Surprise, surprise: Gays don’t hurt the military

This is about what I expected:

For nearly 17 years, gay and lesbian soldiers of the U.S. military were expected to deny their sexuality under threat of dismissal as part of the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The repeal of the policy on September 20, 2011 stirred controversy, and inspired passionate arguments on both sides of the issue.

Now a year later, the first academic study of the effects of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” has found the repeal has had “no overall negative impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.”

In fact, military members have become more aware of their surroundings. Now that many of them actually know a gay person, they aren’t so ready to use derogatory language:

An enlisted soldier at a military university told researchers that when DADT was in effect, his unit mates would use degrading, anti-gay language, “almost absent-mindedly and with little consequence,” but that after repeal, he said, “it was kind of a big deal for two weeks,” as soldiers considered what it would mean for their comrades to be openly gay.

The report says the soldier told researchers that after people wrapped their heads around the idea, their consideration changed, “the new attitude seemed to be, ‘now that I know someone who is [gay], I’m talking about a real person. I’m not just using abstract insults [but words] that actually mean something.’”

This reminds me of the strategy of Harvey Milk: Make sure people know they know a gay person and bigotry and anti-gay measures will decrease.

The repeal of DADT has long been portrayed by the GOP as “social experimentation” and other such nonsense, but it was never anything of the sort. It was an exercise in treating our citizens equally in a way which was not merely neutral in the security of the United States but, indeed, in a way which strengthened our nation. The side benefit is that we’ve done away with a good deal of ignorance in the process.

Final Jesse Bering update

A blogger and psychologist improperly linked back to my blog a little while ago. The way he used my link indicated he disagreed with me when, in fact, he did not. I asked him to fix this several times. He ignored me. Eventually I changed the post to which he linked so that it would reflect the facts. (In addition to the problem I just described, my post didn’t even support the contention he was making anyway, so I made sure to note as much.) Now a moderator of some sort by the name of Ed has written this:

Ed: Link now goes to Myers’ blog.

(PZ Myers’ was the subject of Bering’s link, so he should have linked to Pharyngula in the first place.)

Jesse Bering apparently doesn’t care to correct his mistakes, but I guess the people working for Discover Magazine do. Good on them.

The Internet just became a slightly better place

I don’t know if she is blogging elsewhere (I didn’t find anything), but it appears that Roxeanne de Luca has ceased her blogging. While I hope it isn’t for any reasons of personal tragedy or whathaveyou, I am glad she is no longer clogging up the Internet with crazy falsehoods and anti-science rhetoric.

Science does not require faith

It requires assumptions:

Sometimes you will hear that “science requires faith,” for example faith that our sense data are reliable or that nature really obeys laws. That’s an abuse of language; science requires assumptions, just like anything else, but those assumptions are subject to testing and updating if necessary. If we built theories on the basis of our sense data, and those theories kept making predictions that turned out to be wrong, we would examine and possibly discard that assumption. If the universe exhibited a chaotic jumble of non-lawlike behavior, rather than falling into beautiful patterns, we would abandon that assumption as well. That’s the most compelling thing about science: it always stands ready to improve by casting out an old idea when the evidence demands it.

~Sean Carroll, via The A-Unicornist.

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