Friday, March 25, 2016
Beware the Bias
I recently heard and read in a few places people (conservative people) saying, "HEY y'all who support 'transgender' people and kids, you should look at what the EXPERTS are saying..." and they then proceeded to cite the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) who have come out with a study entitled, "Gender Ideology Harms Children..." and they begin citing some of the findings of this study.
Hmm, I thought. That's odd, I had not heard anything about professional doctors making this suggestion, not from the AMA or the APA... it struck me as odd that the professional organization for pediatricians was coming out with a study like this. But, having an open mind, I looked into what the experts were saying.
It was then that I realized that these were "experts," not experts. The ACP is NOT the big association of pediatricians that I assumed it was by the name. The well-recognized and long-lived pediatrician's association is the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP has been around since 1930 and has over 64,000 pediatrician members. They publish peer-reviewed research and have a staff of 390 people. The AAP has NOT come out in support of these "findings," that's the ACP.
And who is the ACP? They are a splinter group that formed out of the AAP to promote traditional and religious views of family. They were founded in 2002 and have between 60 and 200 members (not all of whom are pediatricians, I read). They have no peer-reviewed research. They welcome members who agree with their religious/moral views up front. Which is to say that their research is "validated" by people with an agenda to promote a specific bias.
This, of course, is not science. Scientific organizations have no faith creed you have to agree to at the outset. That is anti-science.
A TINY group (less than 1% the size of the AAP, mind you) with an agenda publishing "studies" that validate their pre-held biases is akin to tobacco-funded doctors coming out in favor of smoking, with "studies" that back up that bias. If you are dedicated to a religious/moral view going in to your research and your peers will only validate research that supports that pre-held bias, that is not science.
Beware groups that use science as a tool to further an agenda - especially so blatantly - and that does not have peer-reviews for their studies. That is not science, that is religion.
Also, beware any political groups/people who have traditionally decried "the so-called experts" who suddenly begin trumpeting "Hey! Science is right and validating what I believe!" They aren't dedicated to facts, science or truth. They are dedicated to an agenda. Which is fine if that's what they're dedicated to, but they should be clear on that point up front.
*Side note: I am not saying that scientists are free from bias. Of course, they aren't, they're human with human biases. But there's a difference between having a bias but still being dedicated to going where the data leads while being open to peer-review as a check against any possible biases... there's a difference between that and using science to try to validate your views. Again, that's religion (and in a negative sense), not science.