Posts Tagged ‘John W. Tukey’

An Important Review of Misleading Statistics on Homosexuality

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

There are few more contentious topics than statistics on same-sex behavior.

When popular truisms are questioned by professional scientists, as were Alfred C. Kinsey‘s statistics by the American Statistical Association in 1954, the response from the popular media is often dead silence. The general public is still not aware of the devastating debunking of Kinsey’s numbers by some of the world’s best statisticians:

“Critics are justified in their objections that many of the most interesting and provocative statements in the [Kinsey 1948] book are not based on the data presented therein, and it is not made clear to the reader on what evidence the statements are based. Further, the conclusions drawn from data presented in the book are often stated by KPM [Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin] in much too bold and confident a manner. Taken cumulatively, these objections amount to saying that much of the writing in the book falls below the level of good scientific writing.”

Cochran, William Gemmell, W. O. Jenkins, Frederick Mosteller, and John Wilder Tukey. 1954. Statistical problems of the Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. American Statistical Association, National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for Research in Problems of Sex – Psychology

Now Wheaton College provost Stanton L. Jones has published a comprehensive review and correction of misleading same-sex statistics. An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the February 2012 First Things. But here is the extended version, with references, from the Center for Applied Christian Ethics (CACE).

In his CACE article, Prof. Jones addresses what he calls “false beliefs about homosexuality”:

    “Being gay is just as healthy, both in terms of mental health and physical health, as being straight;
    sexual orientation, just like race, is a biologically determined given to which environmental variables such as family and culture contribute nothing and to which individuals make no voluntary contribution;
    sexual orientation cannot be changed, and thus the attempt to change is intrinsically harmful;
    homosexual relationships are equivalent to heterosexual marriage in all important characteristics; and
    identity is properly and legitimately constituted around sexual orientation.”

“Sexual Orientation and Reason: On the Implications of False Beliefs about Homosexuality,” by Stanton L. Jones, Center for Applied Christian Ethics, accessed 1/21/12

I thank Prof. Stanton L. Jones for his important and reasoned contribution to a topic too often ruled by mythology and propaganda.

Please see my earlier critique of Kinsey for further background on this question.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


The scientist who shielded and enabled pedophiles

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

If you ever wondered how criminal penalties in the US for pedophilia transitioned for a time from extreme sentences to relatively short sentences, and how pedophiles from the late 1950s up until recent years were given revolving-door sentences only to target children again, you might wonder whose work guided those who drafted the Model Penal Code in 1955 that advanced the reduction of prison sentences for pedophiles and other sexual criminals.

If you guessed that it was the bishops of the Catholic Church, you guessed wrong. The recommendation to reduce sentences for pedophiles and other sexual criminals was made along with civil libertarians by an atheist and an Indiana University scientist, Alfred C. Kinsey (1894-1956), the same Kinsey lionized in the eponymous 2004 film produced by Francis Ford Coppola, directed by Bill Condon, and starring Liam Neeson, the same Kinsey funded for years by the Rockefeller Foundation and by Hugh Hefner, the same Kinsey with a 1953 Time Magazine cover picture, the same Kinsey whose faulty science has been cited for decades by uncritical jurists in numerous major court, including US Supreme Court, decisions.

The Kinsey film in 2004 marked the zenith of Kinsey’s reputation. It has since fallen:

  • Recent scholarship revealing Kinsey’s role in shielding pedophiles who carefully reported to Kinsey hundreds of victims,
  • a growing scientific consensus reaffirming the noted humanistic psychologist Abraham H. Maslow’s original 1952 criticism of “volunteer bias” in Kinsey’s studies,
  • the development of federal and professional ethical regulation, policies, and practices for research with “vulnerable populations” such as children and prisoners, along with “mandated reporting” of pedophilia in many states–especially in Indiana–which have provided a modern contrast to Kinsey’s unethical scientific practice,
  • and in addition the compilation of biographic information on Kinsey that indicated his personal depravity involving his sexual harassment/coercion of members of his circle to participate in sexual film-making in his attic, and his particular topical interest in adult sex with children,

–have all served to permanently undermine the standing of Kinsey’s personal character and scientific work among those whose knowledge extends beyond watching films and comedy skits or flipping past the “redeeming social content” citations of Kinsey in pornographic magazines, to scholarly reading and to scientific inquiry.

To some among the community of civil libertarians, with whom Kinsey worked closely on the revision of the 1955 Model Penal Code, Kinsey has been propped up for years, as “too big to fail.” But, as the tide has turned world-wide against pedophilia, so too has Kinsey’s reputation been irreparably tarnished.

The change in perspective on Kinsey has been slow in coming, but has been aided first by the globalization of media, and then by the visualizing power of the Internet.

Among the first major public blows to Kinsey’s public reputation in the English-speaking world came with the 1998 BBC television program, Secret History: Kinsey’s Paedophiles, which portrayed an interview with an Indiana woman who claimed as a child to be victim of Kinsey’s pedophilia research. With the advent of YouTube, this BBC program can now be viewed world-wide–

For similar material, see–

A second chink in Kinsey’s armor came with the revelation of Kinsey’s correspondence with Dr. Fritz Von Balluseck, a Nazi and notorious convicted pedophile investigated by the German police after the murder of a young girl in 1957, the year after Kinsey’s death. While knowledge of Kinsey’s connection with the beastly Dr. Von Balluseck was confined to German-speaking world for years, it broke into the English-speaking world when the dogged work of Kinsey’s independent scholarly nemesis, Dr. Judith Reisman, was prominently reported in the New York Times movie section in 2004–

More bad news for Kinsey’s reputation followed, when it was revealed that he had protected the anonymity of an American pedophile named Rex King who claimed hundreds of victims over several decades. The section entitled “Pedophilia” in the Wikipedia article cited shortly below contains further information on the Rex King connection.

Regarding Kinsey’s reputation as a scientist, the scholarly criticism directed at Kinsey’s penchant for “volunteer bias” in his scientific methodology by the eminent Abraham H. Maslow in his 1952 article–

Maslow, A. H., and Sakoda, J. (1952). Volunteer error in the Kinsey study, Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 1952 Apr;47(2):259-62.

–has never been effectively refuted by the Kinsey circle.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead, in the following article–

Margaret Mead, “An Anthropologist Looks at the Report,” Problems of Sexual Behavior (New York: American Social Hygiene Association, 1948)

–famously remarked that Kinsey’s 1948 report “suggests no way of choosing between a woman and a sheep.”

Wikipedia summarized the scientific assessment of Kinsey’s work–

A 1991 edition of the The Lancet medical journal noted:

The important allegations from the scientific viewpoint are the imperfections in the (Kinsey) sample and unethical, possibly criminal observations on children … Kinsey has left his former co-workers some explaining to do.[39]

And in a 1993 journal, the Archives of Sexual Behavior, J. Gordon Muir and Edward W. Eichel accused Kinsey of using and deliberately concealing disproportionate samples of subjects including 25% prisoners, additional sex offenders and several hundred male prostitutes, against the advice of Abraham Maslow, and lying about the nature of his work.[40]

39–The Lancet, (Vol. 337: March 2, 1991, p. 547).
40–Archives of Sexual Behavior Volume 22, Number 5 / October, 1993

* Page name: Alfred Kinsey
* Author: Wikipedia contributors
* Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
* Date of last revision: 1 March 2010 13:54 UTC
* Date retrieved: 28 March 2010 05:27 UTC
* Permanent link:
* Primary contributors: Revision history statistics
* Page Version ID: 347089233

[I note that a Wikipedia user later on 3/28/10 deleted a large portion of the Kinsey Wikipedia article, including much of the Pedophilia section, leaving the denials of the Kinsey Institute in place without their surrounding context. On 3/29/10, a second Wikipedia user deleted the references in the Wikipedia article to research ethics. The archival Wikipedia address above will yield the Kinsey Wikipedia article version prior to these editors’ biased deletions.]

