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Posts for July, 2009

NARTH Publishes Fake “Study” In A Fake “Journal”

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2009

Focus On the Family has issued a breathless article claiming that a “new study” has proven that sexual orientation can be changed:

A new report in this month’s issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Sexuality finds that sexual orientation can be changed — and that psychological care for individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions is generally beneficial and that research has not found significant risk of harm.

The study, conducted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), examined more than 100 years of professional and scientific literature from 600-plus studies and reports from clinicians, researchers and former clients principally published in professional and peer-reviewed journals.

The problem with all that? Well first of all, this isn’t a study at all. It doesn’t consist of an experiment with study participants, methodology,  measurements, analysis or results. Instead, according to this so-called journal — which I have a copy of — NARTH mined nearly 100 years of research on attempts to change sexual orientation. Of course, the vast majority of those studies were done when aversion therapy was commonly practiced, when many people sought therapy because they were convicted of homosexual offenses before Lawrence v. Texas to avoid jail, when few clinicians bothered to do any kind of follow-up, and when the APA still considered homosexuality a mental illness. Much of this paper is an updated regurgitation of several other articles already posted on NARTH’s web site.

Also, the so-called “peer reviewed” journal is not actually a journal. The Journal of Human Sexuality is actually a booklet published by NARTH themselves. In fact, it’s structured more like a book than a journal, with only one article whose title matches the title on the front cover. This journal is billed as “volume 1,” and was, according to its acknowledgment, conceived back when Joseph Nicolosi was still president at NARTH. At this rate, I would expect volume 2 to show up sometime in 2011.

This is very similar to another stunt pulled by George A. Rekers in 1996.  He too created a one-off journal, also called The Journal of Human Sexuality which seems never to have made it to a second volume. It looks like NARTH decided to recycle Rekers old idea.

And as for this new journal’s “peer reviewed” status? Well, I guess when you have a paper written by an anti-gay activist posing as a therapist, and you send that paper off to other anti-gay activists posing as therapists, all of whom are members of your tight little NARTH club with no possibility of an actual independent review taking place, then maybe I would have to concede that the effort was “peer reviewed.” Unfortunately, that’s not the definition accepted by the scientific community.

This publication is not a dispassionate study of changes in sexual orientation. It is a cannon-blast of anti-gay animus in a long 94-page screed, a veritable anti-gay propaganda omnibus touching on all sorts of unrelated subjects including HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, psychiatric disorders, and “promiscuity as the new social norm.” As far as anti-gay propaganda goes, there’s little that’s missing here.

Anyone can write a “journal” and select the studies to prove their point as I illustrated in my satire, “The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths.” (Hey, I had my partner read it before I published it; that must mean it’s peer-reviewed!) A quick look at NARTH’s “journal” shows that they pulled the same tactics as I did when I wrote my satire. Unfortunately, they didn’t intend for their publication to be read for satirical purposes. They are pushing it as legitimate science, and others are likely to be taken in by it.

Over the next several months — it is, after all, 94 pages of text — we will be going into greater detail to show just what a fraud this so-called journal really is. Stay tuned.