We have beenÂ reportingÂ on a politically-motivated hoax â€œstudyâ€ of supposedly gay and lesbian parents, funded through theÂ National Organization For Marriage-linkedÂ Witherspoon InstituteÂ and carried out byÂ Mark RegnerusÂ of the University of Texas at Austin (UT). The hoax study has been weaponized for use against gay rights in the courts and during the 2012 elections.
This reporter sent UT an Open Record Request for communications between Regnerus and his Witherspoon authority funder W. Bradford Wilcox.
In response, the University of TexasÂ sent Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott a letterÂ asking for authorization not to honor the Open Record Request.
Here is a letter subsequently sent to Abbott, explaining that the public has an overwhelming, legitimate interest in his telling UT to release the requested documentation.
September 28, 2012
Honorable Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas
Open Records Division
Price Daniel Building
209 W. 14th Street, 6th Floor
Austin, Texas 78701
In Re: Â Â Â Â Open Record Request #3 from Scott Rose to
The University of Texas at Austin â€“Â AG ID# 471661 (OGC#146221)
To Texas Attorney General Abbott:
I made the above-referenced Open Record Request for 1) communications between 2) UTâ€™s Mark Regnerus and W. Bradford Wilcox, Director of 3) Â The Witherspoon Instituteâ€™s program for Marriage, Family and Democracy, which is: 4) the chief funding agency for Regnerusâ€™s New Family Structures Study (NFSS) carried out at UT.
For the record, Witherspoonâ€™s 2010 IRS 990 form describes the NFSS as an â€œachievementâ€ of Wilcoxâ€™s Witherspoon program.
I requested the communications because Regnerus and Wilcox have been deliberately dishonest in their public statements about the NFSS. They are seeking to mislead the public into believing that Regnerus carried out his study independently of influence from his studyâ€™s funders. Their deliberate dishonesty has undermined the trust on which science is based. Fulfillment of my Open Record Request is essential to beginning to restore public trust in science. The public has a legitimate interest in having access to the requested communications.
As UT explained to you in its September 24, 2012 letter about my Open Record Request, Regnerus and Wilcox have collaborated on NFSS data collection and data analysis. Indeed, Wilcox was issued, and signed, the Regnerus NFSS study consulting contract — for data analysis — to which UT assigned the â€œUT EID or Doc IDâ€ number ww2897. Â The record shows that Wilcox was paid $2,000 for that one contract.
Despite the clear documentation that Regnerus collaborated with his studyâ€™s Witherspoon funding agency representative Wilcox, both Regnerus and Witherspoon repeatedly have lied to the public by saying that no NFSS funding agency representative has participated in NFSS data collection, data analysis, study design, et cetera.
In his published study, which appeared June 10, 2012 in the Elsevier journal Social Science Research, Regnerus wrote: â€œthe funding sources played no role at all in the design or conduct of the study, the analyses, the interpretations of the data, or in the preparation of this manuscript.â€ A PDF of â€œAdditional Analysesâ€ of the NFSS that Regnerus recently had accepted for publication in Social Science Research for November repeats that same deliberate lie.
Please note, Attorney General Abbott, that Wilcox is on the editorial board of the journal that published Regnerus, Social Science Research. Regnerusâ€™s submission received no valid peer review prior to publication, as the peer reviewers were non-topic-experts with conflicts of interest. Note also that in his published study, Regnerus states that a â€œleading family researcherâ€ from the University of Virginia was on his study design team. Wilcox is Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.
Witherspoon established a stand-alone website to promote the NFSS to an international public. Wilcox obviously has editorial authority over that site. On the Q&A page of that site, Question 13 reads: â€œWhat involvement did the Witherspoon Institute have in the design, implementation, or interpretation of the NFSS?â€ The deliberately misleading response that Wilcoxâ€™s Witherspoon Institute gives is: â€œIn order to insure that the NFSS was conducted with intellectual integrity, beginning from the earliest stages the Witherspoon Institute was not involved in the Studyâ€™s design, implementation, or interpretation.â€
In a study of this sort, interpretation and data analysis coincide.Â Data collection certainly coincides with study implementation. Witherspoon incontestably is lying in its Question 13.
These are far from being the only ethically-challenged public communications about the NFSS that Regnerus and Wilcox have made. Along with three other Witherspoon authorities, Wilcox signed an open letter in support of Regnerus under the banner of Baylor University, without disclosing that they are Witherspoon authorities and that Witherspoon funded and is promoting the NFSS. Wilcoxâ€™s Baylor letter, furthermore, contains multiple distortions of the scientific record.