Perhaps the most telling scientific critique of Kinsey’s statistics from a purely scientific perspective came from the American Statistical Association, when an eminent group of statisticians, including the foundational Scottish statistician William Gemmell Cochran, the eminent Harvard statistician Frederick Mosteller, the noted American scholar W. O. Jenkins, and the distinguished American statistician and foundational computer scientist John W. Tukey (Tukey invented the computer term “bit,” and was the first person to use the word “software” in print) edited a critique of Kinsey’s 1948 report on the human male, in which they stated:

“Critics are justified in their objections that many of the most interesting and provocative statements in the [Kinsey 1948] book are not based on the data presented therein, and it is not made clear to the reader on what evidence the statements are based. Further, the conclusions drawn from data presented in the book are often stated by KPM [Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin] in much too bold and confident a manner. Taken cumulatively, these objections amount to saying that much of the writing in the book falls below the level of good scientific writing.”

Cochran, William Gemmell, W. O. Jenkins, Frederick Mosteller, and John Wilder Tukey. 1954. Statistical problems of the Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. American Statistical Association, National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for Research in Problems of Sex – Psychology

Kinsey biographer James H. Jones noted in his 1997 portrait of Kinsey (Jones, James H. 1997. Alfred C. Kinsey : a public/private life. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, pp. 656-665) how Kinsey’s team finessed the first 1952 critique by these eminent statisticians with the press, how the press paid little attention to the statistical critique, and how it was John W. Tukey who insisted that the American Statistical Association publish the report almost two years later in 1954 for the record, when again the press largely ignored it.

John W. Tukey; Source:

Due to the present world-wide integration of information media, such a major critique by a prominent scientific professional association of a famous scientist’s work would not be ignored today, nor would jurists have so freely quoted Kinsey in their subsequent opinions. But in 1952 and 1954, it was even easier to “spin” the press than it is today.

Now, since the 1954 statistical critique of Kinsey’s work produced by some of the world’s best statisticians is known and available, there is absolutely no excuse today for any journalist, scientist, or jurist to quote Kinsey’s statistics at face value.

A recap of further scientific, ethical, and legal criticism of Kinsey’s work, along with a summary of how Kinsey influenced the 1955 revision of the Model Penal Code, is contained in the following 2005 Zenit article summarizing the work of Susan Brinkmann, the coauthor with Judith Reisman of The Kinsey Corruption: An Expose on the Most Influential Scientist of Our Time, a short book from a religious perspective that was published soon after the release of the Kinsey movie in 2004. The Zenit article summarizes–

The good news is that in April of 2004, after five years of study, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of 2,400 lawmakers from 50 states, concluded that the work of Kinsey was a fraud and contained “manufactured statistics.”

The report outlined the influence these bogus numbers had on the weakening of 52 sex laws that once protected women, children and marriage. Methods for undoing the damage to America’s social and legal systems are presently being studied.

Jurists and legislature after legislature bought Kinsey’s flawed research in the 1940s and 50s that pedophiles and other sexual criminals were not a grave danger, so instead of keeping such dangerous individuals segregated from society, many were released after only a few years. The Catholic Church, too, among many other religious organizations, through a number of diocesan bishops and other leaders, listened to psychologists influenced by Kinsey, and took the counsel from professionals that relatively brief separation and therapy was the answer for pedophilia.

Uneducated in the methodologies to criticize bad science, religion and law (not to mention the military) in general have taken Kinsey and other bad psychological research far too seriously.

As as scientist, we might liken Kinsey to those early pioneering archeologists who discovered important historical sites, ruined them for future generations of scientists by their sloppy methodology, and placed into the popular mind their false conclusions which take generations for more rigorous researchers–if ever–to correct and undo.

