The annual convention of the American Psychological Association opened on Thursday in New Orleans. A small group of Christian extremists, including Dobson's Focus on the Family, were on hand to protest. Why? They oppose APA's position on "therapeutic" efforts to convert homosexuals. So called "restorative" or "reparative" therapies (i.e., psychotherapy designed to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals) have been the subject of several well-controlled scientific studies. The data show that they are not only ineffective, but harmful. These data form the basis of APA's position in opposition to such approaches. This is a clear example of religious extremists opposing science when it conflicts with their faith.
This fits well with Mooney's The Republican War on Science because we see the anti-science bias of the right emerging in a particular form. Just like Mooney says, the right calls any scientific findings which conflict with their politics "bad science." As you can see in this newswire, the Christian extremist protestors are doing just that. Whenever you see the term "bad science," remember that this says absolutely nothing about the quality of the science. Instead, it refers to scientific findings which do not support the right's religiously-based social agenda. Scary stuff.
Overall, the convention was a positive experience. Lots of interesting stuff on the psychological aftermath of Katrina, how the profession should respond to terrorism, and other socially relevant topics. Aside from the extremist protesters and a speaking appearance by embarrassment-to-the-field, Dr. Phil, the my only complaint was the number of sessions dealing with religion/spirituality in positive terms. But I think I'll save that for another post.
Tags: Christian extremism, religious extremism, psychology, New Orleans, Focus on the Family, James Dobson, American Psychological Association, Chris Mooney, GLBT, homosexuality