Facts and Fiction in the Jonah Case: Spitzer's Retraction

In November, 2012 on behalf of several former clients of  Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (formerly Homosexuality), the Southern Poverty Law Center initiated a complaint in New Jersey (Ferguson et al v. JONAH). The complaint seeks damages under New Jersey’s consumer protection laws and challenges JONAH’s claims to be able to help people change sexual orientation.
In support of JONAH, Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician, filed an amicus brief with various claims regarding sexual reorientation. There are many glaring problems with this brief. I hope to examine several of them over the coming days, including her selective citation of my work.
A huge problem for NARTH has been Robert Spitzer’s retraction of his 2001 study on sexual reorientation, and Cretella briefly addresses Spitzer’s recent statements:

cretellaamicus1

I hope Cretella does not do pediatrics as she suggests doing sexual reorientation. For her patients’ sake, I hope she relies on new studies and takes into account all relevant studies to inform her advice. On sexual orientation, there have been several important studies about sexual orientation since 2001 which are relevant.
And then regarding Zucker and the publication of a retraction: This is misleading. In Zucker’s journal, Spitzer did publish a letter to the editor which apologized for what he now believes are erroneous conclusions.  Regarding Zucker’s reasons for not doing something in addition to Spitzer’s letter, I will let him speak for himself. In a widely published May 20, 2012 email, Zucker stated:

Dear Colleagues:
1. As some of you know, Robert Spitzer has recently expressed his reservations/regret/remorse about the study he published in Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2003, in which he interviewed 200 men and women who had sought out some variant of “reparative therapy” to deal with their unwanted homoerotic attractions, desires, etc. This was first reported on in an article in American Prospect and then went viral the way all good things should do in the post-modern era…the story even reached the front page of the New York Times in an article by Ben Carey and then an Editorial in the NYT.
2. Because there is a lot of interest in the original study, the author’s regret, etc., I have asked the publisher to give open access to the original Spitzer article, the 26 peer commentaries that followed it, Spitzer’s reply, my Editorial that introduced the “target” article, and Spitzer’s recent Letter to the Editor in which he expresses his reappraisal of the study. The open access period will be for 2 months, where anyone from Australia to Zimbabwe can download these papers for free. I am grateful for this kind gesture on the publisher’s part.
3. I have one suggestion: read the Discussion of the original Spitzer article and the 26 peer commentaries.
Feel free to pass this message on to colleagues and relevant listservs.
Best regards
Ken Zucker, Ph.D.
Editor, Archives of Sexual Behavior

Cretella implies that Zucker took a stand on Spitzer’s original conclusions regarding change. Rather, Zucker honored Bob Spitzer’s request to publish a letter and made the original work available.
Cretella also cites my literature reviews from 1998 and 2002 but does not include my more recent views. I will address this in a future post.

NARTH Loses Tax Exempt Status (UPDATED)

In September 2012, the tax exempt status of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) was revoked due to failure to file Form 990 for three consecutive years. The notice of revocation was yesterday according to the IRS website.

narthrevocation

Even though the full name of the organization is not listed, the Employee Identification Number and address match up with the 2009 990 form. A call to the IRS also confirmed it.

NARTH’s website advises prospective donors that their donations will be tax deductible but it appears such deductions after September 15, 2012 may not be allowed.

It is difficult to know what this means. NARTH has never been a wealthy organization and conference attendance has declined in recent years. Members are hoping to maintain their ability to conduct reparative therapy with minors in CA via lawsuits against the state to overturn SB 1172 (see this article for more on SB 1172 and then NARTH’s perspective). NARTH has been actively soliciting donations to help support their legal actions. One would not be able to tell from the website that those donations are not deductible.

UPDATE (3/14/13) – I have heard from two commenters and other reliable sources that NARTH continues to tell those who inquire that donations are still deductible. However, according to an IRS representative I spoke with on Tuesday, their status is revoked and there has been no action from NARTH to attempt to reinstate that status. As is typical for NARTH, there has been no on-the-record comment on this situation, despite requests.

Is a Ban on Reparative Therapy a Violation of the First Amendment, Part One

Does a ban on reparative therapy infringe on the First Amendment rights of reparative therapists?

This question is at the heart of the debate (and a couple of lawsuits) regarding California’s law banning reparative therapy for minors. The law was set to take effect tomorrow but has been postponed pending a full hearing.

