Journal places warning on flawed abuse-homosexuality study
Last month, more than 20 years after the Archives of Sexual Behavior published research surveying gay people about whether they were molested as children—and whether they identified as gay before or after—a note appeared online.
“A reader alerted the editor-in-chief that there were concerns regarding some of the data,” the four-paragraph note on the article says.
In particular, the article’s authors had written that 68 percent of gay men they surveyed identified as such after being molested, and the lead author’s dissertation also said this. Yet a table in the same article said 68 percent identified as gay before being molested.
There were also more minor numerical errors elsewhere.
“Readers are urged to take caution when interpreting the content and conclusions of this article,” the Editorial Expression of Concern says. “The editor has been unable to find current email addresses for any of the authors in order to clarify and correct the article.”
“I couldn’t detect that any of them were current members of the American Psychological Association, we couldn’t locate an email address or a phone number for any of them,” Kenneth J. Zucker, the editor of Archives of Sexual Behavior, told Inside Higher Ed.
Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City College psychology professor, told Zucker about the discrepancy back in 2009, according to emails Throckmorton provided Inside Higher Ed. Throckmorton also provided his emails pointing out the issue in 2006 to Donald I. Templer, a now-deceased author of the paper.
Templer responded a few times, at one point writing, “The most likely assumption is that percentages in the table are correct and that percentage in [the] narrative part of article is wrong.” But the emails don’t show a concrete resolution of the discrepancy.
A professor named Donald I. Templer at the California School of Professional Psychology, which is part of the for-profit Alliant International University, expressed white supremacist ideas and published a now-retracted article associating darker skin pigmentation with higher aggression and sexuality and lower IQ.
Throckmorton also blogged about the discrepancies back in 2009.
“I do think that the article should be retracted,” said Throckmorton, who called it “trash” in a blog post last week about the new Editorial Expression of Concern. “And I do think that’s on Springer—the publisher—and on Ken Zucker.”
“And I would have liked to have had a citation on the work that I did,” Throckmorton said.
Grove City, in Pennsylvania, is a Christian liberal arts college. Throckmorton said he found the discrepancy when he and a colleague there were doing a literature review on the correlates of homosexuality—mostly “to convince Christian organizations not to lie to the public about gays.”
Both he and Hemant Mehta’s “Friendly Atheist” blog have noted that the flawed article, “Comparative Data of Childhood and Adolescence Molestation in Heterosexual and Homosexual Persons,” plays into the idea that gay men “groom” children to become gay.
Zucker admitted to conversing with Throckmorton at some point.
“I did not recommend a retraction, and neither did the [Springer Nature] research integrity office,” Zucker said.
“We felt that by identifying the discrepancies, that that would make it clear why” people must be cautious about drawing conclusions from the paper, Zucker said.
A Springer Nature spokesperson said it “takes its role as a global publisher very seriously and we are committed to not only ensuring the integrity of the research we publish, but also the best practice conducted by all the authors and editors that publish with us.” The spokesperson said Springer Nature adheres to “best practice,” including Committee on Publication Ethics standards.
“In line with these guidelines, and in consultation with the editor-in-chief earlier this year, it was agreed that an expression of concern be issued for this paper due to irregularities in the data published,” the spokesperson said. “An explicit message to readers was also published as part of this, urging them to take caution when interpreting the content and conclusions of the article.”
Inside Higher Ed was also unable to reach any of the authors. The article says they were all at Alliant International University: Templer, Marie E. Tomeo, Susan Anderson and Debra Kotler.
“Given that the referenced study was published over 20 years ago and the authors are no longer affiliated with the university, we do not have current contact information for the researchers,” an Alliant spokeswoman said.
“The university does not direct, vet or review the independent research and publications pursued by Alliant faculty,” she said. “It is the standard practice and expectation that peer-review journals will ensure the rigor, methodology and results of studies they publish.
“That being said, Alliant does not endorse or support the conclusions reached in the referenced research, nor does this research align with the current or prior mission, vision and values of the institution. In fact, Alliant is home to the Rockway Institute—a national center for LGBT psychology research, education and public policy which advances the use of scientific and professional expertise to counter anti-gay prejudice and inform public policies affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
In a now-retracted 2012 paper under Donald I. Templer’s name, published in Personality and Individual Differences, Templer and his co-author wrote, “We have found, in both human and non-human animals, that darker pigmentation is associated with higher levels of aggression and sexuality (and in humans with lower IQ). Lighter pigmentation is associated with the slow reproductive strategy (K) including lower birth rates, less infant mortality, less violent crime, less HIV/AIDS, plus higher IQ, higher income, and greater longevity.”
In a video of a speech to a conference for American Renaissance, a white supremacist outlet, Templer says African Americans’ “problems—the problems caused by them—are mainly a function of low intelligence and poor impulse control. It is nature, and not white people, that have given Blacks smaller brains and lower intelligence on the average.”
“If Black persons score low on an intelligence test, I couldn’t find any more powerful evidence for the validity of that test,” he says, to laughter and applause.
“It’s pretty pathetic,” Throckmorton said of the video.
As for the findings of his unpublished literature review that led to his discovering the mistake, Throckmorton said, “I came to see sexual orientation of being more of an innate factor than related to anything environmental.”