Opinion: Regnerus Study — Official Misconduct Allegations

From The New Civil Rights Movement: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/opinion-regnerus-study-official-misconduct-allegations/news/2012/07/26/44553

by Scott Rose
July 26, 2012

Reposted with Permission

OFFICIAL SCIENTIFIC AND SCHOLARLY MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS 

PRESENTED AGAINST 

MARK REGNERUS, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN 

Regarding His Study

How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?

Findings from the New Family Structures Study 

By 

SCOTT ROSE: MINORITIES ANTI-DEFAMATION PROFESSIONAL 

THESE ALLEGATIONS ARE BEING PRESENTED TO: 

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN’S INQUIRY PANEL

______________________________________________________________________________

The author of this document has uppermost in mind the scope and aims of a University of Texas, Austin Inquiry in response to a Complaint of Scientific and Scholarly Misconduct.

The University of Texas (UT) defines “Inquiry” thusly: “Inquiry means gathering information and initial fact-finding to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of scientific misconduct warrants an investigation.”

The author of course trusts that all members of the Inquiry Panel will read this document in its entirety – (as it contains much relevant information as well as many facts pertinent to the allegations contained herein) – towards making a determination as to whether these allegations, and cited apparent instances of scientific and scholarly misconduct, warrant an investigation.

The document will conclude by asking the members of the Inquiry Panel, respectfully, to advance these allegations against Mark Regnerus to a full scientific and scholarly misconduct investigation, in order that trust in science not be undermined.

About the Complainant:

Scott Rose is a New York City-based Minorities Anti-Defamation Professional

His writings appear regularly in the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

He has published op-eds critical of unjustifiable demonization of Muslim-Americans, and of defamation of American Hindus, among other minority groups victimized through and because of 1) negative prejudices, combined with: 2) falsifications of scientific records pertaining to minorities.

As an investigative journalist, he did original research into the story of H.S., a female high-school cheerleader in Silsbee, Texas sexually assaulted by school football stars and then re-victimized by her local community. Rose’s reporting and involvement in the matter was praised and publicized by national organizations and publications, including Ms. Magazine, co-founded by Gloria Steinhem because: “there really was nothing for women to read that was controlled by women, and this caused me along with a number of other women to start Ms. magazine.”

Rose first discovered and reported that North Carolina State Senator James Forrester, a doctor, had falsified associations with professional medical groups on his curriculum vita. Rose’s work was reported about and/or quoted on television, radio, magazines, newspapers and online venues. Forrester had been improperly exploiting his perceived, yet very severely lapsed medical knowledge and expertise, to communicate to the public known falsehoods defamatory of homosexuals. To hate-monger against gays at political rallies, and in political op-eds – (to cite but one example here) — Forrester and his wife were telling the public that the average life-expectancy for a homosexual male was 39 years. Forrester claimed that he had his information about homosexuals’ health and life expectancy from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Rose obtained on-the-record statements from the Centers for Disease Control that they had never given Forrester the health information he claimed they had given him. The CDC verified that 39 is not the average life expectancy for gay Americans. Forrester had falsified his record by untruthfully claiming to be a current Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. The ACPM stated that Forrester was not one of their current members, still less a Fellow. Forrester also falsely claimed that he was member of the Aerospace Medical Association and of the American Medical Association. If Forrester was at one time a member of any of those professional organizations, his memberships in them had long expired, and he apparently had not carried through with any of the ongoing modernization of one’s knowledge automatically expected of a medical doctor, medicine being a continually evolving field. These documented revelations about the untrustworthy Forrester did not stop Forrester from defaming LGBTers through public dissemination of known falsehoods about them in political contexts. His continued promulgation of known negative falsehoods about minorities after he had humiliated himself by falsifying his record of professional associations demonstrates something of what minorities all too often face, in terms of a truthful public record about them being acknowledged, sometimes – disturbingly —  even by certain bigots among elected officials. 

Why Scientific and Scholarly Misconduct Allegations are being Presented Against UT’s Mark Regnerus

Violations of scientific standards undermine the trust on which science is based.

Certain research behaviors are so contrary to the core principles of science that they threaten the overall reputation of science and the health and welfare of the intended beneficiaries of legitimate research. That is to say, acts of scientific misconduct can have negative consequences for all of science and the public at large. Because sociological — and other — research impacts social policy on, and public perceptions about, certain irrationally despised minorities who currently are mistreated as second-class citizens, researchers have an ethical responsibility to adhere to appropriate research methodology. That ethical obligation to adhere to appropriate research methodology is written into ethics codes of the American Sociological Society, the American Psychological Association as well as the ethics codes of many similar professional organizations.

Regnerus’s chief funders have authority over a scientifically disreputable anti-gay rights organization – The National Organization for Marriage — that has used the works of the long and utterly discredited Paul Cameron to demonize gays to the public. An example of Regnerus’s funders having propagandized against gays using Cameron’s discredited “research” shall be provided below. Cameron was expelled from the APA and lost his professional license due to apparently willful and deliberate misrepresentation of the scientific record pertaining to homosexuals. After Cameron submitted affidavits to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas, Judge Jerry L. Buchmeyer wrote in his opinion that Cameron had “made misrepresentations to this Court.”

There follows an example of the severe harms all too often caused by defamatory falsifications of scientific information about homosexuals.

This information is relevant to the allegations against Mark Regnerus, because he seems to have been misrepresenting his study to the public, in ways that could enhance stigmatization of gay people. An example of Regnerus seeming to do that shall be provided below.

Falsified information that contributes to stigma and discrimination against a minority often inflicts an injury against the public health. The Centers for Disease Control note the roles that multiple stigma and discrimination — (for example, simultaneous stigmas against a person who is black, Hispanic, gay and female) — play in the dramatically disproportional rates of HIV and other STD transmissions among people of color. Gay and/or bi-sexual men of color, for instance, often are frightened of publicly revealing their orientation, where doing so might result in their being fired from their jobs, only because they are gay or bi-sexual. That fear of exposure often leads them not even to get tested for STDs. State-of-the-art treatment of STDs reduces the overall rate of new transmissions, but obviously, a person who does not even get tested cannot be treated if they are a carrier of a potentially fatal, or any STD. The described circumstances can exacerbate public health epidemics. By way of example, one of the demographics with the highest rates of new HIV infections in the United States is that of heterosexual women of color in the south. Thus, while a researcher such as the aforementioned Paul Cameron – (and by extension, Regnerus’s funders who repeatedly cite Paul Cameron) — may intend to inflict harm only on homosexuals through falsification of research on them, such researchers’ falsifications can contribute to harms inflicted — through scientific misconduct – on others, including heterosexuals, and particularly on non-white heterosexuals, who can be subject to stigma and discrimination on the basis of their skin tone, ethnic heritage, or some other personal characteristic.

These Allegations Shall Rely Substantially on Expert Steven Nock, Ph.D.

At the University of Virginia, Dr. Steven Nock (1950 – 2008) was a Commonwealth Professor, Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Marriage Matters Project. During his career, he was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and he served as an American Family Policy consultant to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services. In 1999, Dr. Nock won the William J. Good Book Award from the American Sociological Association for his book Marriage in Men’s Lives; the volume was acknowledged as “the most outstanding contribution to family scholarship” for that year.

Dr. Nock submitted an affidavit in Halpern v. Canada, a case heard in 2003 in the Ontario Superior Court. Plaintiffs led by Halpern were seeking marriage equality for homosexual couples through the court, in opposition to the Attorney General of Canada, against whom the case had been brought. The Attorney General asked Dr. Nock to provide his assessment of the existing scientific literature on gay parenting.

Nock was expert in sociological survey research, and thus his prescriptions for acceptable scientific practices in large, random sociological surveys are relevant to Mark Regnerus’s survey research, as Regnerus alleges to have carried out and worked with a large, random, national sampling of young adult children of “Lesbian mothers” and “Gay fathers.”  The first part of Nock’s affidavit defines a true gold standard for conducting sociological survey research in the field of gay parenting. Some — liberals particularly — may disagree with certain of Nock’s personal opinions about family life and associated matters, yet his gold standard guidelines for the field of his greatest expertise, sociological survey research through large random samples, command broad-based respect. He developed these random survey sampling methodology guidelines disinterestedly, wanting to define standards for his profession. Sociologists who are gay parenting experts often refer to Nock as their research standard.