According to Eugene Volokh, the issue of professional-client speech has not been well-defined by the courts. In 2004, Volokh offered an excellent summary of issues relating to what the state can do to regulate professional speech to clients.  In the post, Volokh noted that professionals are subject to speech restrictions that other do not experience. For instance, the state can impose penalties when health care professionals offer harmful advice. Outside the professional context these expressions would be protected opinions.

According to Volokh, the Supreme Court has not been specific about important aspects of professional-client speech. He wrote:

Such restrictions and compulsions may in fact be properly upheld: There may be something in a professional-client relationship that would justify such extra regulation. But the Court has never explained (1) exactly what speech restrictions and speech compulsions would be allowed in such a situation, or (2) exactly when this reduced protection would be triggered. In Lowe v. SEC, 472 U.S. 181 (1985), a three-Justice concurrence (written by Justice White and joined by Chief Justice Burger and Justice Rehnquist) suggested this rule (paragraph break added):

One who takes the affairs of a client personally in hand and purports to exercise judgment on behalf of the client in the light of the client’s individual needs and circumstances is properly viewed as engaging in the practice of a profession. Just as offer and acceptance are communications incidental to the regulable transaction called a contract, the professional’s speech is incidental to the conduct of the profession. If the government enacts generally applicable licensing provisions limiting the class of persons who may practice the profession, it cannot be said to have enacted a limitation on freedom of speech or the press subject to First Amendment scrutiny.

Where the personal nexus between professional and client does not exist, and a speaker does not purport to be exercising judgment on behalf of any particular individual with whose circumstances he is directly acquainted, government regulation ceases to function as legitimate regulation of professional practice with only incidental impact on speech; it becomes regulation of speaking or publishing as such, subject to the First Amendment’s command that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Then Volokh offers a problem which seems relevant to the issues active in the current debate over conversion therapy.

b. Problem: Counseling That Advocates Race-Based Decisions

A state has long required all marriage and family counselors — defined as “any person who offers advice related to marriage and family matters in exchange for money” — to be licensed, and to follow rules prescribed by the state’s Marriage and Family Counseling Licensing Board.

The Board learns that some marriage and family counselors are advising clients not to enter into interracial marriages or interracial adoptions. Some are even advising clients who are in interracial marriages that the interracial nature of the marriage may be a source of the problem, and are suggesting in some instances that divorce may therefore be the only solution.

The Board believes that such advice is offensive, and harmful to the patients. It therefore enacts the following rule: “Any marriage and family counselor who uses the patients’ race, or the race of the patients’ spouse, children, or prospective adoptive children or stepchildren, as part of the basis for the counselor’s recommendation, shall have his or her license suspended for six months.”

Based on this rule, Mary Moe, a counselor who had engaged in such advice, has her license suspended. Her former patients, Laura Loh and Richard Roe, who divorced each other partly on Moe’s advice (Loh is East Asian and Roe is white), but who have since reconciled, sue Moe for emotional distress caused by her advice, which they claim constituted malpractice. The judge awards them $100,000 in a bench trial. One of the judge’s findings of fact is that Moe’s advice was unreasonable by the standards of the profession, and the sole evidence that the judge relies on is the Board’s rule.

What should be the proper analysis be under the First Amendment?

Did Mary Moe suffer a violation of her First Amendment rights?

When reparative therapists tell minor clients that they can change sexual orientation if they engage in deep emotional therapy, are they offering unreasonable advice which can be regulated by the state? When reparative therapists tell clients that homosexuality is a disorder of gender identity, can the state intervene? Should the state intervene when licensed therapists tell clients that pounding a pillow with a tennis racquet while screaming will help them get in touch with repressed memories underlying their homosexuality?

In this post, I want to raise the issues and generate some discussion. In part two, I will write about my views on the matters.

NARTH, the New Epigenetic Model and Confirmation Bias

Last week, I wrote briefly about the new paper from William Rice et al which describes an epigenetic model of homosexuality. In that post I reported a quote from National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) spokesman David Pruden regarding the study. Here is Pruden’s statement which was cited in the Christian Post:

“The theoretical model itself attributes only 10-14 percent of the factors to genetics or epigenetics. That leaves the remaining 85 percent or so of the factors to environmental influences,” said Pruden.

That assessment did not sound right to me so I contacted William Rice who informed me that his model accounted for homosexuality generally speaking, not just for “10-14 percent.” The Christian Post rightly printed the correction at the end of the article.

So where did the 10-14 percent figure come from? According to an email from Pruden, that range came from NARTH Scientific Advisory Board member, Neil Whitehead. Whitehead has speculated in the past that the maximum genetic contribution is between 10-14%. While I believe his assessment is low, he has referred to various studies to provide support. However, in the case of the new study, it appears no one at NARTH has even read the paper.

If Pruden read it, he didn’t refer to it. Rather he referred to Whitehead who yesterday placed a brief article on the NARTH website about the paper. Here is the body of Whitehead’s statement:

(A  fuller evaluation will appear here on this site: www.mygenes.co.nz when the full paper is available)

Recently (Anonymous, 2012) a summation of a published paper (Rice, W.R., Friberg, U. Gavrilets,  2012) has  achieved attention as being an explanation for homosexuality.

Readers should note this is a theoretical model only and  that  historically many theories have been put forward as the single overriding factor  causing homosexuality.  The current best consensus is that there is no single over-riding factor – the  trait is multifactorial and overwhelmingly environmental. The Rice paper is quite unlikely to be “critical”. Like previous  theories, the current epigenetic one may well have a small contribution, but  this remains to be established. The authors themselves  note that laboratory work has yet to be done. The paper built on  previously published work (Rice, Gavrilets, & Friberg,  2008).

Apparently, Whitehead has not read the paper because he said the “full paper” was not available. On the contrary, the paper is freely available online here.

What is striking is what Whitehead says about the topic of the paper before seeing it. He says homosexuality is “overwhelmingly environmental” and opines that the current epigenetic theory is unlikely to make more than a “small contribution” to homosexuality. It appears that Pruden and Whitehead have their minds made up.

NARTH is so committed to an environmental/family model of cause that organization leaders jump to a preferred conclusion before even considering the evidence.  This is one way confirmation bias operates. In this case, NARTH representatives said things about the theory before they read or studied it, and what they said came, not from the paper, but from their preconceived ideas.

 

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: What Does Mainstream Mean?

Facing challenges to reparative therapy, NARTH past president Julie Hamilton penned an article last week defending NARTH from charges that it is a reparative therapy organization that promotes odd techniques

In this article, Hamilton wrote:

NARTH represents licensed, ethical therapists who practice mainstream approaches to therapy in their offices. When we are talking about therapy, we are NOT referring to unorthodox approaches, nor are we referring to ministries, retreats, residential programs or any other form of help other than conventional therapy offered by licensed professionals in their offices.

What is mainstream?

As I pointed out here, NARTH leaders and members recommend very unorthodox and discredited techniques to their clients.  For instance, NARTH member and former board member Arthur Goldberg is a defendant in a law suit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center over the efficacy of changing sexual orientation from gay to straight. In the complaint, plaintiffs alleged that Goldberg’s counselor, Alan Downing, required clients to struggle through a gauntlet of men to seize oranges which symbolized testicles as a sign of masculinity. Clients were allegedly asked to undress in front of the counselors and to beat pillows with tennis racquets while visualizing their mothers.

Are those mainstream techniques?

I established in recent posts that NARTH leaders refers clients to New Warriors Training Adventure, a weekend retreat which incorporates the oranges, nudity and pillow beating into a masculinity enhancing weekend. If the SPLC complaint is correct, Jonah incorporates those techniques into therapy sessions. Is that orthodox?

Re-parenting

On NARTH’s website, tips for parents who struggle with a gay child are presented. At the end of this article by James Phelan, the New Warriors Training Adventure is recommended as is JONAH. In addition to those two groups, Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation is recommended because it offers “deep inner child work (re-parenting).”

Is re-parenting mainstream?

Note from this video at about 38 seconds how Mr. Cohen suggests that therapists establish a parent-child relationship.

Most therapists would not agree that therapists should attempt to “re-parent” their clients. In fact, the practice and accompanying attitude toward clients fell into disrepute in the 1990s (see this article for more on Jacqui Shiff, the mother of reparenting). Even though reparenting is not taught or practiced widely, perhaps, NARTH therapists think the techniques are mainstream. NARTH member Anthony Duk (who is the plaintiff in a NARTH lawsuit against the state of CA) told state Senator Ted Lieu that re-parenting is something specific to reparative therapy. Duk wrote:

Reparative therapy works. It is a process of re-parenting, forgiving past traumas, understanding the self and realizing that one’s purpose in life is and how to contribute to society.

Bioenergetics

Part of Richard Cohen’s approach is what he calls bioenergetics. There is a history to bioenergetics that connects to a somewhat mainstream therapist, Alexander Lowen. However, most often what is associated with bioenergetics is beating pillows with a tennis racquet while screaming angry words at a visualization of another person, usually a parent. Since reparative therapists think the type and quality of parenting cause one’s sexual orientation, clients need to heal from bad parenting, sometimes via catharsis. Reparative therapists also believe child abuse influences sexual abuse so the bioenergetic among them recommend the carthartic methods to address anger over victimization.

Is catharsis mainstream?

While expending energy in purposeful activity can be helpful, catharsis has not fared well in research investigations and is not generally considered mainstream. Research suggests that catharsis actually makes anger worse and can lead to more aggression. Just about any course in social psychology at the undergraduate level will provide psychology majors with enough data to address the central claims of cathartic methods. However, NARTH allows an article on its website which recommends IHF, New Warriors, and other such groups who use these techniques. And NARTH leaders use them. IHF’s Christopher Doyle and NARTH’s frequent media representative and New Warrior member David Pickup manage NARTH’s Facebook page. In other words, those who are prominent in the group and represented in their legal actions endorse techniques that most of their peers say are not mainstream. And that is without even mentioned sexual re-orientation.

I understand that some NARTH members don’t use these techniques and probably would not recommend them. However, observers of NARTH can be forgiven for pointing out the obvious. Hamilton says NARTH does not represent the unorthodox but their leaders recommend the unorthodox and NARTH’s attorneys are representing some members who recommend the unorthodox.

Some evangelicals have rushed to defend NARTH and reparative therapy but I urge them to exercise caution. One must look more deeply than the claims of orthodoxy to know what is being defended when one defends reparative therapy.

Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: When Reparative Isn’t Reparative

Past president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality is trying really hard to distance her organization from history and the organization’s leaders. In an article posted on NARTH’s website, Hamilton comments on her recent appearance on the Dr. Oz show (see my posts on that subject here and here) and makes a case that

…the term “reparative” never referred to trying to “repair” someone. It was originally used to refer to the “Reparative Theory” that when a child does not receive adequate same-sex bonding in childhood, homosexual attractions will develop as a “reparative drive” for those unmet needs.

She is correct here about the term reparative referring to a psychological drive. Proposed by Elizabeth Moberly and Joseph Nicolosi, the drive is not a positive development in reparative theory because the person experiences it in response to a deficit in relationship with the same-sex parent. The drive itself is trying to fix something that the reparative therapist believes is broken. Reparative therapists try to help same-sex attracted clients see that their attractions are futile efforts to repair and fill those unmet needs. While Hamilton is right in her explanation, I don’t think it changes much when it comes to how reparative therapists see homosexuality.  The client is still broken and in need of a different kind of repair than the homosexual reparative drive offers. In what will seem surprising to long time NARTH watchers, Hamilton claims that reparative therapy is just one of many change therapies promoted by NARTH.

NARTH does not use the term “Reparative Therapy” to refer to therapy for unwanted homosexual attractions.

She adds:

In actuality, “Reparative Therapy” only refers to one approach used by some therapists. However, there are many therapists who work with unwanted homosexual attractions, many of whom use combinations of other therapeutic methods. Therefore, a more inclusive term to describe this work would be therapy for unwanted homosexual attractions.

I would like to know what some of those other approaches are. She says they exist but she doesn’t give any specifics. The appeal to a more general terminology for NARTH’s work appears to be part of the recent makeover. NARTH carries this through into their court challenges to California’s new law banning change therapies for minors. In the Liberty Counsel brief, the term “sexual orientation change effort” (SOCE) is preferred. However, in the real world, three of the four plaintiffs in the NARTH case against Governor Brown are reparative therapists – David Pickup, Joseph Nicolosi, and Robert Vazzo. On page 19 of the complaint, Pickup is described as a consumer of “authentic SOCE counseling.”

As an adult, Mr. Pickup underwent authentic SOCE counseling, created by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, for several years.

The only counseling created by Joseph Nicolosi is reparative therapy. In fact, Pickup acknowledges this on one of his websites:

David H. Pickup is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, currently operating his private psychotherapy practice in Burbank, California. He works primarily with men dealing with same-sex attraction through Reparative Therapy, (also commonly called Reorientation Therapy), which was created by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi over the past twenty years . David underwent extensive training in Reparative Therapy for three years underneath the direction of Dr. Nicolosi at Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, California. He now offers expert training in this therapy to other therapists, either in person or via the internet for interns and therapists all over the world.  Reorientation Therapy is his primary focus and life’s work; assisting men and boys in healing their masculine wounds and helping them in their transformation out of homosexuality into heterosexuality.

