Social network analysts subsequently assessed patterns of “citation networks” in the same-sex parenting literature and concluded that there is indeed a consensus out there that claims there are “no differences.” I see it. I just think the foundation for the consensus is more slipshod than rock-solid. It is the result of early but methodologically limited evaluations that formed a politically expedient narrative. It is not the product of many rigorous, sustained examinations of high-quality data over time, across countries, and using different measurement strategies and analytic approaches.
Some liken the debate over the science of same-sex parenting to that around climate change. They argue that the science is so extensive, the published studies so numerous, and the conclusions so overwhelmingly unidirectional that only scientists acting in bad faith would object. But that’s not where this field of study is. How can we possibly come to a legitimate consensus about the short and long-term effects of a practice (childrearing) of a tiny minority about whom generalizable data of sufficient size for valid comparative analysis was not available until the past decade? The answer, of course, is that you cannot—or rather should not—yet.
What we have, rather, is a politicized consensus generated by lots of small studies of tiny, non-representative samples misinterpreted as applying to the entire population of same-sex parents. It is—by comparison to climate change—like saying that since the surface temperatures in Taiwan, Togo, and Texas have inched up a degree or two that the entire globe must have as well. Scientists know better than to declare such a thing based on limited evidence.
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