2000: Support and defence
phase of the debate, two kinds of articles appeared supporting articles, and
defensive articles by the Rind team.
phase, APA had problems. A condemnation by Congress and APA appeared to be a
free advertisement. Now, people read the article. So do also APA members, who
disagree with the APA policy to take distance from its own publication. APA has
not used a chance to tell people that science (study of the facts) should
be separated from politics (thus, from morality). Science should correct
public moral instead of blindly following it. Members subscribe. Lilienfeld
wrote this opinion in an article, which promptly was refused by APA. There was
much quarrel and more members unsubscribed.
Harris, Sex, Science and Sin: The Rind Report, Sexual Politics and American
Manuscript submitted to Sexuality and Culture, Special Issue on
mentions two kinds of attacks on the meta-analysis: objections concerning
statistical subtleties, and calls for censorship, avoiding real argumentation.
“Many social scientists and psychologists disagreed with the article, but one
would have expected them to fight back with other articles rather than with a
call for censorship. In fact, the problem with the article wasn't that it was
methodologically weak, but that it was strong. It broke the rules of sexual
discovered by the meta-analyse (‘there is not always harm’), weaken the
argumentation of the existing moral code. If one will maintain that code,
one should give new arguments. Instead, the critics attacked the authors as
condoning pedophilia, a word that is not used by the authors. The authors refer
for the debate about morality to the domain of the politics. It is another kind
of debate. The authors give only the facts.
writes not about the meta-analysis, but about the debate that followed after
publication. The two kind of debates, the one about facts and the other
about morality, are not clearly separated. The debate should go about
‘the innocent child’, who appears to be not so a-sexual as one had wished.
Mirkin compares this debate with the debate after the Kinsey reports were
published. Kinsey showed the hidden sexual life of the normal people of the US.
Mirkin is heavily attacked about this article, and about a former article [*] in
which he analyses the political battle, in which conservatives tried to maintain
their positions. Laws that should ‘protect the children against the danger of
pedophilia’ are made in the same kind of political process as at the time the
laws against marriages between black slaves and white people, against
masturbation and against homosexuality. In fact, their purpose is not to protect
people, but to maintain the power of the conservatives.
Harris, The Pattern of Sexual Politics: Feminism, Homosexuality and Pedophilia,
J. Homosex. Vol. 37, No. 2 (1999)
has received hundreds of hate-mails, and there were many letters to the editor
and radio programs attacking him. The State of Missouri quickly made a law to
diminish the State’s subsidy tot his university with exactly the amount of his
salary. Nevertheless, the university found the money elsewhere and maintained
Mirkin on his job, to defend the scientific freedom to do research. Such kind of
debate is this: very sharp.
D. Oellerich, Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman: Politically Incorrect -
in: Sexuality & Culture, 4(2), 67-81 (2000)
Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman study of the impact of CSA among college
students is politically incorrect but scientifically correct. It has a number of
important implications for the research and practice communities. Among the more
important is the need to stop exaggerating the negative impact of adult/nonadult
sexual behavior, as suggested earlier by both Browne and Finkelhor, and
Seligman. Another important implication is for conducting research that does not
approach the issue of adult/nonadult sexual behavior with a political ideology
as often has been the case thus far. And finally it is time to stop the common
practices of 1) assuming that CSA causes psychological harm, and 2) routinely
recommending psychotherapeutic intervention.”
Rind, B., Bauserman, R. & Tromovitch, Ph., The
Condemned Meta-Analysis on Child Sexual Abuse; Good Science and Long-Overdue
Skepticism; In: Skeptical Inquirer July/August 20001, 68-72
would like to offer our own thoughts about this astonishing story of politics,
pressure, and social hysteria--the antitheses of critical and skeptical thought.
conducted our research in the spirit of scientific skepticism, an attitude sadly
missing in the CSA panic that arose throughout much of the 1980s and early
the 1970s, the “victimologists'' gained power and resources. The Child Abuse
Treatment and Prevention Act of 1974 provided funding to stem the problem of
physical abuse and emotional neglect. By 1976, its focus shifted largely to CSA.
Victimology flourished as a result, producing hundreds of studies supposedly
verifying CSA assumptions. But these studies consistently violated fundamental
principles of scientific methodology in order to reach the expected conclusions.
They mostly used highly unrepresentative clinical case studies, yet generalized
with little qualification to the whole population (external validity bias).”
Rind, B., Tromovitch, Ph. & Bauserman, R., Condemnation
of a scientific article: A chronology and refutation of the attacks and a
discussion of threats to the integrity of science,
in: In: Sexuality & Culture, 4-2, Spring 2000.
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.”
was the first to attack the suggestion in our discussion that certain types of
CSA should be relabeled by researchers with the value-neutral terms
"adult-child sex" or "adult-adolescent sex" (see Rind et
al., 1998, p. 46).
misrepresented what we wrote, falsely claiming that we recommended that
psychologists should stop using terms such as "sexual abuse" and
should use the phrase "level of sexual intimacy" instead of
"severity of abuse." Regarding the latter point, what we actually
wrote, in discussing the progression from exhibitionism to masturbation to
intercourse, was that "many authors referred to this increasing level of
sexual intimacy as 'severity' " (Rind et al., 1998, p. 29). This distortion
was repeated numerous times in opinion pieces around the country spreading a
false impression of irresponsibility and lack of sensitivity. NARTH also
attacked our view that science should separate itself from moral language
[Italics by me], and complained that replacing the term "abuse" with
neutral terms is "a repetition of the steps by which homosexuality was
normalized." Their logic resonated with many subsequent critics.”
also repeatedly attacked for using the construct of consent.
