Rebutting Bad Research
News like this research story (“Men: Gay, Straight or Liars?“) now travels at the speed of a mouse-click, so the same story was being run in papers and one websites around the globe. However, while news travels quickly and easily, so can our responses to it. There were plenty of people including bi activists writing to the press – and often getting into print – debunking the bad science involved in the report.
LA Times columnist Meghan Daum responded; the study’s lead author, Dr. J. Michael Bailey, is a controversial figure who has been accused of ethics violations in his research practices, has ties to at least one “neo-eugenics” outfit that studies and promotes “artificial natural selection,” and despite describing himself as “very pro-gay,” is a favorite son of gay “recovery” groups. The author of a much-criticized book about transsexuals, Bailey also is associated with the notion of homosexuality being an “evolutionary mistake.”
Lanei from the UK Bi Media network commented “Part of getting a fair press for bisexuals, is challenging the media when it prints blatently unfair commentary. The concept that all bi men are just ‘faking it’ is crazy. I’ve been really encouraged by the international nature of the reactions. This kind of case only goes to show the need for a broad base for the bi media group.”
And rebuttals were needed as the queer press from the Pink Paper to 365gay.com and as far afield as Australia ran stories based on the original New York Times article few of which were overly friendly. Both New England’s Bay Windows and the UK Pink Paper reacted to the news by asking readers opinions as to whether bisexuality was real or not. They would hardly do the same thing if research claimed lesbians and gays were self-deluded heterosexuals.
Only a few of the letters and emails of outrage from bi activists around the globe made it into print, but weight of complaint on an editor’s mail tray may help change the editorial tone next time around. Two letters made it to the Pink Paper’s letters page: one serious, one short and snappy.
Lanei adds: “Rebuttals like this are just one part of getting bisexuals a fair press, but there was a really good international reaction. It highlights the need for a broad membership base for the Bi Media group: it’s all very well having people like myself, Gina or Jen responding but in the case of this story the voices of bi men themselves carry that much more authority since they can speak from direct personal experience. We’ve had some really excellent responses from bi men against the articles, but there are some areas that we are really under-represented.”
See listings for how to join the bi media network.