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U. of Texas Investigating Mark Regnerus for Scientific Misconduct Over Flawed, Anti-Gay Parenting 'Study'

The University of Texas is investigating Professor Mark Regnerus after outrage over what GLAAD called a "flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound paper that seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents". Following outrage over the article, New Civil Rights Movement blogger Scott Rose sent a letter to the University which appears to have prompted the investigation.

RegnerusThe Austin Statesman reports:

Regnerus declined to comment on the inquiry but said that his study followed the standard protocol of scholarly research.

"A team consisting of leading family researchers was involved in developing the research protocol," Regnerus wrote in an email. "This academic team merged scholars across disciplines and ideological lines in a spirit of civility and reasoned inquiry, and the protocol developed by this team was subsequently approved by the University of Texas' Institutional Review Board."

"Normal procedures were followed for obtaining outside support, as many researchers do," he wrote.

The University of Texas defines scientific misconduct as "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism" and "practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards."

A panel of UT professors is conducting the inquiry, and the process will be completed within 60 days of the complaint, said Gary Susswein, a UT spokesman. Ultimately, if a university investigation finds that Regnerus' work constitutes scientific misconduct, Provost Steven Leslie would decide how the administration will proceed, Susswein said.

The unsound study, picked up widely in media and trumpeted by anti-gay groups. appeared to overturn three decades of research into families with same-sex parents.

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  1. This will probably backfire for Scott Rose. From what I understand that data was sound and not fabricated. What was unsound was the methodology (which was presumably reported accurately) and conclusions drawn from them. If we use the UoT's definition of scientific misconduct, then there none is to be found here. A poor methodology shouldn't constitute scientific misconduct if accurately reported.

    If the UoT sees this as I have, then they will announce their findings that the study did not fabricate the data, and NOM and other anti-gay groups will have more to crow about.

    Posted by: mkandefer | Jul 12, 2012 11:44:01 AM


  2. This will probably backfire for Scott Rose. From what I understand that data was sound and not fabricated. What was unsound was the methodology (which was presumably reported accurately) and conclusions drawn from them. If we use the UoT's definition of scientific misconduct, then there none is to be found here. A poor methodology shouldn't constitute scientific misconduct if accurately reported.

    If the UoT sees this as I have, then they will announce their findings that the study did not fabricate the data, and NOM and other anti-gay groups will have more to crow about.

    Posted by: mkandefer | Jul 12, 2012 11:44:03 AM


  3. "A team consisting of leading family researchers was involved in developing the research protocol," Regnerus wrote...

    Uh huh. Name them.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Jul 12, 2012 11:44:23 AM


  4. An anti-gay academic is funded by anti-gay groups, the article is peer-reviewed by two anti-gay academics, and is accepted for publication before the data collection is completed... Sounds like sound research..

    I hope he is censured and loses whatever reputation he has.

    Posted by: homer | Jul 12, 2012 11:44:47 AM


  5. Nice how the UT review will take 60 days and the study took 5 weeks. Gosh, I wonder if UT and the journal are trying to sweep this under the rug?

    Huge surprise that something stupid happened in Texas.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 12, 2012 11:48:54 AM


  6. Leading Family researchers?? LMAO

    When "christians" have to lie to make their point and get called on it it is always delicious to watch. The "moral police" have no Morals.

    Posted by: Mickey | Jul 12, 2012 11:53:57 AM


  7. Homer I didn't know the peer reviewers were known as they are usually not disclosed by a journal, and they usually number in three not two; with the editor serving as final arbiter. Where did you hear the reviewers were anti-gay? How did you find them?

