Regnerus Talks to Jim Garlow


Mark Regnerus, the University of Texas sociology professor who authored a widely panned study on same-sex parenting that would likely get failed if a grad student were to propose such a study for a thesis, has spent a lot of time pretending to be just a truth-seeking researcher following the evidence where it leads (indeed, the anti-gay group that funded his study drafted talking points for him that said exactly that). An interview he did recently with far-right anti-gay pastor Jim Garlow should put that to rest once and for all.

Jim Garlow and Mark Regnerus from Jim Garlow on Vimeo.

There’s a very interesting segment of the interview around the 6 minute mark. He cites a study that shows that 20% of all marriages for those between 24 and 32 are non-monogamous, about half of them with the knowledge or consent of their partner. He claims that “30 or 40 years ago, if you had somebody who cheated you basically showed them the door.” But then he goes on to claim that “women are in a structurally more vulnerable position in the mating market than they used to be, and this sort of goes back 50 years to the advent of the pill.”

There’s just so much absurdity here. First of all, women who were cheated on were in a hell of a lot more vulnerable position 50 or 60 years ago when few of them could support themselves on their own because they were largely locked out of educational opportunities and the job market. Second of all, how on earth does birth control make women “more vulnerable” than the lack of it? He makes the absolutely bizarre argument that because women have more control over when they reproduce, this makes them worse off.

The discussion goes on and on from there, with the essential point being that all of this social science data that he has amassed proves that what the Bible says about sex is true and should be followed. But hey, he’s just an academic following the evidence wherever it leads, not a religious ideologue with an axe to grind churning out methodologically ridiculous “studies” to support that ideology. Just ask him, he’ll tell you.

Comments

  1. baal says

    Non-paternity rate is 10% in the US. Of married couples, 10% of the kids are due to not-the-married guy. We saw about that rate in the genetics lab I worked in as well. The vast majority of the time, everyone already knew and it wasn’t a big thing. They were a little surprised that we could tell paternity by looking at the genes on their chromosomes….

    @ Regnerus, you can’t do science (even a softer one like sociology) if you’ve already chosen your outcome and run through bad methodology to get it. His bias rises to the level of plain dishonesty and I don’t see how he can legitimately fill his job functions when he is now essentially unpublishable.

  2. alanb says

    The reason why women are supposedly in a “more vulnerable position” because of birth control is because men now have more women lining up as willing partners to cheat with. This goes back to the belief that all women want commitment and all men want sex. In Regnerus’ world it is evidently never the woman who makes the decision to cheat. How can someone become a sociologist with such a stereotyped (and wrong) view of human nature?

  3. slc1 says

    I may be ill-informed here but I seem to recall that the journal withdrew the Regnerus paper.

  4. cptdoom says

    Regarding Regnerus, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a pretty damning interview with the expert, Darren Sherkat, professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University, who was asked to perform an audit of the publication process by the editor of the journal. Given that he is an academic, what Sherkat has to say is pretty astounding:

    Regnerus and other right-wing activists have been fond of claiming that the study is “population-based” or a “national probability study.” As a scientist, I don’t even know what “population-based” means, and the data used in this study are by no means a probability sample. Regnerus’ data are from a large number of people recruited through convenience by a marketing firm — they are not a random, representative sample of the American population. Science requires random samples of the population, and that is not how this marketing firm collected their data.

    The key measure of gay and lesbian parenting is simply a farce. The study includes a retrospective question asking if people knew if their mother or father had a “romantic” relationship with someone of the same sex when the respondent was under age 18. This measure is problematic on many levels.

    Regnerus admits that just two of his respondents were actually raised by a same-sex couple, though I doubt that he can even know that, given his limited data. Since only two respondents were actually raised in gay or lesbian households, this study has absolutely nothing to say about gay parenting outcomes. Indeed, because it is a non-random sample, this study has nothing to say about anything

    Go read the rest – it is a revealing look at Regnerus’ real motivations, and how poorly made the decision to publish this really was.

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2013/summer/suspect-science#.UadyCSLD-73

  5. ImaginesABeach says

    If a marriage is non-monogamous with the consent of both spouses, where exactly is the cheating?

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    ImaginesABeach @ 5

    To the Christian Right, a non-monogamous marriage is a contradiction in term. In marriage, ONE man and ONE woman are supposed to be bound for life with no other sex partners regardless of wether the spouse allow each other to fool around. Anyway, we mere mortals don’t get to define marriage the way you want to, GAWD does.

  7. says

    The reason why women are supposedly in a “more vulnerable position” because of birth control is because men now have more women lining up as willing partners to cheat with.This goes back to the belief that all women want commitment and all men want sex.

    Which implies that men regard marriage a trap in which women ensnare them by getting pregnancy and forcing him to support her and the offspring for the rest of his life. How can any man not find that insulting?

    Also, where are all these birth-control using slutty sluts that men can cheat with coming from if all women want commitment?

  8. escuerd says

    slc1 @3,

    Nope, pretty sure it hasn’t been withdrawn, though ridiculous as its methodology was, it really needs to be. The journal appointed another guy, Darren Sherket, who worked for them (but who was also a critic of the paper) to do an “internal audit”. He concluded that it was a “failure of peer review” but that there was no inappropriate action, despite the fact that, apparently, two reviewers had been paid by Regnerus as consultants for working on the paper. He seemed to consider that a minor issue.

    Apparently Sherket didn’t feel there was any wrongdoing because “knowing these people, even if they didn’t have a minor, consulting-level conflict, they would have made the same decisions.”

    http://youtu.be/Op8wNKrwsqQ

    In the talk linked above, Sherkat also makes the strange statement “We don’t do retraction in sociology. No one’s gonna die because of bad sociological research.” This really grates on me because it ignores the fact that Regnerus’s study is being cited in court cases and legislative hearings around the world that relate to gay rights. He also displays a rather cavalier attitude about biased research in general, noting that people on the left do it too, as if that makes it better somehow.

  9. escuerd says

    alanb @2:

    This goes back to the belief that all women want commitment and all men want sex. In Regnerus’ world it is evidently never the woman who makes the decision to cheat. How can someone become a sociologist with such a stereotyped (and wrong) view of human nature?

    Loathe as I am to say anything positive about Regnerus, I don’t think that’s an entirely fair characterization. Even he isn’t suggesting that these are categorical truths about men and women, but statistical tendencies, and in that regard he’s right.

    Even Regnerus admits that both men and women can be interested in casual sex or in commitment (or even in having both). Attribute the difference to what you will, but the interest in casual sex among men (as well as the willingness to have sex with strangers) tends to be a lot higher.

    That said, all the stuff about the birth control pill putting women “in a structurally more vulnerable position in the mating market” is still transparently bullshit. Along with having access to education and employment, birth control obviously empowers women not to need commitment as a prerequisite for a sexual relationship. Regnerus seems to see this as a bad thing. Notice how he’s practically glowing when he describes a girl who felt emotional excitement about becoming pregnant, and how his tone changes when he mentions that she then gave a sober consideration to what having a kid at that time with that person might entail for her. Oh she’d just be so much happier if only she didn’t have to worry her pretty little head about all that career stuff and weren’t burdened with the need to make decisions, but if instead were in a lifelong marriage with the first guy she felt something for. I mean, did you see her body language. She was totally longing for it.

  10. Draken says

    In the talk linked above, Sherkat also makes the strange statement “We don’t do retraction in sociology. No one’s gonna die because of bad sociological research.”

    That’s a sociologist admitting that sociology is bunk, isn’t it? I rest my case, y’r honour.

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