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Almost 50 years ago, Alfred Kinsey, a quiet Midwestern Zoology professor, published the 1st of 2 volumes that would shake American culture to its foundations. His 1948 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male - like its 1953 sequel, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female - claimed to report the findings of a massive survey of American sexual behavior.

And what findings they were! In dry, scientific language, Kinsey declared that many traditionally forbidden sexual activities were commonplace: About 1/2 of all married men and one in 4 married women had had extramarital sex; 69% of men had been with prostitutes; 10 % of men had been homosexual for at 3 years; 40 to 50% of boys raised on farms had had sexual contact with animals.

What’s more, Kinsey claimed many of these practices could be beneficial. Premarital sex helped women "adjust" to marriage. Boys may develop "affectional relations" with their animal sexual partners.

The public - then sexually conservative by today’s standards - might not have accepted such information from just anyone. But Kinsey was a scientist and, impressed by the wonders of modern technology, Americans had grown to respect science deeply. And because Kinsey’s was a scientific study, says historian John D’Emilio of the University of N. Carolina at Greensboro, "The press had permission to write about the subject in a way it wouldn’t have before."

American culture shifted under the impact. The old sexual rules, supposedly hypocritical, began weakening. "If you discover that the desires you’ve been repressing are being acted out by millions," says historian Paul Robinson of Stanford University, "you are less inclined to repress them." Newsweek characterized that effect as "If it’s OK with Kinsey, it’s OK with me."

Today, in good measure because of Alfred Kinsey, we live in a different world. But were the things he said true?

In December 1995, nearly 50 years after Kinsey’s 1st report, the Indiana institute that Kinsey founded to carry on his work acknowledged that certain data had been misrepresented. Kinsey had written that 9 observers - some technically trained" - had found that children as young as 5 months were capable of multiple orgasm and, when "uninhibited," were "aggressive in seeking" sex. The truth, the Kinsey Institute now said, was that those data were supplied by a single observer - a pedophile who claimed to have sex with 317 boys....

In fact, many of Kinsey’ findings were based on flawed methods. And some are outright false. Nevertheless, prominent scholars who know this continue to promote Kinsey’s work....

When Kinsey took a sexual history, he was far more likely to "find" sexual activity than were his own colleagues - reporting 2 to 3 times as much premarital intercourse and 4 times as much homosexuality as they did. Says historian James Reed of Rutgers University, "Kinsey was a man who very much wanted to find sexual activity."

Even more troubling was Kinsey’s collection of child pornography. According to a 1981 letter from Kinsey colleague Paul Gebhard to researcher Judith Reisman, Kinsey obtained photos and film of children engaged in sexual acts from adults who had had sex with them. Kinsey never notified law enforcement of the existence of any of these pedophiles.

Kinsey claimed to be a neutral scientist who had no agenda. He wrote in his 1st volume that he aimed for "scientific fact completely divorced from questions of moral value and social custom." His claim was false. "Kinsey had views, and they’re in his books," says sociologist John Gagnon, a former president of the International Academy of Sex Research, who joined the institute after its founder’s death in 1956. Kinsey believed that sex was a simple, biological reaction to stimuli with no moral, spiritual or psychological dimension. Only "inhibitions" imposed by society, he claimed prevented everyone from enjoying equally a variety of "outlets."

"It is not so difficult," Kinsey wrote in his 2nd...

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