Thursday, October 20, 2005

I Guess It's Ok to Lie

I just got done watching the Dr. Phil show on gay families (I had it on DVR). Actually, saying the show was about gay families is a bit too generous. It was basically a sideshow without much content. Oh well, What are you going to expect from Dr. Phil?

Anyway, on the show, an ex-gay Priest referred to the infamous Robert Spitzer study as proof that gays could change. Fair enough, I guess, but when Dr. Phil pointed out that the study had been widely criticized, the Priest's only response was that it was being criticized by gay activists. Obviously the point was to discredit the criticism, and given the reaction of the audience for most of the show, I think he accomplished his goal.

The only problem is that the Spitzer study has been panned by nearly everyone that looks at it, not just gay activists. Anyone with a basic idea of study methodology can see the obvious flaws. Even worse, Spitzer himself specifically said that his study did not prove that all gays could change (the Priest claimed that all gays can) and even postulated that very very few gay people actually could change their sexual orientation (a point conveniently left out by the Priest).

All I can say is that I finished the show with the worst taste in my mouth. I mean, I just saw a Priest lie at worst and be dishonest at best on national television, all to demean gay people. I guess lying is better than being gay in his book.

So, that's the problem. If a priest is going to go on tv and lie about this kind of stuff, and anti-gay spokespeople will go on tv, talk-shows, and basically anywhere they can and spew their false statistics and stereotypes, how do we get heard?

The inclination is for people to believe the stereotypes, not question the "facts" and statistics that are heard, no matter how false or how contrived. And, when Priests like the one on Dr. Phil can get away with hiding the truth, it's hard to see the end.

15 Comments:

At 21/10/05 6:54 AM, Blogger DL Foster said...

If David Foster lied and the Spitzer study was "panned by just about everyone who looks it, not just gay activists", can you list at least 3 nongay individuals who did so?

 
At 21/10/05 7:50 AM, Blogger Brady said...

Honestly, DL, I can't name 3 gay individuals who panned the study, but I know for a fact that it has been universally criticized. I'll look around for you.

As long as you are here, though. Do you think it is completely honest to say all gays can change, and then quote a study where the author specifically stated that his study was never meant to show that ALL gays can change and then went on to say that he thought only a small percentage actually could? It sound fairly deceptive to me.

 
At 21/10/05 8:27 AM, Blogger Brady said...

DL-

Here is an article detailing a statement by the Medical Director of the APA, on behalf of the APA, distancing the organization from Spitzer's conclusion.
http://www4.gayhealth.com/templates/1129907435496917237992/common/feature.html?record=552&trycookie=1

Here is a statement by Spitzer himself urging people not to use his study the way that the Priest used it. The article also lists criticisms by the then APA President-Elect, Paul Appelbaum:
http://www4.gayhealth.com/templates/1129907435496917237992/common/feature.html?record=552&trycookie=1

 
At 21/10/05 8:34 AM, Blogger DL Foster said...

Brady, I think it is biblically truthful to say that all gays can change. Jesus stated that "with God all things are possible." All means all, including sexuality. David didn't say, and neither do any --that Im aware of--say that all gays will change. There is a huge difference in those two statements. The former acknowledges human will and choice. The latter is a dogmatic interjection which posits an unrealistic ideology. If someone in the exgay movement is stating the latter, then I am complete in disagreement. Secondly, I am one who believes that change is a problematic word in relation to homosexuality. I use it but Im uncomfortable, not because it isn't possible, but we who claim it, have not adequately defined it. I don't make any scientific or psychological claims because the fundamental basis for my assertions are religious. I am not firmly in the "exgay movement" per se because there are several schools of thought on change and there is no proven equation that all can use to judge such claims by. That's why I stick solely to the Bible, though I do understand some individuals who may be non religious seeking "reparative therapy" to resolve issues of sexuality.

 
At 21/10/05 8:42 AM, Blogger DL Foster said...

btw, I read your "what is change anyway?" post and Im in 95% agreement with it. -DL

 
At 21/10/05 9:01 AM, Blogger Brady said...

DL- I'm fine with your analysis of "everyone can change" biblically speaking. Whether it will happen, I agree, remains to be seen.

But what David Foster did is blend the two schools. He said in one sentence that he believes all gays can change (and unlike you, he did not cite this belief to be exclusively religious) and then he cited Spitzer as proof. The casual observer now sees his citation of Spitzer of scientific evidence that all gays can change, and Foster did not do anything to distance from the conclusion he had to know people not familiar with the ex-gay issue would make.

And really, the Spitzer study is flawed and was never meant to scientifically show all gays can change, which is the point Dr. Phil was trying to make before Foster claimed that only gay activists criticized the study. If he was being 100% truthful, he should have taken that time to say that the Spitzer study was not meant to show that all gays can change, but that it does show that SOME gays can change, and then admit that the study did indeed have some flaws (this would not have been conceding his case, most studies have some flaws).

I'm upset that he withheld the truth, basically.

