Tuesday, December 30, 2008

21 Reasons why Gender Matters: shonky referencing and the mental health of gay people

I found a second serious referencing error in the anti-gay pamphlet 21 Reasons why Gender Matters. Like the earlier one, it falsely claims that a study includes text which it doesn't actually include. Unlike the earlier one, I can actually see how they got it wrong.

On page 14 of the pamphlet, the following text appears:
One study revealed that “the lifetime prevalence for two or more psychiatric disorders for men who engaged in homosexual behaviors was 37.85 per cent versus 14.4 per cent for men who did not engage in homosexual behaviors. For women engaging in homosexual behaviours, the rate for two or more psychiatric disorders was 39.5 per cent versus 21.3 per cent for women not engaging in homosexual behaviours. Society’s oppression of homosexual people is a hypothesis unlikely to find support in this study, concluded the Netherlands [sic], which is perhaps one of the most homosexual-affirming and tolerant countries in the world.”110

Footnote 110 refers to a study that is very popular among anti-gay activists trying to "prove" that homosexual behaviour itself directly causes the person engaging in it to become mentally disturbed: "Same-sex Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders", by TGM Sandfort et al, published in volume 58(1) of the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2001.

I have now read the complete study, and the text quoted above as appearing in the study itself does not appear anywhere within in. Given the actual sentiments expressed by the authors in the study, particularly their fairly clear statement in the "Comment" section that "because of the study's cross-sectional design, it is not possible to adequately address the question of the causes of the observed differences" in mental health, it is highly misleading to claim that they made any statement of fact as clear-cut as the one that the pamphlet falsely attributed to them.

The actual source of the quoted text is this article from the so-called "research and therapy" group NARTH, a little way in to "Section D:Mental Health, Physical Health, Stability of Homosexual Men and Women and Longevity of Homosexual Relationships". The shoddy use of HTML, in which a separate font is used when quoting a study, but that font accidentally spills out of the closing blockquote, could, if you're not reading carefully, give the misleading impression that the paragraph after the quote from the study is also a quote from the study. Apparently the Fatherhood Foundation didn't notice the problem.

The study itself that they're misquoting is interesting, and probably deserves a more thorugh consideration given the multiple lies that a great deal of anti-gay organisations tell about it, not just NARTH and the Fatherhood Foundation. For now I'll just point to a news article about a much more recent study about the issue of homosexuality and mental health, one which should give pause to any anti-gay activist trying to encourage negative attitudes to homosexuality: Parents' response key to health of gay youth:
Kids with parents who reacted negatively 8 times more likely to try suicide
by Lisa Leff
Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO - Young gay people whose parents or guardians responded negatively when they revealed their sexual orientation were more likely to attempt suicide, experience severe depression and use drugs than those whose families accepted the news, according to a new study.

Follow the link for the full article.

1 comment:

ultravomit said...

HTML you berks!!

they are such idiots!