Culture

Fake News on Gay Science?

(Dreamstime image: Marc Bruxelle)
A widely reported study on longevity of homosexuals appears to have been faked.

When social justice displaces truth as the core value of academics, bad things happen to science.

Professor Jonathan Haidt of NYU has taken the lead in pointing out that freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and viewpoint diversity are particularly necessary if universities are going to fulfill their once-core mission of serving the cause of truth. He founded Heterodoxacademy.org to help organize resistance from within the world of scholars.

One thing that happens when social justice displaces truth in the internal scientific community is that less than ordinary care is taken with scientific results that are pleasing to social-justice warriors.

We saw that in 2015, when a major study published in Science, which purported to show that personal canvassing by LGBT people had an amazingly large effect on people’s opinions, was revealed to have been entirely faked, and in ways that one lone grad student, David Broockman, found easy to debunk. (The “scholar” had even created easily checked fake grants from real foundations, thanking them publicly for grants they had never made.)

“In fact, throughout the entire process, until the very last moment when multiple ‘smoking guns’ finally appeared, Broockman was consistently told by friends and advisers to keep quiet about his concerns lest he earn a reputation as a troublemaker,” New York magazine reported.

Now Social Science & Medicine has demonstrated its own scientific integrity by publishing what amounts to a repudiation of another widely reported LGBT study, by Mark Hatzenbuehler, which concluded that “minority stress” was knocking an amazing twelve years off the lives of gay people. The roughly half of American people who don’t believe in gay marriage were killing gay people, the press more or less concluded. “Can Prejudice Kill You? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Life Expectancy Drops 12 Years in Anti-Gay Communities,” blared Medical Daily. The press was only echoing the study’s authors: “The results of this study suggest a broadening of the consequences of prejudice to include premature death,” Hatzenbuehler said in the press release announcing the study’s publication.

But in mid November, Social Science & Medicine published an attempt to replicate the authors’ data, which not only failed to replicate the results but could find no legitimate way of interpreting the data that would explain how the authors reached their conclusion:

Efforts to replicate Hatzenbuehler et al.’s (2014) key finding on structural stigma’s notable influence on the premature mortality of sexual minorities, including a more refined imputation strategy than described in the original study, failed. No data imputation approach yielded parameters that supported the original study’s conclusions. Alternative hypotheses, which originally motivated the present study, revealed little new information.

In conclusion, the authors note that “ten different approaches to multiple imputation of missing data yielded none in which the effect of structural stigma on the mortality of sexual minorities was statistically significant.”

To heighten the drama, the author of this new study is none other than University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, who was subjected to public abuse for daring to publish, in a peer-reviewed journal, the results of a groundbreaking study suggesting that children raised by gay people fare about as well as children in other, alternative family forms but not as well as children in intact married biological families.

(Regnerus was unable to compare children raised from birth by gay couples in an intact relationship because he could find only two examples of such children in his data set, a finding he freely acknowledged in his own published study.)

In the weeks since the publication of Regnerus’s study attempting to replicate his work, Hatzenbuehler has yet to respond.

#related#Perhaps there is some explanation. Or perhaps, for reasons we can only suspect, Hatzenbuehler (who edited the special journal issue in which his original study was published) slipped a bogus study into a major social-science journal, confident that nobody would want to review and contest its findings, which so please the overwhelmingly liberal academy.

I charitably hope he can explain. But in any case, Mark Regnerus is emerging as a scientific hero, a modern-day Galileo standing up to the new theology of the Left.

Science is not right-wing or left-wing. But to work, it needs scientists fearlessly committed to truth over their preferred outcomes.

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