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An amendment to the Texas-state constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions is coming up for vote in a couple weeks, and the Texas Observer has an article featuring interviews with a number of self-described fundamentalists who support the ban.

Here's what Mary Ann Markarian—an ordained minister, graduate of Oral Roberts University, and a Christian performer often featured on the Trinity Broadcasting Network—had to say on the issue:

The median age of homosexual men dying with AIDS is thirty-nine years old; that'’s wrong, not natural. The median age of all other homosexual men dying from other causes is forty-two. Do you consider forty-two young? I consider it extremely young since I'm one year away from it. The median age of death for lesbians is forty-five years old—of lesbians. That compares to seventy-five years old for heterosexual men and seventy-nine for heterosexual women. Only one percent of homosexuals die of old age; only three percent ever live to age fifty-five. Think about it, and then tell me that God doesn'’t have some problem with this whole thing——that God isn'’t speaking. It's unnecessary to put my name in the paper—you can just say that "“God said,"” and here'’s the statistics.

Well, I imagine if God were speaking, he wouldn't quote a study based on a fatally flawed methodology. As the Observer article mentions, Markarian's stats are based upon a study by Paul Cameron, the head of a right-wing think-tank and a quack who was kicked out of the American Psychological Association for violations of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and formally condemned by a resolution of the American Sociological Association for his "consistent misrepresentation of sociological research".

Dr Gregory Herek of UC Davis has a detailed critique of how the study that provided Markarian's stats was deeply flawed, but this is the gist of it: Cameron used as his sample, in order to determine the mean life expectancy of homosexuals, obituaries from gay-community publications.

It doesn't take a genius to see how this could go badly wrong: The deaths of younger homosexual men and women, more likely than the older generation to be open about their homosexuality and have friends or family willing to publicly declare their homosexuality by publishing their obituaries in gay-community publications, would inevitably be more strongly represented in the sample than those of older homosexual men and women, thus the mean age of death is grossly overinflated.

It's inconceivable to me that Cameron couldn't see the simple flaw behind his method, but these kind of wrong-headed stats are viral. People repeat them uncritically, and soon they acquire the weight of unquestionable fact. Hell, Markarian's so convinced she's willing to grant them the status of divine dictum, and wield them as a weapon to forever curtail the rights of an already embattled minority population.

Then again, when you begin with an unquestioned and uncritical allegiance to a flawed compendium of rumors and pre-scientific half-truths, as fundamentalists do, I imagine you're liable to swallow just about anything ...

Originally posted to [Subject to Change without Notice].

Originally posted to bcveen on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 11:47 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  oh wow (none)
    Can they get any stupider?

    (No really... I'm asking... Can they?)

  •  thanks for the post (none)
    It's always interesting to read not only the opinions/issues here, but also some good critiques of the methods and means that the fundamentalists will use to present biased "reports."  Background and analysis are always appreciated.
  •  Nothing new here (none)
    Its really no different than the way homosexuality used to be classified as a mental illness, based on studies done on people in mental institutions.

    Ultimately, homophobia in all its forms all boil down to the "You put your penis WHERE?  Ewww!" factor, but that's not something you can use to justify homophobia, simply because it sounds stupid and clearly isn't viable material for discrimination.  A few people have enough entrepreneurial spirit to fake evidence of why homosexuality is bad:  most people just blindly use whatever reason is handy.

    •  You put your penis where? (none)
      As a gay guy, I can emphatically claim that question can swing both ways.
      •  Yep (none)
        I like to point out that gay couples can't do much of anything that straight couples can't also do-- any given pair of gays have a more limited repetoire but can switch back & forth wrt roles, while straight couples can do virtually anything imaginable but with more restricted roles based on anatomy <g>.  Of course, I also think that the lack of defined & restricted gender roles pisses fundies off much more than specific sex acts, when you get right down to it.

        Compromise is something you do behind the scenes. Stop doing it in public. -Atrios

        by latts on Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 06:53:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, I missed the point (none)
        of your comment initially ;), but it was as good a place as any to put my mini-soapbox, I guess.

        Compromise is something you do behind the scenes. Stop doing it in public. -Atrios

        by latts on Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 06:54:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Does God give them... (none)
    ...special dispensation to lie? Or do they use some "intelligent design reality."
  •  Another student of BULLSHIT (none)
    Beyond the Usual Leeps of Logic - Statistical Hyperbole for Influencing 'Tards

    professor: Bill O'Reilly,
    BS and more BS from the Heritage Foundation School for Applied Mathematics.

    I'm shocked that this "researcher" actually had some method to skew the data. Usually they just make it up, and act assertive. Like this:

    My BULLSHIT Thesis,
    by Ima Fundie

    In a study of homosexuals aged 30-39, the median age of death from AIDS was 35! Worse, in this same group, the median age of death was 35 for ANY cause! Obviously, we can now prove that it is not AIDS, but homosexuality itself that is fatal. Of course, if you read the bible, you don't need some number cruncher to prove anything -- its right there in Leviticus and has been for 2,000 years, nearly halfway back to the creation of Earth.

    There have been homosexuals for 100 generations before our parents' parents -- and they all died. They all died.

    Wake up people and smell the Amyl Nitrite! We don't need a sign that says "God Hates Fags?" We just like the way they look! Praise!

    The key, use common statistical terms that people recognize, but don't know because they dropped out of high-school and throw in reasonable sounding numbers and then claim they reveal stunning truths.

  •  Math Phobics (none)
    Given the state of math education in out country, many people won't be able to see the holes in your faux study.

    "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." (T. Paine)

    by dmmteacher on Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 03:37:04 AM PDT

  •  Oh Lord (none)
    There is a lot of work to do.  How can anyone with a brain beleive those statistics?

    Liberal, Christian, Feminazi, Mom.

    by TeresaInPa on Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 08:06:47 AM PDT

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