    Posted by: mkandefer | Jul 12, 2012 11:56:31 AM


  8. Scott Rose commenting here, in response to the above commenter who said "This will probably backfire for Scott Rose." Firstly, Scott Rose is not following up on the Regnerus matter for direct personal benefit. I am, rather, pursuing the matter because it involves evident collusion between anti-gay-rights political forces and the University of Texas, which is a publicly-funded school. Even where studies are privately funded, a school that receives federal money must uphold minimum scientific standards in order to continue to qualify for federal funds. The UT definition of scientific misconduct includes this: "practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards." Publishing a study with a sociologically invalid comparison between a test group and a control group fits that definition. It is dismaying that although the TowleRoad report above includes that definition, a commenter comes along and makes a remark as though in ignorance of that part of UT's own definition of scientific misconduct. That the same commenter says "This will probably backfire for Scott Rose," as though the thing were only about me, adds to the absurdity. Yesterday, a Golinski/DOMA amicus brief was filed from many different major professional associations, including the American Medical Association, spelling out that the Regnerus study is not scientifically valid. UT certainly must be taking note, that on the one side there is the tiny religious right splinter group the "American College of Pediatrics championing the Regnerus study and in a court brief misrepresenting what it says, and on the other side, the AMA with its hundreds of thousands of doctors saying that the Regnerus study is not valid as science. Additionally, Elsevier, the scientific publishing company that owns Social Science Research, which published the Regnerus study, has referred the matter of SSR's publication of the study to COPE, the Commission on Publication Ethics, for review. One of the concerns is that although Dr. Paul Amato has no credentials in gay parenting, he was paid as a Regnerus study consultant and then he was asked to provide commentary on the Regnerus study, which was published along with the Regnerus study. It is essential to understand that the Regnerus study is actually commissioned political propaganda for the 2012 election season. I cover that matter here:
    NOM-Regnerus ‘Gay Parenting’ Study: A One-Percenter Dirty Campaign Trick
    http://tinyurl.com/7xejh23
    Regnerus's own colleagues at UT have been condemning his study as non-scientific. UT's Debra Umberson said this: Regnerus' study is bad science. Among other errors, he made egregious yet strategic decisions in selecting particular groups for comparison,"
    UT nonetheless is overseen by the Regents, who were appointed by the anti-gay-rights Governor Rick Perry. UT officials have been promoting the study through advertorials for the study, including some placed by UT public affairs director David Ochsner. At some point, no matter the political engagement of some parts of UT administration with getting the study promoted, the fact that the AMA, along with many additional major professional associations, are filing court briefs calling the study invalid must get those UT administrators' attention.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Jul 12, 2012 11:58:16 AM


  9. Scott Rose commenting here, in response to the above commenter who said "This will probably backfire for Scott Rose." Firstly, Scott Rose is not following up on the Regnerus matter for direct personal benefit. I am, rather, pursuing the matter because it involves evident collusion between anti-gay-rights political forces and the University of Texas, which is a publicly-funded school. Even where studies are privately funded, a school that receives federal money must uphold minimum scientific standards in order to continue to qualify for federal funds. The UT definition of scientific misconduct includes this: "practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards." Publishing a study with a sociologically invalid comparison between a test group and a control group fits that definition. It is dismaying that although the TowleRoad report above includes that definition, a commenter comes along and makes a remark as though in ignorance of that part of UT's own definition of scientific misconduct. That the same commenter says "This will probably backfire for Scott Rose," as though the thing were only about me, adds to the absurdity. Yesterday, a Golinski/DOMA amicus brief was filed from many different major professional associations, including the American Medical Association, spelling out that the Regnerus study is not scientifically valid. UT certainly must be taking note, that on the one side there is the tiny religious right splinter group the "American College of Pediatrics championing the Regnerus study and in a court brief misrepresenting what it says, and on the other side, the AMA with its hundreds of thousands of doctors saying that the Regnerus study is not valid as science. Additionally, Elsevier, the scientific publishing company that owns Social Science Research, which published the Regnerus study, has referred the matter of SSR's publication of the study to COPE, the Commission on Publication Ethics, for review. One of the concerns is that although Dr. Paul Amato has no credentials in gay parenting, he was paid as a Regnerus study consultant and then he was asked to provide commentary on the Regnerus study, which was published along with the Regnerus study. It is essential to understand that the Regnerus study is actually commissioned political propaganda for the 2012 election season. I cover that matter here:
    NOM-Regnerus ‘Gay Parenting’ Study: A One-Percenter Dirty Campaign Trick
    http://tinyurl.com/7xejh23
    Regnerus's own colleagues at UT have been condemning his study as non-scientific. UT's Debra Umberson said this: Regnerus' study is bad science. Among other errors, he made egregious yet strategic decisions in selecting particular groups for comparison,"
    UT nonetheless is overseen by the Regents, who were appointed by the anti-gay-rights Governor Rick Perry. UT officials have been promoting the study through advertorials for the study, including some placed by UT public affairs director David Ochsner. At some point, no matter the political engagement of some parts of UT administration with getting the study promoted, the fact that the AMA, along with many additional major professional associations, are filing court briefs calling the study invalid must get those UT administrators' attention.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Jul 12, 2012 11:58:20 AM


