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BOMBSHELL: Corruption Uncovered In Regnerus Anti-Gay Study Scandal

by Scott Rose on August 29, 2012

in Analysis,Legal Issues,News,Scott Rose

SOME BRIEF STORY BACKGROUND TO THE EXPLOSIVE BOMBSHELL SCOOP THAT IS REPORTED BELOW IN THIS POST

Mark Regnerus is an anti-gay-rights figure at the University of Texas at Austin.

The anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute had — for a  long time – cultivated a relationship with Regnerus before approaching him to commission a $785,000 study that would 1) demonize gay people and; 2) be available in time for pernicious exploitation during the 2012 elections.

The study — published on June 10, 2012 – was ostensibly, but not actually, on same-sex parents’ child outcomes.

And, it was purpose-designed and booby trapped for use against the rights of real-life gay parents in the present day, though it did not study them.

Top officials of the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute — the chief funder of the Regnerus study — also have positions of authority over the anti-gay-rights National Organization for Marriage.

NOM’s founder and mastermind Robert P. George, moreover, is a senior fellow with the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute, as well as a board member of the Family Research Council, an SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group known for spreading malicious falsehoods against its umpteen millions of victims, those umpteen millions of victims being the entire LGBT community as well as all heterosexuals who are supportive of LGBTers’ equality.

After all, a lesbian couples’ supportive grand-parents, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and brothers and sisters do not want Robert George and his anti-gay hate group(s) impinging on their families’ happiness with bullying non-acceptance of gay human beings.

Since the publication of the fraudulent Regnerus study, enemies of gay rights — led by Robert George’s Witherspoon InstituteNOM and FRC – have been perniciously exploiting the “study” as a basis for their anti-gay fear-and-hate-mongering disinformation campaigns.

In response to those anti-gay hate groups’ disinformation campaigns based on the fraudulent Regnerus study, responsible scientists have taken action to correct the scientific record to the public.

For example, a Golinski-case amicus brief analyzing the Regnerus study as scientifically invalid was jointly filed by 1) the American Psychological Association; 2) the California Psychological Association; 3) the American Psychiatric Association; 4) the National Association of Social Workers; and 5) its California Chapter; 6) the American Medical Association; 7) the American Academy of Pediatrics; and 8) the American Psychoanalytic Association.

In an echo of when the American Sociological Association banned Paul Cameron – (a gay-bashing charlatan whom Robert George’s anti-gay-rights groups love to quote) – and declared that Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, due to his intentional distortions of the scientific record, the American Sociological Association (ASA) is poised to take action against the Regnerus study.

Separately, over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s sent a letter to the journal Social Science Research, which published the fraudulent Regnerus study, complaining of its lack of intellectual integrity and its suspiciously rushed publication schedule.

THE ANTI-GAY-RIGHTS WITHERSPOON INSTITUTE’S BRAD WILCOX –
A REGNERUS SCANDAL CORRUPTION KINGPIN?

Keeping in mind that the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute was the main funder of the fraudulent, anti-gay Regnerus “study,” and that Regnerus got a known minimum of $785,000 in study funding:

1) Brad Wilcox is: Director of the Program on Marriage, Family, and Democracy at the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute, which funded Regnerus;

2) Brad Wilcox also is: An editorial board member of “Public Discourse,” which is published by the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute, which funded Regnerus;

3) Brad Wilcox also is: An editorial board member of the journal Social Science Research, which published the Regnerus study;

4) Brad Wilcox also has a history of professional collaboration with Mark Regnerus;

4)) Brad Wilcox also is: Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia;

5) Brad Wilcox also is: Documented as having been a paid Regnerus study consultant, and having assisted Regnerus with data analysis;

6) Brad Wilcox also is: Apparently, one of the peer reviewers whom editor James Wright allowed to rubber stamp the Regnerus study with unwarranted approval for publication;

7) Brad Wilcox also is: An editorial board member of the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute’s publication Public Discourse. Regnerus saw gay-bashing comments in support of his study, made on line by Robert Oscar Lopez. Regnerus contacted Lopez first and then conducted correspondence with him. Shortly thereafter, a gay-bashing essay in support of the Regnerus study appeared on Public Discourse, where Brad Wilcox of the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute, which funded Regnerus, is on the editorial board.

