Monday, 2 June 2014

Owen Jones: Bad Science

Let me explain what the researchers at Goldsmiths University found. In the first study, British students who were asked to imagine borrowing a phone from a gay man came up with significantly more words about cleansing in a word-completion task. In another study, Portuguese students were offered either a yellow pencil or yellow disinfecting wipe after the experiment; those who imagined borrowing a phone from a gay man were more likely to choose the wipe. And, finally, Polish students – again asked to imagine borrowing a phone from a gay man – expressed a preference for cleaning products. Seems pretty definitive: on a subconscious level, gay men are seen as a contaminant, something to be washed away. "Ugh, I've got gay on me!", if you will...

It's depressing that a journalist with Owen Jones' intelligence can base an article on such a ridiculous piece of 'research'. 

You may want to read that sentence again til it sinks in.

As with the above only around 50 people took part in tests, which is about as 'scientific' as claiming you're extracting sunbeams from cucumbers.

Do we automatically believe every study on homosexuality, homophobia, or anything else?

A personal favourite from the 70s claimed listening to Disco music caused homosexuality in mice.

If so many of the theories about what causes homosexuality - 'the gay brain', momism. too much wanking etc etc - seem laughable, why show such intellectual obedience to theories about what causes homophobia?

Should we not have cried bullshit at the often respected scientists in the 80s and 90s who said Aids did not exist?

Or climate change today?

Whatever, our Owen thinks the 'results' 'provide a fascinating insight into what makes homophobia tick.'

'One possible explanation is what you could call an HIV/Aids crisis hangover,' he muses. 'HIV was, after all, once the "gay plague"; good old-fashioned homophobia fused with the dread of a frightening illness.'

You can always  trust a scientist.
Aha, ye good old-fashioned Victorian contagion fears!

'But actually, Agnieszka Golec de Zavala – one of the researchers – tells me this is one of the least interesting explanations.

'The most compelling theory is that this impulse to scrub off gayness has everything to do with group identity. Cleansing is about separating: it has "a very social meaning" as de Zavala puts it. If you have established a clear division with another group, that they are "the other", and you convince yourself that you have nothing in common with them, then any form of interaction becomes contamination.' 

Scientists do this a lot - you come up with a theory, then set out to prove it.

And - Eureka! - guess what, they usually do.

Sooner or later someone else will often disprove it.

I'm sure many gay men will latch onto the simplistic 'theory' that homophobia is based on disgust, just as many love the equally silly idea that most homophobes are secretly gay.

It's surprising no-one's argued the anti-gay are born that way.

Like two halves of different second-hand cars soldered together, we get to Owen's conclusion; 'homophobia is ultimately doomed.'

That's nice, dear. Why?

'Before the 18th century, it was widely believed that men and women were part of the same sex, and that women's vaginas were actually penises tucked inside the body.' 

Widely believed, Owen?!!

'The idea of a rigid division between the genders only became dominant in the 19th century...'

This is utter nonsense.

Yip Harburg wrote Over The Rainbow actually.
Hang on, he starts making some sense now.

'...but, with the rise of the women's and LGBT movements, this division has been dramatically eroded.'

Kinda, yeah. 

'The old binary divisions are being swept away.'

The old Blue Mink 'What we need is a great big melting pot' school of radical philosophy, there.

'Sexism – and its bastard offspring, homophobia – still abound, of course. But because of the struggle of the women's and LGBT movements, identities are now more fluid and the urge to protect an oppressive, unreconstructed form of "manliness" becomes weaker. A society free of sexism and homophobia won't just emancipate women and gay men: it will free straight men, too.'

Okay. Though I can't help feeling sometimes that what Owen Jones would really like to see is not just a society free of homophobia, but one free of that pesky homosexuality, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment