Bench Memos

Andrew Ferguson’s “Revenge of the Sociologists”

A follow-up to my posts last month on two new peer-reviewed articles in an academic journal that expose and challenge the schlock social science on gay parenting that has been uncritically embraced and propagated by so many people eager to advance the cause of gay marriage:

In “Revenge of the Sociologists: The perils of politically incorrect academic research,” the Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson discusses the “professional intimidation” of Mark Regnerus, author of one of the articles. As Ferguson sums it up, a “large number of [Regnerus’s] fellow social scientists—members in good standing of the guild of LGBT researchers—would like to destroy his career”—all, it seems clear, merely because Regnerus has dared to publish a study that calls into question the unthinking orthodoxy on gay parenting.

Regnerus’s study definitely has its limitations. But, as Ferguson wryly points out, the criticisms of his paper “would be more impressive if they weren’t anticipated and in many cases acknowledged by the author in the same paper being criticized.” Further, “Regnerus’s study has unique strengths, even beyond the size and randomness of its sample, that his critics ignore altogether.”

Most importantly:

The limitations of Regnerus’s study compare favorably with the shortcomings found routinely in the same-sex literature. It does no credit to the guild that researchers have choked on Regnerus’s paper while happily swallowing dozens of faulty studies over the last 20 years—because, you can’t help but think, those studies were taken as confirming the “no difference” dogma. “If the Regnerus study is to be thrown out,” wrote the Canadian family economist Douglas Allen in a statement supporting Regnerus, “then practically everything else [in the literature] has to go with it.”

Ed Whelan — Ed Whelan is a leading commentator on nominations to the Supreme Court and the lower courts and on issues of constitutional law.

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