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Letters to the APA from 
Concerned Members of the Scientific Community

July 3, 1999

Dr. Raymond Fowler
President: American Psychological Association
750 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20002-4242

Dear Dr. Fowler:

We, the president and past-presidents of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, members of the SSSS Executive Committee, and editors of Journal of Sex Research and the Archives of Human Sexuality would like to urge the American Psychological Association to take a strong stand in support of Dr. Bruce Rind (Temple University), Dr. Robert Bauserman (State of Maryland), and Mr. Philip Tromovitch (University of Pennsylvania), and in support of the right and need for sexual scientists to be able to conduct human sexuality research, unconstrained by political considerations. We would like to make the following points:

(a) If society is going to solve the serious social problems that confront us, it needs knowledge and accurate information. Theorists and sexual science researchers can make a unique contribution. Their tradition demands that they attempt to provide a fair and objective analysis of social phenomena and provide scientific information—both qualitative and quantitative—based on the highest of scientific standards.

(b) Political considerations and calculations must be kept separate from the scientific enterprise and/or in the publication decisions of the decisions of scientific journal editors. Only scholarly research that is free, disinterested, and scrupulously honest can hope to provide useful answers to challenging questions.

(c) We would hope that APA would resist the efforts of various political, religious, and special lobbying groups to intervene in the scientific enterprise—shaping what is studied, by whom it is studied, how it is studied, and the results that are secured and reported. At the present time, the major scientific journals have peer-review process in place to evaluate ALL studies and experiments. Currently, all kinds of research are evaluated, using the same rigorous scientific standards. For APA or any other organization to single out "controversial" studies from all others and apply a second and a third filter in judging whether or not such studies should be published and disseminated is to cast a chill on all such research. In addition, this process would be, by definition, discriminatory.

We, the past presidents of SSSS and the current editor of the Annual Review of Sex Research join together in urging you to staunchly support the right of sexual scientists to engage in free intellectual inquiry—especially in the area of "controversial" research.

Warmest regards,

Dr. Elaine Hatfield, President SSSS

Also signed by:

Dr. Albert Ellis, First President of SSSS
Dr. Elizabeth Rice Allgeier, Past President SSSS
Dr. Vern L. Bullough, Past President SSSS
Dr. Clive Davis, Past President SSSS
Dr. Richard P. Keeling, Past President SSSS
Dr. John Money, Past President SSSS
Dr. Naomi McCormick, Past President SSSS
Dr. Charlene Muehlenhard, Past President SSSS
Dr. Ira Reiss, Past President SSSS
Dr. Stephanie Sanders, Past President SSSS
Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Past President SSSS
Dr. Julia Heiman, Editor, Annual Review of Sex Research


July 15, 1999

Raymond D. Fowler, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer,
Richard M. Suinn, Ph.D., President
Patrick H. DeLeon, Ph.D., J D., President-elect
American Psychological Association
750 First St., NE
Washington, D. C. 20002


As a long-time APA member and a long-time sex researcher, I write to object in the strongest possible terms to the contemptible public position you have taken in response to the political furor over the Psychological Bulletin paper by Drs. Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman. I have been a great admirer of the clear-eyed and comprehensive work these authors have contributed to the murky and polemical field of child sexuality and child sexual abuse, and your failure to defend their approach and the policies and procedures of APA journals is unforgiveable. As you surely must know, it is almost impossible to conduct research on child sexuality as a result of a chilling political climate, and that, as a consequence, important legislative, policy, and judicial decisions are made every day in the absence of the kind of reliable scientific evidence which we as a profession ought to be providing to guide these decisions.

Your response to the Congressional and conservative organizations' furor, as presented in The New York Times, seems to me to have been exactly the opposite of what was needed. You should have taken the opportunity to rush to the Hill to explain to Congress how peer review works and is an inviolable bulwark against prejudice and bias, to explain to Congress how meta-analysis is an excellent new tool in medicine and social science to overcome the vicissitudes of individual studies and present the current state of evidence, to explain to Congress that political interference with scientific processes is exactly what won't help children and won't help society understand complex and controversial issues, and to offer workshops on child sexuality and meta-analytic techniques to assist Congress in the future.

But, sadly, apparently none of those was your response. Instead, you fell for the ambush, you fell into the trap, and you responded defensively to insist that the APA condemns child sexual abuse, and that you would take steps to muzzle freedom of scientific process.

Whose interests are served by your failure to strongly defend Rind, Tromovitch, Bauserman, the editor of Psych. Bull., and its entire peer review process? Not mine, or the other members of the APA. Not psychologists or others struggling to conduct valid and reliable sex research. Not the public who needs information about child sexuality and about professional scientific methods. Not children, for whom you accomplished nothing. Whose interests did you serve? I'd like to know.

Obviously outraged,

Leonore Tiefer, Ph.D.

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