‘Dr. Laura’ asserted that minors are never willing in sexual contacts with
claimed in a press release for its May 1999 press conference that our study was
"based on the premise that children can actually consent to sex with an
adult." Its spokes-woman, Janet Parshall, added later that "children
cannot consent to sex and any study that does not accept this premise should be
Leadership Council's Dallam et al. wrote that our "study makes an
artificial distinction between forced and consensual adult-child sex,"
adding that our "study suggests that children have the capacity to consent
to sex with adults."
rejected the notion of consent by enclosing willing in quotation marks, and
denounced the notion that willingness moderates outcomes.
Fowler of the APA, in his letter to DeLay, wrote that "it is the position
of the Association that children cannot consent to sexual activity with
Simple vs. informed
Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary, the first definition of consent is:
"compliance or approval especially of what is done or proposed by
another." This definition can be termed "simple consent," of
which children and adolescents are both capable. […]
references to "consent" or "willingness" centered on the
first definition. From a scientific viewpoint, the issue is whether simple
consent predicts reactions or outcomes successfully. If it does, then it is
scientifically valid for use in research, irrespective of moral or ethical
should also be made clear that when Congress, the Leadership Council, the FRC,
or even the APA refer to "children" in the context of sexual relations
with adults, they are not referring simply to biological children but instead to
minors under the age of consent, which is generally from 16 to 18 in the U.S.
Thus, they are talking not only about prepubescent children, but also
adolescents. It is thus informative to review what the APA has had to say in the
past about adolescents' ability to provide informed consent in a different
context. In an October 1989 amicus curiae brief to the U .S. Supreme Court, the
APA argued, based on a review of the developmental literature, that pregnant
girls do not need parental consent to obtain abortions, because they are
capable, in an informed consent sense, to decide for themselves.”
Rind, Bruce; Bauserman, Robert & Tromovitch, Philip, Debunking the false
allegation of "statistical abuse": a reply to Spiegel; Sexuality & Culture, 4-2, Spring 2000, 101-111.
our inclusion of only college samples, Spiegel argued that we ‘rationalize this rather odd choice with data purporting to show that the
rates of abuse are similar in non-college populations. Even if this were the
case, the severity could be different, and the consequences are undoubtedly
claim, however, is false, contradicted in our article itself (see Rind et al.,
1998, pp. 29-31, 42). In our comparisons between college and national samples,
not only did we show strong similarity in prevalence rates, but also in
severity, reactions, and consequences.”
did not include PTSD because, quite simply, the primary studies did not examine
it. Furthermore, PTSD implies very severe pathology. Surely someone with PTSD
should manifest many of the specific symptoms we did examine, such as depression
also complained that we did not examine patterns of symptoms. This "syndromic"
argument is weakened by Kendall-Tackett et al.'s (1993) conclusion that the
"first and perhaps most important implication [of their review] is the
apparent lack of evidence for a conspicuous syndrome in children who have been
sexually abused" (p. 173 ). Given that the Kendall- Tackett et al. review
was based exclusively on clinical and forensic samples, it is even more unlikely
that evidence for syndromes would be found in general population samples.
Indeed, no pattern of symptoms appeared in our review”
facts were, for example, that some students reported positive or neutral CSA
experiences and reported no harm, while others reported negative experiences and
harmful effects. We provided readers with all of this information so the facts
could speak for themselves, rather than just reporting in a one-sided fashion
only the negative outcomes, as victimologists tend to do in their summaries.”
our use of the consent construct has been recklessly misinterpreted and
misrepresented by our critics. We never stated or implied anything in our
article about informed consent; our use was limited to simple consent (i.e.,
willingness), of which both children and adolescents are capable.
this use was completely scientifically justified because:
although it may be a "moral outrage" to our critics to use the simple
consent construct, it would be a scientific outrage not to. The real problem
is that a critic claiming to speak for science ignores scientific criteria in
favor of moral criteria in constructing his criticisms.”
Rind, B., Bauserman, R. & Tromovitch, Ph., Science
versus orthodoxy: Anatomy of
the congressional condemnation of a scientific article and reflections on
remedies for future ideological attacks' in:
Applied & Preventive Psychology 9:211-225 (2000).
this article, we detail the chronology behind the attacks. Then we discuss the
science behind our meta-analysis, showing that the attacks were specious and
that our study employed sound science, advancing the field considerably by close
attention to issues of external, internal, and construct validity, as well as
precision and objectivity.
discuss orthodoxies and moral panics more generally, arguing that our article
was attacked as vehemently as it was because it collided with a powerful, but
socially constructed orthodoxy that has evolved over the last quarter
children's resilience is not always welcome. When industries depend economically
or ideologically on the harmfulness of early experiences, evidence for
resilience may be more of a threat than a relief. Economic and ideological
interests have shaped current thinking on CSA over the last 25 years and have
become integral to treatment of it as a social problem. This clarifies the poor
scientific quality and essentially moral nature of the attacks against our
meta-analysis. The intensity of the attacks reflects the strength and scope of
the economic and ideological interests”