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Regnerus Scandal: Prominent Sociologist Delivers Devastating Professional Evaluation

by Scott Rose on October 9, 2012

in Analysis,Bigotry Watch,Civil Rights,Scott Rose


Dr. Andrew Perrin — a cultural and political sociologist — teaches at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The topmost ranks of the American Sociological Association respect him greatly, as is evidenced by his being a co-author of the Report to the American Sociological Association Council Regarding the 2010 National Research Council Assessment of Doctoral Programs.

Characteristic of his interests is a 2011 paper he co-authored with Katherine McFarland – Social Theory and Public Opinion – which appeared in the Annual Review of Sociology.

Perrin’s voluminous academic credits reflect a rigorous quest for an understanding of what constitutes state-of-the-art methodologies for the field of sociology.

For example, with Jeffrey K. Olick, Perrin translated and edited works by Theodore W. Adorno. The Harvard University Press notes that Olick and Perrin “make a case that these experiments are an important missing link in the ontology and methodology of current social-science survey research.”

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In an e-mail exchange, I interviewed Dr. Perrin about the New Family Structures Study, carried out by Mark Regnerus and now being used as a demonizing weapon against gay people.

Perrin’s professional assessment of Regnerus’s work is devastating. Here is what he says:

“I think the study is so thoroughly flawed, in particular with respect to its categorization of ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian,’ that no conclusions can be drawn with sufficient confidence to report, publicize, or use them.”

I asked Dr. Perrin about Regnerus’s data analyses, some of which were carried out with the assistance of  W. Bradford Wilcox, who, as a Regnerus study funding agency representative, organized the study and collaborated with Regnerus on its design booby-trapped against gays. The analyses of the raw data led to dubious “findings” about gay parents and child sexual victimization. In that regard, Perrin said this about Regnerus and Wilcox:

“They should state publicly that the study does not support the ‘gays are pedophiles’ conclusion.”

I wanted to know specifically what Dr. Perrin thought of Regnerus’s “finding” that 23% of his study’s young adult children of “lesbian mothers” had suffered childhood sexual victimization. This is how he responded:

“The fundamental flaws in data collection and interpretation are sufficiently grave as to make this finding very suspect.”

Regnerus has published claims that no funding agency representatives were involved with designing and carrying out his study. Yet, Regnerus’s chief funder is the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute.

Brad Wilcox was Director of the Witherspoon program that first organized the Regnerus study. Wilcox held the title of Director when he collaborated with Regnerus on study design. Dr. Perrin says this:

“Regnerus’s claim that the funders were not involved in the study design is clearly not true given Wilcox’s status.”

Dr. Perrin further states: “The other important angle on this is that Wilcox’s “academic” work is not particularly well respected and is highly politicized — (Philip Cohen did an excellent critique on his blog a while ago) — so it is not plausible that Regnerus engaged his services for primarily scholarly reasons. Regnerus certainly knew any advice he received from Wilcox would be heavily slanted toward the point of view Witherspoon routinely pursues.”

(One of Dr. Cohen’s critiques of Wilcox is titled Distorting Data on Divorce at the National Marriage Project. Wilcox is Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia).

I also asked Dr. Perrin whether Regnerus could be considered in violation of the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics.  

A specific example I gave was that of Regnerus having absurdly told The American Independent that Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox “did not represent Witherspoon” when; 1) Wilcox was Director of the Witherspoon program that organized the study, and when 2) Wilcox, as Director of that Witherspoon program organizing the study, collaborated with Regnerus on the study design.

Dr. Perrin said: “If in fact he is lying about the relationship, then my understanding is that he would be in violation of the ASA code of ethics.”

Commenting on his own sociology blog, Dr. Philip N. Cohen said:

“Yes, it seems clear that Regnerus lied, and that Wilcox acted unethically by acting as a reviewer, program officer and consultant.”

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.

 

 

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{ 6 comments }

Str8Grandmother October 9, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Very good reporting Scott! People need to understand that Witherspoon Institute is an Opus Dei organization. And that Wilcox had a leading role there http://bit.ly/SDMjQv
For Regnerus to solicit and permit Wilcox WHILE Wilcox was a Program Manager for the Family, Marriage and Democracy Program that funded Regnerus for $685,000, for Regnerus to allow Wilcox to participate in the research and then flat out lie about it in his report,

""The NFSS was supported in part by grants from the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation. While both of these are commonly known for their support of conservative causes—just as other private foundations are known for supporting more liberal causes—the funding sources played no role at all in the design or conduct of the study, the analyses, the interpretations of the data, or in the preparation of this manuscript.”

Dr. Perrin and Dr. Cohen are calling a spade a spade. Who here would agree that LYING IS Ethical conduct????? There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between academic arguing about different methodologies or results, there is a big difference between that and calling another Sociologist UNETHICAL. Dr. Perrin and Dr. Cohen are to be commended as most Sociologists tend to shirk away from their duties to uphold science. Thank you Dr. Perrin and Dr. Cohen. Thank you for NOT shirking away, thank you for saying that in Science, LYING IS UNETHICAL.

Scott_Rose October 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Elsevier's journal Social Science Research published a bogus study on "same sex parenting" that was funded by anti-gay-rights groups and only published through a corrupt process, including corrupt peer review. The study is being used nationwide as a weapon against gays and Democrats in the 2012 elections. Please sign and repost this petition, demanding that the publisher retract the study from publication: http://tinyurl.com/97wnqk4

Robroberts2009 October 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I find the irony of the pedophile infested Catholic Church funding a "scientific study" to defame gay parents almost sublimely ridiculous. What a sad delusion that the Catholic Church thinks it is a moral authority on anything anymore. Men who molest and have sex with children have no right telling anybody how to raise theirs. i am looking forward to legitimate scientific studies on the incidence of pedophilia in the Catholic Church so maybe we can truly understand what sickness lies at the rotting core of this corrupt institution.

InvokeRights October 11, 2012 at 2:30 am

Chances are, that if they DID have the true numbers to how often pedophilia happens within the church, regardless of the sex of the victims and/or pedophiles, then I'm pretty damned sure (and wouldn't complain) that they'd shut down all churches.

InvokeRights October 11, 2012 at 2:31 am

ANY study that can claim ANYTHING about children in a same-sex household, whether it be two men or two women, would be gravely flawed because each family is DIFFERENT in how they raise their children!

Instead of doing this on same-sex households, why don't they first do a study on the parenting techniques of 10000+ households first. I'm sure that they might actually, you know, learn something.

Robroberts2009 October 11, 2012 at 5:02 am

I have an even better idea for the bigots: why don't you just stop trying to study us and just support all parents? Bigoted beliefs are fueled by irrational religious-based animus, yet you think you can use science against is? Seems to me not too long ago the Catholic Church believed the world was flat, and many still believe it was created in six days. Bigots, remember science is not your friend for true science is based on truth and truth will always destroy bigotry.

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