Just as Kinsey’s work does not stand up to today’s standards for scientific rigor, it certainly does not stand up to today’s scientific ethics.

Scientists preparing research on human subjects in the US are required to attend training in research ethics to gain knowledge of federally-mandated requirements under applicable federal regulations, so when they submit their human subjects research protocols to be reviewed by their own Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) for approval prior to taking human subjects research into the active phase, a strong rubric for ethical research is established.

During these trainings, scientists review a number of great ethical misdeeds in American scientific research, including the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972) in which infected African-American men were not treated for their illness, and the Milgram experiments on obedience to authority, first reported in 1963, in which scientific subjects were manipulated into thinking that they were harming others with electric shocks that they were commanded by the experimenters to administer. The Milgram experiment was famously parodied by comedian Bill Murray’s character Dr. Peter Venkman in the film Ghostbusters.

That Kinsey’s unethical conduct in his study of pedophiles and prisoners is still not included along with the Tuskegee Experiments on standard lists of famous scientific ethical violations as part of ethical training at some universities and research hospitals for those preparing to protect the rights of human subjects indicates the last reluctance on the part of the final cohort in the scientific community blindly loyal to Kinsey to officially recognize that Kinsey’s work with these vulnerable populations was unethical in the extreme.

Were any scientist at Indiana University to attempt today to repeat Kinsey’s pedophilia research in the same unethical manner he practiced in not protecting research subjects, all research at that University would be shut down by the US Department of Health and Human Services until the University came into full compliance with federal regulations. Modern scientists know that Kinsey’s research ethics are indefensible. Hence the mute silence on this subject among his devotees.

Acknowledgment that Kinsey’s infamous tables 30-34 on children in his 1948 Sexual Behavior in the Human Male clearly exceed the boundaries of research ethics is tacit in current research behavior, which prohibits such research reporting on the behaviors of children without providing for legally enforceable informed consent, and which under state laws mandate reporting of child abuse to authorities. In Indiana especially, today all citizens are “mandated reporters.”

For some of the applicable federal and state regulations, please see–


The deeper one reads into the biographies of Kinsey, the more one discovers a professor who violated most of the ethical tenets within the present-day Faculty Handbook of almost any major research university. Imagine what today’s research university would do with a professor who violated guidelines on–

  • Scientific Integrity
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Protection of Research Subjects
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Mandated Reporting?

As I myself continue to read further into the Kinsey record and add to details within this blog by giving examples of the above infractions, I would not be surprised to find just about the only major ethical violation not listed on the above “hit parade”: Plagiarism from students or from colleagues.

None of the above violations are protected by academic freedom. A famous, or even-not-so-famous tenured professor who committed as many of the infractions above as Kinsey appears to have done would cause a major crisis of integrity within a given university. Administrators and faculty committees would be called into session, and mandated reports to federal sponsoring and regulatory agencies would have to be filed. Federal monitors might visit. Fines might be imposed. Funds might also have to be returned. In the end, the faculty member would be disciplined and/or fired, and with these multiple infractions, not quietly.

Is it fair to evaluate the behavior of a professor of the 1940s and 50s by today’s standards? It is certainly instructive to do so. If we are willing to evaluate clergy of the 1940s and 50s by today’s ethical standards, it is fair and consistent to evaluate scientists similarly. Today’s research university would not abide by a Professor Kinsey. Kinsey’s professorial behavior appears today not only inappropriate, but abhorent.

Several years ago, after prominent child psychology writer Bruno Bettelheim’s 1990 suicide, it was revealed that he mistreated children at his Orthogenic School associated with the University of Chicago–when previous to these revelations the literary, scientific, and media community had Dr. Bettelheim walking on water. Despite the herculean efforts of civil libertarians, artists, and erstwhile scientific colleagues of Kinsey, his reputation–on all fronts–is taking a similar fall.

