Posted October 5, 2012 | comments 9 Comments

Letter to the Editor: Columnist is a bully


I was saddened to turn to the Opinion section of the paper and find the intriguing title of the main story "End Boy Scout bullying" by Connie Schultz. I thought someone was bullying some Boy Scouts, and it turns out that was indeed the case! Schultz was doing the bullying!
The story, which is starting to get old, was about the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) not allowing homosexuals to join the group. I don't know how many times it must be discussed that a private organization may set rules and regulate itself as to whom it will allow to join its ranks.

Schultz quotes Paul Clark of United Way of Greater Cleveland, "I think the premise of the protection idea is that someone who is homosexual is a pedophile." Wow, talk about jumping the shark! Nothing from the BSA has even hinted at such a thing, but if you are supportive of traditional rights and freedoms in this country, people may say anything against you and get by with it!

I was about finished with the article when I came across this jewel, "It injures gay males who want to join but are excluded because of something they can't change about themselves."
First, I have never seen or heard of a boy being "injured" because he wasn't allowed to join the Boy Scouts, secondly and much more importanty, is that Shultz is promoting the myth that gayness is somehow biological and not a lifestyle choice.

A recent study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy demonstrated clearly that gays can successfully change this debilitating condition with counselling. This is one of the first peer-reviewed, scientific studies of its kind. The study was conducted by Stanton L. Jones and Mark Yarhouse.

Schultz is certainly welcome to her opinions, but she would do well not to spread myths that have no truth, and have been shown to be scientifically false.

G.A. Settle, Front Royal

9 Comments | Leave a comment

    "Schultz is certainly welcome to her opinions....." And I am entitled to my opinion and my opinion is that you are ignorant and hateful and probably not very bright.

      So your opinion is that unless someone agrees with you, they are ignorant, hateful and stupid. Funny, that's what I think you are. Nothing in Mr. Settles comments showed hatred or ignoranced, just a difference of opinion. Isn't that was freedom of speech allows us to do, or is it just for people like you who think they are superior to others? I for one, think your position is bullying, since you are very vocal about not wanting to hear anything you don't agree with. Of course, you must be a liberal, because they are the only ones who want to censor positions they don't like.

    California Is First State to Ban Gay Cure for Minors


    Published September 30, 2012

    California has become the first state to ban the use for minors of disputed therapies to “overcome” homosexuality, a step hailed by gay rights groups across the country that say the therapies have caused dangerous emotional harm to gay and lesbian teenagers.

    “This bill bans nonscientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement on Saturday after he signed the bill into law. “These practices have no basis in science or medicine, and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.”

    The law, which is to take effect on Jan. 1, states that no “mental health provider” shall provide minors with therapy intended to change their sexual orientation, including efforts to “change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

    The law was sponsored by State Senator Ted W. Lieu and supported by a long list of medical and psychological societies, as well by state and national advocates for gay rights. Also speaking up for the ban were former patients who described emotional scars they said they were left with after being pushed into the therapy by their parents and finding that they could not change their sexual orientation or did not want to.

    But some therapists and conservative religious leaders who promote methods that they say can reduce homosexual desire have condemned the new law as a violation of free choice. They say that it will harm young people who want to fight homosexual attractions on religious or other grounds and warn that it will lead more people to seek help from untrained amateurs.

    The use of harsh aversion techniques, like electric shock or nausea-inducing drugs, to combat homosexual desires has largely disappeared. But during the last three decades, some psychologists have refined a theory of “reparative therapy,” which ties homosexual desires to emotional wounds in early childhood and, in some cases, to early sexual abuse.

    These therapists say that with proper treatment, thousands of patients have succeeded in reducing their homosexual attraction and in enhancing heterosexual desire, though most therapists acknowledge that total “cures” are rare. But their methods have come under growing attack from gays who say the therapy has led to guilt, hopelessness and anger.

    Reparative therapists, a small minority within the mental health profession, united in 1992 in the National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality, based in Encino, Calif. The group did not immediately comment on the new California law, but its leaders have previously attacked the legislation as based on politics, not science, and said they would consider challenging it in court as an unjustified intrusion into professional practice.

    One licensed family therapist and member of the association, David H. Pickup of Glendale, Calif., said in a recent interview that the ban would cause harm to many who want and need the therapy.

    “If boys have been sexually abused and homosexual feelings that are not authentic later come up, we have to tell them no, we can’t help you,” Mr. Pickup said.

    Gay and lesbian leaders, along with major scientific groups, reject such theories outright and say there is no scientific evidence that inner sexual attractions can be altered.

    “Reparative therapy is junk science being used to justify religious beliefs,” said Wayne Besen, the director of Truth Wins Out, a gay advocacy group
    The California law is a milestone, but only a first step, Mr. Besen said, because the ideas in reparative therapy have been widely adopted by church ministries and others promoting the idea that homosexual urges can be banished.

    Legislators in New Jersey and a few other states have discussed introducing similar bills to ban the use of the therapy for minors, Mr. Besen said.

    A version of this article appeared in print on October 1, 2012, on page A16 of the New York edition with the headline: Gay ‘Cure’ For Minors Is Banned In California.

    Google is a great source index to find out more on the Web about those who "...protest too much"...


    Diss Information Is There a Way to Stop Popular Falsehoods from Morphing into Facts?


    False information is pervasive and difficult to eradicate, but scientists are developing new strategies such as "de-biasing," a method that focuses on facts, to help spread the truth

    By Carrie Arnold

    A recurring red herring in the current presidential campaign is the verity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate. Although the president has made this document public, and records of his 1961 birth in Honolulu have been corroborated by newspaper announcements, a vocal segment of the population continues to insist that Obama's birth certificate proving U.S. citizenship is a fraud, making him legally ineligible to be president. A Politico survey found that a majority of voters in the 2011 Republican primary shared this clearly false belief.

    Scientific issues can be just as vulnerable to misinformation campaigns. Plenty of people still believe that vaccines cause autism and that human-caused climate change is a hoax. Science has thoroughly debunked these myths, but the misinformation persists in the face of overwhelming evidence. Straightforward efforts to combat the lies may backfire as well. A paper published on September 18 in Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI) says that efforts to fight the problem frequently have the opposite effect.

    "You have to be careful when you correct misinformation that you don't inadvertently strengthen it," says Stephan Lewandowsky, a psychologist at the University of Western Australia in Perth and one of the paper's authors. "If the issues go to the heart of people's deeply held world views, they become more entrenched in their opinions if you try to update their thinking."

    Psychologists call this reaction belief perseverance: maintaining your original opinions in the face of overwhelming data that contradicts your beliefs. Everyone does it, but we are especially vulnerable when invalidated beliefs form a key part of how we narrate our lives. Researchers have found that stereotypes, religious faiths and even our self-concept are especially vulnerable to belief perseverance. A 2008 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people are more likely to continue believing incorrect information if it makes them look good (enhances self-image). For example, if an individual has become known in her community for purporting that vaccines cause autism, she might build her self-identity as someone who helps prevent autism by helping other parents avoid vaccination. Admitting that the original study linking autism to the MMR (measles–mumps–rubella) vaccine was ultimately deemed fraudulent would make her look bad (diminish her self-concept).

    In this circumstance, it is easier to continue believing that autism and vaccines are linked, according to Dartmouth College political science researcher Brendan Nyhan. "It's threatening to admit that you're wrong," he says. "It's threatening to your self-concept and your worldview." It's why, Nyhan says, so many examples of misinformation are from issues that dramatically affect our lives and how we live.
    Ironically, these issues are also the hardest to counteract. Part of the problem, researchers have found, is how people determine whether a particular statement is true. We are more likely to believe a statement if it confirms our preexisting beliefs, a phenomenon known as confirmation bias. Accepting a statement also requires less cognitive effort than rejecting it. Even simple traits such as language can affect acceptance: Studies have found that the way a statement is printed or voiced (or even the accent) can make those statements more believable. Misinformation is a human problem, not a liberal or conservative one, Nyhan says.

