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?