The Thinking 

Why You Should Ignore Studies of Same-Sex Households

December 5, 2012


ANOTHER study came out this week indicating that children raised by homosexuals fare worse than children in other households. The study, which is actually a re-evaluation of an earlier study that was more positive, appeared in the journal Demography. Here is a recap at the Heritage Foundation.

Truthfully, I am not very interested in this study or in the other studies on the issue, regardless of their conclusions. Although it is perhaps necessary that such studies be done, I do not consider them useful. Focusing on studies is a major distraction and a losing battle. We do not need studies to know that same-sex households are harmful to children.

Here are the reasons why I recommend you also ignore these studies:

1. Ample studies have for more than 50 years documented the relatively poor outcomes of children who grow up in homes where one parent is absent for reasons other than parental death.

2. From ancient to modern times, from the Old Testament to Sophocles to Shakespeare to Dickens, literature has abundantly documented that both fathers and mothers are primary to the human psyche. Oedipus, Hamlet and King Lear would hardly have captivated the attention of successive generations if fathers were expendable.

3. Commonsense knowledge of children, the sort of knowledge that can be obtained by spending perhaps an hour with the average five-year-old, tells us how important their parents are to them. The fact that a child has a parent who is permanently absent cannot be hidden for long.

4. Commonsense knowledge of adults, the kind of knowledge that can be obtained by conversing with ordinary people, tells us how important both mothers and fathers are in psychological formation. Have you ever met someone with zero interest in either of his natural parents or who wished he had two mothers? Most adults have this evidence readily at hand. It can be found in their own personal histories.

5. No one has shown that there are benefits to children raised by same-sex couples and the very existence of studies suggests there need be no benefits, only the absence of harm. The burden of proof rests on those who wish to raise children this way that the obstacles can not just be overcome but that there are tangible benefits to children, especially to those conceived in commercial transactions involving sperm donors.

6. We know that children from homosexual households learn that homosexuality is not objectively wrong, a lesson which is in itself harmful to their development.

7. Children cannot obtain a proper knowledge of God in a homosexual home. Social scientists are unlikely to care.

8. Studies can always be disputed and the authors of studies subject to ad hominem attacks, which become more deliberate distractions.

9. It would take many, many years to prove conclusively that homosexual homes are harmful to children, given the current opposition to any negative results. Discussion of studies carry the implication that we have time to burn, but serious childhood harm is not reversible. To study is, at the very least, to expose children to risk. For what purpose?

In conclusion, to submit this issue to the verdict of studies is patently unjust. If someone came up with the idea of feeding children small doses of arsenic everyday, would we say, “Let’s see what the studies say?” After all, we don’t know for sure what would happen. No, the mere discussion or contemplation of studies would be a form of public child neglect. The studies would presume a lack of serious harm and thus would not constitute an open-ended, objective quest for truth after all.


—- Comments —-

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your admonishment to spend little time fretting over what “studies show” respecting children raised exclusively by homosexual lovers. As is usual, you express what many people sense but cannot articulate–especially the ways in which arguing over such studies lends legitimacy to the notion that these are questions about which there is some reasonable doubt, as though we have decades during which we can debate these issues in social scientific fora, as though events are not already outpacing that “debate,” as though homosexual activists are not engaged in making it obsolete by imposing their will regardless of what any study might supposedly show. (In that connection, your post should be forwarded to Maggie Gallagher, post haste.)

Thomas F. Bertonneau writes:

Very swiftly after beginning graduate studies, which entailed attending various “workshops” on “how to teach composition,” I learned to distrust the phrase, “studies have shown.” I discerned in no time at all that “studies” invariably show whatever the researcher wants them to show. I see no reason not to apply this observation to all so-called studies of “same-sex marriages” that emerge from the university or the government. They “demonstrate” what the purporters of them want to be true whether it is or not.

Laura writes:

It’s interesting in this latest study that the subject is children raised in “nontraditional families.” So from the very start, the authors have accepted this euphemistic language to describe children raised by homosexuals in non-families.

Such a situation is not “nontraditional.” It’s anti-traditional.

Terry Morris writes:

I second Mr. McLaughlin’s approving comments. I waited patiently for your no. 8, and was simultaneously pleased to find it in the list, while somewhat disappointed about its brevity. I’ve said for many years that I do not trust basically any study or its results because all studies, to my knowledge, begin with some predisposition, and correspondingly ends with results more-or-less confirming the original predisposition. Even if the study in question begins with the predisposition that there shall be no predisposition affirming or disaffirming any predisposition.

But, of course, that is my own predisposition. So I guess I’m irresovably biased from the start. Darnit!

