stats for wordpress
 







Are you on Facebook?

Would you please click "like" in the box to your right, or

Visit us on Facebook!


Lori Holyfield, Sociologist, Ph.D., Calls For Retraction Of Anti-Gay Regnerus Paper

by Scott Rose on October 15, 2012

in Bigotry Watch,Civil Rights,News,Scott Rose


Lori Holyfield is a Ph.D. and an Associate Professor of Sociology at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Arkansas. She authored the book, Moving Up and Out: Poverty, Education, and the Single Parent Family.

I interviewed Dr. Holyfield via telephone about the scientifically invalid, NOM-linked Regnerus study, which is being used as a political weapon against gay rights. She did not mince her words:

“I am calling on Elsevier to retract the Regnerus article from publication.”

Holyfield elaborates:

“The study’s methodology is not valid. Regnerus claims to have proved correlation between gay parents and bad child outcomes, but his study does not support those claims. This is a bogus study that perpetuates negative stereotypes.”

I spoke with Dr. Holyfield apropos of W. Bradford Wilcox’s involvement in the scandal.

Regnerus was chiefly funded by the NOM-linked Wtherspoon Institute. Wilcox was the Witherspoon Institute Program Director who organized the Regnerus study, and then collaborated with Regnerus on study design before Witherspoon approved Regnerus for full study funding. Wilcox also collaborated with Regnerus on data collection and data analysis. A preponderance of evidence shows that he was permitted to do peer review. Furthermore, Wilcox is on the editorial board of the journal that published Regnerus, Elsevier’s Social Science Research.

Dr. Holyfield says:

“It is Research Ethics 101 to disclose conflicts of interest. Wilcox had so many roles in this, that it is unbelievable that journal editor James Wright never bothered to disclose any of Wilcox’s conflicts of interest to the public.  That I see, we know for sure that Wilcox is on the journal’s editorial board, and that he is a long-time collaborator of Regnerus and of journal editor James Wright, and that he was the Witherspoon Program Director who recruited Regnerus for the study, and that he collaborated with Regnerus on study design, and then also did data collection and data analysis work. How did it happen, that none of this was disclosed?  It is extremely important to note, that disclosure of these conflicts of interest would be necessary, whether the study was valid or not.”

We spoke about Wilcox’s laughable claim that his title of Witherspoon Program Director was “honorific.”

“For Wilcox to use the word “honorific” about his position of Witherspoon Program Director, and Regnerus study design collaborator, is a veiled attempt to turn back the clock. But the damage is done, and the credibility of this study is absolutely, indisputably undone. That Wilcox was a study designer, and that was not disclosed, is alone enough to justify retraction. The further possibility that he was a peer reviewer just adds weight to the case for retraction.”

“It is especially unacceptable that the conflict of interests were hidden, and that there is an ongoing attempt to deceive the public about them.  It adds insult to that injury, that what was produced was a methodologically invalid study that perpetuates negative social stereotypes. This is a very malevolent situation; something must be done about it.”

Regnerus alleges to have found that 23% of his respondents, young adult children of “lesbian mothers” experienced sexual victimization while growing up. Yet, the question he posed to come up with that finding asked only if “a parent or other adult caregiver” had abused the respondent. Dr. Holyfield says:

“The question as posed does not give us answers that we can use in any way to help sexually abused children.  The abuser could have been the heterosexual husband, or an uncle, or an older cousin, or anybody. The question Regnerus posed is an irresponsible and ridiculous question. In the absence of anything that would tell us who was the most likely perpetrator, the information is useless to us. But we see that it is useful to political agents seeking to perpetuate negative stereotypes. Regnerus is implying causation by reporting this rate for children of lesbian mothers. He can say he didn’t prove causation all he wants; the fact is, he implied causation. And, it is ironic, because we know that pedophile perpetrators often are male heterosexuals. That would be just one reason this finding should have raised a red flag.”

Dr. Holyfield is aghast that the Regnerus study was carried out at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Politically-motivated groups bend facts all the time. The difference here is that this took place at a research university, which absolutely should have measures in place to insure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen. It sounds like there was some social networking going on, and that the $55,000 planning grant from The Witherspoon Institute got talked about, and then the work with the full $785,000 in funding followed. Somewhere along the way, though, the relationships that allowed this unacceptable thing to happen in a research university got obscured.”

