Irony Alert -- Family Research Council Accuses SPLC of 'Cherry-Picking' Science

12/06/2010 01:42 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Alvin McEwen blogmaster, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is still smarting over the Southern Poverty Law Center designating his organization as an anti-gay hate group.

Perkins is of course not angry enough to address the charges head on but still angry enough to play the victim.

In an interview with a "friendlier" political journalism webpage, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller, Perkins again complained about being unfairly attacked. But then he added a new charge against the SPLC:

Perkins told TheDC that the SPLC cherry-picked the scientific evidence it chose to cite against the Family Research Council and other similar groups in its related report, titled "10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked," and ignored contrary evidence.

"We actually went through the studies they cited in their report and have seen the flaws in them, and we pointed to other peer-reviewed research," Perkins said. "We're not saying every homosexual has a proclivity to abuse children or that most of them do, but we are saying there is a link that is out there in the research."

Perkins did not say which studies were cherry-picked. But the comment he made to the Daily Caller does represent a retreat from a position he made during an interview on Hardball:

If you look at the American College of Pediatricians' research, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a risk to children.

Perkins did not address his citing the ACP, a sham group created to launder religious right distortions about the lgbt community.

And also in a serious irony, while he accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of cherry-picking science, Perkins never addressed the fact that he did the same thing during the Hardball interview when he cited a study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

In this study, according to Perkins, 86 percent of men who molest children identified as gay.  He conveniently did not mention that in the study of 229 convicted child molesters,  63 victims were male, and 166 victims were female.  Eighty-six percent of 63 isn't a drop in the bucket and it's certainly not enough to make a generalization in regards to the gay community.

Wendy Wright of  the Concerned Women for America, another organization profiled by SPLC for its anti-gay bias, was also interview in the Daily Caller article.

The Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America say the studies SPLC cites in its reports suffer from serious methodological errors and politically motivated biases.

"Liberal groups claim all of the science is on their side, and that's simply not true,"  Wright said. "They refer to studies that often were conducted by homosexual activists or people associated with the homosexual movement.

"Unbiased studies back up the fact that engaging in homosexual behavior carries detrimental consequences; oftentimes these studies were sponsored or paid for by homosexual advocacy groups."

In its profiles and list of anti-gay myths, SPLC cited many sources including the American Academy of Pediatrics,  American Psychological Association, A. Nicholas Groth (who was ironically cited by the Family Research Council in one its past studies on homosexuality and pedophilia before he demanded that they remove his name and research from their work), The Child Molestation and Research Institute, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Organization of Male Sexual Victimization, Nicholas Eberstadt, of  the conservative American Enterprise Institute, The Palm Center, and Richard J. Wolitski, an expert on minority status and public health issues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Neither Perkins nor Wright pointed out just how these sources showed any bias or initiated studies "conducted by people associated in the homosexual movement," although Wright later claimed that lgbts have "taken over" leading mental-health research organizations.

Perkins also said the following:

The social conservative groups take particular aim at SPLC's claim that the minority status of gays and lesbians accounts for the "higher rates of anxiety, depression and depression-related illnesses, and behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse than the general population."

Perkins points to peer-reviewed studies done in the Netherlands and elsewhere, where homosexuality is tolerated to a greater degree than in the U.S., that show gays and lesbians still suffer from these same maladies, including elevated rates of suicide, even in the absence of widespread anti-gay prejudice.

As stated many times in past posts, this position about "studies in the Netherlands" is a distortion of a study by Dr. Theo Sandfort which looked at the mental health of gay men in the Netherlands.

This is what Sandfort told me in a Jan. 2009 email:

There is a difference between the U.S. and the Netherlands in terms of acceptance of homosexuality. That does not mean that there is no homophobia (and homophobic damage) in the Netherlands. It is not clear how difference in climate affects the prevalence of mental disorders. We don't know the final answers, but in the U.S. as well as the Netherlands, homophobia is related to mental health problems.

If Perkins and Wright sought to quell the discussion on whether or not their organizations can be considered as anti-gay hate groups, again they have failed.

Instead, they seemed to have unintentionally opened up a new avenue of questions by accusing SPLC of cherry-picking studies, but not naming these studies.

I, for one, is interested in seeing their evidence of cherry-picking on the part of SPLC, that is if they have any evidence.

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