Lawrence Auster writes:

The Muslim says, “If Allah wills it.” The Christian says, “In Jesus’ name.” The liberal says, “Studies have shown.” These are the sacred words that establish the authoritative truth of whatever ruinous mischief the liberal is about to propose.

“Studies” are one of the principal means by which the liberal regime maintains and extends its power.

Years ago I attended a conference of Swiss academic types in New York City. Their subject was Swiss immigration and multiculturalism policies. They maintained that multiculturalism and diversity was the way for Switzerland to go, because “studies” showed that it worked. Though I was just the guest of a guest at this event, I interposed: “So Switzerland has existed as a successful society for seven hundred years, and you want to change it radically—on the basis of “studies“? They didn’t get my point. Humorlessly they maintained that their studies were the best authority.

Texanne writes:

The glaring problem I see when I read the reports of studies of children is that success is necessarily measured by statistics and values that “researchers” look for as evidence of positive outcomes in children of same-sex “families”. These criteria would include whether the child graduates from school, whether he has a criminal record, whether he gets involved in drugs or alcohol (smoking would probably be a negative!) whether he practices safe sex, etc. Indicators of moral values would obviously be unacceptable in such “objective” studies. We all can refer to the video of Zach Wahls to see the perfect specimen — a young man fathered by a sperm donor and raised by two “moms” who is very proud of the way he turned out and is sure that anyone would be proud to have him as their child. Obviously, this would be considered a great child-rearing outcome in a study of this nature, but many readers of this blog watch Zach’s performance and are quite taken aback, heartsick and deeply concerned about this boy and his shocking hubris and utter lack of self-awareness. No doubt he will be considered a very desirable sperm-donor, but how will he know what is meant by the words “father” or “husband” or “man”? So much for studies.

Laura writes:


David S. writes:


1. But those are not necessarily same-sex couple households. Therefore other variable could be at work in those cases than simply the absence of both biological parents. You can’t conclude that the causing factor is situation x until you’ve isolated situation x from all other variables.

2. This is all anecdotal at best, and most of your examples are fiction, so you obviously can’t use that to conclude anything about real life.

3, 4. So-called common sense is not scientific evidence, and is often wrong.

5. No. The burden of proof, at least in the United States of America, always rests with those who want to limit our freedoms, in this case the freedom to arrange our families how we see fit.

6. Obviously not everyone agrees with this, or the argument would be moot. You can’t assume your conclusion to prove your conclusion.

7. No, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution doesn’t care either.

8. It’s better than the alternative, no studies and only blind opinions about what the truth is.

9. Indeed it would, but you are free to try. But see point #5 for what purpose it serves.

Laura writes:

1. The absence of one natural parent and the absence of surrogates for both the mother and father are the common factors.

2. Anyone who thinks the accumulated testimony of the Western world’s literary authors means nothing and contains no psychological insights or wisdom is a barbarian.

3.4. Common sense is the guide for much of what you do and know. Some things cannot be quantified or defined with the same exactitude as the physical sciences.

5. The freedom belongs to children first because of their vulnerability. They are entitled to the freedom to grow up in a good social setting and to have their innate need for both a mother and father honored.

6. Whether people agree with it or not doesn’t make it any less true. Homosexuality is objectively immoral.

 7. You seem to be saying homosexual marriage is guaranteed by the First Amendment? And if it were true, the First Amendment would be evil.

8. The same could be said of raising children in other unconventional ways. It is only “blind opinion” that children don’t do well if they are raised by other children or in brothels.

9. You confirm my point. You and others who support these studies are not really open to the possibility that they cause serious and irreversible harm because if you were open to such a possibility you would not want to expose children to the risk. Therefore, your so-called respect for science is a sham.

Carolyn writes:

Thanks for a refreshing article on ignoring studies. Yes, and yes! What is wrong with good old common sense? Nothing, or course, but if it’s not part of a “study” it doesn’t bear any weight.

This from a mom who would love for her child who has same-sex attractions to have children. Sadly, those with these attractions are the most sensitive and caring souls in the world and would make the best parents, save for an opposite sex mate.

Thinking last night of “rights being violated” by gays not being allowed to wed. What about our rights? For a stable, traditional, time-tested society that works best for rearing children. They are violating my rights by minimizing the importance of these families.

Winnie writes:

What fun!  I love a good, old-fashioned debate between common sense and insanity.  So did my hero G.K. Chesterton (who, to my delight, pops up all over the place, including here on this beautiful blog just the other day in Solange Hertz’s essay on the militance of housewives).