No scientific authority without a conflict of interest with the NFSS has vouched for its methodology. In fact, in Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management, the following 8 parties filed an amicus brief, in which the NFSS methodology is analyzed as being scientifically unsound: The American Psychological Association, The California Psychological Association, The American Psychiatric Association, The National Association of Social Workers and its California Chapter, The American Medical Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Additionally, a group of over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s in fields relevant to the NFSS sent the journal Social Science Research a letter expressing concerns about the studyâ€™s lack of intellectual integrity as well as about the suspicious rush publication schedule for it. The signers of that letter now include the President of the American Sociological Association, Dr. Erik Olin Wright, and the editor-in-chief of the premiere journal in this field, the Journal of Marriage and Family.
One example of the umpteen manifestly false and absurd â€œfindingsâ€ in the NFSS will for now suffice. Regnerus asked his respondents â€œHave you ever masturbated?â€ According to Regnerusâ€™s NFSS Codebook on UTâ€™s NFSS site,Â 110 of Regnerusâ€™s 2,988 respondents chose not to answer that question. However, 620 respondents between the ages of 18 and 39 said that no, they had never once in their lives masturbated. That data obviously does not correspond to empirically understood reality. The more so that Regnerus claims his study is generalizable to the entire population of the U.S., meaning, that according to Regnerus and Witherspoon, out of every 2,988 Americans aged eighteen to thirty-nine, 620 ( six-hundred-and twenty) have never once in their lives masturbated.
Witherspoon authorities and their associates are using the NFSS in the courts and in political campaigns, despite the manifest unreliability of the study. While UT alleged it was conducting a misconduct inquiry into Regnerus this summer, it had conflicts of interest; UT officials had placed advertorials for the NFSS as a favorable example of what the university produces. Throughout the inquiry, UTâ€™s Communications Director David Ochsner was given to the public on the Witherspoon site as the contact for information about the NFSS.Â At one point when I attempted to supply UT attorney Jeffrey Graves with documentation relevant to the inquiry, he told me in an e-mail that UT did not need to hear anything more from me.
In its letter, UT tells you that the stateâ€™s investment in UTâ€™s research efforts must be protected. That actually is an excellent reason for my Public Record Request to be honored, as all other state investments in research at UT are imperiled by the way that the NFSS has undermined the trust on which science is based. The public understands that Regnerus, Wilcox and Witherspoon have deliberately lied about the NFSS. Â The public understands that such organizations as The American Medical Association have — in official court filings — declared the NFSS’s methodology scientifically unsound. Therefore, the public looks at all research done at UT with suspicion. That suspicion, furthermore, is amplified by the matter of UT Professor Charles Groat. Groat conducted a study without disclosing his conflicts of interest. At first, outside groups urged UT to investigate, but the university refused. Only after additional pressure was brought to bear did UT decide to review the matter.
UT additionally told you that my Open Record Request must not be fulfilled because the NFSS â€œdata can be used to validate the original survey instrumentation.â€ UT appears to be telling you that the public should not be allowed to fact-check the NFSS.
UTâ€™s claim that people could use the requested communications as products for sale is absurd. Since his study was published, Regnerus has been saying he will release his raw data â€œsoon.â€ The study is plainly irredeemably defective; no serious-minded sociologist of integrity wants anything to do with it or its methods. By contrast, allowing the public a better chance to understand exactly what Regnerus, Wilcox and Witherspoon have been lying about will go some distance toward restoring trust in science.
All arguments UT presents against release of the requested documentation are outweighed by the overwhelming legitimate public interest in release of the documentation. Regnerus, Wilcox and Witherspoon have told the public deliberate lies about the NFSS in hopes of better promoting the study to the public, out of non-science-based motives. The entire balance of public investments in research at UT — other than the NFSS — is in jeopardy so long as the requested communications are not released.
New York City-based novelist and freelance writerÂ Scott Roseâ€™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 â€œMr. David Cooperâ€™s Happy Suicideâ€ is about aÂ New York City advertising executive assigned to aÂ condom account.
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NY Summer Camp Bans Anyone Who Has Been Vaccinated — and Pushes COVID Vaccine ‘Biological Weapon’ Conspiracy
On Saturday, The Times of Israel reported that Camp Hikon, a planned Orthodox Jewish summer camp in upstate New York, has stated its plans to bar vaccinated children or counselors from the facility — and that their website is laden with conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19.
Advertisements for Camp Hikon, planned for upstate New York, appeared on email listservs popular in the Orthodox Jewish community just days after a private school in Miami made news for discouraging teachers from getting the vaccine and telling children they were not to have contact with vaccinated people,” reported Shira Hanau. “The camp’s announcement also comes as posters encouraging people not to get the COVID-19 vaccines appeared in Midwood, Brooklyn, the Orthodox neighborhood where one member of the founding team runs a natural foods store.”
According to the report, the camp is a project of Brooklyn “health coach” Naftali Schwartz, who has “no formal training in medicine or public health.”
“Drawing on a debunked theory spread by the anti-vaccination movement, the camp’s website cites the ‘experimental nature’ of the COVID-19 vaccines,” said the report. “According to the false theory, living in close quarters with vaccinated people could ‘enhance’ the spread of the coronavirus. The website refers readers to a site called NutriTruth which claims vaccines are a ‘biological weapon,’ and to a livestreamed discussion between several notable anti-vaxxers.”
As of Saturday, no families have yet signed up their children for Camp Hikon.
Conservative religious groups have drawn national attention for their distrust of vaccines, as the effort to immunize the population from the coronavirus pandemic has revved up. Some right-wing religious leaders have even denied the existence of the pandemic itself. In evangelical circles, televangelist John Hagee proclaimed that “Jesus is the vaccine” — a claim that was roundly mocked after it was revealed he got the vaccine himself.
Image via Shutterstock
‘Shouting Into the Void’: Trump’s Social Media Launch Laughed Off by Experts
On Saturday, Business Insider profiled the ways that former President Donald Trump’s banishment from social media has affected the viability of his message on the national stage — and the halfhearted way he is trying to make up for what he has lost.
“Former President Donald Trump’s new ‘communication platform’ launched this week was widely mocked as little more than a ‘glorified blog,'” reported Thomas Colson. “The site — revealed on Tuesday — followed Trump’s longtime adviser Jason Miller promising that Trump would soon create a social media platform that would ‘completely redefine the game’ on social media.”
“‘A challenge for Trump is that the most effective online engagement requires interaction,’ Peter Loge, associate professor school of media and public affairs at the George Washington University, told Insider,” continued the report. “‘Fans want to feel as if they have a relationship with their favorite celebrity. These ‘parasocial relationships’ are what keep fans coming back and buying more stuff,’ he said. ‘At this point, Trump is just shouting into the void. He isn’t letting anyone shout back.'”
This week, Facebook’s independent oversight board, commonly referred to as the social network’s “Supreme Court,” upheld the former president’s ban from the platform following his conspiracy theories that contributed to the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol. However, the board also urged Facebook to create more workable standards for issuing such bans, and revisit the Trump case in six months.
MAGA Students’ Attacks on LGBTQ Unity Week Met With Civil Rights Complaint Filed With Dept. of Education
A group of high school Democrats in South Dakota have filed an official complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. of Education claiming their annual Unity Week events are under a “coordinated” attack by pro-Trump MAGA supporting students, and the school administration has refused to do anything to stop the bullying and targeted harassment.
South Dakota High School Democrats, representing students at Aberdeen Central High School, charge there is a “coordinated effort by certain students to target, harass, and bully those students celebrating the week.” In their complaint they also say “racist and homophobic slurs are openly spouted” at students, and there are images of these being spread on social media.
“They actively seek to target and harass the students while bringing their ‘religious’ and hateful beliefs to the forefront of student life,” the letter reads.
“The administration reportedly does ‘nothing’ in response to these actions,” they say, charging that the Aberdeen School District has allowed the “targeted harassment” to “go unrestrained.”
According to one student, the complaint reads, “this coordinated harassment campaign happens every year.”
BREAKING: After talking with numerous students from the school, we have deemed it appropriate to file a complaint with the Department of Education Civil Rights Division. pic.twitter.com/C9roDmEluK
— SDHSD (@SoDakHSDems) May 7, 2021
NCRM has not verified any of these images below but KELO News reports Friday evening: “Social media posts from Central High School in Aberdeen are getting a lot of attention. The posts include pictures of students who appear to be against a ‘Unity Week’ the school was hosting.”
The social media posts include screenshots from Snapchat with messages against the week. One of the screenshots encourages students to carry a Bible with them around school and to not talk to anyone participating in the dress up days. It goes on to say ‘God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve or Eve and Bri and Adam and tractor.’
Another screenshot appears to feature students holding Trump flags with expletive text over the picture that is anti-LGBTQ.
Here is one tweet that appears to represent some of what the complaint alleges:
Hate has no place in our state. The Aberdeen school district needs to take appropriate actions immediately. https://t.co/0MSmRX7ZGp
— SDHSD (@SoDakHSDems) May 7, 2021
On TikTok a video describes what LGBTQ and minority students are facing this week. The young woman, who says she is a student at Aberdeen Central High School, says some of the students participating in the unity week’s events were told to go kill themselves. Some students were pushed down stairs, and the anti-LGBTQ students “blocked the entrance to the school,” while yelling expletives.
“The school board has done nothing about this,” she says. “This is absolutely repulsive.”
@dollop.of.daisyplease don’t let this video get taken down. This needs to be heard #fyp#spreadtheword#viral#important#lgbtqplus#translivesmatter#share#blowthisup♬ original sound – Dollop.of.Daisy
Aberdeen News adds that the schools superintendent sent parents a letter saying appropriate disciplinary action has been taken, but refusing to say what that is, who the students are. The letter appears to suggest parents should counsel their children but the situation is over.
Based on the students’ letter and social media posts it’s clear they do not believe it is.
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