No misconduct in Regnerus study

(Just bad logic)

The Greatest University in the World recently closed its investigation into accusations that Mark Regnerus acted unethically in his much-publicized parenting study which is still being used, by people who know should know better, to suggest that gay couples make worse parents than straight couples.  UT found no falsification of data, plagiarism, or serious ethical breaches in Regnerus’ work.

This is a good thing for people who care about the truth.  Make no mistake—Regnerus’ study adds nothing to the gay marriage debate, and anyone who uses it to argue against gay marriage is either lying or ignorant about its data.  But there’s good criticism and then there’s bad criticism, and accusing a researcher of acting unethically without any grounds for that accusation is an example of the latter*.  Sometimes a person can just be wrong.  A scientist can be a bad scientist.  A thinker can be a bad thinker.  When he is, it’s better to point out how he’s wrong than to just shout misconduct and try to discredit him as a person.

*Yes, I know that the study was funded by two anti-equality think tanks.  But that doesn’t necessarily signal impropriety, as Jim Burroway noted in the first analysis of the study:

“All sorts of studies are funded by all sorts of institutions which support a variety of causes. Those sources can come from conservative, anti-gay organizations, or (as is the case with many studies which are favorable to LGBT issues) they can come from pro-gay sources such as the Williams Institute or other organizations. The source of funding can indicate a potential conflict of interest, but the true value of a study rests on the methodology of the study itself.” (June 10th, 2012)

Rob Tisinai had another great, early, perspective on charges of misconduct, also at Box Turtle Bulletin:  “I don’t care who financed Prof. Regnerus” (June 15, 2012)

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