Dispatches from the Creation Wars

CNN reports:

A nearly 25-year study concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers.

The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, followed 78 lesbian couples who conceived through sperm donations and assessed their children’s well-being through a series of questionnaires and interviews.

And the predictably substance-free rejection from the anti-gay crowd:

Wendy Wright, president of the Concerned Women for America, a group that supports biblical values, questioned the legitimacy of the findings from a study funded by gay advocacy groups.

“That proves the prejudice and bias of the study,” she said. “This study was clearly designed to come out with one outcome — to attempt to sway people that children are not detrimentally affected in a homosexual household.”

Actually, this statement only proves your bias Wendy. This is a perfect example of confirmation bias. She doesn’t make any substantive argument at all for why the study might be flawed, she merely presumes it to be flawed because it reaches a different conclusion from the one she prefers. A classic instance of a cognitive shortcut, skipping right over all that pesky logic and thinking to get right to the conclusion.

Let’s recognize something: She might be right. The study might, in fact, be biased in any number of ways. A good deal of research demonstrates that scientific studies that are funded by an organization with a stake in the outcome are far more likely to reach conclusions consistent with what those funders want the study to conclude. The ways in which such a study could be biased are many, and often subtle (and since I haven’t read the original study, I’m in no position to evaluate a substantive argument to that end).

But to argue that it’s biased merely because it reaches a conclusion you don’t like is quite irrational. Read the study. Examine its methodology. Ask hard questions about how the protocols may have encouraged or insulated the results from conforming to pre-determined outcomes. That is not only fair, it’s a necessity in scientific research. But if you reject it merely because the results don’t agree with your pre-determined conclusions, you are merely projecting your bias on to other.