crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

The old adage “it's better to be thought of as a fool rather than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” would apply to the anti-gay group NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality).

NARTH recently put out a press release criticizing the APA (American Psychological Association) for its decision to come out against ex-gay therapy.

Part of the press release reads as follows:

NARTH appreciates that the APA stressed the importance of faith and religious diversity. Unfortunately, however, the report reflects a very strong confirmation bias; that is, the task force reflected virtually no ideological diversity. No APA member who offers reorientation therapy was allowed to join the task force. In fact, one can make the case that every member of the task force can be classified as an activist. They selected and interpreted studies that fit within their innate and immutable view. For example, they omitted the Jones and Yarhouse study, the Karten study, and only gave cursory attention to the Spitzer study.

And this is where the fun starts. NARTH cited several studies to back up its claim about reparative therapy. However some of those studies weren't on the up-and-up. According to the site Truth Wins Out, the Jones and Yarhouse study had many flaws:

•Jones and Yarhouse originally sought 300 participants, but after more than a year of seeking to round up volunteers, they had to settle on only 98 participants.

•During the course of the study, 25 dropped out, and one participant’s answers were too incomplete to be used.

•Of the remaining 72 only 11 reported “satisfactory, if not uncomplicated, heterosexual adjustment.” (direct quote). Some of these 11 remained primarily homosexual in attraction or, at best, bisexual, but were satisfied that they were just slightly more attracted to the opposite sex, or slightly less attracted to the same sex.

•After the study ended, but before the book was finished, one of the 11 wrote to the authors to say that he lied — he really wanted to change, had really hoped he had changed, and answered that he had changed. But he concluded that he hadn’t, came out, and is now living as an openly gay man.

•Dozens of participants experienced no lessening of same-sex attraction and no increase in opposite-sex attraction, but were classified as “success” stories by Jones and Yarhouse simply because they maintained celibacy — something many conservative gay people already do.

•The study purposely declined to interview any ex-gay survivors: people who claim to have been injured by ex-gay programs and who have formed support groups such as Beyond Ex-Gay. Despite — or because of — this omission, the authors of this study make the unfounded claim that there is little or no evidence of harm resulting from unproven, unsupervised, unlicensed, and amateur ex-gay counseling tactics.

In short, the study design was so flawed that no mainstream, peer-reviewed, mental-health journal would publish it. And the study’s supposed success stories were gay celibate individuals who adopted false labels to direct attention away from frequently undiminished same-sex attraction.

Furthermore, NARTH distorts the Robert Spitzer study. In 2001, psychologist Robert Spitzer published a controversial study that seemed to claim that small number of people can change their orientation from gay to heterosexual.

In 45-minute individual telephone calls with 143 “ex-gays” and 57 “ex-lesbians,” Spitzer asked them 60 questions dealing with their feelings and behavior before and after they allegedly changed their orientations. They also talked about their strategies, feelings and motives for changing. Many of these individuals were referred to Spitzer by “ex-gay” groups.

When Spitzer’s findings were made public, the anti-gay industry lauded him, making sure to mention that he was one of the principle people who led the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

Spitzer himself went on record declaring that he was “appalled” at how his work was being simplified. He also published a column in the May 23, 2001 edition of The Wall Street Journal. He said that “complete change is uncommon.”

In addition, in a 2006 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Spitzer said that he now believes that some of those he interviewed for his study may have been either lying to him or themselves.

But the piece de resistance of stupidity of NARTH's press release is the following:

With regard to possible negative effects of therapy, as in all provisions of psychological care, the possibility exists that the client may not be happy with the outcome. We believe the report indirectly supports the findings published in the current Journal of Human Sexuality that reveal no significant ill-effects of therapy.

Now just what is the Journal of Human Sexuality? Why it's a booklet that NARTH itself publishes. From the Box Turtle Bulletin:

The Journal of Human Sexuality is actually a booklet published by NARTH themselves. In fact, it’s structured more like a book than a journal, with only one article whose title matches the title on the front cover. This journal is billed as “volume 1,” and was, according to its acknowledgment, conceived back when Joseph Nicolosi was still president at NARTH. At this rate, I would expect volume 2 to show up sometime in 2011.

This is very similar to another stunt pulled by George A. Rekers in 1996. He too created a one-off journal, also called The Journal of Human Sexuality which seems never to have made it to a second volume. It looks like NARTH decided to recycle Rekers old idea.

And as for this new journal’s “peer reviewed” status? Well, I guess when you have a paper written by an anti-gay activist posing as a therapist, and you send that paper off to other anti-gay activists posing as therapists, all of whom are members of your tight little NARTH club with no possibility of an actual independent review taking place, then maybe I would have to concede that the effort was “peer reviewed.” Unfortunately, that’s not the definition accepted by the scientific community.

This publication is not a dispassionate study of changes in sexual orientation. It is a cannon-blast of anti-gay animus in a long 94-page screed, a veritable anti-gay propaganda omnibus touching on all sorts of unrelated subjects including HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, psychiatric disorders, and “promiscuity as the new social norm.” As far as anti-gay propaganda goes, there’s little that’s missing here.

So you have a bogus group putting out a bogus press release which cites bogus information.

I almost feel sorry for NARTH but then I realize I shouldn't.

After all, the group worked hard for their ridicule. And when anyone works hard for something, they should receive it.

It's the American Way.