    Misinformation is even more likely to travel and be amplified by the ongoing diversification of news sources and the rapid news cycle. Today, publishing news is as simple as clicking "send." This, combined with people's tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, tends to magnify the effects of misinformation. Nyhan says that although a good dose of skepticism doesn't hurt while reading news stories, the onus to prevent misinformation should be on political pundits and journalists rather than readers. "If we all had to research every factual claim we were exposed to, we'd do nothing else," Nyhan says. "We have to address the supply side of misinformation, not just the demand side."

    Correcting misinformation, however, isn't as simple as presenting people with true facts. When someone reads views from the other side, they will create counterarguments that support their initial viewpoint, bolstering their belief of the misinformation. Retracting information does not appear to be very effective either. Lewandowsky and colleagues published two papers in 2011 that showed a retraction, at best, halved the number of individuals who believed misinformation.

    Combating misinformation has proved to be especially difficult in certain scientific areas such as climate science. Despite countless findings to the contrary, a large portion of the population doesn't believe that scientists agree on the existence of human-caused climate change, which affects their willingness to seek a solution to the problem, according to a 2011 study in Nature Climate Change. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

    "Misinformation is inhibiting public engagement in climate change in a major way," says Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University and author of the Nature article, as well as a commentary that accompanied the recent article in PSPI by Lewandowsky and colleagues. Although virtually all climate scientists agree that human actions are changing the climate and that immediate action must be taken, roughly 60 percent of Americans believe that no scientific consensus on climate change exists.

    "This is not a random event," Maibach says. Rather, it is the result of a concerted effort by a small number of politicians and industry leaders to instill doubt in the public. They repeat the message that climate scientists don't agree that global warming is real, is caused by people or is harmful. Thus, the message concludes, it would be premature for the government to take action and increase regulations.

    To counter this effort, Maibach and others are using the same strategies employed by climate change deniers. They are gathering a group of trusted experts on climate and encouraging them to repeat simple, basic messages. It's difficult for many scientists, who feel that such simple explanations are dumbing down the science or portraying it inaccurately. And researchers have been trained to focus on the newest research, Maibach notes, which can make it difficult to get them to restate older information. Another way to combat misinformation is to create a compelling narrative that incorporates the correct information, and focuses on the facts rather than dispelling myths—a technique called "de-biasing."

    Although campaigns to counteract misinformation can be difficult to execute, they can be remarkably effective if done correctly. A 2009 study found that an anti-prejudice campaign in Rwanda aired on the country's radio stations successfully altered people's perceptions of social norms and behaviors in the aftermath of the 1994 tribally based genocide of an estimated 800,000 minority Tutsi. Perhaps the most successful de-biasing campaign, Maibach notes, is the current near-universal agreement that tobacco smoking is addictive and can cause cancer. In the 1950s smoking was considered a largely safe lifestyle choice—so safe that it was allowed almost everywhere and physicians appeared in ads to promote it. The tobacco industry carried out a misinformation campaign for decades, reassuring smokers that it was okay to light up. Over time opinions began to shift as overwhelming evidence of ill effects was made public by more and more scientists and health administrators.

    The most effective way to fight misinformation, ultimately, is to focus on people's behaviors, Lewandowsky says. Changing behaviors will foster new attitudes and beliefs.

    "The GOP candidate suddenly doesn't want to raise taxes on the rich and loves government regulations. But is this the real Mitt Romney?...So if Romney wins the election, will the conservative or the moderate show up in the Oval Office? That's the $64,000 question. "If Romney is facing a Democratic Congress that demands compromise in return for votes — the same situation he faced in Massachusetts — he'll be more like the Massachusetts moderate he presented as last night," says Klein . "If he's facing a Republican Congress that's pulling him to the right…he'll be more like the candidate we saw in this year's primaries and throughout much of this campaign." http://theweek.com/article/index/234359/the-presidential-debate-how-mitt-romney-reverted-to-being-a-massachusetts-moderate

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