EJF newsletter - The Low-Road to Disaster - Advocacy Research by Charles E. Corry, Ph.D. 8/14/13
Fifty years ago scientific studies were presumed to have been completed under carefully-controlled conditions with the best available methods, analysis, and review applied to the data before publication. Scientific rigor thus generated public trust.
The work and accuracy of engineers is plainly evident. If a bridge falls, an airplane crashes due to a mechanical defect, and so on, the design is plainly flawed and the engineers behind the project are usually held to account.
Medical doctors can, and have buried many mistakes, but eventually it becomes evident that they must wash their hands after dissecting a corpse and before delivering a baby. So now one finds a scrub room outside every surgery and hand sanitizers throughout hospitals. Eventually they were even willing to accept that H. pylori was the cause of ulcers, along with other enlightenment brought about by scientific research that has so greatly advanced medicine in the past century.
With physicists, mathematicians, and other physical scientists (like me) doing basic research the constraints are a bit more subtle. And usually the utility of such research takes longer to establish and often requires the development of ancillary technology or methods to prove its accuracy and utility. The value of such research is evident at all levels of society today however there is danger in trusting too much.
Daily observation reveals very few people have experience with science and engineering. As Arthur C. Clarke famously said: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," and modern devices, e.g., television, computers, automobiles, etc. are, in essence, "magic" to most people.
While engineering depends on established science and mathematics, basic research generally follows the scientific method. However, It is a rare individual who is familiar with what comprises the "scientific method." and are thus unable to independently judge whether a theory or hypothesis has been rigorously established by that method.
As a result zealots found that public trust in science and engineering could be used to their advantage by publishing studies in which the conclusions were pre-ordained and data massaged or manipulated to fit the desired result.
So let me try and take the appearance of "magic" out of what we as scientists do before I delve into "research gone bad," i.e., advocacy research.
How science is done
The following is a rough outline of the methods that might be followed during a scientific inquiry, though the process is seldom so neat and tidy:
€ Outline a question, commonly on a bar napkin, and usually because of an observation, an equation, simple curiousity, a flash of inspiration or serendipity;
€ Perform a literature search to find out what is already known, the usual outcome of which is that someone else has done the research, it has been repeated and replicated, and you agree with their findings;
€ If your idea is new or you disagree with previous findings, collect some basic data or postulate an equation and formulate a hypothesis;
€ Test the hypothesis by doing an experiment or collecting additional data;
* Request funding to continue research if initial results are promising;
€ Analyze experimental results or additional data in terms of what your hypothesis predicts;
* Refine hypothesis, equations, or experiments;
* Repeat until hypothesis reliably predicts experimental results or additional observations (note that this process may easily take five to ten years);
* Write up your hypothesis together with description of experiments, equations, and results or observational data you used, and submit a draft of your paper to other workers in your field for review;
* Have a few drinks to calm down after you read these reviewer's comments, some of whom you thought were your friends;
* Refine your hypothesis, do additional experiments, collect additional data, and rewrite your paper (probably several times);
€ Submit your paper for publication in a recognized journal or magazine where the editor will send it out for peer review;
* Have several more drinks when paper is rejected because reviewers didn't understand what great things you had accomplished or how eloquently and with such erudition you had documented the results;
* After reading editor(s) and reviewers comments refine hypothesis, do more experiments or make additional observations, and rewrite paper to clarify the problems and issues they brought forward (while silently expressing inappropriate and unscientific opinions about them);
* Paper is finally published in the scientific literature and usually sinks into obscurity (unless or until someone finds a use for your results, often long after your death).
It is important to note that degrees are no guarantee of the integrity of the investigator.
All this is obviously hard and frustrating work and the very great majority of one's hypotheses are flatly wrong, or someone else has already published this result. You may still get your paper published, however, if your experiments or observations confirm earlier results because science demands that results be repeatable and reproducible. And, given that requirement, your paper may be even more valuable if you can show the earlier work was incomplete or wrong and establish why.
If enough experiments and observations are completed that support the original hypothesis then the results may be accepted as a theory, e.g., Newtonian mechanics. But even a well-established theory is not absolute proof of a natural phenomenon as further research may extend the theory, e.g., Einstein's relativity, or simply prove it wrong or inadequate to explain new observations, e.g., theory of the ether.
The above outlines the tedious and rigorous approach taken by serious researchers in whatever profession. However, as best I can tell, sometime around 1980 many social "scientists" began taking a different approach.
They first put forward the theory and only then collect data and make observations that confirm their theory, referred to as "advocacy research" in the literature. The advent of this approach correlates with the widespread availability of computers that allowed them to dump a bunch of numbers into a statistical program and manipulate the output to fit their theory.
Here is how that game is played. Under the veil of social science elaborate research methods are employed, or made to seem to have been employed, in an attempt to persuade the public and policy makers that a problem is vastly larger and has a much-more negative impact than commonly recognized.
According to Gilbert (1993, p. 127) this is done in several ways:
(a) By measuring a problem so broadly that it forms a vessel into which almost any human difficulty can be poured;
(b) By measuring a group highly affected by the problem and then projecting the findings to society at large;
(c) By asserting that a variety of smaller studies and reports with different problem definitions, methodologies of diverse quality, and varying results form a cumulative block of evidence in support of current findings; and
(d) When research is criticized, by changing definitions and revising data in the hope that no one will examine the facts as originally reported.
Gilbert (1993, p. 127) goes on to say that:
³[Advocacy research] is practiced in a wide variety of substantive problem areas and supported by groups that...share an Œideological imperative' that maintains that findings politically acceptable to the advocacy community are more important than the quality of research from which they are derived, playing fast and loose with the facts is justifiable in the service of a noble cause, and data and sentiments that challenge conventional wisdom are to be condemned or ignored.²
An analogy of how advocacy research works might be an attempt to show that french fries are universally popular. To do that, instead of surveying a random, representative sample of the population, one would only query McDonald's customers about french fries.
Advocacy research as applied to domestic violence
To the great detriment of society advocacy research has been widely used in studies of intimate partner, or domestic violence to support the radical feminist dogma that only men are violent in intimate relationships and that violence is used by men as a method of power and control to support the patriarchy. Any evidence that women are also violent in intimate relationships is dismissed with the claim that they are only violent in self defense.
Politicians, who rarely constrain themselves to facts in any case, have been only too willing to base laws on these deeply-flawed methods in the name of protecting women and garnering votes.
The objective harm created by this to men, children, and families be damned.
While the use of advocacy research is by no means limited to producing bogus studies in the field of family and domestic violence, it has been well, perhaps best, documented there.
Excellent examples of the use of advocacy research in radical feminist propaganda are presented by the Independent Women's Forum Take Back The Campus list of Ten Most Common Feminist Myths and many recipients of this newsletter can testify to the disastrous effect these myths have had on their lives.
For over a decade the Equal Justice Foundation has been posting articles by myself, attorney Tom James, law professor John Rooney, individualist feminist Wendy McElroy, retired policeman and former Marine Richard Davis, and Murray Straus, the preeminent researcher of family violence, exposing the lies and devastation resulting from this prostitution of scientific research.
Why the need by radical feminists for advocacy research?
Given the natural sympathy of society for women and children why has it been necessary for radical feminists to go to extremes to support their ideology?
A review of some history is necessary to understand radical feminists desperate need to suppress the fact of gender symmetry in intimate partner violence.
In 1963, the lives of many American women changed with the publication of Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique. Over five million copies of this explosive book eventually would be sold in which she claimed women were being oppressed by our capitalist and patriarchal society.
Mrs. Friedan would later be exposed as a neo-Marxist but at the time she accelerated a movement that morphed into a Fifth Column with the goal of ending marriage and families and returning to a more primitive matriarchy. The end of marriage and families was, of course, a basic goal of Marx, Engels, and Lenin.
The feminist movement was aided by the development of "The Pill" in 1960 that gave sexual freedom to women and the widespread adoption of "no fault" divorce in 1970.
However, in the face of ever-increasing prosperity, freedom of movement provided by personal automobiles, communication through TV and telephone, and the release from household drudgery by modern devices, neo-Marixist feminist ideology had less-and-less appeal and was dying out.
Domestic violence brought to the forefront
In 1971 Erin Pizzey opened one of the first refuges (shelters) for battered women and in 1978 published her book Scream Quietly Or The Neighbors Will Hear that brought worldwide attention to the problem of domestic violence.
There is a deep well of chivalry and charity in society for women and children but men who are abused by women have long been an object of ridicule. Thus, society is quite willing to provide support for abused women and their children and radical feminists quickly found "domestic violence" to be an almost unlimited well of funding for their pogroms. Gray (2004) and Erin Pizzey (2011, p. 92-95, 106-108, 114-115, 127, 137-138, 164-166, etc.), among others, have clearly presented the history of the losing battle with neo-Marxist radical feminists who took control of the domestic violence issue to gain funding for their destructive agenda.
However, if women are as violent, and often more violent than their male or female partners in intimate relationships then the dynamic for funding feminist pogroms changes radically in the name of equal justice for all. Therefore, to sustain their public funding and associated pogroms radical feminists must maintain, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that domestic violence is dominantly men battering women, and that women are only violent in self defense.
Thus, advocacy research that supports their government-funded propaganda is essential to their continuance.
Dr. Straus has tabulated and documented, as well as provided specific references, for the methods used to conceal and distort evidence on symmetry in partner violence as summarized below:
Method 1. Suppress evidence. Researchers who have an ideological commitment to the idea that men are almost always the sole perpetrator often conceal evidence that contradicts such belief. Unfortunately, many researchers not committed to that ideology have withheld results showing gender symmetry to avoid becoming victims of vitriolic denunciations and ostracism.
Method 2. Avoid obtaining data inconsistent with the patriarchal dominance theory.
In survey research, this method of concealment asks female participants about attacks by their male partners and avoids asking them if they had hit their male partner.
Method 3. Cite only studies that show male perpetration. Dr. Straus provides official document examples to show that this method of concealment and distortion is institutionalized in publications of governments, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization.
Method 4. Conclude that results support feminist beliefs when they do not. Examples of the ability of ideological commitment of lead researchers to misinterpret the results of their own research are provided. This is the fallacy ignoratio elenchi as is the following method.
Method 5. Create ³evidence² by citation. Illustrates how by a pattern of selective citation ideology can be converted into what can be called ³evidence by citation,² or what Gelles (1980) calls the ³woozle effect.² A woozle effect occurs when frequent citation of previous publications that lack evidence mislead us into thinking there is evidence.
Method 6. Obstruct publication of articles and obstruct funding research that might contradict the idea that male dominance is the cause of intimate partner violence. While it is difficult to document outright censorship the more frequent pattern is self-censorship by authors fearing that it will happen or that publication of such a study will undermine their reputation, and, in the case of graduate students, the ability to obtain a job. An example of denied funding is also provided.
Method 7. Harass, threaten, and penalize researchers who produce evidence that contradicts feminist beliefs. Ad hominem attacks are said to be the last refuge of scoundrels but they are often used by radical feminists. For example, Suzanne Steinmetz (1977, 1977-1978) published a book and articles that clearly showed roughly equal rates of perpetration by males and females. Anger over this resulted in a bomb threat at her daughters' wedding, and she was the object of a letter-writing campaign to deny her promotion and tenure at the University of Delaware. Twenty years later the same processes resulted in a lecturer at the University of Manitoba, whose dissertation found gender symmetry in intimate partner violence, being denied promotion and tenure. Dr. Straus also provides examples from his personal experience. For daring to publish a book (Pizzey and Shapiro, 1982) documenting violence by women Erin Pizzey, the grande dame of domestic violence studies, was driven into exile from England.
Method 8: Playing with numbers. Prof. Nicola Graham-Kevan added an additional method to Dr. Straus' tabulation. He notes that as statistical rigor becomes more important in the design of official surveys, so the bias evident in many older data sets has been eliminated. This has the effect of making the results more valid. This is a major problem if the author is motivated primarily by ideological beliefs as methodologically-sound studies consistently find parity in the use of intimate partner violence by men and women. In the case of official data, the authors charged with writing up reports can not merely ignore the findings (Straus' methods 1 and 2). In these cases ideologically-driven authors manipulate the figures in such a way as to make women's victimization more visible while obscuring men's. The US Department of Justice reports are a good place to look to find examples of playing with numbers. I have tabulated many of these problems in my article on gathering statistics.
The reader is urged to read Dr. Straus' entire article to comprehend the magnitude and prevalence of this problem. Possibly the most disturbing aspect of his paper is the pervasiveness of such usage in government reports.
Gray (2004) has pointed out that
"...armed uprising, once the Marxist-revolutionary method of choice, is unlikely to prevail in a western democracy. Historically such uprisings have required a majority peasant population before any likelihood of success can be assured. But many Marxist authors and revolutionaries wrote, and described in exhaustive detail, how to undermine the body politic of the democratic state. By such methods a democracy can be rendered industrially and socially unworkable to such a degree that a Marxist/matriarchal government becomes morally acceptable to the masses, if not an inevitable extension of the forced and engineered malaise."
The four primary methods for undermining the democratic state in order to achieve Marxist/matriarchal goals by default are:
1. Undermining and making unworkable the rule of law.
2. Destroying the heterosexual family unit.
3. Spreading moral panic and hysteria amongst the populace.
4. Turning all members of society against one another and having them inform on one another.
There is little question that neo-Marxist radical feminists have achieved these goals.
Ad ignoranitum as a basis for law
Today, based primarily on advocacy research and resultant government-financed propaganda, feminist zealots perpetuate the fallacy that intimate partner violence is exclusively a product of men using violence to maintain power and control over women in order to support the patriarchy, and that women are only violent in self defense. In their attempts to maintain this fallacy they have used all the methods outlined above.
That is done first to get ever more draconian laws passed that provide for arrests without a warrant, forcing citizens from their homes and children with nothing more than the clothes on their back without even the pretense of due process, searches without a warrant, seizures of their property without redress, mandatory arrests often based on nothing more than hearsay, assuming the accused is guilty until proven innocent, mere allegations that suffice as proof, denial of the right to confront the accuser and obtain witnesses in one¹s defense, denied the assistance of counsel, punishment and imprisonment that occurs before a trial or without one, public censure for crimes men have not committed, indentured servitude and often outright slavery, and more. These are acts of a police state and the policies of tyrants
Presumptively, feminists and politicians claim these laws are necessary to stop intimate partner violence by men. In fact their primary use is as a tool in a radical feminist vendetta against men in revenge for what they claim is oppression of women by the patriarchy and to restore the more primitive matriarchy.
Secondly, and probably more important today, is the necessity of maintaining this fallacy in order to preserve their funding by private, state, and federal sources under such laws as the Violence Against Women Act.
Negative impact of advocacy research supported by feminist zealots
It would be hard to overstate the negative impact the advocacy "research" on domestic violence outlined above in support of a fallacious feminist agenda has had on society.
"Domestic violence," often nothing more than a pillow fight or nasty email, has become the most common "crime" in Colorado.
Before his tragic death in 2011 Tom Ball reliably estimated that 36 million Americans, largely men, had been arrested for domestic violence up till then and that some 72 million men, women, and children had been rendered homeless for some period in their lives under these fallacious laws. Extrapolating from arrests in Colorado suggests 1.3 million men a year are currently being arrested for domestic violence in the United States. And roughly 400,000 of those arrests are for violating a restraining order, of which there are apparently almost 2 million a year issued.
The disastrous affects on children, families, and marriage will echo for decades and the very foundations of our Constitution and freedoms have been undercut by this process. Such basic rights as the Second Amendment are being rapidly destroyed by such acts as the Lautenberg Amendment, as tens of millions of men convicted of a felony or even misdemeanor domestic violence, or who have an ex parte restraining order entered against them, have lost their right to bear arms. Since manifestations of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) characteristic of veterans of our now endless wars mimic "domestic violence" under current laws we are disarming the very citizens willing to fight to preserve our freedoms, a policy of tyranny.
The corruption of trust in scientific research by the widespread adoption of advocacy research by not only feminists but many other presumably reputable scientists with an agenda is even more detrimental to the public weal. Such corrupt research is particularly disturbing in supposedly impartial government reports, as Dr. Straus and others have documented.
For those seeking the best available actual data on intimate partner violence the Domestic Violence Research Group has put together a database of 2,657 pages with summaries of 1,700 peer-reviewed studies. Some 42 scholars and 70 research assistants at 20 universities and research institutions spent two-plus years researching their topics and writing the results. Approximately 12,000 studies were considered and more than 1,700 were summarized and organized into tables. The 17 manuscripts, which provide a review of findings on each of the topics, for a total of 2,657 pages, appear in 5 consecutive special issues of Partner Abuse published between April, 2012 and April, 2013. All conclusions, including the extent to which the research evidence supports or undermines current theories, are based strictly on the data collected although many of the studies cited are based only on data collected from women rather than random, representative populations.
The indisputable conclusion from these studies is that in intimate relationships women are at least as violent as men in intimate relationships and that in half the incidents it is mutual combat between the couple. And that relative to the number of current criminal cases the problem of intimate partner violence is vastly overstated since most such incidents are minor and best settled without intervention by the justice system.
In fact, one finding is that the primary response to current domestic violence laws is that couples are afraid to call for help in domestic disputes. Iyenagar (2007) found that fear results in increased homicides. But history demonstrates that the deaths of hundreds of millions are of little concern to Marxist zealots.
Today it is reasonable to question whether our civilization can recover? I have not found a matriarchal society that has advanced beyond Stone Age technology. The matriarchal societies extent today in our inner cities make it clear that the regression is swift and sure. That is a horrible price for society to pay in support of a radical feminist fallacy propped up only by advocacy research.
Are we then past the time when it would be possible to review and revise our domestic violence laws based on actual research findings rather than fallacies and the advocacy of neo-Marxist zealots?
Charles E. Corry, Ph.D.
President, Equal Justice Foundation
I would like to thank Jeff L. Wright, author of The Citizens Last Stand, for his comments and critique of a draft of this thesis. However, errors, mistakes, and omissions are solely the responsibility of the author.
About the author
Dr. Corry is a Senior Fellow of the Geological Society of America and an internationally-known earth scientist whose biography has appeared in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, among others, for fifteen consecutive years.
He has been doing research on domestic violence, particularly abused men, since 1997.
In 2008 he and former EJF Director Robert Alvarez began pushing for a veteran court in Colorado Springs. That court is now up and research continues on veteran arrests.
After service with 1st Marines Dr. Corry became involved with the early space program in 1960, doing preflight testing and failure analysis on Atlas and Centaur missiles, including all the Project Mercury birds. In 1965 he switched to oceanography and did research at both Scripps Institution in San Diego and Woods Hole Oceanographic on Cape Cod. He has also taught geophysics at university and worked as a research manager for a Fortune 500 company.
Among other pursuits he has climbed high mountains, been shipwrecked and marooned on an unexplored desert island, ridden horseback through Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, and enjoyed many other adventures during his long career.
Presently Dr. Corry is president and founding director of the Equal Justice Foundation.
Many other references are available here.
Gelles, R. J. (1980). Violence in the family: A review of research in the seventies. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 42, 873-885.
Gilbert, N., Examining the facts: Advocacy research overstates the incidence of date and acquaintance rape, in Gelles, R. J., and Loseke, D. R., eds., Current Controversies on Family Violence, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA, p. 120-132, 1993.
Gray, D., Eradicating the heterosexual family, 2004.
Iyengar, R., Does the certainty of arrest reduce domestic violence? Evidence from mandatory and recommended arrest laws, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, 32 p., 2007.
James, T. B., Domestic Violence: The 12 Things You Aren¹t Supposed To Know, Aventine Press, Chula Vista, California, 283 p., 2003.
McElroy, W., Reading between the numbers, FoxNews.com, March 24, 2004.
Pizzey, E., This Way To The Revolution: A Memoir, Peter Owen Publishers, 356 p., 2011.
Pizzey, E. and Shapiro, J., Prone to violence, Feltham Hamlyn, Middlesex, England, Commoners¹ Publishing, Ottawa, 134 pp., 1982, reprinted 2000.
Steinmetz, S. K. (1977). The cycle of violence: Assertive, aggressive, and abusive family interaction. New York: Praeger.
Steinmetz, S. K. (1977-1978). The battered husband syndrome. Victimology, 2, 499-509.
Straus, M.A., Processes explaining the concealment and distortion of evidence on gender symmetry In intimate partner violence, European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, v. 13, pp. 227-232, 2007.
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Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A. http://corry.ws
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The good men may do separately is small compared with what they may do collectively.