In an unsurprising move, the University of Texas at Austin have rejected charges of scientific and academic misconduct leveled against sociology professor Mark Regnerus following the publication of a ‘study’ that found supposed negative life outcomes among children who had one parent who engaged in same-sex relationships. This is despite the fact that Regnerus rather obviously distorted his evidence to attack lesbian and gay parents, and despite the fact that professional groups from the American Medical Association to the American Sociological Association have all stated that his evidence, methodology, and conclusions were based on false and misleading evidence.
Robert A. Peterson, UofT’s research integrity officer, and the only person to review Regnerus’ ‘study’, stated “I have concluded that Professor Regnerus did not commit scientific misconduct.”
Regnerus’ research drew upon data from another study which examined the life outcomes of 3,000 Americans age 18 to 39, as well as a bunch of anecdotal evidence and very little direct information. His funding came from the Witherspoon Institute, a National Organization for Marriage affiliate. What Regnerus found, despite his conclusions, is that marriages between a straight person and a gay person cause greater harm to children. He spun his evidence to attack all same-sex couples, however.
Unfortunately, the Religious Right have also taken Regnerus’ conclusions as ‘evidence’ that they are correct even though they are not. This only gives them further cause to push this agenda despite the fact that every reputable scientist and professional group out there has already slaughtered Regnerus’ conclusions, methodology and evidence. Peterson called for this to continue as a matter of further academic debate despite the fact that the debate is pretty much over.
Finally, Regnerus broke numerous ethical codes that academes are suppose to live by. Unfortunately, it is unlikely Peterson would care.
Editor’s note: I have spent almost twenty years in academia. I was not surprised by the conclusion of Peterson’s investigation since it is rare that a university is willing to actually discipline publically a professor when it comes to professional conduct. This is especially true in more Conservative, Southern schools. Protecting the reputation of the school ends up being more important than actually dealing with professional or personal misconduct.
There is no better example than Penn State.
Made correction- It was the Witherspoon Institute not the Ruth Institute that funded the study.