Only the gay die young? Examining claims of shorter life expectancy for homosexuals

A spate of articles and news releases have appeared recently purporting to demonstrate that the life expectancy of homosexuals is in the neighborhood of 20 years lower than that of straights. Behind this flurry of activity is Paul and Kirk Cameron of the Family Research Institute and a poster session presented at the March, 2007 Eastern Psychological Association convention in Philadelphia.

The first news release was titled “1.4% of Adults Homosexual?” This release carried a link to a paper ostensibly presented at the Eastern Psychological Association, titled, Federal Distortion Of Homosexual Footprint (Ignoring Early Gay Death?). However, according to the letter below from the president of the EPA, Dr. Phil Hineline, the title and intent of the paper referenced by the news release is different than what the Camerons told the EPA they would do.

Following the first news release, others followed from the Camerons proposing that a reason fewer people over age 60 identify as homosexuals is because they are not alive (see them here, here, here, here, here and here). Again saying these data were presented at the EPA convention, the Camerons based their assertions on data from Denmark and Norway. On April 3, I received an email from Paul Cameron with “gays die too young to permit them to adopt” in the subject line. The email contain a Rocky Mountain News article quoting Cameron and an April 2 news release he said he gave to the Colorado legislative committee titled, “Gays Disruptive, Die Sooner & Their Kids Complain.” It was addressed to over 40 news outlets and bloggers, with this message: “How about an interview?”

These claims have never made sense to me, and I wrote briefly about this several months ago. So I dove into this a little further. In the mean time, Jim Burroway, over at Box Turtle Bulletin examined the Camerons’ work with an analysis of the study and a letter about the study from Dr. Paul Hineline, EPA president.

I also wrote to Dr. Hineline with questions about the Camerons’ study and to ask permission to include a response here. Here is the letter (which is identical to the one posted at Box Turtle Bulletin).

Dear Warren Throckmorton,

In response to your query, the following is a statement suitable for public distribution, provided that quotations from it are not lifted out of context.

Phil Hineline

- – - – - -

Paul Cameron and Kirk Cameron have posted for circulation a controversial and lengthy manuscript that purports, via the tagline at the bottom each page, to be the account of a presentation at the March 2007 meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association. The title of that manuscript, as well as its main emphasis, focuses upon an issue that was not present in the title nor was it in the supporting materials that were submitted by the Camerons for a poster presentation at EPA.

The submitted title, which appears in the EPA printed program, is: “Federal distortion of homosexual footprint.” The accompanying Abstract asserts that the proportion of the Canadian population identified as lesbian, gay and bisexual is substantially lowered if adults over age 60 are included than if they are excluded from the sample. The asserted implication is that federal agencies are exaggerating the size of the homosexual proportion of the population by excluding adults over 60 from the assessments.

In contrast, the manuscript at issue carries the title: “Federal Distortion Of Homosexual Footprint (Ignoring early Gay Death?).” Two of the three paragraphs in its accompanying Abstract focus upon the topic of the added parenthetical phrase, which is an inference — indeed a topic — that was not present in the materials submitted to EPA. Irrespective of its potential for controversy, it is highly unlikely that the augmented/altered version would have been accepted for presentation, for there clearly are many reasons other than differential longevity that could result in the under-reporting of homosexuals over 60.

Whatever its content, even the format of the manuscript to which the EPA identification has been affixed — a manuscript of more than 7000 words plus three tables and six graphs, would have been completely inappropriate as a poster presentation, which was the venue in which Dr. Cameron proposed to participate in the meeting.

To clarify the relevant history and circumstances: After putting out the call for submissions to be proposed for the EPA meeting, we typically receive over 700 submissions as was the case this year. These submissions are divided into categories (e.g. Animal Learning, Social psychology, etc ..) and each section is reviewed by a volunteer on the program committee. As each submission typically has at least two authors, vetting authors against other organizations’ lists of people with problematic ethical records is simply an impossibility, especially given the time-frame of preparations for an annual convention.

For acceptance, a work had to be complete, be methodologically sound using proper data collection techniques and/or experimental methods, the

conclusions had to be derivable from the presented results, and the topic deemed to be one that could stimulate interest and discussion among those attending the meeting.

