Let’s be honest. We’ve all done it. We call a friend or colleague and tell them we want their opinion. We then tell them our problem or situation, focusing on points that support our view, while leaving out the points that don’t. We sort of know we’re doing it and it is no surprise when our friend or colleague agrees with us. Why are we not surprised? Well they got our version of it, that’s why.
Selective versions are the norm, not the exception. In researching for this site, I have been astounded by the way selective parts of research are used, while the parts that don’t support an argument are ignored and then I got over my self-righteousness. I do it too, even though I deliberately try not to. It’s oh so easy!!
At one point I actually brought most of what I had written offline until I checked my sources and bias, one-by-one, until satisfied (and I ask you to let me know if you see me doing it). Let me share with you an example I found recently.
“New Study: Daughters of Lesbian Parents More Likely to Engage in Same-Sex Behavior and Identify as Bisexual”.The headline of the 2011 NARTH [*1] publication was impressive. It read:
. The author, Dr. Christopher Rosik, rightly explained that the research had shown daughters of lesbians were more likely to engage in same-sex sexual activities and identify as lesbian or bisexual (18.9% of them to be exact).
I have been astounded by the way selective parts of research are used, while the parts that don’t support an argument are ignored.
What he didn’t mention was that the male children of lesbian couples weren’t abused, promiscuous or more likely to be gay. Of the 79 children studied (all raised in lesbian parented homes):
a) None were physically abused (compared to 26% of teens reporting physical abuse from parent or caregiver nationally
b) These boys were less likely to have been sexually involved with girls
c) The boys were also no more likely to be gay than those raised in straight homes.
Why silence regarding these findings? The next author laid down a challenge.
Accusing NARTH of Designing a Slanted Picture
Dr. Warren Throckmorton very reasonably pointed out that these findings, while only a small study, do not support the “significant role of a father” theories; theories I greatly believe in by the way. Dr, Throckmorton titled his blog, “The Evangelical Blackout of Research on Sexual Orientation” [210b]. In this 15 December 2011 blog, he lays down a clear accusation, stating that “the situation is actually worse than a blackout. The blackout is selective; some new research is reported. However, the studies reported and the way they are reported seem designed to create a slanted picture.” Personally I thought that was a fair shot.
He did exactly what he accused others of doing (though not as badly).
Imagine my surprise to discover Dr. Throckmorton doing the same thing on the very same day. Writing before or after the other blog, I do not know (it matters not), he did exactly what he accused others of doing (though not as badly).
Using a powerful and selective heading, the article he had just criticized had been called, “New Study: Daughters of Lesbian Parents More Likely to Engage in Same-Sex Behavior and Identify as Bisexual”. His blog, commenting on the same study, was called, “”New study: Lesbian parents not associated with homosexual behavior in sons” . Basically, the first article said “Lesbian mothers = Bad” and the second article said “Lesbian mothers = Good”. I’ll let you read the reports to get the details.
Both authors focused on selective parts. Both authors selectively conveyed a particular picture. They were commenting on the same report. Both of them were right; both told the truth – and it should be said that Dr. Throckmorton did make mention of further available data, but it would be easy to miss the extras.
One week earlier, there was another example. When blogging part 1 of “The Evangelical Blackout of Research on Sexual Orientation” , Dr Throckmorton commented on beliefs that homosexuality is caused by abuse as a child. Citing an extensive New Zealand study involving 13,000 participants, he reports that “81.6% of gays reported no sexual abuse in their lives” (italics mine). Seemingly debunking the myth. The chief researcher for the study however, Associate Professor Dr. Elisabeth Wells, concluded that “the more adverse events experienced in childhood, the more likely someone was to belong to one of the non-exclusively heterosexual groups. Associations between adverse events and sexuality group were found for sexual assault, rape, violence to the child, and for witnessing violence in the home” .
Everybody is telling the truth, but if you don’t pay attention you could miss the fact that it is a) partial truth, and b) affected by subtle language tools.
Everybody is telling the truth, but if you don’t pay attention you could miss the fact that it is a) partial truth, and b) affected by subtle language tools. The distinctions between on ‘abuse’ and ‘sexual abuse’, and being ‘gay’ and ‘non-exclusively heterosexual’ are significant.
And herein lies the problem. Anyone can climb on and jockey the data to run their own race and further their own cause. I am capable of it too. This is a high stakes war right now. The stakes are indescribably high. I have been tempted – and I will be tempted – to lean, mold and squeeze data into the shape I would rather it. So too can any author cited here. So too can you.
When we are teenagers we learn how to hide a zit (a pimple), we wear the clothes that don’t make us look fat. And if we move into academia and communications, we learn how to communicate for a desired effect.
The point is we all ‘lean’ certain ways. We all filter what we see and hear.
I issue no huge criticism to Dr. Rosik, Dr. Throckmorton or Dr. Wells. They’ve done the hours and got the Ph.D’s. I just love complete honesty when I can get it.
The point is we all ‘lean’ certain ways and we all filter what we see and hear. Life is sometimes one huge game of Chinese Whispers.
So, keep your skepticals on!! And hold both me and everyone else accountable. The stakes are too high for laziness.
By A Sensible Man on 18 December 2011. Latest textual revisions (in formatting mainly) were 18 February 2012. Renamed from “Tip 1: Wear Your Skepticals” on 1 April 2012
- NARTH are the good guys (though no one is perfect) and they certainly attract a venomous and systematic shellacking by the LGBT ++ controlled professional establishments. They’ve long been accused of making claims they haven’t, and (I believe) they’ve had some prominent self-identifying “ex-gays”[*2] apologize for making statements that oversell their ‘healing’. Some even went back into complete homosexual lifestyles, and when this happens, in classical ‘straw man’ strategy, these cases are shouted far and wide.
- I certainly remember A Sensible Man (ASM) hated that term (ex-gay), but like most, he struggled with a label to convey where he was at in his journey. One of the fascinating terms for his attraction was “goy”. He never accepted “gay” because of the broad range of behaviors and sexual expressions that came with it. I plan on looking deeper into NARTH / ATSCI (Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity) at some point. I do not know their individual circumstances, nor do I know the full variables at play in the assaults levelled against them. I certainly recall the language precision that was asked of us by ASM . This is not a simple issue.