Troubling

08.15.2012, 10:25 AM

Remember Robert Oscar Lopez, the assistant professor of English at a California state school who wrote an essay for Public Discourse telling his own story of growing up with a lesbian mother, and defending the Regnerus study? He says that his job is now at risk.

Since  my article came out, I have been through far worse than I ever thought would  happen.  My job is at risk, and worst of all, my coworkers received an  e-mail from a gay rights organization with the title “COMPLAINT AGAINST CSUN’S  ROBERT LOPEZ: GAY BASHER.”  Soon I got e-mails from administrators.  People really investigate claims like this.

Whatever one thinks about Lopez’s essay, this is outrageous. Because someone’s personal story doesn’t align with my views about gay families, I denounce him as a gay basher to his colleagues?

 

 


30 Responses to “Troubling”

  1. Matthew Kaal says:

    David,

    Thanks for posting this, I think the biographical stuff helps flesh out his story better than the Public Discourse essay did. I worry that Lopez’s tone (which struck me as hurt, frustrated, and angry) will not help to calm the storm engulfing his life. He says some really controversial things in this article which, in spite of the fact that he is a member of the LGBT community, will almost certainly alienate him further. I imagine that some of what he says here will also invariably be used to bolster the accusations of hate being leveled at him.

    His writing strikes me as very human, he’s had a unique experience which shapes his perception of the gay community (sadly, in many negative ways), and I think he is right that he doesn’t fit well into most LGBT narratives. I’ll leave it to others to parse his complaints against the LGBT community, but it strikes me that he is writing as a man who is experiencing the pain of rejection from that community, and is lashing out at the hypocrisy he sees.

    It was naive of him to think that he could speak into this debate with a presumption of goodwill while saying such controversial things, and I think he oversimplifies the Regnerus study’s flaws while making his point, so he damages his credibility. Even so, I don’t think he deserves to have strangers slander him to his colleagues or make a concerted effort to bully him out of a job. Considering what he wrote (even though it was controversial), that seems absurd to me. It is possibly even criminal if it is coming in the form of libel (if I was Lopez, I’d hire a lawyer if I lost my job because of those emails).

    If anything it only strengthens conservative’s warnings that their freedom of expression and speech are under threat if anything they say is immediately characterized as hate. And practically, it drives a bigger wedge between the groups, when there could (as Lopez notes towards the end) be many areas of agreement between conservatives and the LGBT community over other issues important to each group.

  2. JeffreyRO5 says:

    If Lopez loses his job or is in any way punished by his employer, then there’s something wrong with his employer. That a gay rights organization wrote his employee is hardly a big deal, if they believe they have a valid grievance. I haven’t read a lot of Mr. Lopez’ stuff, because after seeing many of his comments attached to articles about the Regnerus “study,” he seemed highly dramatic and obsessed that the world be aware of his personal upbringing. He makes the same mistake Regnerus does: assigning causality to having gay parents when it may very well be something else that troubled him.

    I don’t see how freedom of speech is under threat here, unless you mean that you want to say and do whatever you want, without consequences. I don’t think that’s very realistic. I see an emerging theme: homophobic people want to express their feelings, or advocate policies that harm gay and lesbian people, without being criticized for them. I don’t think that’s very realistic, either.

  3. Ralph Lewis says:

    Phone typing means a short response, but this was not simply a “personal story.” If you look up and read Lopez’ collection of past essays in American Thinker, you will get a more complete sense of his intense acrimony towards LGBT people, community and politics. One random quote: “How did gay activists allow themselves to become a fusion of rabid housecats, Ariel from the Tempest, and barracuda’s?”

    And that is really some of the gentler stuff you’ll find there.

    After reading Lopez’ screeds, I do not trust his reporting. I do not believe he is a victim here.

  4. Matthew Kaal says:

    Ralph,

    If he’s a victim, I have no doubt he’s in good part a victim of his own imprudent rhetoric. If he has said hateful things, then anyone in the the community can hold him accountable for saying them, and it will most likely be unpleasent for him, but he’d have it coming.

    JeffreyR05,

    He should definitely bring a wrongful termination suit against his employer if he feels they have no grounds to terminate him (or if they expressly do so because of his views about the gay community), but he’d also be able to claim he’d been libelled if the group sending the emails couldn’t substantiate their claims that he is a “gay-basher” and their correspondence played a role in his firing. There is a pretty high standard for him to jump over to prove Libel, but he could have grounds for such a suit since claiming he’s a “gay basher” is pretty extreme. I mean, that term implies hatred with violent intent, which doesn’t seem to be the case, even when he’s comparing them to unpleasent Shakespearean characters and vicious fish.

