So far, the best thing that has been said about the Chronicle article on the Social Science Research audit of the publication process of the Regnerus manuscript on how gays and lesbians are bad parents was made by my old buddy Dave Neis, who opined “why is it that every time I see Sherkat’s name in the news the article looks like it was from the Onion?”
It was unfortunate that the primary take of the chatteratti news has been that I say bullshit a lot, and that’s only because they can’t print “fuck” or “jesus fuck” or “jesus fuck a bunny in the ass”.
I would have liked for them to have printed the sentences following the “bullshit” clause. Which could also have been garnered from my report, which does not contain the word bullshit, even though that is an apt descriptor of the Regnerus project.
The issue of the acceptability of his paper is not a political assault on Regnerus, though his publicizing and politicizing his research did call attention to it. When you luck out and publish a crappy study, it’s best not to publicize that—particularly not to do so to help deny people the right to their children and to marry and such. People get pissed off about that, and rightly so. The Regnerus paper is not Social Science Research material on any criteria for its data, measures, methods, and motivation. I cannot believe it was published in SSR. Seriously. Look at my last paper published in SSR. There is no comparison, and I had to do a full revise and resubmit (two reviewers voted reject) and Regnerus was a conditional accept! On revision, I had to change my comparisons of ordinal logistic regression coefficients over time—showing that the importance of political and religious factors both grew over time—to use some new technique developed less than a decade ago—and do formal variance tests! Then, of course, I estimated non-linear structural equation models! Regnerus has very weak data, absolutely unacceptable measures, inadequate sample size for his key comparative groups even if we accept his BS measure, and perfunctory analytic techniques—on top of having no motivation for the study—other than politics.
People who want to act like the activists are ridiculous and out on a witch hunt really don’t grasp the gravity of the Regnerus study–it really is being used right now to justify taking people’s children away from them, and it is being used to help prevent marriage rights for same sex couples. Frankly, the first is more of a concern–since the latter will be decided in the Supreme Court soon…..you think this might pop up?
Still, as much as I am sure that Regnerus did this for political purposes, and as much as I think this “study” is of no value from the ground up–I don’t even want to talk about the supposed estimates generated by a study like this—THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SOCIOLOGICAL MALPRACTICE. And, retraction is extremely rare in sociology, almost none in the last three decades and all for plagiarism–as Erik Olin Wright noted, in sociology the best response is peer critique. Regnerus did a shitty study, and there will forever be an asterisk next to that one signifying that he lucked out on the publication and then got slammed for publishing bad stuff, and the University of Texas will be more circumspect about how it values money from particular foundations. I’m not happy by all of this nonsense from activist types demanding some kind of “investigation” . Great. So, what is going to happen when Rush Limbaugh gets a hold of my name, again? Professors are free to pursue myriad projects in their “free” time. We are expected to contribute to our fields in a way that merits the designation as Professor. However, many people use their Summer and Winter breaks to pursue textbook writing, private consulting, expert testimony, and political activism. Regnerus’ latest “reasearch” forays fall squarely into this camp. You can’t get fired for that, and I’ll defend his right to do it! There doesn’t need to be any “inquiry” into Regnerus. Case closed.
Can I get back to my own fucking work now?