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Who Prevails When Academic Freedom Threatens the Bottom Line?

from Tomb of the DiverPsychologists of a certain age (roughly, over 40) may recall the considerable public controversy that erupted over an 1998 article published in Psychological Bulletin (124, 22-53) entitled, “A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples.” The article, written by Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman, argued against the widespread belief that child sexual abuse is always traumatic and damaging. Instead, the authors wrote that “self-reported reactions to and effects from CSA [child sexual abuse] indicated that negative effects were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and tha[t] men reacted much less negatively than women…. Basic beliefs about CSA in the general population were not supported.” The article drew a storm of protest, most notably from conservative members of the US Congress, who condemn the article and made dark noises about responding to it by pulling funding for behavioral research. The American Psychological Association scrambled in limit the damage while simultaneously trying not to appear to be buckling to overt political pressure (see Scott O. Lilienfeld’s comment in a 2002 issue of the American Psychologist). The article was later heavily criticized on methodological grounds by Stephanie J. Dallam.

The first author of that article, Bruce Rind, is back in the news again because a piece he has written on a related topic, though about ancient Greece, has been refused by two different publishers who, apparently, are not willing to weather the same sort of backlash. Continue reading Who Prevails When Academic Freedom Threatens the Bottom Line?