Joe Carter says facts and truth are subjective matters of opinion

Joe Carter of First Things is horrified that Karl Giberson and Randall J. Stephens would dare to besmirch the honor of intellectual giants like David Barton, Ken Ham and James Dobson.

Carter leaps to their defense with a two pronged strategy of First Things’ usual self-aggrandizing  huff-and-puffery (calling their op-ed “the type of sophomoric, bias-confirming piece that no reputable publication would touch”) and of some kind of post-postmodern radical rejection of all epistemology.

The core of Carter’s argument is that there is no such thing as truth or fact or reality. “Most of us evangelicals,” he says, “have been taught to think for themselves [sic].” Well, OK. Thinking for yourself is good, right?

But as the saying goes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. And by “think for themselves,” what Carter means is that everyone is entitled to their own facts. People who “think for themselves,” he says, should be free to come to whatever conclusions they choose about whether evolution is true, whether climate change “is real and caused by humans,” whether “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation,” and whether “reparative therapy can ‘cure’ homosexuality.”

Here is the core of Carter’s disagreement with Giberson and Stephens. Giberson and Stephens regard those questions as objective matters of fact that ought to be answered according to evidence. Carter regards those questions as wholly subjective, to be answered according to personal preference.

Were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine “evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation”? Giberson and Stephens would say no, in fact, they were not evangelicals and they did not intend America to be a Christian nation. Joe Carter says “think for yourself” — what do you want to be true? Go with that and don’t let any sophomoric, bias-confirming facts sway you one way or the other.

Is climate change “real and caused by humans”? Giberson and Stephens look at the evidence and say that yes, in fact, it is. Carter says this slavish devotion to evidence and fact is just another form of “fundamentalism.” Free your mind and the facts will follow.

What seems to have upset Carter the most in their op-ed was their criticism of James Dobson for advocating “reparative therapy.” Carter, oddly, cites a study that he says claims to show that reparative therapy works. So, wait, suddenly studies and evidence and science matter? Because just a minute ago Carter said they didn’t. This reflects another great advantage to rejecting reason and reality — you don’t need to worry about consistency. If Carter isn’t concerned with contradicting reality, then he doesn’t need to be concerned with contradicting himself either.

After saying that all criticism of reparative therapy is “politicized,” Carter writes:

However, for open-minded researchers, the efficacy of repartive therapy is still open to scientific investigation. Recently, Stanton Jones, a psychology professor and provost at Wheaton College, and Mark Yarhouse, a professor of mental health at Regent University, published a study in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy that showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual orientation may be able to do so with the help of religious mediation. Will that cause the APA to reconsider their position? Of course not. The APA is not an organization to be swayed by empirical results.

Carter includes a link from the words “published a study.” It does not link to the study. It links, instead, to a deliriously misleading article about the study from The Christian Post. Yes, The Christian Post. Now we know what Carter means when he sniffs about “reputable publications.”

Carter says Jones and Yarmouth “showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual orientation may be able to do so.” Jones and Yarmouth themselves say that their “results do not prove that categorical change in sexual orientation is possible for everyone or anyone, but rather that meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes appear possible for some.”

And that’s different. The study does not show what Carter claims it shows. I suppose that’s just evidence that he’s not a fact-fundamentalist and that he’s “thinking for themself.”

Warren Throckmorton offers a much more fact-driven consideration of that study, of what it does and doesn’t claim to show, and of how it is being misused by people like Carter:

Categorical change — moving from a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual one — is not what has been reported by the Jones and Yarhouse. Clearly some people reported changes which allowed them to make an attribution change to themselves – they feel more straight and so they identify with the label. However, the absolute shifts on average were modest, leading to the assessment from Jones and Yarhouse that “meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes appear possible for some.”

… the concept of bisexuality is not satisfactorily addressed by the study or by reviewers. Bisexuals I have spoken to describe their lives as a series of shifts. For whatever reason, the direction of their attractions shifts with time and/or with relationships. From their point of view, they are not changing orientation when they fall in love with an opposite sex person after a period of same-sex relationships. Instead, they are flexing along a continuum, all of which is understood to be within their essential orientation. …

I am disappointed that the study has re-ignited the “change is possible” political machine. There is fluidity for some people in their sexual attractions, however this says very little about the experience of people who don’t experience that fluidity. Change of orientation for a small group of people is one hypothesis. However, there are other explanations. I think explanations incorporating the reality of bisexuality, cross orientation relationships, and male-female differences are also plausible. In fact, I think they are more plausible.

We should note as well that Jones and Yarhouse conducted a “longitudinal study of individuals seeking sexual orientation change through involvement in a variety of Christian ministries affiliated with Exodus International.” John J. Smid, who served on the board of Exodus for 11 years and served as director of one of those affiliated ministries, sums up his more than 20 years of experience in that work this way: “I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.”

Smid considers the evidence of his experience and, unlike Carter, he thinks his beliefs should adapt to that evidence. Carter believes that the freedom to “think for themselves” and to be entitled to our own facts means that the evidence should be forced to adapt to our beliefs.

That’s why he expends so much energy explicitly attacking any fact-based arbiter of reality — scientists, historians, The New York Times, the American Psychological Association, etc. Can scientists, historians, the Times and the APA ever be wrong? Of course, and they frequently will be. But Carter’s isn’t interested in criticizing or correcting any such particular errors, he’s attempting to tear down any influence they may have and the entire epistemology of tested and confirmed facts that they represent.

How else could he possibly go about defending people like David Barton and Ken Ham? How else could he continue defending those who say evolution is a myth, climate-change is a fabrication, heterosexuality is a choice and Thomas Jefferson was a theocrat?

 

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    I don’t know if you are simply lacking in charity or your reading comprehension skills are subpar (or both), but you seem to have entirely missed the point of my post.

    So, wait, suddenly studies and evidence and science matter? Because just a minute ago Carter said they didn’t.

    No I didn’t. I said nothing of the sort. I guess I could add that you are simply dishonest to the list of reason why you can’t comprehend a rather straightforward post.

    Here is the core of Carter’s disagreement with Giberson and Stephens.
    Giberson and Stephens regard those questions as objective matters of
    fact that ought to be answered according to evidence. Carter regards
    those questions as wholly subjective, to be answered according to
    personal preference.

    Oh, good grief. That is exactly opposite of my point. My point is that Giberson and Stephens do not look at the evidence but rely on whatever they are told by whoever happens to be the approved “experts.”

    How else could he possibly go about defending people like David Barton and Ken Ham?

    I didn’t defend either Barton or Ham. I can’t tell if you are dumb or just dishonest.

  • Anonymous

    The funniest part is when you call other people dumb and dishonest. Though, I guess it’s not that funny; you are, after all, an expert on being dumb and dishonest.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Wow, I’m getting Andrew Schlafly flashbacks.  It’s a funny thing that to you, anyone who’s “open minded’ will inevitably agree with you on all the IMPORTANT things, while anyone who disagrees is just a brainwashed drone of the Librul Biased Media.

    (Oh, jeez.  I read the comments on his site.  BIG mistake….)

    According to Giberson and Stephens, you might be an anti-intellectual fundamentalist if you are an evangelical who: dismisses evolution as “an unproven theory”; deny that “climate change is real and caused by humans”; think that “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation”; defend spanking children; believe in traditional roles for the sexes; think that reparative therapy can “cure” homosexuality; and/or oppose gay marriage.

    Hate to be the one to tell you, but evolution is about as ‘unproven’ as gravity, climate change is happening, and the founders were a bunch of Deists and Masons.   These are facts, and they won’t change no matter how much you whine about them.  The others I’m not even going to go into.

  • Anonymous

    Ooooh, shit just got real, people. I’m going to pop some popcorn.

  • William

    Protip, though: You don’t really have to quote individual sections if your only response to them is that the author is dumb and/or dishonest.

    I actually make my living trading in relatively obscure discoveries, and so when someone clearly hasn’t gotten my point, my first instinct (maybe you could make this your second, after compulsively Googling your own name, i mean seriously you hit this thing like no more than an hour after it got on the ‘tubes, I mean like damn, sir,) is to try to clarify. Try it, you might even find that some clarity helps with the “free thinking” process. Or you mightn’t.

  • Anonymous

    I’m reasonably certain that it’s fairly simple and quite common for someone to track where people are linking to their webpages. I wouldn’t say he found his way here through a coincidental google search, especially since a fresh Slacktivist piece is unlikely to be anywhere near the top of the results.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Yep.  I made the mistake of looking at the comments on Pope Carter’s page (big, BIG MISTAKE), and there’s a trackback link to Fred’s article.

    So he’s not necessarily a raging egooglemaniac.

  • Anonymous

    You were the first person to comment on this article. Unless you watch this blog like a hawk, which I doubt because I haven’t seen you comment before, you Google yourself regularly to see what the internet is saying about you. I did a little Googling myself and saw this article at the bottom of the page. I suppose it is possible that you did it absentmindedly, like I do on occasion (I keep getting high school track players; I think I missed my calling,) but this I doubt because you published your article only a few hours ago. Neither of these scenarios paint you in a very good light.

  • Anonymous

    @LoneWolf343:disqus 

    You were the first person to comment on this article. Unless you watch this blog like a hawk, which I doubt because I haven’t seen you comment before, you Google yourself regularly to see what the internet is saying about you. I did a little Googling myself and saw this article at the bottom of the page.

    To be fair, Fred’s post shows up as one of the 17 comments (as of this writing) on the First Things blog post, and at the time of Carter’s post he was engaging in a semi-active discussion in those comments.  This is an example of the cross-linking of blog reactions working properly, and it essentially informed Carter of Fred’s post at the time he made it.

    That said, Carter is still being irresponsible. 

    @facebook-650435386:disqus 

    The American Psychological Association did dismiss reparative therapy because they were caving in to gay pressure. The American Psychiatric Association  admits on their website that the decision wasn’t based on clinical evaluation: “To date, there are no scientifically rigorous outcome studies to determine either the actual efficacy or harm of ‘reparative’ treatments. There is sparse scientific data about selection criteria, risks versus benefits of the treatment, and long-term outcomes of “reparative” therapies.” Despite any clinical evidence for or against the therapy, the APA denounces such therapy because, “In the current social climate, claiming homosexuality is a mental disorder stems from efforts to discredit the growing social acceptance of homosexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality.  Consequently, the issue of changing sexual orientation has become highly politicized.” Yeah, no kidding. The APA helped to politicize it.

    Given those facts, that’s exactly what I would -hope- the APA would do.  

    1) By the APA’s own definitions, homosexuality is not a disorder.  Endorsing a “treatment” that claims otherwise is simply inconsistent.
    2) The APA is right — the claims of homosexuality as a disorder do not come from the APA’s own members, but instead the claims come from fundamentalist/religious quarters.  Furthermore, those claims are weak.  For something to be a disorder, it must be harmful to the disordered or those around hir.  The only “harm” caused by homosexuality is the frothing rage it inspires in homophobes, and that’s a problem with the homophobe.
    3) Other arguments aside, I would hope that the APA would reject a treatment that has little to no evidence about who is suitable, potential risks, limits of therapy, and long-term persistence of treatment.   (On top of that, “reparative” “treatments” don’t have a mechanism of action consistent with known theories of the mind.  Voodoo psychology.)

    APA endorsement is more than just scoring political points.  It carries with it legitimacy, and treatment monies and time will be directed towards endorsed therapies.  If the APA endorses useless-at-best “treatments” for a preference that isn’t even a disorder, it’s doing active harm.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that Mr. Carter apparently conflates the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association–the latter is responsible for the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that is used as a diagnostic tool. Until, I think, DSM-IV, homosexuality was listed as a disorder.

    Much of the DSM has lists of symptoms that taken individually or at a moderate level do not say anything about mental illness.  The rule about the DSM is that the diagnosis is useful if the behavior(s) cause misery or interfere with a person’s functioning. For instance, washing your hands is normal; washing your hands so frequently that your skin cracks and bleeds … not so much.

    I suspect that homosexuality ended up in the DSM because many QUILTBAG people were unhappy and had difficulty functioning–because of being treated badly by their families, peers, churches and random strangers. Duh! When it became clear that QUILTBAG people who had sufficient support and acceptance in their lives were able to function at a very high level thankyouverymuch, the diagnosis was discontinued.

    The American Psychological Association has long history of sexuality research in general (without some of the assumptions brought to psychiatry by Freud) and some of their research probably debunked the assumptions that underlay the DSM diagnosis.

    So, I doubt that either organization was pressured by anything other than intellectual honesty. If anything, belated intellectual honesty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    Interesting that Mr. Carter apparently conflates the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric
    Association–the latter is responsible for the DSM (Diagnostic and
    Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that is used as a diagnostic
    tool. Until, I think, DSM-IV, homosexuality was listed as a disorder.

    Um, no actually, I don’t conflate the two. Read my post again and you’ll see that I’m careful to distinguish the two. By the way, it’s odd that the American Psychiatric
    Association does not take a position against reparative therapy since, as some people seem to think, there are so many studies showing that it is ineffective.

    So, I doubt that either organization was pressured by anything other than intellectual honesty.

    I recommend doing some research on the history of the decision. While they came to the right conclusion (homosexuality is certainly not a mental illness), there reason for doing so was almost entirely due to political factors.

  • Anonymous

    Joe Carter: While they came to the right conclusion (homosexuality is certainly not a
    mental illness), there reason for doing so was almost entirely due to
    political factors.

    I find this an interesting statement.  Could you elaborate on it?  Not trying to be ‘gotcha’ here, but if homosexuality is ‘certainly not’ a mental illness, and this is the ‘right conclusion,’ then what is reparative (sp, sorry) therapy for?  What is its purpose if there is no illness to cure?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

      Not trying to be ‘gotcha’ here, but if homosexuality is ‘certainly not’ a mental illness, and this is the ‘right conclusion,’ then what is reparative (sp, sorry) therapy for?  What is its purpose if there is no illness to cure?

    Even an ignorant heathen like me knows the answer to that one.  It’s not illness, it’s demonic possession.  SCIENCE and Ted Haggard say so!

    :-P

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    It’s purpose if for people with an unwanted same sex attraction to change their sexual feelings. That is the stated goal of most reparative therapy counselors.

  • Anonymous

    I see.  Thank you for the answer.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    It’s purpose if for people with an unwanted same sex attraction to change their sexual feelings. That is the stated goal of most reparative therapy counselors.

    Sooo,,,, if the International Communist Conspiracy got hold of these therapies, they could use them to brainwash people into being gay….?

    (I don’t understand why turning gays straight is so difficult.  According to homophobes, all it takes to turn straights gay is exposure to Teletubbies and occasionally washing the dishes fnord.)

  • Anonymous

    So the goal is to change feelings of attraction, not just behavior?  Again, whether the person wants to change or not is irrelevant to the fact that study after study shows that only behavior, not feelings of attraction, have changed for ex-gay therapy subjects.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Besmann/59703189 Anna Besmann

    The only reason their same sex attraction is unwanted is because society’s full of bigots. Send those assholes to therapy, not people who happen to get warm squishy feelings about people of the same sex.

    Might as well try gender reassignment on transgendered people because it makes them unhappy to be assigned the wrong gender–or are you in favor of that too?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Besmann/59703189 Anna Besmann

    (Reassignment? What is that word doing there. Therapy to make them think they’re another gender, that thing.)

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    I didn’t want to be transsexual.  But reparative therapy didn’t work for me.  I did, however, almost suicide from my internalized transphobia as a result of being told, over the course of my entire childhood and young adult life, that I was a sinner and a reprobate. 

    It doesn’t matter if your same sex attractions are unwanted– that doesn’t make them mutable, curable, or otherwise reparable.  The problem is a society that makes us feel like we are broken in the first place. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s purpose if for people with an unwanted same sex attraction to change their sexual feelings. That is the stated goal of most reparative therapy counselors.

    All right.  That brings one obvious question to mind: do reparative therapy counselors also work with people who have unwanted opposite sex attraction?  If not, why not?

  • Anonymous

    All right.  That brings one obvious question to mind: do reparative therapy counselors also work with people who have unwanted opposite sex attraction?  If not, why not?

    Yes, think of all those stalkers who could be helped … hopefully before they actually kill the ‘object of their affections’. If only it worked …

  • Anonymous

    That brings one obvious question to mind: do reparative therapy counselors also work with people who have unwanted opposite sex attraction?  If not, why not?

    Don’t be silly!  You’re comparing apples and oran — OH HEY LOOK BEHIND YOU!

    [flees]

    …Wait, if I’m reading these results right, and I’m not sure I am, 28% couldn’t be categorized, 30% only managed to make it as far as self-hating celibacy, sorry, “stable behavioral chastity with substantive dis-identification with homosexual orientation”, and 20% said, “Fuck it, I’m gay.”  How is that indicative of any kind of success?

    The measure of psychological distress did not, on average, reflect
    increases in psychological distress associated with the attempt to
    change.

    I submit that when you hate yourself to begin with, learning to hate yourself that much more is not as psychologically distressing as learning that you don’t have to hate yourself at all.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    I submit that when you hate yourself to begin with, learning to hate
    yourself that much more is not as psychologically distressing as
    learning that you don’t have to hate yourself at all.

    Wow.  Can I, like, steal that and use it, like, everywhere?

  • Anonymous

    Yup!  Words are free.

  • Anonymous

    Mr Carter,

    The American Psychological Association synthesizes the research and provides policy guidance in a 2009 report, Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. This report includes extensive sources and discusses the ‘political factors’ involved, which mostly consisted of right-wing and fundamentalist religious forces trying to re-pathologize homosexuality.

    Their findings (from the executive summary):

    • Our systematic review of the early research found that enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation was unlikely.

    • Our review of the scholarly literature on individuals distressed by their sexual orientation indicated that clients perceived a benefit when offered interventions that emphasize acceptance, support, and recognition of important values and concerns.

    • Studies indicate that experiences of felt stigma—such as self-stigma, shame, isolation and rejection from relationships and valued communities, lack of emotional support and accurate information, and conflicts between multiple identities and between values and attractions—played a role in creating distress in individuals. Many religious individuals’
    desired to live their lives in a manner consistent with their values (telic congruence); however, telic congruence based on stigma and shame is unlikely to result in psychological well-being.

    The American Psychiatric Association issued a statement against reparative therapy as long ago as 2000. They also removed homosexuality from the DSM earlier than I had thought … in 1973.

  • Atwinters

    He probably just has a google alert on his name. I don’t think it’s realistic to believe that anyone sits and google’s themselves that compulsively.

  • Atwinters

    *googles* (oops)

  • http://twitter.com/MarySueTwiteth Mary Sue

    Are you going to engage with the conversation or just say he’s dumb and leave it at that?

    Because I (and other adults) are more likely to agree with someone who says, “No, you’re wrong and here’s why” than someone who says, “You’re a dummy poo head and I don’t like you!” before storming off.

  • rustywheeler

    “However, for open-minded researchers, the efficacy of reparative therapy is still open to scientific investigation.”

    Yes. It’s just not open to scientific investigation for, you know, those OTHER kinds of researchers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    Yes. It’s just not open to scientific investigation for, you know, those OTHER kinds of researchers.

    I’m assuming you think this is a claim I would make? If so, you are wrong, though I’m sure you’ll gain points with this blog’s author for creating another strawman. Those “other” kinds of researchers have in fact done at least one study and come to a similar conclusion.

  • Anonymous

    By the way, I suspect that the more research shows that “orientation” can be changed, the less progressives will think that science matters to the question.

    Considering there’s NO science that shows orientation can be changed, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.

    By the by, you do know that Dr. Ingebog Ward in 1972 proved that sexual orientation was biological? You should look up, “Prenatal Stress Feminizes and Demasculizes the Behavior of Males” Science, January 7, 1972 (83-84).

    If you really want to, you can create a bunch of little gay mice in your garage in less than a week or two.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    Good grief. If you think a study done on rats in 172 “proves” that human sexual orientation is biological (and hence, immutable) then I don’t think we are going to get very far in this discussion.

  • Anonymous

    Good grief. If you think a study done on rats in 172 “proves” that human sexual orientation is biological (and hence, immutable) then I don’t think we are going to get very far in this discussion.

    Why yes, we aren’t. That was never much in question. Allow me to quote your previous post back at you.

    What it comes down to, though, is that some people will never accept the empirical results if it contradicts their politically based belief (e.g., that sexual orientation is immutable). Because of that, it’s a bit silly for us to waste time debating the “science” when the science will be dismissed anyway.

    This is quite literally your previous post. I should change my name to Cassandra as I called that you would do this right when I responded to you. I didn’t, however, know it would take less than ten minutes for you to refuse to accept empirical results because it contradicts your politically based belief.

  • Anonymous

    There are a lot of different people here on slacktivist, But nobody here is Fred’s strawman.

    Don’t ever insult the host and the readers of this blog like that again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    I think you insult the reader’s by assuming that, like you, they don’t know what a “strawman” is.

    By the way, I have to say that many people on this thread (though not all) confirm the impression people have that liberal blogs are echo chambers and are unwilling to admit when one of their own is outright lying. Sadly, this is also (presumably) a “Christian” blog which makes it even worse.

    (Note: I’m not denigrating all liberal commenters. I have many on my blog that are thoughtful and prize honesty.)

  • Anonymous

    well I do think it is somebody named joe carter.

  • Anonymous

    Do not insult mr Clark like that, he is a fellow christian I look up to.

    I wish I had a fraction of his writing skills, his humor, his compassion, and above all his FAITH.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    I think you insult the reader’s by assuming that, like you, they don’t know what a “strawman” is.

    Even if you were right, which you’re not, flat still has a lot of work to do to insult the readers more than you have.

    Of course, we all know that flat’s first language isn’t English, since that’s caused problems.  Like that one time I thought a comment was extremely condescending when it turned out that flat had simply unknowingly said two idiomatic American English phrases that completely changed the complexion of the comment.  So perhaps flat did confuse “strawman” and “sock puppet.”  But we’re okay with that, since we know that flat’s first language isn’t English.

    That said, Mr. Carter, What’s your excuse for being a jackass who thinks nothing of insulting Fred and all of Fred’s readers?

  • Anonymous

    By the way that condescending comment was about my little pony, and what socialist hellhole they actually live in.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     By the way that condescending comment was about my little pony, and what socialist hellhole they actually live in.

    That might be one of the funniest things I’ve heard all day.  Thank you for that.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    By the way that condescending comment was about my little pony, and what socialist hellhole they actually live in.

    Well, that’s just silly.

    It’s self-evidently a royalist hellhole. :D  (Does it count as a “theocracy” if the divine entity does the ruling directly, or does theocracy require intermediaries?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    By the way that condescending comment was about my little pony, and what socialist hellhole they actually live in.

    The government controls the weather in Equestria! It’s oppressing the Free Market of natural disasters!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I am actually a little impressed.  Inter-blog arguments typically take the form of passive-aggressive mud-slinging.  It is actually rather surprising to see a blog author take up an issue directly on another blog like this.  

    That said, I find it best to assume good faith.  If a common interpretation of something you wrote is very different than what you had intended to impart, then it often says more about your communication than about the person reading your writing.  If you are too quick to get defensive if someone takes the wrong idea from your writing, it would give the impression that you are uninterested in actually getting your idea understood.  

    Try instead an elaboration, something to add perspective and help clarity.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    I completely agree that is best to assume good faith. That is my general rule. My next assumption is to assume that if someone misreads my work so completely, that is it likely to be my fault.

    However, in this case, Mr. Clark appears to be the only one who has misread what I said. And the reason that he misread it is because he completely fabricates claims and then attributes them to me. At that point, it’s hard to assume good faith.

    This is my first time here and it could be the case that Mr. Clark merely read my post quickly, didn’t really pay attention to what I said, and decided to comment on what he thinks I said. That would be sloppy, but excusable. And it may be the first time that he has ever done such a thing. But I suspect that’s not the case. I suspect this is a regular pattern and, since he doesn’t get called out on it often enough, people give him a pass.

    I don’t mind harsh criticism. I don’t expect Mr. Clark to agree with me. If he had written only, “Carter’s post is so stupid that it’s not worthy of comment” I would have chuckled and moved on. But when a blog is hosted on Patheos you assume that they have the decency not to outright lie about what a person writes. And if you do, then have the sense not to post a link to it where people can see the obvious truth for themselves.  (Of course since no one called him out on it, I guess no one really cares as long as his dishonest attributions are aimed at a “conservative.”)

    But for those who didn’t actually read what I wrote, I’ll take your advice and provide some clarity:

     “The core of Carter’s argument is that there is no such thing as truth or fact or reality.” – This claim, made early in the post, shows that Mr. Clark is not someone to be taken seriously. Does he really think I believe this? If so, I’d be curious to hear why since nothing I wrote even hints that this is true. This is not a matter of “interpretation.” It’s a made up strawman lie that Clark can knock down.

    “And by “think for themselves,” what Carter means is that everyone is entitled to their own facts.” – Nope, not even close. What I mean is that on some issues people can look at the “facts” and draw different inferences and conclusions. The only people who believe in self-interpreting facts are fundamentalists.

    “People who “think for themselves,” he says, should be free to come to whatever conclusions they choose. . .” – Nope, that’s not what I said.

    “Giberson and Stephens regard those questions as objective matters of
    fact that ought to be answered according to evidence. Carter regards
    those questions as wholly subjective, to be answered according to
    personal preference.” – No, not even close. My point was that Giberson and Stephens do not look at the evidence for themselves but accept whatever fits their preconceived political beliefs. If progressives were against AGW, you can be that Giberson and Stephens would be too even though the facts never changed.

    “Joe Carter says “think for yourself” — what do you want to be true?” – No, now he’s just being idiotic. I do not believe the America is a “Christian nation” nor that the founders were evangelicals. I do not think that “think for yourself” means “whatever you want to be true is true.”

    “So, wait, suddenly studies and evidence and science matter? Because just a minute ago Carter said they didn’t.” – Here’s where Clark degenerates into outright lying. I’m honestly rather shocked that no one on this comment thread called him out on it.

    At this point, there’s nothing more to add. I don’t waste time debating with people like Mr. Clark who believe that lying about a person’s claims is a legitimate form of argumentation.

  • Aridawnia

    “I don’t waste time debating with people like Mr. Clark who believe that lying about a person’s claims is a legitimate form of argumentation.”

    And yet, here you are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    Indeed, responding to commenters, not Mr. Clark.

  • Aridawnia

    “Indeed, responding to commenters, not Mr. Clark.”

    Er, your first post was quite clearly aimed at him. Subsequent posts have been addressed to commenters, but you continue to react to what he said. This entire discussion was prompted by Fred’s remarks (which I admit had a highly personal tone) and is, effectively, a response to them.

  • Anonymous

    But you’re still wasting time on the Internet. :P  At least the rest of us admit that it’s what we’re doing, and that we’re all just here for fun.

    I don’t care if I ever change anybody’s mind or not, as long as I can get them to think about what they believe and why they believe it.

  • Anonymous

    You know I actually quit reading Glen Greenwald because I was so disappointed in the way he behaved when Fred disagreed with him.  Luckily I won’t have that problem with Joe Carter here.

    I have this image of “If P then Q” being something that everybody accepts as true, or at least acknowledges as a possibility.  Person A is running around screaming “P! P! No, you don’t understand!! P! P! P,P,P,P,P!!!!!”  Person B says “….. so… Q then?” Person A says “I NEVER SAID THAT.  QUIT PUTTING WORDS IN MY MOUTH.”

    It’s a sneaky lawyer / 4-year-old trick.  Like the one where my son asks me if he cannot not have a piece of candy before bed time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    You really need to go read a book on logic. “If P, then Q” does not mean, Person X said Y but what I really think they were saying is Z.

    The fact that Clark has people on both ends of the political spectrum calling him out for dishonesty should make an honest observer wonder if there is something to the charge.

    By the way, what do you call it when someone makes up something and attributes it to you when you didn’t say it? We’re not talking about a case of saying “I think what Person Y was saying was X” but rather “Person Y said X.” Where I come from (i.e., the real world), we cal that dishonestly.

  • Anonymous

    What, now?  Where are people calling Clark out for dishonesty?  The only person I see doing that in this thread is you, and frankly, when you make blanket statements about progressives that you don’t even know, you don’t exactly bolster your own credibility.

  • Anonymous

    You really need to go read a book on logic.

    That word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    If your stated position necessarily implies a secondary belief,  I don’t see a logical problem with stating that you in fact, believe the secondary thing.

    You, by virtue of your own words, think that gay people can be “turned” straight.
    Since you are not AGAINST this (and appear to ignore the offered evidence that it is in fact harmful to people, and even your own evidence that it’s not painless and simple) it implies that you think it’s desirable in some circumstances. Therefore, it is implied that you think there is sometimes something “wrong” with being gay (at least in some instances.)

    There is one rational and one irrational reason for holding the position that there is something “wrong” with being gay.  The irrational reason is that basically, you’re kinda grossed out by the idea of same sex relations, and would rather not think about it.  This is also known as “you’re just a bigot.”  Can’t argue with irrationality so I won’t try.

    I’ll let you guess the rational reason.

  • hapax

    what do you call it when someone makes up something and attributes it to you when you didn’t say it?

    Apparently we call it “Being Joe Carter”.

    To wit, you said in the piece linked:

    According to Giberson and Stephens, you might be an anti-intellectual fundamentalist if you are an evangelical who: … defend spanking children; believe in traditional roles for the sexes; …; and/or oppose gay marriage.

    However, these accusations are NOT in the NY times op-ed.

    True, these essay implies that these positions are associated with science-denying fundamentalism; but it very carefully does NOT say that these are themselves evidence of denying facts.

    Why?  Because unlike evolution, human-caused climate change, and the failures of reparative therapy, these are NOT facts, not science, but political opinions.

    It is possible that you do not know the difference.  If that is the case, I suggest that you stop writing essays that address the topic.

  • Anonymous

    “You know I actually quit reading Glen Greenwald because I was so
    disappointed in the way he behaved when Fred disagreed with him.”

    My brother’s observation about Greenwald was that in five years Greenwald will be a fascist.  I don’t know that this is true, but it wouldn’t surprise me.  He is one of those guys who will always occupy the fringe, but can switch freely from one fringe to the other, never occupying any of the space in between.  I do predict that if he makes the leap, he claim special authority to denounce the radicalism of the left based on his former position.

  • Anonymous

    My point was that Giberson and Stephens do not look at the evidence for
    themselves but accept whatever fits their preconceived political
    beliefs.

    And the evidence is still, overwhelmingly, that ex-gay therapy does not actually turn a homosexual person into a heterosexual person.  At best, it causes bisexual people to go from having romantic relationships with the same sex to only having romantic relationships with the opposite sex.  The actual attraction and fantasies–i.e., the sexual orientation of these people–did not change, only their behavior.  Again, every single study indicates a rather abyssmal level of change even for behavior alone.

    But when a blog is hosted on Patheos you assume that they have the decency not to outright lie about what a person writes.

    Bad assumption.  I read a post just the other day about contraceptives.  Every single statement can be easily refuted in a 5-minute search of the CDC website, except for “Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist,” which, curiously enough, I have only ever seen in Catholic anti-contraceptive literature.  Even if Sanger was a eugenicist, that doesn’t affect the morality or immorality of ordinary, non-racist people choosing to use contraception of their own free will–but the article seemed to indicate that it does.

    But again:  to promote one study that says something you like, while deliberately ignoring the dozens of studies that say the exact opposite, amounts to deception.  That’s Fred’s point.  That’s why he’s lumping you in with Barton and Ham, both of whom are notorious for ignoring any evidence that they might be wrong.

  • rm

    Mr. Carter, you are mistaking reductio ad absurdum for “lying about a person’s claims.” Fred Clark linked to your post so that readers could go read for ourselves, and then judge for ourselves whether his absurd characterizations are, or are not, the real logical endpoint of everything you inferred but were not quite ready to say so baldly.

    I do think he is more on target than off. But if you cannot see irony, or cannot read for tone, then you will misread his own rhetorical posture. Your own reading of Fred is overly literal.

    I think the point is not that you overtly claimed a right to one’s own facts, but that if you think rejecting the entire scientific establishment in favor of non-scientific opinions (on matters of science, it should be noted) is “thinking for oneself,” then Fred’s reductio ad absurdum is very fair and accurate.

  • Anonymous

    “‘So, wait, suddenly studies and evidence and science matter? Because just a minute ago Carter said they didn’t.’

    “No
    I didn’t. I said nothing of the sort. I guess I could add that you are
    simply dishonest to the list of reason why you can’t comprehend a rather
    straightforward post.”

    I am going to take a minority opinion here and agree with you that Fred misread your post.  You take the New York Times to be a Liberal Bible, explicitly comparing its readers to the KJV fundamentalists.  You proudly proclaim that “Unlike Giberson and Stephens, we don’t simply outsource our thinking to whatever experts have been approved by the New York Times.”

    I think Fred has observed that the NYT engages (at least in theory) in factual reporting, and interprets your rejection of it as a rejection of the existence of facts.  I have not read anything else by you, but based on this blog post it appears that you reject the NYT as being the leftmost of lefty liberal leftiness, and therefore anything it prints is just lefty pinko propaganda and anyone who believes anything in it is at best brainwashed.

    The thing is, the idea that the NYT is the paradigm of left wing anything is risible.  It is reliably conventional and pro-establishment.  Your holding it up as the Liberal Bible is a sure indicator that you are a rube and a buffoon, and is itself ample reason to mock you.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    The thing is, the idea that the NYT is the paradigm of left wing anything is risible.  It is reliably conventional and pro-establishment.  Your holding it up as the Liberal Bible is a sure indicator that you are a rube and a buffoon, and is itself ample reason to mock you.

    A question for the older folks here – were Conservatives whining about the Liberal Biased Media before Reagan, or is that all-purpose excuse for ignoring facts yet another one of the Great Hallucinator’s legacies?

  • Anonymous

    “were Conservatives whining about the Liberal Biased Media before Reagan,
    or is that all-purpose excuse for ignoring facts yet another one of the
    Great Hallucinator’s legacies?”

    I think the complaint goes back at least to when Walter Cronkite accurately predicted the course of the Vietnam War.  You can still find people denouncing him as a pinko for this and holding this up as proof of liberal bias in the media.

    I think there may be a kernel of truth in that many journalists from that era came out of the New Deal era and opposing the Nazis (some of them even prematurely!).  A lot of the baseline assumptions from that era are far to the left of what the Overton Window allows today.  At the same time, the Right as anything like an intellectual endeavor was in deep disarray, in the pre-William F. Buckley era.  (This is not intended as an endorsement of his work, by the way.)  So there was a generation of highly respected journalists who lingered on as the country moved to the right.  This fact set makes it plausible to argue that there was a lag in institutional mainstream journalism’s move to the right.

    The sell-by date on this kernel of truth is about thirty or so years ago.  Just the other day I heard a story on public radio(!) lamenting the plight of Wall Street bankers.  Anyone who complains about the liberal mainstream media today should be pointed and laughed at.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    (A little useful historical perspective snipped)

     Anyone who complains about the liberal mainstream media today should be pointed and laughed at.

    I try, but there’s only so much one person can do….

  • Hawker40

    I think it dates to the 1964 Presidential Election, which Goldwater lost *only* because the media quoted him accurately without asking for a rebuttal from Goldwater’s staff first.  The term “Fair and Balanced” came out of that… “If they were fair, they wouldn’t have quoted Goldwater like that, if they were balanced they would have asked Goldwater’s staff about it before printing it.”

  • Anonymous

    I can’t tell if you are dumb or just dishonest.

    I have a friend I think you should get to know.

    It’s funny how often Fred tends to skewer people who fall into the Glen Greenwald (and now Joe Carter!) trap of saying “I didn’t say that! You’re putting words into my mouth” when clearly they implied exactly the sentiment in question, or the sentiment in question is the logical outcome of what they DID say.  If P then Q! But I didn’t say Q – just P!  Affirmed consequent, argle, flargle, blargle!

    Whatever.  Carter’s focus seems to be on the whole “cure teh ghey” bit – so I’ll leave aside the obvious implication, and just say that I think it stretches credulity to say that nearly the entire medical establishment has been bought off or politically pressured to say that homosexuality isn’t something you can “cure” while the lone, brave don’t know nothing ’bout that sciencey crap fundamentalist stand up for the one, true truth.

    Unlike Fred, I don’t think Carter and Ham and Barton and the rest of the gang with advanced degrees in ignorance are actively evil.  I think they’re ignorant, sure, but I don’t think that means they can’t add or read or eat without assistance.  I think they are frighteningly un-self-aware – I bet they don’t even know they’re doing it.  It’s amazing what you can get people to not understand when their paycheck / self-worth / moral framework / whatever depends upon them not understanding it.

    It’s like the Stanford Prison Experiment with a science text book.  Man is not a rational animal, he’s a rationalizing animal.

  • Joe is an Idiot

    Joe is an idiot. Don’t even bother arguing with him.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh look, everyone.

    Joe Carter blew on in here and tried bludgeoning his point home with repeated officious word usage, playing fast and loose with scientific terminology, a smattering of a few links here and there, and in general hoping that posting fast and often, being sure to nitpick a lot in the process, will bury any criticism in the dust and prove him right.

    Protip, Joe Carter: if you’re mad at Fred and think he made an inaccurate post, trying to score rhetorical points by bringing his readership into your pissing match is not the way to go.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What’s with the scare quotes around ‘experts’?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    What’s with the scare quotes around ‘experts’?

    They’re not REAL experts unless they agree with him.  If they don’t, they’re just Elitists.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    They’re not REAL experts unless they agree with him.  If they don’t, they’re just Elitists

    Elite being a bad thing except in sport, in which being elite makes you deserving of god-like adulation and more money than anyone can reasonably spend.

  • http://danel4d.livejournal.com/ Danel

    I think you miss the point by ignoring the real focus of his essay, and focusing on minor and irrelevant distractions like the question of how life on earth came to be, whether it will still be possible a century from now, and your nation’s constitutional arrangements. The real important matter here is the massive political pressure exerted by those powerful gays. 

  • Bificommander

    Well, we don’t often see the subject responding in person. Perhaps while you are here you could provide a counterpoint to the accusation that the study you cite as indication that gay-curing could work doesn’t say what you said.

    In more general terms, yes, keeping an open mind is fine, as our host said. But there is also evidence, and the dreaded ‘experts’ have spend more time looking at it. Of course, the experts can be mistaken in their interpetation or lying about the data. That’s not impossible, and if you have the time and expertise to expose this, by all means. But untill you do, dismissing the view of ‘experts’ should not be done so lightly when those experts have data to back up their position.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    Perhaps while you are here you could provide a counterpoint to the
    accusation that the study you cite as indication that gay-curing could
    work doesn’t say what you said.

    Fair enough. Here is what I said: “[The study] showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual
    orientation may be able to do so with the help of religious mediation.” And here is what the author of that study said, “. . . there seems to be some capacity for some people to shift their sexual orientation in a way that has personal meaning to them.”

    Mr. Clark says “that’s different.” I disagree. I think Yarhouse’s study merely confirms what another study (Robert L. Spitzer, “Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual
    Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to
    Heterosexual Orientation,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 23 (2003)) has already shown: ““Thus, there is evidence that change in sexual orientation following
    some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and
    lesbians.”

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Clark says “that’s different.” I disagree. I think Yarhouse’s study merely confirms what another study (Robert L. Spitzer, “Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual 
    Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to 
    Heterosexual Orientation,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 23 (2003)) has already shown

    You mean the study where multiple participants have come forward and stated that both their “therapist” Joseph Nicolosi coached them to lie, and that they, themselves, lied to Spitzer?

    Sorry, but that study is about as tainted as tainted can get, and using it to claim anything is a borderline ethical violation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    Sorry, but that study is about as tainted as tainted can get, and using
    it to claim anything is a borderline ethical violation.

    Studies that agree with your position: Obviously reliable.
    Studies that disagree with your position: Obviously unreliable.

    Listen, I’m not fan of psychological studies. I was a behavioral science major and realize that every single study (every one) is flawed in some way that would cast aspersions on the results. Psychology is not like physics. You can’t create an experiment where the results are beyond question.

    But the fact is that there is empirical evidence to show that, for some people, their orientation can change. This is not really controversial, since most people believe in a “continuum” of sexual orientation. What it comes down to, though, is that some people will never accept the empirical results if it contradicts their politically based belief (e.g., that sexual orientation is immutable). Because of that, it’s a bit silly for us to waste time debating the “science” when the science will be dismissed anyway.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Studies that agree with your position: Obviously reliable.
    Studies that disagree with your position: Obviously unreliable.

    Uh huh.  That would be one thing if Loki’s objection was based on, “I don’t like that study, so it’s obviously wrong.”  But Loki’s objection is based on what would very clearly make the study discredited.  To wit:

    You mean the study where multiple participants have come forward and
    stated that both their “therapist” Joseph Nicolosi coached them to lie,
    and that they, themselves, lied to Spitzer?

    Small enough sample size to be statistically unreliable at best.  Several participants admitting to being untruthful in the study.  The study itself was shaky enough even without that.  And it doesn’t actually lend a terribly large amount of cover to the notion that homosexuality can be “cured.”  Your attempts to use it indicate either you don’t understand its conclusions or you’re being disingenuous about its results because your misunderstanding of the study supports your position.

    But, then again, it’s like someone said one time.  “Studies that agree with your position: Obviously reliable.  Studies that disagree with your position: Obviously unreliable.”

    Hey, anyone remember who that was?

  • Anonymous

    By “orientation,” are you referring to the gender to which a person is physically and romantically attracted (a mental phenomenon), or the gender with which a person engages in dating and sexual behavior (a behavioral phenomenon)?

    Because I’ve seen tons of studies showing a change in the latter, but absolutely none showing a change in the former.  The general definition of “sexual orientation” is based on attraction, not behavior.

  • Anonymous

    Studies that agree with your position: Obviously reliable. 
    Studies that disagree with your position: Obviously unreliable.

    Oh my! Hypocrisy! How surprising. Allow me to quote from your very first post in this thread.

    No I didn’t. I said nothing of the sort. I guess I could add that you are simply dishonest to the list of reason why you can’t comprehend a rather straightforward post.

    Please prove you are not being dishonest here and quote me stating exactly that studies that agree with me are obviously reliable and studies that don’t are obviously not.

    Anywho, no, what I said was that multiple participants in that study have come forward and stated that Nicolosi coached them to lie. Other participants have come forward and stated that they lied to Spitzer of their own volition. Therefore the entire study is based on faulty data. And it wasn’t even a particularly well done study in the first place. Neither was the Jones and Yarhouse study.

    But the fact is that there is empirical evidence to show that, for some people, their orientation can change.

    This is what we refer to as a “lie.” This is no empirical evidence that shows this. The closest that the empirical evidence shows is that participants in these ridiculous scams are capable of functioning heterosexually, an entirely different thing from change in sexual orientation and an idea that was pretty self-obvious.

    This is not really controversial, since most people believe in a “continuum” of sexual orientation.

    Which has nothing to do with, and is entirely irrelevant to changing sexual orientation.

    What it comes down to, though, is that some people will never accept the empirical results if it contradicts their politically based belief

    And that person would be you.

    Because of that, it’s a bit silly for us to waste time debating the “science” when the science will be dismissed anyway.

    By you.

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    I also take exception to anyone’s saying that my sexual orientation’s immuatability is in any way, shape or form, a politically based belief. 

    I agree, to an extent, with what you say about a continuum of sexual orientation and the possibility that fluidity can influence the ability of a person to ‘change’ (see, in fact, my previous post. What I’m imagining, to clarify, is a largely bisexual person who maintains only opposite sex relationships thereby appearing to ‘change’ their orientation from something apparently homosexual to something apparently heterosexual).  Where these ideas of reparative therapy do harm is in people whose orientations are not so fluid (see, for example, me). 

    Studies that agree with your position experience: Obviously reliable.
    Studies that disagree with your position experience: Obviously unreliable.

    Fixed that for you.  My position is based on my life, my experiences.  If you’re going to say that orientation is mutable, I’m going to call bullshit.  If you’re going to say that orientation is mutable in fluid people, well, that’s a statement I can’t really answer, since I don’t identify as fluid. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I also take exception to anyone’s saying that my sexual orientation’s immuatability is in any way, shape or form, a politically based belief.

    I was about to say something similar. Choosing to accept the descriptions of my gay friends and relatives about their experience (which matches my own experience as a straight person) is not in the same category as opinions on how money should be distributed or what aspects of life society has a right to expect to be allowed to influence through government.

  • Anonymous

    ‘Fair enough. Here is what I said: “[The study] showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual
    orientation
    may be able to do so with the help of religious mediation.” And here is
    what the author of that study said, “. . . there seems to be some
    capacity for some people to shift their sexual orientation in a way that
    has personal meaning to them.’

    Mr. Clark says “that’s different.” I disagree.’

    This is some combination of disingenuously misleading and merely wrong.  When people talk about homosexuals changing their sexual orientation they are talking about gays becoming straights.  They aren’t talking about someone moving somewhat on the Kinsey scale.

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    You should add the caveat that the definition of ‘homosexual’ may be different for some people than for others.  Some people think that merely being attracted to people of the same sex makes them gay. Some people think that in order to claim the label, you have to do the deed. Do we know which definition was used here, or is a different definition in place for each of the people who are self-reporting?  Also, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the effect of fluidity in a person’s innate orientation matters a lot and will have a marked effect on their ability to change orientation.

    Personally, I’m pretty set in mine.  I’ve tried going out with guys and they just don’t do a whole lot for me.  I’m a lesbian transsexual woman.  I’m also an ex-evangelical Christian,
    now agnostic with strong atheist leanings.  I quit the church because of
    the attitude that I was wrong, that I was the one who had to be a
    straight man in order to be accepted.  I’m neither of those things, and
    like qit, the pressure to be who I wasn’t nearly killed me. 

    There’s more holes in this study than in my kitchen colander. 

  • Anonymous

    The APA study linked earlier goes into this very distinction. There is evidence that reparative therapy can make you less likely to do the deed, or to self-identify as homosexual, but it can’t move you all the way along the Kinsey scale.

  • http://twitter.com/wthrockmorton wthrockmorton

    Mr. Carter: Point of correction. Jones and Yarhouse did a study of people who were involved in Exodus International, an evangelical ministry. Spitzer’s study included people who had tried to change with a variety of methods, including reparative therapy. Neither study provides support for reparative therapy since the Jones and Yarhouse study was not a study of the effects of professional therapy. Spitzer’s study was retrospective and did not evaluate the potent elements of anyone’s claim to change.

    I interviewed Bob Spitzer for my 2004 documentary I Do Exist. At that time he expressed a sense that change in orientation was infrequent, perhaps less than 10% of cases, although he was not sure.

    Over the years, I have come to regret the I Do Exist video and the support for the change paradigm. While I did the video in good faith and carefully recorded the stories presented to me, two of the five people in the video did not stay changed as they described in the film. I have since then learned reasons that I could question a third story. Also, beyoud I Do Exist, of the people I have interviewed in follow up, many people tell me that they thought they were changed and later discovered they were not.

    My more recent work has found much less fluidity and a recent study reported in the Christian journal Edification by Yarhouse found no change in orientation among same sex attracted men and women in heterosexual marriages. Their behavior changed but their attractions had not over an average of 16 years of marriage.

    The proof texting of studies (this one or that one says people can change) is not good science and is a great example of the points made by NYT op-ed which generated this discussion. It is a discussion Christians need to have. Many Christians have not really faced the studies in detail. Rather they stop with the finding that some small number of people claim to have changed under conditions where the participants feel strong motivation to report that change. However, apologists for the change paradigm are touting the exceptions and missing the general finding, which is that sexual orientation for males (women as a group may be more flexible) appears to quite durable.

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    Wow.  Thanks for that.  I experienced something similar to what you mention– instances where I felt cured of my transsexualism, especially after praying or talking to a counselor.  It’s sort of that church high (for lack of a better word) that some people get, the kind of thing that inspires people to get on the field during one of Greg Laurie’s harvest crusades but doesn’t ever get them into a church. 

    I used to think I was one of those seeds that never got into good soil and I was terrified about what it meant for my spiritual life.  And then one night, I just took the whole thing, the entire system of thinking, and dumped it upside down.  I turned it on its ear and left it behind.  Every so often, I wonder about the church and faith I lost but I realize that I can’t believe in something that is so grounded in an utter ignorance of reality. 

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Wow.  Thanks for that.  I experienced something similar to what you
    mention– instances where I felt cured of my transsexualism, especially
    after praying or talking to a counselor.  It’s sort of that church high
    (for lack of a better word) that some people get, the kind of thing that
    inspires people to get on the field during one of Greg Laurie’s harvest
    crusades but doesn’t ever get them into a church.

    For whatever it’s worth, you could snip the “transsexualism” from the sentence, “I experienced something similar to what you
    mention– instances where I felt cured of my transsexualism, especially
    after praying or talking to a counselor,” and basically be anyone who has ever experienced “spiritual conviction” at a Christian rally.  I realized when I was moving away from Christianity that a large amount of my Evangelical megachurch-ish experience was basically engineered to create exactly that sensation.  We’d go on retreats and spend a weekend doing worship and study and discussion and discuss how to take that “mountaintop experience” back with us to school or work or whatever.  We’d have amazing worship services that I eventually realized were specifically (although, I believe, unintentionally in most cases.  I think the people responsible for the services were seeking to create that feeling in themselves because they liked it, not because they were intentionally manipulating the congregation.  However, I can see exactly how a more cynical person would be able to use it for great harm) geared to create exactly the sort of endorphin high that would, for a moment, make you think that you can defeat sin and live the life you’re supposed to live.

    One of the real problems with a lot of these Christian movements is that they don’t actually care what your sin is.  They just want you to be thinking, “Oh, I’m wretched and need to be fixed.  Woe is me.”  It’s easier to do with someone who does or is something obviously outside of their normative stance on humanity, but all you really have to be is human.  The human condition is something that stands against their teachings.  So if you’re gay you obviously need to be fixed and can be easily manipulated.  But if you’re straight and do things like, I don’t know, masturbate, then you also need to be fixed.

    Basically, they have a list of inappropriate behaviors/qualities that apply in some way to everyone.  Then they tell you that it’s wrong and shameful.  So you’re afraid to admit that you do/are one of those people and spend your time focused on trying to not screw up.  After that happens you’re in the thrall of the movement and they can sell you the cure to the disease they told you that you have.

    The ironic thing is that the people who are so strongly anti-gay are just as much a victim as the people they persecute.  The prisoners run the jail, you could say.  A lot of that, “Oh, so-and-so is totally anti-gay, when are we going to find out that he likes men, too?” is misplaced due to an absolute misunderstanding of the misery that accompanies life in those movements.  Some of those people are self-loathing closet homosexuals.  We have ample proof of that.  But a lot of them are self-loathing closet-other-totally-unacceptable-things cases and they’re just hoping that if they redirect to a more convenient and obvious target they’ll get some respite for themselves.

    I pity people like that.  I also empathize.  Because I was once one of them.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Awesome. Thanks for posting this.

    It is a discussion Christians need to have.

    Amen. I have devout Christian friends who have the strongest possible incentive I can imagine to change their sexual orientation and they haven’t. There would be a lot less pain in their past (and present) if it weren’t for this idea even among many moderate Christians that accepting their sexuality makes these amazing men deeply disordered (whereas it would be much more encouraging where they to continue to desperately sturuggled against themselves).

