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Judge Keeps Documents On Anti-Gay, Discredited Mark Regnerus Parenting Study Away From Public Eyes

This last week, an Orlando judge overturned a November ruling stating that the University of Central Florida had to turn over any documents related to the Social Science Research journal’s peer review and publication of Mark Regnerus’ widely discredited study against same-sex parenting.

Mark_regenerusLGBT activist and writer John Becker had requested the documents under Florida’s Public Records Act, but for now they will remain sealed — at least until Becker appeals, which he plans to do. Writing for The Bilerico Project, Becker said:

Judge John Marshall Kest found that, despite the fact that the journal Social Science Research was housed at UCF; the university granted UCF use of its computers, servers, pass-through networks, email addresses, and office supplies; the university paid Dr. Wright's journal-related travel expenses; and UCF awarded full assistantships and tuition waivers to grad students to work solely on the journal, a sufficient distance exists between the university and the journal to exempt the journal-related records held by UCF from Florida's extensive Sunshine Law.

Regnerus’ study claimed to show that the children of gay parents had higher rates of life problems compared to kids raised by straight parents, and has been used ever since its publication to oppose same-sex marriage and gay adoption in civil court battles.

However, an internal audit of the Social Science Research journal concluded that Regnerus’ study was “bulls--t,” that it barely studied gay parents, contained no original research, had a “highly unusual” timeline with an “unseemly rush to publication” and that all three of the journal’s peer-reviewers had ties to the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute that funded the study to begin with.

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  1. We have now gone way beyond documenting that Regnerus editor James Wright knowingly and deliberately subverted peer review ethics, and other science publishing ethics, to publish his two Regnerus-related anti-gay issues of Social Science Research in June/July and November 2012.

    That UCF and Elsevier are spending so much time and money hiding the additional evidence of editorial misconduct is shocking, for no school, or science publisher should collude in contaminating the scholarly record.

    This decision was wrongly decided and Becker will win on appeal.

    Shame on UCF and on Elsevier. The dishonest Regnerus editor James Wright should be fired for cause from both UCF and Elsevier.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 12:05:44 PM


  2. Don't be so fast to judge this case on its superficial appearance everyone. As an openly gay and tenured professor at UCF, I can assure you that the University's motivations for keeping these records private have nothing to do with homophobia or support for the work of this disgraced and discredited "social scientist." The real issue at the core of this case pertains to the essential anonymity that must be extended to peer reviewers of any scientific journal. The peer review process is vital to the dissemination of scholarship; and disclosure of the identity of peer reviewers poses a major threat that has widespread implications for this process. While this author's work is abhorrent and unacceptable and shouldn't have survived the peer review process, we can't let our quest for vengeance threaten a system that relies on double-blinded review of scholarly work to ensure research of high quality and high scientific rigor gets published. That's the real issue here. UCF is interested in ensuring that Sunshine Laws for Florida don't destroy the ability of scholars who work at institutions within our State University System to participate in the peer review process. There is no desire to cover up the homophobic motivations of an author who was unfortunately able to get an article published by the right alignment of the wrong factors. This man has since most likely had his career ruined (and rightly so) and has been shunned and sanctioned by his own profession and Faculty. He will face the consequences of his actions. But let's not lose focus on the essential implications of what this case really entails.

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 3:24:19 PM


  3. Mr. Blackwell:

    I am writing to demand that you stop your public lying about what is involved in UCF's James Wright's gross editorial misconduct in publishing his two anti-gay packages of junk science in the June/July and November issues of "Social Science Research."

    In your comment, you allege that protecting "double-blind" peer review is at stake -- immediately marking you as a liar, because Social Science Research peer review is only SINGLE BLIND.

    In fact, Regnerus recommended paid NFSS consultant Dr. Paul Amato to editor James Wright as a peer reviewer and then immediately personally e-mailed a copy of the paper to Amato along with extravagantly flattering language urging Amato to do the peer review. After I smoked Amato out as a peer review, he confessed that by doing the peer review despite his fiduciary conflicts of interest, he had created an appearance of impropriety. He confessed that as per ordinary academic publishing ethics, and peer review ethics, he should not have done the peer review.

    Additionally, Becker's Freedom of Information Act request is only very tangentially about the peer reviewers, as we already know who they are. For example, we know that W. Bradford Wilcox peer reviewed the Regnerus paper. Upon request, I will furnish you with the complete documentation for who peer reviewed what in all of this.

    Additionally you should note that UCF's James Wright published anti-gay junk science from Walter Schumm, as though it had been peer reviewed, even though it had not been peer reviewed, and he did not disclose that Schumm was a paid NFSS consultant.

    For whatever reasons, you are just lying to the public when you allege that Becker's Freedom of Information Act request is mainly about the peer review. Other aspects of the requested documentation also with certainty will shed additional light on UCF's James Wright's gross editorial misconduct.