  5. Mont D. Law says:

    I can find no evidence that his job is at risk. No evidence of a formal hearing or investigation. And I completely agree that if he all he has done is what we can see the school would be wrong to fire him. However people get fired unjustly for their political beliefs all the time. People email their bosses and colleagues accusing them of all kinds things and demanding they be fired. It’s either a problem when people get fired for stuff like this, or it’s not. If it is, the discussion should not be about poor abused Mr. Lopez, but about strengthening legal protections that would prevent these sorts of things happening to anyone. I am all for expanding free speech protections as broadly as possible but not just for Mr. Lopez.

  6. Scott Rose says:

    People can be fired for cause. What might be the “cause” here? Since the time the Regnerus study was published, Lopez had been making incendiary anti-gay comments in support of the study online. According to Lopez’s account in his first essay, Regnerus contacted him, having seen his gay-bashing comments in support of the study online. Lopez and Regnerus then conducted correspondence about the study and about “LGBT issues.” Subsequently, Lopez’s essay was published – first – on Regnerus’s direct funders’ site (i.e., the Witherspoon Institute) and subsequently all over NOM properties, with NOM and Witherspoon sharing top officials. The Lopez essay very seriously misrepresents what the Regnerus essay says. It does so, all in very inflammatory anti-gay rights terms, i.e. in line with the Regnerus study’s funders’ anti-gay-rights goals for the study. Regnerus absolutely has violated the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics, among other points, its section 10 on Public Communications. “Sociologists adhere to the highest professional standards in public communications about their professional . . . . work products, or publications, whether these communications are from themselves OR FROM OTHERS.” (Caps added). At the time Regnerus’s funders published the Lopez essay, it had already been documented that the Regnerus “study” only got published due to corrupt peer review. Furthermore, in the wake of a complaint filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, NOM has pleaded guilty to 18 counts of state campaign finance violations. This appears to be a legal “piercing of the veil” of NOM’s pattern of seeming illegal activities. NOM wants to pay the fines and be done with it; but the CFPPC could still decide to proceed to prosecution. When NOM’s strategy documents were released through court order in March, describing plans to “drive a wedge” and to “fan hostility” between African-Americans and gays, those same documents described an evil plot to get children of gay parents to denounce their gay parents to the public. Lopez’s activities have a whiff of that plot about them. How much did the NOM/Witherspoon authorities pay Lopez for his involvement in the Regnerus scandal? Lopez should disclose that to the public immediately. Where NOM has admitted to 18 counts of breaking the law in California, it’s possible that a wider investigation of all of its seeming illegal activities could eventually involve Lopez, and that the outcome of court cases relative to those matters would give Cal State cause to fire Lopez.

  7. Scott Rose, I would be so much better able to understand you if you could organize your writing in an outline and deliver your points one paragraph at a time.

  8. Scott Rose says:

    OK, Elizabeth Marquardt. Here are my points, delivered one paragraph at a time.

    The Regnerus “gay parenting” study was commissioned by the Witherspoon Institute, whose president Luis Tellez is a board member of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), (an anti-gay rights group) and whose senior fellow Robert George is founder and current mastermind of NOM.

    Before giving Regnerus his full “study” funding of $785,000, Witherspoon gave Regnerus $55,000 as a planning grant. The Regnerus study “plan” is booby trapped against gay parents, through a cherry picked control group of children of continuously married heterosexual parents, compared to children from a mishmosh of domestic backgrounds. Cherry picking a control group is a form of lying. For reference, a more detailed explanation of some of the scientific failings of the Regnerus study may be found here: http://tinyurl.com/8bq5mfz

    After Regnerus showed Witherspoon his study plan booby trapped against gay parents, Witherspoon arranged for his full study funding of $785,000. That is not only a jaw-dropping amount for such a study — it is especially eyebrow raising, given that Regnerus only surveyed a total of 2,988 respondents, and his data can be analyzed by a single scholar looking at one Excel spread sheet. What happened to the rest of the money? And, it is now documented that the Regnerus study was published only due to corrupt peer review, raising a question: were the palms of that journal editor greased?

    In March 2012, NOM internal strategy documents were released through court order. Those NOM documents described, among other things, NOM plans to “drive a wedge” and to “fan hostility” between African-Americans and gays; a classic “divide and conquer” strategy applied to Democrats, and especially heinous because of the intent to aggravate hostilities, hardly something that would be done by people genuinely interested in child welfare.

    The NOM strategy documents described other evil plans, including one to get children raised by gay parents to denounce their own parents to the public. Writing about the NOM documents, the Newark Star Ledger pointed out that it is “sick beyond words” for a group that says it is “defending marriage” to drive wedges between family members.

    Robert Oscar Lopez’s behavior vis-a-vis the Regnerus study appears to fit the NOM plan to get children raised by gay parents to denounce their gay parents to the public. Shortly after the Regnerus study was published on June 10, 2012, Robert Oscar Lopez began showing up in all kinds of comments areas, boosting the study with extremely incendiary anti-gay attacks. In one, he said that he wanted to “apologize to Mark Regnerus on behalf of my country and profession.”

    That creates an impression that Lopez could be a NOM/Witherspoon/Regnerus shill. In his first essay on Regnerus published by Witherspoon and immediately cross-posted to the NOM blog and to the National Review website, Lopez reports that Regnerus saw his commentary online and then contacted him. They then conducted “correspondence” about the study and about “LGBT issues.” In his essay, Lopez is insistent that the Regnerus study is really about children of bi-sexual parents. Meanwhile though, the labels that Regnerus uses in and throughout his study are “lesbian mother” and/or “gay father.” This is just the tip of the iceberg of how Lopez misrepresents what the Regnerus study says. Understand; the topic for right now is not the invalidity of the Regnerus study, but rather, Lopez’s misrepresentations of what it says, misrepresentations that veer heavily in the direction of anti-gay-rights incitements, published to the Regnerus funders’ website.

    Regnerus — given his involvement in contact Lopez first, corresponding with him and then knowing about the publication of the Lopez essay to his Witherspoon funders’ website — (which essay contains heaping, gay-bashing misrepresentations of what the Regnerus study says) — has violated the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics, part 10, Public Communications: “Sociologists adhere to the highest professional standards in public communications about their professional . . . . work products, or publications, whether these communications are from themselves OR FROM OTHERS.” (Caps added).

    Now, how much did NOM/Witherspoon pay Lopez for his essay, and, potentially for other parts of his involvement in commenting to the public about the Regnerus study? And, who donated all that money to Witherspoon for this study in the first place?

    Those, and other questions, are relevant to the fact that, NOM has pleaded guilty in California to 18 counts of campaign finance law violations. NOM wants to make that matter go away, by paying fines, but, the commission may make another decision, i.e. — instead of letting NOM/Witherspoon officials off easy through the payment of fines, it might proceed to prosecution, and recommend that other agencies do a more in-depth investigation of NOM/Witherspoon activities outside of California.

    Lopez certainly would never get fired from Cal State over a free speech matter (although, these things have their limits. A professor in the US today actively calling for and working for a genocide likely would not keep his position, for example). Depending on what might come out of eventual criminal and/or civil cases against NOM, and how Lopez were to be found to have engaged in behind-the-scenes shenanigans with some of those parties, it is conceivable that Cal State would have, in the end, cause to fire Lopez.

    Lopez is extremely inconsistent and unreliable in his “testimony” about his own life. In his essay, he claims that alone among his siblings, he grew up without the father around. Yet, we are told that he was born when his mom was 34 and that she died when he was 19. That would mean that all of his siblings were raised through to maturity before the mother was 34 (if they were to be raised with the father around).

    And there is an additional matter. Lopez acknowledges that his mother and her alleged female love did not live together as he was growing up. Only at the very end of the mother’s life, when Lopez was already 19, did that other woman come to live in the mother’s house. The mother died of an illness in her early 50s. What I perceive is that that friend apparently came to live there, to take care of the mother in her final months. I’m sure it’s too kind of Lopez to demonize that woman in his writings.

    Lopez, furthermore, is fatuous. From his writings, especially his writings about gay rights, it defies credulity to imagine that he has ever read an article — still less a book — about constitutional rights.

  9. Scott, substance aside, let me thank you for the paragraph breaks. I know it may seem like a silly thing, but it genuinely makes your comment much easier for me to read.

    I hadn’t known about the $55,000 planning grant.

    If Witherspoon was allowed to review Regnerus’ study design before deciding to give the $785,000 grant for the completed study, that would effectively have given Witherspoon veto power over the study going forward or not based on its design, which would significantly undermine Regnerus’ claims that the study was designed and carried out with absolute independence from its funders.

    That said, these sorts of arguments — and, with all due respect, many of your arguments — strike me as ad hominem. In the end, where the money comes from is irrelevant to judging if a study is good or bad.

    Regnerus’ study is bad because it is extraordinarily badly designed. Even if it turns out that he was pure of heart and everything was totally aboveboard, it is STILL a lousy study. And that’s what should matter. The rest is a distraction, imo.

    Returning more to the point of the original post, I don’t find your arguments regarding Mr. Lopez’s alleged involvement with Witherspoon persuasive.

    Shortly after the Regnerus study was published on June 10, 2012, Robert Oscar Lopez began showing up in all kinds of comments areas, boosting the study with extremely incendiary anti-gay attacks. [...] That creates an impression that Lopez could be a NOM/Witherspoon/Regnerus shill.

    A simpler and more likely explanation is that Lopez feels passionately about the issue and uses google and other resources to seek out arguments on the matter. (I’ve done the same thing myself, and no one’s paying me.)

    Now, how much did NOM/Witherspoon pay Lopez for his essay, and, potentially for other parts of his involvement in commenting to the public about the Regnerus study?

    Nonetheless, even if Lopez was being secretly paid by Witherspoon to make comments on the web defending the Regnerus study — and just typing that sentence makes me feel like I’m wearing a tin foil hat — it’s not clear that would be a firing offense. Professors are generally free to accept outside writing gigs and consultant fees.

    That said, I think you make some telling points regarding the story Lopez tells. I frankly want to see some evidence before we all rush to condemn his employers for allegedly putting him on notice, or an unnamed gay organization (why would Lopez protect the organization by not naming it?) for allegedly sending an email to Lopez’s coworkers.

    I’m not saying that Lopez is lying; I’m not saying he’s telling the truth. I am saying that Lopez is obviously extremely impassioned and impassioned people cannot always be trusted to tell the same story an objective observer would. We should withhold judgement until we’ve heard the other parties’ version of the story.

  10. Bregalad says:

    Matthew:

    I worry that Lopez’s tone (which struck me as hurt, frustrated, and angry) will not help to calm the storm engulfing his life.

    Agreed. But he’s a pinnacle of poise and serenity compared to some… ::cough, cough::

    There are others who should be called out for violations of prudence before Lopez.

  11. Scott Rose says:

    @Barry Deutsch: The Regnerus “study” has been thoroughly analyzed and found to be invalid scientifically. But, the question is then, how did this happen, with a trained sociologist making so many egregious, baseline research and analysis “errors,” seeing as it is almost impossible to conceive of those errors having been made without the researcher’s understanding that they were errors?

    To formulate and/or to alter an inappropriate and invalid study design, under pressure and/or in collusion with a study’s funding source, in order to purport to have obtained an outcome, which outcome was pre-desired, and not arrived at through authentic scientific means, would be a form of scientific misconduct.

    I hope that helps you to understand the difference between “ad hominem” references to a study’s funding source, and legitimate exposure of misconduct involving a researcher and his funding source. You are suggesting that the funding source should never be mentioned — but were there in fact to be collusion, deterrents obviously should be applied, else the corrupting funder strike again and again, undermining the trust on which science is based.

    I repeat: it simply is not credible that Regnerus did not understand that a test-group/control-group study requires a valid test-group/control-group comparison, for the study to be valid.

    Witherspoon paid Lopez for the essay it published on its website; the question is; how much?

    A university employee, found to have knowingly promoted a fraudulent “study” to the public likely could be fired for cause from his university, because knowingly promoting fraudulent studies undermines the whole raison d’etre of a university.

  12. Elizabeth Marquardt says:

    Scott Rose: I too thank you for the paragraph breaks.

    here’s the way I see it:

    Regnerus’ study was not badly designed, but rather limited in the analysis stage by the fact that precious few young adults right now were actually raised by same sex couples. He tried to say something about the lives of those raised by parents who had a same sex relationship. That portrait alone is worth knowing. He also acknolwedged limitations of the study in the paper itself and in popular writing he did about it.

    Call me whatever you like, but that’s my point of view on Regnerus’ work, who I do know, but who did not consult me on his study.

    With regard to Lopez, who I do not know: he strikes me as a powerful writer and a unique voice, and also someone who took a pretty crazy risk months before his tenure review in an English department. Given the real anxiety apparent in his published piece about fall out after his Public Discourse article appeared, it does not appear to me that he is receiving any money as of yet for his efforts to tell his own story and to raise questions about the tenor of American discourse on gay life and marriage.

    Finally, with regard to academic tenure: I’m not sure who on this thread is much familiar with the process (tho I’m sure many reading this blog are) but it’s not about “firing.” You can be denied tenure for all kinds of reasons, including that your colleagues don’t like the way that you smell. A few people in your department and a dean make a decision about tenure. I’m not all that sure where rights of free speech come into this. Sure, some people sue when they are denied tenure, but they mostly fail.

    All this means that most academics say nothing controversial before they get tenure, then after they get tenure they are so relieved to at last, by age 40 or so, have a little economic security and a decent health plan, they still avoid controversy. Which makes me respect Regnerus all the more for being willing to ask a question that you’re not supposed to ask these days, and to follow it up as best he could, all caveats included.

