The Dishonest Plumber

Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin has done a fantastic analysis of James’ Holsinger’s “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality,” looking closely at the studies Holsinger cites in his attempt to prove that LGBT people are as unnatural as trying to force a square peg into an anus-shaped hole.

Jim’s post is excellent, so if you are interested in this nomination, please go read the entire article, but here are the parts that struck me:

1. The issue is not Holsinger’s personal or religious beliefs. As Jim points out, C. Everett Koop was also a conservative Christian. But when dealing with the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, Koop made his decisions based on science, something that, as Jim goes on to show, Holsinger did not do in this paper.

2. Judging by the way Holsinger takes his quotes out of context and uses references to studies to prove something that the original studies don’t attempt to prove, Holsinger is either

  1. Intentionally Deceptive
  2. Stupid
  3. All of the above.

I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer a Surgeon General that is none of the above.

3. The only medical conclusion justified by Holsinger’s sources is that forcefully sticking sharp pointy foreign objects in one’s anus can be dangerous. I don’t think anyone with two brain cells (which, admittedly, might exclude our President) needs anyone to explain that sticking sharp pointy foreign objects just about anywhere in the human body can be dangerous. Of course, the really bothersome part is that Holsinger uses evidence about the dangers of running with scissors towards someone’s anus to argue that love, relationships, and consensual sex between consenting adults of the same sex is, in his professional and medical judgment, icky.

Again, go read Burroway to see better how Holsinger twists and distorts and misrepresent in a way that is not just bad science, but also unethical.

I’ll close with Burroway’s conclusion because it is so well-stated:

The whole point of Holsinger’s paper is to draw a sharp contrast between gay relationships and heterosexual relationships. But to do so, he he culls his evidence largely from papers which describe injuries from nonconsensual intercourse to denigrate consensual relationships, he describes odd sexual practices that are enjoyed by heterosexual couples to denigrate the minority of gay couples who indulge in those same practices, and he misleads his readers by padding his bibliography with more references to papers explicitly describing injuries experienced by heterosexual men and women to imply that they describe gay men instead.

In other words, to describe gay sexual acts, more often than not he turned to papers which describe injuries sustained through heterosexual activity. And then he used this evidence from heterosexual activity to say that “when the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur as noted above.” But what does this evidence suggest about “complementarity” in heterosexual relationships? Holsinger doesn’t answer.

But worse, Holsinger made the fatal error of ignoring the bonds of affection and devotion that arise in gay and lesbian couples. He reduced the rich complexity of their relationships to pipe fittings and how they interlock with each other. But the interlocking parts that fit together in relationships are those parts that fit sublimely. They have absolutely nothing to do with pipes or connectors or any other analogies drawn from the local Ace Hardware store.

More on Holsinger



  1. The Claw said,

    June 12, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Just catching up. Love it! *anxiously awaits the next installment*

  2. tiredofthis said,

    June 12, 2007 at 7:56 am

    The Claw? Isn’t that a tool in the hardware store too? 😉

  3. July 10, 2007 at 9:24 am

    […] as long as they don’t get in the way of him understanding and interpreting science. We have evidence in his case that it does get in the […]

  4. July 10, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    […] More on Holsinger and “Pathophysiology of the Male Homosexual.”  […]

  5. July 11, 2007 at 12:56 am

    […] sure he’s going to like it when they try to put a hand up him to work his mouth.  Holsinger has made it very clear that he thinks such things are […]

  6. jf mckenna said,

    July 12, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Study after study shows that levels of hepatitis, anal cancer, bowel infections and disease in general are much higher among active homosexuals, whereas it’s impossible to find a study that shows them to be comparable to heterosexuals.

  7. Gina said,

    July 12, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Impossible? You must not have looked very hard, because it only took me a few minutes searching through medical journals to find studies that showed that women who have sex only with women have less risk of many diseases than women who also have sex with men. Here’s one quote from the Journal of Reproductive Medicine: “These data suggest that, overall, the sexual behaviors of lesbians are associated with a lower risk of most sexually transmitted diseases.” Following your logic, that means all women should become lesbians.

