.com. The remedy for all this is incredibly simple.
But instead of doing the reasonable and sensible thing, Mr. Bland continues to stake his reputation and that of his publicly-traded company in defending these anti-gay smears. More startling, he continues to tie this reputation to that of Paul Cameron, a man who:
- once said that “unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals,”
- wrote approvingly of how the Nazi’s “dealt with” homosexuality at the Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps,
- and who just last month urged a group of Russian ultra-nationalists to press on with their often-violent suppression of gays in that country.
We frankly find this to be both puzzling and troubling.
Mr. Bland claims that he is not homophobic and that Insure.com does not have an agenda. We believe that the “growing body of evidence” suggests otherwise.
Aug 15: Insure.com Pulls Cameron Quotes
Jul 17: Certified Cameronite: Insure.com
Jul 14: Insure.com CEO Defends Paul Cameron
Jul 11: Insure.com’s CEO Bob Bland Responds
Jul 11: Insure.com’s Anti-Gay Propaganda