Suppose you discovered a study that found children from families with certain characteristics “have more emotional and social problems than do adult children of” families without these characteristics. Characteristics that are associated with adult children (children ages 18-39) who are nearly 4 times more likely to currently be on public assistance, nearly half as likely to be employed full-time, over twice as likely to be in therapy, and over twice as likely to have recently contemplated suicide. And, this study was published in a peer reviewed, scientific journal.
Would you want to further investigate? Would you want to determine what, if anything, could be done to ensure adult children from families with these characteristics have fewer emotional and social problems? Or, would you attack the researcher because the results don’t fit the preferred narrative of the politically correct.
Whoever said inquisitions and witch hunts were things of the past? A big one is going on now. The sociologist Mark Regnerus, at the University of Texas at Austin, is being smeared in the media and subjected to an inquiry by his university over allegations of scientific misconduct.
Regnerus’s offense? His article in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research reported that adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships, including same-sex couples as parents, have more emotional and social problems than do adult children of heterosexual parents with intact marriages. That’s it. Regnerus published ideologically unpopular research results on the contentious matter of same-sex relationships. And now he is being made to pay.
In today’s political climate, and particularly in the discipline of sociology—dominated as it is by a progressive orthodoxy—what Regnerus did is unacceptable. It makes him a heretic, a traitor—and so he must be thrown under the bus.
Regnerus’s study was based on a nationally representative sample of adult Americans, including an adequate number of respondents who had parents with same-sex relationships to make valid statistical comparisons. His data were collected by a survey firm that conducts top studies, such as the American National Election Survey, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. His sample was a clear improvement over those used by most previous studies on this topic.
These words are from “Christian Smith is a professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Center for Social Research at the University of Notre Dame.” Smith also happened to have advised Regnerus during Regnerus’ graduate school years.
Inside Higher Ed has this to say:
The University of Texas at Austin has opened a fact-finding “inquiry” into allegations of research misconduct against a tenured faculty member who concluded in a recent published study that children of same-sex couples may be at a disadvantage when it comes to certain forms of success in adulthood.
While the university has not opened a formal investigation nor taken any action against Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at UT-Austin, the case has provoked spirited critiques of his methodology as well as allegations that the Texas sociologist was unduly influenced by two politically conservative organizations that helped fund his study.
“There are many cases in [the study] where respondents have proven resilient and prevailed as adults in spite of numerous transitions, be they death, divorce, additional or diverse romantic partners, or remarriage,” wrote Regnerus, in a paper published last month by the peer-reviewed journal Social Science Research. However, he continues, the study also “clearly reveals that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults — on multiple counts and across a variety of domains — when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.”
Regnerus took care to mention in his paper that the conclusions of his study ought not to be wielded to “undermine or affirm any legal rights” of gay and lesbian couples with respect to child-rearing. But he does intend to undermine the “tenor of the last 10 years of academic discourse about gay and lesbian parents” — which, he claims, overall “suggests that there is little to nothing about them that might be negatively associated with child development, and a variety of things that might be uniquely positive.”
The paper nevertheless drew immediate criticism from activists and academics alike — including from his colleagues down the hall. Debra Umberson, a professor of sociology at Austin, reviewed Regnerus’s research with three other colleagues before penning a blistering essay for the Huffington Post accusing him of “bad science.”
But the NFSS also clearly reveals that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.
Yep. It’s that nasty traditional family thing again. Can’t have anyone or anything supporting that. Must stomp it out. Plus, despite all the “do it for the children” crap we hear, we all know we only do it for the children as long as it’s convenient for us.