In class, we discussed the idea of using science to understand if animals can be gay and the political and social stigma behind that decision. I found this class interesting, not as much because of the animals, but how the science behind determining biological factors. This reminded me of one of the darker sides of science, which is when studies are unethical and use motivated reasoning to benefit political powers. The most famous example would be the eugenics movement in Nazi Germany that created the idea of racial superiority and caused a lot of heartache for the world. This misguided attempt at science could have been avoided by properly using the lessons we learned in class, like scientific scrutiny, realising the difference between correlations and causation, the necessity of replacing experiments, the list goes on.
What interests, and disgusts me, is a similar circumstance where science is perverted in sick ways during the Apartheid era in South America concerning their military’s attempts to understand and “correct” homosexual behaviour. The details were gathered in this report called The Aversion Project. It contains details about research methods, goals, study design, and enough details to convince anyone that they performed with proper scientific discovery as a priority. The study outlines ridiculous tests and treatments like creating exclusively homosexual battalions to observe how they fight, electro shock treatment while looking at pornographic images. Even worse, about 900 subjects were forced to reserve sex change operations or chemical castration.
This soldier recounts his experiences of being forced into the project as humiliating, traumatizing, and described the doctors as confused. His experiences are consistent with the report, meaning his experiences were probably not unique to the soldiers in the studies.
These experiments demonstrates ideology masquerading as science. It is true that the doctors followed the scientific method in their minds, and were through in collecting data, but they knowingly ignored proper ethics. Any perceived breakthroughs found were either quickly thrown out, or made no sence Cancer treatment at the time had a better record. Not only did this restrict proper peer review and the cumulative elements of science by hiding their work, they remove the human element that recognises what knowledge actually benefits mankind.