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UW-Madison ‘gaydar’ study raises questions, like, why? ^ | 9/15/15 | M.D. Kittle

Posted on 09/15/2015 7:25:41 AM PDT by Sopater

MADISON, Wisconsin — Among the path-blazing research that University of Wisconsin-Madison administration is ardently defending these days is a study that has supposedly debunked the power of “Gaydar.”

Two questions jump out: Why do we need a study on Gaydar — the purported ability to infer whether people are gay or straight based on their appearance — and how much money were taxpayers forced to fork over for such “research?”

The answer to the second question, at least according to UW-Madison, is very little. Which raises again the broad question: What kind of psychological research are we getting from our institutions of higher education?

Photo by

Photo by

GOT GAYDAR? A University of Wisconsin-Madison study says you don’t.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Sex Research, challenges “the gaydar myth,” according to a UW-Madison press release.

William Cox, lead author of the study, says gaydar isn’t accurate and is actually a harmful form of stereotyping.

“Most people think of stereotyping as inappropriate,” Cox says. “But if you’re not calling it ‘stereotyping,’ if you’re giving it this other label and camouflaging it as ‘gaydar,’ it appears to be more socially and personally acceptable,” Cox said in the university release.

The release goes on to state that “Cox and his team questioned the validity of previous research” that found gaydar to be a real skill.

But Cox really didn’t have a “team.”

He completed the study a year or two ago while he was working on his Ph.D., Chris Barncard, spokesman for the university’s research communications, told Wisconsin Watchdog.

According to the release, Cox authored the paper with professors Patricia Devine and Janet Hyde and UW-Madison graduate Alyssa Bischmann.

RELATED: UW-Madison counts 199 email accounts on Ashley Madison cheater site

Barncard said Cox conducted the research while serving as a paid assistant scientist in the university’s Department of Psychology, doing small projects while working on his dissertation.

Other than making use of university computers and using office space in the psychology department, Barncard said no university money was spent on the project. But Barncard said Cox couldn’t remember precisely who paid the $30 to $50 to recruit the 110 experiment subjects in’s online Mechanical Turk intellectual employment recruitment site.

As Princeton University notes, the service has “become an increasingly popular way for researchers to conduct online experiments. Anyone with access to the Internet can use the service as a way to draw respondents for any type of web-based survey or experiment. It’s a relatively low-cost way to engage a diverse set of respondents in a short period of time.”

“It’s Craigslist-style,” Barncard said. “There are small things people can do to make a little extra cash.” Little is the operative term. Barncard said the subjects made between 30 cents and 50 cents for testing their gaydar powers online.

Social science research has had a rough go of it in recent years, with a long list of studies coming under fire for their methodology and accuracy.

Last month, a report found more than half of the findings in 100 studies published in three leading psychology journals fell apart when retested.

“The analysis was done by research psychologists, many of whom volunteered their time to double-check what they considered important work,” noted the New York Times, which had, like many other prominent publications, reported some of the research as fact. “Their conclusions … have confirmed the worst fears of scientists who have long worried that the field needed a strong correction.”

“The new analysis, called the Reproducibility Project, found no evidence of fraud or that any original study was definitively false. Rather, it concluded that the evidence for most published findings was not nearly as strong as originally claimed,” the Times reported.

Social scientists like Andrew Gelman have criticized use of such online subject resources as Mechanical Turk. Gelman, professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University, wrote a piece for the Washington Post headlined, “Don’t trust the Turk,” in which he linked to Dan Kahan’s blog raising questions about the trustworthiness of samples derived from Mechanical Turk.

Wisconsin mainstream media outlets reported the UW-Madison study as if it were incontrovertible fact.

Interestingly, Cox’s gaydar study raised concerns about previous research in the field, citing differences in the quality of the photos used for gay and straight people in the study.

“The gay men and lesbians, according to Cox’s studies, had higher quality pictures than their straight counterparts,” the UW-Madison press release stated. “When researchers controlled for differences in photo quality, participants were unable to tell who was gay and straight.”

