Pharyngula

We were just womping on the new president of the Texas State Board of Education for his foolishness about evolution, but it turns out he’s got the all the symptoms of full wingnut syndrome: he’s also a proponent of ignorance-only sex education.

It is strange that there’s this whole suite of positions that would seem to be unrelated, but almost always seem to be adopted wholesale. If you know someone is against evolution, you can pretty much predict their positions on abortion, stem cells, the death penalty, education, GW Bush, and homosexuality. I wonder what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?

Comments

  1. #1 Mike P
    July 27, 2007

    I wonder what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?

    Jebons?

  2. #2 Tom @Thoughtsic.com
    July 27, 2007

    I was going to suggest those horrible little “god particles,” but I’ll absolutely settle for Jebons.

  3. #3 Dunc
    July 27, 2007

    You forgot global warming…

    I’m pretty sure Mark H has a “Crank magnetism” theory to account for this.

  4. #4 Bob
    July 27, 2007

    I caution all of us to not educate people with these wildly divergent sets of “thoughts” in their heads. If any of them “get it”, we could all be killed by skull shrapnel!

  5. #5 bill
    July 27, 2007

    “Baptists For Brownback” has a post up this morning in support of the new chairman of the Texas State Board of Education.

    They also link angrily to your putdown on Senator Brownback’s NY Times op-ed:
    http://baptistsforbrown2008.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/brownback-wont-make-a-monkey-out-of-you/

  6. #6 CalGeorge
    July 27, 2007

    Time to mention again an excellent documentary:

    The Education of Shelby Knox.

  7. #7 Bob
    July 27, 2007

    Wow, such genuine christer compassion and honesty! “chinamen”? Chinamen and glasses? Descended form chimpanzees?

    Ugh, teh stupid, teh stupid!

  8. #8 Evolving Squid
    July 27, 2007
    “The idea that just giving them a lot of information is going to solve it, I think, is kind of naive,” he said. “Certainly, it’s more of a societal problem than it is a school problem.”

    When the president of the State Board of Education tells you access to information isn’t all that’s cracked up to, you naive sorts better take note.

    I don’t want to defend a yahoo, but the quote, taken from the referenced web site is very much slanted. The president of the SBOE is simply saying that throwing information isn’t solving the problem (semi-true) and that it is more of a societal problem than a school problem (very true).

    Educate teens about sex all you want, any way you want – it’s not going to stop them from boinking because basic biology and cultural permissiveness will override it. Education and information can help limit the damage, but cultural change will be necessary to truly make a difference.

  9. #9 Pete
    July 27, 2007

    According to George Lakoff, there is a common thread to all those positions. In his books (Moral Politics, and Don’t think of an Elephant) he calls it the “strict father” model* instead of the “nurturant parent” model (which ties together the opposite suite of positions). I’m not sure I buy it completely but it is worth pointing out that the co-occurrence of those positions is something that has to be explained.

    *he says “frame”, not model, of course, but it’s risky using such words around here.

  10. #10 Kseniya
    July 27, 2007

    The time has come for The Lone Star State to move towards realizing its long-held and most cherished dream: Secession and Sovereignty.

  11. #11 Tom @Thoughtsic.com
    July 27, 2007

    Evolving Squid wrote:

    Education and information can help limit the damage, but cultural change will be necessary to truly make a difference.
    That’s true, but he also minimizes his stance in his quote. He isn’t just against throwing a lot of information at them; he’s against giving any information to them. Regardless of how we’d like society to work, we have to rely on our schools to approach kids formally about sex because parents don’t do a good enough job themselves.

  12. #12 Markk
    July 27, 2007

    I don’t think sex education is needed in schools anyway – abstinence only, or any other kind. My hunch is that the kids are motivated enough about sex to find out what they need to find out about it.

    I know there were studies recently stating that abstinence only sex education is useless, but are there any that testify to the usefulness of other forms of sex education?

  13. #13 PZ Myers
    July 27, 2007

    The link also tells you that Texas has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. While you might argue that simply giving students information won’t fix it, I can tell you for sure that ignorance doesn’t work. And actually, we have the data now, and abstinence-only programs aren’t only ineffective, they make the problem worse. It turns out that giving students a lot of information does help.

