Docsplainin' -- it's what I do

Docsplainin'--it's what I do.
After all, I'm a doc, aren't I?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Godbagism and Gays

"Anonymous," commenting on my previous post, referred Rules readers to a book on results obtained by the Exodus program in converting gays. I would like to thank "Anonymous" for that link, as I was not aware of the book. Following that link--and Googling some people and institutions referred to there--led me to a whole bunch more stuff of which I was not aware. However, I did not discuss religious conversion in that post, and I'm not going to discuss it here, because the topic, as I am sure attentive readers noticed, is the ethics (or lack thereof) of professionals attempting treatment of a core aspect of identity (not a disorder). That's number one.

Number two, I am a psychologist, not an imam, monk, priest or rabbi. As such I am neither interested in nor qualified to speak to issues of sin and redemption. And I certainly make no pretense at knowing what God does or doesn't want, or at having any authoritative knowledge of who or what "God" is. I've never even met Him/Her/It/Them. I have my spiritual beliefs, but that is all they are--beliefs. Not sure knowledge. Beliefs. That's why we call the religions of the world "faiths" and not "epistemologies".

Number three, psychology, albeit with mixed success, historically has sought to explicate the universals of human nature. We seek to help people of all faiths or none to lead happier, healthier, more productive lives, and we seek to do so on a foundation of objective science (insofar as science can be objective). And thus far, science tells us that neither gender identity nor sexual object preference, per se, have any bearing on these goals. (This data would make a whole book, never mind one post, but for starters, see the groundbreaking work of Evelyn Hooker.)

The book "Anonymous" links to was written by a Christian psychologist, a professor at a Christian university, using graduates of a Christian conversion program, published by an evangelical publishing house, and it clearly proceeds from that bias, thus violating every rule of relevance enumerated in the preceeding three paragraphs. I mention it here only because I know a certain proportion of Rules readers are going to follow that link, as I did, and will find that the book purports to be science.
"Homosexual behavior is clearly condemned in the Holy Scriptures, but God always provides a way of escape from the sin that entangles us. I am thrilled there is finally scientific research which compliments the tremendous freedom that I have experienced personally and that I have witnessed in others during my 20 years with Love In Action International. I hope this study will open the door for more unbiased research of this caliber."
Thus spaketh the Rev. John J. "Finding Freedom in Jesus Christ" Smid, President/CEO, Love in Action International, Inc. (an ex-gay group) in response to the book. In case you had any doubt, this makes clear that the book is for people whose bag is one particular version of God, not for those whose bag is objective Science, or for that matter, any other faith. It is religion, not science because it is about sin and redemption in the narrow context of one minority faith.

It is not science also because it is not the norm for scientists to first publish studies in book form, but to use peer-reviewed professional journals to disseminate new scientific knowledge to the scientific community. When one does publish one's work in a book, it is usually in the form of a roundup of not only one's own previously-published peer-reviewed articles, but those of other experts in the field as well. These studies are integrated into a well-rounded summation of the state of knowledge at the time on your topic.

So what we have here is a book on religious conversion, not on psychological or psychiatric treatment, counseling, or clinical social work. What we have here is "data" which has not been peer-reviewed and which may or may not apply to LGBT persons who are Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, or Buddhist, Jain, Baha'i, Shinto, Zoroastrian, Pagan, Sikh, Rastafarian, or Hindu. It will only appeal to people whose bag is this one particular (protestant evangelical) brand of faith.

If that suits you, if you're an evangelical Christian who believes that being gay is a sin, then by all means go buy the book and read it. Just don't be mistaking it for science.


Anonymous said...

The fallacy of your argument is that religion and science are at opposition to one another. If you were a careful and critical student of this matter you would have heard much of Evelyn Hooker. Enough to know that the pseduscience of Rorschach blots is hardly externally valid. I would counter with Elizibeth Moberly.

You most certainly cannot be blind to the fact that dogmatic adherence to the "virtues" of scientific truth are nothing more than a substitute set of arbitrary value judgements that one might impose upon another. The ethics of which should also be considered highly suspect.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right Ginny! Throw out the christians! They have no place in psychology and counseling! I hope there are more opportunities to rake religious students over the coals! Muhuhaahaahaa! Non Servium indeed! Let's boot them like Julea Ward at Eastern Michigan University!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what ignorant comments.

I suggest they learn something about what science, as a method, actually is. It is using the minimum possible assumptions, assumptions which you are forced to use just to get up in the morning, and questioning everything as hard as possible, and relying on evidence to tell you that you're wrong.

It bears no relation to religious "truth", and its judgements are far from arbitrary.

Of course there's plenty of pseudoscience, but you too can use scientific methods to identify it yourself!