Monday, March 31, 2008

Gay Anxiety

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars is touting a study recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology that finds "homophobic" men (whatever "homophobic" means) are more aroused by homoerotic imagery than "non-homophobic" men (whatever "non-homophobic" means). And by "touting" I mean that Brayton indicates that these findings are "interesting"--by which I think he means "I would really like them to be true because they comport with my scientistic assumptions about the world and so I am willing to grant them immediate provisional credibility by using the term 'interesting' rather than, say, 'patently absurd'."

That Brayton would report on a the study the way he has is particularly interesting given his constant criticism of Intelligent Design as not being science. Funny, isn't it, how those who are the most vocally skeptical about anything that purports to be science that might favor a religious view of the world are the most credulous when it comes to a purportedly scientific "study" that backs up their own presuppositions?

It is particularly ironic that instant credibility should be granted to a claim coming out of the world of psychology, the scientific status of which has been repeatedly debated over the course of its existence. Not only that, but we are talking about a profession that has a history of responding more readily to political agendas than it does to science. The professional psychological associations didn't change their view that homosexuality was a psychological problem because of any new evidence--they changed it because they were responding to political pressure. In fact, the "research" done on issues related to homosexuality is constantly being compromised by ideological conflict of interest.

"Interesting"? You can say that again.

In case you hadn't noticed, activist homosexuals take it as a personal affront that you disagree with them. Why? Heterosexuals do not take it as a personal affront if homosexuals disagree with them. So what gives? Why do homosexuals have this deep-seated need to be agreed with? And why the violent reaction when you disagree with them? It has nothing to do with anything you might want to do to them. You may very well want to mind your own business and prefer them to mind theirs (and, possibly, not want their homosexuality waved in your face every five minutes). It's not what you might do that bothers them: it's what you believe. They simply can't stand the fact that you won't accept what they do.

I come back once again to Joseph Sobran's great observation that what homosexuals want more than anything is to force everyone else to say that what they are doing is okay.

The preferred way of assuaging this anxiety is the cherished shibboleth of homosexual rights groups: that the people who don't approve of their homosexuality are really homosexuals themselves. This is a great example of what C. S. Lewis called "Bulverism": it is like saying, "You're just saying that because you're a woman." It has absolutely no bearing on the objective validity of arguments against homosexuality, but it has the psychological effect of making homosexuals feel better about themselves to think that those who disagree with them are really in-the-closet homosexuals.

Of course, it would be rather strange if the claims of this study were true, since what we would then have would be a group of people, one faction the members of which are so insecure about their sexuality that they have a deep-seated need to believe their detractors are really just like them but don't want to admit it, and another faction the members of which are so insecure about their sexuality that that they they have a deep-seated need to hide their homosexuality from the homosexuals who have a need to believe that the latter group really are homosexuals.

Now there's great topic for the Journal of Abnormal Psychology to explore!

Oh, and has anyone noticed that the very people who scream bloody murder when anyone implies that their sexual habits constitute a psychological malady are the very people who are trying to claim that their opponents are psychologically disturbed merely because they happen to disagree with the practitioners of these particular sexual habits? Isn't that, after all, the primary purpose of the term "homophobic"--an ideological bully word?

The positions of gay rights groups are nothing if not rich in irony.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

MC: "whatever "homophobic" means"

That's where studying roots of common English words rather just than Latin grammar would help. The roots here are Greek.


"homosexuals want more than anything is to force everyone else to say that what they are doing is okay."

It's better than getting beaten and left hanging on a barbed wire fence to die.

jah

PS There seem to be a lot of posts about sex here in the last few months.

Martin Cothran said...

Jah,

Maybe you could tell me how the roots of the word assist us in the contemporary political use of the word. In fact, the word was coined by George Weinberg in 1969 partly to refer to homosexuals self-loathing.

Maybe you could also tell us about all the fatalities homosexuals have suffered from being beaten and left to hang on barbed wire fences. Is it in the hundreds? Thousands?

PS Sorry about all the posts about sex. I didn't know talking about sex made you uncomfortable. I'll try to be more discreet from now on.

One Brow said...

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars is touting a study recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology that finds "homophobic" men (whatever "homophobic" means) are more aroused by homoerotic imagery than "non-homophobic" men (whatever "non-homophobic" means).

Actually, the meaning in that study was extremely clear, as the abstract said it was based upon that answers to the Index of Homophobia. You can see a copy here:

http://www.bgsu.edu/downloads/sa/file14259.pdf

You'll find the index uses emotional terms like "disturb" or "at ease", and not moral terms to make it's diagnosis. It's perfectly possible for someone with a religious objection to homosexuality to have a mostly positive or neutral score on the test. It also means that the study is looking at people with strong emotional reactions.

Back when I was a Christian, I would have scored in the 40s or 50s on the index.

... one faction the members of which are so insecure about their sexuality that they have a deep-seated need to believe their detractors are really just like them but don't want to admit it,...

This study is not about detractors per se, but those who exhibit negative emotional reactions.

Martin Cothran said...

An "Index of Homophobia"? Well, well! It must be science then. Walker Percy's "ontological lapsometer" is looking less and less preposterous all the time.

Art said...

A comment in two parts ...

Part 1. Cynical observaton

After reading Ed Brayton’s blog entry and Martin’s reply, I’d have to say that it looks like Ed’s remarks have touched a raw nerve with Martin.

Part 2. Mixed messages

It’s interesting that Martin notes: “I come back once again to Joseph Sobran's great observation that what homosexuals want more than anything is to force everyone else to say that what they are doing is okay.”

Elsewhere on this blog, Martin expresses support for Expelled. A major player in this movie in Richard Sternberg, who: ticked off some coworkers; got upset by the fact that his coworkers no longer liked, trusted, or respected him (even though, to their credit, they did not take away any access or opportunities that any sponsor-less associate of the Smithsonian might have); and cried to his politically well-connected friends, such that the Federal government was asked to force his coworkers to like him.

Talk about mixed messages. On the one hand, Martin doesn’t want anyone to tell him he has to like homosexuals. OTOH, he is totally on board with the government forcing others to like people he lies in bed with (in a metaphorical manner, of course). Sort of a “do as I say, not as I do” lesson. Completely in line with conservative Christian SOP.

(Hmm... “do as I say, not as I do ...” - might this be part of the reason Martin is so touchy about Ed’s blog entry?)

One Brow said...

An "Index of Homophobia"? Well, well! It must be science then.

All these attempts to measure humans have their faults. It's rather ironic that your are dismissive of the Index so quickly, yet supportive of standardized testing over CATS.

However, given that the researchers were trying to look at people who have a negative emotional reaction to homosexuals (surely you'd agree that is one group, maybe even the only group, to which "homophobe" can be legitimately applied) and needed a way to assess that emotional reaction, do you have a better measurement in mind?

Anonymous said...

Martin, you really do seem to cover this topic often. Can you give me some fashion tips?

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

To my knowledge the standardized tests that would replace CATS are not measuring emotions, so I'm not sure that a comparison with the "Homophobia Index" is a valid one. Maybe you could elaborate.

And I'm still not sure what a "negative emotional reaction" to homosexuality consists of. Is it revulsion at the practices associated with it? If so, it seems to me a completely normal reaction--and I say that with the knowledge that its advocates reject the very notion of the normal, but that's not my problem.

Does it mean a hatred of homosexuals? If so, that's not an emotional issue, but a moral one.

In any case, I'm still waiting for someone to rationally justify the assumption that disagreement with homosexuality is a psychological problem.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

A response in two parts...

Part 1. Cynical response

Yes, I am still recovering my composure from reading Ed's post. It really shook me. It must be ... Edophobia. "Edophobia" is technically defined as a fear of anyone named "Ed." Given the emotions I experienced reading Ed's post, I would say I am about an 8 out of 10 on the "Index of Edophobia." You keenly detected it merely by reading one blog post. And you received your degree in psychology from where?

The great thing about Edophobia is that, like some other phobias we know that we can attribute to people who disagree with us, diagnosing someone with it saves us the trouble of actually engaging in a rational evaluation of their position.

Part 2. Unmixing messages

But you did actually offer an argument in your comment. Why do this when you could merely psychoanalyze my argument away? And it was actually a pretty creative point too. My hat's off to you.

Of course, I have no concern with whether people like people like Sternberg or not. In fact, I don't even think it should be illegal to take away someone's building key, remove his access to specimens, trash him in e-mail correspondence, and investigate his religious and political background just because he published an ID article through the very peer review process that anti-IDers are always challenging proponents of ID to do.

