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Thursday, April 08, 2004

You can't bury your head in the sand deeper than this

The original research pointed to the fact that kids that take those virginity pledges are just as likely to catch STD's as kids who don't. Disease-prevention was the big cover for the anti-woman and religious origins of these programs. Well, just because they have been shown not to prevent disease but actually encourage the spread of disease doesn't mean the right's going to give up on them. They are just going to have to switch to the more openly sexist tactic that I'm sure alot of them were dying to use anyway: slut-bashing.
This is the most misleading article I've read on this issue in a long, long time.
The first thing she says is that the pledges "work". Granted, the vast majority of the kids break the pledge so I don't get how it "works", but the kids who take it delay sex for a year or so longer. So, they do it at the senior prom instead of the junior prom. I'm sure Christian parents everywhere are relieved.
She admits that the virginity pledge kids are less likely to use birth control or protection, and if they do get sick they are less likely to get help, but shrugs it off. I wonder if she would shrug it off if a lifelong smoker started coughing up blood but wouldn't go to the doctor to get it checked out. Anyway, that seems to me to be evidence that those virginity pledges are related to sexual shame and/or ignorance and it's keeping people from taking care of their health, which is serious indeed. A minor STD can cause major problems if left untreated.
Then she and the Heritage Foundation work on some good, old-fashioned mistaking correlation for causation, particularly when they find that the kids were more likely to be married and have kids in wedlock than the non-virginity pledge control group. But it would seem to me that those inclined to take this pledge are also inclined to marry because of an unplanned pregnancy. Since the oldest of the study group were only 24 years old, higher rates of marriage doesn't really seem to be a positive outcome. Just because two teenagers get married doesn't make an unplanned pregnancy a good idea.
But I especially like the end, where after hand-picking the numbers she likes that these researchers came up with, she dismisses the researchers own conclusion that abstinence-only education has detrimental health effects.
I blame creation "science" for this piece of crap article. Once the idea got out that ignoring unpleasant evidence, deliberately misunderstanding research methods and using mythical thinking could pass muster as "science" for a good deal of people, it opened the floodgates. That science and research can and should be twisted for political ends is quickly becoming common wisdom on the right. And when pesky research disproves a tenet of their ideology, than it should be dismissed out of hand or even better, surpressed entirely.
The only solid conclusions you can draw from this research is that virginity pledges are correlated to slightly older ages at first sexual intercourse and that kids who took the pledges were much worse at looking after their health on average than kids who didn't take the pledge. And while one can theorize about causation, I don't see that any causation was proved. For all we know, an undiscovered factor makes kids both likely to delay sexual intercourse and take a virginity pledge.


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