Tuesday, March 28, 2017

NIH and the Courage Ministry

National Institutes of Health is being used to solicit participants for the Catholic Church's Courage Ministry through PubMed Central (PMC). PMC is an NIH archive of journal literature. PMC provides access to the free full-text of articles from a set of participating journals. As I wrote about yesterday, one of those journals is Linacre which is a publication of the Catholic Medical Association. Peer review at Linacre has less to do with scientific integrity than ensuring that articles conform to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

My contention is that the federal government should not be a repository and outlet for a religious organization.

I wrote a little about one article yesterday. Here is a second piece that Courage links to within “Medical and Mental Health Resources.” This article is titled Homosexuality and scientific evidence: On suspect anecdotes, antiquated data, and broad generalizations. And just who is the author of this intellectual masterpiece? That would be Robert L. Kinney III of Cincinnati. Kinney's erudition regarding human sexuality must have something to do with his “Pharm.D. in Pharmacy.” No? Well maybe it comes from his MA in philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Philosophy at Franciscan U. is likely to be more theology than anything else. It's the Thomas Aquinas thing so yeah, that must be it.

The article in question is not some ancient musing. Not at all. It was written in 2015. The abstract reads:
The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have suggested for many years now that there is significant empirical evidence supporting the claim that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexual orientation as opposed to a mental disorder. This paper summarizes and analyzes that purported scientific evidence and explains that much (if not all) of the evidence is irrelevant and does not support the homosexuality-is-not-a-mental-disorder claim.
That's right. The pharmacist disagrees with the two relevant professional peer organizations to claim that homosexuality is a mental disorder. That conclusion is not based on science. It is based on the teachings of the Church that gay people are “objectively disordered.” Instead of honoring the scientific method with an hypothesis, this crackpot has a predetermined conclusion. Among the arguments in this bullshit (and it is bullshit) is this:
It may be easier to understand problems with the argument by using examples of observed human desires for specific actions. Some human beings desire to remove healthy body parts; others desire to cut themselves with razor blades, while others desire to harm themselves in other ways. These people are not necessarily suicidal; instead, they desire to remove their healthy limbs or they desire to inflict harm on themselves without causing death. These are two different conditions—one is known as “body integrity identity disorder,” “xenomelia,” or “apotemnophilia”; and the other is known as “nonsuicidal self-injury,” “self-mutilation,” or “self-harm.”
Keep in mind that this guy is neither a psychiatrist nor psychologist. He has no relevant training. He hasn't done a residency or so much as a practicum. I am sure that he can give us a good run on Aquinas or the catechism. However:
  1. Kinney lacks the skills and training to weigh in authoritatively on human sexuality. Therefore;
  2. Linacre is irresponsible as scientific literature. Therefore;
  3. Let's call Linacre what it really is — a religious publication. Therefore;
  4. NIH has no business providing full text to the public. It is a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.
I might be tilting at windmills but it's worth some effort. I have sent a complaint to NIH and contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I am going to send a note to my Congress Critter (Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) who is the sanest GOPer in the land. It would be beneficial to have these two articles removed from NIH's website. I am perfectly willing to seem a bit nutty in pursuit of that goal.

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