  13. Diane M says:

    I am amazed that an Assistant Professor would write an essay like the one Lopez did.

    I am also dismayed that it would be used to keep him from getting tenure. I don’t know what else he has said, but his essay was about his own life. People should be able to express unpopular views.

    That is what academic freedom is about anyway. The idea that we are better off if we don’t stop people from saying things we don’t want to hear.

    In the long run this kind of thing can only backfire. First by making a movement look bad and therefore undercutting their message. Later by establishing a precedent that makes it easier for people to be fired if their pro-gay rights views are unpopular.

  14. Scott Rose says:

    @Elizabeth Marquardt:

    You do not know the first thing about test-group, control-group comparison studies, if you think that the Regnerus study “was not badly designed.”

    This is not a matter of my opinion versus your opinion; this is a matter of facts. “Lurking variables,” — and the Regnerus “test” group is stuffed full of them — is something taught in every Statistics 101 course. Either you do not know what you are talking about, or you are being disingenuous.

    Furthermore, Regnerus claims that his “study” is statistically representative on a national level; but it is not. Given the estimated size of the gay parent population, 248 total children is not adequate to a random sample survey of that population. In their public communications about their “study,” they propagandize with misrepresentations of the science of large random sampling survey-based studies. Expert Dr. Stephen Nock, in a court affidavit, said that in order to have a statistically valid study on gay parenting, a researcher needed at least 800 gay parents represented. Nock’s opinion has been cited as the gold standard for these measures, by other researchers; his standards are the standards for this field, in which he was an expert, of large random sample surveys. 248 children of gay parents is not enough, for the “study” to be statistically valid.

    The question is not one of “limitations” to Regnerus’s study, as you put it. It is worth nothing, that Regnerus speaks of “limitations,” or that you speak of “limitations.” Invalidity and “limitations” are two different animals. The Regnerus study is invalid.

    His whole data set should be thrown away. Why do I say that? Take a look at his “Codebook” with his survey responses: http://tinyurl.com/cbuk6jv

    Regnerus asked two questions about masturbation (as if that had anything to do with gay parents’ child outcomes) — including “Have you ever masturbated?” You’ll notice, respondents were given the chance to decline to answer; 110 declined to answer. But, 620 said that no, they had never in their lives, not even once, masturbated.

    You read that right; 620 out of Regnerus’s 2988 respondents, aged between 18 and 39, never once in their lives masturbated.

    And, according to Regnerus, his data are statistically accurate for the entire population of the United States. In other words, according to Regnerus, out of ever 2988 Americans aged 18 – 39, 620 have never masturbated.

    That’s why all of Regnerus’s data should be thrown away. Another reason it should all be thrown away, is that his data collection company, Knowledge Networks, has a “proprietary” data processing system, i.e nobody can fact check what “adjustments” were made to Regnerus’s data.

    What’s more is that Regnerus & Co’s claims that authentic same-sex-headed households do not exist in adequate numbers to study them is itself false, and characteristic, moreover, of his funders’ habits of demeaning gay people by alleging that they are a smaller part of the population than they really are.

    Michael J. Rosenfeld of Stanford University did a study on gay parents’ child outcomes titled: “Nontraditional Families and Childhood Progress through School” His data for that study came from the 2000 U.S. Census (meaning, the data are reliable). Rosenfeld studied 3,502 children who had lived with same-sex couples who had been together for at least 5 years. Stop telling lies in support of Regnerus, about the supposed non-existence of same-sex headed families from the period covered by his “study.”

    Go look up professional baseball player Joe Valentine, raised by his two mothers since his birth in 1979.

    The truth is, there are plenty of authentic same-sex-headed families with children from the period of the Regnerus/NOM/Witherspoon “study,” but NOM-Witherspoon’s intent was to demonize all gay parents, and thus, an authentic scientific survey/study would not have fit their purposes.

    Yes, it would have taken more than $785,000 to survey an adequate number of children of gay parents. But, in the NOM/Witherspoon/Republican 2012 election year budget overall, $785,000 is a drop in the bucket. NOM/Witherspoon heads are either directly spending, or organizing the spending of, millions upon tens of millions of dollars, specifically fighting against gay rights in support of Republican candidates.

  15. Scott Rose says:

    @Elizabeth Marquardt: You said “Which makes me respect Regnerus all the more for being willing to ask a question that you’re not supposed to ask these days,”

    Who told you that you’re not supposed to ask questions? Can you even tell me which question Regnerus asked?

