April 23rd, 2009
Ex-gay groups are on the constant lookout for data to bolster their claims that efforts to change sexual orientation can be successful. One study which has been a cornerstone for ex-gay therapists’ claims was the book, Homosexuality in Perspective, by William Masters and Virginia Johnson. That 1979 book purportedly presented the results of a 14-year study of 300 gay men and women who underwent a particularly intensive course of treatment lasting two-weeks. That’s right, only two weeks! And those two weeks must have been pretty intense, because Masters and Johnson claimed some pretty astounding results: a better than 70% success rate.
That was in 1979. Now let’s fast forward thirty years. Biographer Thomas Maier was looking into the Masters and Johnson data for his new book Masters of Sex, and he encountered considerable evidence that the data had been faked:
When the clinic’s top associate, Robert Kolodny, asked to see the files and to hear the tape-recordings of these “storybook” cases, Masters refused to show them to him. Kolodny — who had never seen any conversion cases himself — began to suspect some, if not all, of the conversion cases were not entirely true. When he pressed Masters, it became ever clearer to him that these were at best composite case studies made into single ideal narratives, and at worst they were fabricated.
Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters’ conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn’t have a college degree and depended largely on her husband’s medical expertise.
With Johnson’s approval, Kolodny spoke to their publisher about a delay, but it came too late in the process. “That was a bad book,” Johnson recalled decades later. Johnson said she favored a rewriting and revision of the whole book “to fit within the existing [medical] literature,” and feared that Bill simply didn’t know what he was talking about. At worst, she said, “Bill was being creative in those days” in the compiling of the “gay conversion” case studies.
“Being creative” is a very polite way of saying the presumably scientific data wasn’t all that scientific. But the best evidence we have that the data was bad is this: You can bet your ex-gay dollar that if anyone offered this kind of success with a two-week course of treatment, NARTH and Exodus would be all over it like sequins on a drag queen. Any treatment program with that kind of success rate would have been adopted by therapists around the world, with countless ensuing opportunities to replicate these findings.
But guess what? Neither Exodus nor NARTH, which have the greatest motivation to repeat Masters and Johnson’s amazing performance, have never tried to offer a two-week intensive course of treatment. And more significantly, the Masters and Johnson findings have never been replicated in the thirty years since the book came out. Not by NARTH, Exodus, or anyone else.
Virginia Johnson was right. It is “a bad book.”
And yet, the Masters and Johnson book is referenced in twenty-two individual documents and web pagesat NARTH’s website, and there are seven referencesat Exodus. The Masters and Johnson success figures are also touted at Love Won Out conferences put on by Exodus and Focus On the Family. BTB’s Timothy Kincaid has several more examples of how Ex-gays used Masters and Johnson’s book.
But like much of the “science” we see which ex-gay proponents claim as supporting their work, this too is falling like a house of cards.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.