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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Sex, Sampling and Sensation

I watched "Cure me, I'm Gay" last night with a certain morbid fascination. Obviously it was sensational stuff. And towards the end, I was wondering what Dr Christian Jessen was trying to prove. If he wanted us to think that all Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin or a moral disorder or caused by demons, he certainly picked the right Christians. I think he had a sampling problem, though, if his selection were meant to be scientific - an adjective he espoused throughout what I saw.

Dr Christian, to be fair, also went to see a cracking pseudo-medic, who tried to cure him through the power of colour and relocating his glands (not in that way - stop sniggering at the back. What I mean is - claiming the adrenal glands were in your brain). This was also not scientific, according to Dr Christian.

Well I don't know. Claiming the adrenal glands are in the brain is scientific, in the sense that you can carry out experiments to find out. But the banging-on about science and proper medicine did in the end make me search out this on NHS treatment of homosexuality - up to quite recently. So gay people were being treated by proper qualified medics, in the United Kingdom, on scientific grounds. To be fair, this may have been covered in the early part of the programme, before I was alerted to it by the fuss on Twitter.

Still.  Quite scary, what the NHS did. Especially the lad who was sexually assaulted by the doctor who was supposed to be treating him.

But I think the way I look at it is this. We're all, in principle, on a search for truth and compassion. We all get it wrong. And then we try to get better. Most Christians no longer beat people with sticks to drive demons out of them. And in most sensible countries the doctors no longer attach electrodes to people to stop them being gay. Religion being often more conservative, some religious people will take longer to get on board than others. But we should be engaging them in a search for truth - not, unless they are utter charlatans like the brain-colour-therapy pseudo-doctor, demonizing them.

And, by definition, sampling for scandal is not "scientific". Sampling has an impact on what you're investigating. Most of the openly gay people I know are Christian ministers. If I made a documentary about "Gay People I Know", it would appear that the whole Christian world was gay. That, too, would be a sampling error.

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