Later in her article, Hamilton says that

NARTH represents licensed, ethical therapists who practice mainstream approaches to therapy in their offices. When we are talking about therapy, we are NOT referring to unorthodox approaches, nor are we referring to ministries, retreats, residential programs or any other form of help other than conventional therapy offered by licensed professionals in their offices.

Actually, some NARTH reparative therapists do recommend unorthodox methods and retreats. As noted earlier this week, David Pickup recommends the Mankind Project’s New Warriors Training Adventure where nudity is practiced and men are encouraged to run through a gauntlet of men to grab tennis balls or oranges symbolizing their testicles. Tennis racquets are used to beat pillows while visualizing parents or others. These are the kinds of things that have been described as taking place during JONAH counseling sessions in a suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. To my knowledge, NARTH has not spoken out against these practices. But then how could they? New Warrior David Pickup has represented NARTH in the CA legislature, and on numerous talk shows. While it is understandable that Hamilton wants to portray NARTH as mainstream, the public faces of NARTH in their court cases and media appearances have been reparative therapists, some of whom recommend the very techniques which NARTH says they don’t recommend. If NARTH wants to be taken seriously as mainstream, they need to come out clearly and strongly against catharsis and “guts work” techniques associated with New Warriors and Journey into Manhood. However, I don’t see how they can. The membership numbers would plummet.

UPDATE: There is another case challenging CA’s SB 1172, this one being brought be the Pacific Justice Institute. One of the plaintiffs in that case is NARTH member, Anthony Duk. During the fight over the bill, Duk wrote to bill author Ted Lieu. It certainly seems like NARTH is fighting for reparative therapy given that Dr. Duk is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

Dear Senator Lieu, As a Vietnamese American psychiatrist, I have seen many young male patients grow up without father figures in a world that is very tough. They end up with lots of abuse (psychological, verbal, sexual, physical) that denies their masculinity and pushes them to have very low self esteem. Without reparative therapy to help them become men and understand their full potential in society as fathers and husbands, they wind up with a false identity of homosexuality and being ‘gay’. Reparative therapy works. It is a process of re-parenting, forgiving past traumas, understanding the self and realizing that one’s purpose in life is and how to contribute to society. Please give me a call to discuss my opposition to SB 1172 if you have any questions. Anthony Duk, MD

More in this series: The Reparative Therapy Makeover Continues: No Naked Therapy? The Reparative Therapy Makeover: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: An Update

There are several new items regarding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill that I want to summarize as the week closes. After a lengthy campaign at Change.org, Barclays bank issued a statement indicating that they are quietly lobbying the Ugandan government regarding the bill. Here is the brief statement:

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill Statement

M2 Communications

“Barclays has a strong history of supporting all aspects of diversity, both in the workplace and in wider society. Equally, we are proud of playing our part in the development of economies across Africa, and the key role Barclays plays in the lives of millions of our African customers. “Barclays is aware of the proposed legislation relating to homosexuality in Uganda and we are engaging at appropriate levels of the Ugandan Government to express our views.”

I have seen nothing from Citibank. The Change.org campaign has over 500,000 signatures at this point.

According to this AP article, David Bahati continues to keep his bill in the news.  Even though Parliament is stalled over oil and internal strife, Bahati is talking up what he claims are changes in the bill. After claims in May, 2011 about the removal of the death penalty were proven false, I won’t believe his current claims until I can check them with an official report. However, if the bill is amended by Parliament in accord with the AP article, the focus of the bill may shift slightly. According to Bahati, counseling for gays has been added. If this is true and is made to serve as an alternative to jail, then Scott Lively will likely take some credit for it. He has been promoting what amounts to coerced ex-gay counseling for gays since March, 2009. Despite the fact that even NARTH has condemned that proposal, Lively (lately joined by Bryan Fischer) continues to promote this idea. The AP article carried an encouraging sign. Apparently, at least one MP on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee was willing to speak up for personal freedom:

One of the members, Krispus Ayena, said Friday that some parliamentarians spoke strongly against certain provisions in the bill as well as the death penalty itself. “There was a dissenting voice in the committee,” Ayena said. “They argued very forcefully that we should not do a thing like that: to regulate what goes on in bedrooms. First of all, is it practicable to regulate that? And there are those who say this is very oppressive.”