The submission by Dr. Cameron indicated that there was a possibility that the prevalence of homosexuals in the population had been overestimated by previous techniques. Data were presented, reportedly using a broader defined sample than that used by government agencies, which indicated that the prevalence of homosexuality in the population was smaller than had been previously suggested. The submission by Dr. Cameron was for a poster presentation, and it was accepted as a poster, not as a paper or address. Whatever the Camerons ultimately presented, occurred in an hour-long “poster session” among approximately 70 posters.

There was nothing in the materials submitted by the author for review by EPA that indicated that the work could, or would, be informative with respect to the longevity of homosexuals.

Sincerely,

Philip N. Hineline

President, Eastern Psychological Association

I provided Dr. Cameron with the letter from Dr. Hineline and asked for an on-the-record response to it. The following email is Dr. Cameron’s reply:

Dear Professor Throckmorton:

I’m not surprised – not even annoyed — that Dr. Hineline has made an issue of the fact that we covered more ground in our poster than we promised in our abstract. In making this point, he implies that the rules for the presentation of posters at the EPA are as rigidly codified and enforced as procedures in a criminal trial. Such is by no means the case.

As you know, posters are probably the most informal way our profession has devised to present new information at a convention. You put up the poster and you hope people will stop and ask you questions about your research or request a copy of the findings you are presenting.

At a recent meeting, one scholar attached the word SEX to the top of his poster. When asked why did it, he smiled and said, “Just to catch people’s attention.” Did he seek permission from the EPA to include that Attention Grabber in his poster presentation?

Surely Dr. Hineline knows that, over the years, numerous posters have contained information not included in the abstract. So is he implying that if the organization had known what the Canadian, Norwegian, and Danish reports told us about the gay lifespan, the EPA would have rejected the proposed poster? I hope not. If so, then the EPA has sacrificed scientific inquiry to political correctness. If not, then what is Dr. Hineline’s point in bringing up this matter?

Besides, what he says about the presentation is in error. He writes that there was: “nothing in the materials submitted by the author for review by EPA that indicated that the work could, or would, be informative with respect to the longevity of homosexuals.” Inspection of Table 1 and the four-page abstract itself would challenge that assertion.

Table 1

Note: Hetero = heterosexual; Homo/Bi = homosexual or bisexual; Unknown = refused or coded as “don’t know”; Hetero/Homo = Ratio of heterosexual to non-heterosexual

The almost 1 of 50 adults homosexual before the age of 45 plummeted to 1/233 adults homosexual after age 64. These data demand explanation. And (from the proposal)

In the Canadian database, a decline in homosexuality was evident by the fourth decade of life. Those who identified themselves as homosexual constituted a relatively stable fraction of adults only for those aged into their mid-40s (e.g., one of every 47-48 adults). Thereafter, their proportion dropped regularly, down to one of every 234 adults in old age (65+), resulting in an overall estimate of 1.4% of adults who ‘were

homosexual.’

As you can see, in both the table and the abstract, we note the precipitous decline in the homosexual population following middle age. Indeed, failure to consider the reason for this decline would have constituted negligence on our part.

We extrapolated the figures on the gay lifespan after we had submitted the abstract; and since they came from Census Bureaus as the Canadian statistics, we thought they deserved inclusion. I think this incident illustrates the sad truth that if you publish research that is inconvenient to the gay rights movement, you encounter more obstacles than those whose work supports gay claims.

Given the number of typos in Dr. Hineline’s email, I wonder if it was not written in haste and hence without the reflection necessary to state his case clearly and accurately. Perhaps he has read the misleading information about me that the American Psychological Association distributes and has assumed them to be a reliable indicator of my skill and diligence as a scholar. If such is the case, I understand his attitude. Few professionals – whether doctors, lawyers, or psychologists — like to question the integrity of their national organization. Yet all of these groups have become battlegrounds for proponents of various political agendas.

All the best,

Paul Cameron

My initial interest in this topic is as always, to provide the best information to those with sexual identity conflicts. Another interest I have is to examine the accuracy of this study and the claims made based on the study. To do that, I am reviewing the study and I have asked others to do so. I hope to have an analysis of the claims of shortened life spans soon. For now, I will leave it to readers to digest and comment on the public presentation of these claims by the Camerons, the response of the EPA president and the rebuttal by Paul Cameron.

NOTE: View all posts on this topic here: Cameron discussions.

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  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Jim Burroway

    Just a minor point. My full analysis is here:

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/Articles/000,018.htm

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Thanks, Jim, I corrected it.

  • Boo

    Treating this guy like an actual scientist pays him a comlpiment he clearly doesn’t deserve. At this point, all that’s really needed is the South Park reply:

    Dude, it’s Paul Cameron.

  • Lynn David

    It seems to me the only significant decline that might have meaning is that between Homosexual/Bisexual 35-44 year olds and that of 44-54 year olds. It is that statistic which changes while others remain more or less neutral. Heck, it could be an indication of ex-gay therapies working. ;~/

    Likely it is HIV/AIDS as that is the generation which experienced the onslaught of the disease without due warning. Cameron might as well be harping upon a god-given retribution against gay men then. Though having experience the 80s & 90s in that demography even in the nation’s interior, I doubt that a 33% decline is close to correct. Heck, I’m still around… *cough*

    But then there is the amount of “Don’t knows/won’t answers” that rise in those times. Even the percentage of straights decline by over 7% in favor of the undeclared category. It could be that people just don’t care or gay men of those generations born in a more conservative time would keep there sexuality hidden. Anecdotally, I can state that gay men in rural settings such as that in which I live are not moved to ‘advertise’ their sexuality, especially in my age bracket (that is, those brackets which show decline).

    Ultimately, you cannot really know. I’m not even sure a comprehensive census would come up with reliable demographic figures concerning sexual orientation with personal reporting problems.

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  • David Blakeslee

    egad…I am approaching the later brackets with breakneck speed.

    Identifying oneself as gay or lesbian is also a function os social acceptability, which only occured in the last 30 years. Some of the drop off in gay identification can be due to what appears to be the more maliable identity of lesbians and their return to heterosexuality.

    Jim Burroway does a good job and showing why the sample of gays and lesbians will provide skewed information about early demise.

    Frankly, I wish Cameron’s work was published, for the sake of close examination and rebuttal in the scientific community.

    Christians interested in truth who are also scientifically trained want to trust a scientific system that they helped create. The agendizing (is this a word) of psychology facilitates Cameron’s identity as a struggling, oppressed researcher, which can be easily dsimantled in print.

    The APA should publish him often, and then examine his work scientifically and expose how his agenda mischaracterizes the facts.

  • ken

    Is there a copy of what was originally submitted to the EPA Conference available?

    Is there (will there be) a conference report published? If so will either version be available in the report?

    Also, I note that Cameron claims it is common practice for a poster to have revisions added at the conference, but is it common to change the submission materials?

  • gordo

    Christians interested in truth who are also scientifically trained…

    The size of that group must be about the size of one of Cameron’s “representative” populations.

    I have to wonder how many Christians are interested in the truth especially when it doesn’t say what they want it to say. (Present company – Warren and David – clearly don’t fall into that group.)

    I fear that even if Cameron were published and refuted by the APA, the anti-gay crowd would still reference his work, as we saw recently on Randy Thomas’ blog. The point is that he serves their purposes and that’s all that matters to them.

  • Boo

    If he were published by legitimate journals that would give him more credibility. And legitimate journals aren’t the place for junk science anyway.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    Gordo,

    I suspect that the vast overwhelming population of Christians would prefer factual and objective truth – whether or not it confirms their presuppositions. Unfortunately they don’t own media empires.

    —–

    Dr. Cameron needs a new calculator. His final column is descibed as being “Hetero/Homo = Ratio of heterosexual to non-heterosexual”. By any accounts, “non-heterosexual” includes all who are not heterosexual, ie the population of “unknown”.

    By rerunning his calculations without this obvious (and intentional) exclusion, the story becomes quite different. The real ratio of hetero/non-hetero is

    -24 13/1

    -34 13/1

    -44 13/1

    -54 13/1

    -64 12/1

    65+ 6/1

    Total 11/1

    And using the whole population, if the “above 65″ crowd is included, the 1 in 13 non-heterosexual actually increases to 1 in 11.

    These data demand explanation. And the most obvious explanation (and the only one we will be distributing to the press) is that GAY PEOPLE LIVE LONGER. Or, perhaps, as people age they become less heterosexual – and it must be men because lesbians all turn straight.

    Fortunately, even the very biased gay press is unwilling to print something so obviously stupid. As a Christian, I wish the Christian press had standards half as high as the gay press.

    David,

    Some of the drop off in gay identification can be due to what appears to be the more maliable identity of lesbians and their return to heterosexuality.

