Fack Checking: T.S. Wiley on Homosexuality

A comment from a reader earlier today prompted me to look into the claims about homosexuality in Sex, Lies, and Menopause. What I found was the sort of appalling scholarship I've come to expect from T.S. Wiley.

This particular assertion caught my eye: “The first tier of stress on a population can turn baby boys into very unlikely reproducers and extremely creative individuals. We know this phenomenon as male homosexuality. These men could reproduce, but they probably won't. This is often the aftermath of war, when women are left during pregnancy to guard themselves in a vulnerable time. That's why we have had a population bulge of homosexuality after World War II. [68-71]“

References:
68. U.S. Census, 2000. Reported Same Sex Couples.
69. Kirby, David. The next generation: open-minded and well-adjusted, children with gay parents say their families are a gift. The Advocate 1999 June 22.
70. Lorde, Audre. How gay was the Harlem Renaissance? www.women in the life.com, 2000.
71. Committee makes recommendations for California schools. San Francisco Chronicle 2001 April 13.

That is certainly a curious selection of references.

I wasn't sure how the 2000 census was intended to support the claim of a "bulge" in homosexuality half a century earlier. According to By the Numbers - Census 2000, this was the first census that “made a real effort to enumerate gay and lesbian households”. The census did not gather direct data about individual sexual orientation -- individuals were not counted, only couples. And it was the first census to do so. The 1950 census didn't ask about sexual orientation. The 1960 census didn't ask. Etc. until 2000. And until 2010, it will remain just one snapshot in time, and only of reported gay couples, not the gay population in general.

This source contains no data about T.S. Wiley's argued trend fifty years ago, much less its purported causes. As a citation it scores "Mickey Mouse" on the credibility gauge.

The David Kirby article can be found here: The next generation: open-minded and well-adjusted, children with gay parents say their families are a gift. It is a short article about modern-day gay parenting and the differences that the children experience. It says nothing to T.S. Wiley's points. It is a human-interest article offering no relevance whatsoever to T.S. Wiley's claims.

Yet she cites it.

By my searching, the article on the Harlem Renaissance used to be here: http://www.womeninthelife.com/gayharlem.asp, but is now gone. This is a shame, as I was intrigued to discover how an article on a cultural phenomenon centered in Harlem from 1920-1935 might verify claims about a professed surge in homosexuality in the general population during the years after 1945.

I wasn't able to find anywhere online the newspaper article, "Committee makes recommendations for California schools". So it remains a mystery to me what this California committee's research contributed to the claim of a fifty-year-old phenomenon regarding homosexuality or its presumed significance for the 2002 school year and as reported by a newspaper.

That is the totality of sources Susie Wiley offers to support her assertions. Irrelevance, layered four-thick.

What I find ironic is that I had no difficulty finding sources -- scholarly sources -- that do in fact support the proposition that stress during early pregnancy may be one factor in sexual orientation. They're out there in the scientific record and easily found. (It seems to stand as an open question warranting further study.)

If it's that easy to find reliable, relevant sources then I find myself wondering, did she perhaps simply categorize an accumulated mishmash of references under "alternative medicine", "homosexuality", etc., and then every paragraph or so pinch a few, as if seasoning a dish?

One thing is clear: Those are her claims, and those are the references she has chosen to support them.

Given her assertions about herself and her subject, and then the nature of the citations offered in defense, how can T.S. Wiley blame anyone but herself for the suspicion and criticism she engenders (even disregarding the false credentials)?

The next time you hear T.S. Wiley cite the hundreds of footnotes that supposedly validate her ideas, you might take a few minutes to check a couple of them.

If you do, please write in with what you find.

More fake footnotes appear

More fake footnotes appear on page 41 where, in an antifeminist passage longing for the good old days, Wiley claims that 45 years ago "97% of 21 year-old women were married."

This seemed unlikely so I checked. The 1950 Census cites 34% of all women were unmarried, so the others, married, divorced or widowed(66%), make the figure Wiley cites for twenty-one year olds wildly incorrect.

Maybe Wiley thought if she hid the footnote lies in plain sight nobody would find them. Maybe why that's why the book is buried with so many footnotes. Or maybe Wiley didn't do the footnotes herself and whoever did them was trying to show anybody who checked sources that the book was totally made up.

It is staggering how

It is staggering how fantastically wrong T.S. Wiley is. Thank you, JD, for raising this one.

Here's the full statement: "Only forty-five years ago, or about as long ago as we are old, 97 percent of twenty-one-year-old women were married. That figure rests at less than 50 percent today."

Repeating for emphasis: "97 percent of twenty-one-year-old women". So in 1958 -- forty-five years before Sex, Lies, and Menopause -- only three out of one hundred 21-year-old women were unmarried. So says T.S. Wiley, as approved by her editor and published by Harper Collins.

Pure mind-boggling rubbish. And once again, easily verified.

See: http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/ms2.pdf (U.S. Census Bureau)

In fact, in 1958 the median age of first marriage for women was 20.2. So half of women had been married by their twentieth year (plus a couple months) and half had not. The number of women married by their twenty-first birthday was somewhere around 50 percent.

Wiley's off the mark by about 40 million women in the U.S., or nearly half the female population at that time. Further, the median age when Sex, Lies, and Menopause was published in 2003 was 25.3 -- hardly the sea change that T.S. Wiley claims. And 1956 was the low point in this data set at 20.1. In 1890 the median age was 22.0!

97 percent? Not in 1958. Not ever. Not even close.

One might be flabbergasted that a scientist could make such a duck-soup colossal blunder. I'm reminded of Dr. Formby: "I was very surprised to discover how illiterate [T.S. Wiley] was in science and math. She knew absolutely nothing. She did not even know the difference between hydrogen and oxygen or the square root of a number."

I don't know if she thinks "median" means 97%, but I know one thing: I wouldn't trust T.S. Wiley with my health, my life, or the future happiness of my loved ones.

And I'm beginning to think her editor, Claire Wachtel, should be severely reprimanded, if not fired, over this book. Harper Collins should be ashamed.

Did the editor at Harper

Did the editor at Harper Collins check one single footnote? Isn't there an expectation of due dilligence by the publisher when a book proposing a radical medical regimen is advocated?

When so many footnotes are fabricated, does the book demonstrate a pattern of misrepresentation that might be construed as fraud?

This would be a good question for a lawyer specializing in publishing matters.

I don't know, but

I don't know, but considering the stories that have come out of the Wiley Protocol and that many, if not most of these women were initially lured in by Sex, Lies, and Menopause, I can see an argument to be made against Harper Collins.