    Frankly, I have cause to believe, and evidence that shows, you are kissing rear ends at UCF in order to promote yourself there, and you are doing that at the expense of innocent LGBTers all over the world. You are a filthy, selfish rear-end-kisser.

    Wright's two anti-gay junk science issues are being used all around the world by anti-gay hate groups, including the Catholic Church, often to catastrophic effect in places such as Uganda.

    You are a patsy, a coward, and a source of deliberate misinformation. Stop doing things that harm innocent LGBTers. Stop your lying.

    Sincerely,

    Scott Rose

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 5:02:35 PM


  4. Hi Scott. I have to admit I am shocked at what you've written here. Not only have you passed judgment about me without merit, you've made some pretty libel statements about me that are totally uncalled for. First of all, the peer review process is a double blind process. In other words, neither the author who submits the work knows the identity of the peer reviewer who is reviewing his or her work just as the reviewer does not know the identity of the author who submitted it. While some journals do not stick to this policy, the vast majority do.

    In addition, you've called me an "ass-kisser, patsy, and coward" who's out to "promote" myself. Just so you know--I am a tenured professor at UCF and I am nowhere near interested in any type of promotion in the near future. Also, I am a Faculty member, not a member of the Administration and I have no interest in ever being a University administrator.

    I have a long track record of scholarship in the area of GLBT social equality and GLBT health. I also have served on the Faculty Senate for UCF and we have held meetings regarding this incident and not at one point during any of those meetings has anything other than the threat to the peer review process been brought up by administration.

    I certainly appreciate you providing more background information to me on this article's history. However, I have been an outspoken critic of it and have even spoken out against it with our top administrators and our Faculty Senate. So, again, your comments here are unbelievably unprofessional, uncalled for, and untrue.

    I await your apology...

    Sincerely,
    Doctor Christopher Blackwell

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 5:22:18 PM


  5. I'm writing a P.S., about UCF's Christopher W. Blackwell.

    This person has long been involved with trying to mislead the public about the Regnerus scandal.

    Firstly, it's essential to understand that Regnerus is not the worst of the malefactors in the scandal. UCF's James Wright is the worst of the malefactors. UCF's James Wright knowingly and deliberately cooperated with professioal religious anti-gay bigots (some of whom are his long time close personal friends) to subvert all academic ethics and to get these two junk science issues published.

    It is less about Regnerus and more about Wright. Wright is the character most guilty in this scandal. Even after he was caught, guilty of gross editorial misconduct, he has refused to do the right thing and to retract these dishonestly-published papers.

    Don't let UCF's Blackwell throw you off the scent. He is kissing rear-end at UCF, and deliberately misleading the public about Becker's lawsuit against UCF.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 5:23:40 PM


  6. I absolutely agree that peer review is an essential aspect of academic publishing. That is precisely why these documents housed at UCF need to be released. They show that it is the Journal that violated its own policies. There was NO meaningful peer review in the Regnerus fraud. The absurdities of the study and the irregularities in peer review have been well established. What is needed are the documents that show just how deep the fraud went and exactly how involved editor James Wright was from the very beginning. If you support the principle of peer review, Christopher Blackwell, you will support the release of the appropriate documents, which verify precisely how rigged this junk science concocted by the Heritage Foundation and the Witherspoon Institute really was.

    Posted by: Jay | Apr 22, 2014 5:29:37 PM


  7. Hi Jay. I agree with you about the junk pseudoscience that this person's "work" represents. And I am a vocal opponent of this person and his attempt to ruin the lives of GLBT persons across this country and beyond using his discriminatory and hate motivated study. And while I do believe that the journal's publisher (which I believe is Elsevier) should conduct an extensive investigation as to how this article was ever published and assess the peer review process of this journal and the specific peer reviewers who conducted the review of this article, there is a bigger issue at play legally. If a judge rules that Florida's Sunshine Laws apply to peer reviewers who are also state employees, the anonymity of peer reviewers is at threat. All of a sudden, you might see an author suing for disclosure of the identity of peer reviewers because his or her work was denied in a particular journal. Scott Rose, whoever he may be, has no idea who I am and has actually called my office, sent emails, etc. that are completely unfounded based solely on my initial post above. I am an out, proud, and active Faculty member. And I agree with you that this journal needs an extensive investigation and needs to come up with an action plan to address the problems that uncovers. But the bigger picture here about revealing peer reviewer identities is a major one that can't be discounted.

