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2000: Support and defence 

In this phase of the debate, two kinds of articles appeared supporting articles, and defensive articles by the Rind team.   

In this 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 Mirkin 

Mirkin, Harris, Sex, Science and Sin: The Rind Report, Sexual Politics and American Scholarship,  Manuscript submitted to Sexuality and Culture, Special Issue on Rind-Tromovitch-Bauserman.

< http://www.ipce.org/Library/mirkin_rind_frame.htm  > 

Mirkin 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 politics.”  

The facts, 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. 

Mirkin 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.  

Recently, 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. 

[*Mirkin, Harris, The Pattern of Sexual Politics: Feminism, Homosexuality and Pedophilia, J. Homosex. Vol. 37, No. 2 (1999)

< http://www.ipce.org/Library/mirkin_frame.htm   >] 

Mirkin 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.  


Thomas D. Oellerich, Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman: Politically Incorrect - Scientifically Correct, in: Sexuality & Culture, 4(2), 67-81 (2000)
< http://www.ipce.org/Library/oellerich_rbt.htm  >

“The 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.” 

The Rind Team 

1) 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    

< http://www.imo.myweb.nl/library_two/rbt/skept.htm  >

“We would like to offer our own thoughts about this astonishing story of politics, pressure, and social hysteria--the antitheses of critical and skeptical thought.

We 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 1990s.”

“Throughout 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).”
“Our study was designed to overcome these biases.”
Our study brought rigorous and skeptical attention to an issue that has spun out of control, into what Jenkins (1998) called a ``moral panic.'' Victimologists are advocates, not scientists. There is certainly a place for advocacy, as long as it is not confused with science--and as long as public policy is informed by the best scientific information available, rather than by unvalidated beliefs, however passionately held.” 

2) 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.  

< http://www.imo.myweb.nl/library_two/rbt/condemn_frame.htm  >

“The 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.” 

“NARTH 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). 

NARTH 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.” 


We were also repeatedly attacked for using the construct of consent.

“ ‘Dr. Laura’ asserted that minors are never willing in sexual contacts with adults.

The FRC 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 dismissed."

The 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."

Congress rejected the notion of consent by enclosing willing in quotation marks, and denounced the notion that willingness moderates outcomes.

And 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 adults." 

Simple vs. informed consent

In 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. […] 
The second definition is: "capable, deliberate, and voluntary agreement to or concurrence in some act or purpose implying physical and mental power and free action." This second definition is "informed consent," which the law takes into account and which is the typical ethical and social definition. Thus, the term "consent" clearly does not always or inevitably imply informed consent.

All our 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 objections.” 

“It 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.” 

3) 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.

< http://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/rbt_spie.htm  > 

“Criticizing 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 different.’

This 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.” 

“We 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 or anxiety. 

Spiegel 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” 

“The 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. 

Moreover, this use was completely scientifically justified because: 


(a) the same construct appeared in many of the primary studies; 


(b) it had predictive validity in these studies, successfully discriminating between willing and unwanted CSA in terms of outcome; 


(c  it has been shown in other studies to have predictive validity (e.g., Coxell et al., 1999); and 


(d) it had predictive validity in our review as well. 

Therefore, 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.” 

4) 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).  

< http://www.imo.myweb.nl/library_two/rbt/science_frame.htm  >

” In 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.

Next, we 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 century.” 

“Clearly, 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”

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