Did the American Psychological Association Misrepresent Scientific Material to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Authors: Paul Cameron and Kirk Cameron

Summary: On January 31, 1986, the American Psychological Association (APA) file an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court favoring constitutional protection for consensual sodomy. The APA claimed that: (1) the Bell, Weinberg, and Hammersmith survey found that “62% of heterosexual men reported that their first sexual experience was with another male; 39% of homosexual men reported such experience,” (2) “data do not support” a linkage between childhood homosexual activity and sexual orientation, and (3) “there are no empirical data to support the popular myth that homosexual orientation or behavior results from ‘contagion’ by other homosexuals.” It is judged that, in violation of standards for scientific reporting, the Bell, et al. finding was pulled out of context so that if favored the APA position, and the studies the APA cited in this section of the brief were either contrary to, nonsupportive of, or did not bear upon the APA’s contentions. Professional scientific organizations have a special obligation to (a) be accurate in representations to the U.S. Supreme Court and (b) adhere to accepted standards of scholarship in their use of citations.

Reference: Cameron P & Cameron K (1988) Did the American Psychological Association misrepresent scientific material to the U.S. Supreme Court? Psychological Reports, 63: 255-270.