Was the Regnerus Study on Gay Parenting Defective?

Mark Regnerus

In the July issue of the scholarly journal Social Science Research (SSR), Professor Mark Regnerus (pictured) published an article detailing initial results from his New Family Structures Study. His results suggested that adult children who had been raised, for at least a brief time, in families with a gay, lesbian, or bisexual parent were more likely to report dysfunctional adult outcomes than those who had been raised in other family structures, especially families with continuously married heterosexual parents.

In the same issue of the journal, three other scholars rendered comments on the NFSS results and Regnerus addressed their comments as well. His study raised a huge outcry of protest, which led, among other things, to the University of Texas conducting a preliminary investigation into the ethics of his study (he was cleared of any malfeasance). Subsequently, in the November issue of SSR, several scholars, including the editor of SSR and an auditor of the review process, rendered their verdicts on the study. Professor Regnerus also provided a revised analysis of the data, attempting to address some of the criticisms of his study.

How different was Regnerus’s method to that of other studies?
I also weighed in on the discussion with a commentary pointing out, as SSR editor Dr. James D. Wright noted, “that many of the most controversial methodological and measurement decisions made in the Regnerus paper have well-established precedents in the larger social science literature.”

My approach was different than those of the other commentators, who were generally “for” or “against.” My main question was, “How different was what Regnerus did methodologically compared to what other scholars have done in the past ten years when investigating similar issues?” I considered sample selection, sample size, definition of family forms, measurement of sexual orientation, statistical analysis, funding, and consistency of results with other research, citing over 110 examples of other previous research.

Space here does not permit me to detail all of my findings but I will discuss a few of my comments. While some have tried to vindicate the Regnerus study by citing my comments, my intent was not to laud the study but to place it in context relative to other social science research. The conclusion to be drawn may be “similar methodological limitations” as much as anything.

Criticisms would apply to others
Use of Knowledge Networks data
. Regnerus was criticized, for example, for using Knowledge Networks (KN) for obtaining his sample. KN does not appear to conduct random national samples per se but provides a hired panel of respondents thought to compare favorably to the characteristics of a national random USA sample. For myself, I am concerned about turning over one’s data collection to another organization because you may not understand all of the small decisions (or errors) made in that complex process.

However, my search of the academic literature led to over 20 published studies that had used KN, including research by Professor Gregory Herek, an internationally renowned gay psychologist, as well as research sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay advocacy group.

Thus, while I might be “cool” towards the use of KN, it is clear that the research company has been used by a wide variety of scholars, who have had success getting published in leading journals with data drawn from its panels of respondents. Regnerus reported that his response rate was approximately 65%; in contrast, Herek’s research with KN featured a response rate of only 30%, apparently far lower.

Use of mixed orientation households (MOMs). Much has been made of the possibility that Regnerus succeeded in gathering data from children from mixed orientation marriages (MOMs). However, many other attempts to study GLB families have involved such marriages. One study, for example, featured 72% of children who had been born into a previous heterosexual marriage before joining a lesbian couple family at an average age of over 4 years. However, the results of such studies are heralded as showing us how well lesbian families are doing, even though they involve many of the same limitations vis-à-vis MOMs as Regnerus’ NFSS study.

Funding issues. With respect to funding, many published studies have been funded by pro-gay advocacy groups and yet few report doubts about the influence of such funding on research outcomes; but since the NFSS was funded by conservative groups, such doubts are brought to the forefront.

Outcomes for children. There is considerable research—detailed in my commentary in SSR—that notes the instability of lesbian and gay parental relationships, the tendency of their children to be involved in substance abuse, and the tendency of such children to experiment with or adopt same-sex sexual behaviors or identities—results similar to those that Regnerus reported. In other words, at least some of Regnerus’s findings were very similar to results from many other studies from around the world.

Reservations
Surely some will attempt to portray my comments as a whitewash, as if I agree with all of Regnerus’s methodological decisions. That is hardly the case.

First, I think that it would have been wise, especially once it became apparent that there were few very stable GLB families in the Knowledge Networks panel, to contract with a pro-gay research organization to collect data from at least 30, preferably 100 or more, stable same-sex families, to permit a more valid (although still limited because of possible selection effects) comparison with similarly stable heterosexual families.

Second, I think Regnerus should have reported a type of bracketing of his results—worst case, best case, and modal case—in his first article. However, in his first article, he presented a worst case analysis. In his second paper, he presented more of a modal case analysis. As far as I can tell, we have yet to see a detailed best case analysis.

