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Re: Bad Social Science & TF

Posted by Emile D on June 20, 2005 at 17:14:44

In Reply to: Re: Bad Social Science & TF posted by Emily Dorkheim on June 20, 2005 at 16:37:35:

You may be thinking of James Chancellor, the theologian who did an oral history of TF. Chancellor never claims that his oral history is anything other than a subjective account of "Life in the Family" told by active members. He doesn't attempt to cross-validate information, because he isn't trying to establish objective facts, such as how wide-spread child abuse in TFI was between 1975-1988. His study looks at subjective experience, i.e., how active members understand & interpret their shared history.

Nevertheless, he also does bad science because he draws some conclusions that are beyond the scope of his methodology. He assumes that because there are now policies in place that prohibit certain forms of child abuse that 1) that the Charter's child-protection policies are actually being implemented, 3) that the policies are implemented fairly, consistently & uniformly, and 4) that the presence of child-protection policies in the Charter actually reduces the risk of covert child abuse, and 4) that the current risk of child abuse in TFI is lower than that of the general population.

Chancellor also uses a very weak rationale for not interviewing former members. He assumes that because they are no longer actively committed to the ideals of the group, they can't provide a constructive supplement to the perspectives of active members. It doesn't occur to him that there may be former members who aren't particularly hostile to TFI, but also don't promote the official version of the group's history that active members have been coached to give outsiders like him.

The real reason Chancellor didn't include former members in his study (to cross-validate historical perspectives and strengthen his study's methodology) was because he didn't want to loose his unique access to the group through leaders like Peter & Claire.