  • Ursula L

    Fair enough. Here is what I said: “[The study] showed that some homosexuals who seek to change their sexual 
    orientation may be able to do so with the help of religious mediation.” And here is what the author of that study said, “. . . there seems to be some capacity for some people to shift their sexual orientation in a way that has personal meaning to them.”

    Mr. Clark says “that’s different.” I disagree. I think Yarhouse’s study merely confirms what another study (Robert L. Spitzer, “Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual 
    Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to 
    Heterosexual Orientation,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 23 (2003)) has already shown: ““Thus, there is evidence that change in sexual orientation following 
    some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and 
    lesbians.”

    They are different.  “Shifting sexual orientation” is not the same as “changing sexual orientation.”  

    The study is talking about people who are bisexual having subtle but personally meaningful variations in their sexuality.  That is, sometimes they fancy someone of the same sex, and other times they they fancy someone of the opposite sex.  Which is what bisexual means. 

    That is not the same as someone who is gay or lesbian becoming straight.  Because bisexual is not the same as gay or lesbian.  And shifting sexual orientation is not the same as changing sexual orientation.

    You’re playing games with vocabulary and language, to try to make a study say what you want it to say, that gay or lesbian people can become straight, rather than what it actually says, that some people have subtle shifts in where they are on a spectrum of sexual attraction.

  • Anonymous

    My beef with Giberson and Stephens’ article is that they stretch way too far. By lumping all the theological positions they disagree with evangelicals on into a single basket of anti-intellectualism and “discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas”, they are nearly as inaccurate as those they criticize. For instance, a greater respect for science is not going to change anyone’s mind about complementarianism or gay marriage, nor should it.

    It is, however, bizarre that Carter takes aim at one sentence about Dobson, without really engaging with the point of the article.

  • Topher

    I’m going to disagree with your point on this. True, more scientific knowledge is not going to change a person’s mind about same-sex marriage, for example, but it might show someone that their objections to SSM are based in religious arguments only. It is like Carter’s article, he dismisses ‘expert’ opinion and then distorts a study to try and support his point. So science is not going to change anyone’s mind about SSM, but it will show them that SSM is not destroying families or children. This way, they can know that their opposition is based in an argument about the application of their interpretation of scripture, not pseudo-scientific nonsense spouted by Dobsen, Barton, etc… 

  • Ursula L

    Topher, I have to disagree on:

    more scientific knowledge is not going to change a person’s mind about same-sex marriage,

    Over the past two decades, many, many people have changed their mind about same sex marriage, and they have changed their mind because they’ve been exposed to facts.

    Just a few decades ago, most people, even many QUILTBAG people, were quite ignorant about the potential for same-sex relationships.  Deep prejudice and discrimination kept most QUILTBAG people closeted in one way or another, and that, in turn, affected how relationships developed, so that few people had a chance to see healthy same-sex relationships in an ordinary way. 

    I’ll use my own father’s change of heart on the matter as an example.

    Way back when, say, before 1985, he really didn’t “get” the idea of same-sex relationships.  he’s straight, and the idea of sex with another man squicked him.  He knew no one who was openly lesbian or gay, and he’d been raised with the idea that being gay or lesbian was wrong, so, to avoid thinking ill of anyone without reason, he assumed that everyone was straight unless he specifically learned otherwise.  And people wouldn’t say otherwise, because society was so messed up about the issue.

    Eventually, people he knew who were gay or lesbian started coming out. My dad still didn’t “get” the attraction of a same-sex relationship.  But he had exposure to new facts.  The fact that these people, whom he’d known and respected for years, happened to prefer same-sex relationships.  And he let the facts of the situation – that he knew from experience that these were good people, and that they chose to share something about their private life with him, change his mind a bit.  He didn’t immediately start advocating for full equality, but he did start to think that these people, his friends and colleagues, and people like them, should be allowed to live their lives in peace, and not be treated badly.  

    Time continued to pass, and he got to know more QUILTBAG people.  And his basic decency carried through – even though he would have, in the abstract, said such acts and relationships were wrong, when it came to people he knew, he saw the specifics and realized that they were fine, and didn’t deserve to be treated badly.

    He gradually went from thinking that QUILTBAG people were wrong, to thinking that they were odd but ought to be allowed to live a peaceful, if closeted, life, to thinking they should be able to be open without fear of being harmed, to thinking that maybe something like civil unions might be a good idea, to thinking that same-sex marriage was fine, and it was none of his business who married whom, as long as no church was forced to bless a relationship that went against that  church’s belief.  

    Facts, facts about people he knew and situations he could observe, changed my father’s mind. And they changed the minds of many other people, as we can see from the way that polls consistently show more and more people supporting equality.   

    Just because bigots try to twist or ignore facts doesn’t mean that we should ignore the effect that facts have upon ordinary people of good will who may be ignorant on an issue.  

  • Topher

    Great story about your father. I am not knocking on the power of the facts to change people’s minds about QUILTBAG people. It is what happened to me.

     I have just met some religious people who do know all the facts on SSM and still oppose it on religious grounds. I’m not saying that is a good reason, but at least they are honest about it. Most conservative evangelicals oppose SSM on religious grounds, but twist and distort studies to justify their opposition, (or use Paul Cameron’s long discredited studies. I’d be a rich man if I got a dollar for every time I heard a preacher quote some “fact” from his studies.)

    So yes in an ideal world the facts would be enough. It is almost a backhanded compliment to science that conservative evangelicals make such an effort to distort science for their own purposes. 

  • Anonymous

    This is definitely true. It is helpful here to distinguish between “facts” gained from personal experience with the world and other people, and “scientific knowledge” gained from longitudinal studies, the APA’s official stance, etc. What changed your father’s mind was the first kind, not the second, because it isn’t a scientific question. Lumping it in with evolution and global warming and vaccines is doing the entire process a disservice.

  • http://schweinsty.livejournal.com schweinsty

    Sorry, Robyrt, I meant to hit ‘reply’ instead of ‘like.’ But you say (how does one quote on disqus, btw, anyone?)
    “For instance, a greater respect for science is not going to change
    anyone’s mind about complementarianism or gay marriage, nor should it.”

    However, most of the arguments against same sex marriage I hear every time someone tries to pass an amendment are of the ‘SS Marriage/relationships destroys families’ ‘SS Marriage/relationships leads to more crime/screwed up children/more gay people/puppies and kittens in the street’ variety, and scientific study after scientific study keeps coming out refuting those lies. I grant you, ‘science’ isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about ‘gays being evil sinners’, but that’s not the majority of complaints I hear about the idea that I should be able to marry my girlfriend. And so, if we want to take anti-same-sex-marriage activists at their word, then yes, science should absolutely change people’s minds about gay marriage, unless they’re willfully ignoring it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    However, most of the arguments against same sex marriage I hear every time someone tries to pass an amendment are of the ‘SS Marriage/relationships destroys families’ ‘SS Marriage/relationships leads to more crime/screwed up children/more gay people/puppies and kittens in the street’ variety, and scientific study after scientific study keeps coming out refuting those lies. I grant you, ‘science’ isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about ‘gays being evil sinners’, but that’s not the majority of complaints I hear about the idea that I should be able to marry my girlfriend.

    Part of the issue here is because if someone wants to pass a law in this country, it has to have a secular justification.  Otherwise, it will just be knocked down in the courts.  The constitution is pretty clear on this point (as much as some religious demographics would wish it were not.)  Hence, those who want such a law on a religious basis must come up with some secular support for their argument.  Unfortunately, there is very little secular support for it, and there is a habit of manufacturing such support.  Even if that support is on very shaky ground, those seeking such laws will continue to cling to it because that is the only hope they have.  

  • Anonymous

    @schweinsty:disqus 

    (how does one quote on disqus, btw, anyone?)

    The HTML is [blockquote] [/blockquote] but with brackets instead of [ ] brackets. :)

    @VMink:disqus 

    Again quoting Izzard, that has about the same rhetorical rigor as saying “You stink, because you do!” “You’re a twit, because you are!”

    Tautologies are tautological!

  • http://schweinsty.livejournal.com schweinsty

     Oh, thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Bizarre?  I think it fits with his described modus operandi pretty darn well.  When you don’t care about the fact that studies disproving your hypothesis outnumber studies proving it by at least 50 to 1, you generally don’t care to actually give a point-by-point rebuttal when someone bothers to do you the favor of a meticulous critique.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    When you don’t care about the fact that studies disproving your hypothesis outnumber studies proving it by at least 50 to 1

    I provided 2 studies to support my case. Care to prove the 100 that “disprove the hypothesis?”

  • Anonymous

    Where’s the second one?  I see one, and–I’m sorry, but I have a Master’s degree and I have never heard the phrase “quasi-experimental” used in any sort of a serious research context.

  • Anonymous

    You’ll never see a legit quasi-experimental study done with a sample so biased (because self-selected by choosing therapy and Christian therapy at that). Just doing it in the quasi-experimental form doesn’t actually mean anything.

    Quasi-experimental studies are done a lot in education and social sciences where it is difficult or unethical to do a random sample. Usually there are paired populations who differ as little as possible aside from the experimental treatment. And nobody thinks they ‘prove’ anything … they’re usually considered a data point requiring additional and more rigorous study.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    -I’m sorry, but I have a Master’s degree and I have never heard the phrase “quasi-experimental” used in any sort of a serious research context.

    I’m sorry, but I have a PhD and I know of many well-respected works by rigorous/serious/internationally well-respected methodologists that employ the phrase “quasi-emperimental” –for example: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference 

    It is the name used for one of many methods of trying to use/apply statistical modeling to circumstances which do not allow for pure/unrealworld laboratory protocols.

  • Apocalypse Review

    O_o Huh. The more you know, etc.

    Guess that’s why I never heard the term; it’s rarely used in the physical sciences.

    That being said, Carter’s link to a report that seemed stuffed to the gills with excess verbiage would tend to naturally lead one to suspect him of trying to use scientific terminology incorrectly to cast an imprimatur of legitimacy over his rather barbed arguments.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    Oh, I wasn’t defending Carter in any way…..and I have had a belly-load of people who like to use statistical terms without understanding what they really mean (my pet peeve is the misuse of the word “random”)

    but (and you know there is always a but) one of the beefs we always had in teaching upper level statistical modeling is that many people got to the ph.d. level with comparatively weak training in methodology.

    In fact quasi-experimental modeling is used in a number of physical sciences since it involves situations in which one cannot manipulate the independent variables oneself but one can find situations in which nature has manipulated them for you. 

    Also, in some areas there are no ways in which you can do ethical experimental work so you looked for quasi-experimental situations.

  • Anonymous

    my pet peeve is the misuse of the word “random”

    To be fair, for a large part of the 20th Century there was quite heated debate among Statisticians as to just what should be meant by the word “random”. It’s not that surprising that a lot of lay-folk get confused.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    my pet peeve is the misuse of the word “random”

    To be fair, for a large part of the 20th Century there was quite heated debate among Statisticians as to just what should be meant by the word “random”. It’s not that surprising that a lot of lay-folk get confused.

    Nope, not in the mood to be “fair” at all. When someone with reasonable pretensions to being a statistician uses the word “random” they don’t mean “one among several people who live in exactly the same kind of neighbourhood, make roughly the same income, have the same education —- but whose opinions I will generalize to people in different neighbourhoods, with different incomes and different levels of education.”

    The argument has been about how to achieve true randomness not the general underlying concept.

  • Anonymous

    I provided 2 studies to support my case. Care to prove the 100 that “disprove the hypothesis?”

    You do realize that the American Psychological Association issued a 130 page study of all peer-reviewed, English language studies published in the professional literature since 1960. Scroll down to the “referances” section and you can find over 20 pages worth of studies on this subject.

  • Antigone10

    From the article:

    Most evangelicals who read that list would agree with some and
    disagree with others. The responses would vary because most of us
    evangelicals have been taught to think for themselves. Unlike Giberson
    and Stephens, we don’t simply outsource our thinking to whatever experts
    have been approved by the New York Times.

    You are not capable of knowing everything in the world.  Part of “thinking for yourself” is learning to identify what expert is a legitimate authority, and which one is a charlatan.  For instance (using a non-political example) my husband and I are buying a car.  We know nothing about cars, short of how to operate one and change oils.  There are many ways I could go about this: I could buy the first car that “looks about right” in my budget.   That would be “thinking for myself”, after all.  Or, I could trust the salesperson at the dealership: surely they know more about cars than I do, after all.  But, instead, I’m apparently “Not thinking for myself” and using sites such as Edmunds, Kelley’s Blue Book, and Consumer Reports in order to determine which car is best suited to my needs and budget.  In a similar capacity, when determining what is scientific fact, I do not know everything about every branch of science.  Even most scientists are extremely limited in what they know (I would, for example, but unwilling to take any kind of in-depth information about pulsars from PZ Myers).  I know enough about the scientific method to know how to critique up to a basic level of science papers, and I can pick out false attribution errors, but at the end of the day, I cannot by myself tell you how big the galaxy is.  So, like buying a car, I have to seek out legitimate authorities in the field.  Let’s focus on “reparative therapy” since that is what you had in your article (and you did mention that homosexuality is not a disease, so this is probably the least controversial thing between the two of us).  I am not a psychiatrist, and I have neither time, inclination, nor money that it would take to individually become an expert in the field of human sexuality psychology.  But, I do know enough to be able to use google scholar, filter out which are actual peer-reviewed, legitimate journals, and read the paper.  The overwhelming number of papers on so-called “reparative therapy” are about its non-efficacy, and the damage it does to those it is tried on.  A handful of them talk about fluidity in sexual expression and identification (not so much as homo-to-hetero, but more of a bisexual, primary hetero to primary homo).  The Yarhouse and Jones paper, I can say “bad science” right from the abstract.  Here’s the abstract to the paper:

    The authors conducted a quasi-experimental longitudinal study spanning
    6–7 years examining attempted religiously mediated sexual orientation
    change from homosexual orientation to heterosexual orientation. An
    initial sample was formed of 72 men and 26 women who were involved in a
    variety of Christian ministries, with measures of sexual attraction,
    infatuation and fantasy, and composite measures of sexual orientation
    and psychological distress, administered longitudinally. Evidence from
    the study suggested that change of homosexual orientation appears
    possible for some and that psychological distress did not increase on
    average as a result of the involvement in the change process. The
    authors explore methodological limitations circumscribing
    generalizability of the findings and alternative explanations of the
    findings, such as sexual identity change or adjustment.

    First and foremost, the phrase “quasi-experimental” should ring bells in the “preliminary at best” center of your brain.  “Quasi-experimental” is what you have when you are trying to narrow focus, or at least get preliminary studies in to provide evidence that what you are studying is worth funding.  Next, the sample size is 72 men and 26 women, who were “involved in a variety of Christian ministries”.  That sample size is ridiculously small, especially for psychological studies.  It is also unbalanced gender-wise, and it already screens out non-Christians, leaving behind people who have a vested interest to lie on their self-reported surveys.  Then, going beyond that, we have the fact that this was done at Regent University, which does not exactly have a reputation for good science.  It’s ethos is severely lacking.  Add this all up together, you have that, as far as we know right now, it is not possible to go from a 6 to a 1 on the Kinsey scale (or vice versa, for that matter) but it might be possible to go from 3.5 to a 2.5. 

    Now, it is such a way that tomorrow we’d do a study that has gathered usable information on 50 years of conversion therapy and discover something completely unique and falsify all of the studies up to this point.   That is the nature of science: what we know may in fact be wrong, or misinterpreted.  But to the point that you can actually say a fact is a fact, reperative therapy is ineffective, and is more likely to be harmful, and to say otherwise belays a political agenda that is harmful to a great many people.  This isn’t me deciding that the New York Times is god, or at least knows the will of god (especially considering I don’t read the Times at all).  But to say you are “thinking for yourself” to decide that the mountains of studies are wrong because you don’t need to follow “experts” is ridiculous. 

  • rustywheeler

    >Thunderous Applause<

  • Apocalypse Review

    You know what I love? When people who want to jump up and down like little kids yelling about stuff when the implications of their line of argument get talked about? They always haul out the “UR DISHONEST” thing like it’s some kind of magic amulet that gets the powerup and wins the game.

  • Anonymous

    It reminds me of Eddie Izzard’s sketch on the British Prime Minister’s reply to complaints about the UK Civil Service: “If you don’t think that ours is the best Civil Service in the world, then-n-n-n… you should!”

    Again quoting Izzard, that has about the same rhetorical rigor as saying “You stink, because you do!” “You’re a twit, because you are!”  And a favorite here: “Homosexuality is a choice because shut up!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1160394401 Jocelyn Koehler

    Ooh, SNAP! Fred’s summoning spell worked great this time. Too bad Joe Carter didn’t really address the concerns in the original post. I guess he was too busy honing his ad hominim attack to fashion a thoughtful, open, and…what’s the word? oh yeah… Christian response. 

    Grenadine

  • Anonymous

    I would like to note that if “Joe Carter” is doing more than just a driveby flame, and would like to actually engage Fred and to justify his position, then we are possessed of a unique opportunity here to show those who have styled themselves our enemies the facts of which they are ignorant of.

  • http://brandiweed.livejournal.com/ Brandi

    I would like to note that if “Joe Carter” is doing more than just a driveby flame,

    Which he doesn’t seem to be. Pity.

    OT: “Warren Throckmorton” is a hell of name, though it comes nowhere close to the magnificence of “Thurl Ravenscroft”.

  • Anonymous

    “Sometimes I think the so-called experts actually are experts.”–Jacky Handey.

    Another relevant Deep Thought:

    “I’m just guessing, but probably one of the early signs that your radarscope is wearing out is something I call ‘image fuzz-out’.  But I’ve never even seen a radarscope, so I wouldn’t totally go by what I’ve just said here.”

  • http://nagamakironin.blogspot.com Michael Mock

    People who “think for themselves,” he says, should be free to come to
    whatever conclusions they choose about whether evolution is true,
    whether climate change “is real and caused by humans,” whether “the
    founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian
    nation,” and whether “reparative therapy can ‘cure’ homosexuality.”

    Here
    is the core of Carter’s disagreement with Giberson and Stephens.
    Giberson and Stephens regard those questions as objective matters of
    fact that ought to be answered according to evidence. Carter regards
    those questions as wholly subjective, to be answered according to
    personal preference.

    I can’t help but think that, in this context, the idea of “personal preference” reflects the same sort of free choice that the King expresses in the second Shrek film:
    “This is Fiona’s choice.”
    “But she was supposed to choose
    the prince we picked for her!”

  • Anonymous

    Regarding science and same-sex marriage, I think some portion of the population is capable of being persuaded.  In particular, once one is persuaded that homosexuality is something someone simply is, rather than something someone chooses–that it is part of the human condition–then many of the arguments against same-sex marriage not merely fall apart, but even become openly odious.  This is why we see all this talk of homosexuals choosing the become hetero, and why conservatives frequently push back against comparisons with racial civil rights.  They realize that once the similarities become accepted within the national discourse, the battle is lost.  But the similarities are precisely on point:  both are discrimination against someone for who they are, rather than for what they do.  

  • Anonymous

    As others have pointed out, everyone is entitled to their opinion but every opinion is not equally good/beneficial/just.  One may hold that the earth is the center of the solar system but such expert rejecting opinion is plain stupid.  Joe Carter wants us to accept that good people are free to develop their own epistemological  methodology.  So it is preeminently important that, instead of giving us a very sloppy opinion on the validity of rejecting the scientific method, he provide a very careful explanation of how one does build a body of reliable knowledge without thoroughly integrating scientific methodology.  Good luck with that.  

    But he comes here and declares that Fred possibly lacks charity, basic comprehension skills or is dishonest but that he definitely gets it all wrong — without providing any evidence for his contentions.  Declarative authority was supposed to go out with the monarchies.  Maybe he didn’t get the message.  He further defends the reasonableness of a discredited hypothesis with a non-rigorous study that admits that it is “quasi-experimental”.  Finally, he references no peer review process.

    By the way, I am one of those ex-evangelical, atheist, gay guys whose sexual orientation is somewhat fluid moving on a Kinsey scale (0=completely heterosexual; 6=completely homosexual) between approximately 3.5 to 4.5.  The underlying anger in my post is the fact that Carter’s “methodology” nearly killed me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    For someone who criticized me for “giving us a very sloppy opinion on the validity of rejecting the scientific method” (something I never did, by the way), you don’t seem to be that familiar with scientific methodology.

    For example, you criticize the study for being “quasi-experimental” and imply that it makes it suspect and “non-rigorous.” The term quasi-experiment refers to a type of research design that
    shares many similarities with a randomized controlled trial, but specifically lacks the element of random assignment. And yes, the paper was peer reviewed.

