Last week, I wrote about Warren "Dr. Blog" Throckmorton an unlicensed psychologist from a small Christian school in Pennsylvania. He has written no books, produced no noteworthy studies and his main claim to fame is his online diary, where he kvetches about real researchers who have actually stepped foot in the lab.
On August 17, at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting in San Francisco, Dr. Blog unveiled his new creation, "Sexual Identity Therapy." In this bizarre paradigm, sexual attractions no longer matter. According to SIT, a man could lust after shirtless dudes in hot pants and have no attraction to women, but could still identify as "straight." We used to call this denial, but a few acquisitive quacks have figured out there is money to be made off conflicted clients by reassuring them that denial is healthy, if it keeps them holy.
The theory behind SIT is that sexuality is a "construct" that can be altered and aligned with religious beliefs. Of course, there is no evidence to support this view, while there are countless examples that such repression can be harmful. In Throckmorton's presentation he called this surreal process "synthesized sexual identity." Yeah, this sounds about as natural as plastic or polyester, doesn't it?
As irrational and incoherent as Throckmorton's theories are, he has joined a coalition of right wing activist organizations to try to force the APA into endorsing such quackery. It is doubtful that they will get their way, but the real goal is to bash the APA, hoping to diminish the group's authority.
In yet another effort to push this insidious political agenda, Ex-Gay Watch reported that later this year ex-gay organizations would unveil a new study by Dr. Stanton Jones, Provost of Wheaton College. According to Ex-Gay Watch, the report, known by anti-gay activists as "The Thomas Project," is a 5-year study of Exodus Ministries and likely consists of questions asked once a year by telephone. There are also unconfirmed reports that the study has a sample of as few as 100 to 150 participants. This is surprising considering Exodus claims to represent "hundreds of thousands" of ex-gays.
Adding to the study's disreputability are Dr. Jones' ultra-conservative colleagues. He has worked with Dr. Mark Yarhouse, a professor at Pat Robertson University, also known as "Regent," and is the co-author of the SIT therapy guidelines with Throckmorton. Is it just me, or does it seem like there is a political agenda here?
The truth is, any new studies that do not include physical components that measure the veracity of ex-gay testimonials are obsolete, invalid and essentially useless. This is true of both the pro-gay and anti-gay sides of the issue. The new mantra must be: "if you can't measure it, the results are meaningless." Let's leave the heartfelt and tear inducing testimonials for Oprah and Sally. I want statistics, not sappy sentiment with my science.
These days, there is absolutely no excuse not to use physical measures in such studies. There are three modern tests that can help confirm the validity of fanciful ex-gay fairytales.
The first one analyzes "microexpressions," where experts can see involuntary facial movements and judge whether a person is lying. In such a test, so-called ex-gay subjects would have their fables filmed. The medical experts would slow down the tapes and decide if the subjects were telling the truth. One researcher, Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D., claims the method is so successful that he can predict with 90% percent accuracy which newlywed couples will remain married.
The second method is the penile plethysmograph, a devise that measures sexual stimulation. A University of Georgia psychologist used this contraption in 1996 to show that men who were the most homophobic demonstrated significant sexual arousal to male erotic stimuli.
The third test is the "No Lie MRI", which according to a recent article in The New Yorker magazine:
The "No Lie MRI" makes a series of scans that show changes in the flow of oxygenated blood preceding neural events. The brain needs oxygen to perform mental tasks so a rise in the level of oxygenated blood in one part of the brain can indicate cognitive activity there. Brain scan lie detection is predicated on the idea that lying requires more cognitive effort, and therefore more oxygenated blood than truth telling.
"Once you jump behind the skull, there is no hiding," Joel Huizenga, founder of the company 'No Lie MRI' told The New Yorker.
It seems that ex-gays would rather mislead and practice skullduggery than get behind the skull. But if Jesus can help one go straight, certainly he can help one pass the No Lie MRI. Isn't it time for ex-gays to shut me up once and for all by putting their tales to the test?