The Chicago Free Press cancels ad for Bailey sex research subjects:
"Since we cannot in good conscience steer our readers to a study that Bailey is part of, we’re canceling the ad. And in the future, before accepting any ads for research studies, our ad staff will ask who is involved. If Bailey is, we won’t accept the ads." - Editors of the CFP
August 9, 2006:
"Bad Science", Editorial in the Chicago Free Press"
August 15, 2006:
"Chicago Gay Paper Nixes Ad From Controversial Sex Researcher," by Mark Fitzgerald, Editor and Pubisher.com
August 17, 2006:
Letter to the editors from Andrea James
Suggested background reading
Recently, CFP ran an ad for a research study seeking gay men with gay brothers. The study is based at Northwestern University and other institutions.
A few CFP readers looked into the study and found that one of the principal researchers is Northwestern psychology professor J. Michael Bailey.
Bailey is a controversial figure, to say the least. His 2003 book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen,” has been heavily criticized by transgender activists, who say it falsely characterizes transgenders as “especially motivated” to shoplift and asserts that “the single most common occupation” of transgenders is prostitution. The book was not footnoted, as serious research commonly is, and some Chicago transgenders said Bailey befriended them in bars and never told them he was using them as subjects for his book, which is clearly wrong.
Northwestern officials investigated the complaints, and while they would not comment on their findings, Bailey subsequently resigned as chairman of the school’s psychology department, although he remains on staff there. Bailey never responded to CFP questions about his book or his research. He has since created a “Book Controversy Question & Answer” section on his website, but it doesn’t address any of the allegations listed above.
The book is not the only controversial aspect to Bailey’s research. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation blasted Bailey and an article about his research in the New York Times in 2005. The subject of that article, a research paper co-written by Bailey and a graduate student, asserted, “It remains to be shown that male bisexuality exists.” Bailey based that claim on experiments involving a widely discredited scientific instrument developed in Stalinist Czechoslovakia in the 1950s to measure soldiers’ responses to sexual stimuli.
Media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting said in a statement about the Times article, “In suggesting that men who claim a bisexual sexual orientation are liars, the Times relies heavily on a single study whose senior researcher has a career marked by ethics controversies and eugenics proposals.”
Bailey has also generalized that gay men tend to be feminine boys, and part of his current study is aimed at pursuing that theory. He has generalized that most gay men are ashamed of being perceived as feminine, an assertion that demonstrates how Bailey lets his own feelings and assumptions about what’s masculine or feminine, even gay or straight, guide his findings.
The current study is also aimed at finding a genetic basis for homosexuality. If that were discovered, and parents were consequently able to ensure that their offspring were not gay (something that many scientists believe isn’t possible), Bailey has said that such a choice “would be morally unproblematic.”
“It is quite hard to see how being heterosexual causes any harm to the child,” Bailey said at a 2004 forum at Northwestern.
Thanks to the heads-up from our readers, we looked into Bailey’s involvement in this study and found it to be substantial. Since we cannot in good conscience steer our readers to a study that Bailey is part of, we’re canceling the ad. And in the future, before accepting any ads for research studies, our ad staff will ask who is involved. If Bailey is, we won’t accept the ads.
There are other researchers involved in this study. They may have good motives, but we question their association with Bailey. We appreciate good science. We don’t appreciate being used to further the dubious agenda of someone who believes he should not be held accountable to our community.
Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:
Thank you for covering the important Chicago Free Press decision not to accept ads from studies involving Northwestern University psychologist J. Michael Bailey. I have been one of his principal critics after meeting several of the women he wrote about in his 2003 book.
Outside of his email listserv and the conservative student weblog where he posted a rambling defense of his questionable research and ethics, it’s pretty clear that Bailey is not the victim of some sort of transsexual conspiracy as he likes to claim. Bailey's work has been questioned by The Council for Responsible Genetics (1), the then-president of the world-renowned Kinsey Institute (2), the then-president of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (3), and pretty much every major LGBT activist group and publication in North America (4, 5, 6). Even media watchdogs have questioned reporting about him, which, like Bailey, frequently omits important and inconvenient data (7).
There’s no reason for the Chicago Free Press to support bad science (in this case, what is known as “convenience sampling”), and I applaud their decision to take a stand on this important issue. Science reporting in this country has become increasingly politicized by publicity-hungry hackademics like Bailey, who have learned that splashy “scientific” pronouncements keep them in the media spotlight (8). It’s a shame that respected scientists still let Bailey sully their reputations by letting him attach himself to their projects. Let’s hope the federal government will follow CFP’s example and support real scientists only, not bigots in labcoats.
Suggested furtgher reading:
"J. Michael Bailey attacks the identities of yet another sexual minority
group: He claims that the plethysmograph proves bisexual men are "lying",
and that most are just gay men after all", Lynnconway, LynnConway.com, July
"New York Times Promotes Bisexual Stereotypes in "Straight, Gay or Lying? -
New York Times Promotes Bisexual Stereotypes in "Straight, Gay or Lying"",
GLAAD "Write-Now" Alert, July 7, 2005
9. "New York Times Suggests Bisexuals Are "Lying" - Paper fails to disclose study author's controversial history", Action Alert - Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), July 8, 2005
14. "Kinder, gentler homophobia - What was up with 60 Minutes’ bizarrely unbalanced report on the origins of sexuality? In part the answer is disgraced “scientist” J. Michael Bailey, who thinks gay men tend to be girly and bisexuals don’t exist", , Advocate.com, April 6, 2006