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Politicized Science

Abstract

Publication of the study, How Different are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study (Regnerus, 2012), caused a firestorm in the scientific community. Unlike previous studies, it found differences between the children raised by parents who had experienced a same-sex relationship as compared to those raised by heterosexual parents. Most would acknowledge that policy-relevant social science is seldom value free and frequently gets politicized, but the Regnerus controversy illustrates that it is value dependent, with scientist deeply embedded in its politicization. The kind if science that gets conducted, how findings are interpreted and received, and the degree of critical scrutiny such studies receive is dependent upon scientists’ sociopolitical views. Making every effort to apply the same standards when scrutinizing studies that provide politically palatable results as those that do not, and promoting rather than discouraging ideological diversity among researchers and their funders, are the best way to ensure value-pluralism and the integrity of science in the oft-politicized field of social science.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    To the extent some studies have found negative outcomes among the children of lesbigay parents, as did the Regnerus study, these may be due to the greater family instability experienced by these children rather than any negative effect per se of being raised by lesbigay parents (see Potter 2012). Of course, however, if gay marriage becomes widely legal and common among lesbigay couples, this may have a stabilizing effect on lesbigay families (Redding 2008).

  2. 2.

    Indeed, a recent national survey by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School found that although “[a] majority of Americans say that their position on gay and lesbian adoption is centered on the welfare of children… few say they would change their minds if shown convincing contrary evidence” to what they believe to be true on how lesbigay parenting affects children (Cultural Cognition Project 2012, p. 16). This is likely because opposition to gay marriage and parenting is really animated by a deeper concern—the sense that homosexuality is disgusting and immoral. Thus, regardless of what the research may otherwise show about the effects of lesbigay parenting on children, many people will conclude that it is better for children to be raised in heterosexual households because they do not want children exposed to the lesbigay “lifestyle”, nor do they want to increase the “risk” that children will develop a homosexual orientation if they are raised by lesbigay parents (Redding 2008).

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Correspondence to Richard E. Redding.

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Redding, R.E. Politicized Science. Soc 50, 439–446 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-013-9686-5

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Keywords

  • Gay parenting
  • Scientific groupthink
  • Bias
  • Politics and Science
  • Politically
  • Correct science