    Here it is, right from his published study: “Do the children of gay and lesbian parents look comparable to those of their heterosexual counterparts?”

    Regnerus’s study methodology and instruments do not answer that question. Regnerus did not study “gay and lesbian parents.” In his wildly contradictory published study and statements, he admits that the majority of his study respondents whom he labeled as having “lesbian mothers” and/or “gay fathers” were products of broken opposite sex marriages.

    When a 15-year-old’s opposite gender parents divorce, both of them remain his parents. If — when the child is 17 — the father has an affair with a man for 6 months — that other man is *not* the parent to the mother and father’s offspring. That offspring’s parents are still his mother and father.

    Regnerus himself appears to have lost track of exactly what he says he is studying. Read Lopez’s first essay on the Witherspoon site. Lopez — having conducted correspondence with Regnerus about the study — is insistent, that the study is about “bi-sexual parents,” not about gay and lesbian parents. Because Lopez states that he had correspondence with Regnerus about the study and about LGBT issues, the matter has been clouded in the public mind.

    Did Regnerus raise questions about gay and lesbian parents, or about bi-sexual parents? Psychologists do acknowledge the distinction between gay and/or lesbian, and bi-sexual.

    If the question Regenrus meant to ask with his study was actually “Do the children of bi-sexual parents look comparable to those of their heterosexual counterparts?” then he should make that clarification, with corresponding corrections in his published study.

    But, that is a very different question, from the one he claimed to have posed and answered.

    And, even if he made that adjustment, and said he had compared bi-sexual parents’ child outcomes to those of heterosexual parents’ child outcomes, his control-group/test-group comparison would still be scientifically invalid, for reasons widely discussed and acknowledged.

    Now, Elizabeth; what “question” do you allege that Regnerus posed and answered with his “study”? Frankly, I would like to get you under oath on a witness stand, so that instead of publishing propaganda to a website, you would be made to answer according to facts about scientific method.

  16. Mont D. Law says:

    (There are others who should be called out for violations of prudence before Lopez.)

    I agree with this completely. First on my list would be Robert George and Maggie Gallagher.

  17. I emailed CSUN, and received this statement from Carmen Ramos Chandler, the Director of News and Information:

    The university recently received a public records request regarding Dr. Lopez. In following through on the request, per California’s Public Records Act requirements, Dr. Lopez was contacted and informed of the request. The administrator who contacted Dr. Lopez assured him repeatedly that his job was not in jeopardy, that the university had to respond to the request because of legal and governmental requirements and that California State University, Northridge has gone on the record multiple times in support of the First Amendment and academic freedom.

    Emphasis added by me.

    We should stop discussing this as if Lopez’s version of events were an undisputed account, rather than one side of a story.

    Scott, out of curiosity, did you happen to make a public records request regarding Mr. Lopez?

  18. James says:

    I am amazed at how little Elizabeth Marquardt knows about social sciences methodology, including sampling.

    I didn’t realize that Regnerus asked about masturbation. Based on his respondents’ answers to that question, I think one can safely toss out all their answers as unreliable.

    It sounds like Lopez is trying to construct an excuse for his not getting tenure (if he doesn’t). I don’t know his scholarly work, but if it is no better than the essays he has published about Regnerus, I would suspect that he doesn’t deserve tenure. He certainly is no deep thinker.

  19. James:

    I am amazed at how little Elizabeth Marquardt knows about social sciences methodology, including sampling.

    I don’t think being rude and condescending is as persuasive as you think it is. And by the way, sampling is not a major problem with Regnerus’ study, and nothing in Elizabeth’s post referred to sampling.

    The masturbation responses are pretty funny, and it points out a major problem in questionnaire design, but it doesn’t mean that the entire study can or should be dismissed. (I do think the entire study should be dismissed, but not for that reason).

    Scott:

    The Regnerus “study” has been thoroughly analyzed and found to be invalid scientifically.

    Agreed.

    But, the question is then, how did this happen, with a trained sociologist making so many egregious, baseline research and analysis “errors,” seeing as it is almost impossible to conceive of those errors having been made without the researcher’s understanding that they were errors?

    If I had to guess, I’d say it’s motivated reasoning. Did you see the recent study showing that the more educated a conservative is, the more likely s/he is to be a global warming denier? Intelligence and education don’t always provide greater understanding; sometimes they just provide more tools for rationalization.

    But rationalization isn’t scientific misconduct; it’s just bad science. And accepting money from where-ever you can get it is a well-established norm in the field.

    I hope that helps you to understand the difference between “ad hominem” references to a study’s funding source, and legitimate exposure of misconduct involving a researcher and his funding source.