    I know of anecdotes of such “return”, but I’ve not seen anything to support your statement. Do you have any susbstantiation? While I suspect that orientation in some women may possibly be more maliable than in men, that is just a guess and I don’t think we can attribute any statistical population variances to it.

    Also…. hmmm… you are approaching the age in which more and more people find themselves unsure of their orientation. You better be careful. Some day you might be harmlessly watching some Jeopardy and suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself overcome with lust for Alex Trabek. It can be very confusing, this “unknown” time of life.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Timothy Kincaid

    I also want to offer Dr. Cameron some solice. He’s not the first Doctor to find that the professional community doesn’t take his statements seriously. I hear that Dr. Seuss had the same complaint.

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 2 - Danish epidemiologist reviews the Cameron study

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Warren Throckmorton » Blog Archive » Only the gay die young? Part 4 - Brief evaluation of Cameron & Cameron (2007)

  • Pingback: Ex-Gay Watch » Drs. Warren Throckmorton, Morten Frisch Respond to Paul and Kirk Cameron

  • Pingback: New Danish study reviews mortality among married gays — Warren Throckmorton

  • http://igoralexander.wordpress.com/ Igor Alexander

    There are a number of scientists and researchers with an obvious homosexual movement agenda who have made claims that were more dubious and whose methods were more questionable than Dr. Cameron’s but who have nevertheless not been subjected to the same kind of scrutiny and orchestrated smear campaigns that Dr. Cameron has. Examples include Simon LeVay, Dean H. Hamer, Richard Lippa, Paul Gibson, and Alfred Kinsey. When Dr. Cameron says, “the sad truth [is] that if you publish research that is inconvenient to the gay rights movement, you encounter more obstacles than those whose work supports gay claims,” I can only agree with him.

    In view of the AIDS epidemic, homosexual and bisexual men’s greater susceptibility to contagious diseases of all kinds due to promiscuity and the type of sexual activity they engage in, and the higher than average rates of substance abuse among homosexuals, why should it surprise anyone that homosexuals would have a shorter life expectancy? Even if some of Dr. Cameron’s studies are flawed, it is still likely that homosexual and bisexual males have shorter life expectancies than heterosexual males, if only because of AIDS. Some of you are using Dr. Cameron’s study as a strawman to discredit the broader statement that homosexuals live shorter lives on average than heterosexuals. Flawed methodology in a study does not mean that that statement is false.

    I’m not necessarily defending Dr. Cameron’s study, but it’s clear that the people in this thread who are attacking his work and even attacking him personally have an axe to grind and are as agenda-driven as they accuse him of being.

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  • John Smith

    75% of Canada says they are Christian. Older people tend to find a meaning in life that is greater than themselves. Christianity is selfless if You choose to believe in Jesus’s teachings. Most elder people turn to God for life after there own is nearing its end. If what 75% of people believe is correct than being gay is unhealthy because sin is unhealthy.

    Ecclesiastes 9:9

    “Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life, which has been give to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun.” HCSB

    teststosterone-teststosterone and estrogen-estrogen = Not filling your love tank to capacity.

    God is something that could have the whole meaning of life figured out, but by ignoring his rules we have sin which equals illness and death. Gay people die because they are not reaching the potential of love they are supposed to have causing ill health. We all know the greatest thing on earth we have the ability to do is love, for it can give mothers super human strength.

    1 John 3:4 ESV

    Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

    Lawlessness equals condemnation, So it shouldn’t be a mystery to 75% of Canadians thats when someone is putting a penis in the butthole of another dude it is a form of seperation from God our ultimate love and this equals illness.

    Life is long. Try to live life to the best of your ability for 1 month under Jesus’s teachings and you will find a self happiness that is greater than any sexual relation. I promise. I did this and I’m a new man. Try and waste a month of your life to gain a lifetime.

    I play college basketball so I have discipline. I say this not outta arrogance but so you might respect my oppinion more and know I’m not the guy that was a social outcast.

  • http://your-perception-is-your-reality.blogpsot.com Mother Nature is Biased

    I’m not religious but I think that homosexuality is a psychological disorder in which we haven’t quite found the cause. Similar to the Transsexual/gender indentity crowds. If someone doesn’t eat, it’s a disorder of some kind. Same with not being able to sit still for long periods of time. As in with not being able to get a full night’s rest consistently. Why not for sexual attraction? It is what is expected being that we are a species that depends on natural heterosexual sex in order to procreate and replace our species.


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