Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More on Spitzer @ PFOX

This is an interesting situation. Robert Spitzer worked in the 1970s to have homosexuality taken out of the DSM as a mental disorder, and then a few years ago published a paper asserting that some people had convinced him that they had "changed" from a homosexual to heterosexual orientation. The radical religious right just loves to cite his study, implying somehow that people choose to be gay and can (and should) choose not to. So gay activists are ambivalent about him, to say the least. But he seems to have always kept his head above the water and stayed out of the bitter political battles; I don't know him, but I tend to think of him as a researcher whose curiosity and love of a good fight get him into trouble sometimes. There are lots of scientists like that -- Daryl Bem, definitely.

So now Spitzer's on a video that pops up when you go to PFOX's web site: www.pfox.org.

Ex-Gay Watch is looking at the PFOX web site and wondering, as well as we have been, what in the world Robert Spitzer is doing there.

They quote Spitzer's section from that video, and note:
There’s a significant factual distortion in that quotation: “Gay activists” such as Ex-Gay Watch don’t say that once someone is homosexual, one can never change; we say that “change” has been poorly defined by ex-gay activists, and we note that permanent change in predominant sexual attraction is exceedingly rare, may not be possible for most same-sex-attracted persons (who are neither abused nor badly parented), and should not be politically or spiritually coerced.

That isn’t the only factual omission by PFOX on its new front page….

1. Spitzer has warned that his research should not be politically misused to justify discrimination against same-sex-attracted persons. PFOX supports discrimination, opposes antibullying programs, and opposes gay access to civil unions, marriage, and church leadership positions.
2. In an interview with pro-exgay pundit Prof. Warren Throckmorton, Spitzer says “change” is extremely rare. (PDF copy of interview.)

PFOX Video Distorts Spitzer’s Views on Orientation Change

So, everybody's wondering ... why does Spitzer have a video on PFOX's web site?

PFOX had a booth, apparently, at last week's Love Won Out conference in Phoenix, which Box Turtle Bulletin noted. (I tell you this because it is mentioned below.)

XGW continues:
Ex-Gay Watch wants to know:

1. What is the source and date of the video? Why is PFOX reluctant to say?

2. Was the video posted with permission of the video’s producer?

3. When will PFOX provide its supporters with the uncensored original video so that they may develop informed opinions?

4. Why are LWO’s organizers, Exodus and Focus on the Family, hosting an organization which quotes Dr. Spitzer out of context and which mischaracterizes the varying views of gay equality advocates?

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim

I don't see what the big mystery is. The guy says his study shows that homosexual feelings can, theoretically, be altered. He sympathizes with your side politically. He supports your civil rights goals.

He simply says that science doesn't establish this innateness or unchangeability. This is what CRC said all along. It's what Weast recognized when he left out the statements by scientific associations. Indeed, if you read the statements by those associations, they usually seem to address socio-political concerns more than science.

Science hasn't proved that homosexuality is innate or immutable.

Move on.

You can still make your social and civil rights case. You just can't keep pushing the "facts" line.

February 15, 2007 11:24 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, if you've been reading what I've been saying, you'd understand that I don't care if it's innate or not. I don't know if you can understand this, but that's not the question.

The question is why Spitzer would align himself with a questionable group like PFOX. He's a researcher; they're B-list ideologues. Why would a guy like him film a video for a group like them?

And obviously, I'm not the only one who wonders that.

JimK

February 15, 2007 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The question is why Spitzer would align himself with a questionable group like PFOX."

Allowing PFOX to use a clip is not alignment. He agreed with their contention that gay advocacy groups have misused science. He also agrees with certain civil rights initiatives of gay advocacy groups. He didn't align himself, he simply came out on the side of the facts.

Commitment to the truth is rare these days.

Thanks, Dr Spitzer.

February 15, 2007 12:17 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "Commitment to the truth is rare these days.".