  10. Scott Rose commenting here, in response to the above commenter who said "This will probably backfire for Scott Rose." Firstly, Scott Rose is not following up on the Regnerus matter for direct personal benefit. I am, rather, pursuing the matter because it involves evident collusion between anti-gay-rights political forces and the University of Texas, which is a publicly-funded school. Even where studies are privately funded, a school that receives federal money must uphold minimum scientific standards in order to continue to qualify for federal funds. The UT definition of scientific misconduct includes this: "practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards." Publishing a study with a sociologically invalid comparison between a test group and a control group fits that definition. It is dismaying that although the TowleRoad report above includes that definition, a commenter comes along and makes a remark as though in ignorance of that part of UT's own definition of scientific misconduct. That the same commenter says "This will probably backfire for Scott Rose," as though the thing were only about me, adds to the absurdity. Yesterday, a Golinski/DOMA amicus brief was filed from many different major professional associations, including the American Medical Association, spelling out that the Regnerus study is not scientifically valid. UT certainly must be taking note, that on the one side there is the tiny religious right splinter group the "American College of Pediatrics championing the Regnerus study and in a court brief misrepresenting what it says, and on the other side, the AMA with its hundreds of thousands of doctors saying that the Regnerus study is not valid as science. Additionally, Elsevier, the scientific publishing company that owns Social Science Research, which published the Regnerus study, has referred the matter of SSR's publication of the study to COPE, the Commission on Publication Ethics, for review. One of the concerns is that although Dr. Paul Amato has no credentials in gay parenting, he was paid as a Regnerus study consultant and then he was asked to provide commentary on the Regnerus study, which was published along with the Regnerus study. It is essential to understand that the Regnerus study is actually commissioned political propaganda for the 2012 election season. I cover that matter here:
    NOM-Regnerus ‘Gay Parenting’ Study: A One-Percenter Dirty Campaign Trick
    http://tinyurl.com/7xejh23
    Regnerus's own colleagues at UT have been condemning his study as non-scientific. UT's Debra Umberson said this: Regnerus' study is bad science. Among other errors, he made egregious yet strategic decisions in selecting particular groups for comparison,"
    UT nonetheless is overseen by the Regents, who were appointed by the anti-gay-rights Governor Rick Perry. UT officials have been promoting the study through advertorials for the study, including some placed by UT public affairs director David Ochsner. At some point, no matter the political engagement of some parts of UT administration with getting the study promoted, the fact that the AMA, along with many additional major professional associations, are filing court briefs calling the study invalid must get those UT administrators' attention.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Jul 12, 2012 11:58:22 AM


  11. Scott Rose commenting here, in response to the above commenter who said "This will probably backfire for Scott Rose." Firstly, Scott Rose is not following up on the Regnerus matter for direct personal benefit. I am, rather, pursuing the matter because it involves evident collusion between anti-gay-rights political forces and the University of Texas, which is a publicly-funded school. Even where studies are privately funded, a school that receives federal money must uphold minimum scientific standards in order to continue to qualify for federal funds. The UT definition of scientific misconduct includes this: "practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards." Publishing a study with a sociologically invalid comparison between a test group and a control group fits that definition. It is dismaying that although the TowleRoad report above includes that definition, a commenter comes along and makes a remark as though in ignorance of that part of UT's own definition of scientific misconduct. That the same commenter says "This will probably backfire for Scott Rose," as though the thing were only about me, adds to the absurdity. Yesterday, a Golinski/DOMA amicus brief was filed from many different major professional associations, including the American Medical Association, spelling out that the Regnerus study is not scientifically valid. UT certainly must be taking note, that on the one side there is the tiny religious right splinter group the "American College of Pediatrics championing the Regnerus study and in a court brief misrepresenting what it says, and on the other side, the AMA with its hundreds of thousands of doctors saying that the Regnerus study is not valid as science. Additionally, Elsevier, the scientific publishing company that owns Social Science Research, which published the Regnerus study, has referred the matter of SSR's publication of the study to COPE, the Commission on Publication Ethics, for review. One of the concerns is that although Dr. Paul Amato has no credentials in gay parenting, he was paid as a Regnerus study consultant and then he was asked to provide commentary on the Regnerus study, which was published along with the Regnerus study. It is essential to understand that the Regnerus study is actually commissioned political propaganda for the 2012 election season. I cover that matter here:
    NOM-Regnerus ‘Gay Parenting’ Study: A One-Percenter Dirty Campaign Trick
    http://tinyurl.com/7xejh23
    Regnerus's own colleagues at UT have been condemning his study as non-scientific. UT's Debra Umberson said this: Regnerus' study is bad science. Among other errors, he made egregious yet strategic decisions in selecting particular groups for comparison,"
    UT nonetheless is overseen by the Regents, who were appointed by the anti-gay-rights Governor Rick Perry. UT officials have been promoting the study through advertorials for the study, including some placed by UT public affairs director David Ochsner. At some point, no matter the political engagement of some parts of UT administration with getting the study promoted, the fact that the AMA, along with many additional major professional associations, are filing court briefs calling the study invalid must get those UT administrators' attention.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Jul 12, 2012 11:58:24 AM


  12. The study doesn't appear to represent academic misconduct. What it does represent is very poor design, and extremely poor objectivity. While the first author of the study should be criticized for his garbage science, the peer reviewers and editors of the journal in which it appears (Social Science Research Volume 41, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 752–770) should be roundly criticized for their failure to maintain a proper standard of scientific rigor.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Jul 12, 2012 12:01:58 PM


  13. "Huge surprise that something stupid happened in Texas."

    As a general rule, that may be valid, but Austin, where the university is located, is a long-standing bastion of liberalism and the faculty of the university--especially in the social sciences and humanities--tend to be as liberal as academics anywhere are.

    In fact, the very fact that the study is being reviewed in this way is undoubtedly a reflection of the fact that its conclusions did not sit well with the political preferences of the academic establishment at UT.

    I really hope that we have not reached a point where we as gay people try to attack any study of any kind that does not result in conclusions that are politically expedient.......there remain real problems in the gay community that need to be addressed that are self-inflicted and while we don't cherish having our dirty laundry washed in public any more than any other group does, deliberately trying to sabotage truths that we would prefer were not truths is not the way to go about achieving real, lasting positive change. It will only cost us credibility in the long run......

    And pretending that we are no more promiscuous than heterosexuals or that that might not have a negative effect on the raising of children in many instances is a good example of such......

    Posted by: Rick | Jul 12, 2012 12:04:38 PM


  14. I smell a republican/NOM mole in there somewhere. Let's see a study on heterosexual couples and the horrors that they have brought into the world.

    Posted by: patrick | Jul 12, 2012 12:08:34 PM


  15. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for the response. You do not need to convince me that the methodology was not scientifically sound (which is not the same as misconduct), I already acknowledged that in my post. I agree that if there was collusion between UoT and anti-gay right forces that that would violate the third criteria. Thank you for adding to the information in the article and correcting the ignorance I had. I was not aware of the collusion prior to this. I apologize for speaking to the issue without fully informing myself of what your case is actually alleging, and basing my opinion on this small article.

    Cheers!

    Posted by: mkandefer | Jul 12, 2012 12:14:12 PM


  16. @MKANDAFER It is the other way around. Mark Regnerus' study will backfire on him. Scott Brown's request for investigation by UofT into the faulty methodology of Regnerus will not.

    I might suggest that you "google" this: "faulty research study by Mark Regnerus". Then, spend the rest of the day reading just how faulty that study was.

    It was a thinly-veiled attempt by a very biased "professor" using funds and supplementary "research" from biased sources who had an agenda to use the faulty conclusions of that research to justify a biased point-of-view.

    The Regnerus study was amateur, unprofessional and very suspect.

    Worse, it's conclusions were unequivocally wrong about "gay parenting".

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jul 12, 2012 12:21:02 PM


  17. Though it may turn out that this investigation is completely warranted, I can't help but feel slightly concerned.

    It is essential that researchers and professors maintain absolute academic freedom to research any subject they please and attempt to publish any results or conclusions that they reach. Otherwise, challenging orthodoxy becomes impossible. Bad science should be roundly rejected and criticized, and that is what the peer review process is for.

    I just hope this isn't a case of disliking the results and therefore going after the person doing the research. It doesn't appear so, but we have to be very careful not to even appear to be doing that. That's how human progress is stymied.

    Posted by: Jack | Jul 12, 2012 12:26:37 PM


  18. Though it may turn out that this investigation is completely warranted, I can't help but feel slightly concerned.

    It is essential that researchers and professors maintain absolute academic freedom to research any subject they please and attempt to publish any results or conclusions that they reach. Otherwise, challenging orthodoxy becomes impossible. Bad science should be roundly rejected and criticized, and that is what the peer review process is for.

    I just hope this isn't a case of disliking the results and therefore going after the person doing the research. It doesn't appear so, but we have to be very careful not to even appear to be doing that. That's how human progress is stymied.

    Posted by: Jack | Jul 12, 2012 12:26:41 PM


  19. Depends on what you define as "data". The way the questions were asked, one can argue that the data was fabricated as well. The only sound methodology was using a truly random sample, which is indeed rare for a sociological study. But it all goes down from there. The questionnaire was already designed to only look at gay people who had children from previous straight relationships.

    Posted by: Steve | Jul 12, 2012 12:27:10 PM


  20. How can it NOT be misconduct to deliberately design a "study" so it would deliver the desired conclusion, which was decided BEFORE the study even commenced? Then the study's author and those who funded it trumpet the results in a way that isn't even supported by the study, that gay parents are bad.

    The didn't study the children of gay couples, they studied the children of "mixed orientation" male/female couples, families where only ONE of the parents is gay, then they turn around and claim it shows that ALL gay parents are bad. I'm going to go out a limb here and suggest that if one of the partners in a male/female couple is actually gay then there are going to be stressors quite unlike those in gay/gay or straight/straight couples. That's intuitively obvious.

    If anything the results of the study show that it's a really bad idea for gay people to marry someone of the opposite sex and raise children, but that's not the conclusion the study's author made. Instead he put the blame for any dysfunction in the children firmly on the shoulders of the GAY parent, not on the stressful gay/straight dynamic in the marriage.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jul 12, 2012 12:31:21 PM


  21. This is just another case of anti-gay Christian black propaganda to make LGBT people look bad so people have think badly of gay people. Proof that the anti-gay Christians are using psychological warfare against gays. The Nazis used black propaganda like this to get the German people to think badly of the Jews and Homosexuals that the Nazis rounded up into concentration camps to be murdered by the Catholic Nazis who were working for Hitler.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 12, 2012 12:36:51 PM


  22. "How can it NOT be misconduct to deliberately design a "study" so it would deliver the desired conclusion, which was decided BEFORE the study even commenced?"

    What evidence do you have that that is the case?

    "The didn't study the children of gay couples, they studied the children of "mixed orientation" male/female couples, families where only ONE of the parents is gay, then they turn around and claim it shows that ALL gay parents are bad"

    NOM may have tried to claim that the study shows that all gay parents are bad, but where is the evidence that the authors of the study drew such a broad conclusion?

    -----------

    It is legitimate to raise questions about methodology and ensure that there is no bias involved in such studies, but going to the extreme of making the accusations that you are making when it is not clear they are warranted is what undercuts OUR credibility.

    Posted by: Rick | Jul 12, 2012 12:42:15 PM


  23. @Paul R,

    U of T is an an EXCELLENT university system, highly regarded. It's people like you when you make foolish remarks that give 'progressives' a bad rap among many people.

    Here's a newsflash:

    Academia is full of fraud and corruption.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 12, 2012 12:48:38 PM


  24. Here's a really good overview of everything that's wrong with this "study." http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/mark-regnerus-and-noms-anti-gay-rights-expert-witness-project/politics/2012/07/02/42580

    Again, Regnerus did NOT study the children of gay couples. He studied the children of male/female couples where ONE of the parents also sought out homosexual sex. But he didn't limit his conclusions to JUST "mixed orientation" marriages like the ones he studied, he applied it to ALL gay parents.

    When you add in the fact that the funding for this bit of chicanery came from the Witherspoon Institute, where one of the people behind NOM (Maggie Gallagher/Brian Brown's group) is a Senior Fellow, it becomes clear that the flaws in this study were not accidental but designed to produce a desired result.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jul 12, 2012 12:54:11 PM


  25. Rick and Ratbastard, are your Google fingers broken? All you have to do is type "Mark Regnerus" into a search engine and you'll find out plenty about the research he has done before and the groups he is allied with. All you have to do is look at who FUNDED the study, groups with substantial ties to NOM, which suggests the study was designed to produce a certain result. Has NOM *ever* done anything that suggests they are open to new information, unwilling to lie and distort?

    If the KKK funded a study that concluded all black people are shiftless and lazy, wouldn't you at least SUSPECT there was something fishy going on?!

    Posted by: Caliban | Jul 12, 2012 1:07:17 PM


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