  14. #14 roger
    July 27, 2007

    could the common denominator be stupidity? and isn’t “produce lots of offspring” part of the same line of non-thinking? maybe if humanity gets dumb enough we won’t be able to trash the planet any more.

  15. #15 kmarissa
    July 27, 2007

    I don’t want to defend a yahoo, but the quote, taken from the referenced web site is very much slanted. The president of the SBOE is simply saying that throwing information isn’t solving the problem (semi-true) and that it is more of a societal problem than a school problem (very true).

    Educate teens about sex all you want, any way you want – it’s not going to stop them from boinking because basic biology and cultural permissiveness will override it. Education and information can help limit the damage, but cultural change will be necessary to truly make a difference.

    That depends on which is viewed as a bigger problem: teens having sex, or teens getting STDs and getting pregnant. Throwing information at them might not stop them from having sex (not giving them any information certainly doesn’t either), but shouldn’t the aim be to at least stop them from getting pregnant and getting STDs? That’s where throwing the information does some good.

  16. #16 Coragyps
    July 27, 2007

    I’m calling Poe’s Law on “Baptists For Brownback.” C’mon, now – “the anti-Jesus lies of communists and their scientist running dogs?” Gimme a break…..

  17. #17 LM
    July 27, 2007

    I agree with kmarissa: Kids are going to have sex, period. We can tell them not to (like that’s going to work), but we should also give them information on how to protect themselves from diseases and unwanted pregnancies, because let’s face it, kids are going to have sex.

    Come on now, clap if you didn’t fool around when you were a teen… *sound of crickets*

    At the very least, kids can find out where babies really come from (I know some adults who don’t seem so sure…)

  18. #18 kmarissa
    July 27, 2007

    My hunch is that the kids are motivated enough about sex to find out what they need to find out about it.

    Markk, kids often find out the info from other kids. That’s what leads to teens honestly believing things like:

    1. You can’t get pregnant if you have sex in a pool, because chlorine kills the sperm.
    2. You can’t get pregnant if you douche with coke after sex, because it kills the sperm.
    3. You can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex.

    And etc. On a theoretical level, you could argue about what should and shouldn’t be taught in school. But on a practical level, we need to teach kids these things as a society because teenage pregnancy (and STDs) are a bad thing. Most parents rely on school sex ed to teach the basics, because parents don’t want to. Kids don’t learn anything in school sex ed except to not have sex until marriage (how that helps them avoid unplanned pregnancies while married is beyond me, though), and so they get information from possibly the most unreliable source available: other kids.

  19. #19 PZ Myers
    July 27, 2007

    NO POWER ON EARTH CAN STOP TEENS FROM BOINKING.

    Well, aside from drastic solutions like nuclear war or the global zombie epidemic.

    Perhaps the fundamental(ist) problem here is that we’ve got a lot of people who have deluded themselves into thinking they can control human sexual behavior, rather than controlling the consequences of that behavior.

  20. #20 Tom @Thoughtsic.com
    July 27, 2007

    If you think that’s bad, Coragyps, just imagine what it would be like if he was voted president.

  21. #21 Sven DiMilo
    July 27, 2007

    I wonder what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?
    I think you figured this out the other day, Dr. Myers: it’s the expression, in neurons of the cerebral cortex, of holy-spirit-gated ion channels.

  22. #22 LM
    July 27, 2007

    kmarissa: Ha! I remember those. You know, a good way around all of those myths is to just have kids watch the episode of Degrassi Jr. High where Spike gets knocked up… :)

  23. #23 Steve_C
    July 27, 2007

    Squid. It’s not about preventing the boinking…

    it’s about when the boinking happens… they don’t get stds or pregnant.

    His method actually causes more risky behaviour. The stats show that purity pledges and abstinence only education create more problems.

  24. #24 sailor
    July 27, 2007

    “I wonder what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?”
    DENIALISM!

    evolution does not exist
    global warming does not exist
    kids will not have sex if we keep them ignorant.

