Reasoned Analysis vs. Blah, Blah, Sneer, and Blah

That is the argument today on the question of homosexuality and transgenderism. On the one side there is reasoned argument, science, social science, analysis. On the other, nothing much more than mockery, slander, laughter, and dismissal. Sure, there are studies on the other side, many of them shoddy and ideological, and others that actually back up our own claims.

But, for the most part, the LGBTs believe they have reached a point in the debate when they do not have to do much more than sneer. The Harvey Mansfield Law says, “You can always tell who’s in charge in a society by who is allowed to get angry” That has been and remains the LGBTs and certainly not the Christians. But I offer Ruse’s Addendum to Mansfield’s Law: “You can always tell who thinks they’ve won the debate by who gets to sneer.”

The LGBTs are in full sneer this week with the release of a major new report from two world-renowned scientists, Drs. Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh. In “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” Mayer and McHugh have reviewed hundreds of studies across half a dozen scientific disciplines and have concluded much of what the public thinks about LGBT issues is simply wrong. Almost everything ideologues say in the academy, the media, government, and the law is simply wrong on the issue of homosexuality and transgenderism.

Much of the LGBT’s sneering response is focused on the credentials of Mayer and McHugh, so let’s look at what they’re sneering about.

This is long but stay with me. It’s important.

Dr. Lawrence Mayer is “a full-time academic involved in all aspects of teaching, research, and professional service.” He is “a biostatistician and epidemiologist” focused on “the design, analysis, and interpretation of experimental and observational data in public health and medicine, particularly when the data are complex in terms of underlying scientific issues.” Mayer is a research physician having been trained in medicine and psychiatry. He has testified in dozens of federal and state legal and regulatory hearings having to do with complex scientific literature. He has held full-time tenured positions at the university level for four decades and has held professional appointments at eight universities, including Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Arizona State University, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and School of Medicine, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, and the University of Michigan. He has also been professionally connected to the Mayo Clinic.

In his own words, “[I] strongly support equality and oppose discrimination for the LGBT community, and have testified on their behalf as a statistical expert.”

Dr. Paul McHugh is considered among the most influential psychiatrists in the past half century. Educated at Harvard College and the Harvard Medical School, for twenty-five years he was the head of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He has written or edited seven influential books in the field of psychiatry. He is credited with single-handedly debunking the notion of suppressed memories that landed a few dozen child-care workers in prison for supposedly sexually abusing children, charges later proven false.

And what do the sneering LGBTs say about these accomplished and even august men? The anti-Christian $50 million-a-year Human Rights Campaign referred to them as “Anti-Trans All-Stars…” HRC says Mayer and McHugh use “scientific credentials to feign expertise on gender and sexual orientation.” HRC says Mayer and McHugh are “far outside the medical and scientific mainstream” and that McHugh is associated with a “hate-group.” What hate-group? The American College of Pediatricians!

Is there anything in the HRC piece about Mayer or McHugh’s academic or professional credentials? Nope. Not a peep about that. Did they engage the research as Mayer and McHugh did? Nope. Only sneers and name-calling.

Further down the food-chain, but not by much is Right Wing Watch run by the hard-left People for the American Way. Right Wing Watch went after the publisher of the study, The New Atlantis, accusing the journal of not being “peer reviewed.” (More on peer review below.)

Right Wing Watch went after McHugh for his religious beliefs, even though there is not a single mention of scripture or encyclicals or anything religious in the report. McHugh is automatically suspect for being Catholic. They go on to smear the report for being praised by right-wing bogeymen Brian Brown and Ryan Anderson.

Did Right Wing Watch cite Mayer’s or McHugh’s credentials or otherwise engage the research? Nope. Not once. Just sneers and smears.

Still further down the LGBT food-chain are the smelly little blogs. One little-read blog is called Slowly Boiled Frog run by a retired businessman in Florida.

Laced with the de rigueur vulgarity, the blog goes after the supposed Catholicism of the Ethics and Public Policy Institute, a partner with The New Atlantis. EPPC is not “Catholic,” by the way. The blog does mention Mayer’s credentials as a biostatistician and epidemiologist but says he is “out of his depth.” One wonders about the depth of the gay fellow running the blog. Does he have the credentials to question Mayer’s?

