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Witherspoon’s Matthew Franck Lies About The Anti-Gay Regnerus Study

by Scott Rose on November 1, 2012

in Analysis,Bigotry Watch,News,Scott Rose

Given that the NOM-linked Witherspoon Institute has already engaged in a ton of lying related to the anti-gay “study” it paid Mark Regnerus to carry out, there is little surprise that Witherspoon’s Matthew Franck now promotes the booby-trapped study by lying about it in a series of articles on Witherspoon’s’ Public Discourse.

Still, noting that Franck is lying, so that we highlight the overall lack of integrity of this “study” is a necessary exercise.

Franck is Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute on the Princeton University campus.

That title of Witherspoon Director is one that Brad Wilcox held in 2010 when he organized the so-called New Family Structures Study.

Wilcox was, in fact, Director of Witherspoon’s Program for Marriage, Family and Democracy.

Wilcox recruited Regnerus for the study, and Witherspoon then gave Regnerus a $55,000 planning grant. Subsequently, while a Witherspoon Program Director, Wilcox collaborated with Regnerus on study design.

Nobody at Witherspoon voluntarily disclosed these facts about Wilcox’s involvement with the study. Rather, the facts were dragged out into the light of day through investigative reporting efforts.

Nonetheless, both Regnerus and Witherspoon continue attempting to mislead the public, with use of such phrases as “No funding agency representatives were consulted about research design, survey contents, analyses, or conclusions.”

Clearly, with Wilcox as a Witherspoon Program Director collaborating with Regnerus on study design, it is a lie to say that no funding agency representatives were consulted about research design.

Despite the documentation of Wilcox’s involvement with the study, Franck in one of his series of articles says:

“Regnerus . . .  told his readers that neither Witherspoon nor Bradley had any role in shaping the conduct or the conclusions of his research,” and then, Franck goes on, untruthfully;

No one has ever gainsaid this avowal on his part.”

Not only have authorities “gainsaid” Regnerus’s false claim; sociologists have actually called Regnerus out for lying about his relationship with Witherspoon.

Wilcox additionally is known to have collaborated with Regnerus on data collection, data analysis and interpretation. He is an old crony to Regnerus and to James Wright, editor of Elsevier’s “Social Science Research,” which published Regnerus. Wilcox, moreover, is on the editorial board of that journal. And, Wilcox’s conflicts of interest with Regnerus’s funders do not stop with The Witherspoon Institute. Regnerus received $90,000 for the study from the Bradley Foundation, which contributes money to The Ridge Foundation, whose chief officer is Brad Wilcox. (On page 3 at this link, you may see the Bradley Foundation’s $20,000 grant to Wilcox’s Ridge Foundation).

Mr. Franck did not reply to this reporter’s e-mail, asking if he acknowledges that Wilcox, as a Witherspoon Program Director, collaborated with Regnerus on study design.

The second of Franck’s mendacious articles promoting the scientifically invalid study his Witherspoon Institute commissioned is titled The Vindication of Mark Regnerus.

The case Franck tries to make involves a number of articles — including Regnerus’s Additional Analyses – that were published in the November issue of Social Science Research, the Elsevier journal that published Regnerus in June without benefit of valid peer review.

Whereas the June issue featured corrupt peer review, the Regnerus-related articles in the November issue were not peer reviewed at all.

One of these new articles, by Walter Schumm, does not disclose that Witherspoon paid Schumm for initial consulting on the Regnerus study.

How is that for integrity in science publishing?

Franck’s fellow anti-gay bigots will lap up his propaganda — undermining the trust on which science is based — but serious-minded sociologists do not consider that the Regnerus study received valid peer review.

Because Franck’s articles contain only anti-gay propaganda, and no serious considerations of sociology, his arguments are not legitimate grounds for any scientific debate, yet exposing just one of his lies is worthwhile by way of illustration.

Franck wrongly claims that Regnerus “proved” that virtually no gay or lesbian couples stay together long enough to raise a child from birth to 18.

After saying that the study included just two young adults raised from birth to 18 by “lesbian mothers,” Franck writes: “This, out of an initial population of 15,000.”

Screening 15,000 people of a general population is not adequate to doing a study of young adults  aged 18 – 39 raised from birth to 18 by one or two gay parents.

Franck is attempting to mislead people about social science when he implies that screening 15,000 of a general population should be adequate.

Additionally, the Knowledge Network panel from which Regnerus screened for study participants does not include a representative number of employed adults.

A son raised by a lesbian couple, now 31 and working as a surgeon, is not sitting around taking Knowledge Network surveys every week for a $5 incentive.

Neither is a daughter raised by a lesbian couple, now 26 and working two jobs to help to support her household.

Dr. Michael Rosenfeld’s study based on the 2000 census included 3,502 children of same-sex couples who had been together at least five years. Rosenfeld found that those children of same-sex couples did as well in school as children of heterosexual parents.

Franck’s claim that Regnerus has been “vindicated” through non-peer-reviewed papers is ridiculous.

The President of the American Sociological Association, Dr. Erik Olin Wright, has co-signed a letter with over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s calling Regnerus’s groupings “absurd” and expressing concerns about the invalid peer review process through which the study was published.

Eight major professional associations including the American Medical Association filed an amicus brief analyzing Regnerus’s methodology as scientifically unsound.

In the face of that massive expression of professional opinion that the Regnerus study is scientifically invalid, a few non-peer-reviewed articles, including one by Regnerus himself, can not “vindicate” Regnerus or his study.

What Franck has written is nothing other than an advertorial for the Regnerus study, published by the anti-gay-rights group that commissioned it and of which he is a part.

That Franck lies outright in saying the funders were not involved in study design demonstrates that he has no integrity.

Franck’s behavior demonstrates once again why it is so contemptible for Princeton University to continue with its intimate, incestuous relationship with The Witherspoon Institute.

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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{ 3 comments }

JeffreyRO5 November 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I'm interested in finding more information about UVA's Brad Wilcox role in this. I have inquired with the Chairman of the university's sociology department, as well as with the student newspaper. It seems to me the campus newspaper would have covered this kind of issue, but I can't find anything by searching their website. Do I have to do a Freedom of Information request or something??

Scott_Rose November 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I suggest that you organize the specific questions you have about Brad Wilcox's involvement in the Witherspoon/Regnerus study, and then send them to U.Va.'s Director of Media Relations Marian Anderfuren: manderfuren@virginia.edu Tell her that you are an independent researcher and news-gatherer, doing research for an upcoming story. When you think of specific documentation that you want about Wilcox's involvement, be as specific as you can in your document requests. Be aware that if you make a broad request covering a long time period, U.Va. will want $100 down. For narrower requests for very specific things, you will receive the documentation free of charge, provided that the university agrees to release it, of course. The FOIA officer for U.Va. is McGregor McCance: cmm9vg@eservices.virginia.edu With the material you gather as a base, you can propose stories to relevant publications — either under your own by-line, or as "news tips."

Mykelbarber November 2, 2012 at 10:12 am

These religious fascists posing as educators and researcher make me sick to my stomach. They should be tarred, feathered, and stripped of all of their so-called degrees and thrown into the darkest pit of a jail cell available.

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