On TODAY newspaper, i read an article entitled “Scientific and medical communities are divided on whether it is a disorder. Is homosexuality truly normal?” dated 09 Feb 2006, Thursday. It is in support of Liberty League (an organization that does reparative therapy). By Thio Su Mien.
I was irate when i read it.
She said that “science has no probative value as scientific truth”. What she meant is: theories cannot be proven (but they can be refuted). It takes several replications before it is considered somewhat credible. But would the public know this? No, she gave the public the impression that science has no value. Specifically- the science of psychology.
Thus, in that statement, she slapped all the psychologists of the psychology department of NUS; as well as the mental health professionals situated in IMH. She also slapped psychologists all over the world- their expertise; their training and their credibility.
However, she does subscribe to research that agrees with her agenda… for later she used Spitzer’s research to back her up that homosexuals can be “changed”, and thus implicitly indicating that they should be. (How convenient for her to use research when she needs it. Kind of two-faced, don’t you think?)
And here’s the second reason why i was exceedingly upset with her. She used Spitzer’s research without considering the commentaries that NUMEROUS other professionals have made regarding Spitzer’s piece. There were so many commentaries showing the major limitations in Spitzer’s paper.
To name a few limitations:
1. There is no reason to believe that the participants told the truth: The participants are all acquired through ex-gay religious ministries and some were referred through their therapists. And the interview is not anonymous! It’s a structured telephone interview. How credible is that? Given the pressure to be “straight” and not to undermine their standing in church, do you think these “ex-gays” would tell the truth?
2. There were biases in Spitzer’s telephone interviews. Questions targetting same-sex behavior used words like “lust” but similar questions for opposite-sex behavior did not use words with negative connotation. I.e. “Frequency of looking with lust or daydreaming about having sex with a person of the same sex” versus “Percentage of masturbation occasions with heterosexual fantasies.” Which one sounds worse? Who wants to admit to “lust”? Why is same-sex attraction necessary lustful anyway?
There were also numerous studies done after 2003 (when Spitzer’s paper was published) about the harms of reparative therapy. In fact, the vast majority of research showed that reparative therapy does harm. But Thio Su Mien did not refer to them at all! In other words, Thio Su Mien presented an extremely biased summary of the field of research. She did not do a meta-analysis (a review of the whole field of research).
What grieves me:
That the layman who does not know any better… will take whatever she say and swallow it whole. None of us are experts in every field and those who are not, are prone to misinformation in the field. Someone who is ignorant of the field (and who has no incentive to read the information first-hand) is like a personal computer: Garbage in; garbage out.
Thoughts shape attitudes and actions of the people. And this is what we are living in- garbage.
It is apparent at first glance that Thio Su Mien is not a trained psychologist (and yet she has the audacity to comment on the progress of psychology through the ages! I am appalled!). I would believe that she is a manipulative politican… presenting half of the story. Correction: in this case, she is only presenting 10% of it. Maybe less.
It is half-truths that does the most damage.
Thio Su Mien ended off saying that we should be less narcissistic and less selfish. I find the desciption apt for herself… She imposed her principles on everyone relentlessly; discrediting sources that does not concur with her principles and adopting sources that do.
What is it all for? For herself… to further her convictions… to add another supposed “halo” to her head?? Reminds me of the terrorists who believed that by killing others, they would get tens of virgins waiting in heaven for them.