And PFOX certainly isn't committed to the truth or they wouldn't have neglected to mention that Spitzer says he believes the vast majority of gays would not be able to alter by much a very firmly established sexual orientation.

February 15, 2007 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He didn't say "believes", he said "suspects". That was some time ago. Who knows if he still suspects this. Suspicions have a fluid tendency.

February 15, 2007 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He still believes this: See - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwE6_dLweYo

February 15, 2007 3:46 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous, Spitzer said "...the kinds of changes my subjects reported are highly unlikely to be available to the vast majority [of gays and lesbians]... "[only] a small minority -- perhaps 3% -- might have a "malleable" sexual orientation." He expressed a concern that his study results were being "twisted by the Christian right." - that's people like you.
He told the Washington Post in 2005 that supporters of reparative therapy have misrepresented the results of his study. He said:

"It bothers me to be their knight in shining armor because on every social issue I totally disagree with the Christian right...What they don't mention is that change is pretty rare."

He noting that the subjects of his study were not representative of the general population because they were considerably more religious. He calls as "totally absurd" the beliefs that everyone is born straight and that homosexuality is a choice.

February 15, 2007 4:05 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous, I am unable to view the video you posted.

February 15, 2007 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We now have a video of him saying gay advocates are misusing his work too.

Point is, science doesn't have answers here. It's what CRC has said all along.

February 15, 2007 4:54 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Here's what Spitzer says on the YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwE6_dLweYo):

"When I did the study, that was several years ago, 6 years ago. At that time, there was not as much controversy about gay marriage and whatnot as there is now. I think I would be more reluctant now to start such a study knowing the way in which it would be used since I'm totally uncomfortable with the aims of Focus on the Family.

It's understandable that Focus on the Family would be delighted with the results of my study because the study did indicate that there was evidence that some gays can change not only their Sexual Identity but their Sexual Orientation, fantasy and arousal, so of course they are,were delighted with that study. What they failed to mention, and it's not I guess a big surprise, is that in the Discussion I noted that it was so hard for me to find 200 subjects to participate in the study, that I have to conclude that although change is possible and does occur, it's probably quite rare. And of course, they don't want to mention that."

An off camera voice asks how did it make him feel to know Focus on the Family used his study to deny civil rights to gays.

"It makes me feel quite uncomfortable and I'm kind of caught in that I think the study was needed to be done but I'm not happy that the people who are making use of the study are people whose program I totally am at odds with and feel therefore uncomfortable with their use of the study.

Dobson interviewed me at one point and he used that interview as part of their distribution process and when I found out about that I was quite unhappy with it because I didn't realize that I had given permission for it to be distributed in that way. And I wasn't happy with his reporting it because he failed to mention the point that I mentioned which is that I thought change was rare. But there was nothing I could do, I had signed a permission and so they were free to distribute it.

As far as the gay person who is thinking about change, the gay person wants to know not only can some people change but how likely is it if I go into some kind of therapy or program. So my study I think does indicate that some gays can change but it also suggests that it's probably pretty rare so the gay who is thinking about entering some kind of a program to change should know that the likelihood of success is quite small. And of course, Focus on the Family doesn't want to say that."

February 15, 2007 5:10 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

anonymous,

if you want to see a video, go to wbesen.com

dr. spitzer is plainly saying groups like PFOX is miusing his work.

February 15, 2007 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cilly just put up the text. he doesn't mention PFOX. Notably, he also doesn't disavow the study and said he didn't want gays to think change is impossible. His only discomfort is that he disagrees with the social aims of Focus on the Family.

None of this contradicts anything in the video clip on PFOX's website. He also, based on the PFOX clip, is just as upset with gay advocacy groups misusing his study.

Another point, this "difficulty" finding 200 subjects. He didn't say why it was so hard. It could just be that these people didn't want their personal stories dissected.

February 15, 2007 8:54 PM  
Blogger andrear said...