    Maybe the problem is that you’re using Google instead of searching actual medical journals. You know, the ones with the science in them.

  8. jf mckenna said,

    July 12, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Now for a reality check:

    1. Seven types of venereal disease, nine types of liver ailments (e.g., hepatitis), and 10 types of trauma (e.g., fecal incontinence). In other words, 26 non-AIDS diseases. JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT MEDICINE
    2. Reviews of the medical literature, including one that covered the findings of 20 different medical journals, concluding that “homosexual men are at particularly high risk of acquiring hepatitis B” and then it listed 10 other diseases. E.G., THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE AND THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. ONE DOCTOR, IN HIS DISCUSSION OF THE NON-AIDS DISEASES, CITES SCHOLARLY ARTICLES FROM 27 MEDICAL JOURNALS.
    3. “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. The gay men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, PUBLISHED BY OXFORD UNIVERSITY
    4. The exclusivity of the relationship did not diminish the incidence of unhealthy sexual acts, which are commonplace among homosexuals. An English study published in the same issue of the journal AIDS concurred, finding that most “unsafe” sex acts among homosexuals occur in steady relationships. AIDS (A JOURNAL)
    5. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) More than twenty types of HPV are incurable STDs that can infect the genital tract of both men and women. A San Francisco study of gay and bisexual men revealed that HPV infection was almost universal among HIV-positive men, and that 60 percent of HIV-negative gay men carried HPV. THE HOMOSEXUAL NEWSPAPER THE WASHINGTON BLADE

    6. Hepatitis A:: “Outbreaks of hepatitis A among men who have sex with men are a recurring problem in many large cities in the industrialized world.” Hepatitis B: The CDC reports that MSM are at increased risk for hepatitis B. Hepatitis C Although less so than with hepatitis A and B, MSM who engage in unsafe sexual practices remain at increased risk for contracting hepatitis C. THE MORTALITY AND MORBIDITY WEEKLY REPORT PUBLISHED BY THE CDC
    7. Proctitis and Proctocolitis are inflammations of the rectum and colon that cause pain, bloody rectal discharge and rectal spasms. Proctitis is associated with STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, and syphilis that are widespread among homosexuals. HEALTH IMPLICATIONS + THE SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE INFORMATION CENTER OF THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
    8. While the incidence of anal cancer in the United States is only 0.9/100,000, that number soars to 35/100,000 for homosexuals. That rate doubles again for those who are HIV positive. DR. JOEL PALEFSKY, A LEADING EXPERT IN THE FIELD OF ANAL CANCER
    9. A study of the records of 1,408 lesbians found that women who have sex with women are at significantly higher risk for certain sexually transmitted diseases: “We demonstrated a higher prevalence of BV (bacterial vaginosis), hepatitis C, and HIV risk behaviors in WSW compared with controls.” SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS

  9. Gina said,

    July 12, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    But John, you said it was “impossible” to find studies that said otherwise, and I did, so you lose. Game over.

    Look, we can trade citations all day if you want. I’m sure you can cut and paste from other people’s websites until I cry uncle (hey, at least I did real research on mine and didn’t just steal from other people.) The point is, you’re missing the point. These studies talk about specific high risk behaviors that are risky whether a straight or gay person does them. That was the point Holsinger missed too when he talked about the dangers of putting large, sharp, foreign objects in your body. He used studies that talked about that risk for straight couples, and then implied that it was a risk that is inherent to gay couples.

    If you were to have high-risk sex with a prostitute, like Sen. David Vitter, you would be at more risk of disease than I am in my monogamous, faithful, and downright boring (in a good way) relationship with my partner.

    So what does any of this prove? There are a lot of studies on the health risks of eating meat. Are we going to make carnivores second-class citizens too?

  10. July 12, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    […] did catch the second hour live. Holsinger backed away from his 1991 pseudo-scientific ramblings about homosexuality, saying it no longer represented who he was. But when Ted Kennedy pushed on the matter, […]

  11. jf mckenna said,

    July 12, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    “If you were to have high-risk sex with a prostitute” Well, I’ll concede that one.