The blog then smears McHugh’s Catholic faith and then insists everyone involved with the paper is a “Defender of the Faith.” The blog then pivots to Cardinal Ratzinger. A constant and rather boring feature of the blog is its attacks on Christians and most especially Catholics. It is as if they have a key-stroke that produces “Catholic” so they don’t have to type the whole thing out constantly ad nauseum.

The blog does engage the research, sort of, well not really. Rather, in a sentence or two the blog attempts to shoot down the key findings in a Monty Python “that’s-not-argument-that’s contradiction” kind of a way. So again, more sneering and name-calling.

A gay blog called “Deep Something” gave Mayer and McHugh their “Douchebag of the Day” award. Again, no real engagement. A blog called “Michael-in-Norfolk-Coming-Out-Gay” called Mayer and McHugh “Christofascists.” I actually cannot find a reference to Mayer’s faith or lack of faith anywhere. Still, he is a Christofascist.

And that is kind of it. These are their counter-arguments to a 143-page paper with 27 pages of academic footnotes.

What does the report really say? Start with the fact that the report has 27 pages of notes. The authors read and analyzed dozens of studies and reports from the biological, psychological and social sciences.

They were concerned to discover what the most rigorous scientific findings tell us about the “born that way” proposition so they looked at twin studies, genetics, environmental issues, and hormonal factors. They looked at the best existing brain science. They explored issues related to mental health as they are concerned that gays and transgenders experience levels of mental health issues far above the general population. They looked specifically at “stress factors,” that is, homo and transphobia. They analyzed dozens and dozens of studies.

What did they conclude? First, that a number of factors can go into sexual orientation and even that genetics may play a role. If the gays actually read the report, they may have trumpeted that, but they were too busy sneering. Though they would have been unhappy with the conclusion that there is no scientific support for genetics as a single reason.

Mayer and McHugh did repeat what even gay friendly researchers like Dr. Lisa Diamond have also discovered, that it is nearly impossible to determine who is a homosexual, so complex is the issue. They also point out the danger in pushing or even allowing teens and younger to transition in any way to another sex. They say this is dangerous and that the research shows 80 percent of kids who think they are transgender in adolescence turn out normal by their twenties.

Yes, Mayer and McHugh did not produce original research. The LGBTs think that is a damning point. It is an analysis of all the research out there, and a common use of such research. That is what science is about.

And yes, The New Atlantis is not peer-reviewed, though both Mayer and McHugh have published in peer-reviewed journals and in the top-tier, too. One suspects they chose this route because peer review has become so politicized, particularly in the area of LGBT. Why go through the trouble of attempting peer review on such a controversial paper only to be shot down and give the other side that arrow to shoot you with?

There are ample reports out there about how phony peer review has become. How in many cases it is little more than “log-rolling,” you give me a good review and I’ll give you one. Moreover, there are legendary stories out there about how later Nobel Prize papers were repeatedly rejected for peer-review. The peer review argument is a dodge they use to avoid real engagement.

It is unfortunate we have reached a point where such good men as these can be slandered with such ease and that opponents feel free to avoid real engagement and do no more than sneer and call names. It means we are far behind in the public debate. If they thought we were a threat, they would have to engage.

The good news is that today even laymen are being forced to become experts. All of us. It is like with the faith itself. We can no longer rely on the institutional Church for our faith, we must make our faith our very own. Otherwise it is built on sand. In the same way, we can no longer rely on experts in social issues, we must make these issues our own, too.

Every single one of us needs to download the Mayer and McHugh report, read it, and even study the footnotes. Believe me, it is tough sledding, but well worth it. The executive summary is excellent.

If you have a gay child or a gender confused child, it will also bring you comfort, great comfort. Even the science is on our side.

And as we become more expert in the expert arguments and as they, believing they no longer have to engage and therefore become hopelessly rusty, we just might win this debate over time.

Austin Ruse

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Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of C-FAM.

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