Defining Bullshit—and other last words on the SSR audit

Sorry Mark, I can’t resist!

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?

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8 Responses to “Defining Bullshit—and other last words on the SSR audit”

  1. StraightGrandmother Says:

    If a University Investigation revealed that Regnerus communicated with and changed his report for the express purpose of casting sexual minorities in the worst possible light so that the report could be used more effectively in Court, would you then say that a University Investigation was unwarranted?

    I am not saying I have this information. I am just asking you, if a University Investigation disclosed the above, would you then continue to say that a University Investigation was unwarranted?

  2. sherkat Says:

    Yes, there is no merit for a university investigation into a professor’s personal political activities! Yes, Regnerus is a conservative activist, but that is his right.

  3. StraightGrandmother Says:

    I am not saying anything about personal activities, I am talking and asking you about professional activities, two very different things. So I’ll repeat the question,

    If a University Investigation revealed that Regnerus communicated with and changed his report for the express purpose of casting sexual minorities in the worst possible light so that the report could be used more effectively in Court, would you then say that a University Investigation was unwarranted?

    I am not saying I have this information. I am just asking you, if a University Investigation disclosed the above, would you then continue to say that a University Investigation was unwarranted?

  4. Dania Ng Says:

    Sorry mr cristophobic sociologist, sir, I cant resist it!

    You state: “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”.

    Ok, so I looked. If I was to review your paper (which is not yours alone by the way, but that of the et al of which you are part of), I would certainly have rejected it. Firstly, the lit review is skewed and unreliable because it is shaped so that it provides the contextual basis for a biased take on the issue you claim to have researched. For instance, in s.2 you et al imperiously claim that “The United States is unique among Western democracies in that its citizens have retained traditional values on issues of sexuality and gender roles, while other nations have become expressly more supportive of individual rights and freedoms” – a statement based on one(!) selected work.

    The section goes on to cite your own works in support of the sweeping statement that “The United States is also exceptional in having a more influential religious culture, wherein religious institutions often lend resources into the political realm, and … [further shite follows]”. Now, if you were an honest sociologist, you would not say this – surely you know that, for example, Greece or Italy are rather more exceptional than the US in the sense outlined above than the US? And, in order not to diminish from your selective statements, you neglect to make other comparisons – like for instance Iran where they don’t simply oppose gay “marriages” there – they execute gays! You do this, I suspect, because there is already an intent to use the study to imply extremism on the part of a targeted group of Christians. If you don’t know this, then you should not claim to be a sociologist – if you do know (as I suspect you do) then you’re just plain dishonest.

    You et al then go on to proclaim that “…denominational identifications tie people to socializing agents who inform beliefs about sexuality, and create distinctive political subcultures” (again, based on your own previous work), then go on to target the poor old Protestant ‘sectarian denominations’. Obviously forgetting Weber and that whole side of sociology which explains modernity as being influenced by the Protestant ethic – but why worry about such trite details, let’s just label them sectarian instead, you seem to have acquired a special right to do so without explaining key concepts, lol.

    The diatribe goes on, and on … e.g., the lie that “AIDS is not simply a gay disease”. Just have a look at the epidemiological reports, even now the greatest growth is in the homosexual population, because many refuse to wear condoms! (not to mention a rise in the transmission of diseases like syphilis) – but, hey! it must because of those darn Christians, eh? The set up of the analysis itself continues to be peppered by ‘objective’ labels, like “The strident anti-rights framing of anti-gay movements”, “Christian terrorist attacks”, and so on.

    The methodology is a joke. For instance, what the hell does “biblical fundamentalism item” mean? Just because you construct an ordinal scale using biased descriptors of what you et al believe is fundamentalism with reference to an arbitrarily constructed hierarchy of beliefs in the Bible does not mean that the method is objective. It could simply be that some people who associate strongly with certain beliefs happen to have the most socially appropriate perspective. For example, there was once only a minority of people in Nazi Germany who happened to believe that persecuting Jews is wrong. Also, your so-called study does not control for the socialization effects, the shaping and changing of social norms and mores, of an increasingly biased and cristophobic media (even though the paper acknowledges its importance in helping promote the gay agenda earlier on). The paper also assumes an unproblematic association between religion and politics (unproblematic because it ignores the effects of gay politics).

    But worse of all (from a social scientific perspective), the paper is used as a platform to promote a particular view and decry those opposing it. It is particularly shameful how in the discussion you et al named actual individuals and organisations in a transparent pro-gay agenda to ‘name and shame’ and ‘name and praise’, as if this has anything to do with an objective study!

    Finally, you simply don’t understand the nature of politics. To claim that you’re studying the effects of religion on politics and then proclaim that “…conservative religious groups sought influence over cultural issues like education and sexuality…” is (from a political philosophy perspective) a simpleton’s tautology. Of course groups use whatever political resources they have at hand to shape what happens in society – haven’t you read Machiavelli yet? Meanwhile, what have the gay activists done whilst these conservative groups have so shamelessly used their resources to influence the public agenda – did they stand still?

    So yeah – your study sucks, man; it is biased to the hilt, obviously designed to trash those Christians, and provide more ammunition for the gay agenda, securely and cowardly wrapped in the knowledge that you’re beating the popular path. Tell us again, how is your paper better than Regnerus’s?

    PS: Taking gay couples’ children away may be because of other factors, perhaps? Like how we see here? http://www.smh.com.au/national/boy-6-taken-from-gay-pair-20120208-1rf17.html
    and here http://www.rpvnetwork.org/profiles/blogs/gay-adoption-horror-duke
    and here http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/bradford/5109518.stm
    But let us wait for your next rigorous ‘study’ – perhaps it would illuminate the link between gay ‘parenting’ styles described in these sources and those homophobic Christians.

  5. StraightGrandmother Says:

    ” It could simply be that some people who associate strongly with certain beliefs happen to have the most socially appropriate perspective.” = Well were are right because we say we are right! LOL!

    “The paper also assumes an unproblematic association between religion and politics”

    = State of Washington orders Catholic Church NOT to pass the collection plate for donations to Fight Civil Marriage for sexual minorities.
    http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2012/08/29/state-tells-catholic-church-washington-it-has-gone-too-far

    I will be tuning into watch the Parliament of Tasmania legalize Same Gender Civil Marriage. The nice Equality folks in Australia sent me a link where to watch it live at 2:30pm Tasmania time.
    http://streaming.parliament.tas.gov.au/ParliamentLowerHouse/hatbsmac.html

    The FIRST region of Australia to do so, YEAH!!!

  6. Protecting Science From Harm, Protecting Against Harmful Science | my sociology Says:

    […] It is important that we speak out about this scandal, in general.  Unfortunately, it feels as though some sociologists feel they have done all that they could and just want this to go away already. […]

  7. Philliip Says:

    Several years ago, sociologists were in an uproar over the publication of William Julius Wilson’s Declining Significance of Race. The Association of Black Sociologists (among others) called on the American Sociological Association to retract this work, because Ronald Reagan used the book to as evidence against the need for racial policies.

    Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed, and the book reinvigorated discussions on race and ethnicity in America. As Darren points out, “in sociology the best response is peer critique. “

  8. Conditionally Accepted | Protecting Science From Harm, And Against Harmful Science Says:

    […] It is important that we speak out about this scandal, in general.  Unfortunately, it feels as though some sociologists feel they have done all that they could and just want this to go away already. […]

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