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Sociology Dept. Chair Calls For Retraction Of Anti-Gay Regnerus Study

by Scott Rose on October 11, 2012

in Bigotry Watch,Hate Groups,Human Rights,Scott Rose


Two professors call for retraction of the Regnerus article and actions against the editor of the Social Science Research Journal 

A hoax study on gay parenting funded by the NOM-linked Witherspoon Institute and marked by deliberate deception and fraud is currently being used as a weapon in the courts and in the 2012 elections.

I asked Dr. Michael Schwartz, Chair of the Sociology Department of Stony Brook University, if he would call for retraction of the Regnerus study, which was published in Elsevier’s journal Social Science Research on June 10, 2012.

In an e-mail response, Dr. Schwartz told me:

“I believe that the journal should retract its acceptance of the article and will sign a collective appeal to Elsevier.  For me, the retraction is needed primarily because the review process was compromised in several critical ways, and that therefore publication as a peer-reviewed publication was and is inappropriate.”

In addition, I have now read and analyzed the article myself, and also read some of the critical (and supportive) commentaries on it.  It seems clear to me that if the article had been properly reviewed, that a whole menu of flaws in the research, in the analysis, and in the interpretation of evidence would make the article unpublishable.

In addition to the many flaws you point to in your commentary, one that I think is among the most salient is failing to report the evidence for children whose biological parents who did not live together until the child was 18, but who did not have gay affairs (that their children knew about).

Also, I think that actions of the editor, James Wright–including the review process, the publication of the article with invited commentaries from collaborators, the subsequent failure to give space to legitimate criticisms of the article, and other editorial misconduct–should be professionally sanctioned.  In addressing Elsevier, I think it would be appropriate to demand that they replace Wright with a new editor who will not violate the norms and values of scholarly publication.”

Dr. Kenneth Sherrill is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Hunter College, also weighed in on the controversial article.  He told me:

The Publisher and the Editorial Board should be called upon to remove the editor of the journal. He has acted with what seems to me to be extraordinary irresponsibility and dereliction of duty. They should make a public statement of their action and they should publish that statement along with their rationale.” Dr. Sherrill also says: “Most importantly, the journal should publish a special issue on the theory and method of the Regnerus study. The journal has a professional responsibility to make the critiques public.


New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on,, The New York Blade,, 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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Str8Grandmother October 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Maybe it will be helpful to the readers if I excerpted a portion from the just published audit of the Peer Review so you can see what the Social Scientists are complaining about. It is kind of long but once you read it you will understand. Dr. Darren Sherkat completed an audit for the Editor of the Journal Dr. James Wright Sherkat states in part-

"Wright turned first to two editorial board members who work on topics related to the papers—and one of these board members reviewed both papers. Wright attempted to get five reviews for the Regnerus paper and he secured three reviewers, …"

"…while all four scholars who were asked agreed to review the Marks paper (which is unusual). Two of the reviewers indicated that they had a potential conflict of interest related to consulting on the Regnerus paper but both averred that this consulting relationship would not preclude an objective, critical assessment; …"

"Quantitative family scholars tend to be conservative, and three of the six reviewers for these two articles are bone fide conservatives— scholars who are on public record opposing marriage rights for LGBT persons"

"The reviewers are not without some connection to Regnerus. Two admitted to being paid consultants on the Regnerus study…"

"In any case, with two exceptions the reviewers certainly did not mention their conflicts of interest, and the editor could not have known. Can you make an unbiased decision about research you have consulted on a project? When you are former colleagues? When the paper is authored by a former coauthor? When you have been funded by the same foundations?
*The above comments refer to the six total Peer Reviewers of Dr. Loren Marks paper (an anti gay paper) And the Peer Reviewers of Regnerus’ paper that was published in the same issue. The Editor Dr. James Wright at the University of Central Florida did not tell Dr. Sherkat who Peer Reviewed Dr. Marks paper and who Peer Reviewed Dr. Regnerus’ paper we just know that there were 7 Peer Reviews of both papers in total, and one person reviewed both papers so that makes 6 individuals who conducted a Peer Review. Dr. Sherkat states in his audit, “I do not know which of the six reviewers reviewed which of the two manuscripts;”

Well what kind of an audit is that? If Dr. Wright the Editor of The Journal, did NOT give Dr. Sherkat the names of who exactly Peer reviewed the Regnerus paper how could Sherkat determine if there was a conflict of interest? That doesn't make sense, it sure looks like a sham.

More here –

Why did Dr. Willcox suddenly confess that he worked on the research WITH Regnerus, even though Regnerus claimed that no one from Witherspoon nor the Bradley Foundation participated in the research? and

I am deeply indebted to Scott Rose for his continued efforts to keep digging for the truth when most every other journalist moved on past the story.

Robroberts2009 October 12, 2012 at 5:24 am

The Regnerus study is quickly becoming synonymous with fraud, and is a laughingstock of the scientific community. It is also a posterboy for the bigoted hate-group fringe community.

The longer this "study" stands, the more damage it does to the reputations and standing of everyone involved with it, from its funding to continued promotion. Every day its existence informs more and more people that there is a hate industry that brazenly uses junk science and fraudulent theories to deamonize gay families and try and subvert the progress of the equality movement.

I propose we let this "study" continue to be used as it has become a powerful tool for the progressive equality movement, a laughably pathetic fraud that is opening more and more eyes to the transparent agenda of hate groups like the "National Organization of Marraige" and the "Family Research Council". The more these groups promote junk-science and discredited propoganda like the Regnerus study the quicker these fringe hate groups will be relegated to the status of the KKK and discarded to the dustbin of history.

Scott_Rose October 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Unfortunately, the angle in which you portray the situation is only one aspect of a broader reality. Yes, in certain quarters the Regnerus hoax is viewed with well-merited disdain. Elsewhere though, those who commissioned it and their allies are having success with it, in ways that hurt real people. One of the most disturbing things in this, is that the journal editor who enabled the hoax to see publication, Elsevier's James Wright, also is that company's editor-in-chief for an upcoming Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Wright clearly exercised extremely poor judgment in approving the Regnerus hoax for publication. From his own public statements about how this happened, it is evident that he is motivated more through greed than through respect for science, to say nothing of respect for the victims of this crap. Moreover, the very powerful people who commissioned this gay-bashing, scientifically invalid hit job from Regnerus now know that Wright and his publisher, Elsevier, can be bought. What in the world is to stop Elsevier and Wright from unleashing a tsumani of gay-bashing pseudoscience in that upcoming Encyclopedia? I think too many are complacent about what Elsevier and Wright are likely to do in the future, having done this, and so far, gotten away with it with impunity. It isn't just that the study was published, either. It's that Wright published it with an entire promotional package that contains distortions of science as a propaganda boost to the Regnerus study itself. The co-lead investigator, Cynthia Osborne, was permitted to publish a commentary alongside the Regnerus study, making for it the false claim that it used a representative sample of young adults whose parents have had same-sex relationships. If Wright does not understand why the sample is not representative of persons in that demographic, how in the world is he entrusted with editing an Encyclopedia?

Robroberts2009 October 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Scott — your points are well taken and I don't mean to minimize the damage that this "study" can cause.

In many ways I see this "study" as being similar to Mitt Romneys lies — he can tell them with impunity to his base, and even believe he is getting away with it. But to anyone with a modicum of intelligence Romney is a sad joke.

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