It was just too good to be true. Back in December, a graduate student from the University of California Los Angeles, Michael LaCour, and a tenured professor at Columbia University (on the other side of the country), Donald Green, published a study in the journal Science. The premise and supposed results of the study were that people with deep seated “views” and convictions about gay marriage – particularly those AGAINST gay marriage – change their minds after interacting with homosexuals.
Wanting to build on this study that supposedly proved the claim that Americans against gay marriage were just unenlightened and needed simply to spend time with gay people in order to have their minds changed, a couple other graduate student researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, tried to replicate LaCour’s study. After not getting anywhere close to the same response rate, the replicators enlisted help and looked more closely at the published data and discovered abnormalities.
David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, the Berkeley grad students, … decided to devote their own resources to pushing the research further. Broockman and Kalla prepared the online surveys, taking the initial steps towards a pilot study on May 6th. Nine days later, they noticed that their response rates were much lower than LaCour and Green’s. Hoping to match the earlier study’s rates, they looked for more information. They enlisted Peter Aronow, a professor at Yale, and the three began to examine the nuances of the data set. When they began to encounter a number of statistical quirks, Green contacted LaCour’s dissertation adviser, Lynn Vavreck. On Monday (May18), Vavreck met with LaCour to demand the raw survey data. After some delay, LaCour told her that he had accidentally deleted it. Later, when the head of U.C.L.A.’s political-science department called Qualtrics, the online survey platform used for the study, they said that they could find no evidence of a deletion: whatever data was collected in the account LaCour claimed to have used was, presumably, still there. (LaCour was also unable to provide the contact information for any of the respondents.) At Green’s behest, Vavreck had also looked further into the study’s financing. It turned out to be nonexistent. “He didn’t have any grants coming to him. He had a small one that he didn’t accept,” Green said. “There was no data, and no plausible way of getting the data.”
Just to recount, the big study published in the academic journal Science that supposedly proved voters against gay marriage would change their minds about the topic if they just spent time in the presence of homosexuals was based on non-existent data that was supposedly deleted, and never deleted by the company that was supposed to be contracted to conduct the surveys. Furthermore there was no funding for the study. Period. Hmm.
Academic researchers may be a lot of things, liberals primarily, but tolerant of academic fraud on this scale is not one of them. Within the day of LaCour not being able to produce the empirical data he supposedly used to prove the theory, Don Green of Columbia University, the co-author of the study who never saw the raw data, issued a retraction of the study itself. His reasoning can be found at Retraction Watch, a blog meant to publicize such happenings in the academic world. By all accounts, a retraction that happens as quickly as this one did, and with such transparency is remarkable in academia. Social science researchers may try to prove the theory again, but for now, the study is dead. Debunked. Deep seated convictions on gay marriage do not change regardless of interaction with homosexuals.
In December, when the now debunked study was published, the results – that previously anti-gay marriage voters would change their minds if they could just spend time with homosexuals – were trumpeted by the New York Times, The Huffington Post, and other left leaning outlets. To their credit, these media organs have published information on the retraction, far more than conservative outlets have. However, it is still clear that the liberals wish the results were actually valid. In the end it does not matter, because true or not, the original headlines created a lasting impact in which perception creates reality, whether or not a retraction is issued.
Full Disclosure: the writer of this piece is a classical musician. In that field, contact with homosexuals is endemic. So is making friends with good people who just happen to be gay. This writer also has at least three relatives in monogamous homosexual relationships. Regardless of the commitment of the partners, and the likability of the people involved, any contract between the partners is NOT marriage. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman to produce the next generation. Any homosexual bond cannot do that naturally.