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 5:41:33 PM


  8. As Dr. Lori Holyfield told me:
    “When you look at that phenomenally short turn-around time from submission to acceptance, you just can’t help but wonder if somebody connected with Witherspoon or Regnerus didn’t call the editor and make special arrangements. With all the evidence and documentation now known, all signs point to Wilcox. Because of that, I think it would be in the best interest of the editorial board and the journal to provide the names of the peer reviewers in this case. Peer reviewers’ anonymity should be respected when the research is valid. This research is not valid. If a full investigation is not carried out, the journal’s reputation will be permanently darkened. Peer reviewers who were in any way involved in Regnerus’s funding and/or in his research should have recused themselves immediately; this never should have happened. “When you look at that phenomenally short turn-around time from submission to acceptance, you just can’t help but wonder if somebody connected with Witherspoon or Regnerus didn’t call the editor and make special arrangements. With all the evidence and documentation now known, all signs point to Wilcox. Because of that, I think it would be in the best interest of the editorial board and the journal to provide the names of the peer reviewers in this case. Peer reviewers’ anonymity should be respected when the research is valid. This research is not valid. If a full investigation is not carried out, the journal’s reputation will be permanently darkened. Peer reviewers who were in any way involved in Regnerus’s funding and/or in his research should have recused themselves immediately; this never should have happened.”

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 5:45:43 PM


  9. Let's not forget Dr. Philip Cohen's reasons for boycotting UCF's James Wright and "Social Science Research."

    Taking for granted the unethical behavior of Regnerus, and Brad Wilcox, on whose behalf Regnerus acted, the real failure here is by Wright. Instead of seriously reviewing the paper, he essentially whispered into an echo chamber of backers and consultants, “We should publish this, right?”

    I believe the paper should be retracted because the conclusions are demonstrably wrong, because the author lied in the paper about the involvement of the institute that funded it, and because the peer review process was compromised by conflicts of interest. As long as this remains uncorrected, and James Wright remains editor, the integrity of the journal is indelibly tarnished.

    While Wright is editor, I will no longer review for or submit to Social Science Research. I hope others will join me in that decision.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 5:47:13 PM


  10. Blackwell is attempting to blow smoke in everybody's eyes. The actual identity of the peer reviewers is a non-issue, because we already have their names. Here is how we have their names. When Wright assigned Darren Sherkat to do an "Audit" of how Regnerus et al got published, I sent Sherkat an e-mail asking him how he was going to check for conflicts of interest among the peer reviewers. Sherkat responded by telling me that he had made a Freedom of Information Act request to Regnerus's UT, giving UT the list of the peer reviewers and asking UT to send him Regnerus-study consulting contracts made to any of the people on the list of peer reviewers. I made a Freedom of Information Act request to UT for Sherkat's e-mail with the list of peer reviewers, and UT sent it to me.

    Separately, I asked UT to send me its response to Sherkat's FOIA request. UT then sent me its response to Sherkat, which consisted of a cover note plus Regnerus-study consulting contracts for Paul Amato and Brad Wilcox (both of whose names were on Sherkat's list of peer reviewers).

    This is not at all about protecting peer review, as the names of the peer reviewers of the Regnerus and Marks papers are already known.

    Blakwell is doing his UCF superiors a favor. If that isn't true, then why is Blackwell not publicly calling for Wright to retract the Regnerus and Marks papers?

    A person genuinely interested in LGBT safety around the world, and in protecting the integrity of the scholarly record, would be publicly demanding for UCF's James Wright to retract the Regnerus and Marks papers, not making up fake alibis to throw people off the scent.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 6:00:03 PM


  11. You don't protect the peer-review process by refusing to expose corruption of the peer-review process.

    Posted by: BobN | Apr 22, 2014 6:08:30 PM


  12. It must further be noted that UCF's Christopher Blackwell also is on an Elsevier journal editorial board ("Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care") and that he therefore has an undisclosed conflict of interest in talking about this topic. I consider that the litmus test of his loyalties is whether he will publicly demand for UCF's James Wright to retract the Regnerus paper. If Blackwell will not go on record demanding retraction of the Regnerus paper, then you can be sure that he is kissing rear ends at both Elsevier and at UCF>

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 6:22:23 PM


  13. I am not blowing smoke for anyone and I actually find it comedic that given my extensive work in GLBT health as an out gay male scholar that anyone would question my loyalties...

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 6:29:54 PM


  14. I guess Scott Rose won't be going to the prom with Dr. Blackwell.

    Posted by: JasonMacB | Apr 22, 2014 6:43:56 PM


  15. Dr. Blackwell, please tell us why you are not publicly demanding for James Wright to retract the Regnerus and Marks papers.

    Your credibility is a stake.

    Posted by: GarySFBCN | Apr 22, 2014 6:49:18 PM


  16. GARYSFBCN:

    I have openly condemned this work since the start of all of this. Unfortunately, my going on the record for James Wright to retract the Regenerus and Marks papers will be of little to no impact as I am not a child welfare researcher and do not claim to be an expert in this area of science. In fact, since child welfare science is outside of my scope of expertise, my lending of my personal opinion could in fact be counterproductive and become a major source of criticism for the very people we're trying to discredit here.

