Thursday, October 31, 2013

23-24 year old David Gordon explains it all for you at Witherspoon's blog

David Gordon is a fan of Douglas Allen. Bear with me. I'll get to young Mr. Gordon shortly.

In November, 2012 Douglas Allen, along with two other religious conservative economists — Catherine Pakaluk and Joseph Price, claimed that children raised by gay couples did poorly in school. They arrived at this "conclusion" by analyzing a study done by Michael Rosenfeld (yes, the same Rosenfeld who wanted nothing to do with Witherspoon). Rosenfeld responded:
Allen et al.’s results depend on their inclusion of children whose family at the time of their grade retention is unknown, plus adopted and foster children whose selection process into families is unknown. Children whose family has been through upheavals or transitions are less likely to make good progress in school than children from stable families. Children raised by stable same-sex couples do remarkably well in school
Douglas Allen is an obscure professor of economics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He is associated with National Organization for Marriage as he is on Ruth Institute Board of Advisors and is one of Ruth's "inner circle of experts."

More recently, Douglas Allen published a study in a third-rate household  economics journal claiming that the children of gay parents graduate high school at 65% of the rate of children raised by heterosexual parents. Decades of research by real social scientists claim otherwise. I am guessing that it could not survive peer review by a more prestigious and important journal. If Allen could get this published in the American Statistical Association Journal he probably would have. Welcome to the world of religion motivated "research."

The greatest effect that marriage equality has on children is experienced positively by the kids already being raised by gay couples. 

As for Mr. Gordon he is a research associate at the newly formed Austin Institute (joining Mark Regnerus who has the pretentious academic title of senior fellow). David Gordon just graduated from BYU with a BA in economics. He did so after serving as an LDS missionary in Salt Lake City for two years (oh, the hardships of the undeveloped world). According to Gordon:
Professor Allen’s study is also better than most of its peers because he uses randomly drawn samples, a characteristic that is of paramount importance for making inferences about differences between groups. In the absence of random sampling, it often is the case that any nonrandomness in the recruitment process is also in some way related to the variables of interest (same-sex vs. opposite-sex parenting) and the outcome measure (high school graduation), thereby biasing the results. So, while nonrandom samples can still illuminate when ideal sampling is not possible, they are not the basis on which to foster a scholarly consensus. Of the reviewed studies on same-sex parenting, only seven have employed random samples, and among these the conclusion is split nearly down the middle between differences and no differences.
Well that is just special. The problem with all of this is that Douglas Allen has demonstrated a clear religious and ideological agenda. Furthermore, more notable researchers and academics (like Dr. Rosenfeld) have pointed out, with specificity, Allen's failures in analysis in the past. Based on Rosenfeld's commentary it appears that Allen was guilty of selective observation a year ago. Gordon seems to be relying on Mark Regnerus' analysis of the Allen study (in the same blog) to come up with his own polemic. These things don't just happen. Blog editor (and Heritage staffer) Ryan T. Anderson was probably looking for someone to bolster Regnerus bolstering Allen since Allen's paper hasn't exactly set the world on fire.

I am guessing that nobody in the real world takes Allen too seriously. I haven't seen any commentary from respected scholars. Regnerus is not exactly a paradigm of academic integrity and intellectual excellence. Even knowledge of the existence of this research is probably limited to extreme religious organizations and folks like us.

Nevertheless, religious forces are using this approach to oppose marriage equality.  It's just a distraction. They would like to change the debate to who is more likely to be the better parents, relying on the lack of knowledge on the part of the general public. Claiming that gay marriage will cause the earth to spin out of orbit is getting a bit silly. Wouldn't Spain and Massachusetts have caused that result already? On parenting, we have learned not to take the bait anymore. The greatest effect that marriage equality has on children is experienced by the kids already being raised by gay couples. The benefits to them, in stability and financial security, are considerable. Nevertheless, the fundamentalists will keep on trying.

As an aside Austin Institute for The Study of Family and Culture only received its determination letter from the IRS this year. I assume that they are a 501(c)3. Therefore, we won't see financial statements for another year. (Executive) Director Andrew Litschi was with the Lumen Christi Institute for a couple of years. “The Lumen Christi Institute advocates, supports and nurtures intellectual work done in intimate relation to the Light of Christ, the Catholic Christian tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church.” Got the picture?

AI does not disclose who sits on their board of directors but they do seem to have some money. It could be comprised of some of the usual suspects like Robby George, Sean Fieler, Luis Tellez, etc. The Defenders of the Faith have a vested interest in these ventures.
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