I sent Dr. Spitzer a note at his Columbia U e:mail. I will see if he answers and explains why he is allowing himself to be placed on the opening of the PFOX website.

February 15, 2007 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He also, based on the PFOX clip, is just as upset with gay advocacy groups misusing his study.

Yeah, wasn't that nice the way PFOX spliced that together like that?

February 15, 2007 11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except his statements are consistent with his study.

February 15, 2007 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His only discomfort is that he disagrees with the social aims of Focus on the Family.

I think you might have missed this "discomfort"

"What they failed to mention, and it's not I guess a big surprise, is that in the Discussion I noted that it was so hard for me to find 200 subjects to participate in the study, that I have to conclude that although change is possible and does occur, it's probably quite rare...

So my study I think does indicate that some gays can change but it also suggests that it's probably pretty rare so the gay who is thinking about entering some kind of a program to change should know that the likelihood of success is quite small."

And I think you missed this "discomfort too"

"...it's probably quite rare. And of course, they don't want to mention that...

...And of course, Focus on the Family doesn't want to say that."

February 16, 2007 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"change is possible and does occur"

This is TTF's discomfort.

February 16, 2007 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, it "discomforts" TTF about as much as a snake with two heads.

February 16, 2007 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what discomforts me about the ex-gay industry. They play on parents' fear and so much that some parents are willing and even eager to send their gay teens off to seek conversion therapy even though the chances that their orientation will change is rare and the likelihood of harm is high. Do you want your son locked in an embrace on a couch with a Richard Cohen type unlicensed quasi-therapist? Do you want your daughter to marry a gay closet dweller until he can't stand it inside there any more?

I don't. I love my children unconditionally and support them as they find their way.

February 16, 2007 11:02 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "Another point, this "difficulty" finding 200 subjects. He didn't say why it was so hard. It could just be that these people didn't want their personal stories dissected."

Wrong. He did say why it was so hard. He said "it was so hard for me to find 200 subjects to participate in the study, that I have to conclude that although change is possible and does occur, it's probably quite rare...". If he had been presented with a flood of "successes" that refused to participate for privacy concerns that would have been obvious and he wouldn't have concluded that change is quite rare.

Anonymous said ""change is possible and does occur". This is TTF's discomfort.".

No the discomfort is PFOX's doing exactly what you did, taking Spiter's comment out of context by clipping it severely to give the false impression that change is possible for all without the critical condition that it is rare and not possible for most.

February 16, 2007 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He did say why it was so hard."

Really? Can you post the quote?

February 17, 2007 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Spitzer's discussion section:

It is unclear how many gays and lesbians in the general population would want to change their sexual orientation or how representative the study sample is of those who would be interested in therapy with that goal. Obviously, this study cannot address the question of how often sexual reorientation therapy actually results in the substantial changes reported by most of the participants in this study. To recruit the 200 participants, it was necessary to repeatedly send notices of the study over a 16-month period to a large number of participants who had undergone some form of reparative therapy. This suggests that the marked change in sexual orientation reported by almost all of the study subjects may be a rare or uncommon outcome of reparative therapy.

February 17, 2007 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above says nothing about why it was hard to find participants. It only states, and contradicts some earlier statements, the process of seeking participants.

Here, it seems to say notices were mailed to former patients in reparative therapy. Before, it been stated NARTH was asked for examples. Other times it has been suggested that the therapists were asked to provide cases.

Did Spitzer send 250,000 notices? If not, how many? What is the usual response rate to a direct mail inquiry wanting to discuss one's sexual history in detail? I know for other, less controversial inquiries, it is usually low.

February 18, 2007 5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Here, it seems to say notices were mailed to former patients in reparative therapy. Before, it been stated NARTH was asked for examples. Other times it has been suggested that the therapists were asked to provide cases."

If you had read the Spitzer study, you'd know that all of the above were done seeking 200 participants.

February 18, 2007 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Phentermine said...

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August 13, 2007 3:22 PM  

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