Paul Cameron’s Falsehoods Cited By Anti-Gay Sympathizers
Anti-gay researcher Paul Cameron's falsehoods are well known. The incredible thing is the people who still cite them.
By David Holthouse
Nearly 600 evangelical Christians packed into the gymnasium of the Calvary Christian Academy in Forth Worth, Texas, to witness a ceremony on a Sunday in June. With a flourish of his pen, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the first bill while the televangelist at his side praised Jesus.
Gov. Perry shared the stage with celebrity Pentecostal faith healer Rob Parsley, whose television program is carried by 1,400 stations nationwide. In the audience were the leaders of two prominent family values action groups: Donald Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
The first document Perry signed that day was a parental notification law requiring girls under 18 to obtain parental permission before having an abortion. The second proposed that the state constitution be amended to specifically prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying. (Texas voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment this Nov. 8.)
Parsley heaped praise on Gov. Perry for "protecting the children of Texas from the gay agenda." Then he rattled off a series of shocking statistics: "Gay sex is a veritable breeding ground for disease," he said. "Only 1% of the homosexual population in America will die of old age. The average life expectancy for a homosexual in the United States of America is 43 years of age. A lesbian can only expect to live to be 45 years of age. Homosexuals represent 2% of the population, yet today they're carrying 60% of the known cases of syphilis."
The televangelist did not reveal where he got those numbers. He stated them starkly as facts to be accepted on blind faith. But they are not facts. They are gross distortions lifted straight from the pages of pseudo-scientific studies by Dr. Paul Cameron, a crackpot psychologist and champion of the anti-gay crusade.
Under the guise of chairman of the Family Research Institute, his statistical chop shop in Colorado Springs, Colo., Cameron has published dozens upon dozens of research studies that offer homophobes a supposedly scientific justification for their prejudices by invariably concluding that gays and lesbians are dangerous and diseased perverts.
"Homosexuality is an infectious appetite with personal and social consequences," is how Cameron describes the phenomenon he studies. "It is like the dog that gets a taste for blood after killing its first victim and desires to get more victims thereafter with a ravenous hunger."
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While he makes no attempt to disguise his personal bias, Cameron dresses up his studies with footnotes, bibliographies and charts, and then publishes them in bogus "academic" journals. His work is propaganda masquerading as science and has been repeatedly unmasked as such by many legitimate scientists. Cameron himself has been cast out of both the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. The ASA declared that, "Dr. Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism."
But no matter how low his professional reputation sinks or how patently ludicrous his findings become (one recent Cameron study concluded that lesbians are 300 times more likely to die in car accidents than heterosexual women), the social impact of Cameron's so-called research far exceeds that of all but a few genuine research psychologists. Cameron's findings are repeated ad nauseam by lawmakers, radio talk show hosts, preachers and anti-gay activists across the country. In 2003, his research was cited by dissenting justices on the Massachusetts Supreme Court in the case that led to legalizing same-sex marriage in that state. In 2004, a majority decision by the Florida Supreme Court that upheld a law banning adoption by same-sex couples specifically cited Cameron's research as being "consonant with the notion that children raised by homosexuals disproportionately experience emotional disturbance and sexual victimization."
Religious right action groups including Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition promote Cameron's statistics on their Web sites. The Christian Communications Network, a public relations firm run by anti-abortion zealot Gary McCullough -- media adviser to Operation Rescue and the parents of Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube removal sparked a major controversy -- publicizes Cameron's findings to religious newspapers and helps distribute tens of thousands of his heavily footnoted pamphlets to church congregations.
Not one of Cameron's anti-gay studies has been published in a respected scientific journal with rigorous content review standards. Instead, Cameron props up his façade of credibility by publishing his studies in Psychological Reports, a Montana-based vanity magazine that advertises itself as "The Scientific Manifestation of Free Speech" and will publish practically anything for $27.50 per page.
Unlike a serious academic journal, Psychological Reports does not employ a stringent peer review panel of scientists to guard against flawed studies. But its title looks good in footnotes, and Cameron has been publishing his work in the magazine since 1972, long before he joined the anti-gay crusade. His first study in Psychological Reports concerned the relationship between pet and non-pet owners and animals. Cameron concluded that pet owners are far more likely to be kind to animals than non-pet owners.