Someone recently wrote to XGW, requesting a copy of Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows About Homosexuality.
FRC’s description of the booklet is not encouraging: It begins by claiming to refute homosexual “myths” that were never advanced by many homosexuals in the first place, or that haven’t been advanced in a decade or more. The description deteriorates from there — grabbing politically expedient factoids out of context from a hodgepodge of medical and professional journal articles, some of which are 16 years out of date.
At first I wondered how the authors of these journal articles would feel if they knew FRC was distorting their work for political purposes. Then it occurred to me that there may be a need for independent authorities to monitor partisan political groups — liberal and conservative — for the (mis)use of professional literature.
No authority could possibly be so objective as to hold opposing political groups equally accountable for the distortion of professional knowledge. But an authority could do something much simpler: Inform the authors of peer-reviewed studies when their work is cited in the media or by public-policy advocates. Authors could then act, or not act, as they see fit.
Exiting my daydream, I referred the booklet-seeker to FRC, but added that these recent and contextually accurate resources are available for free:
American Psychological Association
Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality
American Psychiatric Association
Gay and Lesbian Issues
Addendum: An XGW reader writes:
Actually, people HAVE told original researchers that the FRC misrepresented their findings. At least one researcher, Nicolas Groth, wrote a letter condemning the FRC and asking them to remove all references to his study.
The reader noted Groth’s open letter to FRC and the Human Rights Campaign’s press release.
Groth notes that his studies concluded the opposite of FRC: Homosexual males present a lower risk of molestation than heterosexual males. The HRC press release notes that Timothy J. Dailey, the lead author of FRC’s “Getting It Straight,” is not a medical doctor or psychiatrist; his Ph.D is in religion.
My earlier point stands, however: There seems to be little organized effort to monitor political groups for the manipulation and distortion of science, and to inform researchers when their work is misused. Whether a researcher finds out, depends on how attentive each researcher is to every political group, and whether rival advocacy groups have the time to track down every fake fact or footnote issued by ideological extremists.
The person who asked me to send FRC’s booklet had read about it in the May issue of First Things, a conservative Catholic religion journal that spoke approvingly of the booklet. The journal author, Richard John Neuhaus, writes with a tone varying between thoughtfulness and sarcasm and, in his eagerness for pro-family factoids, apparently took no time to verify whether the “experts” really said what FRC claimed they said — or when they said it.