I am ok, though, with your comments that "everyone can change" from a biblical perspective (although I do disagree that it "will" happen for everyone, even those that give their all to it) and I respect your honesty with regards to mixing religion/science and your appreciation of the problem with the definition of the word change.

 
At 21/10/05 9:58 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

That makes me want to cry.

I actually think that the priest believes his every word. He's told himself the lies and taught them so much, he believes them. It makes me want to cry, not just for us but for the priest. I pity them. I do. I feel bad that they have caused themselves and others so much suffering. It's a pity and I try not to get too worked up over it, but it hurts. It's hard not to take such things personally. Not to want to cry in bed because you feel the world hates you because of who you are. That the world would persecute you and your partner just because of being different. It's not fair.

And I don't think gays can change, well they can but they would be lying.

To quote but i'm a cheerleader, "You can either live a lie and hide yourself or be yourself"

I don't think God wants us to change our sexuality at all.

 
At 21/10/05 10:10 AM, Blogger DL Foster said...

But what David Foster did is blend the two schools. He said in one sentence that he believes all gays can change (and unlike you, he did not cite this belief to be exclusively religious) and then he cited Spitzer as proof.

Conceded.

I think David Foster's blending of the two is what I cited as problematic about change and homosexuality. Perhaps he was not aware that he was blending this. I dont agree with his doing it. I do know David Foster, but on the human side the man was on a talk show and people say things that perhaps under other circumstances would not have said it. I think his remarks were more "reactionary" to Dr. Phil rather than some intentional attempt to lie and mislead. The gay man who "debated" him didnt seem to have a strong argument either. I believed that he had "tried" and failed. I dont blame him, was on that road myself at one point. But he didnt prove to the audience that he was right either. I think the audience was up for grabs and the one that made the strongest point to them got the cookie.

 
At 21/10/05 11:47 AM, Anonymous Bruce Garrett said...

If David Foster lied and the Spitzer study was "panned by just about everyone who looks it, not just gay activists", can you list at least 3 nongay individuals who did so?

Rhetoric. I can name you three of my straight friends, but I have a hunch that's not the kind of nongay individual you have in mind. Question, how many actual scientists without ties to the anti-gay right can you Name who thought the Spitzer study was good science when it was first released?

See...that's a good one DL. Not that many people can actually Name the scientists involved in this work, and I've seen many who try get it wrong. Question, how many people could have said who Spitzer himself was before the religious right started waving his study around like a bloody flag? Did you know it?

 
At 21/10/05 11:50 AM, Anonymous Bruce Garrett said...

Brady, I think it is biblically truthful to say that all gays can change. Jesus stated that "with God all things are possible."

In other words, it's true that the theology says it's true. Swell. But that's not what's at issue here. From a dogma point of view, it was True once upon a time that the earth was the center of the universe. Except it wasn't.

 
At 21/10/05 12:20 PM, Anonymous Bruce Garrett said...

I do know David Foster, but on the human side the man was on a talk show and people say things that perhaps under other circumstances would not have said it. I think his remarks were more "reactionary" to Dr. Phil rather than some intentional attempt to lie and mislead.

He was more concerned about winning the argument, then being right.

How is that proper behavior for a man of God? How does that set an example for others? How does that lead people away from what is false, and toward what is true?

 
At 21/10/05 12:41 PM, Blogger Brady said...

DL,

I agree that the Dr. Phil show was a poor place to have this "debate," especially given the very short about of time allotted. However, I have to agree with Bruce that I felt that David Foster was more concerned with "winning" the argument than just throwing out a reaction. Of course, I could be wrong, but either way, I think it isn't the right way to go about this.

From a normal audience member, if I see a priest and a gay guy debating, and then the priest throws out that gays can change and cites a study, he is going to win the argument. I think David should have known better than to use Spitzer ever, unless he is going to acknowledge what the study does and does not try to illustrate.

Anyway, thanks for commenting, I appreciate the discussion and your open, kind participation.

 
At 21/10/05 8:39 PM, Blogger BC WaterBoy said...

I come from the polar opposite of the religious point of view. I do not believe that sexuality is relgiously based at all; it is a complex physiological response that begins with attraction both physical and emotional, and an act that joins two persons in a bond whether that be homosexual or heterosexual. I do not believe that sexuality is psychologically based or learned behaviours, it is much more complex than that and not completely understood. Whether one is homosexual or heterosexual, is determined before, during or after birth and/or very early in life. My account is not unlike most gays when asked when they knew or why they felt a certain way, the answer is that we always have from the time a rational thought is pieced together. DL, I must say you have been one of the most respectful posters from a religious point of view I have ever seen when it comes to the discussion of your fellow human beings, thankyou for that. I am so accustomed to hearing only evil condemnation, it's a breath of fresh air to see some humanity.

 
At 21/10/05 8:54 PM, Blogger DL Foster said...

bc, thanks to you. I will agree where I can. Be forewarned, I can and have let the hammer drop at times. But dont we all?

 
At 22/10/05 6:17 AM, Blogger BC WaterBoy said...

DL, be forewarned that my hammer will drop just as hard :)

 

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