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Opinion: Regnerus Anti-Gay Scandal — Elsevier Corporate Greed Drove Publication?

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BRIEF STORY BACKGROUND

As previously reported, Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin took $785,000 — (through his long-time personal friend W. Bradford Wilcox of the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute) — and produced a fraudulent anti-gay “study” that is being used as a political weapon to inflict harm on innocent gay people.

Counter to all science publishing ethics, the study was published without benefit of valid peer review. Indeed, the peer review of the Regnerus study, and of a study by Loren Marks propagandistically paired to it, was marked by corruption and improper insider influence. Wilcox is an editorial board member of the Elsevier company’s journal Social Science Research, which published Regnerus. Wilcox, furthermore, is a paid Regnerus study consultant. It appears he also did some peer review of the paired Regnerus and Marks studies.

Whereas the peer reviewers allowed the Regnerus study’s glaring methodological failures through to publication, a mass of experts in the academy expressed concern that the scientifically invalid study had been published, and at that, on a suspicious rush schedule.

According to Dr. Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, the mere fact that peer reviewers had conflicts of interest means that the Regnerus study did not have valid peer review. Gates is seconded in that opinion by Vanderbilt University Sociologist Tony N. Brown, Editor of the American Sociological Association’s American Sociological Review, who has said: “journal editors should always seek knowledgeable reviewers who do not have any conflict of interest regarding the submitted author or the study’s funder.” (Bolding added).

Gates further says: “We need to get answered the question about why the Regnerus study was published in a rush, with no valid peer review. Other issues surrounding the Regnerus and Marks studies may be interesting, but the core question relates to the fact that the study was published in a suspicious rush without valid peer review. What caused Social Science Research‘s editor-in-chief James Wright to publish this study in a rush, without valid peer review? We need that question answered.”

REED ELSEVIER CORPORATE GREED DROVE THE PUBLICATION OF THE REGNERUS STUDY

In the response to the letter from over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s, Social Science Research‘s editor-in-chief James Wright assigned SSR editorial board member Darren Sherkat to an “audit” of the publication process of the Regnerus and Marks studies.

In his audit, Sherkat admits that the Regnerus study is not scientifically valid, and that the peer review failed, yet he exonerates Wright and the peer reviewers from all accountability for their gross dereliction of duty. He says that the unethical process through which the Regnerus study was published is just “business as usual” at Social Science Research.

Sherkat actually analyzes how the publication of the scientifically invalid Regnerus study has harmed Social Science Research‘s scientific reputation, in context of explaining how corporate greed drove the publication of the Regnerus submission. Yet, very disturbingly, Sherkat said that had he been in Wright’s shoes, he may well have made all of the same publishing decisions. In other words, Sherkat is more devoted to his boss James Wright and to his greedy corporate Reed Elsevier bosses than he is to ethical science publishing.

Apparently, other anti-gay-rights organizations such as Regnerus’s personal friends at the Witherspoon Institute could fund an endless series of fraudulent studies booby-trapped against gays or against other minorities, and Social Science Research would publish all of them without benefit of valid peer review.

In his audit, Sherkat explains the role that parent company Reed Elsevier played in pushing greed to predominate over ethical science publishing in the Regnerus scandal.

The Regnerus publishing scandal actually is much broader than just the Regnerus and Marks papers. Three Regnerus study commentaries published alongside the Regnerus and Marks papers were done by three persons without same-sex-parenting science expertise, and with conflicts of interest in commenting on the study. Those three are 1) UT’s Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Regnerus’s co-researcher on the “study;” 2) Dr. Paul Amato, a paid Regnerus study consultant; and 3) David Eggebeen, a Witherspoon bigot crony who supports the continuation of sexual orientation apartheid.