While MPs who think like this may not stop the bill, one hopes that behind the scenes there are those who are making attempts to keep the bill from the floor. Because of the recess called by the Speaker and the need to debate the oil bills, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill may not be considered before the December 15 Christmas break.

Dr. Oz’s Reparative Therapy Adventure

You can watch what Dr. Oz puts on his website here.

On the show, International Healing Foundation’s Chris Doyle said what he does is mainstream therapy and he said IHF doesn’t discourage gayness. This is astounding.  Let’s remember what IHF does:

IHF and other reparative therapists tell clients that their same sex attraction is due to abuse or trauma at the hands of the same sex parent. I have seen families literally ripped apart by this kind of “intervention.” There is nothing supportive about these interventions.

Later Julie Hamilton came on and said that reparative therapists don’t stigmatize same-sex attraction. One of the opposing guests (Brad Lamm) said she was not being honest. He is certainly closer to correct. Just check out a few articles on the NARTH website:

Health Risks: Fisting and other Homosexual Practices – Assumes the health risks of certain practices are associated with sexual orientation.

Interview with Andy Comiskey – SSA is a pathology

Fathers of Male Homosexuals – The problem is with the father.

Homosexuality 101 – Julie Hamilton’s article blaming fathers

Reparative therapists on this show tried to make what they do about choice of a benign option. However, their model of homosexuality renders that strategy less than honest. When one teaches that same-sex attraction is always wrapped up in abuse, and/or a dysfunctional family, one cannot expect to be taken seriously or calmly.

 

NYT and reparative therapy: The names are different but the narrative is the same

Reading this New York Times article was like deja vu all over again.

My first reaction to this article on ex-gays was that the names are different but the narrative is the same. Some men report changes in their sexual feelings and then therapists like Joseph Nicolosi apply that self-report to all gays. Note his statement that nobody is really gay. A few men, probably bisexuals, experience a shift in their current attractions and all of a sudden no one is gay. The fluidity that some people experience as a part of their personality is exploited by those who desperately want to pretend that all gays are made by parenting mistakes.

Another reaction I had was to wonder why the reporter did not go into the history of ex-gay claims. Many people over the years have made similar claims only to later say they were mistaken or that they had not really changed.

And then I feel sorry for Mr. Swaim.

NARTH defines and decries propaganda

Exploding the irony meter, the National Association for the Research and Therapy announced the keynote speaker for their upcoming conference. Paul Copan from nearby Palm Beach Atlantic University will speak on the following topic:

“Truth, Freedom, and Social Constructions: Why Truth-Seeking Ought To Guide Scientific Research”

Without an understanding of key philosophical and ethical concepts for doing research-including “truth,” “tolerance,” “social constructionism,” and “freedom”-one’s research is likely to become skewed and prove to be both unscientific, and propagandistic. The researcher ought to have freedom to investigate and publish one’s research in the interests of truth-that is, what corresponds to reality. Such a view is not only commonsensical and self-evident. It simply makes for good science and prevents it from being corrupted by pure social and political agendas.

NARTH’s website is full of propaganda and information that does not correspond to reality. They publish a journal they call peer reviewed but is rather reviewed by members and leaders of the organization. They call for more research on their practices but then do next to none.  They refer to mainstream research but often bend it to say something which cannot be said based on the research paradigm (e.g., Narth on reparative therapy and suicide risk).

With Liberty Council chief Mat Staver as one of the featured speakers, it is clear that they are hoping more for legal justification than research justification. NARTH has really been on the ropes in recent years but I am concerned that they are getting a boost from the recent efforts in CA to ban reparative therapy. If the courts find the ban is unconstitutional, then they will probably gain an undeserved public relations benefit.

I am not alone in this concern. Chris Ferguson expresses well some possible problems and APA’s Jack Drescher also worries that the ban will backfire. Drescher told Gay City News:

“Passing legislation to prevent a questionable practice seems a rather heavy-handed and inefficient way to reduce these practices among licensed professionals (like using a hammer when you would be better served by using more delicate surgical instruments). I have suggested to one gay rights group that asked me about this that they consider developing an educational video for licensing boards and professional ethics committees since these are the places where education is needed since they are the ones who hear complaints from patients/clients who feel they have been hurt by these practices.”

Don’t let NARTH fool you with their words about research “truth.” If the leaders of that group were interested in validating their methods, their conferences would be packed with research presentations. However, look at their program for this year. All of the presentations of “clinical workshops,” religious outreach and legal defense. Where are the studies?