Monday 8 July 2019

How Christians Lie to Us - Gay 'Conversion' Fraud

Science Journal Retracts Paper That Said Gay Conversion Therapy Works | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Last August, an American Christian rights pressure group, Liberty Counsel, issued a press release in which they claimed:

A recent study, Effects of Therapy on Religious Men Who Have Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction, confirms the overwhelming effectiveness of people receiving counseling to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.

In this study, more than two-thirds of those who participated in group therapy or received professional help had significant heterosexual shifts in sexual attraction, sexual identity, and behavior, and moderate-to-marked decreases in suicidality, depression, substance abuse, and increases in social functioning and self-esteem. The study’s effectiveness rates for counseling people with unwanted same-sex attraction were comparable to the effectiveness rates of psychotherapy in general for any unwanted issue.


This current research also strongly refutes claims the American Psychological Association [APA] and other organizations have made aimed at discouraging counsel to change unwanted same-sex attractions, behavior, and identity.

This claim, and the research paper it cited, appeared to directly contradict the advice of the APA and other similar organizations that not only are these gay 'conversion' therapies ineffective but they are often actually harmful to the individuals being subjected to it. Moreover, they stigmatise homosexuals by pandering to the notion that homosexuality is a mental illness or, in the terms of the Catholic Church, a disorder, and so unnatural. This has led to calls, many of which have been successful, for these sessions to be prohibited.

Last July, after a long campaign by Humanists UK, PM Theresa May announced that these conversion therapies were to be banned in the UK. However such is the political confusion here at the moment, with the inept May's replacement soon to take his place at the head of a government that may not even have the support of the Commons and so could fall within weeks of his taking office, that it's anyone's guess when, or even if, this ban will come into effect.

So, given that general hostility to these gay 'conversion' sessions being so overwhelming, this loudly-trumpeted paper raised a few eyebrows, not the least of which were those of Hemant Mehta who writes the Friendly Atheist blog. Hemat published a lengthy critique of the paper. In this he pointed out:

  • The journal the paper was published in was The Linacre Quarterly - the official journal of the Catholic Medical Society, whose mission statement includes “steadfast fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church.” The teaching of the Catholic Church is that homosexuality is an "intrinsically disordered" state of mind.
  • Of the three authors,
    • Dolores Ballesteros, PhD, is a retired educational academic at Southern California Seminary. Not a psychotherapist.
    • Neil E. Whitehead, PhD, is a semi-retired earth scientist at Whitehead Associates. Not a psychotherapist.
    • Paul L. Santero, PhD, is a therapist at Thomas Aquinas Clinic, Encino, California. The Thomas Aquinas Clinic is small clinic founded by the late Joseph Nicolosi, the man who is literally known as the father of gay conversion therapy, who dies last year.
    In other words, of the three authors only one works in the relative field and he has a vested interest in selling gay therapy sessions.
  • In the acknowledgement section of the paper, the authors acknowledge "Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, our main contact for all of the therapists/counselors who advertised the survey to individuals who had gone through therapy for their unwanted same sex attraction." In other words, the 'experimental subjects' were already satisfied customers of the Thomas Aquinas Clinic who had previously completed a 'therapy' course. Scarcely a representative sample!

There was no mention of a control group or any attempt at randomised trials.

But is transpires that this was not the only fault with the research. The paper has now been retracted by The Linacre Quarterly, following the journal's acquisition by SAGE Publishing, on the following grounds:

The journal is retracting the article based on unresolved statistical differences. Specifically, after receiving questions about the article, the editor determined that a statistical review of the paper, which was recommended during peer review, had not been conducted. The editor commissioned the statistical review after receipt of the questions. The statistical review identified the following concerns regarding the methodology followed in the article:

  1. No common intervention was given to participants that would allow for a valid conclusion to be drawn.
  2. The paper did not establish a demonstrated relationship between the intervention and the survey that measures the intervention in that the paper did not clearly address whether all respondents were treated according to the same (or similar) protocols and for the same periods of time, and/or by therapists of like or similar training and expertise.
  3. The chi-square test requires groups that are similar and the reported variation in the treatment times and modalities in this study is significant, rendering the chi-square test absent a control group (which was not present in this study), an invalid measure.

In other words, a vested interest Catholic group with a financial stake as well as a religious agenda, performed an 'experiment' designed to produce the desired outcome, using biased sampling and presented this to a friendly journal for publication as genuine science. And this to try to gain acceptance for a technique which is known to harm the participants who have been shamed by the Catholic Church into believing they have something wrong with them that needs curing.

In retrospect, the entire paper reads like the product of a PR campaign designed to drive traffic to the Thomas Aquinas Clinic.

Naturally, no apology has been issued by Liberty Counsel and no steps have been taken to compensate victims for their misleading press release and the increased stigma they have suffered by this false confirmation that being gay is indeed a disorder requiring treatment. Instead, in true cowardly style, they have simply removed the press release from their website and said nothing about it. Fortunately, the Google Archive has saved a copy.

submit to reddit

No comments :

Post a Comment

Obscene, threatening or obnoxious messages, preaching, abuse and spam will be removed, as will anything by known Internet trolls and stalkers, by known sock-puppet accounts and anything not connected with the post,

A claim made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Remember: your opinion is not an established fact unless corroborated.

Web Analytics