, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 1-62

CONDEMNATION OF A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE: A CHRONOLOGY AND REFUTATION OF THE ATTACKS AND A DISCUSSION OF THREATS TO THE INTEGRITY OF SCIENCE

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Abstract

On July 12, 1999, our meta-analysis on child sexual abuse published in Psychological Bulletin, one of the American Psychological Association's (APA) premiere journals, was condemned by the U.S. Congress (H. Con. Res. 107). The condemnation followed months of attacks on the article, the APA, and us by various social conservatives and psychoanalytically-oriented clinicians. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) was asked by the APA to independently review our article. After considering criticisms of it and the article itself, AAAS declined, but commented that it was the criticisms, not our methods or analyses, that troubled them because these criticisms misrepresented what we wrote. The current article chronicles this whole affair. First, we provide background, explaining why an article such as ours was needed. Then we accurately summarize the article, given that it has been so widely misrepresented. Next we present a chronology of the events leading up to and following the condemnation. We then present and refute all the major criticisms of the article, which have included both methodological and conceptual attacks. Next we discuss the threat to science that these events portend. We conclude by discussing the need to separate moral judgments from scientific research, the conflation of which formed the basis for the distortions and condemnation.