The methods used in a survey that some U.S. military leaders have cited to support their plan to allow homosexuals to live their sexual choices openly and remain in the ranks “border on fraud,” according to a critic who spoke with WND.
Others also are raising tough questions about the survey size, data sampling and research methodology used to generate the Pentagon’s study that endorsed repeal of the military’s long practice of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
That was a policy imposed in 1993 that essentially allowed homosexual soldiers to remain in the ranks, even though law forbade it, if they did not make a public spectacle of their lifestyle choice.
Now the questions appear to be raising – at least – reasonable doubt about the issue.
And just as one expert confirmed the report’s methods “border on fraud,” a leading voice in the American Legion is calling on the incoming 112th Congress to repeal the radical new law next month.
The Department of Defense on Nov. 30 released a study called, “Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., among others, at the time, voiced concerns of the report.
Congress, nonetheless, voted to repeal the ban on “gays” in the military, and President Obama last week signed the law.
Now, a social science research expert, at the behest of WND, examined the report, and said some of its methods are “absurd,” and clearly don’t reflect, accurately, what the average active duty combat soldier, sailor or airman thinks of the repeal.
The Pentagon has not responded to multiple requests from WND for comment regarding the social science methodology used in the study, though Secretary Robert Gates, in a memo obtained by WND, called for a “professional, thorough and dispassionate” approach to producing the report.
The study seeks legitimacy through a restricted sampling of public opinion.
On page 36 of the 267-page Pentagon study, the report’s authors note that they conducted a “service member survey” asking 103 questions online of 115,000 personnel – a got a 28 percent response rate overall based on an e-mail awareness campaign. The Pentagon acknowledges there that 54 percent of the survey respondents are Coast Guard members.
“I would rather have a good sample of 1,000 than a bad one of 115,000,” said Dr. Lew Pringle, a professor of marketing at Yorktown University and formerly the chairman and CEO of BBDO Europe, where he ran one of the world’s largest marketing research departments for Fortune 1000 corporations and other leading clients. “A 28 percent response rate is very low, especially for a military population. Did they test for non-response bias? Fifty four percent from the Coast Guard seems absurd from any point of view.”
There are other problems with the methodology used by the Pentagon, too. The survey claims to have 95 percent confidence interval, with a 1 percent plus or minus error rate.
“That is absurd and relies on the naive use of sample sizes in the range mentioned (i.e. 100,000). The error isn’t in sample size, it’s in misspecification of various sorts,” said Pringle.
The misspecifications are legion. For example, the survey on page 162 indicates that only five of the 103 questions were asked of every one of the survey participants. What is more, different questions were asked of those who were deployed after 9/11, and those who were not. There also were focus groups used in the research process and their data is referenced in the Pentagon report, too.
“Focus groups can never confirm anything,” said Pringle. “They are properly used only to suggest hypotheses.”
Pringle also noted that there “could be a method in the madness” of the Pentagon with the production of this report.
“In other words, the things one would traditionally look for in judging the legitimacy of the effort may well be in either disguised or non-existent form,” Pringle said. “We don’t know that yet.”
For example, the Pentagon sent out up to five reminder e-mails to survey recipients asking them to respond to the survey. What did these e-mail messages say? Were the same reminder questions sent out to all service members, or only a select group? These are questions that overshadow the report and cast doubt on the integrity of the process.
“What is very key is this: What is the instrument presented to those for whom the information is being solicited? What are the expectations and instructions given to those who are the actual respondents?” said Pringle.
The expectations, according to the Pentagon, were set at the top. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent a memo to the U.S. Army’s General Counsel for Europe on March 2, 2010, ordering him to “stand up” an “intra-departmental, intra-service working group” to report by Dec. 1, 2010, on the impact on military readiness that allowing open homosexuals in the military would have.
‘To effectively accomplish this assessment, I believe it is essential for the working group [to] systematically engage the force,” wrote Gates. “The participation of a range of age, rank and warfare communities in this study, including families, in addition to active outreach across the force is a critical aspect.”
The Pentagon assigned dozens of active duty personnel to the project team. Ultimately, said Pringle, this makes it hard to determine just who advocated for the change in policy on the panel.
“In business, there is someone who is responsible for the statistical integrity of the inference/work. Who is that? The cast of thousands they name is meaningless,” said Pringle. “To make the point, draw a sample at random of 10 from all those names and ask those 10 a very important question about how the work was done. None of the 10 will know.”
Military veterans believe the Pentagon elite have aligned themselves with the radical left at the expense of the enlisted men in the field on the issue of homosexuals in the military.
“Liberal progressives are great at imposing on American citizens policies which cannot affect them,” Rees Lloyd, a judge advocate and director and attorney with the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project of The American Legion Department of California, tells WND. “DADT is a prime example.”
Lloyd called on the 112th Congress to “repeal” the new law, and to vote out of office all supporting the controversial measure.