Third, it is not clear to me that using average comparisons of outcomes for different family structural forms is the best approach for assessing the intertwined role of family structure and family process in the development of children. I hope to try some of my different ideas over the next few months to see what some of those better ways might be, if permitted by the characteristics of the data in the NFSS.

As my own review of other studies shows, however, the wholesale ad hominem attacks on Professor Regnerus and the complete dismissal of all of his methods and professionalism continue to be unjustified, even though his research—as all research—deserves careful scrutiny. His decisions about research design and analysis were within the ball park of what other credible and distinguished researchers have been doing within the past decade.

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Schumm served as a paid consultant (6-7 days) in the early stages of the development of the New Family Structures Study (NFSS). Dr. Schumm presented each of the articles or comments related to the NFSS from Social Science Research in his assessment of the NFSS at a round table discussion at the National Council on Family Relation’s annual conference, November 2, Phoenix, Arizona.]

Notes
* “Methodological decisions and the evaluation of possible effects of different family structures on children: the New Family Structures Survey (NFSS),” Social Science Research, Vol. 41(6): pages 1357-1366. (My apologies for the confusion between “Survey” and “Study” in the NFSS title).

* Links to other articles on the NFSS study in the current issue of Social Science Research can be found here. They are for purchase only.

This essay first appeared November 13, 2012 on Mercatornet.com and is reprinted under a Creative Commons license.

Walter R. Schumm

By

Walter R. Schumm is Professor of Family Studies at Kansas State University, with over 300 publications, including approximately 250 journal articles. He is also a retired colonel, U.S. Army. He earned his doctorate in family studies from Purdue University in 1979.

  • Fernando

    Yet another case of the highhandedness of the dictatorship of the Left: Anyone trying to show the cracks in their dogmatic system has to be expelled from the Ivory Tower… Pathetic! Thank you Dr Schumm for your insights.

    • scottrose

      The core issue here actually is not political. The core issue is that the trust on which science is based has been undermined. The peer reviewers had conflicts of interest (and were non-topic-specialists). Therefore, the Regnerus study was published without benefit of legitimate peer review. And, the problems do not stop with the Regnerus study alone. “Social Science Research” journal editor James Wright published the Regnerus study together with a promotional package that is more typical of advertorials than of science publishing. The writers of the three commentaries published alongside the Regnerus and Marks studies all were non-topic-experts with conflicts of interest. Wright, in the subsequent November issue of Social Science Research, again gave the Regnerus study a promotional package — of non-peer-reviewed materials, including Regnerus’s non-peer-reviewed article of “Additional Analyses.” The articles are made to look as though they were peer reviewed, though they were not. Regnerus’s boosters continually refer to these supplemental promotional articles as having appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. The claim that any of these Regnerus-study-related promotional materials have been peer reviewed is documentably false. That highlights that the core issue here is that the publication of the Regnerus study has undermined the trust on which science is based.

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  • scottrose

    I
    am not persuaded by any of the methodological alibis that Dr. Schumm hands to
    Regnerus. Take, for example, the question of children born into “mixed
    orientation” relationships, i.e. a man and a woman have a baby, and then
    later separate and one or the other of them has a same-sex relationship.
    Regnerus says that about one-half of his sample fits that pattern. Schumm
    says that a 2003 study by Golombok looked at families that fit that pattern in
    a similar way. But actually, the Golombok study is not at all similar in
    that way to the Regnerus study. The Golombok study, for example,
    determined that the child study subjects were actually living with lesbian
    mothers who self-identified as lesbian mothers. Regnerus by contrast
    included children of broken “mixed-orientation” relationships and/or
    marriages — without knowing the sexual orientation of the parents and also,
    indiscriminately, in his published study, including children of broken
    “mixed-orientation” relationships and counting them as children of
    “gay” parents, whether those children had ever lived with the
    “gay” parent or not. Regnerus did not assemble an appropriate
    comparison group, and his comparison group was cherry-picked to make
    “gay” parents look bad. Some of his study subjects from broken
    “mixed orientation” relationships *never* lived with a gay parent —
    and experienced some relatively “bad” outcomes because of the
    instability in their (opposite gender) parents’ relationship, but Regnerus
    implied that the “bad” outcomes correlated to having a
    “gay” parent, though in fact the bad outcomes correlated more to
    family instability. Golombok did not do anything remotely like that. Golombok
    did not include children who lived with their heterosexual father, and not with
    their “lesbian” mother; Regnerus did that. That is just one of the reasons that
    the Golombok study can not be used to excuse away Regnerus’s abuses of the
    children of mixed-orientation marriages in his study. Golombok actually used
    subjects whose mothers self-identified as lesbian and who had been verified as
    living with the child study subject. Additionally, Walter Schumm makes
    statement in his article about things he has not and – apparently — can not
    verify. For example, he says that Golombok used “children who had
    spent most of their life in heterosexual families.” That claim is
    not verifiable through Golombok’s published study. Golombok’s published
    study says that 28 of her 39 lesbian mother families’ children were born to
    opposite-gender parents and that the women entered into a same-sex relationship
    when the average age of their children was 4.1. Golombok does not tell
    us when the lesbian mothers separated from the children’s fathers — or even
    whether they were together, ever, except to produce a baby. In sum, it
    can not be determined how long these 28 Golombok study subjects lived in a
    dwelling with their father and mother, and therefore, Schumm’s statement that
    the children had “spent most of their life in heterosexual families”
    is unsubstantiated. These are the kinds of errors in Schumm’s
    article that should have been corrected through topic-expert peer review.

    • sajetreh

      Studies like these are a waste of time. The fact is that any child that is raised in a household that deviates from the scientific purpose of the human reproductive system is going to be negatively affected. When you hide or distort scientific truths from anyone it causes confusion and misconception. When you do it to the most innocent of society, our children it is nothing less than criminal.

      • scottrose

        Actually, science has gone beyond proving that you are wrong. Empirically we know that some children raised by gay parents have good outcomes and that some children raised by heterosexual parents have bad outcomes. Being raised by heterosexual parents does not guarantee good child outcomes. Being raised by gay parents does not guarantee bad outcomes. You don’t know any more about “scientific truths” than does Elmer Fudd.

        • J G

          Scott, I believe I have seen you elsewhere, and everywhere, attempting to silence any criticism of homosexuality. Folks, note that Mr. Rose is a homosexual activist and anti-Catholic. He is currently calumniating the author of this study on every website where it is discussed. Anything to avoid dealing with the actual results and the fact that children in homosexual situations are hurting.

          • scottrose

            I state documented facts, and you attack me with gay-bashing rhetoric. A bon entendeur, salut!

            • J G

              I simply am pointing out to the others here that you are an anti-Catholic troll who is traveling the internet attacking the truth about homosexuality. That is a fact as is the study that you disparage.

              • scottrose

                You likely have some conflict of interest with either Regnerus, his publisher or his funders and those politically connected with them. If you refuse to state who you are, it is impossible for anybody to fact-check whether you have such conflicts of interest. In any event, I have made science-based observations, but instead of making any rational, persuasive rebuttal to them, you carry out ad hominem attacks against me. The topic of the above article and of these comments is the Regnerus study. Regnerus himself does not remotely claim that his study has the least to do with “the truth about homosexuality.” You are way off topic.

                • J G

                  How many people have you persuaded here or at the other Catholic site? None. However, you do a fine job of showing us what kind of bigotry lurks in the homosexual agenda. You confirm our opinions and suspicions.

                  • scottrose

                    But here’s what you have to realize. The commission for the booby-trapped Regnerus study that was published without benefit of peer review, came from a political Catholic source. The President of The Witherspoon Institute, Luis Tellez, is a regional representative of Opus Dei. The kingpin political gay basher involved in the matter is Witherspoon Senior Fellow Robert George, who is a board member of the Catholic League.. The lead researcher, Mark Regnerus, told an interviewer that he wants his work to contribute to the (anti-gay-rights) Catholic Church. If you think gay people are going to sit passively by while you cook up booby-trapped studies to demonize them, with a political goal of keeping them in second-class status, you have another thought coming. The Catholic-led, so-called National Organization for Marriage called 2012 “The Marriage Election” and it got its answer to the question of what a majority of Americans think of it. People see the videos of NOM’s anti-gay hate rallies, with speakers yelling through megaphones that homosexuals are “worthy to death,” and they are reminded that the saying “Never again!” about the Holocaust has a meaning.

                    • J G

                      There is nothing wrong with the study, other then you didn’t like the results. Your bigotry is quite evident. It is not bashing homosexuals to point out the problems that disorder carries with it.