For example, Stanford University Sociologist Michael J. Rosenfeld, in his 2009 studyNontraditional Families and Childhood Progress Through School,” noted that 1) his study, based on the U.S. Census for the year 2000, included 3,502 (three-thousand five-hundred and two) children of same-sex couples who had been living with both parents for at least five (5) years, and that that 2) “more than satisfies Nock’s criteria of 800 as the minimum number of gay and lesbian couples required for statistically useful study.”

Regnerus’s Seeming Falsification of Data 

Falsification of data can be qualitative as well as quantitative.

If a researcher surveyed 25 Hutu, for example, but intentionally misreported that he had surveyed 75 Hutu, in order to appear to obtain a research result, which result he and/or his study’s funders desired, but which was not a valid result, then the researcher would be guilty of quantitative falsification of data.

If, on the other hand, the researcher surveyed 25 Hutu, but intentionally misreported that he had surveyed 25 Tutsi, in order to appear to obtain a research result, which result he and/or his study’s funders desired, but which was not a valid result, then the researcher would be guilty of qualitative falsification of data.

Regnerus appears to have carried out a qualitative falsification of his data, and perhaps a deliberate one, where he labels certain of the parents of his young adult respondents as being “lesbian mothers” and/or “gay fathers” without having formulated an operational definition for “lesbian mother” or “gay father,” and additionally without having done anything scientifically to determine whether the persons he labels as “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” are indeed “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers.”

Nock explained the necessity — to valid social science research — of working with a valid operational definition: “In social science literature, the process of translating a concept into one or more empirical indicators is known as developing an operational definition of a concept.” Nock continues: “In social science research, the concepts used, frequently come to have conventional operational definitions.  Researchers using accepted operational definitions are able to replicate others’ research, and build upon it. In this fashion, social science advances, as any science might.”

Writing about the specific requirements for sociological surveys in the field of gay parenting, Nock says: “With regard to the question at hand” – (which question at hand happened to be gay parenting child outcomes, Regnerus’s alleged study topic) — “we would need operational definitions of “gay”, “lesbian”, “bisexual,  “parent”, “child”, “child’s health”, and “child’s well being.’” Regnerus apparently did not work with operational definitions for any of those things.

Nock states that without a valid operational definition of a gay or lesbian parent, researchers cannot know what is being studied. He notes, moreover, that “The precise definition of all concepts to be used is crucial to the capability to replicate studies.” And he says: “Scientific evidence accumulates and gains credibility only through replication.”

Regnerus, with no operational definition of the terms “lesbian mother” or “gay father,” asked one — (1) – question, only, of his study’s respondents towards his effort in labeling certain of his study subjects’ parents as “lesbian mothers” and/or “gay fathers.” Here is that question:

“From when you were born until age 18 (or until you left home to be on your own), did either of your parents ever have a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex?”

As the Inquiry Panel will recognize, a parent of a Regnerus survey respondent who had had only one — (1) – “one-night stand” with a same-sex partner, and otherwise personally identified as heterosexual throughout their life, would according to Regnerus’s seemingly — “operational definition-free” —  study of gay parenting, be classified as a gay parent.

That Regnerus’s seemingly – “operational definition-free” – study seems invalid is highlighted in an analysis of it filed as part of an amicus brief in the Golinski-DOMA case by eight major professional organizations including the American Medical Association. The AMA brief very pointedly notes that 1) the Regnerus study placed individual participants between the ages of 18 and 39 into one of eight family structure categories such as “divorced,” and “step family,” but 2)there was no category for “same-sex couple.”

The italicizing of that phrase occurs in the AMA brief.  It must be emphasized here that eight major professional associations — including the American Medical Association — want to be sure that the Court pays attention to the fact that the Regnerus gay parenting study’s categories do not include a category for same-sex couples.

The U.S. Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to consider the Golinski-DOMA case, meaning that the AMA’s accurate analysis of Mark Regnerus’s seeming scientific failings in his sociological study could be reviewed by the Supreme Court, with the University of Texas, Austin’s name attached to Regnerus’s name through  the AMA’s devastating critique of Regnerus.

The AMA brief further contains a critique of what Regnerus alleges his data to show, compared to what his data actually shows:

The eight major professional associations write that the study’s:

“final two ‘family structure’ categories included all participants,” in the study “regardless of family structure, who believed that at some time between birth and their 18th birthday their mother  or their father ‘ever ha[d] a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex.’ Hence the data does not show whether the perceived romantic relationship ever in fact occurred; nor whether the parent self-identified as gay or lesbian; nor whether the same sex relationship was continuous, episodic, or one-time only; nor whether the individual in these categories was actually raised by a homosexual parent.” (bolding that of the editor).

In consideration that Regnerus;

1)      in his alleged qualitative falsification of his data — in which — said alleged falsification of data involves Regnerus’s sociologically inappropriate labeling of study subjects’ parents as “gay fathers” and “lesbian mothers,” when;

2)      those parents are not known actually to be gay or lesbian, and;

3)      nothing in Regnerus’s data allows anybody to determine whether those parents are gay or lesbian; and additionally when;

4)      the study was carried out with no valid operational definition for the terms “gay father” and/or “lesbian mother;” we say that in consideration of the foregoing;

5)      Regnerus appears not to have made these glaring and fundamental errors, seemingly devastating to his sociological study’s validity, in good faith — or because he did not know that the precise definition of all concepts to be used in a sociological study is crucial to the capability to replicate a study — and that is, Regnerus appears to have made these glaring and fundamental errors in bad faith. A preponderance of the evidence appears perhaps to suggest that Regnerus carried out a falsification of his data in bad faith; that further allegation will be treated later on in this Official Scientific and Scholarly Misconduct Allegations document.

Regnerus’s Use of a Seemingly Inadequate, Inappropriate Research Design 

Regnerus’s study design seemingly fits none of the salient criteria that Nock describes as mandatory for a valid sociological survey study in the field of gay parenting.

As Stanford University’s Michael J. Rosenfeld noted in his gay parenting study’s citation of Nock, the minimum number of gay parents needed for a sociological survey to be adequate for statistical purposes is 800. Regnerus — beyond not having a valid operational definition for “lesbian mother” or “gay father” — only included in his study 175 women labeled, dubiously, as “lesbian mothers” and only 73 men labeled, dubiously, as “gay fathers” for a total of 248 parents.  Even had Regnerus used a valid operational definition for “gay parent,” he would still be 552 gay parents short of Nock’s minimum of 800 gay parents needed for a sociological survey study on gay parenting to be statistically valid.

Nock says that a researcher could expect to survey the minimum requirement of 800 gay parents by screening at least 40,000 adults randomly. Regnerus only screened 15,058. By Nock’s guidelines, Regnerus needed to screen at least 24,942 additional people to have an adequate sampling of gay parents.

Here is what Nock says about screening 40,000 people: “This is not a particularly large screening task.” (Bolding added). And he continues: “For example, the Current Population Survey (U.S. Bureau of the Census) interviews (not simply screens) approximately 50,000 individuals every month.”

Nock discusses the difficulties in surveying homosexual parents in comparison to the difficulties of surveying comparably small minorities. “Homosexuals are probably no more difficult to locate and interview than homeless individuals, those who have been the victim of crimes in the past year (without reporting the incident to the police), or those who have had abortions. All have been the subject of scientific investigation. The crucial point is, however, that without a sample of the type just described,” – meaning, a random sample with a minimum of 800 gay parents –  “it is impossible to make scientifically valid claims about the population of homosexuals and their children.”  (Bolding and underlining added). That quote makes clear that Nock, according to the standards he defined in his affidavit, would deem Regnerus’s study invalid.

Regnerus and his funders appear to be exploiting the general public’s ignorance of the field of sociology. While Regnerus and his funders tell the public that they could not possibly have funded or carried out a screening of 40,000 people, and extravagantly applaud Regnerus for having screened 15,058 people, Nock says that screening 40,000 people “is not a particularly large screening task.”

