Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Exactly what is Mr. Sprigg's expertise?

Peter Sprigg

Tuesday, Family Research Council, an anti-gay hate group, advises that Peter Sprigg has testified before the Massachusetts legislature as that body considers banning sexual orientation change efforts on minors. Before getting into Sprigg's testimony, what does he bring to the table? Sprigg is a Baptist minister and an employee of a hate group. What possible weight could be given to his testimony on a medical and social science matter? Where is the requisite erudition?

According to Sprigg:
Advocates of legislation like this make two central claims—that sexual orientation change efforts (or SOCE) are ineffective, and that they are harmful. What is the scientific evidence for these claims?

There is none—particularly with respect to minors, the population addressed by this bill. Although the American Psychological Association discourages such therapy, even their widely-quoted 2009 task force report came up empty in its search for an empirical foundation—beyond mere anecdotal evidence—for these two key arguments against it.
That's not exactly what the APA investigation concluded. Practitioners of sexual orientation change efforts have failed to study outcomes with any degree of scientific rigor. I have often speculated that they don't engage in rigorous study because they don't want an investigation to reveal the inevitable — results that they do not like.
The limited number of rigorous early studies and complete lack of rigorous recent prospective research on SOCE limits claims for the efficacy and safety of SOCE. Within the early group of studies, there are a small number of rigorous studies of SOCE, and those focus on the use of aversive treatments. These studies show that enduring change to an individual’s sexual orientation is uncommon and that a very small minority of people in these studies showed any credible evidence of reduced same-sex sexual attraction, though some show lessened physiological arousal to all sexual stimuli. Compelling evidence of decreased same-sex sexual behavior and increased attraction to and engagement in sexual behavior with the other sex was rare. Few studies provided strong evidence that any changes produced in laboratory conditions translated to daily life. We found that nonaversive and recent approaches to SOCE have not been rigorously evaluated. Given the limited amount of methodologically sound research, we cannot draw a conclusion regarding whether recent forms of SOCE are or are not effective.
And the harms?
We found that there was some evidence to indicate that individuals experienced harm from SOCE. Early studies do document iatrogenic effects of aversive forms of SOCE. High dropout rates characterize early aversive treatment studies and may be an indicator that research participants experience these treatments as harmful.
It is up to folks like Sprigg, if they want to claim expertise, to prove that the methodology is safe and effective. Instead they seek to possibly damage more children who are coerced into ineffective and toxic “therapies” in order for life to conform to the Bible. Well, modern life does not comport with Bronze Age writings of questionable provenance written by people who had little understanding of the world around them.

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