  25. #25 Phil Plait
    July 27, 2007

    I almost mentioned this in my original post about this doofus, but held back because it distracted away from the creationist aspects. This guy’s the complete package, ain’t he?

    On his website, he has a page called Abstinence is the Only Safe message. If your irony gland can stand it, the website is titled “A Little Clear Thinking About Texas Public Schools”.

  26. #26 Fatboy
    July 27, 2007

    I guess I’ll repost the link I put on the other thread, since it seems more relevant to this one. It’s an essay by McLeroy himself on the issue:

    Many feel abstinence the only safe message

  27. #27 kmarissa
    July 27, 2007

    Dork that I am, I actually read Dear Abby (I know, I know), and the issue is particularly on my brain (along with all those old kid myths) because of a letter that she recently replied to:

    http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20070718

  28. #28 Brian
    July 27, 2007

    They also link angrily to your putdown on Senator Brownback’s NY Times op-ed:
    http://baptistsforbrown2008.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/brownback-wont-make-a-monkey-out-of-you

    My favorite line: “Finally we can rest easy!” I said between sobs to my wife Lulu-Jean, as we knelt in thankful prayer before the TV set.

  29. #29 Fatboy
    July 27, 2007

    Oops, looks like Phil beat me to it.

  30. #30 MyaR
    July 27, 2007

    Hmmm, anyone have racial breakdowns on the various denialists? Because I’ve only ever met white ones, and they also generally feel like they’re racially discriminated against, and a lot of times, that seems to be the root of the problem. (For those I’ve encountered, anyway.)

  31. #31 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 27, 2007

    PZ asks:

    t is strange that there’s this whole suite of positions that would seem to be unrelated, but almost always seem to be adopted wholesale. If you know someone is against evolution, you can pretty much predict their positions on abortion, stem cells, the death penalty, education, GW Bush, and homosexuality. I wonder what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?

    Authoritarianism?

  32. #32 Bill Dauphin
    July 27, 2007

    Kseniya:

    The time has come for The Lone Star State to move towards realizing its long-held and most cherished dream: Secession and Sovereignty.

    There’s a darker possibility: I grew up in Texas, and was taught in my (mandatory) junior high Texas history class that Texas’ annexation into the union includes the unique provision that the state has the right to divide itself into up to five separate states… and when I was growing up, there would be periodic half-serious suggestions that we exercise that option. If you think the Lone Star State has had a net deleterious effect on the country in recent years, try to imagine the “US and A” with five Texas Governors and 10 Texas Senators!

  33. #33 386sx
    July 27, 2007

    Authoritarianism?

    I would have said fundamentalism. That’s how Mr. Bush got elected isn’t it? Anybody remember the fake marriage amendment thing that put him over the top? Remember how he was saying “God” this and “God” that all the time? Oh man, those were the days.

  34. #34 Evolving Squid
    July 27, 2007

    That’s true, but he also minimizes his stance in his quote. He isn’t just against throwing a lot of information at them; he’s against giving any information to them. Regardless of how we’d like society to work, we have to rely on our schools to approach kids formally about sex because parents don’t do a good enough job themselves.

    I don’t disagree with you. However, his quote and the discussion beneath it don’t match up.

    In any case, yes, parents don’t do a good enough job themselves, and that makes me think that perhaps some of the sex education needs to be aimed at parents. What mechanism this might involve I can’t imagine, but it would seem that if parents are the root of the problem, then solving the problem would involve dealing with them as well.

    One of the big issues I have with the whole “teen pregnancy” thing is that I don’t think legal adults (18 and 19 year olds) despite their status as “teen” should be counted. They’re adults and old enough to make their own decisions. An 18-year-old getting an STD doesn’t concern me any more than a 28-year-old getting an STD. A 13-year-old getting an STD, that’s an issue.

    For pregnancy, it’s an issue when ANYONE of ANY AGE ends up with an unwanted pregnancy.

