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Fleeing Rekers is no substitute for honest reassessment

George A. Rekers’ ongoing RentBoy uproar has called renewed attention to his role as a source of validation for the Southern Baptist Convention positions on the family.

Without actually disavowing his pseudoscience or explaining themselves, several other institutions and organizations which have formerly cited him as an authority or honored ally, have turned and run:

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum may wish he could magically purge the $120,000 political liability Rekers has become to his bid for the Florida Republican gubernatorial nomination. McCollum is having a difficult time explaining how Rekers, previously unmasked in an Arkansas legal conflict, could qualify as an expert witness.

In December, 2004, Pulaski County [Ark.] Circuit Court judge Timothy Fox described Rekers’ testimony as “extremely suspect,” and said that Rekers “was there primarily to promote his own personal ideology.”

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy S. Lederman carefully disassembled Rekers’ testimony. For example, she wrote [.pdf]:

During Dr. Rekers’ testimony, attention was drawn to his authorship of a St. Thomas Law Review article entitled “An Empirically Supported Rational Basis for Prohibiting Adoption, Foster Parenting, and Contested Child Custody by Any Person in a Household that Includes a Homosexually-Behaving Member” wherein the doctor heavily cited to the conclusions of a colleague who is sharply criticized as distorting data and was censured and ousted by the American Psychological Association for misreporting evidence regarding homosexual households. Although the American Psychological Association, has concluded that there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual parenting, Dr. Rekers believes the Association’s stance is political and not based on science. Dr. Rekers’ much contested and hardly empirical article also cited to journals from authors who were neither psychotherapists nor social scientists.

Judge Lederman’s general conclusion about Rekers was [.pdf]:

Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court cannot consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.

Immersed in controversy now, McCollum moans that when they hired Rekers, “There wasn’t a whole lot of choice.”

There was an abundance of credible choices. As there were for the institutions which are fleeing Rekers now. Although a scientifically defensible choice of experts would have militated for a position unlike the one McCollum took in court.

Neither McCollum’s excuse nor institutional flight substitute for an honest assessment the quality of Rekers’ work and, where required, change in the positions which gave it credence.

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May 13, 2010 - Posted by | children, Politics, Science | , , ,

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