None Dare Call It Bias

None Dare Call It Bias

The following was taken from the Associated Press, written by Clive Anderson:

The results of a sociological study in Sweden have sent shock waves throughout academia.  Researchers Fula Houtaire and Horst Dunge of the Malmo University Sociology Department have released their massive longitudinal study that covered a ten-year period and involved extensive interviews with over 10,000 married men.  The study found that not only is cheating on their spouses rather common, but most of the men who do so believe that it actually enhances their marriages.  

“We were quite surprised by our findings,” Dr. Houtaire said. “We found that nearly 40 percent of the men said they cheated to relieve stress, 32 percent explained that it made them feel younger, a little over 12 percent cheated because they were angry, and 9 percent cheated because their wives had become overweight and unattractive.”

“Only 7 percent said they had never cheated on their wives,” Dr. Dunge added.  “Most of these men cited religious convictions as the reason they remained faithful.  However, on our ‘happiness scale,’ a series of questions designed to determine a person’s psychological well-being, these men often scored far below that of the cheaters.  In fact, regardless of the reason for cheating, the men who do so reported that they believe it makes them appreciate their marriages and, as a consequence, rarely consider divorce.”

Houtaire explained this apparent dichotomy: “Our research indicates that being tied down to only one sexual partner becomes frustrating and boring.  By having various sexual episodes, most men will feel rejuvenated, and when they return to the conjugal bed, they have new vigor and excitement. Thus, their marriage is enhanced.”

Houtaire and Dunge’s study was published in the highly regarded Journal of Sexual Behavior last month, and their work is being lauded by sociologists around the world.

It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?  Infidelity leads to better marriages?   Well, the numbers don’t lie, and certainly researchers don’t make up the statistics.  Or do they?

Let’s consider the recent decision by Federal District Judge Bernard A. Friedman that overturned Michigan’s ban on so-called gay marriage.  For the most part, Friedman based his decision on the testimony of a psychologist, sociologists, a demographer, and a historian.  Friedman bent over backwards to confirm the credibility of these witnesses.

The plaintiff’s key witness was psychologist David Brodzinsky.  Of his testimony, Friedman wrote, “The Court finds Brodzinsky’s testimony to be fully credible and gives it considerable weight.”  Friedman used basically the same words to describe all the plaintiff witnesses.

But when it came to the chief witness for the defense, sociologist Mark Regnerus, the judge wrote, “The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.”  Friedman attacked Regnerus’s “study” (judge’s parentheses) as hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder.  Friedman added, “The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged.” In other words, Friedman totally rejected Regnerus’s research primarily because it was funded by an individual opposed to gay marriage.

But Brodzinsky’s research was also funded by third parties.  According to journalist David Benkof, Brodzinsky received $100,000 from gay entrepreneur David Bohnett and $20,000 from the Rainbow Endowment, an organization whose mission is to promote the LGBT community. Brodinsky is also the founding director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, which supports both gay adoption and what it calls “marriage equality.”  So why must we assume that Brodzinsky is a paragon of unbiased research but Regnerus is a sleazy hack?

Another interesting fact offered by Benkof is that, according to his research, 60% of researchers working on LGBT issues are gay themselves.  Gary Gates, the demographer who testified in the Michigan case, was listed in OUT magazine’s top 100 gays and lesbians in 2010.  He works at the Williams Institute of the UCLA law school.  The institute is named after its principle funder, Charles R. Williams, who has donated $15 million. Its purpose is to study sexual orientation and gender identity law.  Gates also filed amicus curiae briefs in both Windsor v. U.S. and Hollingsworth v. Perry.  In both cases he argued on behalf of gay marriage.

So, again, I ask the question.  Why should any of his studies of gays and marriage be given automatic credibility?

Nancy Cott, the plaintiff historian who testified in both the Michigan trial and the Prop 8 trial in California, has publicly stated that she supports the right of gays and lesbians to marry.  She has held that view for at least ten years, for in a 2004 NPR interview she predicted that gay marriage would eventually be recognized.  Although she is reluctant to call herself an activist for gay marriage, she admits that she is “an informed participant” in the effort.  Still, on the internet there is a photo of Ms. Cott wearing a tee-shirt that reads, “Legalize Gay: Repeal Prop 8 Now!”  Unbiased?  Really?

Interestingly, one of the chief witnesses for the defense was barred from testifying.  Why?  Because he was too young.  Sherif Girgis is currently pursuing a law degree at Yale and a doctorate in philosophy at Princeton.  He graduated Phi Betta Kappa and summa cum laude from Princeton. While there, he won the best thesis award in philosophy, the best senior thesis award in ethics, and the Dante Society of America’s top award.  And he was also a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.  He is co-author of What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.  Sounds impressive to me.

But a lawyer for the plaintiffs dismissively said, “The fact is you’re still a student.  Someone else is still grading your papers.”  Judge Friedman admitted that Girgis is smart and articulate and may be an expert some day in this field but “not yet.”  Thus, he was summarily dismissed from the trial.

Girgis graduated from Princeton in 2007. Assuming he was 21 at the time, today he would have to be 27 or 28. James Madison was the youngest member of the Continental Congress at age 30 and was 36 at the time of the Constitutional Convention.  His contributions to the writing of the Constitution were so significant that today he is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”  But if Judge Friedman could go back in time to, let’s say, 1790, would he have considered Madison too young to be an expert on the Constitution?  Bill Gates started Microsoft in 1975 when he was 20.  In that year would Judge Friedman have considered him too young to testify about    computers?  Bobby Fischer won the world chess championship in 1972 at the age of 29.  Would any rational person consider him not an expert at chess in that year, despite his age?  Maybe Judge Friedman would.

The truth is that someone’s age does not necessarily determine one’s expertise.  If Judge Friedman had wanted to be impartial, he should have let Girgis take the stand.  If his so-called lack of expertise had been obvious, then the plaintiff’s lawyers would have had a field day with him.  On the other hand, perhaps the good judge was afraid that Girgis’s testimony would have ruined the one-sided narrative.  No, it was safer to simply get rid of him.

The bottom line is that the right of states to limit marriage to a man and a woman is being undermined by a number of biased “experts” using dubious studies.  The judges tend to accept their testimonies without any question of possible partiality or phony statistics.  In the words of G. Tracy Mehan III, an adjunct professor at the George Mason University School of Law, reacting to a federal judge who overturned Virginia’s natural marriage law, “It is getting tiresome.  The federal judiciary persists in its role as the shock troops of cultural revolution.  What the social engineers cannot accomplish by legislation, presto-change-o, becomes the judge-made law of the land.”

Oh, and speaking of phony studies and how convincing they can be,  the study by the Swedish researches mentioned at the beginning of this article is a complete fabrication on my part.  How many of you doubted its authenticity?  Only a few?  Therein lies the problem.

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Written by
Thomas Addis