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Scientists fume after Focus on the Family chief Dobson 'misrepresents' work on gays

Published: Friday December 15, 2006
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Both scientists cited by conservative pundit James Dobson in a recent Time magazine column are publicly rejecting his use of their research--and are demanding that he cease to use their findings, RAW STORY has learned.

New York University educational psychologist Carol Gilligan, PhD, earlier this week blasted Focus on the Family leader, James C. Dobson, for "twisting" and "distorting" her research in a column published in Time Magazine.

In it, the self-described social conservative wrote:

According to educational psychologist Carol Gilligan, mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty. Moms give a child a sense of hopefulness; dads provide a sense of right and wrong and its consequences. Other researchers have determined that boys are not born with an understanding of "maleness." They have to learn it, ideally from their fathers.

But Gilligan claimed that Dobson distorted her findings, and says that she disagrees with his theory that same-sex couples are unsuitable parents. In a pointed letter to Dobson and released to the press, Gilligan demanded that he apologize and "cease and desist" from quoting her work in the future.

"I was mortified," Gilligan wrote, "to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine."

"My work in no way suggests same-gender families are harmful to children or can't raise these children to be as healthy and well adjusted as those brought up in traditional households," Gilligan asserts.

"I trust," her letter concluded, "that this will be the last time my work is cited by Focus on the Family."

Dr. Kyle Pruett of the Yale school of medicine was equally shocked to discover Dobson's use of his work in the column.

"You cherry-picked a phrase to shore up highly (in my view) discriminatory purposes," he wrote in a similar letter to Dobson. "This practice is condemned in real science, common though it may be in pseudo-science circles. There is nothing in my longitudinal research or any of my writings to support such conclusions."

In fact, Pruett's work suggests the opposite of Dobson's assertions. "On page 134 of the book you cite in your piece," he points out, "I wrote, 'What we do know is that there is no reason for concern about the development or psychological competence of children living with gay fathers. It is love that binds relationships, not sex.'"

The researches had been unaware of the Time column, until they were contacted by activist Wayne Besen, who claims that Focus "habitually lies and shamelessly mangles research to support its anti-gay agenda."

"[Gilligan] had not heard of the article," Besen explained to RAW STORY. "I directed her to it, and she was livid."

"James Dobson should start to wonder," the activist stated in a release, "if there is something inherently wrong with his stance on gay issues if the only way he can support his positions is outright lying."