Crank Science Alert

Box Turtle Bulletin has been tracking the latest ex-gay study that purports to show a 30-50% efficacy in making homosexuals into heterosexuals through the Exodus ex-gay ministry.

Initial problems with the study which went to a Christian publisher rather than peer review – the authors Stanton L. Jones and Mark Yarhouse (of Regent University have an interesting history in this field:

Jones and Yarhouse have collaborated at least three times before. They wrote “The Use, Misuse and Abuse of Science in the Ecclesiastical Homosexuality Debates,” which appeared in the 2000 anthology Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture (edited by David L Balch and published by Eerdmans). That chapter was based largely on an earlier article they wrote for the Christian Scholar’s Review in 1997 titled “Science and the Ecclesiastical Homosexuality Debates.” They also contributed a chapter titled “The Homosexual Client” in the 1997 anthology Christian Counseling Ethics (edited by R.K. Sanders and published by InterVarsity).

Already some red flags indicating this study might have some biases. What about some of the results?

Well, it’s published as a book, so most of what we’ve learned so far has been second hand, but unimpressive.

It appears that the study was over four years and included 98 people who were referred by various Exodus ministries.

  • 33 people reported change in the desired manner (from gay at time 1 in the heterosexual direction at time 3)
  • 29 reported no change
  • 8 reported change in the undesired direction
  • 3 were unsure how to describe their experience of change

and 25 people discontinued participation in the study during that time. The study also reports:

  • Success: Conversion – There were subjects who reported that they felt their change to be successful and reported substantial reduction in homosexual desire and addition of heterosexual attraction and functioning at Time 3. 15% met these criteria.
  • Success: Chastity – These people experienced satisfactory reductions in homosexual desire and were living chaste lives. 23% were in this category.
  • Continuing – These persons experienced only modest change in the desired direction but expressed commitment to continue. 29% were in this category.
  • No-response – These people experienced no change and were conflicted about the future even though they had not given up. 15% were here.
  • Failure (from their perspective): Confused – No change reported and had given up but did not label themselves gay. 4% were in this group
  • Failure: Gay identity – No change, no pursuit and had come as gay. 8% were in this category.

Assuming that these are percentages of the 73 participants who made it to the fourth year, this would break out as follows:

  • Success: Conversion – 11
  • Success: Chastity – 17
  • Continuing – 21
  • No-response – 11
  • Failure: Confused – 3
  • Failure: Gay identity – 6

With four people left unaccounted for.

Of those criteria it sounds like only about 11% actually experienced some kind of change in their sexuality. Whether or not they’re just creating new Larry Craig’s would take further study, but maybe there’s another hint?

Christianity Today provides further clarification on those eleven successes.

Most of the individuals who reported that they were heterosexual at Time 3 did not report themselves to be without experience of homosexual arousal, and did not report heterosexual orientation to be unequivocal and uncomplicated. … We believe the individuals who presented themselves as heterosexual success stories at Time 3 are heterosexual in some meaningful but complicated sense of the term.

Wow, even the 11% that were somehow converted don’t sound very heterosexual. It sounds like at best, this study shows they can create deep-seated confusion in about 11% of individuals, chastity or ambivalence in another 30%, and total failure in the overwhelming majority.

Rather than continuing to devote time to this idiocy, I think it’s about time these so-called researchers should accept that homosexuality is natural, it’s part of the continuum of human sexual behaviors, and at best all you can do is create confusion by trying to force people to behave contrary to their nature.

And how long before some fake family “values” organization decides this is an overwhelming victory? Proof that homosexuality is a choice?

Excellent job from Box Turtle Bulletin in keeping tabs on this crank science.