A preponderance of the evidence suggests that, perhaps in bad faith, Regnerus might have committed scientific misconduct by;

1)      using an inadequate and inappropriate research design, which;

2)      did not feature a valid operational definition for “lesbian mother” or “gay father;” though he alleges he studied young adult children of “lesbian mothers” and/or “gay fathers” and which study ultimately;

3)      fell 552 parents short of the minimum number of gay parents that apparently would be necessary for a statistically valid study of gay parenting.

Regnerus seems to have used an inadequate, inappropriate research design. In connection with the many ways that Regnerus has been promoting his apparently invalid study to the public as legitimate, many believe that he is misrepresenting fundamentals of sociology to the public. As UT sociologist Debra Umberson wrote in the Huffington Post: “I am disturbed by his irresponsible and reckless representation of social science research.”

Regnerus’s Possible Bad-Faith, Invalid Comparison Between His Test and Control Groups 

Regnerus’s study’s comparison of 1) young adult children raised by continuously married heterosexual parents with; 2) young adult children raised by parents in a welter of varying family structures — predominated by that of divorced biological heterosexual parents – is wholly invalid as a study of young adult children of “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers.”

In Section “f” of his affidavit, titled “Assembling the Appropriate Comparison Group,” Nock says: “if we are attempting to answer the question ‘Are the children of gay and lesbian parents as healthy and well-adjusted as those of their heterosexual counterparts?’ we must be able to rule out any third factors that could conceivably mask or cloud the issue.” Nock continues by saying that in order to try to determine what effect, if any, there is of having homosexual parents as opposed to heterosexual parents, then “To do this in a sound methodological manner, they” — the researchers – “must somehow be able to compare children who differ in their circumstances on only this one dimension,” meaning, that of their sexual orientation. It would, for example, not be valid to compare the children of highly affluent, professionally accomplished and loving same-sex couples to the children of impoverished heterosexual substance dependent fathers and then to conclude that in comparison to children of same-sex couples, heterosexual fathers have bad child outcomes.

It frankly is beyond belief that a UT sociologist is – seemingly disingenuously – presenting a study with an invalid test-group/control-group comparison, as though it were valid. Many sixth grade science classes teach the importance of a valid comparison.

Regnerus boasts that his study is based on a “large, random, national” sample, yet he seeks to justify his invalid comparison by alleging that it was too difficult to recruit enough children raised by gay and/or lesbian couples for his “large, national, random” sampling. Regnerus failure to survey adequate numbers of children of same-sex couples is a direct result of his not having screened enough members of the general population to do so.

Regnerus does not explain why; 1) as his young adult children of (inappropriately labeled) “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” were from broken heterosexual homes, he did not 2) compare that test group to a control group also of young adult children from broken homes, who appear to be adequately present among his respondents, to judge by the numbers in Regnerus’s study Code Book. Regnerus had data to make some appropriate test-group/control-group comparison, but did not make one.

The question arises: “Would Regnerus have us believe that it is too difficult to find and to survey young adult children from broken homes whose parents are both exclusively heterosexual?” Regnerus attempts 1) to explain away his invalid comparison between his test group and his control group – (as though it did not matter that he had made an invalid comparison) – but 2) he never explains why he did not use his data to make some – (any, please!) — appropriate comparison.

That fact about Regnerus and his public promotions of his study would not appear to be reflective of a good faith effort in analyzing his data and promoting his study to the public.

To put it another way, the Inquiry Panel members should be asking themselves: “Would a sociologist acting in good faith attempt to explain away his invalid comparison between his test group and his control group, instead of having used his data to make a valid comparison in the first place?”

Nock says: “To make a convincing case about the consequences of having homosexual parents, a researcher would need to compare children living with homosexual and heterosexual parents but who did not differ on any other important dimension. A failure to compare children identical (or almost identical) on all important other dimensions except the sexual orientation of their parents would be sufficient to invalidate the study.” (Bolding added).

Regnerus failed to do something in his study, and that is, he failed to make an appropriate comparison between his test group and his control group, and sociologist Steven Nock, Ph.D. says that alone is “sufficient to invalidate the study.” Regnerus seemingly cherry-picked his control group in relation to his test group, according to a perhaps suspicious system not necessarily of either purely sociological origins or exquisite sociological rigor, to which system his anti-gay-rights political funders would perhaps have nodded approval — (after all, they are known to be scientifically disreputable) — if given a chance to do that nodding of approval of this particular invalid test-group/control-group comparison that just oh so coincidentally makes gay parents look bad. Who could ever have imagined that a gay parenting study with $785,000 of NOM-linked funding would be the one study out of all studies to make gay parents look exceptionally bad?

Even had Regnerus conscientiously developed operational definitions for “lesbian mother” and “gay father” and appropriately surveyed young adult children of such people, his comparison between respondents from stable couples with broken couples would still be utterly useless and invalid for determining what effect, if any, a homosexual parent’s sexual orientation, per se, has on child outcomes. In explaining why he made the invalid comparison, Regnerus uses an alibi to the effect that there simply are not enough stable gay and/or lesbian couples to be surveyed for a study.

Therefore, the Inquiry Panel is asked to remember that the aforementioned Rosenfeld gay parenting study based on the 2000 U.S. Census “included 3,502 (three-thousand, five-hundred and two) children of same-sex couples who had been living with both parents for at least five (5) years.”

The allegation is re-iterated, that Regnerus might have made his inappropriate comparison between his test and control group deliberately and in bad faith. However that may be, according to Nock’s criteria for valid comparisons between a sociologist’s test group and control group, Regnerus’s study is invalid.

Apparently Damaging Peer Review Issues, Perhaps Linked to Regnerus Himself

Are Regnerus and/or his scientifically disreputable funders linked to apparent peer review failures at the journal which published his study?

Regnerus’s study was published on June 10, 2012 in the Elsevier journal Social Science Research.

A group of over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s in sociology and relevant related fields sent a letter to Social Science Research expressing profound concerns about the study’s perceived lack of intellectual integrity, as well as about the integrity of the publication process through which the study appeared.

Those Ph.D.s and M.D.s wrote: “We have substantial concerns about the merits of this paper and question whether it actually uses methods and instruments that answer the research questions posed in the paper.” They continue: “We are very concerned about the academic integrity of the peer review process for this paper as well as its intellectual merit.”

Social Science Research editor-in-chief James Wright assigned Southern Illinois University sociologist Darren Sherkat to conduct an audit of the Regnerus study publication process. Sherkat is a Social Science Research editorial board member.

In e-mails, Sherkat has reported, on the record, apropos of the publication of the Regnerus study:

1)      “The peer review process failed here”

2)      “How did this study get published through peer review? The peers are right wing Christianists.”

3)      Sherkat also says that his audit found a conflict of interest with one of the peer reviewers

Towards a comprehensive understanding of the forces at work in the Regnerus study’s funding and public promotions, the publication of Regnerus’s study in Social Science Research should now be thoroughly and completely investigated. The investigation should be carried out with impartial professionalism. Though in theory, one could present a complaint to the Committee on Publication Ethics — (COPE) — the Elsevier company — (which owns the journal Social Science Research) — belongs to COPE, and thus a COPE investigation could suffer the same deficiencies due to unacceptable protections of self-interest that Sherkat’s audit appears to exhibit.

Though Sherkat says he carried out an audit, he appears to have a self-interest in not seeing an any possible eventual full-blown scandal fully uncovered at the journal for which he is an editorial board member. For example, Sherkat told an informing source that 1) he did not want to sequester the peer reviewers’ e-mails relevant to a full investigation, because 2) he does not want subsequently for others to be able to see his e-mails in association with a full investigation. Thus, Sherkat himself has a seemingly known, and seemingly admitted, conflict of interest in carrying out a credible, full audit. And that is to say, the appearance is strong that Social Science Research editor James Wright might have enabled a sham “audit” of the publication of the publication of the Regnerus study, which hypothesized sham audit admits to a failure of the peer review process, but which does not fully reveal, and actually appears to cover up, editorial accountability for the admitted peer review failure, and which omits holding anybody accountable.

A conflict of interest in reviewing research might of course be an instance of scientific misconduct. The list of members of the study review board should be compared to the peer reviewers, and those lists should be available to the public for fact-checking, if the trust on which science is based is not to be undermined. The conflict of interest that Sherkat reports having uncovered must be defined through documentation, and then that documentation of the conflict of interest must be used towards detection of additional possible misconduct involved with the Regnerus study.

Given that the peer review process for the Regnerus study  — as per the admission of Social Science Research editorial board member Darren Sherkat – failed – and we repeat, the peer review process for the Regnerus study is said to have failedthe only way that Regnerus’s findings could be replicated would be for a repeat study on the same topic again to be published through a failed peer review process.

As Nock says: “Scientific evidence accumulates and gains credibility only through replication.”

It is seemingly true that the only way that Regnerus’s study of young adult children of “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” could be replicated would be for a researcher to; 1) not employ an operational definition for any of the most important terms for things and phenomena the study alleges to be studying; and to 2) screen and survey a total number of respondents that many experts deem inadequate for the study to have statistical validity; and to 3) use an inappropriate comparison between the test group and the control group, which inappropriate comparison would invalidate the study, and then nonetheless to: 4) submit the final study paper to a journal where the peer review system would fail, with the peer reviewers alleged to be “right wing Christianists” and at least one of the peer reviewers having a confirmed conflict of interest in peer reviewing the study.

To understand whether Regnerus and/or his scientifically disreputable funders are complicit in the reportedly corrupt peer review of his study at Social Science Research, major news agencies, reporters and the public must have access to the full record of communications involving the Regnerus study in any way between:

1) Social Science Research’s editors and editorial board members and each of;

2) any and all University of Texas administrators, academics and/or support staff; 3) Regnerus and his study team; 4) any and all officials and/or staff and support staff at The Witherspoon Institute and/or The Bradley Foundation; 5) National Organization for Marriage officials including but not limited to a) Robert George; b) Maggie Gallagher Srivastav; c) Brian Brown; d) John Eastman; e) Thomas Peters, and; 6) any and all owners, professional and support staff of the National Organization for Marriage’s public relations service provider CRC Public Relations; 5) any and all communications between any and all of the aforementioned parties and; a) any and all Republican party officials including but not limited to i) House Speaker John Boehner and his staff; ii) House counsel Paul Clement and his staff; iii)  any and all officials, staff and/or support staff for the Romney for President campaign, Romney having signed the NOM anti-gay-rights pledge from Regnerus’s scientifically disreputable funders; iv) any and all officials, staff and support staff for the Republican National Committee, of course including RNC Chair Reinhold Reince Priebus.

Moreover, it must be kept in mind that Regnerus and all parties communicating with him about his study might have made some of those communications via their personal, rather than their professional e-mail addresses.

The specific allegations of scientific misconduct involving possible apparent corruption between Regnerus and his study’s funders shall be discussed in the next section of this Official Scientific and Scholarly Misconduct Allegations document.

Regnerus’s Scientifically Disreputable Funders 

Various forms of interactions with a sociologist’s study’s funders could constitute scientific misconduct.

For example, formulating and/or changing the design methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source evidently could constitute scientific misconduct. Political collusion between a sociologist and his funders, to misrepresent the findings of his study to the public, also could constitute scientific misconduct.

There is evidence clearly suggesting that Regnerus could be in political collusion with his scientifically disreputable funders. There appears, indeed, to be such a preponderance of evidence suggesting that, that an investigation of the matter might be warranted.

When it happens that a sociologist’s study appears to present evidence of scientific misconduct within the study itself, then it is recommended that:

1)       the sociologist’s connections with his scientifically disreputable funders be taken into consideration, to determine whether;

2)       it appears that the scientifically disreputable funders might have improperly influenced the sociologist in any way, and/or;

3)       to see if the sociologist might have compromised his integrity in his relations with his scientifically disreputable funders, and the foregoing very likely must be taken into consideration if;

4)      the preliminary investigation of allegations of scientific and scholarly misconduct – that is to say, the Inquiry – against that sociologist may be considered a credible one.

Regnerus’s scientifically disreputable funders have very long and disgraceful histories of using falsified scientific records as part of their efforts to demonize homosexuals to the public and to motivate the public against LGBT equality. A preponderance of evidence appears to suggest that Regnerus could be in collusion with his study’s funders, in matters regarding his study. In order to illustrate that Regnerus’s funders have exploited falsified scientific records, against homosexuals, it is necessary first to outline who – (that we so far know) – funded the Regnerus study.

Regnerus obtained his thus-far-known minimum alleged study funding from:

1) The Witherspoon Institute, which gave Regnerus an alleged minimum of $55,000 “planning grant” before apparently approving Regnerus’s seemingly inadequate, inappropriate research design and then giving him an alleged minimum of $640,000;

2) The Bradley Foundation, which has received financial support from Witherspoon, and which gave Regnerus an alleged minimum of $90,000 “supplementary assistance” grant;

Regnerus’s thus-far-known funding parties are connected to the anti-gay-rights group the so-called “National Organization for Marriage” – (an anti-gay group which regularly and deliberately promulgates known negative falsehoods and falsification of scientific studies about LGBTers to the public, and sponsors anti-gay hate rallies where NOM-approved speakers yell through megaphones that homosexuals are “worthy to death”) –  in at least the following ways:

  1. Witherspoon Institute President Luis Tellez has been a NOM board member since NOM’s founding by;
  2.  Witherspoon Senior Fellow Robert George, who also is a Board member of;
  3. The Bradley Foundation

The Inquiry Panel is asked to note that the relation between 1) Regnerus’s Witherspoon and Bradley funders to 2) the so-called National Organization for Marriage is not merely coincidental and that NOM has been very heavily engaged – along with The Witherspoon Institute — in promoting the Regnerus study in anti-gay-rights political contexts nationally and beyond.

The Inquiry Panel is asked to acknowledge that there is no daylight between NOM and Regnerus’s funders. If Inquiry Panel members doubt that fact, then before proceeding with their inquiry, they are asked to solicit from Complainant Scott Rose further documentation of the fact that there is no daylight between Regnerus’s funders and NOM.

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Regnerus was asked why he took Witherspoon/Bradley funding instead of seeking funding from the National Institutes of Health. Regnerus said:

“I had a feeling when we started this project that it would not survive the politics of, in my opinion, the peer review system at the National Institutes of Health.”

Regnerus surely had some prior knowledge of his Bradley/Witherspoon/NOM-linked funders’ records of anti-gay-rights politicking, publishing, and perhaps even of their uses of falsified scientific records to demonize homosexuals to the public. It certainly is not unreasonable to suggest that sociologists should steer clear of funding sources known deliberately to falsify scientific information and then widely to broadcast the falsified scientific record to the public.

Regnerus says that he did not think that his study would “survive the politics” of the National Institutes of Health as a study funding source — but *when* —  recently, did the NIH itself knowingly and deliberately *ever* make use of falsified scientific records to demonize minorities, the way Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders have done?

What might it be perceived to tell us about Regnerus’s integrity of  professional sociological judgment, that he took funding arranged by some of the leaders of NOM – very widely and well known as being scientifically disreputable — because he thought his study would “not survive the politics” of the National Institute for Health?

Moreover, sociologists have an ethical responsibility to correct public misstatements about their work, yet Regnerus appears never publicly to have corrected his funders’ public misrepresentations of his study. To the contrary, Regnerus seemingly is indulging in an apparent public misinformation campaign about his study, parallel to his funders’ public misinformation campaigns about his study. An example of that shall be provided below.

That Regnerus says his study “would not survive the politics of . ..  the National Institutes of Health” implies that he knew that his study would survive the politics of The Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation. Thus the questions arise; 1) What are the politics of the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation?; and 2) Is it credible that Witherspoon and Bradley would have a more scientific, and less political aim in funding a study than do the National Institutes of Health?