Being surly, rude, and intimidating because someone questioned the Approved Opinions to the extent that even The Panda's Thumb had initially to give a half-hearted and somewhat wimpy defense of it is certainly not on par with, say, firing someone. But it is rather remarkable in a discipline that says it values open inquiry--and is always challenging ID proponents to do precisely what Sternberg facilitated.

What I don't understand is what is wrong with pointing it out and why people get so upset when you do

Must be Sternbergophobia.

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

Yes, I do cover this topic often. Why I must have a post on it every ... month. Must be an obsession. If you think that's obsessive, you ought to open your local newspaper every now and then.

And I do have a fashion tip for you: Don't wear a t-shirt that says "Heterosexual and Proud of It" near any institution of higher learning where diversity is championed.

Motheral said...

Funny, isn't it, how those who are the most vocally skeptical about anything that purports to be science that might favor a religious view of the world are the most credulous when it comes to a purportedly scientific "study" that backs up their own presuppositions?

You are just plain misrepresenting Ed's post. He described the study and its results, labelled it "Very interesting indeed," and asked for more information. Since then, more than one person has expressed skepticism about the study without getting shouted down or booted off. There's nothing "credulous" about Ed's post or the responses, and you know it.

Do you really think you can lie to us about something we can all verify for ourselves with just one click of the mouse? Next you'll betelling us you got sniper fire from angry gays who wanted you to like them.

One Brow said...

And I'm still not sure what a "negative emotional reaction" to homosexuality consists of. Is it revulsion at the practices associated with it?

That's at least part of what the Index seems to be looking for. Did you read it? Would you disagree that is seems to be br trying to measure that effect?

If so, it seems to me a completely normal reaction--and I say that with the knowledge that its advocates reject the very notion of the normal, but that's not my problem.

I agree it is a normal reaction for a subset of the population. It's also completely normal not to feel revulsion. I am not aware of any principle that would invalidate the scientific investigation of a normal reaction.

Does it mean a hatred of homosexuals? If so, that's not an emotional issue, but a moral one.

Hate is not an emotional issue? Would you say the same for love (the usual antonym)? Love is not an emotional reaction, but a moral one?

I can certainly discuss in those terms. They are measuring the correlation between acceptance/revulsion to homosexuality among heterosexual and the response of these individual to homoerotic stimuli.

In any case, I'm still waiting for someone to rationally justify the assumption that disagreement with homosexuality is a psychological problem.

I don't recall seeing that presumption in Ed's post nor the abstract to which it referred. It seems to be a red herring in this discussion.

One Brow said...

In fact, I don't even think it should be illegal to take away someone's building key, remove his access to specimens, trash him in e-mail correspondence, and investigate his religious and political background just because he published an ID article through the very peer review process that anti-IDers are always challenging proponents of ID to do.

Of course, that paragraph does not describe the Sternberg's actions in the controversy anyhow, as far as anyone can tell.

One Brow said...

To my knowledge the standardized tests that would replace CATS are not measuring emotions, so I'm not sure that a comparison with the "Homophobia Index" is a valid one. Maybe you could elaborate.

In fact, you can't really say the standardized tests are measuring anything at all, and certainly not better than CATS, except the ability to do well on standardized tests. Giving an objectively-obtained score to an entity of marginal worth is a small improvement of a less-objectively obtained score.

Maybe, somewhere deep in your archives, you have posts on how the scorse of CATS show less of a correlation to college GPA, income, or some other measure than a standardized test. That would be a valid point against CATS, since at least one objective would be to help colleges evaluate students (unless I have misunderstood them). Your complaints on subjectivity don't mean much at all.

Anonymous said...

MC:"Maybe you could also tell us about all the fatalities homosexuals have suffered from being beaten and left to hang on barbed wire fences. Is it in the hundreds? Thousands?"

A better question would be, what number do you find acceptable? Please compare the odds, in the US, of a homosexual being physically assaulted or killed just for being a homosexual with the odds of a heterosexual being physically assaulted or killed just for being a heterosexual. How many Latin students would have to be treated similarly just because they were Latin students before you tried to convince people that it is okay to be a Latin student? [See this link for one area of violence against homosexuals: http://www.latimes.com/news/local
/la-me-hate16mar16,1,703560.story may need free registration.]



MC:"PS Sorry about all the posts about sex. I didn't know talking about sex made you uncomfortable. I'll try to be more discreet from now on."

Sexcellent! [Though actually I meant posts about gay sex.] Maybe now you can explain to me why Latin is the best course of study even though AP students do better on cumulative SAT scores?


jah