8) Brad Wilcox also is: among the 18 signers of a Baylor baptist university letter supporting the Regnerus study. The letter contains multiple deliberate distortions of scientific records, all in support of Regnerus, but in apparent violation of the American Sociological Association’s Code of Ethics for public communications about sociology.  According to a Baylor spokesperson“Baylor expects students not to participate in advocacy groups promoting an understanding of sexuality that is contrary to biblical teaching.” Four signers of the Baylor letter are officials with the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute, which funded the Regnerus study. In signing the Baylor letter, Brad Wilcox and three other Witherspoon officials failed to disclose their direct connection to Regnerus’s funding.

HOW DOES THIS ALL FIT TOGETHER?

Brad Wilcox of the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute has a long personal history with Mark Regnerus.

Luis Tellez, President of the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute also has a long personal history with Mark Regnerus.

The anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute approaches Regnerus about doing a gay parenting study, offering him a $55,000 “planning grant.”

With Regnerus’s anti-gay parenting study plan formed, heads of the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute arrange for Regnerus to have his known minimum study funding of $785,000.

Consultants with no expertise in gay parenting are paid to participate in the Regnerus study design. Regnerus includes some non-gay-bashers among the consultants, but is said to have paid no attention to their suggestions.

With the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox on the editorial board of the journal Social Science Research, the invalid, anti-gay Regnerus study zooms directly to the top of SSR editor James Wright‘s pile of 335 submissions.

The Regnerus submission gets a “Wham bam, thank you mam!” rush through Social Science Research‘s channels of approval for publication, seemingly appropriate to the various forms and levels of prostitution that were taking place.

In response to the science-based complaint letter sent to Social Science Research by over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s, editor-in-chief James Wright and editorial board member Darren Sherkat conspire in an “audit” of the publication of the Regnerus “study.” Sherkat says the study should never have been published, and releases information that the peer review was corrupt, yet exonerates Wright and says he may have made all of Wright’s same decisions.

Multiple journalists send Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Regnerus’s University of Texas at Austin (UT) for Regnerus-study related communications, including those between Regnerus and the Witherspoon Institute. Though UT officials can not decide whether Regnerus is going through a misconduct inquiry or a misconduct investigation at the school, UT asks Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for FOIA exemptions, claiming that releasing the requested communications could comprise UT’s investigation of Regnerus.

With multiple journalists believing that their Regnerus-related FOIA requests are stalled in limbo, Social Science Research‘s Darren Sherkat reveals the following in online comments:

“UT did respond to my FOIA seeking to identify conflicts of interests with anonymous reviewers and the editor of SSR.” (Bolding added).

As part of his “audit,” Sherkat learned the identify of the peer reviewers, whom SSR ordinarily keeps secret from the public.

SSR was intending to continue keeping the peer reviewers’ identities secret from the public.

However, the Freedom of Information Act request that Sherkat made to UT was for Regernus study-related documents that UT had involving those who did the peer review of the Regnerus study for Social Science Research.

And, because Sherkat had to specify the peer reviewers’ names in his FOIA request, in order to get the documentation that he wanted, whatever documentation UT gave him in response to the request would involve documentation for the peer reviewers.  But, the documentation would reflect work the peer reviewers had done on the Regnerus study, apart from peer reviewing it.

Sherkat needed that documentation from UT to check for conflicts of interest. (Boy, were there ever conflicts of interest!)

This reporter contacted the UT office that processes FOIA requests.

I said: “If UT’s rationale for not releasing any of the Regnerus study-related documentation was that releasing it would compromise the investigation of Regnerus, why did you release FOIA-requested documentation to Sherkat but not to the rest of us?”

Several days later, I received the same documentation UT sent to Sherkat.

Two of the same paid Regnerus study consultants appear also to have been Regnerus study peer reviewers:

1) Paul Amato; and

2) Brad Wilcox, of the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute, the chief funder of the Regnerus study

That is to say: 1) Brad Wilcox had a long, personal history with Mark Regnerus, and; 2) Brad Wilcox is an official at the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute, the chief known funder of the Regnerus study; and 3) Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox is on the editorial board of Social Science Research, which wound up publishing the Regnerus study, after; 4) Social Science Research editor James Wright permitted Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox, a paid Regnerus study consultant; to be a 5) peer reviewer, rubber stamping the Regnerus study for publication.

