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Tell the OVW to Obey President Obama's Scientific Integrity Directive

On March 9, 2009, President Obama issued a directive on scientific integrity http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/ObamaScientificIntegrityMemo.pdf, in which he said:

"The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions."

In late November Catherine Pierce, Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women published a memo (see below) in which she suppressed all information about victimization of males and all information about perpetration of domestic violence by females. Pierce's memo was the subject of RADAR's Dec. 2, 2009 press release. (http://www.mediaradar.org/press_release_20091202.php)

In his directive, President Obama also said:

"By this memorandum, I assign to the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Director) the responsibility for ensuring the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch's involvement with scientific and technological processes."

Today, RADAR is asking you to kick off the New Year by notifying Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, of the violation of scientific integrity by the Acting Director of the OVW and requesting that Dr. Holdren instruct the OVW that under President Obama's scientific integrity policy, any future communication that fails to emphasize the scientific result that women's physical aggression against their husbands and boyfriends is at least equal to that of men constitutes suppression of scientific findings, and thus puts the OVW in violation of President Obama's directive. Please also send a copy of your letter to Catherine Pierce.

When you contact Dr. Holdren, please emphasize the following points:

  • President Obama's mandate to you is to ensure the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch's involvement with scientific processes. The "soft" sciences like sociology and psychology are no less science than the "hard" sciences like physics and chemistry, however it's much easier for the unscrupulous to manipulate research results in the "soft" sciences.
    • Often the manipulation is accomplished via subtle techniques. Prof. Murray Straus, one of the world's leading family violence researchers, lists the following techniques he's seen used by less-than-honest domestic violence researchers in his paper "Processes Explaining the Concealment and Distortion of Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence" (http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/V74-gender-symmetry-with-gramham-Kevan-Method%208-.pdf).
      • suppressing evidence,
      • designing studies so as to avoid obtaining data that will call the desired result into question,
      • citing only studies that show the desired result,
      • concluding that results support the desired interpretation when they do not,
      • creating "evidence" by citation,
      • obstructing publication of articles and obstructing funding of research that might reach undesired results,
      • harassing, threatening, and penalizing researchers who produce undesired results
    • Sometimes outright falsification of data occurs, as in the recently reported case of former UC Davis employee Jennifer Beeman who, according to the Sacramento Bee, "grossly inflated the number of forcible sexual offenses in three years of mandatory reports to the federal government." (http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/2431619.html) The Sacramento Bee also reports that Beeman claimed hundreds of "incidents of violence against women" in applications for violence prevention grants, and that UC Davis' grant from the Federal Office on Violence Against Women was nearly $1 million for the year 2007 alone. (http://www.sacbee.com/ourregion/story/2290047.html)
  • A huge body of sound scientific research, compiled into an annotated bibliography by California State University Psychology Professor Martin Fiebert, demonstrates that women's physical aggression against their husbands and boyfriends equals or exceeds that of men. (http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm) Fieberts bibliography includes 271 scholarly investigations with an aggregate sample size exceeding 365,000.
  • Researchers at the CDC have found that, contrary to popular belief, in half of all couples in which domestic violence occurs, the violence is reciprocal. (http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/5/941) Even more surprising to those whose information about domestic violence comes from Hollywood stereotypes, CDC researchers found that among violent couples in which the violence is one-way rather than reciprocal, women were the sole perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases.
  • Director Pierce's memo announces that the Office on Violence Against Women intends to "to spark a national conversation" about violence against women and focusing only on ways to end violence against women and girls, which she asserts "pervades every community in America". In the absence of an equally prominent statement that scientific research indicates that women's physical aggression against their husbands and boyfriends is at least equal to that of men, Pierce's memo constitutes a gross violation of Obama's directive that "Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions," and as a result the public cannot trust the process informing decisions on domestic violence policy.
  • National policies for dealing with social ills that are based on bad science cause harm to every individual in the country. Thus, it is imperative that, in carrying out President Obama's mandate, you see to it that social science research and results are held to the same standards of scientific objectivity that you'd apply to any of the hard sciences.

The contact information is:

John Holdren, Director
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Executive Office of the President
725 17th Street Room 5228
Washington, DC 20502
Email: , Patricia McLaughlin, Executive Asst. to Dr. Holdren

Catherine Pierce, Acting Director
Office on Violence Against Women
800 K Street, N.W., Suite 920
Washington, D.C. 20530

OVW Acting Director Pierce's Memo

Dear Friends,

Congratulations on another successful Domestic Violence Awareness Month! I enjoyed hearing about the many exciting events that took place around the country. On October 19, the Department of Justice commemorated the month to honor the work of advocates and communities around the country who protect and serve survivors. Attorney General Eric Holder, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, and Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, and I were joined by representatives from organizations that work to end domestic violence and survivors and advocates who generously shared their stories. You can view videos from the event on the new Department of Justice Blog: http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/category/ovaw.

December 3: Itís Time to Talk!

Fifteen years after the Violence Against Women Act was enacted, much has been accomplished, but the work is far from finished. On December 3, Liz Claiborne, Inc. will sponsor Itís Time to Talk Day, dedicated to ensuring that Americans speak up about domestic, sexual and teen dating violence and to spark a national conversation about violence against women and teen dating abuse. The Department of Justice will also dedicate this day to talk about ways to end the violence against women and girls that pervades every community in America. We encourage you to stand with us on December 3 because itís time to talk to our colleagues, friends, and our family. Please let us know if you are planning any events in your community on this day and we will highlight them on our website. OVW developed a toolkit of resources for the 15th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and the official Itís Time to Talk website has additional information.

Fiscal Year 2010 Solicitations

I know many of you will be interested to learn that OVW will release solicitations for proposals for Fiscal Year 2010 grant programs beginning mid-December. All solicitations will be posted on OVWís website: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/open-solicitations.htm. You may subscribe to instant updates on new solicitations by signing up for the EGov Delivery Option: http://www.justice.gov/govdelivery/subscribe.html?code=USDOJ_59.

We also encourage everyone to review carefully “Information for Applicants” in each solicitation which includes the first-ever OVW Grant Program Reference Guide. This important resource includes eligibility requirements for all OVW programs, solicitation timelines, budget caps and project periods, information about how to apply, required application content, grant writing tips, sample budgets, and much more! Please review the guidebook carefully and thoroughly as you prepare for the 2010 application process.

As 2009 comes to a close and the holidays approach, I want to give thanks to everyone in the field for your efforts every day on behalf of survivors. It is a joy to do this work with devoted men and women committed to changing the status quo. In looking forward to December 3rd and 2010, we will continue our efforts until we see a day where men, women, and children are considered sacred in a world without violence.

Happy Thanksgiving and, again, with gratitude,

Catherine Pierce
Acting Director

Date of RADAR Release: January 4, 2010

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org