Paul Cameron vs. Professional Ethics
March 21, 2006, revised July 13, 2007.
Right now, here in Lincoln, there is a 4-year-old boy who has had his genitals almost severed from his body at Gateway in the rest room with a homosexual act… It’s really awkward. I could see where Gateway would want to suppress this. I could see where the parents would want to suppress it. It could be just a rumor. But enough things have happened recently so that such a thing doesn’t have to be invented.1
In 1982, Paul Cameron stunned a gathering to discuss a proposed addition to Lincoln, Nebraska’s human rights ordinance covering sexual orientation. His sensational charge was immediately picked up by the local television stations and newspapers, where it quickly spread throughout the panic-stricken city.
He may have said that “such a thing doesn’t have to be invented,” but it turns out that this is exactly what he did. He invented it out of whole cloth. When the local news media investigated the story, they found the local police baffled — nothing like it had been reported. Reporters then checked all area hospitals, but none reported any admissions for what would clearly be a very grave injury. In the end, they determined that it simply didn’t happen. Dr. Cameron made it all up.
When the story was finally revealed as a hoax, the Lincoln Star blasted Dr. Cameron in an editorial:
A leading opponent of the proposed Lincoln Human Rights Amendment spreads rumors of an alleged vicious incident calculated to damage the proposal’s chances at the polls. When asked about it, he admits the rumor was without foundation. He refused to say from whom he heard the rumor. Nonetheless, he still insists it ‘could be true’, even though responsible authorities in the city say there was not a shred of evidence such an incident ever took place. The seed is planted, to the contrary.2
Indeed, it may have worked. Lincoln voters voted down the gay rights ordinance by a four-to-one margin, and Dr. Cameron was thrust into national prominence as one of the foremost “experts” among anti-gay activists.
Dr. Cameron, Chairman of the Family Research Institute, had been a published researcher for more than seventeen years before he became active in anti-gay politics. Yet until the early 1980’s, he had published very little about sexuality. His published research bounced between such varied topics as issues surrounding aging, the effects of second-hand smoke, and the health benefits of pet ownership. He published a very short two-page article on the amount of time thinking about sex in 1967,3 followed shortly by another obscure article that discusses Freudian psychosexual development.4 Besides a paper on homosexuality in the obscure Human Life Review in 1978,5 there was little in his past to suggest that he would become the primary source for “scientific” data in the world of anti-gay politics.
But all of this changed very quickly by 1982, and the incident in Lincoln Nebraska, is just one small example of his willingness to make outrageous claims based on false or misleading evidence. Since 1982, he has churned out more than thirty-five articles in professional journals, as well as a host of pamphlets, articles, and other material for the general public. But in the process, he has made a career of misrepresenting legitimate scientific research, taking the findings of peer-reviewed articles out of context, and even making up “facts” altogether. He has even included rumors and urban legends in his “findings.” And he has done all of this while reminding his audience of his credentials as a professional psychologist.
Finally, enough was enough. After six other psychologists complained that he had deliberately misrepresented of their work in his anti-gay writings, the American Psychological Association (APA) began an investigation. They finally notified him on December 2, 1983, that the board voted to drop him from the membership “for lack of cooperation with the Committee on Scientific and Professional Ethics and Conduct.”6 In Dr. Cameron’s rebuttal posted on his web site, he said he had already resigned from the APA on November 7, and that his resignation was accepted.7 But like most professional organizations, the APA cannot accept the resignation of a member while he is under investigation. This is a very common rule, meant to prevent a member from short-circuiting an ethics investigation. Meanwhile, the APA has taken extraordinary measures to disassociate themselves from him.
But none of this fazed Dr. Cameron. When he misused Dr. A Nicolas Groth’s research in a pamphlet entitled “Child Molestation and Homosexuality,” Dr. Groth wrote the Nebraska Board of Examiners of Psychologists on August 21, 1984 that Dr. Cameron:
[Dr. Cameron] misrepresents my findings and distorts them to advance his homophobic views. I make a very clear distinction in my writing between pedophilia and homosexuality, noting that adult males who sexually victimize young boys are either pedophilic or heterosexual, and that in my research I have not found homosexual men turning away from adult partners to children.
I consider this totally unprofessional behavior on the part of Dr. Cameron and I want to bring this to your attention. He disgraces his profession.8
This led the Nebraska Psychological Association to pass a resolution on October 19, 1984, saying that it “formally disassociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writing and public statement on sexuality.”9
After that, it appears that Dr. Cameron switched from calling his research “psychology” to calling it “sociology.” This prompted the American Sociological Association in 1985 to pass a resolution saying, “Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism.”10 When that didn’t deter him, the ASA went further in August of 1986, saying, “The American Sociological Association officially and publicly states that Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research.”11 Since then, the professional community has had little to do with him.
Paul Cameron and the “Scandinavian Gay Lifespan” Study
You can read more about Dr. Cameron’s paper that he claimed to present at the EPA’s poster session in “Paul Cameron’s Footprint.”
But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t slip in from time to time. On March 23, 2007, Dr. Cameron presented a poster at the Eastern Psycholigical Association’s convention in Philadelphia. During a poster session, participants gather in a large hall and stand in front of a poster summarizing their work. Other convention participants can stroll through the hall, examine the posters and ask questions. Cameron's poster was about the “Homosexual Footprint,” showing that Canadian statistics report a sharp drop-off in the percentage of people who self-report being gay or lesbian.12
He simultaneously self-published a paper by a similar title in which he added an additional claim, that Scandinavian statistics supposedly prove that gays and lesbians in Denmark and Norway die some twenty-four years later than their straight counterparts.13 Cameron then issued several press releases claiming that he had presented the paper at the Eastern Psychological Association.14 But the Eastern Psychological Association disputed that, and EPA President Phil Hineline issued a statement saying:
Eastern Psychological Association Statement
You can read the complete Eastern Psychological Association’s Statement on Paul Cameron from EPA president Phil Hineline.
Paul Cameron and Kirk Cameron have posted for circulation a controversial and lengthy manuscript that purports, via the tagline at the bottom each page, to be the account of a presentation at the March 2007 meeting of the Eastern Psychological Assocition. The title of that manuscript, as well as its main emphasis, focuses upon an issue that was not present in the title nor was it in the supporting materials that were submitted by the Camerons for a poster presentation at EPA.
...There was nothing in the materials submitted by the author for review by EPA that indicated that the work could, or would, be informative with respect to the longevity of homosexuals.15
Between 1978 and 2005, Dr. Cameron has published thirty-nine articles about homosexuality in professional journals. And through these publications, he has maintained his standing among those who agree with his views on homosexuality. It also allows him to brag that his research has the “stamp of approval” among his fellow professionals.
Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case. Of the thirty-four articles he’s published since 1986, all but five have appeared in the relatively obscure Psychological Reports. The others appeared in the journals Omega, Adolescence, Journal of Psychology, and the Journal of Biosocial Science. All of these journals rank very poorly among social science journals according to Journal Citation Reports, which measures the importance of a journal according to how often articles in that journal are mentioned in other journals — and thus its “impact” among social scientists.16 All of these journals rank in the lower half among social science journals. Most of them, including Psychological Reports, rank near the bottom.
Psychological Reports claims to be a peer-reviewed journal, although editor Doug Ammons adds that “no reviewer has a veto right.”17 This is in sharp contrast to other, more respected peer-reviewed journals which will refuse to publish an article if serious objections are raised during the peer-review process.
Psychological Reports also differs from the other more respectable journals in another very important way: it charges its authors a fee $27.50 per page to publish. That’s why most professionals dismiss Psychological Reports as a “vanity journal,” one that will publish just about anything as long as the author is willing to pay the fee.
Hysterical Melt Down
Dr. Cameron presents himself as a disciplined professional while paying a “peer-reviewed journal” to publish his work. But the truth is that very few psychologists and social scientists will have anything to do with him. And when his tactics are challenged, he quickly drops his professional mask. When he does, he reveals a side to his personality that is quite startling.
Paul Cameron and the Nebraska Medical Journal
You can read more about Dr. Cameron’s article that appeared in the Nebraska Medical Journal in “Part 2: ‘Oral Sex’” from “Point By Point: A Look At Paul Cameron’s Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do.”
When Dr. Cameron’s article “Sexual Orientation and Sexually Transmitted Disease” appeared in the normally staid and overlooked Nebraska Medical Journal in 1983, a firestorm broke out in the Letters to the Editor over the next six months. These letter writers chastised the editors for having published the study from someone who had not only been dropped by the APA, but who had made appearances on television as a prominent anti-gay rights activist.18 Two former colleagues, Drs. Robert Brown and James Cole of the University of Nebraska wrote a point-by-point analysis of the study’s flaws, concluding that “it is unfortunate that the good name of The Nebraska Medical Journal will now be cited by Cameron et al. in the future to give credibility to sloppy research at best and gross misrepresentation at worst.”19
How did Paul Cameron answer his critics? He wrote two letters to the editor, both of which were loaded with personal attacks against his critics.20 But the second letter, published in March, was the most shocking. In it, he answers Drs. Brown and Cole, “those of peculiar sexual suasions employed by the University of Nebraska.” Here is but one small except of that hysterical six-page screed. By the way, all emphases are his:
… The APA used to be a professional association and essentially nothing more. Recently it has taken on the case of a quasi-religious (pro-humanism, anti-Christian, pro-selfism) quasi-political (pro-feminism, pro-gay, pro-abortion) left wing political action committee.
… As to the “charges” that I have been “censured by the Nebraska Psychological Association for distorted presentations on homosexuality”, well, I have never heard from the NPA about such a censure, but, given the membership (which includes B[rown] & C[ole]) I shouldn’t put it past them. But the issue is still exactly the same: HOW have I distorted presentations on homosexuality? NPA, if you are out there and this ‘charge’ is true, ownup, specify. Better still, choose your champion; I challenge this worthy [sic.] to a scientific debate before a fair tribunal. Predictably NPA will be as cowardly about the debate as about their supposed ‘censure’ (NPA apparently feels that it is quite proper to charge anyone with whom it disagrees without even notifying the individual concerned. Such ‘justice’ falls even below the standards of the USSR or Hitler’s Germany. But what else to expect from a putative ‘professional association’ that admits the sexually perverse, defends the perverse, and attacks those opposing perverts?)”
As part of my work on this web site, I’ve read thousands of research articles from hundreds of professional journals. I can assure you that in all of the strong opinions and strident debates that appear in these journals, I have not come across any other example where a “professional” expresses himself with such hysteria. It’s exceptionally rare to witness an emotional meltdown in print like this. Those who rely on Paul Cameron’s “research” are well advised to carefully consider the source.
6. A copy of this letter is posted online at http://psychology.ucdavis/edu/rainbow/html/cameron_apaletter.html (accessed March 17, 2004.)
7. Family Research Institute. “Revisiting New Republic’s Attack on Cameron: A rebuttal to the accusation that Dr. Cameron was dropped from the American Psychological Association (APA)”, Reprint of an article which first appeared in the Family Research Report, November-December, 1994. Available online at http://www.familyresearchinst.org/FRI_APA-rebuttal.html (accessed May 18, 2004).
9. Herek, Gregory M. “Paul Cameron Bio and Fact Sheet.” Web page (undated): http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_cameron_sheet.html (accessed March 17, 2004). This article cites Nebraska Psychological Association. Resolution. Minutes of the Nebraska Psychological Association. (Omaha, Nebraska: October 19, 1984).
11. “Council acts in Cameron case.” ASA Footnotes 15, no. 1 (February 1987): 4. Available online at http://www.asanet.org/footnotes/1987/ASA.01.1987.pdf.
12. Eastern Psychological Association. Program Calendar, Social: Gender, Ethnicity, Sex, Relationships. (March 23, 2007). Available online at http://www.easternpsychological.org/index.php?pg=programcalendar&subsection=sessiondetail&id=18.
13. Cameron, Paul; Cameron, Kirk. “Federal distortion of homosexual footprint (Ignoring early gay death?)” Paper reputedly presented at the Eastern Psychological Association (Philadelphia: March 23, 2007). Available online at http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007_docs/CameronHomosexualFootprint.pdf.
14. Cameron, Paul. Press release: “1.4% of Adults Homosexual?” Christian Newswire (March 23, 2007). Available online at http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/400702577.html.
Cameron, Paul. Press release: “Gays dies sooner: Implications for adoption.” Christian Newswire (March 27, 2007). Available online at http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/306142602.html.
Cameron, Paul. Press release: “Discrimination doesn’t drive gays to an early grave.” Christian Newswire (March 29, 2007). Available online at http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/468022639.html.
Cameron, Paul. Press release: “Homosexuality more dangerous than smoking.” Christian Newswire (April 3, 2007). Available online at http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/180062680.html.
Cameron, Paul. Press release: “Married gays die 24 years younger.” Christian Newswire (April 5, 2007). Available online at http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/474922698.html.
Cameron, Paul. Press release: “Are governments misreporting to advance gay rights?” Christian Newswire (April 10, 2007). Available online at http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/945612734.html.
15. Eastern Psychological Association. Statement on Paul and Kirk Cameron’s purported presentation at the Eastern Psychological Association. Public statement provided to Jim Burroway by EPA president Phil Hineline (April 7, 2007). Available online at http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2007/04/11/288.
16. Herek, Gregory M. “Publication outlets used by the Cameron Group.” Web page (Undated): http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_cameron_journals.html (accessed March 17, 2004).
17. Kranish, Michael. “Beliefs drive research agenda of new think tanks.” Boston Globe (July 31, 2005). Available online at http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/07/31/beliefs_drive_research_agenda_of_new_think_tanks/.
Crocket, H., Jr. Letter to the Editor. Nebraska Medical Journal, 71, no. 3 (March 1986): 76.
Stebelman, Scott. Letter to the Editor. Nebraska Medical Journal, 70, no. 10 (October 1985): 380-381.
Cameron, Paul. Letter to the Editor. Nebraska Medical Journal 71, no. 3 (March 1986): 76-81.