Aug 242016
This entry is part 4 of 31 in the series Daily Douche-Bag

Douchebag ButtonIt’s not a tie; they worked together to create some bullshit “research” to say that LGBT people aren’t really LGB or T. Ryan Anderson, the principal homocon at the right-wing Heritage Foundation is all atwitter about a study, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” published in the “New Atlantis Journal.” It is just another of those studies, like the Regnerus study of a few years ago, where anti-equality groups bought and paid for a particular result.

According to Anderson, the four major points of the “study” are:

  • The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property—that people are ‘born that way’—is not supported by scientific evidence.
  • Likewise, the belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex—so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’—is not supported by scientific evidence.
  • Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery.
  • Non-heterosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental-health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), than the general population. Discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity.

However, it didn’t take long for the astute to figure out the extensive issues that invalidate anything the esteemed researchers claimed. Unlike the Regnerus study, this one wasn’t even peer reviewed, nor published in a “scientific journal.” (I’d note that it turned out a participating researcher was paid by the same people that paid Regnerus to do the peer review, and the Journal in which it was published accepted this without question.)

First, as noted, it has not been submitted for peer review. That would be primarily because the journal, The New Atlantis, isn’t a scientific journal. The New Atlantis is published by the Center for the Study of Technology and Society in partnership with the Ethics and Public Policy Center. They sure do discuss the pyramids a lot in that magazine. The Ethics and Public Policy Center have been at the center of anti-LGBT activism for years. They’ve spoken out in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), in favor of keeping Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and in favor of using religion as a weapon to discriminate.

In their own words, the EPCC describes itself as an “Institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.” And by the way, the two organizations share the same street address…how ’bout that.

[callout] Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S., Ph.D. is a scholar in residence in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University. Paul R. McHugh, M.D. is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was for twenty-five years the psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.[/callout]If that weren’t enough to cast doubt on the findings, let’s take a look at the authors. Paul McHugh, one of the authors of the study, has dedicated his life to anti-LGBT scholarship. His work has been debunked time and time again. McHugh has a distinguished track record of anti-LGBT bigotry and harm. He fully believes homosexuality is a choice and has compared hormone therapy for transgender children to “liposuction on an anorexic child.” Simply, there is no possible way anyone can argue that his “scholarship” is unbiased and objective.

Lawrence Mayer focuses on interpretation of experimental and observational data and is the primary author of the study, which analyzed existing research – and reinterpreted it to fit the outcomes they desired. By incorporating many different studies, they had the freedom to pick and choose which pieces of data to use and how to spin them.

Unlike almost any other nonpartisan real scientific study, this “study” comes complete with a slick, well-produced video from The New Atlantis, further suggesting far right wing moneyed interests are behind it. And, at the end of the day…it is NOT a peer-reviewed study. Now why do you think that might be?

Anderson’s article on this report says that the New Atlantis article “discusses over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences.” The report itself says, in the introduction, that “This report offers a careful summary and an up-to-date explanation of many of the most rigorous findings produced by the biological, psychological, and social sciences related to sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The Executive summary says “This report presents a careful summary and an up-to-date explanation of research — from the biological, psychological, and social sciences — related to sexual orientation and gender identity.” Fine.
However, this is completely different than a methodical analysis of the existing research. No methodology is given. In what way are they analyzing the existing research? The report laudably reports that terminology is vague (The first three sections of part 1 are given over to admitting this), but that is about the extent of the methodology.

And, most important of all, no explanation is given as to why these particular studies were chosen. Yes, over 200 studies are cited within the article itself (I assume- I did not count, but I will simply give the Daily Signal the benefit of the doubt), but nowhere are they listed in full, and nowhere is a selection process explained.

Nor are the studies actually analyzed in full- they are often mined for particular quotes and then dropped. And some of the citations are absolutely from dubious sources (I.E. “An Essay in Christian Sexual Ethics,” which could be a fine article but is surely not a scientific one).

So the point is that anybody can find 200 quotes or pieces of data from a string of articles and scientific studies and select them to conform to a pre-existing thesis. And so without a methodology of selection or analysis, there is no check against the bias of the author. And lo and behold: there is the shadow of a potentially biased publication and author.

So, once again, we see academics paid to produce specific results through “research” which cannot stand up to rigorous academic and scientific peer review. But that won’t stop of the anti-equality crowd from making these two heroes, and citing this study for the next five or six years, just as they did with the Regnerus study, even after every single professor who worked in the same department at the University where he worked signed a letter denouncing him and his work. So, for their bought and paid for bullshit research, we’re give the Douchebag of the Day Award to Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh.

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  5 Responses to “Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh – Douchebags of the Day”

Comments (5)
  1. Just want to point out that the Mayer/McHugh report was never said by them to be a “study”. It was never said to be a review of others’ studies. The authors have said it was a report, period, and said it several times. It was published in an opinion journal, not a medical science, or psychiatry journal. Opinion pieces do not require to be peer-reviewed. We do not have to agree with their opinions.

  2. I am a little unclear. The final paragraph says “the EPCC describes itself”. The author is referring to the Ethicis and Public Policy Center”, the EPPC?
    The “astute” would also identify that the argument that this research should be ignored b/c it has not been “peer reviewed” is probably a red herring.
    Many journals have recently noted that most scientific studies are probably wrong. The work of all researchers, including those the author does respect, are probably deeply flawed, using cherry-picked data and stemming from presumptive beliefs. Most of modern science is little more than scientism…the false belief that science can and will provide all ultimate statements of truth and meaning. In the topic currently being discussed, there is far more that we do not know than what we do know. And many of the most important questions are not being researched, not because the are impossible to study. (ie. rate of suicide for those who have undergone repairative therapy) They are not being researched b/c a very powerful lobby does not want any conclusions in the public domain that they do not currently approve of. We are entiring a new dark age, much like the age of Galileo, when the truth is suppressed to mollify political hegemony.

  3. You’d have a little (a little) more credibility if you didn’t use vulgarities in your writing.

  4. The criticism of the Mayer & McHugh report is rather vague on any substantive areas of disagreement but quite clear in its employment of invective and ad hominem.

    Why are the authors conclusions wrong? Whether or not they are douchebags or share an address with Satan and Saddam does not present a credible challenge.

    • The report was not peer-reviewed, they cherry-picked the studies they used to support a pre-determined outcome, and it has come to light they ignored a significant amount of much more recent data. Coincidentally, that data would have refuted many of their findings.

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