OneNewsNow distorts Karten sexual orientation change study

Dog bites man. OneNewsNow distorts sexual orientation research.

In a great example of why I hope Janet Porter’s prayer to take over the media is never realized, OneNewsNow distorts the import of Elan Karten’s doctoral dissertation research reported recently in Journal of Men’s Studies.

Here is the OneNewsNow title:

‘Orientation’ change efforts effective.

Here is a statement from Karten and Wade (p. 86):

The purpose of the study was not to replicate findings from prior research or establish the efficacy of this treatment.

Now the way NARTH discusses the study, one might think replication of prior change research was the intent, but it was not a study that was designed to “establish the efficacy” of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). Rather, the authors surveyed 117 men who were trying to change and asked them what seemed to be working in their quest. It was not an outcome study and there were no follow up interviews with any of the subjects.

OneNewsNow says this:

Researchers at Fordham University have released a study showing that homosexual men can change their “orientation” by developing healthy, non-sexual relationships with other men.

As noted by the article, the study did not demonstrate change via any mechanism nor was the stated intent of the study to establish this finding. The study was not designed in such a way that change could be verified. Karten recruited participants from Journey Into Manhood participants and from therapists who conducted change therapy. The subjects were only required to have some same-sex attraction, meaning that we do not know how many, if any, exclusively homosexual men were in the study. There was only one measurement of sexual attraction via the survey with no follow up measures. Thus, change was not really measured, in that there was no pre-treatment or post-treatment assessments. Participants were asked to rate how helpful various interventions had been and various characteristics relating to masculinity.  Nothing causative can be inferred from any of the reported correlations.

There are several problems with the study which make any interpretations of findings speculative but I will return to that in a future post. For now, it is clear that the Karten article contradicts the reporting of OneNewsNow.

This is not the first time OneNewsNow has skewed facts regarding sexual orientation research. For instance, when the APA sexual orientation task force reported findings in August, 2009, OneNewsNow reported uncritically the incorrect view that the APA recommended that evangelical gays should change churches to join affirming groups. In my blog at US News and World Report, I pointed out that OneNewsNow refused a request to correct the record. In fact, when I called to point it out, the reporter hung up on me.

So when Janet Porter prays that Christians take over the media and that CBS should be the Christian Broadcasting System, I cringe. OneNewsNow is owned by the American Family Association, one of the sponsoring organizations for the May Day 2010 taking place this Saturday. In the program for that event, this prayer is offered for the media:

Media

-Repent for how the media has turned its backs on God and the truth.

-Repent for how they have become activists for evil.

-Invite God back into the media to guide and direct reporting in a truthful way. 

As noted in this video and the above prayer, Mrs. Porter proposes that truth will be served if Christians reclaim media. Well, I am all for truthful reporting. However, this OneNewsNow report demonstrates how beliefs about the truth can lead to inaccurate and biased reporting. To me, doing media Christianly at least involves getting all the facts and reporting them accurately, whatever the story might be.

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  • Dave

    Well…. unfortunately .. it is not surprising that OneNewsNow is distoring truth again. I was going to write that they are as bad as the AFA but then I saw in the article that AFA owns them. So it all fits. I did much research years ago on the (lack of) validity of Christian organizations when they talk about sexual orientation. I guess what I don’t understand is why … Why deliberately deceive? Why not be Christlike? Why not be truthful? Why not come along side of people and understand their journey rather than concoct remedies that don’t work? It is very saddening. I just don’t get why people would do such a thing

  • http://www.byron-harvey.com Byron

    Because some of us Christians—like so many other people—have preconceived ideas, and then finagle the data to fit the premise. If we have to finesse it, or cram it, or what-have-you, that’s what we’ll do.

    Which is why the Doctor does a service in pointing this out.

  • David L. Scasta, MD, DFAPA

    When Science is profoundly distorted or misinterpreted, it almost always is due to ideology in pursuit of power. Power is primary; ideology is immaterial. Control of the media has nothing to do with a return to God but everything to do with the pursuit of Power by a group which hides its agenda under a religious robe.

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

    What’s the term I am looking for…

    Confirm, uh confirma, um…I’ll think of it.

    Dave, Byron, David – Thanks for the comments.

  • Mary

    There is no such thing as truthful reporting. Bias, theology, agendas always get in the way. It just isn’t a thing that can really exist. One has to read and view several reports from varying sources to even begin to get an idea about what is really happening.

  • http://www.byron-harvey.com Byron

    For the record, while I share the cynicism of all over this issue, I am also cynical about Mary’s assertion that there is no such thing as truthful reporting, at least insofar as it sounds like “there’s no such thing as truth”. That may well not be what she means to say–and she can speak for herself, of course, but it is close-enough sounding that it gives me the willies, because I don’t buy that postmodern assertion for a skinny second.

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

    Byron: I’m with you. Accurate reporting is entirely possible in this instance. Simply report what the authors said would be a good start.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Considering that Karten is in practice “under supervision of Dr. Nicolosi”, it would not surprise me if his study was designed so as to validate Nicolosi’s assertions.

    I’m guessing: bad science distorted to support an assertion further distorted by OneNewsNow to advance an agenda.

  • David Farrell

    These folks profess to be Christians, have they never read the definition of lying?

  • Jayhuck

    Warren,

    Why not just use an abbreviation like CB? Probably easier to remember ;)

  • Jean-Pierre Katz

    It saddens me that Elan Karten has the approval of the Israeli Psychological Association to practice reparative therapy in Israel ( if he warns his patients about the risks). It’s time for this practice to be banned worldwide.

    Although I believe some can get support to adopt a hereosexual lifestyle, I think

    reparative therapy and its theories are complete hogwash and cannot help someone to adjust in the long run.


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