                      As for who are the ones being persecuted: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9682922/Taken-to-task-for-doing-nothing-wrong-worker-demoted-for-opposing-gay-marriage-was-unlawfully-punished-judge-rules.html

                      The man won, but it should never have happened. Nie wieder! You will not silence the truth..

                    • scottrose

                      Actually, Regnerus failed to assemble an appropriate comparison group. Assembling an appropriate comparison group is Sociology 101. See Earl Robert Babbie’s book The Practice of Social Research. These fundamental principles apply, no matter the topic of research.

                    • J G

                      I didn’t think you would respond. The talking points won’t work. The study was fine, now deal with the results. You might also deal with the fact that homosexuals are the ones doing the bullying and persecuting. Homosexuality hurts people. It doesn’t matter if you jail us or kill us. That truth will not go away. But you can live a happy life. Come to Jesus Christ and his Church. We can and will help you.

        • John200

          Where is your confidence in your facts and the persuasive power of your logic and rhetoric, Scott?

          You have been at this for months; you have threatened everybody in sight; you have disrupted the University of Texas; you are trolling this thread; and you came up flat yet again. So now you think it is cute and funny to compare your interlocutor unfavorably to Elmer Fudd.

          You are comprehensively in the wrong.

          Your biases are what got you into that position.

          Pitiful.

          • scottrose

            1) Eight major professional groups, including the American Medical Association, filed an amicus brief in the Golinski case, analyzing Regnerus’s methodology as scientifically unsound; 2) the President of the American Sociological Association signed a letter calling Regnerus’s groupings “absurd” and expressing concern about the invalid peer review; 3) no scientific authorities without conflicts of interest with Regnerus and/or his funders have vouched for the Regnerus study; 4) Dr. Michael Schwartz, Chair of the Department of Sociology at Stony Brook University is calling for the Regnerus study to be retracted from publication, and for “Social Science Research” editor James Wright to be removed from his position, for editorial misconduct. 5) Sir Timothy Gowers of Cambridge University started a boycott of Regnerus’s publisher, Elsevier, which boycott of Elsevier has now been joined by 12,941 professionals. Gowers does not mince words in expressing his disgust with Elsevier for having published Regnerus. Gowers has said: “the paper is bunkum and shouldn’t have been accepted: its conclusion (that children do worse if they have gay parents) is not remotely justified by the data used.” 6) Dr. Wendy Simonds says; “I support the retraction of Regnerus’s article, because the review process was not truly blind. Consultants and/or funders on projects should not serve as reviewers of papers that emerge from the projects in which they have been involved. Additionally, Regnerus’s “data” on gay and lesbian parents are unrepresentative of gay and lesbian parents.” 7) Dr. Andrew Perrin, sociologist with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 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.” 8) Dr. Philip Cohen, sociologist with the University of Maryland says: “Yes, it seems clear that Regnerus lied, and that Wilcox acted unethically by acting as a reviewer, program officer and consultant.” 9) Dr. Gary Gates of the UCLA School of Law says: “My position is clear. The fact that two of the three peer reviewers of the Regnerus paper were paid consultants undermines the review process to the point that I do not believe the academy should consider this paper to have undergone legitimate peer review. Elsevier should take steps to either formally retract the paper or subject it to an unbiased peer review process.” 10) Dr. Nathaniel Frank said that Regnerus “fails the most basic requirement of social science research — assessing causation by holding all other variables constant.” 11) Dr. Eric Anderson of the University of Winchester Dr. Anderson has described the Regnerus study as anti-gay propaganda, explaining that that is the only term he can think of to describe a study analysis and discussion that is designed to denigrate gay people outside the boundaries of empirical evidence. 12) Commenting on the documented evidence of invalid and corrupt peer review through which the Regnerus study was published, Dr. Kenneth Sherrill said this: The Publisher and the Editorial Board should be called upon to remove the editor of the journal. He has acted with what seems to me to be extraordinary irresponsibility and dereliction of duty. They should make a public statement of their action and they should publish that statement along with their rationale.”

            • John200

              That steaming pile of quotes doesn’t persuade anybody other than your fellow homo”sex”ual trolls. Not at all.

              Your steaming pile has been vetted by your betters. It was found wanting, and is today unimproved. Do you see?

              I, a casual observer, already know more than half the quotes. I have seen your site. I have followed your self-destructive career through the last few months.

              Your biases are what got you into this position. Looks like they will keep you there.

              Pitiful.

              • scottrose

                I think I missed the place where you made any scientific defense of the criticisms of Regnerus’s study, or of the evidence-based statements about the invalid peer review process through which the study was published. Note that the President of the American Sociological Association is heterosexual, though you have just called him a “homo”sex”ual troll.” Note also that the President of the American Medical Association, too, is heterosexual. I invite you to go tell the heterosexual President of the American Medical Association that because he filed an amicus brief analyzing the Regnerus study as scientifically unsound, you think he is a homosexual troll. Better yet, go tell that to the court where the AMA filed its amicus brief. See how far you get. My guess is that the court will take the AMA’s word about the Regnerus study, over yours.

                • John200

                  Dear Scott,

                  As you know, I called YOU a “homo”sex”ual troll.”

                  As a clue to why I am ahead of you, I know the publication process in the elite scientific journals.

                  The rest is dross. I feel no need to recount your defeats, embarrassments, and general failures.

              • scottrose

                Readers should be sure to click on the blue of commenter “John200,” to review comments he has made under other articles on this same site. He is OBSESSED with homosexuality — (we refer to this as being “homo hot & bothered”) and he is constantly harping on “perversion” etcetera. “John200″ has excoriated others on this site for “practicing intrinsically disordered behavior” et cetera. Ask yourselves — why would one homo hot & bothered commenter always be attacking gay people in comments?

                • John200

                  Dear Scott,

                  Thank you for the ad hominem. I accept it as your side’s admission of defeat on the criteria of facts, logic, and rhetoric. To you personally, I extend my best wishes as you lick your wounds and gear up for your next defeat. I also pity your self-destruction, which is completely unnecessary.

                  Any reader can ask me anything they want. It all boils down to: I have told you the truth but you don’t like it.

                  Do your level best to silence me; you and yours have used “facts” that are not facts, faulty logic and silly rhetoric, scapegoating (you don’t even know me), and many more tactics which I could easily name. At least half a dozen are tied to Saul Alinsky. I refer you to your own foul writings.

                  I am not obsessed with homo”sex”ual perversion. It stands with other sins that cry out for justice; can you name them? Nor am I obsessed with pride; nor with greed; nor with drunkenness; nor with sloth; nor with envy; nor with any other species of sin.

                  If you would like to improve, ask the same questions about yourself, Scott. Why would you obsessively attack Professor Regnerus ad infinitum?

                  It all comes down to, I tell you the truth, you do not like it.

                  • scottrose

                    There is nothing “ad hominem” about calling other readers’ attention to the fact that you exclusively focus on going to different articles and venting your bile against gay human beings. You are an anti-gay bigot, of the “homo-hot-and-bothered” variety. The religious notion that homosexuality is “a sin” has nothing to do with the scientific study of homosexuality. You should stop making your “homo-hot-and-bothered” anti-gay attacks on every article you can find about gay people, because by continuing to do that, you only give other readers the impression that you are the Larry “wide stance” Craig type of closet case. The public is aware of what it means when a “straight” man is obsessed with condemning homosexuality.

                    • John200

                      Dear Scott,

                      If you were a thief looking to recruit, a drunk looking for justification, a person filled with pride (Bingo! I hit the target!), or whatever kind of public showoffy sinner, I would tell you the truth, adapted to your choice of sin, of course.

                      Your account of other readers’ impressions of me is colored by your biases, but we discussed that point to completion awhile back. You do not advance your losing case by such repetition.

                      You are an anti-heterosexual, vaginaphobic, normalpersonphobic bigot– do you see? I have not run out of names, I just don’t feel the need to use them on you.

                      You are not a player in science; get used to being rebuked on that account. The rebukes and dismissals of your “scientific” claptrap aren’t going to stop.

                      It all comes down to, I tell you the truth, you do not like it.

                      Best to you and yours. By “best” I mean I hope you recover from this pitiful state. I do not know whether you will continue in the dark, but great improvement is possible if you wake up.

                    • scottrose

                      The public is aware of what it means when a “straight” man is obsessed with condemning homosexuality.

                    • John200

                      The public is more than aware of you and your sick games.

                      This is not the only forum where I comment. Nor is it the only topic. You came here to troll, got spanked, liked it, and now you ask for more.

                      Best to you and yours. There is a point where I will cease bothering with you and leave you to your darkness, although with best wishes that you wake up.

                • J G

                  You are the one who is obsessed. You can’t stand it when someone out there somewhere thinks that there is something wrong with homosexuality. It drives you nuts.

    • Walter Schumm

      What I said was that at least two (implied by the use of the plural children) of the children lived longer in mixed-gender relationships than in same-sex families, not that most of the children had done so. That is why I said “were, in fact, included” rather than saying that most or all of the children had lived longer in heterosexual families. Yes, I should have said “possibly” rather than “in fact”. However, the cure for this question is the data; if Dr. Golombok will provide you or me with the data, I’d be glad to retract my comment if only one or none of the children were not as I stated. The odds of my being wrong are pretty remote if means and standard deviations have any real meaning, given that the average age of joining a same-sex family was over 4 years and inclusion in the study began at age 5 of the child. If the statistical distributions for the ages reported have any tails at all, there must certainly be some overlap. My main reason for bringing up the example was that other studies, as well as Regnerus’s, have had issues with ambiguity about the history of the families under study. So I am surprised that you are not in agreement with me that research ought to be more clear on family history and instead you want to debate the way I interpreted the available statistical data that was provided.

      • scottrose

        Yes or no? Did you present something as a statement of fact without having verified whether it was indeed factual? Did you allow your assumptions to color your statement, such that you reported something to readers as fact, even though you do not know whether it was fact? Whereas James Wright should have been more careful about this kind of thing, he instead grew less careful about it. This highlights the accuracy of my broader complaints related to “Social Science Researcher” editor James Wright’s editorial misconduct. The original Regnerus study did not receive valid peer review and was published with non-peer-reviewed advertorial material promoting the study. Adding insult to that injury against the trust on which science is based, Wright published another promotional package for the Regnerus study in the November issue of Social Science Research, none of it peer reviewed, Regnerus’s “Additional Analyses” contains — for the second time in Social Science Research — the untrue claim that no funding agency representative was consulted on study design. The “ambiguity” of the family histories of those included in the Golombok study DO NOT include the possibilities that the mothers were not lesbians and/or that the children studied had never lived with a gay parent but were being counted as children of gay parents, as happened with the Regnerus study. Golombok ascertained that her study subjects were lesbian mothers and that the children lived with those lesbian mothers. What is more, is that Golombok — unlike Regnerus — does not write her conclusion as though she had proved a causation which she in fact did not test. The original Regnerus article’s conclusion is a political op-ed, not a scientific study conclusion, and Regnerus presents something about “Intact Biological Families” as though he had tested for causation, when in fact, he did not. I am going to go out on a limb and forecast that Regnerus will never testify as an expert witness in court under oath on the basis of his study. It’s junk, he knows its junk, and he knows that under cross-examination, with the rules that apply in courts of law, he would be fully exposed as a dishonest fraud. Yes — lying in a published study about your relationship with your funder is dishonest and fraudulent.

        • scottrose

          PS to Walter — I think you left out certain very important baseline issues that render the Regnerus study scientifically invalid. Regnerus claims to have used a “representative” random national sample — that is a false claim. For starters, name just one study that used a pure random national sample to study a minority in the US with a total number of under 100,000 members. No targeted sampling; just pure random sampling, for a national study of a minority with less than 100,000 members. Name just one study that has done that. Additionally, name just one study that claimed to use a representative random national sample for a minority with less that 100,000 total members in the US, and which did not actually use a representative sample, but which was accepted as valid by the scientific community. Where is just one study fitting that description?

          • Walter Schumm

            This is an interesting world, Scott. You heard about this piece before I did and commented on it before I even knew it was out there. And I didn’t pick the title for it either. Despite my ancestry, your German is better than mine, too. I am not about to defend what Regnerus says in arenas other than published articles, so don’t expect me to try to do so. I hesitate myself to say much on radio or TV as my past experiences have shown me that you can end up being misquoted (out of context) way too easily and there is a huge temptation to make more of your research than it merits just to get the attention or not have your interview time end up on the cutting floor as they call it. My comment did point out the difficulty of finding an adequate number of same-sex stable families from even large random samples of 10,000 to 15,000, so you are correct on that issue (I think we more or less agree it’s an issue). You are correct that pointing out concerns in other papers does not prove Regnerus’s research to be good but that misses the point from my perspective, which is that similar issues are not drawing at all the same attention, which makes me suspect that the controversy centers more on what he claims to have found rather than the methods per se. In other words, suppose he had found that same-sex families’ children were doing better than heterosexual families’ children, using the same methods, would there have been the same consternation over the methods? I doubt it, though it would be hard to prove, given that it’s strictly a hypothetical at the moment. But what will happen if my analysis of the same data find that to be the case? It remains a possibility that my reanalysis of the data might show the children of same-sex families to be doing better or at least no worse. So, if I find that to be the case, will that conclusion be rendered worthless by your own criticisms of the study? That’s why I prefer the slower academic approach. As I said in the blog, we haven’t yet seen the best case analysis from Dr. Regnerus and it might show how well children from same-sex families are doing. Until we do, I am not sure the fat lady, so to speak, has sung.

            • scottrose

              There is a non-hypothetical situation, with Dr. Nicholas Wolfinger having published a letter in The Salt Lake Tribune titled “Let’s Endorse Marriage” in which Wolfinger argues that the Regnerus study should be used as support for same-couples’ marital rights. I think that Wolfinger genuinely supports equality but that he has a conflict of interest with Social Science Research, because he is on the editorial board. He is lending an unwarranted imprimatur of scientific validity to the paper, whereas the paper should, for many reasons, be retracted from publication (and put through valid peer review prior to any future eventual re-publication). Questions of possible invalidating methodologies in other studies are tangential to the fact that the Regnerus study is scientifically invalid, that Regnerus and his funders make false claims about the science involved in the Regnerus study, and that they lie to the public about their relationships. I think that in the past, science had virtually no regulatory mechanism, except that it was presumed to be self-correcting. More recently, we have seen panels of experts concerned about the integrity of the scientific record taking actions better to protect it (COPE, for example). The internet has facilitated such activity (see the very interesting site “Retraction Watch”). Often, papers wind up warranting retraction through no deliberate act of the scientist who reported the research. Whether a paper is so erroneous (or has some other problem, such as duplication or plagiarism) as to merit retraction ultimately has nothing to do with any political argument that might surround the paper’s topic. The core question that could impact gay parent child custody has already been scientifically settled. That core question would be “Does a gay parent’s orientation, per se, disqualify them from serving as a loving and capable parent?” That it does not ipso facto disqualify them, is settled. Regnerus’s data should be discarded. Here is the definition for his target study group: American, between 18 – 39, not with continuously married opposite gender parents, and who say that one or both parents have ever had a same sex relationship. Nobody knows what percent of the general population such people constitute. Because nobody knows — or even can know that percent — there is no scientifically valid weight to use for that group.

      • Walter Schumm

        As I noted on mercatornet.com, the oldest child to enter a lesbian family was nine years old at that time but the oldest child in Golombok’s study at the time of the actual study was only nine years and a few months. That means that at least one child in the study had only been in a lesbian family for a few months of a total lifespan of over nine years. Whatever the child was exposed to prior to age 9 might well have more to do with their current psychological condition than their having been in any type of family for only a few recent months. So I stand by my position that there are ambiguities in the family structure histories of the children assessed in the Golombok report. Since Golombok said the children were born into heterosexual relationships (to me, a one-night stand is not much of a “relationship”) and did not mention any changes from that status, I assumed there probably were none. If I was wrong to assume that, perhaps Golombok could have helped her readers out by being more specific about the family histories of the children. But no one, to my knowledge, has attacked the Golombok report with anything close to the same zeal with which the Regnerus study is being attacked, as Scott’s quotes below illustrate. But, I could be wrong – perhaps Scott will find me a bunch of intense criticisms of the Golombok report on the internet that I missed (not counting any previous comments I might have made on the Golombok report in published articles). If half the human energy being spent in attack mode were spent on doing a better study, I think we would all be better served. Frankly, I have a lot better things to be doing myself, so I will return to them. Thanks to all for braving this discourse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/StanleySolsky Stanley Solsky

    Verbose and grandiose attacks on ANY article which does not defend the gay agenda are bound to happen. Grandstanding by those groups only solidify what is lacking in their thinking. Kudos to those willing to stand against the horrors that the agenda will barrage against opposite viewpoints.

    • Victress Jenkins

      I agree with you Stanley. They don’t want anyone to question them or disagree with them. It’s just plain evil what they do / say to their opponents.

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