The name of Paul Cameron has been going around the blogosphere lately, mostly because he and his son presented a poster at the Eastern Psychological Association towards the middle of March. In that poster the Camerons makes a number of claims about the lives of gays and lesbians (or homosexuals as he calls us). The problem with Cameron, however, is that he has been kicked out of a number of scientific academies for using bogus research policies. That does not stop people like Peter LaBarbera from quoting these ‘studies.’ You can see he did this on April 5. Gleefully LaBarbera reports that the lifespans of gays and lesbians is supposed to be 24 years shorter than straight people.
The problem with Cameron and his ‘research’? Well, for starters no one can legitimately call it research. Paul Cameron gets most of his statistics from newspapers instead of doing proper sociological research–like doing his own surveys or interviews. What is the problem with getting info from obituaries from gay newspapers and then using these ‘results’ to imply something else? There is an excellent series of articles about Paul Cameron written by Dr. Herek. One is specifically written about the use of obituaries. To summarize a bit of what Dr. Herek found (and what is really common sense if you think about it) is that not everyone who dies gets into a gay newspaper’s obituary. Here are the reasons for why you would not see a gay or lesbian in the gay newspaper obituary notices:
- gay men and lesbians who were not involved in the gay community
- gay men and lesbians who were in the closet about their sexual orientation
- gay men and lesbians whose loved ones or family didn’t want their homosexuality to be known
- gay men and lesbians whose loved ones or family simply didn’t think of sending an obituary to a gay community newspaper
- gay men and lesbians whose loved ones did not write an obituary for some other reason (e.g., they were too grief stricken)
- gay men and lesbians who died without leaving anyone to write an obituary for a gay publication (e.g., those whose loved ones and relatives died before them).
As Dr. Herek points out, to get a scientifically valid study out of gay and lesbian deaths, ALL must be counted. However, what Cameron has done is taken what he found in newspapers and created a so-called study that found that the lifespan of homosexuals is shorter. Former Sect. of Education William Bennett had this to say about Cameron’ study:
"Given what I now know, I believe there are flaws with Paul Cameron’s study. One cannot extrapolate from his methodology and say that the average male homosexual life span is 43 years." New Republic (1998, February 23, page 4)
Anyway, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there were good reasons for kicking Paul Cameron out of the American Psychological Association in 1983 for "violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists." In Oct. 1984 the Nebraska Psychological Association "adopted a resolution stating that it "formally disassociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality."
In 1985 the American Sociological Association "adopted a resolution which asserted that "Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism" and noted that "Dr. Paul Cameron has repeatedly campaigned for the abrogation of the civil rights of lesbians and gay men, substantiating his call on the basis of his distorted interpretation of this research."
In 1986 the very same American Sociological Association "officially and publicly states that Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research. Information on this action and a copy of the report by the Committee on the Status of Homosexuals in Sociology, "The Paul Cameron Case," is to be published in Footnotes, and be sent to the officers of all regional and state sociological associations and to the Canadian Sociological Association with a request that they alert their members to Cameron’s frequent lecture and media appearances."
Yet this does not stop people like Peter LaBarbera or other anti-gay activists from treating Paul Cameron as if he were a real researcher.
You can find more information on Paul Cameron here.
You can see Paul Cameron’s bio here.
Like other anti-gay activists, Paul Cameron started his own non-profit called the Family Research Institute here. As you can see, the word ‘Research’ has been shown to be anything but (much like the Truth in Americans for Truth about Homosexuality). Why some organization like the Eastern Psychological Association would harm its reputation by allowing junk science to be on a poster at their conference is beyond me. It is also clear from looking at a few of his ‘papers’ he hasn’t done anything new in years and years–he just keeps rehashing the same old crap. For example, in a paper he self-published in 1999, he discusses the shortened lifespans of gays and lesbians. His most recent ‘report’ is from April 5th of this year–Married Gays Die 24 years Younger.
He also discussed smokers in 1999. And look what was self-published on April 3 of this year: Homosexuality More Dangerous Than Smoking. I think it is hilarious that www. earnmedia said that Paul Cameron’s non-profit is a ‘think-tank’! This is one non-profit that needs to be shut down…
Here is a the picture from the FRI website:
You can also see another very good breakdown of Paul Cameron and his ‘scientific studies’ here, which is written by Balaji Ravichandran.
I’ve looked at their tax returns and it is shocking that they even brought in nearly $80,000 in contributions. Of course, this also shows that he does not have very much public support for what he does, even though his ‘research’ is used endlessly by anti-gay activists.
They also have a deficit of nearly $40,000 for 2006! Of that $80,000 they brought in, nearly $60,000 was spent on salaries. Nearly $13,000 was spent on travel.
They claim on their taxes to have completed a nationwide sexuality surevey [sic] and are in the process of reporting these findings. This exact sentence (minus the spelling error) is found on their 2005 returns–doesn’t anyone in the government look at these forms? They also claim to be using governmental databases. I wonder what kind of ‘national survey’ the Cameron’s have done other than reading gay newspapers…
It is quite the family affair, as usual. Paul Cameron pays himself about $30,000 (with benefits included). Wife Virginia Cameron is the office manager and works 25 hours a week and gets paid nearly $18,000. Son Kirk Cameron is the Vice Chairman (and statistical scientist–at least according to their taxes), works 15 hours a week and gets paid $13,000 while daughter Karyn Knapp as the Treasurer. She works 4 hours a week and is unpaid.
Anyway, so if you ever see the so-called research mentioned by Paul Cameron, automatically dismiss it as junk science written by a person who has been kicked out of numerous intellectual associations for ethics violations. And automatically dismiss anyone who uses Cameron.