Ariel Shidlo comments on NARTH's use of his research

Back in December, 2008, I posted a critique of Neil Whitehead’s re-analysis of Shidlo and Schroeder’s study of harm from reorientation change efforts.
In that post, I noted that Whitehead said Shidlo’s study actually demonstrated the value of reparative therapy because suicides were reduced. In her report on the 2008 NARTH convention, NARTH president Julie Hamilton wrote:

Regarding the claims that reorientation therapy harms clients, Dr. Whitehead cited studies that found suicide rates decrease after therapy. In fact, he pointed out that Shidlo and Schroeder (2002) sought to prove the adverse effects of therapy by collecting stories of harm; however, instead of finding therapy to be harmful, they found it to be helpful, in that suicide attempts by these clients actually decreased after therapy. For more information on the content and references for Dr. Whitehead’s keynote address, see the NARTH Collected Convention Papers or soon-to-be-released book, What the Research Shows: NARTH’s Response to the APA Claims on Homosexuality.

In the original post I cited a number of reasons why Shidlo and Schoeder could not be used to make statements regarding the relationship between change efforts and suicidality. Also, along the way, I asked Ariel Shidlo his response to the NARTH claim and my critique of it. He recently responded:

The [NARTH] claims are obviously a wishful reading of data that does not lend itself to any such conclusions. You make these points eloquently in your column.
Thanks for educating readers to a critical reading of those who throw around “science” in their sermons.

In reviewing the original post, note that the topic was not merely the inappropriateness of the specific NARTH claim but the role of confirmation bias in making various claims regarding sexual orientation. Being aware of this should not prevent theorizing but we should be prepared to acknowledge data which contradict our theories and look for alternative perspectives with new and better research.

4 thoughts on “Ariel Shidlo comments on NARTH's use of his research”

  1. Above all there must be “a place in the conversation” for why any gay person would want to attempt to try to become heterosexual, especially given the ignorance-fueled bullying non-acceptance of gay human beings in some parts of society. That “praying to Jesus” or some other similar activity is always lurking behind “change” efforts would seem to indicate that hateful sexual prejudice and insanity are in operation at some level among those pushing stigmatized individuals to believe they should “want” to be presto change-oed through magical nincompoopery into heterosexuals.

  2. David – As we have discussed before, this is so unnecessary. It is not hard to simply stick the facts and report things as they are.
    You cannot criticize your opponents with integrity when you do the same thing you accuse them of doing.

  3. Shameless, thoughtless, mimicking of a lower standard than their purported religious and scientific values should allow.
    I see it as ultimately narcissisticly self-defeating (inflated ego that will inevitably be punctured and unrepairable).

  4. We all come to the table with perspectives and opinions that flavor our reading of any data. We want the data to confirm what we have been believing and look for ways to “see” the results as a confirmation.
    But, sadly, NARTH takes such “seeing” to a new artform. They can see confirmation their views in studies that say precisely the opposite.
    There is a place in the conversation for those who theorize that orientation is the result of environmental factors and whose perspective is flavored by that view. There is room for those who think that paternal relationships are determinant. There is a place in the conversation for those who seek to change attractions by means of therapy, including reparative therapy. There is room for those who defy convention and accepted positions and question the institutionalized presumptions of their professional organization.
    But there isn’t much value in an organization that is dishonest or self-deluding about the work of others. And unfortunately, that seems to be consistent with NARTH.
    In this current period of culture war, they aren’t alone in that. But they really do seem to be shameless about it.

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