In late March, 2007, a spate of articles and news releases were released from Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron purporting to demonstrate that the life expectancy of homosexuals is 20 to 30 years lower than that of straights. Behind this flurry of activity was a poster session presented at the March, 2007 Eastern Psychological Association convention in Philadelphia.
This is part of the introduction of “An exchange between Warren Throckmorton, Morten Frisch, Paul Cameron and Kirk Cameron
regarding the lifespan of homosexuals.”
In it, the often criticized methods of Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron are discussed. Specifically the objection given by Morten Frisch:
Since, as noted, age is a strong determinant of openness about homosexuality, the study groups of deceased homosexuals in Cameron and Cameronís report were severely skewed towards younger people. Consequently, the much younger average age at death of these openly homosexual people as compared with the average age at death in the unselected general population tells nothing about possible differences between life expectancies in gays and non-gays in general. All it reflects is the skewed age distribution towards younger people among those who are openly homosexual.
Paul Cameron responds with a couple of points:
- it has been shown that homosexuals are more likely to respond to surveys
Further, in that study, analysis of the patterns of missing answers among respondents showed that those with homosexual interests were more, and not less, likely than those with only heterosexual interests to respond to questions about sexually non-conforming behavior.
- no one, on either side of the issue,
knows for sure how often people deliberately lie when they respond to sex surveys, or how many individuals simply refuse to respond in order to hide their sexual preferences. We also donít know whether refusals of that particular sort are more common among the older. All we know is that several well-funded research teams have not found many differences along behavioral dimensions ó including items about sexuality between the first responders and those who eventually responded after repeated visits or call-backs.
- the death of older homosexuals would be difficult to simply cover up. But even so, no one can know this with any certainty either.
It was partly because of the uncertainties in self-report that we decided to examine other kinds of data. Obviously, obituaries depend upon human reporting but are not ‘self-reports.’ To keep oneís past sexual behavior secret after death can be difficult unless no one else knows, presumably even oneís own partners. As Ben Franklin wisely said, ìthree can keep a secret, but only if two of them are dead.î Again, neither Dr. Frisch nor anyone else knows whether in fact the older are disproportionately less often represented than the young among obituaries in gay newspapers.
- the report also used data from public records
That is why it is of more than passing scientific interest that three rather different sources and kinds of data ó sex surveys, obituaries, death registries all indicate fairly similar declines in homosexual prevalence with age.
Its interesting to also note that Dr Frisch apparently mentioned “in an email that no more than 5% of Danish gays take advantage of the marriage laws there.”
In his response, Warren Throckmorton cites the following report
In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday. (Hogg et al, 1997, from the abstract)
There is a lot more in the paper, and I highly encourage anyone interested in engaging others in a rational discussion regarding homosexuality to read it. One thing to note, however, is that all sides agree “that there may some difference in life span”. The only difference seems to be that those who are sympathetic towards the homosexual agenda are unwilling to speculate on how much that difference is.