Monday, July 25, 2011

You Can Call Me, Al Franken

Some of you might remember an article I blogged about the other day with respect to Al Franken distorting a CDC report to discredit a witness testifying before the Congress. I have had it twice pointed out to me that things have changed. Forthwith, I submit this to you that you might know the resolution of the issue.

A gentleman who contributes here in comments, and follows my youtube channel (along with myself in a very, very modest, miniscule even fashion) took Dr. Joyner to task in the comments section of his article. I was unable to access the webpage in question after I posted my first comment. Today, another person here left in the comment section a link. It worked. Through sheer force of intellect and rhetorical gift, he (under the nom de l'internet Jonathan - no relation) had a rather direct exchange with Joyner. Joyner said earlier on in the comments section:

@Vast Variety and @Chad S: Yes, it’s a distortion. During the study period 2001-2007, there were a trivial number of same-sex families with children. So, Minnery was perfectly reasonable–and certainly not being dishonest–in treating “nuclear family” as defined in the study to mean “a family headed by a husband and wife.”
Jonathan took umbrage:

Jonathan says:
How is Senator Franken distorting anything? His only assertion is that the study does not support Minery’s conclusions and that Minery misread the study results. The fact that the study does not exclude same-sex parents in its definition of the term nuclear family supports Franken’s assertion.
“Sen. Franken is right,” the lead author of the study told POLITICO. The survey did not exclude same-sex couples, said Debra L. Blackwell, Ph.D., nor did it exclude them from the “nuclear family” category provided their family met the study’s definition.
The study’s definition of nuclear family is: “one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family.”
Franken is merely stating that Minery misrepresented the data to make false claims. How is that a distortion?

Joyner was not to be persuaded by such sense!

James Joyner says:
@Fargus and @Chad S: As noted in the update, I’m assessing the argument Franken makes, not the one he should have made. Minnery’s reading of the study is exactly right, with an asterisk that’s hardly worth mentioning–the tiny handful of Massachusetts families that may have qualified as “nuclear” in the latter part of the study.
If Minnery elsewhere makes a larger argument about the study, Franken should have instead addressed that. But Minnery’s testimony on page 8 that “children living in their own married biological or adoptive — with their own biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to healthcare, less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and almost never live in poverty, compared with children in any other family form” is uncontroverted.
This goes on for a while, culminating in:

A rousing debate in the comments section of my post “Al Franken Distorts CDC Study to Claim Distortion of Study” has convinced me that I was uncharitable to Franken.
Franken essentially called Minnery a liar for using a CDC report to claim that children are better off living with a married mother and father than any other form when in fact the study in question found that “nuclear families,” not those with a mother and father, were ideal.
But Franken’s indirectly stated point was that Minnery introduced the study–in a hearing on whether to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act–to demonstrate that opposite-sex families were better at raising children than same-sex families. The study showed no such thing; it didn’t look at that question at all.
Further, while an intelligent amateur could reasonably and honestly make the mistake of reading a finding that nuclear families are ideal as saying therefore same-sex families are less than ideal, I’m hard pressed to see how someone who heads up the political wing of a group focusing on the family could do so without being either unintelligent or dishonest.
 Not of a trivial matter is the following from an article interviewing Dr. Debra L. Blackwell, the lead author of the CDC report in question.  The article contains the following:

“Sen. Franken is right,” the lead author of the study told POLITICO. The survey did not exclude same-sex couples, said Debra L. Blackwell, Ph.D., nor did it exclude them from the “nuclear family” category provided their family met the study’s definition.

 And there we have. Joyner corrected his error, and not in just some comment section not to be seen. He edited the original piece to indicate he was wrong (both at the beginning and end of it), and then provided a link to a new article explaining why and how went wrong in the first, and then stated the improved analysis of the situation.

That is how one admits and corrects error in an adult fashion, a trait not imminently possessed of certain people of elevatorgate notoriety.

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