Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What's Gay Today?

A couple of different stories about gay rights that may, or may not, intersect. First: Data Faked In Study About Gay People Changing Voters’ Minds
A study claiming that gay people advocating for same-sex marriage can change voters’ minds has been retracted due to fraud.

The study was published last December in Science, and received lots of media attention. It found that a 20-minute, one-on-one conversation with a gay political canvasser could steer voters in favor of same-sex marriage. Not only that, but these changed opinions lasted for at least a year and influenced other people in the voter’s household, the study found.
 Yes, I've seen that cited a lot in the media. But it turns out it's just not true.
Donald Green, the lead author on the study, retracted it on Tuesday shortly after learning that his co-author, UCLA graduate student Michael LaCour, had faked the results.

“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University, said in his retraction letter to the journal, as posted on theRetraction Watch blog.
 . . .
The truth came to light after three other researchers tried, and failed, to replicate it. David Broockman, of Stanford, Joshua Kalla, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Peter Aronow of Yale found eight statistical irregularities in the dataset. No one of these would by itself be proof of wrongdoing, they wrote, but all of them collectively suggest that “the data were not collected as described.”
Science is supposed to be the gold standard journal for the United States, and for an article with falsified data to make it past the rather rigorous review suggests a substantial failure in the process. Likely it was given to reviewers who wanted to believe it was true, and so failed to do due diligence; however, if that is true, it's curious that other researchers tried to duplicate the work and couldn't.

While the ability to replicate a study is an important feature in science, it is one that is not given much heed. Most scientists would prefer to pursue their own ideas, and not feel constrained to re-do the work of others to verify or debunk it. Maybe the granting agencies need to make some mandate that a certain fraction of funding be dedicated to the replication of new results.

Second: Gay-conversion therapy ban to be introduced in House
The push to end so-called “conversion therapy” against homosexuality is expected to gear up Tuesday with the introduction of a House bill to ban the therapy nationally.

The bill comes a few weeks before a consumer fraud lawsuit described as a “David and Goliath” battle over the therapy begins in New Jersey, and in the wake of a request for a federal probe into whether the therapy’s marketing and practices are “deceptive” and “dangerous.”

Opponents of sexual orientation change efforts, such as Reps. Ted W. Lieu and Jackie Speier, both California Democrats, say being homosexual is not a disorder or illness, and efforts to change one’s sexual orientation are wrong and harmful.

Supporters of such therapy counter that it has helped many people successfully reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, and it’s wrong to trample people’s rights to seek the counseling of their choice.
I believe any such ban is an absolute violation of the First Amendment. More than anything else, we should be free to speak, and teach people what we believe.

As to the merits of sexual orientation therapy, I have a mixed view. It would appear that in men, at least, a homosexual orientation is a relatively hard wired phenomenon; there are actual brain features that tend to correlate with it. However, it's not absolutely true; if it were, the US prisons would be ample proof that homosexuals are predisposed to crime.  Among women, sexual orientation appears to be substantially more fluid, as testified by the prevalence of LUGs (Lesbians Until Graduation). Or maybe college is like prison for women?

So, while I suspect that the need for sexual orientation therapy is rather small, and probably not very effective (but then again, which therapy has a quick 100% cure rate, drugs, alcohol, or other psychological ailments?), how can we pass a law against someone seeking and finding help with a problem they perceive?

The only purpose for this law is to pander to the gay "rights" crowd, who in this case are against the rights of gay people to seek treatment.

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