    Of course even though the paper was rigorous and peer-reviewed I suspect you will dismiss it since it doesn’t confirm your bias. The agreeing only with experts that confirm your bias was the reason for my original post.

  • Anonymous

    Since actual peer review, not simply the existence of peer review, is the most definitive part of the method, what is your summation of the review and why haven’t we heard it yet?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    So, Joe.  As long as you’re sticking around, care to explain what ground you “open-mindedly” reject evolution on?  I do hope it’s not one of the fallacies I can find in a minute’s searching on talk.origins…

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.p.carter Joe Carter

    Where did I ever say that I rejected evolution? I never said that because its not what I believe.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Where did I ever say that I rejected evolution? I never said that because its not what I believe.

    From your blagpost:

    According to Giberson and Stephens, you might be an anti-intellectual fundamentalist if you are an evangelical who: dismisses evolution as “an unproven theory”; deny that “climate change is real and caused by humans”; think that “the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation”; defend spanking children; believe in traditional roles for the sexes; think that reparative therapy can “cure” homosexuality; and/or oppose gay marriage.

    Oddly, you left off thinking that: mental illness is caused by demonic possession, Jews having horns, witches being able to cast real curses and eating children, vaccination causing autism, and supply-side economics.

    TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    PS: I’d argue that if you reject evolution for purely religious dogma, you ARE an “Anti-Intellectual Fundamentalist”.   After all, you’ve thrown out reason and evidence because they disagree with a pre-existing belief.  The arguments against evolution have been weighed in the balance and found extremely wanting by everyone except the Real True Creationists, whose persistent intellectual dishonesty makes them somewhat auto-discrediting.

    Same goes for Anthropogenic Global Climate Change, although the religious dogma there tends to be from the Cult of the Almighty Dollar.

  • http://brandiweed.livejournal.com/ Brandi

    And I thought the bot created tedious threads…

  • Aridawnia

    What I don’t see is why “experts” and “facts” are mutually exclusive. I’m not a physicist, a biologist, or (especially) a mathematician. If twenty scientists, trained, accredited and published in one of those fields, all told me the same thing, I would normally trust their ability to interpret evidence and understand facts.

    Which is not to say there could never, amongst the infinite possibilties of the universe, arise a situation where I might be right and they wrong. But I hope would not fault other people for giving the professionals’ judgment more weight than mine.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    What I don’t see is why “experts” and “facts” are mutually exclusive. 

    Since the expects and the facts are generally against them these days, the Religious Right has created this weird kakistocratic “anti-elitism”.  This allows them to instantly dismiss the statements of anyone who knows like they might know what they’re talking about if it would contradict anything Rush Limbaugh/Jerry Falwell/Michelle Bachman said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Besmann/59703189 Anna Besmann

    You keep saying we’re an echo chamber and ignoring the facts we don’t like, but you’ve yet to provide anything that actually refutes us, bar one study which has already been pointed out to be unscientific.

  • Anonymous

    OK, so I read Carter’s article, though I admit I haven’t read the NYT article. I agree that Fred is off the mark a bit, or at least that he makes some assertions about Carter’s intent that are not necessarily supported by anything in the article itself. Much in the same way that Carter asserts that the APA (and others) are bowing to political pressure, without ever citing a source for that knowledge. It really is too bad that English doesn’t have grammatical evidentiality.

    Then too, Carter seems a bit confused, or maybe playing some sort of game. He treats “effective” and “ineffective” as binary opposites, such that any therapy that is ever effective must always be effective. When the APA says
    “… the nation’s leading professional
    medical, health, and mental health organizations do not support efforts
    to change young people’s sexual orientation through therapy and have
    raised serious concerns about the potential harm from such efforts.”
    They are neither saying nor denying that it is never effective. What they are saying is that there is not sufficient evidence to support a recommendation for such therapy, especially given the very real potential for harm.

    He may not be aware that he is doing it, but Carter makes very clear that he expects there to be a bias in favor of recommending reparative therapy unless studies show that it is absolutely never effective. If that were how it works, then I could come up with a therapy to cure, say, schizophrenia by, say, painting the patient blue and dancing around them in a circle chanting “Ni! Icky thoomp!” for at least 3 hours, make a claim that sometimes it works, and the APA would have to recommend it until proven otherwise. Rather, I believe the standard is that you prove a therapy is effective, and not just that but effective enough to outweigh potential harm. Only then does it get to be recommended.

    For example, the Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended against routine PSA screening. They weren’t saying that it fails to detect cancer. On the contrary it is too good at that. Nor were they saying that no man benefits from test. Nor were they even saying it should never be done. What they were saying is that the evidence points to more harm from  overtreatment than benefit from detection.

    This sort of rationale applies to reparative therapy too. Hypothetically, if out of 100 subjects 5 reported some success in shifting their identified orientation, 10 committed suicide within 5 years, and 75 suffered severe emotional trauma, would that be worthy of a recommendation?

  • LL

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

    If nobody’s said it already. And that came from some famous guy, can’t remember who. I think it was a science fiction writer, ironically enough (not L. Ron).

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Phillip K. Dick, IIRC.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

     I think it was a science fiction writer, ironically enough (not L. Ron).

    Nope, one of L Ron’s favorite bits of doublethink was “Think for yourself” – guess what was, in all innocence, in my .sig when I first started posting to alt.religion.scientology. Oops!

  • Anonymous

    OK, I was wrong in my assumption about what “quasi-experimental” meant and i apologize for using my ignorance as a criticism.  Thank you Joe Carter for pointing that out. 

    However, the core issues still stand.  You seem to be suggesting that interpretations of studies are predisposed to politicization and then present a study without notating or summarizing the peer review which is precisely the part of the methodology that best defends against such alienation.  So, thinking for yourself (and us), how do you fit this particular study into the array of studies on sexual orientation?  Or, if you do not have the expertise to do this, then which experts in the field or some other discipline do you abjure toward?  Your original statements seem to devalue expertise and allow the people who look to you for guidance to enshrine the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    Simply presenting studies like points on a scorecard is part of the problem, not the solution.  Lives are at stake.

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    Also, I read Carter’s op-ed.  And the one in the Times.  And re-read Fred’s piece.  He’s harsh, but I agree.  Carter is claiming things about that study that aren’t true.  And he’s calling this blog an echo chamber?  Ugh, please.  And he’s been doing nothing but backpedaling in his comments here– that’s not what I said, continuum, etc etc.  None of the common sense he’s trying to display here in comments are reflected in his original piece.  Maybe instead of lashing out at Fred, he should spend a little more time polishing his own work before sending it off? 

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    I would just like to share this

  • http://twitter.com/wthrockmorton wthrockmorton

    Let me add to my comments above that the Jones and Yarhouse study did not use a control group. Thus, we do not know whether or not the modest changes reported were due to the passing of time or the religious mediation. Other studies of sexual orientation have reported that bisexuals shift around a couple of Kinsey points over time without any therapy or religious observance. Lisa Diamond found that with her participants over 10 years also shifted some without any effort. It is quite possible that one feature of a bisexual orientation is context related shifts in attractions, back and forth but within a range.

    In the ex-gay world, some people become ex-ex-gay or even ex-ex-ex-ex-gay, meaning that they are bisexually attracted but see themselves differently based on current religious or value considerations. My impression from the studies I have seen and work I have done is that such shifting is not common for men but a little more so for women.

  • Anonymous

    Psychology is not like physics. You can’t create an experiment where the results are beyond question.

    Here’s your problem … you don’t understand psychology OR physics. Neither can create an experiment where the results are beyond question. If you understood science as well as you claim, you’d know that.

  • rm

    Oh, and, opinions on spanking may be political, but psychology has shown as clearly as anyone should ever need that spanking is counterproductive and harmful.

    In moral terms, spanking is wrong because it harms the child and also does nothing to promote discipline.

    In Christian terms, pro-spanking folks completely misread “spare the rod and spoil the child” — the metaphor is to a shepherd’s crook. Do shepherds beat their sheep, or do they use the rods to guide the sheep to safety?

  • Anonymous

    Wow, this thing blew up like a banshee.  If someone responded to me, I’m not ignoring you: I just don’t have time to read all 122 comments.

  • http://lightupmy.wordpress.com Jessica

    @Geds–
    (sorry, the reply function didn’t seem to be working) Yes, you’re absolutely right.  Something I’ve learned over the years of
    transition, and talking about it to greater and lesser degrees is that
    we all have some kind of underlying issues that we’re told are wrong in
    us.  People that aren’t trans find plenty of relate-able material
    because, as you point out, it has more to do with being human than being
    gay or trans.  All of these traits are really about being human, about
    being ourselves, and it is when authority tries to make us feel wrong
    about ourselves that we either give up on it or double down on their
    position. 

  • jackd

    [Giberson and Stephens] are as “anti-intellectual” as Ham or Barton. But while the Hams and
    Bartons of the world may be merely annoying, the Gibersons and Stephens
    are completely insufferable.

    This is grotesque.  Men with huge followings, who have the ears of candidates for President, men who tell lies for money in the name of a god you yourself claim to believe in are “merely annoying”? 

    What is utterly clear here is that you clearly care not a whit for honesty or facts. You don’t care that Ham and Barton are telling lies and that millions of people are being deceived, you only care that positions you agree with have been attacked and therefore the attackers must be discredited.

  • Anonymous

    So i’m going to side step the argument with Joe for a minute and bring up a personal experience I had within the last two months that I think illustrates what Fred is talking about. I had a conversation with a UMC chaplain working with Samaritan’s Purse in North Carolina and we got to discussing biblical criticism, particularly the Deutero-Isaiah passages. He told me that: “It doesn’t matter that some people say not all of Isaiah was written by the same person, because other people say it was. Who’s to know? I just believe the bible”. So basically, it doesn’t matter who has the better argument, since some people disagree on the issue, it must mean we can’t really know and must rely on what he says the bible says who wrote the entire book of Isaiah. So this logic really does exist with some, and apparently some pastors, that: There are disagreements about evolution, climate change, and homosexuality being a choice. Therefore, I choose what I believe about those topics based on my interpretation of the bible. This is further built upon the idea that the bible is a set of “innerrant presuppisitions ” upon which we are to view the world, and upon an a priori assumption that, as Francis Schaeffer said: “What sense then would it make for God to give his revelation in a book that was wrong concerning the universe? The answer to both questions must be, ‘No sense at all!'”

  • N44

    Truthiness at its best.