View Full Version : Was a Gay-Marriage Paper Fabricated?

05-25-2015, 04:35 PM
Was a Gay-Marriage Paper Fabricated?

A recent paper on same-sex marriage appears fabricated; an earlier, disparaged one on same-sex parents was not.

There’s been much ado the past couple of days about the possible retraction of Michael LaCour and Donald Green’s 2014 article in the journal Science on how attitudes about same-sex marriage can be changed.

The original study, labeled by one outlet as the biggest political-science study of the year, purported to reveal that when gay and straight canvassers attempted to encourage voters to support same-sex marriage, each successfully altered respondents’ attitudes, but only gay canvassers’ efforts appeared to persist over time. They also reported seeing sustained within-household transmission of opinion change, again only among the gay canvassers, not among the straight ones.

It made a big splash. And Science is kind of a big deal as far as prestigious journals go. The results reinforced gay-rights organizations’ interests in the personal-contact hypothesis — the idea that face time spent with “out group” individuals by those who disagree with them can reduce the latter’s negative perceptions and, in this case, change their minds about same-sex marriage.

It’s certainly a plausible theory, and many anecdotes seem to reinforce it. But we will no longer know from this embattled study whether it’s as accurate as it appeared.

What prompted the concern about this study? Several things. First, attempts to replicate a portion of the study returned a dramatically lower response rate than the original. (This looks fishy.) Second, some of the numbers, including a distribution on a gay “feeling thermometer,” were found to be identical to ones in a different population-based dataset, which ought to be different, if even just a little, from LaCour’s Los Angeles sample. Third, the company that purportedly collected the data has never heard of the study. (Ouch.)

There are several other anomalies as well, enough to suggest the possibility of outright fabrication.

It’s not the first time this has happened. Indeed, journals are becoming wary. The American Journal of Political Science recently began requiring its published authors to produce their replication files for public access, in order to confirm study validity. .

I know how it feels to be accused of scientific malfeasance and sampling and data manipulation. I do not, however, know what it feels like to actually be guilty of those things. And yet over at the New York Times, my 2012 studies have been opportunistically lumped in with Mr. LaCour’s in an effort to tag my New Family Structures Study as tainted data. (They are not.)

In other words, if Mr. LaCour’s ship is sinking, why not conveniently attempt to drag that pesky NFSS along with it? It’s the latest in a very long string of efforts to criticize the data, together with its sample, its author (and his friends), its funders, its measures, its analytic approach, its terminology, its data-collection organization, its reviewers, its journal’s editor, and its supporters. First one, then another, university inquisition has come to naught.

At bottom, I’ve supposedly been “debunked” because of this one thing: I chose to treat (unusual) maternal and paternal same-sex relationships comparably rather than “control away” the far more numerous unstable ones in favor of focusing only on the (handful of) cases that reported household security. Too few, I held, to assess them separately with ample statistical power. Others dissented — with pitchforks in hand — claiming I’m somehow trying to make same-sex households look bad. That’s the story.

But unlike the sinking LaCour study, we’re still in scientific territory with the NFSS. And you can learn from the latter if you’re willing to wrestle with the social reality of households in which parents exhibited same-sex relationships in the era that I studied (the growing-up years of adults who were ages 18 to 39 in 2011). The reality was messy. Perhaps they’re neater and more stable today. (It’s an empirical question.)

But the financial barriers to adoption or assisted reproductive technology that are the lot of same-sex couples will always pose a higher bar to the acquisition of children, and with it a more selective and wealthy sample of those who become parents, as opposed to those (many) who already were parents prior to entering their first formal same-sex union.

Step-parenting, dubbed “social parenting” among the LGBT community, remains unavoidable, complicating any notions of a “fair” comparison that might be made with planned or unplanned children born to their biological mother and father. Complicated stuff. American household life is messy, and can only be truly understood if social scientists first describe it before moving on to the more subjective judgment that comprises their explanations of how that social reality came to be.

My study was descriptive, and never claimed to be something else. Others privileged jumping to explanation. Since I really do want to know what’s going on, I think both can be valuable, but the second without the first is a fool’s errand. I recently wondered aloud, in a Public Discourse article describing the costs of leaping past description to explanation, whether “now that the Supreme Court’s oral arguments are behind us, and the justices have already privately cast their votes about the future (and the history) of marriage, perhaps it’s possible that the social science of marriage, sexuality, and child outcomes can catch its breath” and “operate without the pressure cooker of politically-acceptable narratives.” It’s safe to say we’re not there yet.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418758/was-gay-marriage-paper-fabricated-mark-regnerus

05-25-2015, 04:39 PM
Why that Gay Marriage Study Was Faked — and Why We Should Expect More Like It


After you read Mark Regnerus on that fabricated gay-marriage “study,” click over to The Weekly Standard, where Andrew Ferguson makes an excellent point about the same:

You can’t help but suspect that had such a questionable piece of work produced a result unflattering to the cause of “gay equality,” social scientists and journalists would have flogged each of its methodological mistakes. But this assumes that such a study could get published in the first place.

