Sociologist Defends Critical Study
Special Report - July 27, 2012
One of the nation’s leading sociologists, who formerly taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is defending Professor Mark Regnerus, who is under fire for his new study that found negative outcomes for children whose parents were involved in same-sex relationships. In an article published July 23 in the online version of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Christian Smith, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Social Research at the University of Notre Dame, responds to the ongoing attacks on Regnerus, who is “being smeared by the media and subjected to an inquiry by [the University of Texas at Austin] over allegations of scientific misconduct.”
As we previously reported, Regnerus is conducting the New Family Structures Study, a large national study of young adult children from various family forms, including a large sample with parents who were involved in same-sex relationships. In June, he published the first findings from the ongoing study in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal, Social Science Research, entitled, “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” The study found “numerous, consistent differences, especially between the children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents.” Since its release, the NFSS study has been subjected to a barrage of criticism from homosexual activists, the media and some sociologists. Earlier this month, the University of Texas at Austin launched an “inquiry” into the Regnerus’ study due to “allegations of scientific misconduct” that were spearheaded by a homosexual blogger.
In his article, Professor Smith describes the attacks on Regnerus as a “witch hunt” and “inquisition.” Smith writes, “Regnerus published ideologically unpopular research results on the contentious matter of same-sex relationships. And now he is being made to pay.”
Smith goes on to highlight Regnerus’ academic career, which began at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as the rigorous review of his study by other sociologists prior to its publication. “Regnerus was trained in one of the best graduate programs in the country and was a postdoctoral fellow under an internationally renowned scholar of family, Glen Elder, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” Smith writes. “His article underwent peer review, and the journal's editor stands behind it. Regnerus also acknowledges the limitations of his study in his article, as he has done in subsequent interviews.”
According to Smith, there are two important issues at stake in the controversy over the Regnerus study.
- “Fair treatment for Regnerus.” As Smith explains, “his antagonists have already damaged his chances of being promoted to full professor. If his critics are successful at besmirching his reputation, his career may be seriously damaged.”
- The “integrity of the social-science research process,” which Smith says is “threatened by the public smearing and vigilante media attacks” in the Regnerus case. “Sociology's progressive orthodoxy and the semi-covert activism it prompts threaten the intellectual vitality of the discipline, the quality of undergraduate education, and public trust in academe,” Smith writes. “Reasonable people cannot allow social-science scholarship to be policed and selectively punished by the forces of activist ideology and politics, from any political quarter.”
Smith, who describes himself as “not a conservative,” explains that “science has its own ways to deal with controversial research results,” including by the replication of studies, the publication of data sets, which can then be reanalyzed, as well as by conducting new studies. “By those means, Regnerus might be shown to have been wrong or perhaps be vindicated. That is how science is supposed to work,” Smith concludes. “By contrast, political attacks like those on Regnerus are contemptible and hurt everyone in the long run, including progressives. Everybodyespecially officials at the University of Texas at Austinneeds to be vigilant in protecting scholars and their research against those inside and outside of academe who seek to silence scholars whose research runs counter to the current orthodoxy.”
Scholars Defend Regnerus Study - July 11, 2012
Homosexual Couples Challenge Adoption Law - June 15, 2012
New Findings On Same-Sex Parenting - June 15, 2012
Problems With Same-Sex Parenting Research - March 12, 2012
Group Issues Parenting Guidelines - September 12, 2011
“Why Gender Matters to Parenting,” - FNC- Spring 2011
Court Rules Same-Sex Adoption Void - December 21, 2010
Supreme Court Hears Same-Sex Adoption Case - September 9, 2010
Brief Filed In Same-Sex Adoption Case - March 3, 2010
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