And in this very thread, the inimitable Lawrence Auster’s quotable gem packs the punch of truth in a most Chestertonian style: The Muslim says, “If Allah wills it.” The Christian says, “In Jesus’ name.” The liberal says, “Studies have shown.”

The amazing and wonderful thing is that Truth is not afraid of Truth, regardless of social science studies, so we ought to embrace the confrontation and clash of specific ideas as an opportunity to get closer to Truth.  This is why debates are fun.

 Let us confront insanity with sanity using the wisdom of G.K. Chesterton:

1.  What did G.K. Chesterton say about a sparring partner who misses the point?

“Moral issues are always terribly complex for someone without principles.”

And about the dismantling (and artificial reconstruction) of the family unit?

“The truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution… if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.”

“The child is an explanation of the father and mother and the fact that it is a human child is the explanation of the ancient human ties connecting the father and mother.  The more human, that is the less bestial, is the child, the more lawful and lasting are the ties.  So, far from any progress in culture or the sciences tending to loosen the bond, any such progress must logically tend to tighten it… This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilisations which disregard it.”


 “A man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it.”

 2.  What did G.K. Chesterton say regarding literature?

“Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.”

Or, if you prefer:

“The first use of good literature is that it prevents a man from being merely modern.  To be merely modern is to condemn oneself to an ultimate narrowness… Literature, classic and enduring literature, does its best work in reminding us perpetually of the whole round of truth and balancing other and older ideas against the ideas to which we might for a moment be prone.

…You can find all the new ideas in the old books; only there you will find them balanced, kept in their place, and sometimes contradicted and overcome by other and better ideas.  The great writers did not neglect a fad because they had not thought of it, but because they had thought of it and of all the answers to it as well… What we call the new ideas are generally broken fragments of the old ideas.  It was not that a particular notion did not enter Shakespeare’s head; it is that it found a good many other notions waiting to knock the nonsense out of it.”

 3,4. David S. will appreciate this. What did G.K. Chesterton say about common sense?

“The first effect of not believing in God is that you lose your common sense.”

“If men cannot save themselves by common sense, they cannot save each other by coercion.”

“But what more can we have on our side than the common sense of everybody?”

And about truth, scientific evidence and accuracy?

“Not facts first; truth first.”

 “Our fathers did not talk about psychology; they talked about a knowledge of Human Nature. But they had it, and we have not. They knew by instinct all that we have ignored by the help of information. For it is exactly the first facts of human nature that are now being ignored by humanity.”

 “A weak mind is like a microscope, which magnifies trifling things but cannot receive great ones.”

 5.  David S. likely does not realize his own dogmatism, believing as he does that “freedom” is the ultimate good – including the “freedom” to deliberately deprive a child of his father or mother or both.  WWGKCS about license and who determines what is good?

“We are learning to do a great many clever things. Unless we are much mistaken the next great task will be to learn not to do them.”

About limitations on license for the sake of The Good?

“Every sane man recognizes that unlimited liberty is anarchy, or rather is nonentity.”

About the origins of authority, freedom and truth?

“Without authority there is no liberty.  Freedom is doomed to destruction at every turn, unless there is a recognized right to freedom. And if there are rights, there is an authority to which we appeal for them.”

“A fad or heresy is the exaltation of something which even if true, is secondary or temporary in its nature against those things which are essential and eternal, those things which always prove themselves true in the long run. In short, it is the setting up of the mood against the mind.”

6.  On the relation between popularity, consensus and truth, an A+ Chestertonian TKO:

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

 7.  What did G.K. Chesterton say about outlawing God?

“Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.”

About religion in the public sphere?

Religious liberty is supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. But in practice, it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.

About freedom & the purpose of the law?

“When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.”

 “We do not need to get good laws to restrain bad people. We need to get good people to restrain us from bad laws.”

 8.  What did G.K. Chesterton say about truth?

“You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.”

About social sciences vs. common sense?

“Our fathers did not talk about psychology; they talked about a knowledge of Human Nature. But they had it, and we have not. They knew by instinct all that we have ignored by the help of information. For it is exactly the first facts of human nature that are now being ignored by humanity.”

About the limits of what science can tell us?

“Science can analyze a pork-chop, and say how much of it is phosphorus and how much is protein; but science cannot analyze any man’s wish for a pork-chop, and say how much of it is hunger, how much custom, how much nervous fancy, how much a haunting love of the beautiful.”

9. What would G.K. Chesterton say about the purpose of arguments?

“It is generally the man who is not ready to argue, who is ready to sneer.”

About safeguarding sacred childhood and the family?

“The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.”

“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

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