July 31, 2005


Beliefs drive research agenda of new think tanks (Michael Kranish, July 31, 2005, Boston Globe)

President Bush had a ready answer when asked in January for his view of adoption by same-sex couples: ''Studies have shown that the ideal is where a child is raised in a married family with a man and a woman," the president said.

Bush's assertion raised eyebrows among specialists. The American Academy of Pediatrics, composed of leaders in the field, had found no meaningful difference between children raised by same-sex and heterosexual couples, based on a 2002 report written largely by a Boston pediatrician, Dr. Ellen C. Perrin.

But Bush's statement was celebrated at a tiny think tank called the Family Research Institute, where the founder, Dr. Paul Cameron, believes Bush was referring to studies he has published in academic journals that are critical of gays and lesbians as parents. Cameron has published numerous studies with titles such as ''Gay Foster Parents More Apt to Molest" -- a conclusion disputed by many other researchers.

The president's statement was also welcomed at a small organization with an august-sounding name, the American College of Pediatricians. The college, which has a small membership, says on its website that it would be ''dangerously irresponsible" to allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The college was formed just three years ago, after the 75-year-old American Academy of Pediatrics issued its paper.

That pediatric study asserted a ''considerable body of professional evidence" that there is no difference between children of same-sex and heterosexual parents.

The Family Research Institute and the American College of Pediatrics are part of a rapidly growing trend in which small think tanks, researchers, and publicists who are open about their personal beliefs are providing what they portray as medical information on some of the most controversial issues of the day.

Created as counterpoints to large, well-established medical organizations whose work is subject to rigorous review and who assert no political agenda, the tiny think tanks with names often mimicking those of established medical authorities have sought to dispute the notion of a medical consensus on social issues such as gay rights, the right to die, abortion, and birth control.

As Mr. Kranish points out, the difference between the two is that the one group does not assert that it is politically motivated while the other is honest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 31, 2005 10:52 AM

The outing of the media as a biased provider of "news" was only the start.

The outing of scientific journals that serve up "subjective science" is well underway. Michael's indignation is understandable. Unfortunately, for him, there's much more on the way.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics, composed of leaders in the field,...". That's funny.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at July 31, 2005 11:44 AM

Check out this article in Science perpetuating the myth of Islamic mathematics and the debunking, Hyping Islam 's role in the History of Science, in the American Thinker.

There's more on the same subject at On Wisconsin and a well written and documented rebuttal">http://www.uwalumni.com/onwisconsin/summer02/laska.html">rebuttal on their letters page.

At one time the departments of mathematics and the hard sciences were immune from the PC thought police, but I guess they've been reached now. It's amazing that one of the most revered scientific journals like Science and the alumni magazine of a major university like the UW would print an article so full of inaccuracies

Posted by: erp at July 31, 2005 1:29 PM

If you've ever spent time in Madison(Berkeley with permafrost) you wouldn't be so surprised.

If you ever were a subscriber to Scientific American, you would see how rapidly it deteriorated into a mouthpiece for whatever PC claptrap came down the pike. It is about a decade behind Psychology Today and I guess about a decade ahead of Science.

What keeps science from being infected as badly though is that what goes on in those fields actually matters. At some point, you need to find a cure for a disease, a new means to make seed more productive, a new alloy for jet planes, etc. If you write an article proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Shakespeare's plays were actually written by a proto-Marxist, lesbian, cross-dressing Hottentot, it really doesn't matter. If poor scientific research leads you to create a cure for cancer that turns people purple and then causes them to disintegrate into sawdust within 24 hours of its use, it matters.

Posted by: bart at July 31, 2005 4:55 PM

Those are just technology, not science.

Posted by: oj at July 31, 2005 5:01 PM

English is a wonderful language. You should try it sometime.

Posted by: bart at July 31, 2005 5:37 PM

bart. We subscribed to Scientific American when our kids were in school, but I haven't seen a copy in years.

Wasn't there a flap with SA and Swedish statistician who debunked their numbers on global warning? Something about SA slamming the Swede and refusing to allow him magazine space to respond.

I have no doubt UW is a frozen outpost of moonbattery as are all the other major colleges and universities. We retired about 20 years ago, but in our day, faculty in the sciences and especially the departments of mathematics, physics, economics, computer science wouldn't permit an article that totally misstated the facts to be published.

bart. I looked over my previous comment and don't detect a faux pas in the spelling, grammar or syntax. I don't know what you mean when you say try using the English language. Please advise.

Posted by: erp at July 31, 2005 8:56 PM


I was referring to OJ and his use of the words 'science' and 'technology' in ways commonly not seen in standard English. Sorry for any confusion.

In most universities, the science, math and particularly the engineering faculties are far more conservative than that of other departments, not that it is especially difficult for them to be. Libertarianism is big, probably about as commonplace as the GOP on most of the big campuses.

As I indicated earlier, the good thing about the sciences is that at some point it has to work. If you produce irreproducible results, nobody can use them. It provides a brake on the moonbattery.

Posted by: bart at July 31, 2005 9:25 PM

Science never need work--its ideological. Technology has to--its practical.

Posted by: oj at July 31, 2005 9:29 PM

oj, I hestitate to disagree with my host, but first the idea and then the implementation.

Pure science seeks only to extend human knowledge with no thought to "what you can do with it."

It's up to mechanics* to figure out what to do with the knowledge.

*what theoretical physicists call all non-theoretical physicists

Posted by: erp at July 31, 2005 10:27 PM