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 7:01:36 PM


  17. One need not have expertise in gay parenting studies to be fully informed about Regnerus editor James Wright's gross editorial misconduct in publishing his two Regnerus-related issues. Knowledge of the misconduct is adequate to calling for retraction. Christopher Blackwell is a despicable Elsevier and UCF flunky and apologist.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 7:16:39 PM


  18. I"d suggest Dr. Blackwell look at http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/category/scott-rose-2 for examples of what appear to be Scott Rose's obsession (in the colloquial sense) with Regnerus. Just looking at the titles of the articles will suffice. The web page seems to have a list of titles and short summaries for articles by Rose with links to the full articles.

    Posted by: Bill | Apr 22, 2014 7:35:58 PM


  19. Dr. Blackwell, your responds smacks of 'just following orders.'

    In previous posts you write that this "study" is "discriminatory and hate motivated".

    And you call it "junk pseudoscience" and then claim that it is being used as an attempt "to ruin the lives of GLBT persons across this country."

    I'm reminded of Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

    Posted by: GarySFBCN | Apr 22, 2014 7:38:32 PM


  20. While I have never heard of Scott Rose until a few hours ago, I would praise him on his work on this issue and encourage him in his efforts and acknowledge his perseverance. However, his personal attacks against me have been completely inappropriate, ridiculously off base, and wildly misdirected.

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 7:44:55 PM


  21. It's just completely false that UCF is fighting only in the name of "peer review anonymity." If that were the issue, than UCF would release documentation responsive to Becker's request but not directly involving peer review. UCF is knowingly and deliberately trying to hide the facts of the scandal from the world, as is Elsevier. If Blackwell were not being disingenuous here, he would file his own "Sunshine Laws" request involving UCF's Wright, Brad Wilcox and Regnerus but not directly involving peer review. We have already documented beyond all doubt that Wright has violated the UCF "Creed," the university's academic honor code. UCF officials, including Blackwell, are more interested in sweeping this dirt under the carpet than in upholding the university's "Creed."

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 8:31:57 PM


  22. I can assure you Mr. Rose that I have no interest in sweeping anything "under the rug." I have reported to you and others here solely what myself and the UCF Faculty have been presented as the basis for UCF's side of this case. I have also never heard a single UCF Faculty member stand in support of the research findings of this unethical "social scientist." In fact, I've only heard the opposite from people who share the same opinions about his work that you and I both share. I understand and appreciate your argument that there is more to it than I have suggested. I can only tell you and others that from my perspective, the situation goes far beyond just the superficial aspects of this case. I represent no one but myself and have never said I represented anyone else's point of view on this. Regardless, you have continued to personally attack me and have done so in a public manner that is unprofessional, rude, inappropriate, and without merit. And for that, you have threatened your own reputation in this matter. Nonetheless, as an ally for GLBT equality, I wish you the best on your future endeavors and thank-you for the efforts you have put forward in trying to right a wrong. I will cordially await your apology to me for the treatment you have afforded me.

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 9:02:38 PM


  23. I can assure you Mr. Rose that I have no interest in sweeping anything "under the rug." I have reported to you and others here solely what myself and the UCF Faculty have been presented as the basis for UCF's side of this case. I have also never heard a single UCF Faculty member stand in support of the research findings of this unethical "social scientist." In fact, I've only heard the opposite from people who share the same opinions about his work that you and I both share. I understand and appreciate your argument that there is more to it than I have suggested. I can only tell you and others that from my perspective, the situation goes far beyond just the superficial aspects of this case. I represent no one but myself and have never said I represented anyone else's point of view on this. Regardless, you have continued to personally attack me and have done so in a public manner that is unprofessional, rude, inappropriate, and without merit. And for that, you have threatened your own reputation in this matter. Nonetheless, as an ally for GLBT equality, I wish you the best on your future endeavors and thank-you for the efforts you have put forward in trying to right a wrong. I will cordially await your apology to me for the treatment you have afforded me.

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 9:02:42 PM


  24. I have exposed you as an Elsevier and UCF plant, Mr. Blackwell, and your jig is up. Nobody should accept your disingenuous defenses of UCF's perfidy in this matter of academic ethics violations. You are no friend to gay people. You are as bad an enabler of Regnerus as UCF's James Wright. You have fiduciary conflicts of interest and you didn't realize that they were going to be exposed here.

    Posted by: Scott Rose | Apr 22, 2014 10:52:11 PM


  25. Still waiting for that apology...

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Apr 22, 2014 11:07:50 PM


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