I spoke with Dr. Gary Gates of the Williams Institute about the the Regnerus peer reviewers’ conflicts of interest.

“The smoking gun here is that a majority of the peer reviewers had specific fiduciary conflicts of interest. This is known, irrefutable evidence that the Regnerus study was not published through appropriate professional peer review. As paid study consultants, these peer reviewers had economic interests in making sure the study got published. Their names in the profession were invested into the Regnerus study, because they had been paid to consult on it. If their study design turned out to produce a study not suitable for publication, then their ability to get future paid study consulting jobs would be affected. If it’s true that one of the paid consultants also is with Witherspoon, which funded the Regnerus study, then that escalates this problematic situation up to another level. The main issue with conflicts of interest is the perception of bias. The duty of the journal editor and more broadly of the academy, is to be sure that the thing is free of conflicts of interest. The basic fact that peer reviewers were paid study consultants is enough to invalidate the peer review process. In the interest of science, the study should be retracted and put through genuine professional peer review, with none of the reviewers having any conflicts of interest. It is objectively true that two peer reviewers had fiduciary conflicts of interest. It is further true that a mass of prominent experts in the field picked up on the study’s methodological flaws that the peer reviewers allowed through. Whether or not the peer reviewer’s fiduciary conflicts of interest were the reasons they missed the study’s methodological problems, the peer review process was not valid. Social Science Research editor James Wright, and Elsevier, the publisher, should be extremely worried about the reputation of their journal in the academy and beyond. Commentators, including the editor Dr. Wright, can say what they want; Wright’s views on this are not shared by the leaders in his field. Our science-based letter of complaint to be posted shortly includes the signatures of the editor-in-chief of the leading academic journal for family sociologists, The Journal of Marriage and Family, and of Dr. Erik Olin Wright, President of the American Sociological Association. The Regnerus study should be retracted from publication and put through genuine professional peer review.”

To sign a petition telling the editorial board of Social Science Research to 1) salvage the ethically contaminated reputation of their journal; by 2) retracting the Regnerus study from publication and putting it through ethically appropriate and professional peer review prior to any future eventual re-publication, go here.

 

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

 

 

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{ 12 comments }

MichaelR3491 August 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm

WOW! An anti-gay-rights hate group (NOM) got an anti-gay-rights foundation (Witherspoon) to pay $785,000 to an anti-gay-rights "researcher" for a study that "proves" being gay is bad. Can you believe it?

Now, my Wife works with World-Class medical researchers at a World-Class US University. She will tell you that, if one of those World-Class researchers published results that were false, tainted or in any way compromised, the World-Class University would take swift action. One wonders how UT Austin will react.

Robroberts2009 August 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Any person or institution affiliated with this sham study should be embarrased and ashamed.

NOM do themselves a huge disfavor by funding studies like this: they are transparent anti-gay propoganda, and the fact that the study is built on lies and deception is a HUGE admission that the facts and the science are on the gays side. After all, why lie if you think truth is on your side?

I hope reputations are shattered and careers ended by this blatent act of academic terrorism against an entire population group.

Str8Grandmother August 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Here is the link to the documents released under a Freedom of Information Act Request that clearly show Paul R Amato out of Penn State and W Brad Wilcox out of the University of Virginia as being paid consultants.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/104355459/NFSS-FIOA-Ama

Ampersand August 29, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Scott, can you please scan and put online the documents showing that Wilcox and Amato were peer reviewers of the Regnerus study? I don't doubt you, but I think other people will if the evidence isn't posted online.

Thank you very much.

Scott_Rose August 29, 2012 at 11:30 pm

At the link below are UT/Regnerus's contracts for Regnerus independent contractor study consultant work to be done by Paul Amato and Brad Wilcox. In my post above, I explain in full detail how we know that these two study consultants were also peer reviewers of the Regnerus study.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/104355459/NFSS-FIOA-Ama

Ampersand August 30, 2012 at 12:00 am

Scott, thanks. I think I'm following the logic now.

I hope you believe I'm on your side here; I agree that the Regnerus study was far below meeting usual academic standards for a study of this type, and I think something clearly went critically wrong with the peer review process.

However, I'm not convinced the evidence here is ironclad. I'm trying to look at this in the way someone skeptical of your story would look at it.

You quote Sherkat saying “UT did respond to my FOIA seeking to identify conflicts of interests with anonymous reviewers and the editor of SSR.” However, that's not very specific — it may be that Sherkat asked for information about people who had no conflict of interest, and UT responded by telling him they had no documentation regarding any of those people.