Here is part of Sherkat’s explanation of how Reed Elsevier greed is driving the publication and promotions of the wide-scaled anti-gay Regnerus scandal:

“Controversy over sexuality sells and in only a week after publication these papers have already skyrocketed to the most downloaded papers published in Social Science Research.” (Bolding added). “But neither paper should have been published, in my opinion. Undoubtedly, any researcher doing work on same-sex parenting will now have to address the Regnerus paper, and these citations will inflate the all-important “impact factor” of the journal. It is easy to get caught up in the empirical measures of journal success, and I believe this overcame Wright in driving his decision to rush these into print. The fetishism of the journal impact factors comes from the top down, and all major publishers prod editors about the current state of their impact factor. Elsevier is particularly attentive to this and frequently inquires about what Wright is doing to improve the already admirable impact factor of Social Science Research. As social scientists, popularity should not be the end we seek, and rigorous independent evaluation of these manuscripts would have made Social Science Research a less popular but better journal.” (Bolding added).

In his CYA “audit,” Sherkat further wrote:

“once they were accepted there was an unseemly rush to publication.” He continues: “that was justified based on the attention that these studies would generate. The published responses were milquetoast critiques by scholars with ties to Regnerus and/or the Witherspoon Institute, and Elsevier assisted with the politicization by helping to publicize the study and by placing these papers in front of the pay wall.” (Bolding added).

SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH’S JAMES WRIGHT, BRAD WILCOX AND DARREN SHERKAT GUILTY OF GROSS DERELICTION OF DUTY

The Social Science Research editors contrived an “audit” of the publication of Regnerus’s pseudoscience to create an appearance that they had behaved responsibly when they manifestly did not behave responsibly.

In interviews that Wright and Sherkat gave to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the upshot is that all of the gross dereliction of duty that SSR people committed in relation to the Regnerus pseudoscience scandal can be explained away and shrugged off because people are just so darned busy these days.

Additionally, Sherkat did write in his audit: “scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process.”

That is where the community must demand that Reed Elsevier and Wright do the right thing by retracting the Regnerus study from publication. The study could then be put through valid peer review prior to any future eventual re-publication. It simply must not be allowed to stand, that Reed Elsevier, Wright, Sherkat and Wilcox continue to abet fraudulent attacks against innocent gay people. These malefactors’ admixture of corporate greed and/or indifference to harm their actions are unjustly inflicting on innocent human beings is appalling.

Here is an example — from the Chronicle article — of Sherkat’s cavalier article about the editors’ and the peer reviewers’ gross dereliction of their professional duties. The following quote is in relation to the peer reviewers’ having allowed the Regnerus study through to publication, even though Regnerus made no scientifically adequate determination of whether he study respondents actually had “same sex parents,” as Regnerus claims in his study conclusion.

“At the same time, he,” — meaning SSR’s Sherkat — “sympathizes with the task of the overburdened reviewer inclined to skim. Because of how the paper was written, Sherkat said, it would have been easy to miss Regnerus’s explanation of who qualified as “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers.”

That is exactly why only gay parenting topic experts can be used to peer review a scientific journal submission on gay parenting.  You do not ask a therapist to peer review a submission about the latest techniques in brain surgery. Here is how Sherkat continues with his duplicitous, self-serving alibis for the peer reviewers’ gross dereliction of professional duty:

If a reviewer were to skip ahead to the statistics in the table, it would be understandable, he said, to assume that the children described there were, in fact, raised by a gay or lesbian couple for a significant portion of their childhoods. In reality, only two respondents lived with a lesbian couple for their entire childhoods, and most did not live with lesbian or gay parents for long periods, if at all.”

In the Chronicle interview, SSR’s editor-in-chief James Wright uses a euphemism to describe how corporate greed led him to publish the Regnerus submission without benefit of valid peer review:

“In his audit, Sherkat reveals that all the reviewers declared that the paper would generate “enormous interest.” Enormous interest leads to citations and downloads, which is how a journal’s relevance is judged. The higher the impact of its papers, the greater its prestige. Wright acknowledges that he was excited about the interest the paper would no doubt inspire, and he wonders in retrospect if “perhaps this prospect caused me to be inattentive to things I should have kept a keener eye on.”

CONCLUSION

The anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute funded Regnerus’s pseudoscience out of contempt for gay human beings and their rights.

The Regnerus “study,” 1) propagandistically paired with the Marks study, and 2) unethically pumped up further through Regnerus-and-Marks-studies-related propaganda pumped out by 3) the three non-topic-expert commentary writers with conflicts of interest, was 4) illicitly helped through to publication by the presence of Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox on the Social Science Research editorial board.

The community now must — with unwavering determination — demand that the Regnerus study be retracted from publication and put through valid peer review prior to any eventual future re-publication.

The Regnerus pseudoscience scandal undermines the trust on which science is based.

This was hardly the first time that narrow-minded bigots ever commissioned a “study” for use as a political weapon against a minority.

We must now step up to the plate and demand that scientific standards be upheld, so that no other minority is similarly victimized through a combination of bigots’ spite and corporate greed in the future.

In 2010, Elsevier reported a profit margin of 36% on revenues of $3.2 billion. Elsevier accounts for 28% of the revenues of the Reed Elsevier group (₤1.5b of 5.4 billions in 2006).

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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‘Poisonous’: Former Advisor Says Republicans Have ‘Just Switched Trump Off in Their Brain’

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In an interview with The Guardian, one of Donald Trump’s former senior advisers stated that the word he is getting from people he has spoken to is that they want the former president to be put out to pasture after the poor midterm election results for Republicans weeks ago.

According to John Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser, it’s time for the GOP to move on from the former president if the party wants to reclaim the Oval Office in 2024.

Bolton, whose tenure serving under Trump ended acrimoniously, told the Guardian’s David Smith that there are a multitude of reasons to put Trump in the rearview mirror, but the impact that the former president had on GOP fortunes in the midterms seems to be the final straw with many conservatives.

“There are a lot of reasons to be against Trump being the nominee but the one I’m hearing now as I call around the country, talking to my supporters and others about what happened on 8 November, is the number of people who have just switched Trump off in their brain,” Bolton explained.

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Elaborating, he continued, “Even if they loved his style, loved his approach, loved his policies, loved everything about him, they don’t want to lose and the fear is, given the results on 8 November, that if he got the nomination, not only would he lose the general election, but he would take an awful lot of Republican candidates down with him.”

“There’s no doubt Trump’s endorsement in the primary can be very valuable to a candidate in the Republican party. But relying on that endorsement or trumpeting yourself as the Trump-endorsed candidate is poisonous in the general election. So if you actually want to win elections, Trump is not the answer,” Bolton continued. “William F Buckley [the conservative author] once had a rule that in Republican primaries he supported the most conservative candidate capable of winning the general election and, under that theory, Trump loses.”

The Guardian’s Smith notes that Bolton “… joins Trump’s vice-president Mike Pence, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, attorney general William Barr, UN ambassador Nikki Haley, chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and onetime ally Chris Christie in a growing rebellion among alumni making the case – overtly or subtly – that Trump has become an electoral liability.”

You can read more here.

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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Trump’s Dinner With Kanye Also Included a Former Aide Accused in Pay-for-Pardon Play, and White Supremacist Fuentes

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Donald Trump‘s dinner earlier this week with antisemite Kanye West and holocaust denier and white supremacist Nick Fuentes may also have included two other right-wingers, hinted at by the former president himself.

After Axios‘ reporting confirmed that Fuentes had in fact had dinner with Trump, Trump issued a statement saying, “Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”

But later, on Friday afternoon via his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote a defense of the dinner with an expanded guest list.

READ MORE: Trump Claims He ‘Knew Nothing About’ the White Supremacist Antisemite Who He and Kanye West Dined With at Mar-a-Lago

“This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump wrote. “Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about. We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. They then left for the airport.”

As The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman noted, Trump did not denounce his guest’s extremist beliefs.

“Three of his friends,” according to the far-right wing website Breitbart, apparently includes Fuentes, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, and former Trump 2016 aide Karen Giorno.

Breitbart states, “two people who say they were at the dinner on Tuesday evening–Yiannopoulos and onetime Trump aide Karen Giorno–have publicly stated that Fuentes was in fact at the dinner with West and Trump.”

“’Nick attended the dinner and sat across from the president. I sat to the president’s right and Ye to his left,’ Giorno said in a statement to podcaster Tim Poole’s website Timcast,” Breitbart reports. “‘The president was by himself for dinner but invited Ye to meet some people on the patio.'”

Politico reports Giorno “confirmed to Politico that she was also at the dinner with Trump, West and Fuentes,” but does not mention Yiannopoulos as a dinner guest.

READ MORE: Watch: Chasten Buttigieg Says Tucker Carlson Is Focusing on ‘Hate’ After Host’s Latest Anti-Gay Attack on His Husband

Referring to Kanye West by his new name, VICE News adds: “Ye, who has been been on an antisemitic spiral in recent months, announced he is going to be running for president in 2024, and Yiannopoulos is his campaign manager. He claimed that he asked the former president to run with him as his vice-president. According to Ye, the dinner involving the billionaire, the rapper, and the white nationalist devolved into screaming and derogatory epithets.”

Yiannopoulos is the former Breitbart editor who became disgraced after saying, “I think in the gay world some of the most important, enriching and incredibly life-affirming, important shaping relationships very often between younger boys and older men.” Earlier this year U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene came under fire for hiring, as an intern, Yiannopoulos, even after he appeared to support sexual “relationships” between boys as young as 13 and older men.

Karen Giorno, The New York Times reported early last year, “had access to people around the president, having run Mr. Trump’s campaign in Florida during the 2016 primary and remaining on board as a senior political adviser during the general election.”

“In July 2018, Ms. Giorno signed an agreement with Mr. Kiriakou, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, ‘to seek a full pardon from President Donald Trump of his conviction’ for $50,000 and promised another $50,000 as a bonus if she secured a pardon,” The Times reports.

Kiriakou is John Kiriakou, who The Times identifies as “a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information.”

On what appears to be her Instagram page, Giorno has photos of herself with numerous Republicans, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mike Flynn, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida attorney general Ashley Moody and several other top Florida elected officials, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, and Sarah Palin, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trump Claims He ‘Knew Nothing About’ the White Supremacist Antisemite Who He and Kanye West Dined With at Mar-a-Lago

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Donald Trump and Kanye West had dinner at Mar-a-Lago Tuesday night and the disgraced artist who goes by “Ye” brought a guest, the white supremacist, antisemite and “America First” and “Big Lie” purveyor Nick Fuentes. Now the former president is claiming Fuentes was a guest of West, and he knows “nothing” about him.

“Trump’s direct engagement with a man labeled a ‘white supremacist’ by the Justice Department, one week after declaring his 2024 candidacy, is likely to draw renewed outrage over the former president’s embrace of extremists,” Axios’ Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu report.

Axios notes that in a video West posted to his recently restored Twitter account, he says, “Trump was ‘really impressed’ with Fuentes because ‘unlike so many of the lawyers and so many people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign, he’s actually a loyalist.'”

“Ye, who has lost major sponsorships over his anti-Semitism and recent far-right associations, has said he wants to run for president in 2024,” Axios adds. “The rapper claims Trump started ‘screaming’ at him at the dinner and told him he would lose — ‘most perturbed’ by Ye asking Trump to be his running mate.”

READ MORE: Watch: Chasten Buttigieg Says Tucker Carlson Is Focusing on ‘Hate’ After Host’s Latest Anti-Gay Attack on His Husband

Swan says Trump issued a statement in response to his reporting, claiming he does not know Fuentes.

“Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago,” Trump’s statement says, an apparent attempt to minimize his dining with two racists and antisemites. “Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman observes that Trump’s “statement does nothing to denounce that background, including Holocaust denialism, or even acknowledge it.”

Trump first claiming West just wanted to see Mar-a-Lago, but immediately after calling it a “meeting” is notable, given that West has since suggested he is running for president.

Axios importantly adds that “Fuentes first gained notoriety after attending the white supremacist ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in 2017,” and, “Trump was heavily criticized at the time for his response to the racist violence.”

Journalist Jeff Sharlet is the executive producer of Netflix’s “The Family,” based on his books that exposed the secretive Christian right organization of the same name. The Family, also called The Fellowship, hosts the annual National Prayer Breakfast. Its members were involved in Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.

Sharlet warns this is an “inflection point.”

“Trump dinner with Ye, at this point, is a major story,” Sharlet tweeted. “But with Nick Fuentes? That’s an inflection point even for a former president already committed to fascism.”

Journalist and activist Elad Nehorai tweeted: “Never let a single right winger or Republican claim they care about Jews after this. Fuentes openly praises Hitler. He is a Holocaust denier. He is one of the US’s most dangerous white nationalists. Trump hosted him & not one Republican had said a word.”

Attorney and former Republican Ron Filipkowski, who tracks and reports on right wing extremism, says Trump’s statement “reminds me of the time when Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was in the WH in Dec 2020 and said he was just there to check out the Christmas decorations.”

Tarrio told ABC News last year he “got invited to the White House Christmas decorations tour through ‘Latinos For Trump.'”

READ MORE: ‘Standard Bearer of Trumpism’ Marjorie Taylor Greene Bridges White Nationalism and the GOP

Top national security attorney Brad Moss mocked Trump’s claim about the Mar-a-Lago dinner.

“Trump legal team: MAL is a totally secure place where we can be trusted to store classified records,” he tweeted. “Trump PR team: Security at MAL is so lax that a raving white supremacist can just crash Trump’s dinner party with Ye.”

Indeed, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman commented, “It’s not the central issue with meeting with Fuentes, but the fact that people can show up unvetted and meet with Trump at his club is part of what alarmed the DOJ about his retention of government records, including classified material, when he left office.”

She also posted a screenshot from her book, relevant to Trump’s embrace of the two racists and antisemites. She quotes him saying, “A lot of these people vote,” in relation to “Trump’s refusal to condemn David Duke’s support forcefully in early 2016.”

The AntiDefamation League (ADL) in a 2021 report wrote, “Nicholas Fuentes is a white supremacist leader and organizer and podcaster who seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP.”

Some of Fuentes’ antisemitism has been documented by ADL.

READ MORE: House GOP Whip Denies ‘Knowing Anything About’ Republican Congressman Fundraising With Antisemitic White Nationalist

“Fuentes has made a number of racist and antisemitic comments under the guise of being provocative and ironic,” ADLs report states. “For example, he has referred to Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh as ‘shabbos goy race traitor’ because he works for Jews (Ben Shapiro, a Jewish conservative, runs the Daily Wire). On a livestream episode, Fuentes ‘jokingly’ denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven. On May 24, 2021, Fuentes participated in a debate on right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones’ InfoWars with Robert Barnes, a man described as a ‘constitutional lawyer’ who has legally defended both Jones and Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse. During the debate, Fuentes made numerous antisemitic remarks, including, ‘I don’t see Jews as Europeans and I don’t see them as part of Western civilization, particularly because they are not Christians.'”

Fuentes is strongly pro-Trump, as West alluded to.

“Fuentes promoted election fraud narratives and encouraged his adherents to participate in nationwide ‘Stop the Steal’ protests,” according to ADL.

 

This article has been updated to include Jeff Sharlet’s remarks.

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