Which leads us to what should have been the brightest red flag of all. The study confirms​—​perfectly, exquisitely, suspiciously​—​the picture that gay marriage advocates hold of the believers in traditional marriage, who are assumed to be at once brainless and heartless. Given that no rational or objective reasons exist for opposing gay marriage (goes the assumption), the only explanation for such a view is an unfamiliarity with gay people and a lack of sympathy for them. That’s why the gay canvassers just had to be more persuasive than the straight canvassers.

Ferguson is making a point about a particular “study” of a particular issue, but the conclusion should be understood generally. We can observe the logic. The reduction of all same-sex marriage opposition to irrational hatred is not a reasoned conclusion, but a matter of dogma among many on the left.

We saw this when Ted Cruz visited two gay hoteliers in Manhattan last month. As my colleague Charles C.W. Cooke wrote at the time, Cruz’s visit was inexplicable to many liberals — because they had closed themselves off to the mere possibility that opposition to same-sex marriage might be based on articulable reasons or principles.

And the inevitable result of casting one’s opponents as sub-rational or anti-rational is the end of debate. From the position of Maggie Haberman, the Times writer so perplexed by Cruz’s visit, trying to convince Ted Cruz to support same-sex marriage is like trying to convince a caribou.

The problem, of course, is that community life is subverted when matters of public importance are removed from the realm of debate.

And if I can’t convince you, I am left to appeal, finally, to force. Which is what this study was.

The conclusion was known from the start, and the study was fabricated to bolster that conclusion, because the conclusion was unquestionably, incontrovertibly “right,” and if it’s right, and the other side can’t and never will understand that, there is no reason to waste time debating.

The insidiousness of this act of force is that it pays lip service to “reason,” masquerading as an “empirical,” “data-based” contribution to a debate — because the desire to “start a conversation” remains the great palliative of American political rhetoric. One can see this playing out in several arenas. Many on the left have condemned skeptics of anthropogenic global warming as “anti-science” — that is, as people who can never be convinced.

Thus there is no point discussing global warming. So they turn to force, ie., more cooked studies.

And the feminist Left has declared, “If we use proof in rape cases, we fall into the patterns of rape deniers.” So what are the trials-by-media of accused attackers — such as Columbia’s Paul Nungesser, or the brothers of UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity — but exercises of force by people who have declared that their claims are not subject to doubt?

The health of a democratic polity depends in no small part on the generousness of its civic discourse — that is, opposing sides ought to give one another the benefit of the doubt. If same-sex marriage proponents allowed that same-sex marriage opponents might, just might, be motivated by something other than animal hatred, we might be able to reach solutions that balance the competing interests unavoidably present in any political body. But our discourse is growing increasingly ungenerous. We ought not be surprised when the result is less debate and more dishonesty and coercion.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/418811/why-gay-marriage-study-was-faked-and-why-we-should-expect-more-it-ian-tuttle

05-25-2015, 07:47 PM
Turns out the "study" was a fake by a UCLA grad student who claimed he got funding when he got none. I'd love to say that this guy's academic career is toast, but, since he has the "right" beliefs, he will probably be protected and allowed to get his PhD anyway.

SHOCKER: Researcher Behind Fabricated Gay Marriage Study LIED About Funding

Michael LaCour, the University of California-Los Angeles graduate student responsible for a now-widely discredited study on attitudes towards gay marriage, apparently lied about the funding grants given for his fraudulent research.

In fact, according to The New Yorker, LaCour received no funding at all for the study — which was published last December in Science magazine and discredited earlier this week — into whether views on same-sex marriage change due to interaction with gay individuals. (RELATED: Major Gay Marriage Study Was Fabricated, Author Admits)

“He didn’t have any grants coming to him. He had a small one that he didn’t accept,” Donald Green, the co-author of the retracted study and a political science professor at Columbia University, told The New Yorker about the study that claimed respondents started to accept same-sex marriage after positive interactions with gay people.

Green, who played little role in the the doctored research, said he discovered this fact after asking LaCour’s adviser, Lynn Vavreck, to look into the matter Monday after LaCour’s data was questioned by researchers from the University of California-Berkeley.

Vavreck found that the funding the UCLA student alleged he had was completely made up.

LaCour, according to his curriculum vitae, claimed over $300,000 in grant money was given to his research on gay marriage attitudes. The fake money was supposed to compensate respondents who participated in the researcher’s study.

Furthermore, Green told The New Yorker LaCour had no data to back up his study’s conclusion.

“There was no data, and no plausible way of getting the data,” Green said. The view that LaCour made up his data was echoed by Dave Fleischer of the Leadership Lab at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which supplied the canvassers for the study, in a Wednesday interview on NPR’s “This American Life.”

The show’s host, Ira Glass, asked Fleischer, “If the data isn’t real, if he isn’t really doing surveys, then what would you be looking at? Just things he had made up earlier?”

Fleischer replied, “You know Ira, I do not know the answer to that question. But my suspicion is yes. We are looking at something that he had made up.”

Green submitted a retraction request to Science magazine on Tuesday after LaCour failed to do so on his own. According to his own web site, LaCour is still standing behind the findings reported in the study.