Opinion: Suspicious research

POSTED: 12/19/11 2:04 AM

There is something about research that makes us highly suspicious of results. Say, for instance, that we would compare people who eat a lot of carrots with people who eat a lot of Brussels sprouts. We wouldn’t want to belong to that last group for a million dollars, but that’s beside the point. The comparison shows that people who eat a lot of Brussels sprouts wear eye glasses more frequently than people who eat a lot of carrots.
The old joke comes to mind: have you ever seen a rabbit with glasses? The conclusion is that carrots are good for your eyesight. Had we compared eye glass-wearing carrot-eaters with eyeglass wearing Brussels sprouts eaters we would obviously not have been able to make this distinction.
So where are we going with this? Our point is that it is possible to prove anything – and to make others believe that what we have proven is the truth and nothing but the truth.
Movisie is a serious Dutch organization. It is, according to its web site, the ultimate national knowledge institute and consultancy bureau for social development. “We offer applicable knowhow, advice and solutions for tackling social issues in the fields of good health, participation, care and social safety.”
The name Movisie is a contraction of Mo (maatschappelijke ontwikkeling – social development) and visie (vision).
We would not think that Movisie is a suspect organization with dark motives. It is therefore that we read with some bewilderment a press release that claimed the following: lesbians, gays and bisexuals run a greater risk to encounter psychological problems and their health is worse than that of straight people.
It was a brief report in the reputable Volkskrant that drew our attention first. The newspaper reported that scientific research shows that gays and bisexuals suffer more often than straight people from fear and mood disorders, that they are more often suicidal, that they live unhealthier and that they run a bigger risk to contact venereal diseases.
At the Volkskrant they were not born yesterday so for good measure they sneaked in a remark that these are the results of scientific research “according to the organization” – meaning Movisie.
The Movisie-research was done by Jose Renkens, Hanneke Felten and Judith Schuyf. They plowed through mountains of national and international research material – an exercise that sounds a lot like having to listen to our Members of Parliament for three weeks straight.
These researchers read more than one hundred scientific articles and in these articles they found the data on which they have now based their conclusions.
They also found a reason: lesbians, gays and bisexuals are more often than straight people confronted with stress due to discrimination, harassment and violence.
While the researchers recommend that healthcare systems must become more accessible to lesbians, gays and bisexuals “:by increasing the expertise of healthcare professionals.”
Aren’t these guys going a bit fast/ we don’t even know whether the conclusions they serve us in a $10-report are accurate and truth be told – we don’t trust these conclusions.
So-called alternative lifestyles are becoming more generally accepted – meaning that hardly anybody cares whether someone is gay, lesbian of bi – as long as they don’t mess with their sons and daughters – but the keyword here is generally.
People, especially youngsters, who struggle with their sexual identity, easily feel stigmatized; not because they’re gay, but because they’re different. It’s not much different from having red hair or freckles, just a tad more embarrassing for those who are sensitive to it.
Now this group of what the researchers euphemistically call “vulnerable LHB’s” – whereby LHB is researcher speak for lesbian, homos and bisexuals – has another monkey on its back they run a bigger chance to end up with psychological problems and they are also unhealthier that straight people. With the research among carrot-eaters and Brussels sprouts-eaters in the back of our mind, we maintain that it is uncertain whether this is a true or a false statement.

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