'60 Minutes' Quotes Reprimanded Sexuality Scientist

March 13th, 2006 4:06 PM

It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows "60 Minutes" on a regular basis that the reporters have a problem with presenting facts, or at least truth in disclosure concerning the “experts” they bring on to give us the facts.

Case in point, Lesley Stahl. In the March 12, 2006 episode of "60 Minutes" she presented a piece about science and sexual orientation. However, what Stahl conveniently left out of her piece and failed to tell the viewing public, is that her “expert” J. Michael Bailey has been exposed and charged for “research misconduct” concerning the research he is best known for on transexuality. Turns out Bailey received many complaints from the transsexual women he interviewed for his book The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender Bending and Transsexualism, saying that they didn’t know he was using them as research subjects and that he distorted versions of their case histories that appeared in his book.

As a result of this, Bailey was under investigation for researcher misconduct in 2004, and ultimately resigned from his position as chairman of the Northwestern University department of psychology after being sanctioned. To this day, controversy surrounds Bailey and his associates that Stahl interviewed for her piece. With that knowledge, let’s now look at what CBS presented concerning the science of sexual orientation.

Using Bailey as their expert, Stahl looked at studies with twins. The highlighted twins were Adam and Jared who are nine years old. Adam displays what Bailey calls childhood gender nonconformity, while Jared appears to conform to normal behaviors and likes of boys and Adam prefers things girls like.

There's no indication that this mother is prone to raise very feminine boys because his twin is not that way," says Michael Bailey, a psychology professor at Northwestern/> University/>/> and a leading researcher in the field of sexual orientation.

Bailey says he doesn't think nurture is a plausible explanation.

Psychologists used to believe homosexuality was caused by nurture — namely overbearing mothers and distant fathers — but that theory has been disproved. Today, scientists are looking at genes, environment, brain structure and hormones. There is one area of consensus: that homosexuality involves more than just sexual behavior; it’s physiological.

Ironically, or maybe telling is that Stahl and Bailey fail to mention anything about the father of these twins. They also fail to recognize that the environment that the mother of Adam and Jared provide is indeed part of their nurturing.

Bailey also seems to forget that the idea of nurture being disproved is not a fact. There are many psychologists today that believe that nurture plays a part in the development of the child. Sadly, Stahl did not have on an opposing view, not because there aren’t researchers out there who don’t believe differently than Bailey, but because Stahl wasn’t apparently interested in showing both sides of the story.

Bailey and Stahl then talk about the sex lives of heterosexual and homosexual men.

"... Straight men are more interested than straight women in having casual, uncommitted sex. Gay men are like that, too," says Bailey.

"One has the impression that gay men are much more inclined toward casual sex than straight men," Stahl said.

"They're just more successful at it, because the people they're trying to have sex with are also interested in it," Bailey explained.

"But don't you find this interesting that the one big area where gay men are more like straight men is in sex? I mean, that is…both amusing and odd," Stahl said.

"It suggests that whatever causes a man to be gay doesn't make him feminine in every respect. There must be different parts of the brain that can be feminized independently from each other," Bailey replied.

The piece ends by Stahl showing another set of twins, this time as adults, where one is gay and one is straight. Not surprisingly, there is no mention of their father or how he may have influenced them. Which suggests that maybe a lack of a father, or powerful overbearing or weak mother did have some impact on their son’s sexual orientation and that maybe it isn't all about genetics as they would like you to think. Afterall, if being gay is simply genetic and nurture plays no part, then once a cure is found no one will have an excuse for being gay. On the other hand, if the cause of homosexuality can be traced to nurture, environment and choice than we have an issue of morality which some are too "non-judgmental" to face.