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Posts for February, 2011

Mormon Reorientation group fraudulently misquotes Collins

Timothy Kincaid

February 25th, 2011

How very infuriating it must be to have anti-gay activists misquote you and claim that you agree with notions that you find abhorrent. But such has become the plight of Francis Collins, onetime director of the Human Genome Project.

In April 2007, A. Dean Byrd, a devout Mormon who was at that time the incoming president of NARTH, wrote an article titled Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired,” Concludes Dr. Francis S. Collins, Head Of The Human Genome Project. It claimed:

Estimates of heritability are based upon careful analyses of studies conducted with identical twins. Such studies are important and lead to the conclusion that heredity is important in many of these traits. It is important however, to note that even in such studies with identical twins, that heritability is not to be confused as inevitability.

As Dr. Collins would agree, environment can influence gene expression, and free will determines the response to whatever predispositions might be present.

But Dr. Collins did not agree. Nor was he pleased by the political advocacy of those who misquoted a statement from an appendix to his book and wrote to Ex-Gay Watch to say so:

It troubles me greatly to learn that anything I have written would cause anguish for you or others who are seeking answers to the basis of homosexuality. The words quoted by NARTH all come from the Appendix to my book “The Language of God” (pp. 260-263), but have been juxtaposed in a way that suggests a somewhat different conclusion that I intended. I would urge anyone who is concerned about the meaning to refer back to the original text.

The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.

Your note indicated that your real interest is in the truth. And this is about all that we really know. No one has yet identified an actual gene that contributes to the hereditary component (the reports about a gene on the X chromosome from the 1990s have not held up), but it is likely that such genes will be found in the next few years.

You would think that having been publicly refuted would be reason enough not to continue to distort the work of others. And, indeed, for people of integrity, it would be so.

But Dean Byrd and his associates have little integrity and no interest in honest portrayals of science. So here they are back again.

In today’s Salt Lake Tribune, members of the Foundation for Attraction Research (an organization founded by Byrd), are trotting out their distortions of Collins’ work to claim that his conclusions were that “homosexuality, like other traits, emerges from some combination of nature and nurture,” and to imply that Collins endorses their reorientation theories.

But they didn’t stop at defaming the character and scholarship of Collins, they also implied that Dr. Robert Spitzer endorsed their views.

Spitzer offers the following: “Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could only be resisted, and that no one could change their [sic] sexual orientation. I now believe that to be false. Some people can and do change.”

It should also be observed that the type, degree, and potential for change vary with each individual, and many debates about change could be avoided by a more nuanced discussion about it.

Setting aside for the moment the methodology and the documented fraud involved with the effort to fool Dr. Spitzer, it is telling that Byrd’s associates chose to delete what Spitzer actually had to say about the “type, degree, and potential for change.” (NY Times)

But after enduring an avalanche of criticism from peers who said he had given too much credence to the accounts of his subjects, many of whom were leaders of ex-gay ministries, Dr. Spitzer now says many advocates of sexual reorientation have misrepresented his views.

“Although I suspect change occurs, I suspect it’s very rare,” he said. “Is it 1 percent, 2 percent? I don’t think it’s 10 percent.”

But you wouldn’t know that from this Mormon opinion piece.

Because Dennis V. Dahle, John P. Livingstone and M. Gawain Wells set out not to present scientific discovery or empirical evidence of their position, but rather to deceive the public. The observations of Collins and the opinions of Spitzer – had they been portrayed honestly – would have refuted the claims of the Foundation for Attraction Research. So instead Dahle, Livingsone, and Wells followed in the footsteps of Byrd and hijacked the reputations of honorable men to attach them to their dishonorable goals.

Ironically, the premise of their opinion statement was that “true religion and true science, when they are found, are never at odds.” And what an unfair disservice they have done to fellow Mormons.

For if true religion and true science go hand in hand, then it is only a logical conclusion that the religion of con-men Dahle, Livingsone, and Wells surely must be as fraudulent as their “science”.

Bogus “American College of Pediatricians” distributes deliberately fraudulent anti-gay propaganda to schools

Timothy Kincaid

April 5th, 2010

In 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics, an association of 60,000 pediatricians, voted to adopt a position in support of gay parents. Six pediatricians who opposed this policy on religious grounds rallied like-minded friends and, on October 19th, about 15 people founded the American College of Pediatricians. It would be accurate to describe this organization as a vehicle through which a small minority of anti-gay doctors advocate in opposition to gay rights, abortion rights, and euthanasia.

According to Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink, at the end of March, the ACP sent out a letter to school superintendents. They don’t say how many schools received the letter, but even one is too many.

Despite the name, ACP is not a institute of higher learning. Nor is it a professional organization for pediatricians. This is an advocacy group dedicated to political goals which is using an authoritative sounding name to fool the unaware.

Yes, their officers and their board are all pediatricians (usually older gentlemen in the South), but their “Pediatric Psychosocial Development Committee” reads like a members roster of the virulently anti-gay National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

The connections don’t stop at the committee level. One ACP board member, Quentin Van Meter, was a featured speaker at the 2009 NARTH Convention. And Michelle Cretella, a real nasty piece of work, sits on both boards. She is also listed as the “chair of the Sexuality Committee, American College of Pediatricians”.

With connections this deep to an organization whose primary function is to generate anti-gay propaganda masquerading as scientific research, it should not be too surprising that the American College of Pediatrics uses the same tactics. Their letter to the schools is rife with lies, misrepresentations, distortions and outright fraud. In fact, there is little there that has any distant relationship to truth.

The letter – and the website it directs the reader – makes a number of claims. And the ACP has adopted Paul Cameron’s tactic of lengthy footnotes. But, as with Cameron, the supporting documents do not support the claims. Let’s take a look at the first three.

Homosexuality is not a genetically-determined, unchangeable trait.

Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the Genome Project, has stated that while homosexuality may be genetically influenced, it is “… not hardwired by DNA, and (that) whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predetermination[s].” He also states that “…the prominent role of individual free will choices have a profound effect on us.”

Well that’s not the first time that Byrd has twisted Collins’ work to support his own agenda. And Collins has refuted this misinterpretation. Twice.

The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.

Misquoting once is perhaps an error in judgment. Repeating the process after you have been refuted is fraud.

Next:

Homosexual attraction is determined by a combination of familial, environmental, social and biological influences. Inheritance of predisposing personality traits may play a role for some. Consequently, homosexual attraction is changeable.

Consequently? Oh please dear God don’t let our nation have school superintendents so stupid that they don’t immediately burst out laughing.

First, while we know that genetics plays a role for at least some gay men (there’s less study performed on women), we do not know whether the other contributing factors include family, environment (in utero, social, chemical, or other), or social. Interestingly, other than a book by a NARTH member, all other footnoted sources were support for the role that genetics plays.

But as for “changeable”, the evidence suggests quite the opposite. And to find that orientation has a number of contributing factors does not “consequently” support that claim.

This is simply bait and switch deception.

Third,

Most students (over 85%) with same-sex attractions will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged. Most questioning students are experiencing temporary sexual confusion or are involved in experimentation.

Rigorous studies demonstrate that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25. In one study, as many as 26% of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation, yet only 2-3% of adults actually identify themselves as homosexual. Therefore, the majority of sexually-questioning youth ultimately adopt a heterosexual identity.

Impressive, right?

Except that the source they use for the “26% of 12-year-olds” doesn’t quite say what they pretend.

From the article:

The percentage of students who were “unsure” about orientation steadily declined with age from 25.9% in 12-year-old persons to 5% in 18-year-old students.

But what does this “uncertainty” mean? Are these same-sex attracted kids?

The percentage of students reporting predominantly homosexual attractions steadily increased with age, while the proportion with bisexual or predominantly heterosexual attractions decreased.

In fact, only 2.2% of 12-year-olds reported predominantly homosexual attractions.

These kids were not “sexually-questioning youth”. And they were not “students with same-sex attractions”. Rather, these 12-year-olds were not yet “sure” about their sexual orientation. Frankly, they probably weren’t exactly sure what it all meant. But they did figure it out over time.

And were they “involved in experimentation”? Not according to this study.

Overall, 1% of respondents reported some homosexual experience; and 52%, some heterosexual experience… For males, but not females, the prevalence of reported homosexual experiences increased with age, from 0.4% at 12 years to a peak of 2.8% at 18.”

Everything that ACP claimed is refuted by going to the source they credit. This isn’t a “perspective” or a “way of reading the data”. This is a lie.

They go on with the usual litany of lies. You know, that homosexuality is a dangerous lifestyle wrought with physical and mental illness caused by sexual abuse. But therapy has proven to be effective in curing homosexuality (and behavior is a choice anyway) so you shouldn’t allow support groups on campus (they aren’t good for kids). It’s pretty evil stuff.

No school should rely on this bogus organization for truth. They have none to offer.

But what they have done goes beyond opinion. It goes beyond faith or values or religion. This was a deliberate attempt to deceive. It twisted the work of legitimate researchers and sought to establish positions in educational institutions that are the opposite of what their research found to be best for the kids. If school superintendents rely on this information, it could harm the lives of children.

The board of directors of this organization are licensed medical doctors. They are pediatricians. It is unconscionable what they have done.

Researcher Blasts NARTH Official for “Blatant Misquotation”

Jim Burroway

September 2nd, 2009

A researcher has blasted a prominent NARTH official for misrepresenting his work, calling it a “blatant misquotation.” That denunciation has led one conservative Christian psychologist and supporter of Sexual Identity Therapy to call for an apology and retraction by the NARTH official.

Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton discovered a lengthy undated book review by NARTH Past President A. Dean Byrd, Brigham Young University Social Work professor, Shirley Cox, and private practitioner, Jeff Robinson for a Mormon apologetics web site. In the book review Byrd and company blasted the book’s authors for offering a realistic portrayal of the unlikelihood of changing one’s sexual orientation. Never mind that the 2004 book was not in any way gay-affirming — the book was published by LDS publisher Deseret Books and the authors come down squarely on LGBT people conforming to Mormon teachings which condemn same-sex relationships — Byrd was upset that the books authors chose not to distort science in the process similar to what Byrd and his co-authors used in their book review.

The book review itself is a classic anti-gay polemic which not only provides an untenable view of the certainty of “change,” but also goes through great lengths to try to demonstrate that homosexuality is a mental illness — a core NARTH position that is in direct odds with professional psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy. In the book review, Byrd and his co-authors assert that gays and lesbians have a much higher incidence of mental illness, and that this incidence is not explainable by stigma:

Activist researcher J. Michael Bailey offered other hypotheses: “homosexuality represents a deviation from normal development and is associated with other such deviations that may lead to mental illness,” or “the consequences of lifestyle differences associated with sexual orientation” leads to mental illness or “behavioral risk factors associated with male homosexuality such as receptive anal sex and promiscuity” leads to mental illness.

In Byrd’s highly selective quotes, the reader would be led to believe that these “other hypothesis” better explain the incidence of mental distress in LGBT people than stigma. It’s normal for researchers to examine all hypotheses and evaluate their relative viabilities. It doesn’t mean the researcher endorses them, believes they have merit, or that they outweight the primary hypothesis. And that’s the case here. Warren Throckmorton contacted Dr. Bailey and received this reaction:

I was dismayed to read Byrd, Cox and Robinson’s summary of my views. In the context of a debate about the reasons for higher rates of mental illness among homosexual individuals, Byrd et al cites me as “offering” several hypotheses other than the increased stigmatization of homosexual people. It is unfortunate and misleading that they did not indicate that I discussed some versions of the hypotheses they mention alongside the stigma hypothesis. I was noncommittal about the merits of the hypotheses, because the required scientific research had not been conducted (and still hasn’t for the most part). I concluded: “it would be a shame—most of all for gay men and lesbians whose mental health is at stake—if sociopolitical concerns prevented researchers from conscientious consideration of any reasonable hypothesis.” But I also wrote: “It would indeed be surprising if antihomosexual attitudes were not part of the explanation of increased suicidality among homosexual people, but this remains to be demonstrated.”

One of Byrd et al’s out-of-context quotations is so egregiously wrong that it amounts to a blatant misquotation. They suggest that I believe that “behavioral risk factors associated with male homosexuality such as receptive anal sex and promiscuity leads to mental illness.” I do not. I brought up receptive anal sex and (relative) promiscuity as factors that help explain increased rates of HIV infection among gay men. I said explicitly that it was unclear how these could help explain the increased rates of suicidality and depression among homosexual people. I favor open debate on controversial issues, including those related to sexual orientation. But constructive debate depends on responsible, accurate reporting of facts (and facts include what other people actually said and meant). In these remarks Dean Byrd, Shirley Cox and Jeff Robinson fail to live up to these requirements. For those interested in what I really said, please see the actual article that Byrd et al mischaracterize.

Dr. Throckmorton, who supports Sexual Identity Therapy (which may or may not include goals for changing sexual orientation identity and/or behavior) calls for an apology and a retraction:

In my opinion, Byrd, Cox and Robinson owe Bailey an apology and a retraction. Here I have only dealt with the misrepresentation of Bailey’s views. According to this rebuttal by Ty Mansfield, the entire review is a lengthy misrepresentation of his book. And I am not the only one who believes Byrd et al have done an injustice to this book and to the science of sexual orientation.

NARTH Goes South Of The Border

Jim Burroway

May 19th, 2008

A. Dean ByrdThe National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) took their ex-gay message to Mexico a few weeks ago. Sponsored by the Mexican ex-gay group Renacer (“Rebirth”), an “Understanding Homosexuality” conference featuring at least six prominent American ex-gay activists took place May 1-3 at the Sheraton Centro Histórico in Mexico City.

The Spanish language LGBT web site Anodis reported that conference speakers included:

  • NARTH president A. Dean Byrd,
  • NARTH past president Joseph Nicolisi,
  • NARTH president-elect Julie Harren-Hamilton,
  • Desert Hope Ministries founder and director Janelle M. Hallman,
  • Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) co-director Arthur Goldberg,
  • Venus magazine publisher Charlene Cothran.

According to Anodis, Byrd opened the conference by claiming that he didn’t want to change anyone, and that he respected those who are “defined as openly gay.” He mentioned the 1990 removal of homosexuality from the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD), but then he went on to describe homosexuality using the clinical sounding acronym SSA, or Same-Sex Attraction, which he describes it as “something [that] happens in the development of the individual.” Byrd then went on to decry the state of research into homosexuality today, claiming that half the research is being conducted by gay people. This, by the way, is a most unscientific claim, one that can be easily disproved by a few quick searches of the PubMed databases on virtually any topic related to homosexuality.

Identifying the hallmarks of sound science is clearly not Dr. Byrd’s strong suit. This is the man who, with Nicolosi, co-authored the recent ex-gay “study” in the pay-to-publish vanity journal Psychological Reports, a paper which reads more like ex-gay propaganda than legitimate social science. In 2002, Byrd cited the work of discredited “researcher” Paul Cameron in a paper published by Regent University.

Meanwhile, other shining examples of “science” include Julie Harren-Hamilton focusing on child sexual abuse as being a critical factor in the development of male homosexuality, and Nicolosi claiming to have treated “hundreds of men” to “reorient their SSA.”

According to Anodis, approximately 300 people paid between 900 to 1,200 pesos (US$87 to $115) for the three day conference.

[Hat tip: Andrés Duque at Blabbeando]

NARTH Builds An Echo Chamber

Jim Burroway

May 1st, 2008

The April 2008 edition of the pay-to-publish vanity journal Psychological Reports features a new report from NARTH. Written by NARTH president A. Dean Byrd, past president Joseph Nicolosi, and Richard W. Potts, the report carries the unwieldy but self-descriptive title, “Clients perceptions of how reorientation therapy and self-help can promote changes in sexual orientation.” While the title describes what the authors meant to show — how clients describe the benefits of reparative therapy — the report itself actually illustrates something very different: the ex-gay movement’s ability to instill an almost robot-like parroting of ex-gay rhetoric among their clients.

In ordinary surveys in the real world, there are always respondents whose answers don’t fit the authors’ hypothesis. In Stanton and Jones’ recent ex-gay study for example, there were those who claimed to have changed and those who didn’t (i.e. the “failures”). Both were represented in the paper because that’s just how the real world works. Absolute and total conformity to any hypothesis is virtually impossible.

But NARTH doesn’t operate in the real world. Not one of the 142 responses in the 26-page article deviated even slightly from the NARTH party line. The only responses appearing in this paper fully supported NARTH’s therapeutic framework.

Perfect outcomes like this may be found in the world of politically repressive regimes where dictators win “elections” by near-unanimous votes. But it is absolutely unheard of in scientific literature. Did the authors discard the responses that didn’t fit their preconceived theories? Or was their echo chamber so fully sealed that no dissent could even enter?

You can read more about it in our latest report, “Repeat After Me”: The Reparative Therapy Echo Chamber.

Ex-Gay Therapy: “Like Throwing Spaghetti At A Wall”

A video critique of the latest ex-gay therapy paper by Bryd, Nicolosi & Potts

Daniel Gonzales

May 1st, 2008

A new paper by NARTH president A. Dean Byrd, past president Joseph Nicolosi, and Richard Potts was supposed to show what therapeutic techniques former clients of ex-gay therapy found effective. But what the paper really showed was how effectively those former patients absorbed and accepted the ex-gay movement’s distortions of human sexuality.

Daniel Gonzales, a former patient of Dr. Nicolosi shares his reaction.

YouTube Preview Image

You can read our analysis of the Byrd, Nicolosi & Potts paper in our latest report, “Repeat After Me:” The Reparative Therapy Echo Chamber.

Click here to read the video transcript

Paul Cameron in EDGE New York — and NARTH

Jim Burroway

July 27th, 2007

EDGE New York published an article by Arielle Chavkin about Paul Cameron’s “Scandiavian Gay Lifespan Study.” Her report includes several observations by Jason Cianciotto and yours truly.

And speaking of Paul Cameron, Ex-Gay Watch’s David Roberts noticed that NARTH has added yet another link to a study using Paul Cameron’s research. Just scroll down a bit on NARTH’s front page and you’ll see this in the center column:

7.25.07 – Distortions of Science
Studies of Homosexual Parenting: A Critical Review [link]

That handy little link will take you to a paper by George Rekers and Mark Kilgus that was published in the Regent University Law Review back in 2002. Regent University, if you’ll remember, is the school established by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson. That same law review issue contained two other articles which cite Cameron, Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement (PDF: 76 KB/16 pages) by Stephen Baldwin (not the actor), and Homosexuality: Innate and Immutable? (PDF: 340 KB/42 pages) by A. Dean Byrd and Stony Olsen, 2002. Meanwhile, NARTH continues to maintain their own articles citing Paul Cameron on their web site.

These are just a few of Paul Cameron’s many collaborators who are complicit in not only perpetuating his pseudo-science, but who also help to support his stated agenda for gays and lesbians.