  35. #35 Evolving Squid
    July 27, 2007

    Perhaps the fundamental(ist) problem here is that we’ve got a lot of people who have deluded themselves into thinking they can control human sexual behavior, rather than controlling the consequences of that behavior.

    I’d say that’s a pretty good summary of the situation.

  36. #36 ckerst
    July 27, 2007

    I wonder what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?

    It’s called ignorance.

  37. #37 Carolyn
    July 27, 2007

    You know, what I just don’t get about abstinence-only sex education is that teens become adults, and adults aren’t in school anymore. Unless you want to profess that nobody should ever have sex, (which I think some of these folks do) you really need to think not just about fourteen year olds, but the adults they become. Even people who wait for marriage might want to know a little about how pregnancy really happens, and how to encourage or delay it.

    And nobody teaching my (actually quite good, hooray now defunct Lakeshore School Board) sex education classes said that we should all have sex, just that we should consider contraception and disease prevention before we were horny, because if we don’t, we could make poor decisions.

  38. #38 LM
    July 27, 2007

    “In any case, yes, parents don’t do a good enough job themselves, and that makes me think that perhaps some of the sex education needs to be aimed at parents.”

    Aren’t today’s teens tomorrow’s parents?

  39. #39 dkew
    July 27, 2007

    baptistsforbrown2008

    President Reagan fought all his life, first in Hollywood and then in Washington, against the anti-Jesus lies of communists and their scientist running dogs. It’s a certainty that The Gipper shed tears of pride that night as he sat at the Lord’s perfumed toes up in heaven and watched Senator Brownback step bravely into his mighty shoes.

    I’m not ashamed to say I myself wept with joy. With Brownback in command, it was obvious that America would remain in safe hands when warrior-in-Christ George W. Bush rode off into the sunset in January 2009. “Finally we can rest easy!” I said between sobs to my wife Lulu-Jean, as we knelt in thankful prayer before the TV set.

    http://baptistsforbrown2008.wordpress.com/sow/

    People Who are Probably Going To Hell

    [...]

    WARNING: Before visiting any of the following links you are cautioned to say the following prayer.

    IN JESUS NAME, I BIND UP EVERY DEMON COMING ACROSS THE COMPUTER LINES, AND I RETURN THEM AND ANY CURSES.IN JESUS NAME, I COVER MYSELF IN THE BLOOD OF JESUS. I COVER THIS COMPUTER AND THE INTERNET ROAD I TRAVEL IN THE BLOOD OF JESUS. I TAKE AUTHORITY AND DOMINION OVER ALL WEB SITES, WEB MASTERS, WEB DOMAINS, AND DEMONS OF THE INTERNET SUPER HIGHWAY SO THEY DO NOT CROSS MY PATH. I DISPATCH ANGELS AHEAD OF ME TO PROTECT ME.

    IN JESUS NAME, I CUT ALL UNGODLY SILVER CORDS AND LAY LINES.

    AS YOUR WAR CLUB AND WEAPONS OF WAR I BREAK DOWN, UNDAM, AND BLOW UP ALL WALLS OF PROTECTION AROUND ALL HOMOSEXUALS, WITCHES, WARLOCKS, WIZARDS, SATANISTS, ATHEISTS, LIBERALS, DEMOCRATS, SORCERERS, AND THE LIKE, AND I BREAK THE POWER OF ALL CURSES, HEXES, VEXES, SPELLS, CHARMS, FETISHES, PSYCHIC PRAYERS, PSYCHIC THOUGHTS, ALL WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY, SATIRE, PARODY, MAGIC, VOODOO, ALL MIND CONTROL, JINXES, POTIONS, BEWITCHMENTS, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, SICKNESS, PAIN, TORMENT, PSYCHIC POWER, PSYCHIC WARFARE, PRAYER CHAINS, INCENSE AND CANDLE BURNING, INCANTATIONS, CHANTING, UNGODLY BLESSINGS AND HOODOO, CRYSTALS, AND EVERYTHING ELSE BEING SENT MY WAY, OR MY FAMILY MEMBER’S WAY, OR ANY CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES WAY, AND I RETURN IT, AND THE DEMONS TO THE SENDER, TEN FOLD.

