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NARTH finds Ex-gay therapy does no harm. July 9, 2009

Posted by Geekgirl in Commentary.
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What does science in disguise look like?

Don’t judge a journal by it’s cover. Today, instead of posting legitimate research, I’m posting an article about misleading research. A review of the “scientific literature” conducted by NARTH, presents selected research that “proves” that ex-gay therapy does no harm. This is in direct conflict with studies cited by the American Psychological Association.

Be careful what you read and believe. Consider the source, look for multiple independent sources and preferably look for prestigious research institutions. You’ll still find conflicting work. But it will be honest work.

NARTH’s new peer-reviewed study is not new, is not peer-reviewed and is not a study – flaws even one of its authors admitted to Ex-Gay Watch.

CitizenLink, the news arm of Focus on the Family, made much of the paper’s appearance earlier this week, faithfully reproducing the immodest claims of NARTH’s press release:

A new report in this month’s edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Sexuality finds that sexual orientation is not immutable and that psychological care for individuals with unwanted homosexual attractions is beneficial and poses no significant risk of harm.

This study is … a significant milestone when it comes to the scientific debate over the issue of homosexuality.

First, it is far from new. By NARTH’s own admission, it is merely a survey of 100 years of literature.

That it is a survey means that, second, it is not a study. Jones-Yarhouse, for all its flaws, was a scientific study. NARTH’s paper, written by James Phelan, Neil Whitehead, and Philip Sutton, simply collates a century’s worth of material that (they think) supports the pro-reparative therapy position. It contains no new or original research whatsoever.

Jim Phelan confirmed both of these things directly when XGW spoke to him last year. Phelan said clearly the report was “a literature review – no new science [italics ours].  The data is presented more comprehensively than before.”

Third, that it is peer-reviewed is a sadly risible claim. It appears in Volume I of the Journal of Human Sexuality, a publication produced by NARTH. In other words, NARTH has reviewed its own paper for inclusion in a volume that appears to have been created specifically as a vehicle for NARTH’s views. The “peer review” therefore means next to nothing. In theory, I could rehash a few bits of other people’s work, get my XGW chums to look it over, and then publish it in a new magazine I’ve called the Journal of Ex-Gay Studies and claim it as a peer-reviewed milestone study. The problem is glaring.

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