Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Kill the messenger!

"Whoever said inquisitions and witch hunts were things of the past? A big one is going on now. The sociologist Mark Regnerus, at the University of Texas at Austin, is being smeared in the media and subjected to an inquiry by his university over allegations of scientific misconduct.

Regnerus’s offense? His article in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research reported that adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships, including same-sex couples as parents, have more emotional and social problems than do adult children of heterosexual parents with intact marriages. That’s it. Regnerus published ideologically unpopular research results on the contentious matter of same-sex relationships. And now he is being made to pay.

In today’s political climate, and particularly in the discipline of sociology—dominated as it is by a progressive orthodoxy—what Regnerus did is unacceptable. It makes him a heretic, a traitor—and so he must be thrown under the bus.

Robert Putnam, a liberal sociologist at Harvard, famously (infamously, for some) found that as communities become more ethnically diverse they in fact become socially frayed. In a survey that included interviews with over thirty thousand people, Putnam found that as a community becomes more ethnically and socially varied, social trust plummets. People tend to “hunker down,” in Putnam’s words banding together with a shrunken and shrinking group of friends or alone in front of the TV. Trust in political leaders, the political process, and even voting decline precipitously. Volunteerism, from charitable giving to carpooling, deteriorates. Political activism increases as people look to government to solve problems that once might have been solved by a simple conversation across a coffee table or a shared fence between neighbors.

Note: Putnam did not find that diversity fuels racism; the vast bulk of the people interviewed for the study were not bigots. What he found was that diversity promotes alienation, disengagement, and social isolation. This all runs counter to a host of prevailing clich├ęs and pieties." Quoted from PJ Media - Ed Driscoll "Reality, What a Concept".

When the left resorts to character assassination, ostracism and demonisation  (as it invariably does) of those who publish research that does not fit with its political agenda it seeks to invalidate the said research by putting the author "beyond the pale", effectively a charge of heresy. But this is a type of argumentum ad hominem and as such a logical fallacy. For the thrust of their attack is this: A has produced this research but A is a bad character (the results of A's research prove this - note the circularity) therefore A's research should be ignored. This is a fallacy since the validity of A's research should be judged against criteria such sampling, operationalisation, falsifiability; criteria which have nothing to do with A's character or his conclusions.

The demonisation argument basically boils down to this: we don't like your conclusions therefore you must be a bad person therefore your research is invalid. Complete and utter poppy-cock.

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