Friday, August 07, 2009

In Outer Wingnuttia ... The Howling Begins

I wrote about the APA's report on "change therapy" for sexual orientation yesterday.

Today, we have the loons in Outer Wingnuttia squawking about it - and they aren't happy at all.

I'll let Mr. Hooper over at the Good As You blog take apart the pathetic attempt at spin from Exodus.

NARTH, on the other hand delivered some whoppers in their press release.

Unfortunately, however, the report reflects a very strong confirmation bias; that is, the task force reflected virtually no ideological diversity. No APA member who offers reorientation therapy was allowed to join the task force.

Oh dear, apparently NARTH's all upset because nobody "from their team" was on the task force. I think this tells us a great deal about NARTH's approach to research. Good research is impartial. That is to say, it is evidence based, not rooted in political ideology.

The APA report doesn't make any statements without citing what research those statements are based on. There's a lot of a research that they reviewed from NARTH's Nicolosi, Byrd and others - in addition to all the other material they reviewed.

They selected and interpreted studies that fit within their innate and immutable view. For example, they omitted the Jones and Yarhouse study, the Karten study, and only gave cursory attention to the Spitzer study.

Ummm...bullfeathers. Spitzer's work is cited multiple times through the document, as is work by E. Karten. Similarly, the Jones & Yarhouse study from 2007 is in fact cited in the bibliography. NARTH can't even be bothered to read the documents they are criticizing!

In a fit of complete irony, Mark Yarhouse served as one of the scholarly reviewers of this study.

Further, the APA report actually takes the time to explain the problems with reports like Jones & Yarhouse, or Spitzer come to that:

65 A published study that appeared in the grey literature in 2007 (Jones & Yarhouse, 2007) has been described by SOCE advocates and its authors as having successfully addressed many of the methodological problems that affect other recent studies, specifically the lack of prospective research. The study is a convenience sample of self-referred populations from religious self-help groups. The authors claim to have found a positive effect for some study respondents in different goals such as decreasing same-sex sexual attractions, increasing other-sex attractions, and maintaining celibacy. However, upon close examination, the methodological problems described in Chapter 3 (our critique of recent studies) are characteristic of this work, most notably the absence of a control or comparison group and the threats to internal, external, construct, and statistical validity. Best-practice analytical techniques were not performed in the study, and there are significant deficiencies in the analysis of longitudinal data, use of statistical measures, and choice of assessment measures. The authors’ claim of finding change in sexual orientation is unpersuasive due to their study’s methodological problems.

Then NARTH goes on to try and spin the issue of Reparative Therapy causing serious harm to clients:

We believe the report indirectly supports the findings published in the current Journal of Human Sexuality that reveal no significant ill-effects of therapy. Further, if some clients are dissatisfied with the therapeutic outcome, as in therapy for other issues, the possibility for dissatisfaction appears to be outweighed by the potential gains.

The Journal of Human Sexuality? Oh NARTH's Journal of Human Sexuality - their in-house vanity journal. Somehow, I'm not thinking that this is exactly seen as a high value journal outside of NARTH's membership. As Ex Gay Watch points out, the study NARTH is referring to is flawed from the start - and its authors have admitted as much.

I find it deeply troubling that NARTH simply tries to dismiss the prospect of psychological harm experienced by clients of Reparative Therapy dismissively as "dissatisfaction".

The APA report is much more honest about the issue, and state the following:

We concluded that research on SOCE (psychotherapy, mutual self-help groups, religious techniques) has not answered basic questions of whether it is safe or effective and for whom. Any future research should conform to best-practice standards for the design of efficacy research. Additionally, research into harm and safety is essential.

In short, the APA is saying that the research done into various attempts to change one's sexual orientation is so limited, and flawed, that it neither refutes nor substantiates claims of harm.

The problem that groups like NARTH face is that their "research" is simply not credible when you hold it up to scrutiny.

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