The controversy over Dr. Dobson’s Time editorial

Old news by now, there is a dust up over Dr. Dobson’s column regarding Mary Cheney and subsequent complaints by writers Dobson quotes. While not much is happening on this story in the mainstream press, blogs are all over it.

I have not looked into the matter much and am undecided how much time I am going to spend on it. It seems to me as I read the column that Dr. Dobson cites aspects of the work of these researchers but does not say they agree with his position. This happens all the time in academia. You quote people to make points with which they themselves might disagree. Data are, but how one interprets the data is another matter and certainly influenced by one’s presuppositions. First blush reaction; if I get into it more perhaps I would see it differently.

One article and discussion that I found interesting (and perhaps worth getting into) is at the website Inside Higher Ed. Many of the discussants there seem to echo my current point of view. The dialogue is spirited but on point most of the time.

One provocative comment from the Inside Higher Ed page that caught my eye was made by Stanislaus Dundon who wrote:

Using research data independently of conclusions

If Carol Gilligan has a complex argument in which the data of important distinct advantageous contributions of father and mother is somehow over-ridden by the unique advantages of same-sex or single parent homes, or at least equaled by them, let her prove that via additional data or highlighting the contrary data she has already presented. The idea of refusing to let Dobson use her data sounds a bit like the Catholic Cardinals who did not want people to look through Galileo’s telescope.

Dr. Dundon is Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at California State University – Sacramento.

UPDATE: Here are two reactions from Focus on the Family that I do not think are widely circulated. The first rebuts an article from Jennifer Chrisler who was given space by Time to respond to Dr. Dobson’s earlier op-ed. The second provides supporting documentation for Dr. Dobson’s initial op-ed.