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Online Forum

  Questions and Answers: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
  Back to Introduction | Forum Participants

Day 2:
February 15, 2005

Q: I have heard that one part of Kinsey's dark side was that he became a pedophile. Do you have any info about this?

P. L.
Seattle, WA

Answered by James H. Jones:
For more than a decade rumors and accusations have circulated that Kinsey was a pedophile. I have not seen any credible evidence to support these rumors and accusations, and I do not believe that such evidence exists. Moreover, reliable people who knew Kinsey's sexual history have testified that he was not a pedophile. I believe them.

James H. Jones

Q: Dr. Kinsey ultimately lost his funding. Who is funding sex research today and how is that research being used? It seems that in matters of public policy, politics trumps science.

Jeffrey Atwood
Larchmont, NY

Answered by Melissa Pardue and Robert E. Rector:
If the basis of funding for sex research is scientific methodology, then Kinsey appears to us an obvious exception. Kinsey's research was not scientific at all since he did not use a representative sample, so should never have been funded in the first place. And while you will hear the defense that probability sampling was a new concept during Kinsey's days, there were in fact scientists during that time who expressed concern over Kinsey's sampling. Famed psychologist Abraham Maslow, for example, expressed interest in Kinsey's work but was very troubled by Kinsey's "volunteer" bias. When Maslow pointed it out to him, Kinsey ceased all collaboration him. Maslow described any subsequent contacts with Kinsey as "not cordial." So while Kinsey may have indeed been trained as a scientist, it is our view that, in the case of his sex research, he was a political activist pretending to conduct science.

Sex research today is funded through a variety of different venues with the support of foundations and other funding streams. Much of today's sex research is done at university settings, which we believe is problematic because of the heavy ideological bias that pervades major universities. Sex researchers in general are also usually of the same ideological bent, so objective, unbiased research on sexuality is rare if it even exists at all. Consequently, the public policies that stem from this research are also affected by the lack of objectivity. Sexuality research should of course be valid and scientific, but it should also be performed by individuals of different and varying philosophical perspectives. Liberal homogeneity in academia that stifles inquiry and honest discourse affects both the research itself as well as the policies that emerge from it.

Melissa Pardue

Robert E. Rector

Answered by Adrienne Verrilli:
You are correct in your observation that in matters of public policy, politics can trump science. In SIECUS' view, the current administration has systematically undermined research by eschewing evaluation for pet projects, hiding research they do not like, and threatening researchers looking into controversial topics.

For example, the Bush administration has dramatically increased federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, despite the fact that no programs have ever been proven effective. And, rather than conduct scientific research to determine if this billion-dollar investment is working, the administration has made the evaluation voluntary and almost meaningless. In 2000, under the Clinton administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (D.H.H.S.) developed scientific outcomes for these programs that would have measured behavioral change, including tracking sexual activity and teen pregnancy. The Bush administration has dropped these measures and is only evaluating for attitudinal change at the end of a program. This is not scientifically sound. Attitudes do not determine behavior.

Additionally, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) have dropped an initiative on HIV/AIDS prevention. "Programs that Work" identified sexuality education programs that were scientifically proven to be effective in order to help communities provide the best prevention education possible. In spite of this, the C.D.C. has discontinued these services. It is worth noting that none of these proven programs had a politically-favored abstinence-only-until-marriage focus (all of the programs included information about safer sex).

Similarly, conservative political leaders did not like the conclusion of the National Cancer Institute (N.C.I.) that definitively determined there was no link between breast cancer and abortion. So, rather than stating this clearly as it once did, the N.C.I.'s Web site now confuses visitors and leaves them wondering if this disproven link might actually exist.

And recently, National Institute of Health officials warned scientists who study HIV and AIDS to prepare for political interference with their research. A May 2003 New York Times article reported that the D.H.H.S. might begin to apply "unusual scrutiny" to grants to used key words such as "men who have sex with men," "gay," and 'homosexual."

From SIECUS' perspective, all of this explains that politics is indeed trumping science in the reproductive health field, but does not answer your original question of who is funding sound research on sexual health topics. The truth is that without government money and support, research on sexuality, reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS research is left to private institutions and universities, and important research is simply not getting done.

Adrienne Verrilli

Q: Is homosexuality a matter of choice or not? That is, is it caused by genetics or physiology (like skin color), and a homosexual can either accept it or live in denial (heterosexuality or celibacy). Or, is it a matter of choice (like preferring vanilla ice cream, or Judaism over Christianity)?

Frank Nellis
Minneapolis, MN

Answered by Dr. Gilbert Herdt:
Sexual orientation is not a choice, whether homosexuality or heterosexuality. Scientific experts agree in general that homosexuality is caused by factors deep in the person, whether genetic, hormonal, psychological. Mental health research over the past 30 years has generally shown that people do better accepting and integrating their sexual orientation openly into their social life. Thanks for your question.

Dr. Gilbert Herdt

Q: As curator of the Kinsey Institute, would you consider documenting Dr. Kinsey's research methods by publishing his original correspondence with Dr. Fritz von Balluseck?

H.C. Walther, MD
Granite Bay, CA

Answered by Catherine Johnson-Roehr:
Thank you for your question about our collection of letters written to and by Alfred Kinsey. We have a large correspondence collection in our archives, as many people wrote to Dr. Kinsey following the publication of the two volumes on human sexual behavior. He took the time to reply to these letters, whether they came from other researchers or from individuals who simply wanted his advice about their own sexual problems. These materials are considered confidential, and although they may be viewed onsite by qualified researchers, it would be against our policy to publish a volume of Dr. Kinsey's personal correspondence.

Catherine Johnson-Roehr

Q: Is it known that there are happily married men who upon the death of their wives chose as their next life partner another man? Do you think that Dr. Kinsey might have made this choice if he had outlived his wife?

Charles Meyer
Long Beach, CA

Answered by Dr. Julia Ericksen:
There are many people whose sexual identities change over time. This happens in all kinds of directions. What Kinsey would have done had his wife died is a matter of speculation but he maintained an extremely passionate and active sexual relationship with his wife during his marriage and he greatly believed in marriage as the basis of social stability. In addition, he was quite conservative in many ways -- voting Republican, for example. My guess is that he would have married a woman again.

Dr. Julia Ericksen

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