07 January, 2012

Propaganda: Gentle Reader Series #5 Why does propaganda work?

Gentle readers:

One of the reasons why anti-gay propaganda is so powerful is because it is relatively easy to make false claims, but it is much more time-consuming to do the heavy lifting necessary to refute those claims. Case in point – look at how long this series is relative to the brief section in Mr. Clowes’ original article that makes those claims.

Nevertheless, let’s examine another of Mr. Clowes’ claims to see how well it stands up to critical thinking. He states that:

“Homosexual Alfred Kinsey, the USA's preeminent sexual researcher, found in 1948 that 37 percent of all male homosexuals admitted to having sex with children under 17 years old.”

I find it interesting that Mr. Clowes chooses to cite the work of Alfred Kinsey at all. The religious right often dismisses most of Kinsey’s work, especially his much publicized claim that 10% of the population tends towards a homosexual orientation.

For anyone with even a passing understanding of Kinsey’s work on homosexuals, they would already know about two of the main criticisms of that work:

a) Most of Kinsey’s homosexual subjects were from prison populations or were male prostitutes;
b) Men who volunteer to participate in a study on a taboo subject are likely to have a self-selection bias.

In 1948 very few homosexual men outside of prison, or a deviant subculture, would volunteer to participate in such a study. It stands to reason then that the incidence of pedophilia among such populations would not be representative of the general homosexual population. It would be like trying to understand the sexual practices of heterosexual married couples by surveying folks who frequented brothels. Both groups might be heterosexual in their orientation, and there might even be some overlap between the two populations, but you would not be able to draw too many useful conclusions about the former by studying the latter.

Should Mr. Clowes have been aware of this limitation of Kinsey’s work? Well if he was not aware of it, he should have been. After all, a basic search on Wikipedia would have quickly set Mr. Clowes straight on the matter.

So we now need to ask ourselves a couple questions:

Why did Mr. Clowes fail to disclose this information to his readers? Better yet, why did Mr. Clowes choose to use this suspect information from Kinsey’s work to support his argument in the first place?

Could it be that Mr. Clowes is an anti-gay propagandist?

We already have a few clues that this may be what is really going on.


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