Sherkat could additionally have made a FOIA request about Wilcox and Amato (both of whom were already known to be involved with the study). That seems perfectly plausible to me, unless you have some information showing that Sherkat never made any FOIA requests other than the request for information on the peer reviewers. As far as I know, it's common for investigators and auditors to make multiple FOIA requests relating to a single case.

Is there evidence ruling out this skeptical interpretation?

(Full disclosure: I'm a blogger at Family Scholars Blog. Brad Wilcox is also an infrequent blogger there, and we've had friendly disagreements. I do not know Brad Wilcox in real life.)

Scott_Rose August 30, 2012 at 12:05 am

The way you maybe want to think, is that somebody was thinking one step ahead of you, and made a FOIA request for Sherkat's FOIA request(s). One can ask for "All FOIA requests received by UT from Sherkat for any and all documentation related to Regnerus's New Family Structures Study in any way."

StanleyJames August 30, 2012 at 3:06 am

what else woud you expect in much of texas = the home of the james byrd dragging death by a bunch of kluxers , two of whom got their well deserved meeting with old sparky, though in this particular burtal cirme we should cut them up for spare parts to save other people

and the state with Gov Perrys's hunting grounds whose sign over hte gate said "NIxxerhead Ranch"

I'm sure if jews were in his focus, along with his Kluxer pals the sign woudl be changed

ARBEIT MACHT FREI

(The sign ove the auchwitz gate, where jews, gays andothers ended up)

why no blacks by that bitch catholic racist AH = there werent any in Germany at that time

cjonesnj August 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

Be sure not to let this languish in Labor Day weekend obscurity while everyone is away at the beach. This needs to be put fresh at the top of everyone's news feed next week. Scott, your tenacity is remarkable.

bsradar August 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm

The entire article is a nothing burger.

There is *no evidence at all* presented in the article that supports the claim that Paul Amato and Brad Wilcox were on the peer review committee.

Complete fabrication.

Scott_Rose August 31, 2012 at 12:58 am

Actually, there is direct evidence. Social Science Research editorial board member Darren Sherkat carried out the audit of the publication process for the Regnerus study. SSR has a single blind peer review system, meaning that the peer reviewers are told the author of the paper they are reviewing, but the author is not told who the peer reviewers are. Normally, only the editor-in-chief, James Wright, who assigns submissions to peer reviewers, knows the identify of the peer reviewers. For the audit, however, Sherkat was told the names of the peer reviewers. One of the reasons he was told their names, was so that he could check for conflicts of interest they might have had. The way for him to check for eventual conflicts of interest, was for him to make a Freedom of Information Act request to the University of Texas, giving UT the names of the peer reviewers, and saying that if any of the peer reviewers had consulting contracts on the Regnerus study, those were the documents he needed, because that's where the conflicts of interest would be. A reporter learned that UT had fulfilled Sherkat's FOIA request, and made a FOIA request for the same documents that UT provided to Sherkat. The two names of Regnerus study consultants on those contracts were 1) Dr. Paul Amato; and 2) Dr. Brad Wilcox. Interviewed about the audit, SSR editor-in-chief James Wright told the Chronicle of Higher Education that two of the peer reviewers were paid consultants on Regnerus's New Family Structures Study.

bsradar September 2, 2012 at 11:40 am

"n an Aug. 24 memorandum, University of Texas research integrity officer Robert Peterson stated that “Professor Regnerus did not commit scientific misconduct when designing, executing and reporting the research published in the Social Science Research article.”

“In brief, Mr. Rose believed that the Regnerus research was seriously flawed and inferred that there must be scientific misconduct,” Peterson stated. “However, there is no evidence to support that inference.”

As part of the inquiry, Peterson interviewed both the accuser and the accused and sequestered Regnerus’ research and correspondence, which included four laptops, two desktop computers and 42,000 of his emails.

In addition, to ensure that the inquiry was conducted appropriately and fairly, the university hired Alan Price as an outside, independent consultant. Price served for 17 years in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Research Integrity. There, he and a staff of senior scientists saw, handled and resolved more than 3,000 charges of scientific misconduct, leading Price to state that no one in the U.S., or for that matter, in the world, has more experience in this area than he does."
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/university-o

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