    If you could show that Regnerus faked data, or plagiarized, that would be something. That would show deliberate dishonesty. But the social science community is not about to sanction someone for bad study design, or for accepting funds from a politically biased source.

    Your writing about the (not at all secret) connections between NOM and Robert George and Witherspoon (and this blog, for that matter) makes you sound like a conspiracy theorist, and going after Regnerus’ career is futile (it won’t work), makes you look vindictive, and plays into NOM’s “gay bullies” narrative.

    In short, although I genuinely admire your dedication and hard work, I think the strategy you’ve chosen is a bad one.

    A university employee, found to have knowingly promoted a fraudulent “study” to the public likely could be fired for cause from his university, because knowingly promoting fraudulent studies undermines the whole raison d’etre of a university.

    You don’t know that Lopez knows the Regnerus study to be “fraudulent.” Lopez has a HUGE chip on his shoulder, which makes him particularly susceptible to motivated reasoning. If so, then all he’s guilty of is being mistaken, and no one’s going to fire a professor for that. Furthermore, Lopez isn’t even a sociologist, so why would the university care? It doesn’t make Lopez any less qualified to teach English.

    Finally, there’s the matter of academic freedom. If professors are fired for speaking out in favor of a particular study, then why would any professor risk going against the tide, ever? Academic freedom requires the freedom to be wrong and make mistakes without losing your career.

  20. Elizabeth:

    Regnerus’ study was not badly designed, but rather limited in the analysis stage by the fact that precious few young adults right now were actually raised by same sex couples.

    When I referred to “the Regnerus study,” I wasn’t referring to the study he published in Social Science Research, not the entire New Families Structures Study (NFSS) project. It may well be that Rengerus or someone else will be able to publish future studies, based on some of the NFSS data, that will be good. (For instance, the detailed four-month diaries collected by NFSS may contain a wealth of good data.)

    But the study at hand can’t be legitimately defended by saying “it was limited in the analysis stage.” The question asked by this study was “How Different Are The Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?” The data collected can’t answer that question. As a study to answer that particular question, it’s fair to say that it’s badly designed study.

    He tried to say something about the lives of those raised by parents who had a same sex relationship. That portrait alone is worth knowing.

    Only if it’s accurate. The “portrait” painted by Regnerus’ study may be fictional, for all we know, because the portrait is not supported by good data.

    He also acknowledged limitations of the study in the paper itself and in popular writing he did about it.

    Actually, there are important limitations Regnerus didn’t acknowledge. And some of the limitations he acknowledged early in the paper, he apparently forgot about when he was drawing conclusions at the end of the paper.

    Anyhow, let’s not forget that fatal flaws don’t go away just because they’re acknowledged.

  21. Scott Rose says:

    @Barry Deutsch. First you said: “If I had to guess, I’d say it’s motivated reasoning.” Then you said: “But rationalization isn’t scientific misconduct” I’m not interested in your “guesses” being the basis for proving, or disproving, Regnerus’s scientific and scholarly misconduct.

  22. James writes:

    I am amazed at how little Elizabeth Marquardt knows about social sciences methodology, including sampling.

    And Scott Rose writes:

    You do not know the first thing about test-group, control-group comparison studies, if you think that the Regnerus study “was not badly designed.”

    To both of you:

    These and similar comments from you violate our civility policy. If you continue to make such comments, you will be banned from commenting. There will be no further warnings.

    And I want also to remind everyone that attacking our civility policy, or attacking those charged with enforcing it, is also a violation of the policy and is not permitted.

  23. Roger says:

    Re the comment above by James who said “It sounds like Lopez is trying to construct an excuse for his not getting tenure (if he doesn’t). I don’t know his scholarly work, but if it is no better than the essays he has published about Regnerus, I would suspect that he doesn’t deserve tenure. He certainly is no deep thinker.”

    Lopez was denied tenure at the Camden Campus of Rutgers University, and as far as I know that was before he achieved his fame as Internet poster.

  24. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “People should be able to express unpopular views. That is what academic freedom is about anyway.”

    But as academics, shouldn’t we hold them to a standard of truth that we don’t hold, say, Rush Limbaugh, to? Doesn’t it bother you to see someone using their academic position to promote untruths about a minority?

    I think it’s hard enough to find truth in the world, and separate fact from fiction. And I know enough to not automatically accept as gospel something from a college professor based solely on his position or title. But I think we really need to fight back when professors act as propagandists. Just as we should fight back when judges act impartially. We depend on people in some jobs to be truthful and unbiased. It should be a big deal when they are not.

  25. But as academics, shouldn’t we hold them to a standard of truth that we don’t hold, say, Rush Limbaugh, to? Doesn’t it bother you to see someone using their academic position to promote untruths about a minority?

    Regarding Lopez, I’d say he’s barely using his academic position. He’s mostly positioned himself as a bi person who (in his account) has been abused by the Big Bad Gay Establishment and who has suffered because he wasn’t raised by a married hetero couple.

    Regarding Regnerus, there is a large gray area between “Regnerus should never experience any negative feedback at all” and “Regnerus should be fired.” There’s been a lot of very effective pushback since the study came out, and that’s good. Fighting back, especially when that means showing people that this study is junk science, is good.

    But I don’t think calling for Regnerus to be fired is a good idea. It’s not the right thing to do if we favor academic freedom, and it’s also lousy strategy because it plays into NOM’s “gay bullies” narrative.

  26. JeffreyRO5 says:

    I know of no one who is calling for Regnerus to be fired. I think he should be, and likely will leave UT for an environment more congruent with his politics. I have made no public pronouncement nor any effort to see my desires enacted though. But academics have been dismissed for less egregious offenses.

    I don’t think we need to worry about NOM too much longer. They are a pretty marginalized force thanks to their own efforts. Lacking any substantial argument against legal same-sex marriage, they have resorted to tactics that have painted themselves as probably more hateful than they really are. They have executed some brilliant PR tactics but, again, lacking substance, they can only play on margins for any length of time. A facade is only good for so long, before enough people look behind the curtain and see there’s nothing there. Left with only rhetoric, they have to play it for all it’s worth, and have gone over the top too often to be taken seriously anymore.

    The pushback against the study is being cited as political correctness and the “gaystapo” at work. I don’t think that if someone were calling for Regnerus to be fired, that would be much worse, if at all.

  27. I think NOM remains a pretty significant force. I agree that their arguments aren’t very good, but bad arguments don’t negate political influence. In the long run, however, I think their cause is doomed. (This might be a subject for another post.)

    The pushback against the study is being cited as political correctness and the “gaystapo” at work. I don’t think that if someone were calling for Regnerus to be fired, that would be much worse, if at all.

    I think that if Regnerus is fired, the claims will seem more credible to moderates. I agree with you that no matter what happens, the extremists will be saying “oh nooooos! Gaystapo!,” but it’s what happens in the middle that I’m concerned about.

    That said, I want to repeat that I’m opposed to firing Regnerus – or efforts to have him formally punished by the university — on principle, not just because I think it’s bad strategy.

  28. Rebecca says:

    I think we really need to fight back when professors act as propagandists. Just as we should fight back when judges act impartially. We depend on people in some jobs to be truthful and unbiased. It should be a big deal when they are not.

    So college professors should be prohibited from arguing passionately and persuasively for or against anything? Or does it just depend on the issue? And since when have English professors been expected to be unbiased?

  29. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “So college professors should be prohibited from arguing passionately and persuasively for or against anything? Or does it just depend on the issue? And since when have English professors been expected to be unbiased?”

    As a reminder, we’re talking about an academic, Mark Regnerus, writing an article claiming he had data that says that children raised by gay parent(s) display troubling behavior or circumstances as adults. He said he has data that support that assertion. Yet he doesn’t. He lied. His article is therefore an opinion piece, not fact-based. It is fraudulently portrayed as a summary of his data. It most definitely is not.

    College professors, like everybody else, can speak out on whatever they feel like; they are entitled to their opinions. As the adage goes, they are not, however, entitled to their own facts. His data DO NOT SHOW THAT THE ADULT CHILDREN OF GAY PARENTS FARE WORSE THAN THE ADULT CHILDREN OF STRAIGHT PARENTS. Period. End of story.

    That other college professors like his opinion, and want it to be considered factual, is a separate problem. Mr. Lopez’ life is an anecdote. His desire for the Regnerus “study” to validate his personal dislike of his upbringing doesn’t make the Regnerus “study” any truer.

  30. Roger says:

    Lopez has free speech. He can write whatever he wants. Other people also have free speech and they can attack him.

    I am assuming that his essays about Regnerus will not be considered in his tenure review since they are not related to scholarship in any way. He should count himself lucky, for they would certainly harm his case.

    I have no idea what his scholarly record is other than noting that he was earlier denied tenure at Rutgers Camden.

    His tenure consideration at CSU Northridge will likely depend on his performance in areas of service, teaching, and research. Often in the category of service, collegiality is considered. If he has offended his colleagues, he may not do well in that category. His teaching will be judged in part by his teaching evaluations–if he has offended students, that could harm him there. His research should be judged on its quality not its ideology.

    As for Regnerus, if I were he I would not count on a promotion to Full Professor anytime soon.