    It’s not a matter of second-class citizens but of not having blood on our hands from encouraging people to infect one another. It’s protecting people, not demoting or demeaning them.

  12. Gina said,

    July 12, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    So I’m assuming you’re in support of gay marriage then, right? Since that would encourage stable relationships? 😉

    I think we can agree that we’d like to lessen disease and health problems. The thing to remember though is that it’s not about being gay or straight. I think you realize that there are a range of behaviors among gay people just as there are among straight people. I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if the actions of people like our Senator from Louisiana who have sex with prostitutes was used as a blanket condemnation of heterosexuality, or as proof that heterosexuality encourages people to infect one another.

    I hope whoever becomes Surgeon General focuses on fighting the diseases and not on fighting people.

  13. jf mckenna said,

    July 12, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    It doesn’t matter whether the relationships are stable, because the infections result mainly from the mismatch of body parts. Holsinger’s paper was right about why certain parts cannot stand the stress of homosexual sex. Homosexual behavior is intrinsically dangerous, and the surgeon general should warn against it.

  14. Gina said,

    July 12, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    You do know that Holsinger disavowed that paper today, don’t you? So don’t call on him to back you up.

    And we’re back where we started. The proof he cited in that paper was NOT about “homosexual sex.” Go read the actual articles he cites. Most of them are about high risk behaviors in STRAIGHT couples. He misrepresented them.

    And his paper doesn’t even pretend to make any claims about lesbians. Which of my parts are getting “stressed”?

  15. jf mckenna said,

    July 12, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    High-risk behavior, such as anal sex, is high risk behavior, whether hetero or homo.

    “A study of the records of 1,408 lesbians found that women who have sex with women are at significantly higher risk for certain sexually transmitted diseases: “We demonstrated a higher prevalence of BV (bacterial vaginosis), hepatitis C, and HIV risk behaviors in WSW compared with controls.” SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS”

    I guess that means your vagina.

  16. Gina said,

    July 12, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    “High-risk behavior, such as anal sex, is high risk behavior, whether hetero or homo.”

    So it’s anal sex you’re against and not “homosexual sex.” Because you know, not all gays engage in anal intercourse, and a lot of straight couples do. There is no such thing as “homosexual” sex. Gay people do as many different things in bed as straight people do, and most of them are the same things.

    You’re not really making sense. I suspect you’re just using pseudo-medical arguments to try to justify a religious stand. Kind of like Holsinger did.

    “I guess that means your vagina.”

    Wouldn’t I have to use that if I had sex with a man, too? In fact, my guess is it would experience much more stress. Unless the guy had a little penis. Then maybe it would be okay.

    Oh, and just for the heck of it, In a study of 2,345 WSW (hey, I got more lesbians than you do!) “the sexual behaviors of lesbians are associated with a lower risk of most sexually transmitted diseases.” JOURNAL OF REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE

  17. Gina said,

    July 12, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Oh, hey John. DId you actually read that article you keep citing, or did you just copy and paste that blurb from the Family Research Council web site? Because I read it. Did you know that of those 1408 women, 93% of the sample also had sex with men?

    Also, did the web page you stole that from mention that while prevalence of some infections was higher, it was lower for others? Or that a follow-up study found that risks were hgher for women who also had sex with men and not just women?

  18. Jenn said,

    July 12, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Dude is pissed because his church decided to be tolerant so he doesn’t have that as an excuse for bigotry anymore and he’s trying to make a case based on misinterpreting medical articles he hasn’t read and doesn’t understand.

    Jim? Jim Holsinger? Is that you?

  19. jf mckenna said,

    July 12, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    If you used a penis that wasn’t little it wouldn’t create stress either, because vaginas were made for that. You don’t need studies for these things, just ordinary experience. (Mine isn’t little)

  20. jf mckenna said,

    July 13, 2007 at 9:06 am

    Sorry Gina

  21. Gina said,

    July 13, 2007 at 10:49 am

    It’s been interesting, John.

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