These Teenage Trolls Are Pretending to Be LGBT, and Screwing Up Scientific Studies

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12/10/2018

Scientists studying LGBT youth may have a big problem on their hands: meddling kids. More specifically, meddling kids who think it’s funny to identify as gay or lesbian on surveys—and who then give exaggerated responses to other questions about, say, substance use or eating habits. That phenomenon, in turn, could be inflating certain estimated health disparities between LGBT youth and their peers.  NYU economics professor Joseph R. Cimpian, whose new study in the American Journal of Public Health explores this emerging problem, said that he was tipped off to its potential scale when he noticed how frequently the ostensibly gay kids on one survey reported being blind—way beyond what would be expected. “What we found is that ‘gay’ kids are way more likely to be blind and to be deaf and to have three or more children of their own and all sorts of things,” he told The Daily Beast. “When you look at these data, you think, ‘This is ridiculous!’”

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