The “Trojan Couch”

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Tabulated and scored the results for statistical significance with respect to the original hypotheses. . Subjected the paper to peer-review and cross-checked for major and minor errors of fact, method, or calculation before publication. In fact, Hooker failed to follow even the most basic tenets of the scientific method. She deliberately had her associates recruit participants to obtain a pool of subjects who understood what the “experiment” was about and how it was to be used to achieve a political goal in transforming society. As she wrote many years later, “I knew the men for whom the ratings were made, and I was certain as a clinician that they were relatively free of psychopathology.” 14 In other words, she lacked a random sample and tinkered with the composition of both groups to conform to whatever she defined. Indeed, she selected them in collaboration with “activist” organizations15 – i.e., the “homophile” groups that in 1972 Seligmann (op.cit.) would identify as having a disproportionate number of “neurotic” members. I n addition, individuals with certain signs of “instability” and those in therapy she simply screened out, insuring in advance that, to the best of her ability (as research psychologist of mice, not men, as she was) neither group would display pathological symptoms in projective testing in which she was inexpert. The relative proportion, the presence and relative seriousness of signs of instability in fact remaining in each group were all documented by Hooker but not published in the study — an unacceptable absence, and the data was hastily destroyed by two of her disciples after her death. Nor was information provided on how many unscreened individuals were initially found and subjected to screening, it presumably being much easier to find heterosexual than homosexual individuals, yet Hooker claims finding somehow exactly and only 40 of each. She asks us to trust that her judgment is accurate and objective even though she had no clinical experience in the field of study, in the experimental measures employ ed, nor in clinical experimentation; did not have even the qualifications to perform projective testing in a mundane clinical situation beyond her Ph.D., had an obvious bias, and provides no details at all about her procedures. As we will see, the inadequa cy of her research was openly acknowledged by the journal that published it. In performing her experiment, she used the Rorschach test (ROR), the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), and the Make a Picture Story Test (MAPS). All these tests had national standardized norms-the baseline response of a normal sample-to serve as a control with which to compare the test group. These national standardized norms arise from samples of many thousands of individuals and are vastly more reliable than anything a single res earcher, even if an expert, can create if the sample size is small. However, she designed her own heterosexual control group to compare to the homosexual test group on the three standard tests she chose to administer. In other words, “normal” would be defi ned in her study by how the individuals in her control groups performed rather than by the national standardized norms. Hooker managed to find only 40 adequate heterosexual volunteers and eliminated ten of these, leaving a final control group of thirty (th e same as with her homosexual group). Did Hooker need to create a heterosexual control group? Perhaps she believed the Kinsey data that claimed that more than 1/3 of men had had homosexual experience, so a mere random sample of the “normal” male populatio n would be too heavily weighted by a “homosexual” or bisexual component. The answer is still “no.” The sample in the national norms is so huge that any such uncertainty or bias would be a vastly smaller problem than the imprecision and statistical uncertainty-to the point of complete meaninglessness-associated with Hooker’s procedure. Hooker simply should have administered her tests, in a controlled

Footnote:   14 American Psychologist, April 1993 Vol. 48, No. 4, 450-453 15 Bruce Shenitz, “The Grande Dame of Gay Liberation,” Los Angeles Times Magazine, June 10, 1990, pp. 20-34