The specific allegation is made: that in deciding to take funding from The Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, instead of seeking funding for a gay-parenting study from the National Institute for Health, Regnerus made a political – (and perhaps also, a personal economic) — not a scientific decision. By his own admission, in fact, Regnerus made a politicaldecision not to seek funding from the NIH.  He did not think his study would survive the “politics” of the NIH, but had unlimited confidence that his gay parenting study with its seemingly inadequate and inappropriate study plan would survive the notorious anti-gay-rights politics – including defamation of gays through misrepresentations of scientific studies — of The Witherspoon Institute’s NOM-linked anti-gay-rights Regnerus study funders.

In his remarks to the Daily Texan, Regnerus complained that NIH expects “revisions and revisions.” The question therefore arises: Does a conscientious professional sociologist object to having to make “revisions and revisions” to his written study? Is that not what one is expected to do, as a professional scholar? Not to put too fine a point on it, if Regnerus wants to be respected as a sociologist, why does he appear on camera whining about having to make “revisions and revisions” to a sociology study on gay parenting? Are gay parents maybe chopped liver, that Regnerus does not want to be bothered with revisions to his study about them and their children?

Regnerus gained a significant advantage for himself, and a very significant political advantage for his funders, by taking funding from them instead of from the NIH. When misconduct allegations are made against a researcher funded by the NIH, the NIH itself follows and can be involved with eventual inquiries and investigations of the researcher’s alleged misconduct. NIH-funded researchers found guilty of misconduct can be barred from receiving further NIH funding, among other penalties. By contrast, Regnerus’s Witherspoon/Bradley/NOM-linked funders’ appear to fear this inquiry. They certainly have no mechanism for receiving and investigating eventual complaints of scientific and scholarly misconduct pertaining to the study they funded and are now very heavily promoting in anti-gay-rights political contexts. Their greatest  interests thus far manifested in the misconduct allegations against Regnerus appear to be those of 1) obstructing public disclosure of all study-related communications between Regnerus and Witherspoon, Bradley and NOM, and other parties, regarding the Regnerus study, and of 2) spreading defamatory, documentable and documented lies against Complainant Scott Rose, including in the pages of The National Review, to which NOM’s Robert George and Maggie Gallagher contribute.

That is to say, UT’s Mark Regnerus’s study funders are retaliating against Scott Rose – with falsehoods — for having filed a scientific and scholarly misconduct complaint against the UT researcher whose study they funded. That retaliation includes fanning anti-Semitic sentiment among anti-gay-rights members of the public and then directing that sentiment against Scott Rose, who will upon request provide a full and complete explanation of that phenomenon to UT’s Inquiry Panel. The reason that these people connected to Regernus’s funding organizations are retaliating against Scott Rose, would appear to be that they conceived of the defamatory, apparently invalid Regnerus study as a key part of their politicking in the 2012 elections — (which feature marriage-related ballot measures in Washington State, Minnesota, Maryland and Maine, and an anti-gay-rights “pledge” signed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney) — and thus, Regnerus’s scientifically disreputable funders do not want the light of public, authentically scientifically-informed reason shining on the manifestly defamatory study for which they paid $785,000.

An additional instance of attempted retaliation against Scott Rose for filing a misconduct complaint against Regnerus took the form of a letter sent to UT President William Powers by the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, attacking Scott Rose’s person without making so much as one attempted rebuttal of any of the many widely-circulated science-based criticisms of the Regnerus study. If Donohue is interested in defending the science of the Regnerus study, why is he not issuing a press release countering the American Medical Association’s cuttingly accurate critique of the Regnerus study? Donohue’s letter does say that Donohue studied Sociology. President Powers may not realize that Donohue has a conflict of interest in writing to him about Rose’s misconduct complaint against Regnerus. While Donohue did disclose that Robert George is a Catholic League board member, he did not make explicit the connection between George and the Regnerus study funding. In other words, having a conflict of interest in the matter, the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue sent an ad hominem attack against Scott Rose to UT President Powers, because Scott Rose had filed a scientific misconduct complaint against Regnerus.

The University of Texas, Austin’s General Policy Guidelines for complaints of Misconduct in Science and other Scholarly Activities say: “It is also the responsibility of all researchers and scholars to report instances of misconduct, as well as instances of retaliation against those who, in good faith, bring charges of misconduct in science or other scholarly research.” There is no such thing as a “bad faith” complaint about a sociological study that makes no valid test-group, control-group comparison.

Separately now, NOM’s Maggie Gallagher wrote — in her National Review post titled “Attacking Freedom of Thought and Scholarship”– that Scott Rose “writes that I have blood on my hands for opposing gay marriage.” While Scott Rose does criticize NOM – for example — for sponsoring anti-gay hate rallies where NOM-approved speakers yell through megaphones that homosexuals are “worthy to death,” he has never said that for opposing gay marriage, only, NOM’s Maggie Gallagher has “blood on her hands.”  Furthermore, Regnerus substantially misrepresented his study’s findings to the public in an interview published in the National Review.

FOIA and Public Information Act requests from multiple reporters are being obstructed, and are not being respected. One letter that UT officials sent to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott specifically states that The Witherspoon Institute does not wish to release the requested documentation. Furthermore, the Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is enjoying the luxury of a 45-day-wait period until he even decides whether the requested documentation will be provided to professional reporters. That does not speak to a climate of transparency and openness; quite the contrary. That speaks to an apparent climate of possible dirty secrets being hidden away from the public view. Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders have a long and just absolutely disgraceful history of dirty secrets dishonorably guarded, but subsequently being released through court order. That history will be partially detailed below.

If Regnerus, his NOM-linked funders, and other relevant parties have nothing to hide, why are they hiding their Regnerus-study-related communications? What is there to hide, if there is nothing to hide?

There follows an example of Witherspoon’s Robert George’s group NOM promoting falsified scientific information to the public.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2012 Intelligence Report on NOM – titled “National Organization for Marriage Continues to Spread Lies About Gays — largely is concerned with NOM’s conflation of homosexuals with pedophiles, a known falsehood. The SPLC reports that on December 7, 2011, NOM’s Ruth Institute “posted a gushing recommendation for a book titled Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk, a jeremiad by Mathew Staver, head of the anti-gay Liberty Counsel.”

The SPLC report also notes that NOM said: “Anybody who cares about the future of our society should read this book.” The SPLC further notes that NOM said that Staver’s book “gives you real answers” (bolding added) and that “the book claims that ‘29 percent of the adult children of homosexual parents had been specifically subjected to sexual molestation by that homosexual parent, compared to only 0.6 percent of the adult children of heterosexual parents.’”

Continuing, the SPLC notes that “Staver’s citation for this hair-raising claim is remarkable — a debunked 1996 article co-authored by Paul Cameron, an anti-gay ideologue whose fraudulent studies have been denounced by the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association and many others.”

At its membership meeting on October 19, 1984, the Nebraska Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that it ”formally disassociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality.” That is the same scientifically disreputable Paul Cameron whose writings Regnerus’s scientifically disreputable funders still today sometimes use to hate-monger against gays. In 1985, the American Sociological Association adopted a resolution which asserted that ”Dr. Paul Cameron” has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism” and noted that ”Dr. Paul Cameron has repeatedly campaigned for the abrogation of the civil rights of lesbians and gay men, substantiating his call on the basis of his distorted interpretation of this research.” At its August, 1986 meeting, the ASA officially accepted an investigative committee’s report and passed the following resolution: “The American Sociological Association officially and publicly states that Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research.”

Paul Cameron’s falsified, discredited science on homosexuals also has been quoted by the Family Research Council, an SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group, of which the Regnerus-funding-linked NOM head Robert George is a Board member. FRC has been very heavily involved around the country and beyond with promoting the Regnerus study in an anti-gay-rights political context. The Inquiry Panel is asked to bear in mind that the SPLC’s main and salient reason for placing an anti-gay group on its hate groups list is a given group’s pattern of repeating known falsehoods about a minority; the SPLC does not classify an organization as a hate group only because the organization opposes LGBT rights.