While UW-Madison researchers may find the concept of gaydar offensive, the term doesn’t seem to bother the operators of Gaydar, which bills itself as “The Premier Gay Dating Site. Home To Millions of Men.”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: college; education; gayagenda; gaydar; homosexualagenda
The "thought police" stockpiling ammo.
1 posted on 09/15/2015 7:25:42 AM PDT by Sopater
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To: Sopater
Gaydar used to work better when there was less gayness to US culture.

Now that our culture is completely fabulous our Gaydars are being swamped.

2 posted on 09/15/2015 7:32:14 AM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: Sopater

*shrug* after years of living in Hollywood and the SF Bay area, I have a very well developed gaydar.

I can spot ‘em, but mostly I just don’t care. It’s not like we’re competing for the same resources!

3 posted on 09/15/2015 7:34:53 AM PDT by null and void (Liberals: 2002, Bring the war home!/2015, bring 100,000 musim 'refugees' here NOW!)
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To: Sopater
The ability to "read" people is a valuable skill.
Just don't tell anyone what you see, lest you be called a bigot.
It's not 100% reliable, but what people say about themselves isn't either.

4 posted on 09/15/2015 7:37:36 AM PDT by BitWielder1 (I'd rather have Unequal Wealth than Equal Poverty.)
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To: Sopater
I suppose "Gaydar" is only allowed to be used by those who hope to gain from it...

From the Inside Flap

Gaydar is a must-have for those thousands (maybe millions) of hapless gay men and unwary straight women who?ve encountered such embarrassing revelatory moments as, ?Oh, I thought you were . . .? or ?Oh, I didn?t know you were . . .? or the ever-popular ?But isn?t he married?!? and so on.

According to author Donald F. Reuter, gaydar is the telepathic sixth sense that only gay men?and the occasional ultra-savvy straight person?seem to possess. But ultimately, its main function is to help gay men recognize one another in situations involving the general straight population.

Beautifully illustrated throughout by the author, Gaydar is divided into ten gay sections, including everything from gayspeak to gaywork to gayhouse to gaysport, and much more. Gaydar takes a playful look at the ins and outs of gay life while serving as an indispensable guide to shopping, traveling, nightclubbing, dining, working, and what it means to be ?part of the team.?

If you?re the average straight reader, don?t expect miracles, but if you?re willing, this book will help you discover innate perceptive skills long buried in the gay parts of your mind and body. Now, if you?re gay, you?ll be certain to find Gaydar the perfect companion for honing your gaydar sensors, rediscovering old tricks?and even finding some new ones. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

5 posted on 09/15/2015 7:38:10 AM PDT by Sopater (Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? - Matthew 20:15a)
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To: Sopater; onyx; Hunton Peck; Diana in Wisconsin; P from Sheb; Shady; DonkeyBonker; Wisconsinlady; ...

UW Madison conducts study on “gaydar”. Why?

FReep Mail me if you want on, or off, thooois Wisconsin interest ping list.

6 posted on 09/15/2015 7:41:06 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: who_would_fardels_bear

I think the study failed to properly define its terms. I’ve always heard ‘gaydar’ used in context of social interactive behavior (and haven’t heard it used much even then). Thinking you can tell who is homosexual from a portrait type photo seems unlikely.

7 posted on 09/15/2015 7:47:55 AM PDT by conejo99
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To: conejo99

A still photo would be unlikely to bear the clues. It’s actions that bear the clues.

8 posted on 09/15/2015 7:50:01 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: Sopater

9 posted on 09/15/2015 8:26:40 AM PDT by Old Sarge (I prep because DHS and FEMA told me it was a good idea...)
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To: conejo99

One look at Shepherd Smith or David Hyde Pierce and we’re not going to suspect? And “suspect” is the operative term. Like a blip on a Radar screen, Gaydar only tells you something’s there that’s a little bit queer.

10 posted on 09/15/2015 8:55:58 AM PDT by katana (Just my opinions)
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