BRIEF STORY BACKGROUND
A hoax study designed to demonize gays was 1) funded by the NOM-linked Witherspoon Institute; 2) carried out by the University of Texas at Austin’s Mark Regnerus and; 3) now is being deployed as an anti-gay-rights weapon in DOMA cases as well as in the 2012 elections.
In their early days, the National Organization for Marriage and the Witherspoon Institute shared an office in Princeton, New Jersey. Witherspoon president Luis Tellez has been a NOM board member for as long as NOM has existed.
Furthermore, having Robert George — a notorious anti-gay bigot — in common in their leaderships, NOM and Witherspoon also share long histories of telling demonizing lies against gays.
Some suspect NOM and Witherspoon of having played an IRS shell game to get the Regnerus study funded. In August, NOM in California admitted to 18 violations of campaign finance laws and paid a fine to the California Fair Political Practices Commisison.
REGNERUS ANTI-GAY STUDY PUBLISHED THROUGH CORRUPT PEER REVIEW
The Regnerus study is documented as having been published through corrupt peer review, with the corruption involving officials of Regnerus’s chief funding agency, the Witherspoon Institute.
Regnerus himself tells untruths to the public, attempting to cover up his unethical relationships with his Witherspoon funders. For example, in his published study – as well as in an upcoming document of Additional Analyses – Regnerus states that none of his funding agency representatives have participated in his data analyses. In reality, though, a Regnerus funding agency representative — Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox — was paid $2,000 to assist Regnerus with data analysis on his study.
Regnerus has not replied to e-mails asking for explanations of why he continues to claim that his funders have not participated in data analyses on his study, even though the world sees that his funder Brad Wilcox got paid $2,000 for data analysis on his study.
Another character who has ignored e-mail questions about that false statement in Regnerus’s study is Regnerus’s Social Science Journal journal editor James Wright.
An ever-accumulating weight of evidence, meanwhile, more than merely suggests that the publication of Regnerus’s hoax study was orchestrated through old boy network Witherspoon connections with James Wright.
REGNERUS’S WITHERSPOON FUNDERS HOLD OLD BOY NETWORK LEVERS OF POWER AND INFLUENCE AT THE JOURNAL THAT PUBLISHED THE REGNERUS STUDY
The Witherspoon old boy network kingpin of those connections to Wright is W. Bradford Wilcox. Wilcox — besides being Director of the Witherspoon program that funds Regnerus — is an editorial board member of Wright’s journal Social Science Research that published Regnerus’s study. Wilcox speaks at events sponsored by NOM, along with figures such as NOM’s William Duncan, who calls homosexuals sub-human.
Wright, Wilcox and Regnerus are linked through a shadow figure in the Regnerus study scandal; the late Dr. Steven Nock.
DR. STEVEN NOCK’S CONNECTION TO THE ANTI-GAY REGNERUS SCANDAL
In Halpern v. Canada — a marriage case — Nock was asked to submit an affidavit for the anti-equality side, which at that time was the Canadian government.
Nock’s affidavit has two parts. The first part gives rules for carrying out a large national random sample study of gay parents’ child outcomes — the type of study Regnerus alleges he did. The second part of Nock’s affidavit alleges that every gay parenting study ever to show results favorable to gay parents had a fatal flaw. (An affidavit from Dr. Judith Stacey and Dr. Timothy Biblarz told the same court about the fatal errors in Nock’s reasoning; the Court decided in favor of marriage equality).
The structure of Nock’s affidavit — and that is to say, Nock’s tactic for arguing against gay rights to a court — got imitated when the Regnerus study — purportedly a large, national random sample study — got propagandistically paired in publication with a study by Loren Marks, who casts aspersions on gay parenting studies that either 1) are not the Regnerus study or; 2) are favorable to gay parents.
Witherspoon created a stand-alone site that promotes the Regnerus and Marks studies in tandem, and with an anti-gay-rights slant.
There is a Nock connection to that Witherspoon site, even though Nock is dead.
First we will review Nock’s connections to Social Science Research editorial board members James Wright and Brad Wilcox, who directs the Witherspoon program that funded Regnerus.
Wright and Nock were long-time friends and associates. Wright co-authored a book on covenant marriage with Nock. Their covenant marriage book is subtitled The Movement to Reclaim Tradition in America.
After Nock’s premature death, Wright dedicated a marriage-themed issue of Social Science Research to Nock. Wright’s issue dedicated to Nock includes a paper by Wilcox.
Nock and Wilcox frequently collaborated at the University of Virginia.
REGNERUS WANTED TO FULFILL NOCK’S AMBITIONS
The Witherspoon stand-alone site to promote the Marks and Regnerus studies said that Regnerus, wanting to realize Nock’s ambition of carrying out a large random sample study of gay parents, approached Witherspoon to ask if it would fund the study.
Two things are striking about that Witherspoon claim.
For one, Regnerus did not follow any of Nock’s main rules for carrying out a large random sample study of same-sex parents’ child outcomes.
To provide a first example of that, Nock said that a researcher would need to include at least 800 gay parents; Regnerus only included 236 children of parents he spuriously mislabeled as lesbian or gay. For another example; Nock said that if a researcher did not assemble an appropriate comparison group, that researcher’s study of same-sex parents would be invalid. Regnerus did not assemble an appropriate comparison group, something that has been a mainstay of science-based criticism of the Regnerus study.
The other striking thing about Witherspoon’s claim that Regnerus approached Witherspoon about doing a gay parenting study, is that Witherspoon president Tellez and Regnerus both have told the Austin American-Statesman the opposite thing; that Witherspoon had the idea for the study, and then approached Regnerus about doing it.
To repeat for emphasis: Nock was a close and long-time collaborator of Social Science Research editor James Wright. Witherspoon says that Regnerus’s goal with his study was to fulfill Nock‘s ambition of doing a gay parenting study. Regnerus’s study was published in the journal where Nock‘s friend Wright is editor-in-chief and Regnerus’s funder Witherspoon’s Wilcox — a Nock associate — is on the editorial board.
No author of a scientific paper should ever get their paper published through old boy connections for business and political reasons without having their paper properly vetted by topic experts.
Yet, that is what happened with the Regnerus submission to Social Science Research; without valid scientific peer review of the Regnerus study, Nock’s old boy network of James Wright and Regnerus funder Brad Wilcox arranged for the Regnerus hoax to be published for business and political reasons.
WHY DOES IT MATTER WHETHER WITHERSPOON APPROACHED REGNERUS FIRST?
If Regnerus had the idea for the study, sought funding from different sources, and then just happened to get funded mainly by Witherspoon, that would be one thing, though that circumstance would not change that Regnerus got published through corrupt peer review.
However, if Witherspoon had the idea for a gay parenting study, and then approached Regnerus — who has no training in the science of homosexuality — that would bring even better into focus how Witherspoon orchestrated the hoax through its old boy network connections to the Elsevier journal Social Science Research.
There is, indeed, a certain compelling appearance that Witherspoon 1) got its ducks lined up with Social Science Research to get the twinned Marks and Regnerus studies published; 2) even before Regnerus began work on his study. Bolstering that appearance is the fact that a third party scholar told us that he attended a Witherspoon conference about a desired gay parenting study in the fall of 2010. Our source says that the meeting was headed by Witherspoon president and NOM board member Luis Tellez. At that time, it had not yet been determined, who would carry out Witherspoon’s desired study on gay parenting. Regnerus and Wilcox were present at the meeting, as was David Eggebeen, a virulently anti-gay-rights figure and member of the Witherspoon old boy network who was later permitted to write one of the commentaries accompanying the Regnerus and Marks studies.
REGNERUS PUBLISHED THANKS ONLY TO AN OLD BOY NETWORK
The conflagration of circumstances that go against science publishing ethics but in favor of anti-gay-rights political promotions of the twinned Marks and Regnerus studies is in any event simply too meaningful to be ignored. When Regnerus’s funders delete incriminating evidence from their websites, this conflagration of circumstances is what they are trying to prevent the public from understanding.
To review those circumstances, now:
1) Regnerus’s funding agency representative Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox is on the editorial board of the journal that simultaneously published the Marks and Regnerus studies. The Marks study devalues smaller studies of gay parenting that in truth are valid as smaller studies; the Marks study has an evident propagandistic intent of building up the public image of the Regnerus study for being, supposedly, valid as a large random sample study. However, the Regnerus study is not valid as a large random sample study. Both the Marks and Regnerus studies are of abysmal quality from a scientific point of view. Social Science Research editor James Wright receives more than 325 submissions yearly. In that flood of submissions — some of them almost doubtless scientifically valid — how did the lousy Marks and Regnerus studies get to the top of editor James Wright’s pile, if not by an intervention from Wright’s and Nock’s old friend — and his editorial board member, and Regnerus’s funder — Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox?
2) Wright processed the Regnerus study from submission to acceptance in just 42 days without giving it to any gay parenting topic experts for peer review. The Social Science Research Peer Review Policy, meanwhile, says that authors should expect to wait months just for the editor to find appropriate peer reviewers. It appears that virtually no other featured studies have ever been processed from submission to acceptance so quickly and without benefit of valid peer review at Social Science Research. Many of the peer reviewers had conflicts of interest, including that they had gotten money from Regnerus’s funder Witherspoon; one person was allowed to peer review both the Marks and Regnerus papers. That is to say, the shocking and irresponsible rush process through which the scientifically invalid Regnerus submission got accepted for publication occurred only due to the Wright-Wilcox old boy network.
3) Ordinarily, when commentaries about new studies are published alongside those new studies, a science journal editor will — of course — seek out topic experts with no conflicts of interest. By contrast, the three people Social Science Research editor James Wright had do the commentaries on the Regnerus and Marks studies — Cynthia Osborne, Paul Amato, and David Eggebeen — were non-topic experts with inappropriate connections to the Witherspoon Institute, including that some had gotten money from Witherspoon on the Regnerus study. Each of the three commentary writers created “golden nugget promotional quotes” for the Regnerus study that Witherspoon, NOM and other associated groups have been using aggressively in anti-gay-rights campaigns.
4) For having let the methodologically invalid Regnerus study through into publication, Wright quickly was publicly humiliated when over 200 leading scholars in fields relevant to gay parenting sent him a letter expressing concerns about the validity of the Regnerus study and the suspicious rush process through which it was published. Anti-gay bigots of course consider James Wright a hero, but had Wright allowed similarly invalid garbage to be published on a topic without bigots hanging their hateful hopes on the garbage, he would be isolated with nobody supporting him. The garbage he published would not be bringing right wing anti-gay bigots in droves to his journal site, and therefore, his journal’s publisher Elsevier would not be backing him up for publishing the garbage, either. The only reason that Elsevier and Wright can continue to benefit from Wright’s having published unscientific garbage is that hoards of anti-gay bigots are hugely enthusiastic about the garbage that Wright published. Hoping to shut his critics up, Wright had Social Science Research editorial board member Darren Sherkat conduct a sham audit of the publication of the Marks and Regnerus studies. In line with publisher Elsevier’s ongoing business goals for the Regnerus study, but not in line with science publishing ethics, Sherkat reported that almost nobody acted with professionalism in the publication of the Regnerus study — he even wrote in his audit that scholars with conflicts of interest who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the peer review process — yet Sherkat held nobody accountable for the mountainous dereliction of science publishing duty involved in the publication of the Marks study along with the Regnerus study. As a sociologist whose position on the Social Science Research editorial board is a building block for his career, Sherkat had a conflict of interest in carrying out the audit. To put it another way, a disinterested third party should have carried out the audit, and Sherkat is not a disinterested third party.
5) Had Regnerus submitted his study to a science journal without one of his funders on the journal’s editorial board, he never would have gotten his study published in one such journal through ethical and appropriate, professional peer review done by gay parenting topic experts without conflicts of interest. He never would have been allowed three Witherspoon-connected, non-topic experts writing the commentaries about his study, in the process providing him and his funders with “gold nugget promotional quotes” for his study, with its invalid methodology booby-trapped against gays. The only way that Regnerus got this astonishing, and otherwise impossible promotional packaging for his scientifically invalid study, was through Wright’s and Wilcox’s old boy network business partnership in the deal. Wright, Wilcox and Regnerus thought the public could be told that none of Regnerus’s funding agency representatives participated in his study’s data analyses, and that no journalist would ever subsequently discover Wilcox’s Regnerus study consulting contract for data analysis. Confronted with the evidence of Wilcox’s contract, and asked why Wright published Regnerus’s false claim that none of his funding agency representatives participated in his data analysis, Wright, Wilcox and Regnerus have refused to answer that question.
HOW ELSE HAVE REGNERUS’S FUNDERS INCRIMINATED THEMSELVES?
This reporter sent e-mails to each of Tellez, Wright, Wilcox and Regnerus, questioning the information on Witherspoon’s stand-alone site promoting the Marks and Regnerus studies.
Those e-mails asked why the Witherspoon site claimed that Regnerus, inspired by Nock, approached Witherspoon about doing a study on gay parenting. The e-mails noted that Witherspoon’s president Tellez and Regnerus elsewhere said that Witherspoon approached Regnerus about a study on gay parenting. Additionally, the e-mails inquired about the apparent Nock-Wright-Wilcox old boy axis connected to the publication of the Marks and Regnerus studies. And moreover, the e-mails asked why Regnerus did not follow any of Nock’s most important rules for carrying out a large random sample study on same-sex parents’ child outcomes.
Tellez, Wright, Wilcox and Regnerus did not respond.
However, Witherspoon subsequently scrubbed all of the references to Nock — and to Regnerus approaching Witherspoon about doing a study — off of the “About” page on its stand-alone site promoting the Marks and Regnerus studies.
Seemingly, Witherspoon understood it had been caught with its pants down, having told one thing to the Austin Statesman — namely, that Witherspoon approached Regnerus about doing the study — while its own site was saying the opposite thing — that Regnerus had approached Witherspoon first, inspired to carry out the study that Nock wanted to do, before Nock died prematurely.
Witherspoon, however, did not scrub the Nock references from the Spanish-version language of its site for the Marks and Regnerus studies, where the About page is called “Sobre.”
In case Witherspoon now tries to scrub the Nock references from its “Sobre” page, we have saved a screen shot of it (image, top). Here is part of the relevant copy from Witherspoon’s Sobre page, followed by an English translation:
“Deseando seguir las huellas del Dr. Nock y realizar esa investigación, el Dr. Regnerus y otros, acudieron al Instituto Witherspoon, un centro independiente de investigación, localizado en Princeton, NJ—y autor de este sitio web—con objeto de buscar ayuda para financiar el estudio que vino a resultar en el NFSS.”
(English translation by Scott Rose): Wanting to follow in the footprints of Dr. Nock and to carry out this study, Dr. Regnerus and others approached the Witherspoon Institute, an independent research center in Princeton, N.J. — and the publisher of this web site — with the aim of seeking funding for the study that eventually was called the NFSS (New Family Structures Study).
WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN NEXT?
It is long, long past time for Regnerus, the Witherspoon Institute, James Wright and other parties involved to give the public full documentation of the genesis, design, funding, carrying out, publication and promotions of the Marks and Regnerus studies. Where Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed, those parties largely are seeking to keep their communications about the studies hidden through stonewalling tactics. Elsevier and Social Science Research, as a private business, are beyond the reach of FOIA requests. Nonetheless, they should start to make amends for having undermined the trust on which science is based, by giving the public a full and truthful accounting of how the Marks and Regnerus studies came to be published in Social Science Research. Clearly, when the Regnerus paper was submitted to Social Science Research on February 1, 2012, that was not the first date that Witherspoon’s Wilcox and James Wright knew that the paper would be submitted to Social Science Research. It is beyond all question that a responsible science journal editor would retract the Regnerus study from publication, given that the study received no valid peer review. Elsevier, Wright, Wilcox and Sherkat have played the public for suckers, by carrying out a sham “audit” that never once mentions the Social Science Research editorial board member who also is a Regnerus funder, Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox. Obviously, any full, truthful accounting of how the Marks and Regnerus studies came to be published in the journal where Regnerus’s funder Wilcox sits on the editorial board would have to report all details of Wilcox’s involvement in the publication of the two studies. At present, the publication not only is not telling the public what role Wilcox played; it is actually lying by saying that Wilcox did not participate in Regnerus study data analysis, though Wilcox signed a contract and was paid $2,000 for Regnerus study data analysis.
To sign a petition telling Elsevier to retract the Regnerus study from 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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