Regnerus’s funding parties had a documented political stake in the outcome of Regnerus’s study. Witherspoon/Bradley/NOM’s Robert George, for example, is an author of the anti-gay-rights NOM pledge signed by Rick Santorum – (who says that children are better off with a heterosexual father in jail than with two loving gay dads in their home) — and by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Anti-gay-rights propaganda is a key element in Republican strategy for the 2012 elections. It is unseemly that an apparently invalid sociological study on gay parenting is being used in a political context to defame an entire minority for political gain. That activity subverts the dignity of the university where the invalid study was carried out, and violates gay people’s human right not to be stigmatized and persecuted on the basis of falsified scientific records.

Regnerus’s Witherspoon/Bradley/NOM-linked funders have the following political chronology attached to their funding of the Regnerus study:

NOM was heavily, if often secretly involved in the campaign to pass Proposition 8, a 2008 California ballot measure that prohibited same-sex marriage. NOM strategy documents released through court order describe a plan to “fan hostility” between African-Americans and gays in the wake of Proposition 8, which hate-mongering strategy would not appear to indicate authentic concern for child welfare on NOM’s part. In fact, the NOM strategy documents specifically described an evil plot to “drive a wedge” between African-Americans and gays because those are two significant Democratic constituencies. In other words, NOM, according to its own internal strategy documents, is exploiting anti-gay-bigotry in the populace, and gay rights issues in a “divide and conquer” strategy for Republicans that has nothing to do with promoting child welfare.

Further, NOM’s strategy documents contained an evil plot to get children of gay parents to denounce their gay parents on camera. Additionally, in its Proposition 8 campaign, NOM improperly expropriated images of students on a field trip; those students’ school principal denounced NOM, and said that NOM was “lying” about field trip “opt-out” options in its ads and videos with the students’ images. Two of the students’ mothers, outraged against NOM for its unauthorized uses of their children’s images in anti-gay-rights contexts, demanded that NOM cease using those images on NOM’s Proposition 8 website and elsewhere.

Here is what the Newark Star-Ledger said about NOM’s strategy documents after the documents were released through court order: “It is sick beyond words that a group to “save” marriage would exploit racial and ethnic divisions, stir intolerance and fear, and even rip families apart by pitting children against parents. In their self-described “battle,” they come across as the biggest losers of all.”

Subsequently, legal challenges were brought to Proposition 8. Expert witnesses on the anti-gay-rights side in those challenges to Proposition 8 were discredited in Federal Court. Notably, Loren Marks withdrew as a witness in late 2009 after, under cross-examination, Loren Marks admitted that he had not read studies from which he had quoted in his deposition, and that he had not read any studies involving gay parenting.

A paper by Loren Marks on gay parenting studies was simultaneously published in Social Science Research with the Regnerus study. Because 1) SSR editorial board member Sherkat was assigned to audit the publication of the Regnerus paper, and then said; 2) “The peer review process failed here,” and said that 3) there was a conflict of interest with a Regnerus peer reviewer, it is not unreasonable to hypothesize that the peer review might have failed on the Marks study as well.

The upshot is that:

1) January 1, 2010 found NOM with no apparent gay parenting science on its side in its scientifically disreputable War Against Gays, apparently leaving NOM to think;

2) “We better go buy some science” and then;

3)  by 2011, Regnerus had his NOM-linked funding for a gay parenting study, and then;

4) the study was published in June, 2012, in time for both Witherspoon, NOM and other anti-gay-rights groups perniciously to exploit it during the 2012 election season.

The question necessarily arises, at what point would a hate group cross a line, such that no respectable university would countenance having one of its professor’s studies funded by that hate group?  In 2010, NOM’s William Duncan headed a symposium session at Liberty University titled Homosexuals or Homo Sapiens: Who Deserves Protected Class Status?A conscientious sociologist looking at that question, and imagining related sociological studies to test it, might see the necessity of testing the question “Are homosexuals Homo Sapiens?”

Seriously? Regnerus took study funding from NOM, whose officials have said that gay people are not humans.

Exactly what despicable level of insult against a minority must be reached, before a hate group is deemed untouchable as a respectable university’s sociological researcher’s funding source?

Dr. Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, who holds a joint position as Senior Lecturer in Princeton’s Department of Sociology, and as Research Associate in the Office of Population Research, offers withering criticism of NOM’s Robert George’s zeal for funding a non-scientific study to advance towards his anti-gay-rights goals. She says: “Robert George appears to ignore that such use of shameful, glaring pseudoscience echoes exactly what was done against African-Americans and Chinese, among others, in the country’s past. The very fact he is resorting to it, shows he is losing the argument.”

The specific allegation is made that Witherspoon/Bradley/NOM appear to have commissioned from Regnerus anti-gay political propaganda in the guise of a sociological study, and that Witherspoon/Bradley/NOM appear to have required a particular, pre-determined outcome for the study, and that Witherspoon/Bradley/NOM appear to have required that the study be available for pernicious exploitation in the 2012 elections. The notion that Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders would spend $785,000 on a study not guaranteed to produce results damning of homosexuals frankly, in our opinion, is not credible. Furthermore, the letter from over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s sent to Social Science Research — which published the Regnerus study – poses questions about the dramatically accelerated and dubious publication production schedule by which the Regnerus study got rushed into SSR’s June, 2012 issue.

Regnerus has on umpteen occasions substantially misrepresented his study’s results to the public, in ways that appear consistent with his funder’s anti-gay-propagandizing and political goals.

For instance, in his June 11, 2012 article on the website Slate – with the inappropriately jokey, insulting title “Queers as Folk” – Regnerus said the following about what his study may show:

“ it may suggest,” Regnerus wrote, “that the household instability that the NFSS reveals — (bolding added) — is just too common among same-sex couples to take the social gamble of spending significant political and economic capital to esteem and support this new (but tiny) family form while Americans continue to flee the stable, two-parent biological married model, the far more common and accomplished workhorse of the American household, and still—according to the data, at least—the safest place for a kid.”

Observations about Regnerus’s offending passage include:

1)      Regnerus is misrepresenting what his study shows. The NFSS did not study same-sex couples at all. To qualify for the survey, respondents were not required to have a gay parent who was part of a same-sex couple. “Same-sex couple,” was not one of the family structure categories included in Regnerus’s study. There are plenty of stable same-sex couples, but Regnerus did not make a professional screening effort adequate to his being able to survey enough of them. The aforementioned Rosenfeld study was based on the 2000 U.S. Census; the U.S. Census is recognized as valid. Rosenfeld’s studyincluded 3,502 (three-thousand five-hundred and two) children of same-sex couples who had been living with both parents for at least five (5) years.” Not having made a study of same-sex couples, Regnerus cannot credibly claim that his study “reveals” anything whatsoever about them, still less that household instability among them is “just too common.” That is NOM-like, anti-gay bigot talk, based on a false representation of Regnerus’s study data. And note; Regnerus made his baseless claim, while saying that his baseless claim is based on “the data.”

2)      Regnerus’s hypocrisy must be noted. His published study says that he would be “remiss to claim causation” between gay parents and bad child outcomes. In the quote above, though, Regnerus is well beyond merely suggesting “causation.” He is telling the public that his study “reveals” – not saying that it may have revealed, but rather, actually telling the public that his study “reveals” — an alleged particular degree of instability among homosexual parents. That is to say, Regnerus is alleging to the public that his study “revealed” that there is a “scientifically revealed” rate of “homosexual instability” distinct from and above the instability rate for heterosexual couples, and that, because it is an identifiable rate of  “homosexual instability,” it provokes homosexual-parent-specific bad child outcomes. The point cannot be emphasized enough: in his written study, Regnerus reports that he cannot claim causation between a gay parent and a bad child outcome, but on the Slate website, he more than just suggested that his study demonstrated causation between gay parents and bad child outcomes. His misrepresentations of his study, defamatory of homosexuals, mirror those of his scientifically disreputable funders. In our opinion, this is a most serious infraction against the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics and against all ethics for scientists talking about their work publicly, generally.