Whether Kinsey is given a permanent “pass” as a cultural icon, similar to that of Elizabeth I of England, who despite her torture and persecution of her Catholic subjects persists as a beloved figure, remains to be seen. Among many in the civil liberty and sexual freedom community, Kinsey is held as a foundational, albeit flawed, sexual emancipator, something of a sexual Lincoln. Memorializing Kinsey in arts and letters will probably help him to secure his “pass.” Kinsey in 2005 already received his own PBS special, and in addition to the Kinsey film, there have been several plays and novels. Whether history and culture transmit the ugly truth about Kinsey’s work depends on whether victims’ advocates against pedophilia–and many other crimes of sexual violence–realize how central to the development of lax penal codes on pedophilia and sexual crimes in general Kinsey actually was, and how unethical by today’s and any day’s standards was Kinsey’s scientific practice.

If the records of interviews or correspondence with pedophiles claiming hundreds of victims were stored, say, in a Roman Catholic chancery instead of a university research center, media satellite vans would be camped outside by the dozens, not to mention a gathering mob of townsfolk with with the modern equivalent of torches and pitchforks–iPhones, Droids, and Twitter accounts–led by victims’ advocates.

Indeed, if the rationalizations for Kinsey’s shielding of the privacy of pedophiles offered by his scientific colleagues and supporters were to be put, say, into the mouths of the clergy, these scientists would sound positively episcopal, and perhaps these scientists would then be eligible for a major see. The “scientific” rationalizations offered for Kinsey’s unethical behavior in pedophilia research are as equally unacceptable as those earlier offered by clergy before they began to commit to “zero tolerance” on pedophilia.

Furthermore, Kinsey’s defenders ask us to make the same naive mistake in accepting their defense of him as made by generations of clergy and jurists in assuming that there is such a person as an inactive pedophile, and that somehow only inactive pedophiles–yet in excruciating pseudo-scientific detail timed in some instances by stopwatch–reported to Kinsey. Apparently, scientists can be just as gullible about the capacity of pedophiles to change their ways as can clergy–and as can judges.

If and when all the statutes of limitations on the crime of pedophilia are abolished, it will be interesting to see whether the pedophilia records of the Kinsey Institute are also included in the round-up, or whether only religious institutions will feel the full force of the law, and whether the victims of Kinsey’s Table 34 will ever see justice, even in the eyes of history.

Just as critics of the Vatican have called for the Vatican to open its archives–to which the Vatican has been steadily complying with a lag of 50-80 years–so too should the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University commit to appropriately release the Kinsey archives and data at some reasonable point in the future. At that point, the real scientific assessment of Kinsey’s work and ethics can begin.

Prof. Kinsey’s bad science led to bad laws that released dangerous criminals who caused–and continue to cause–untold human suffering among countless innocent victims. This proliferation of sexual violence is Prof. Kinsey’s true legacy, and it is not something for which Indiana University should be in any way celebratory or proud.

Universities would do well to devote more of their research resources to test and to develop strategies for the reduction of sexual violence, and less time on the solipsism of sexual identity politics, in other words, the funding of faculty to talk mostly about themselves. Indiana University might consider taking the lead in this shift of research agenda, which at least in some way might reverse some of the damage that Kinsey wrought upon the innocent in society.

The more that is known about Kinsey, the more the Kinsey “brand” is damaged. What does not add value to a university is first quietly forgotten, then eventually erased.

The more that is known about Kinsey, and the more his shadow interferes with the work of his center, the more likely it is that whatever center for Sex, Gender, and Reproduction that exists at Indiana University will remove the name Kinsey from its marquee. This name-change is only one major donor away from becoming a reality. It is now only a matter of time, and of the truth inevitably finding its way forward.

For a recent lecture by American psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, MD, to the UN Commission on the Status of Women touching on Kinsey’s negative influence on public health, see–

Every educated person should learn something about statistics. Here’s a good place to start–

I also highly recommend the following meditation by Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day on her first encounter with the ideas of Kinsey in 1948–

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved