Koinos Magazine #62 (2009/3)
www.koinosmag.com

 

How to combat false ideology?

Research, models and ideology

Frans E.J. Gieles, PhD

In Koinos 60 we described some findings from research of intergenerational intimacy. We mentioned research that was not prejudiced, or at least tried to examine experiences in an open manner. In many other cases however, morality interferes with science. Certain facts or ideas are not allowed to exist, not allowed to be true, so they cannot be true. How to combat false ideology wrapped up as 'science'?

In 1,058 cases in his research, Michael Baurmann found that more than 50% of the 'victims' declared themselves not to be a 'victim'. Of the boys in his research, none talked about himself as a victim. Another researcher, Rudiger Lautmann, found that his 60 respondents who felt attracted to children had developed their own ethical rules and styles of living, especially with the help of self-help groups. Michael Griesemer criticized the usual research on intergenerational contacts as being flawed due to its bad or absent definitions, poor reasoning and other methodological faults. And Horst Vogt found that half of his respondents functioned well in society and were psychologically healthy, unless they experienced stress.

What did these researchers do? What kinds of research did they perform? Which model did they choose? Lautmann and Baurmann used a qualitative model, more specifically the narrative model. These researchers asked the respondents to speak out, orally or on paper, about their own experiences, feelings and views, thus presenting their own narratives. A researcher using this model does not start with a hypothesis, but only with an open question. Lautmann spoke with the adult partners, Baurmann interviewed the younger partners. Another qualitative method is the historical model. The researcher using this model wants to prove a statement or hypothesis with historical data. Griesemer's research is based on this model. Vogt, to conclude with, uses a quantitative method of rejecting a specific hypothesis. He measures his factors and creates variables, and then studies the correlation between them.

Models of interpretation and vision
Each and every researcher has a vision underlying his research, a vision within which he poses his or her question or hypothesis, and within which he or she interprets the data and the findings. He or she has a vision of the subject studied, and an underlying vision of the human being, society and human knowledge. One might even put it like this: each author has an underlying vision, and each vision has, or is, an underlying ideology. So, every scientific work has an underlying ideology.
In the scientific literature on intimate intergenerational relationships, many different research models can be seen. On the one end of the spectrum, there are models 'that know already'. In these models no questions are asked, only a direct answer is given. These models are characterized by narrowness of vision and range. A first example is the 'wrong thinking' model, in which only politically correct thinking is 'good'. Whoever thinks otherwise is wrong and, as a result, acts wrong. And whoever acts wrong has a cognitive distortion.
A second example of narrow 'science' is the feminist model. Here also, researchers know the answers before asking any questions. If needed, reality is changed a bit. In the feminist model the world around us is described according to a very simple scheme: a woman is always good, a man is always bad. In 'demonology', a third example of a model 'that knows already', no thinking can be observed at all, let alone critical thinking. Here, the dichotomy is not 'true or not true', but 'morally good or bad'. Needless to tell every child lover is bad by definition, a demon. One is blindly led by one's own shadow, one's own inner demon, without knowing it.

In contrast with these examples of narrow models, we will find research models that ask questions and try to find honest answers, models that search for answers in a broader context. In research on the dynamics of the human soul, a first example, one seriously searches on the basis of respect for the human soul and its dynamics. The researcher describes the inner forces and their dynamics without a moral judgment. The historical approach can be another example. This method sometimes departs from the narcissistic vision that only our modern, Western culture has seen 'the light' and that people in other cultures were – or are – simply unintelligent. Models of social construction, to mention a third example, try to explain a certain phenomenon within their socio-historical context. Events that occur in society do so in a particular time era and should be viewed in precisely that context.

When narrow research models are used, the questions, the hypotheses, the findings and the conclusions of any researcher are highly influenced by their underlying ideology. Those who think that minors may experience physical contact, nudity, hugs and intimacy with adults as pleasurable are not merely regarded as 'wrong' in Western society nowadays. They are pronounced to be evil, perverts, sick, creeps, demonized and criminalized, if not exiled from society.
Can science give the answer? No, regrettably it cannot, because all fears, absurd laws, imprisonment, flawed studies and behaviour change 'therapies' are not grounded in sound science. It is – and this is my thesis – not science, but ideology. To be more precise: false ideology. How to combat false ideology? Firstly, by revealing that it is ideology – but then? How to proceed? What to do? What to refrain from doing? To find answers to these questions, let's first see what ideology is and does, how it operates.

What is ideology?
An ideology is a strong, undoubted belief, sometimes open to questions about the chosen model, but mostly closed, without any questions concerning the model itself. It is like a castle, defended against information that challenges the strong belief. Research using models that ask no real questions will confirm and strengthen this belief. It functions like a pair of glasses: if the glasses are green, the world will be green. 

Let's do a little thought experiment, and put the pair of glasses of our opponents upon our mental nose and look at the researchers I mentioned above. Wearing these glasses, what would you 'see'? Baurmann asks the poor victims and accepts their delusion that they don't see themselves as victims. The victims we treat with our therapies learn that they really are victims. Lautmann for his part listens to warped people and takes their narratives seriously. He does a good job by reporting all their cognitive errors! Griesemer reports from a dark time in history, before we saw the light, the very truth. Vogt simply beliefs what the adults in his research have said and does not pay any attention to the poor victims at all. He says that most of his respondents are quite normal people, but this is impossible! He refuses to see their mental distortions, since having paedophile feelings is a distortion by definition.
By the way, all these authors must be paedophiles themselves! Their sole aim is to pave the way for the abusers. Having that distortion, they can neither do any sound research, nor draw any accurate conclusions. They are prejudiced – we, of course, are not. 

How to combat false ideology?
This is ideology, this is how it works. We see that morality interferes with science. Certain facts or ideas are not allowed to exist, are not allowed to be true, so they cannot be true. How to combat this false ideology? Well, what is your answer? Here is mine:

  1. Say and prove that it is ideology.
  2. Keep publishing factual information, for example about recidivism rates, which are always said to be 'very high', but actually are quite low. And spread information about the rates of harm experienced. These are always said to be 100%, but researchers like Rind et al. actually found a rate of 4%.
  3. Be balanced in your presentation. Ipce's website aims to be balanced, thus it also mentions Finkelhor, Dallas and others, and will give voice to real victims.
  4. Do not try to reach 'the public'. Restrict yourself to the educated part of the population – the people who are, we might hope, able to think critically.
  5.  
  6. Appeal to feelings and emotions, speak by means of a poem, story, movie, novel, images, music, cultural action. One good pop song can be of more influence than five scientific theses. However, beware of romanticizing.
  7. Avoid the word and concept 'paedophile' as an identity. Always differentiate between feelings and behaviour.
  8. Accept the law and advise people to follow it.
  9. Accept that some people do not allow themselves, psychologically, to have any doubts and to question their beliefs.
  10. Do not be radical. Radicals cannot build bridges: they build castles, maybe castles in the air. Some radicals, so it appears, can only be active for a limited period, then they disappear.
  11. Try to be a bridge between belief A and belief B. A bridge is not a belief, it's like a ferryman who goes back and forth. Use diplomacy, seek a common ground and speak in terms of a shared discourse: human rights, respect for the law, gay and lesbian rights, loving care, children's rights. Also: speak the language of your opponents, so at least they can understand what you are trying to say. Use their terms, confirm them, and then add your nuance. Speak about 'treatment (absolutely necessary, for some'), 'distortion (true, but only partly'), 'abuse (true, but not always') and 'harm (yes, but not always').

I want to be such a bridge.

This article is based on a lecture given at the annual Ipce Meeting, July 2008.