3)      Regnerus also baselessly references an alleged “social gamble of spending significant political and economic capital to esteem and support this new (but tiny) family form.” That statement sounds as though it had been written by a NOM official. NOM regularly demeans LGBTers by pointing to the small size of their minority and suggesting that because it is small, its members are undeserving of rights; Regnerus does that here. NOM regularly says that gays must be prohibited from raising children, because of — (unsubstantiated) — dangers they represent to children; Regnerus has repeated that NOM canard here. The Inquiry Panel is asked to acknowledge that the foster care system is full of children abused, neglected and/or abandoned by irresponsible heterosexual parents, and that often, loving gay and/or lesbian parents adopt those children and nurture them wholesomely in loving homes. It therefore is shocking, defamatory and offensive that Regnerus alleges that 1) giving those adoptive gay parents and their children legal marriage recognition would 2) cost “significant political and economic capital” to 3) “esteem” those families of gay parents with children, and that 4) “esteeming” them at falsely alleged, but not actual, documented high cost in political and economic capital would be 5) an unacceptable “social gamble.” Where does Regnerus get off, insulting, demeaning, and defaming families comprised of gay parents and their children that way? Regnerus’s NOM-like statement i) does not correspond to any determinable reality; ii) is beneath contempt, and beneath the dignity of a researcher at a respectable university and; iii) is beneath the dignity of any respectable university. Academic freedom is not a freedom to perpetuate known defamatory falsehoods about a minority. Regnerus appears shamelessly to have pulled out of his hat that it would cost “significant political and economic capital” to institute marriage equality for gay couples. Regarding the economic impact of same-sex couple marriage made law in New York, for example, the New York Senate’s independent Democratic conference forecast that in the first three years, marriage equality in the state would generate $311 million in increased revenue and economic activity. Meanwhile, equality opponents — just in Maine and Minnesota — which have 2012 November marriage ballot measures, are spending at least $20 million towards defeating equality. Do the math, please. Equality generates $311 million for New York, while NOM and similar groups spend at least $20 million towards defeating equality in Maine and Minnesota.  Do the math to understand the arrogant outrageousness and falsity of Regnerus’s statement. Regnerus in his remark above misrepresented the reality of the economic impact of marriage equality, precisely in a way that NOM might wish – or even perhaps, instruct and/or require — him to do.

Further to Regnerus’s falsified claims about what his study “reveals,” in connection with his unsubstantiated claims about his study and the economics of same-sex marriage: On July 24, 2012, The New York Daily News reported that for New York City alone in the first year of same-sex marriage, the city’s tourism agency, NYC & Company, and the City Clerk’s office estimate that $259 million in overall positive economic impact came from same-sex marriages. Mayor Bloomberg said that same-sex weddings have generated $16 million in revenue for the City government. What in the world is Regnerus talking about, when he says that same-sex marriage is too much of a “social gamble” to be worth “spending significant political and economic capital to esteem and support this new (but tiny) family form”? What is Regnerus talking about?  A sociologist may not say any old stuff-and-nonsense about his study to the public, and then not be criticized for his stuff-and-nonsense that just coincidentally happens to bolster his funders’ political gay bashing.

One of the alibis that Regnerus, his funders, and his supporters are broadcasting far and wide is that it would have cost millions to survey a sufficient number of young adult children of actual long-term same-sex couples. They imply that because millions could not possibly be spent on such a study, Regnerus had carte blanche to do the seeming hack job he did. Firstly, this claim – “We didn’t have enough money to do it right, but we did it anyway,” is like somebody saying that they intended to build a mansion, but had to stop at the basement because they ran out of money, but had nonetheless earned the privilege of standing in front of their unfinished basement announcing: “I built a mansion!” Regnerus is standing in front of the seeming moldy, leaky unfinished basement of his study, crowing about it as though he had built a whole splendid mansion, when clearly he did no such thing. As far as millions being required to carry out a scientifically valid gay parenting study, consider this; Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders spent only $785,000 on this study, but NOM and like-minded anti-gay-rights groups are spending millions upon tens of millions of dollars to fight gay rights all around the country in the 2012 election season, and bragging to the public that they are spending that much money.

The Inquiry Panel is asked to acknowledge how that works. NOM and its affiliates did not give enough money for a truly valid study, because a truly valid study would have cost millions, yet in fighting against gay rights in 2012 all over the country, there are seemingly few limits on the millions of dollars that NOM and its affiliates have to spend. It seems apparent from the NOM angle, that the Regnerus study was a relatively minor dollar cost item in their overall anti-gay-rights political budget, yet to have that investment be worthwhile in their total, far more expensive overall anti-gay-rights political campaign budget, it was essential that the Regnerus study appear to damn homosexuals as being dangerous to children. Additionally, a valid gay parenting study, which would have cost more to fund, would very likely not have been so politically useful to Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders and their anti-gay-rights political affiliates. In fact, had Regnerus made an appropriate test-group, control-group comparison with his existing data, the result would seemingly not have been so politically useful to Regnerus’s anti-gay-rights, NOM-linked funders.

Justifiable Doubts About Regnerus’s Survey Company, Knowledge Networks 

Regnerus and others promoting his apparently invalid study sing the praises of the survey company he used, Knowledge Networks, without inhibitions or qualifiers. Knowledge Networks of course is pleased to have Regnerus & Co. doing that terrific free advertising for the company.

However, grave concerns legitimately exist surrounding the Knowledge Networks “panel” system of surveying and in particular, how the panel functioned for the Regnerus study.

To cite but one concern: Regnerus boasts that he surveyed a lot of lower-income African-American and Hispanic alleged “lesbian mothers,” and that this gave him a truer view of “lesbian mothers” than that found in smaller convenience and/or snowball samplings, which often have involved a majority group of affluent white lesbian couples with children.

However, Regnerus not only oversampled lower-income African-Americans and Hispanics; the way he did it throws into doubt whether any of his lower-income African-American and Hispanic “lesbian respondents” even ever actually had a “same-sex romantic relationship” at all. (The AMA, we must recall, noted in its amicus brief that Regnerus’s data do not make it possible to determine whether a study respondent’s parent’s perceived same-sex romantic relationship ever in fact occurred. Thus, absent this Knowledge Networks-related subsection of the allegations document, the AMA thinks that Regnerus’s data does not and cannot show whether any of Regnerus’s study subjects had “lesbian mothers” or “gay fathers”).

Now, here is why the Knowledge Networks-related assertion is being made. When a person is recruited to the Knowledge Networks panel, they generally will take at least one survey for the company per week. And, the relationship between the panelist and Knowledge Networks can go on for a long time. One week, it is a marketing survey on snack chips. The next week, the survey might be about favorite movies or TV shows. The following week, the survey could be about an illness. Then the next week, the survey could be about ice-cream brands or public road construction. Respondents are paid $5 for each “screener” taken, and $20 for full surveys. For each survey taken, their names are entered into sweepstakes and raffles for larger cash prizes. Panel members who do not have home computers and internet service when they sign up with Knowledge Networks are given free laptops and free monthly internet service for as long as they are panel members. So those are the incentives for Knowledge Networks lower-income panel members to keep on taking at least one survey per week.

As panel members get more experienced with survey taking, many begin to recognize certain “dog whistle” questions – questions that are “out of the usual for a survey” — as being indicative of what the survey is about. Many come to know to answer such “dog whistle” questions with the answer “Yes,” in order to continue with the full survey, to get the $20 payment and the sweepstakes entry, and to continue with the free laptop and internet service.

The question in the Regnerus survey “Did your parent ever have a same-sex romantic relationship” is one of those “dog whistle” questions, extremely rare in such surveys, and thus a clear and unmistakable signal – a “dog whistle” — to the experienced Knowledge Networks panelists that for a “best chance” to stay in the survey, they should answer yes to that question. There is no fact-checking of these things; and no way for Regnerus or anybody else to verify whether the experienced, low-income habitual survey takers ever actually had a parent who had had a same-sex romantic relationship. The respondents can fill in the rest of the answers according to things from their real life, or even just make up any old answer, so long as it is not wildly inconsistent info from one response to another, or inconsistent with what Knowledge Networks already knows about their surveys-experienced panelist. In other words, some very significant quantity of Regnerus’s supposed young adult children of “lesbian mothers” are low-income, and or unemployed persons, taking surveys weekly because they have so few existing additional opportunities to get a job or to make money. And then, Regnerus reports that they are on public assistance, and he chalks it up to a “lesbian mother” having a young adult child on public assistance.