Social Science Research editor James Wright took the Regnerus paper from submission to acceptance for publication on a suspicious rush schedule. It is documented that the Regnerus submission did not receive valid peer review. Dr. Holyfield says:

“When you look at that phenomenally short turn-around time from submission to acceptance, you just can’t help but wonder if somebody connected with Witherspoon or Regnerus didn’t call the editor and make special arrangements. With all the evidence and documentation now known, all signs point to Wilcox. Because of that, I think it would be in the best interest of the editorial board and the journal to provide the names of the peer reviewers in this case. Peer reviewers’ anonymity should be respected when the research is valid. This research is not valid. If a full investigation is not carried out, the journal’s reputation will be permanently darkened. Peer reviewers who were in any way involved in Regnerus’s funding and/or in his research should have recused themselves immediately; this never should have happened.”

Dr. Holyfield continues:

“Wright himself has lost credibility. I can not imagine that the protection of the peer reviewers is more important that the protection of the integrity of the research.”

Writing in his sham “audit” of the publication of the Regnerus study, Social Science Research editorial board member Darren Sherkat said: “scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process.”

“The point is,” Dr. Holyfield continues, “to not protect a reviewer who engaged in conflicts of interest, over the integrity of the research itself.  Just to say ‘This is not valid research’ is not enough, given that the study made it into publication in these unethical ways on Social Science Research editor James Wright’s watch. This is a terrible disservice both to the journal and to the discipline. And, it is a tragedy for the American academy and for the public as a whole.”

I asked Dr. Holyfield if she wanted to make any other statements about the Regnerus study.

“Yes,” she said. “I am calling for retraction of the Regnerus study from publication. I call for retraction, and I strongly encourage disclosure of the names of the peer reviewers who engaged in conflicts of interest.  These are only some of the ways that integrity can be restored to the process. The Regnerus study must be retracted from publication.”

 

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Friends:

We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.

Also, please like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

{ 9 comments }

usorthem3 October 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm

This also effects the reputation of the University of Texas as well. The "good old boy" network of this state will do everything in it's political and social powers to keep from looking like they didn't fully vet this publication. Austin may be a Blue dot in this RED state, but the GOP control everything they can keep in their dark secret circles. Keep in mind that the Texas GOP influence in school textbooks nation wide wants to keep "critical thinking" out of the public education system. If it's not biblical, they don't want students to learn it. Kudos to you Scott for bring this unjust and falsified study to the light of the truth.

TomTallis October 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Regnerus is lucky he has tenure. It seems that at his level of competence, he probably should have ended up at a Bible college somewhere in darkest Alabama.

JeffreyRO5 October 15, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I doubt the University of Texas is done with Regnerus on this scam. They quickly cleared him of any guilt, in order to make the bad publicity go away. But Regnerus violated a key tenet of conservatives: don't get caught. It's not the crime, it's getting caught, that bothers them. Regnerus got caught, despite an elaborate scheme to make the whole sordid enterprise look legitimate. It is a black eye on the University of Texas and on his colleagues in the Sociology Department. I don't think Regnerus will be with UT much longer, tenure or not.

Ned_Flaherty October 16, 2012 at 8:08 pm

In paragraph 16, the correct word is "ensure" (to guarantee), not "insure" (to provide coverage).

Scott_Rose October 17, 2012 at 12:51 am

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insure
Definition of INSURE
to make certain especially by taking necessary measures and precautions
They take great care to insure the safety and security of their home.
We hope that careful planning will insure success.

Ned_Flaherty October 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Making certain that something does or doesn't happen is INSURED with an underwriter's policy; otherwise, it is ENSURED with the types of preventative measures Dr. Holyfield described.

Scott_Rose October 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm

So write to the online editors of the Merriam Webster Dictionary and tell them they are wrong.

Ned_Flaherty October 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

The complete definitions in the on-line dictionary are correct when taken in total; it's the usage in this article that's incorrect, with the error attributable either to the speaker (if she wrote her quotes) or to the author (if he transcribed the verbal exchnge).

Susan October 17, 2012 at 6:48 am

The University of Texas should be committed to academic integrity. I would have expected this disgraceful behavior from Jerry Falwell's or from Oral Roberts' "Universities." In the words of the great Tommy Smothers, "I feel nothing [for UT] but total embarrassment."

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: