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Post image for University Of Texas Releases Docs Related To Controversial Regnerus Parenting Study

University Of Texas Releases Docs Related To Controversial Regnerus Parenting Study

by Sofia Resnick At The American Independent on February 6, 2013

in News

The University of Texas at Austin has begun releasing university records surrounding UT sociology professor Mark Regnerus’ controversial “New Family Structures Study,” following the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s recent ruling in favor of an American Independent records request.

Shortly after Regnerus’ initial findings were published in June 2012, TAI filed multiple open-records requests with UT for documents and communications related to the study. It has taken numerous months, with the university arguing that the requested information was not subject to the state’s open records law. UT made various arguments asserting that all of the requested information was exempt from disclosure, such as citing an internal investigation over the study, arguing that technological and scientific information requested was proprietary, and arguing that some of the requested communications were personal.

In December the attorney general issued an opinion that UT had to turn over a number of the documents, the first batch of which was released to TAI today.

We’ll make these documents available after we review them.

Our interest in these records lies in wanting to better understand the process behind the NFSS study design, as well as the relationship between the study’s conservative funders, particularly the Witherspoon Institute, and the research team.

Regnerus’ initial paper, published in Social Science Research, suggested that children of gay and lesbian parents fare worse than children raised by a married mom and dad — comparing children raised in households with two biological parents to children raised in families where one parent at some point had a same-sex relationship, regardless of whether the child lived with that parent. The study faced a barrage of criticism for what many sociologists and journalists have deemed to be faulty comparisons.

The study survived a scientific misconduct investigation prompted by New Civil Rights Movement blogger Scott Rose, which found no evidence of wrongdoing. Last November,Social Science Research released an internal audit of Regnerus’ study, which found no instances of wrongdoing within the publishing and peer-review process. However, Darren Sherkat, an outspoken critic of Regnerus who conducted the audit, concluded that Regnerus’ paper and the companion piece written by Louisiana State University professor Loren Marks should never have been published.

Despite all of the criticism, this research has been promoted and lauded by opponents of same-sex marriage and has been used on several occasions in federal court to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and bans on same-sex marriage. Just this week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Hollingsworth v. Perry set to determine whether California’s ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional. In the brief, Regnerus’ paper is cited to support the statement, “A mother and father each bring something unique and irreplaceable to child-rearing that the other cannot.”

The study still has opportunities to be influential, though now that Regnerus hasuploaded the NFSS data to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan, other social scientists have the opportunity to study the data and come to their own conclusions.

Regnerus himself has continued scrutinizing the NFSS data and blogging about various associations, such as a correlation between women’s desire for sex and their political leanings and a correlation between men’s porn use and their support for same-sex marriage, concluding: “young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and a noble commitment to fairness. It may be, at least in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts.”

 

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This article originally appeared at The American Independent and is republished here by permission.

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{ 5 comments }

cipher February 6, 2013 at 9:07 am

Regnerus himself has continued scrutinizing the NFSS data and blogging about various associations, such as a correlation between women’s desire for sex and their political leanings

Bottom line: liberal women like sex. That makes them immoral.

The fact that in this conservative hegemony, an ideologue like Regnerus can get a research grant depresses me utterly. AND he teaches at Austin. Isn't that where Texas supposedly keeps its liberals (both of them)?

cplantin February 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

The Regnerus abstract for his newer article is telling: "Young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and fairness. It may be, in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts." First, he uses the loaded phrase "redefining marriage" when he could as easily — or more accurately — have called it marriage equality. And he mistakes correlation with causation. Just because two factors are more prevalent in a population doesn't mean that one causes the other. There may be other factors at work. For instance, those who watch porn in the first place may already be pre-disposed to approving of marriage equality for gay people. I would love to see a study of porn use and straight males' attitudes toward rights for lesbians. At any rate, Regnerus has an obvious agenda and politicians and others need to know much more about his work before they take it for its face value.

Scott_Rose February 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Two other things about Regnerus's "porn" post on his study funders' website. He doesn't tell readers that he only used his young male respondents ages 23 – 39. He eliminated his young male respondents ages 18 – 22. With no explanation of why he did that, you have to assume that had he included the younger group of respondents, he wouldn't have gotten the demonizing "finding" that he and his funders want. Then too, he writes about his respondents who watch porn daily or almost every day, as though they were some large percentage of his respondents. In fact, though, as a look at his study Codebook reveals, out of his 2,988 total respondents, only 84 said that they watch porn daily. Additionally, empirically we know that the more a person self-identifies as "conservative," the less likely they are to answer questions about porn viewing truthfully. Regnerus has no autonomy whatsoever from his anti-gay-rights funders, and his "study" only appeared due to corruption of the peer review process at the journal "Social Science Research." The same Witherspoon Institute Program Director who recruited Regnerus to do the study — W. Bradford Wilcox — is on the Social Science Research editorial board and was permitted to do peer review.

Ned_Flaherty February 10, 2013 at 5:29 am

In his most outrageous assertion yet — “men’s support for same-gender marriage (1) may not be (2) entirely the product of ideals … It (3) may be, (4) at least in part, (5) a byproduct of exposure to diverse/graphic sex acts” — Mark Regnerus makes 5 blatant efforts to deceive readers into viewing same-gender marriage advocates as pornography addicts.

1. When he says that supporters of same-gender marriage “might not be” supportive because of their idealism, he also is admitting that they might be supportive because of that idealism. Saying that same-gender marriage support might — or might not — be idealistic is saying nothing at all. In short, Regnerus alleges much, but proves nothing.

2. When he says that supporters of same-gender marriage might not be “entirely” idealistic, he gives no percentages. Saying that some unknown portion of idealism might — or might not — be pornography-related is saying nothing at all. Again, he alleges much, but proves nothing.

3. When he says that supporters of same-gender marriage “might” do so because of pornography, he also is admitting the reason might not be pornography. Saying that pornography might — or might not — be a reason is saying nothing at all. Again, he alleges much, but proves nothing.

4. When he says that his suspected link between same-gender marriage and pornography might exist “at least in part” he also is admitting that the link might have other, unidentified, unexplained, un-quantified factors. Saying that there might be other unknown factors, in unknown quantities, is saying nothing at all. Without the entire picture, Regnerus’ suspicion carries no useful scientific weight.

5. When he says that his suspected link between same-gender marriage and pornography might be a “byproduct” he also is admitting that it might not be a byproduct. Saying that pornography might — or might not — be a byproduct is saying nothing at all. Again, Regnerus alleges much, but proves nothing.

Regnerus’ writing alone proves that he either is shockingly un-skilled, or else is intentionally deceptive, or is both. In any event, his writing shows why hundreds of sociologists and other professionals nationwide discredited his work as soon as he and his sponsors began publishing it in June 2012.

Scott_Rose February 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Additionally, for "porn watchers' support for same-sex marriage" to be properly, i.e. scientifically placed in context, we should know the percentage of porn viewers who think that opposite gender marriage should continue to be legal. To look exclusively at porn viewers' opinion of same-sex marriage, without also considering how many porn viewers think that opposite sex marriage should continue to be legal, you can't have any true understanding of porn viewers' opinions of marriage. I speculate that more porn viewers think that opposite gender marriage should continue to be legal than think that same-sex marriage should be legal. Assuming that is so, why, then, is there so much more porn viewer support for opposite sex marriage than for same-sex marriage? By posing that question, we see how absurd it is to yoke support for same-sex marriage to porn viewing habits.

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