Furthermore, although a sociologist would expect to see certain “outliers” among his survey responses, and adjust for them, certain numbers that appear in the Regnerus study Code Book raise red flags because they are way beyond being mere “outliers.” For example, respondents were asked “Have you ever masturbated?” Out of the 2,988 respondents, 110 refused to answer that question, meaning, people who did not want to answer were given a chance not to answer.  2,258 said that yes, they had masturbated, but 620 responded “No.” Remember; it is not that those 620 did not want to answer. There was an opportunity to decline to answer, which 110 respondents chose. 620 respondents said that they had never in their lives masturbated.  How credible is it that 620 people over the age of 18 answering Regnerus’s survey had never in their lives masturbated?

And how many other responses to Regnerus’s survey are as equally and deeply dubious?

Regnerus’s Seemingly Feeds into NOM’s Defamatory Conflation of Homosexuals with Pedophiles 

As mentioned, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2012 Intelligence Report on the so-called National Organization for Marriage is titled: “The National Organization for Marriage Continues to Spread Lies About Gays.” The SPLC report largely is taken up with NOM conflating homosexuals with pedophiles, a known falsehood.

Anti-gay bigot crusaders long have demonized gays by conflating homosexuals with pedophiles. In 1977, for example, Anita Bryant campaigned successfully to repeal a Dade County (FL) ordinance prohibiting anti-gay discrimination after having named her organization “Save Our Children,” and warning that “a particularly deviant-minded [gay] teacher could sexually molest children”

Most of the “convenience” and “snowball” sampling studies done on lesbian mothers have found very low rates of sexual abuse acted upon those lesbian mothers’ children. So it really is quite astonishing to see in Regnerus’s published study that 23% (twenty-three percent) of the study’s children of “lesbian mothers” allegedly answered “Yes” to the following question:

“Has a parent or other adult caregiver ever touched you in a sexual way, forced you to touch him or her in a sexual way, or forced you to have sexual relations?”

The Inquiry Panel will note that the question is so phrased that the alleged child sex abuser could have been a priest, or the child’s heterosexual father, or a babysitter, and yet, Regnerus gives us a graph showing that 23% of the children of his “lesbian mothers” were sexually abused as children. In the hypothetical case that NOM had wanted to “cook” the study results, they could hardly have been much more pleased than they manifestly are with Regnerus’s reported result, which they and their anti-gay-rights allies are presently trumpeting all over the country.

The Inquiry Panel is asked especially to notice that the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, a pathological anti-gay bigot, who nonetheless has a huge radio audience, told that audience about the Regnerus study and then suggested that all homosexuals are pedophiles who cannot be trusted even around their own eventual biological children.

Regnerus reports that the “stepfamily” is the second highest for child sexual victimization, at 12%, still disturbing but far below Regnerus’s reported, jaw-dropping rate for his “lesbian mothers.”  The jaw-dropping 23% figure that Regnerus reports might be considered as suspect as his figure of 620 study respondents who allegedly never in their lives masturbated, not even once.

Regnerus has no data – no data whatsoever — showing who allegedly sexually abused the children of “lesbian mothers.” Yet on June 8, 2012 – two days before his study was even published — Regnerus appeared on ABC TV. He told a national audience that his study “discovered that compared to kids, adults who grew up with a mom and dad who were married, and who are still married today, the adults who sad ‘my mother had a same-sex relationship’ were more likely to . . . experience more sexual victimization.”  In the ABC interview, Regnerus did not admit that he has no idea which adult allegedly sexually abused his respondents as children. Yet what he did tell a national audience, was that those study respondents who had “experienced more sexual victimization” as children, had mothers who had had a same-sex relationship. At best, that was irresponsible of Regnerus; at worst, he did that in collusion with his funders.

Writing in the July 30, 2012 issue of The Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson reported that Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders at The Witherspoon Institute orchestrated a “careful” rollout of the Regnerus study.

Here then, are salient aspects of this scientific misconduct allegations document subsection titled: “Regnerus Appears to Feed Into NOM’s Defamatory Conflation of Homosexuals with Pedophiles;” 1) Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders are notorious for conflating homosexuals with pedophiles, a known falsehood; 2) though virtually all previous gay parenting studies showed a very low rate of sexual abuse of the children of verified lesbian mothers, Regnerus had no operational definition for “lesbian mothers,” and off of that seemingly flimsy base, Regnerus reported that his child sex abuse figure for his children of “lesbian mothers” is a jaw-dropping 23%; 3)  according to The Weekly Standard, Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders orchestrated a “careful” rollout of the Regnerus study, and as part of the study rollout; 4) Regnerus appeared on national television, two days before his study was published, saying that his study was top-notch science, and that he “discovered” that the children of women who had a same-sex relationship were more likely to experience sexual victimization.

What might one conclude, if one puts all of that together?  Regnerus ends his ABC interview by alleging that his study produced a “unique, high quality data set.” Regnerus’s finding that 620 adults aged 18 through 39 have never in their lives masturbated almost doubtless is “unique,” but one could doubt whether that finding is “high quality.”

Curiously enough, moreover, when Regnerus asked his respondents if it should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry in America, the number who answered “Strongly disagree” was also 620, exactly the number of those who supposedly never once in their lives have masturbated. 879, by contrast, “Strongly agree” that it should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry in America, something that neither Regnerus nor his funders have, that we know, ever mentioned in public.

Regnerus Might Be Incompetent to Study Gay Parenting 

There can be a relation between competency and scientific misconduct.

Reference is to The American Sociological Society’s Code of Ethics, Standard 2, on Competence.

While 2 (a) says that “Sociologists conduct research….only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, or appropriate professional experience,” 2 (b) adds that sociologists can move into new areas of research “after”  — and we ask the Inquiry Panel to observe the word “after” very carefully – they have taken reasonable steps to ensure the competence of their work in these areas.” (Bolding added).

Regnerus previously had published nothing about gay parenting. He appears to have no professional competency in the field. He appears not to have consulted adequately with credentialed scientific experts in gay parenting at any stage of his study.

Whereas 1) Regnerus did not formulate an operational definition of “lesbian mother” or “gay father” for his study, and; 2) did not ask respondents questions sufficient to determining their parents’ sexual orientation; 3) he did nevertheless and bizarrely ask them “When did you last masturbate?

An e-mail sent by Scott Rose to Mark Regnerus – asking this — “What in the world does the answer to When did you last masturbate? have to do with child outcomes for parents of whatever sexual orientation?” — went unanswered by Regnerus.

According to Regnerus’s CV —  downloadable from his personal website — Regnerus is co-author of a paper in preparation for submission titled “The ‘M’ Word: Social Distinctions in Masturbation Patterns among Young Adults.” The appearance is that while Regnerus was carrying out his seemingly suspicious job on gay parenting child outcomes, he figured he might as well stick in a few questions almost entirely irrelevant to gay parenting but useful to him in his masturbatory studies. The appearance is that instead of taking his professional obligations related to a gay parenting study seriously enough, Regnerus was jerking off.

Conclusions 

As regards the study that is the subject of these allegations, the University of Texas, Austin’s Mark Regnerus:

1) Made an inappropriate comparison between his test and control groups, which particular class of inappropriate comparison the sociologist Dr. Steven Nock says would invalidate a study;

2) Did not work with operational definitions for the alleged objects of his study, leading to a seeming falsification of his data, wherein study subjects’ parents not known to be gay or lesbian nonetheless were labeled in and throughout Regnerus’s published study as “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers.”

3) Worked in a sub-specialty of sociology, gay parenting, about which he seemingly controls insufficient knowledge to a minimally adequate professional engagement with the sub-specialty;

4) Has documentably misrepresented his study to the public, in ways that might be seen as aligning with the anti-gay prejudices and anti-gay-rights politicking of his funders;

5) Appears only to have seen his study published, thanks to a reportedly corrupt and failed peer review process

Respectfully, therefore, the Inquiry Panel is herewith asked to advance these allegations against Mark Regnerus to a full scientific and scholarly misconduct investigation, in order that trust in science not be undermined.

 

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