    AMEN.

    This is so bizarre, I’d have thought it was parody.

  40. #40 Rey Fox
    July 27, 2007

    “try to imagine the “US and A” with five Texas Governors and 10 Texas Senators!”

    Maybe the People’s Republic of Austin would soften the effect a bit.

  41. #41 Albatrossity
    July 27, 2007

    Re sex education and the satirical “Baptists for Brownback” website, you all should visit this page of that site for a hilarious take on Senator Sam’s positions re rape and abortion. The comment thread alone is worth the visit.

  42. #42 Charley
    July 27, 2007

    The methods used to spread this suite of ideas to the sheep continue to become more sophisticated. Check out this 12-session, 7-DVD program from Focus on the Family aimed at small church groups. My relatives went through it. Creepy. http://www.thetruthproject.org/events/A000000068.cfm

  43. #43 Sonja
    July 27, 2007

    Educate girls. And I don’t just mean about sex, I mean about everything. When girls realize that their lives can be about more than just their biology, pregnancy rates drop. It works the same in every country (maybe even Texas).

  44. #44 kmarissa
    July 27, 2007

    “We have concluded that the acronym U.S.E. (Unplanned Sexual Event), when used regularly to replace the word “rape”, will remove the stigma associated with this sometimes unpleasant situation”…?

    That’s probably the most offensive thing I’ve heard in a week. Please please tell me it’s some kind of joke.

  45. #45 LM
    July 27, 2007

    kmarissa: It’s a joke. But check out some of the comments these people are making (pretty sure they AREN’T joking):

    “I suppose the murder of a child makes a woman forget all about her attack. Typical left thinking. Out of mind, out of mind.”

    and

    “If she is a christian she will love with all her heart what the Lord has given her.”

    Yes, the lord gave you a rapin’, and you’re going to LOVE IT.

  46. #46 MyaR
    July 27, 2007

    Dismissals of ‘stupidity’ or ‘ignorance’ are not only false, they’re unhelpful. There are many highly intelligent people who have been fooled by ID, usually people who were brought up in religious families (thinking of my own, where 4 of the 5 of my siblings are, to a large extent, religious, some YEC). Now, I think some of the YEC stuff can be placed on ignorance, but not even all of that. There seems to be a fundamental (not that kind of fundamental) need for someone, somewhere, telling them what to do, what their lives mean — authoritarianism. They can’t figure it out for themselves.

    This is particularly weird to me, as I’ve never really had a problem with having my life ‘mean something’ outside of the here and now of what I can actually experience. But they do. And it’s weird, but driven by neither stupidity nor ignorance, but fear.

  47. #47 Brownian
    July 27, 2007

    You’re all missing the big picture, people. Who cares about teen sex? What we really need to do is stop people like Brownback’s parents from having sex!

    I can’t imagine people like them have any fun doing it anyway.

  48. #48 Sarcastro
    July 27, 2007

    I’m calling Poe’s Law on “Baptists For Brownback.” C’mon, now – “the anti-Jesus lies of communists and their scientist running dogs?” Gimme a break…..

    “Baby Jesus” did it for me.

  49. #49 kmarissa
    July 27, 2007

    LM, thanks; I can go eat lunch now. The sad sad thing is that I just couldn’t tell.

    I think I’ve been reading this blog too long… ;)

  50. #50 Shawn Wilkinson
    July 27, 2007

    lol@Jebons (#1)

    I was going to answer PZ’s question (see last sentence of blog entry) with the Theory of Intrinsic Woo or the Unified Theory of Wooness.

  51. #51 Fatboy
    July 27, 2007
    That’s true, but he also minimizes his stance in his quote. He isn’t just against throwing a lot of information at them; he’s against giving any information to them. Regardless of how we’d like society to work, we have to rely on our schools to approach kids formally about sex because parents don’t do a good enough job themselves.

    I don’t disagree with you. However, his quote and the discussion beneath it don’t match up.

    Phil already linked to McLeroy’s essay, which spells out his position quite clearly. Here’s the conclusion from that essay:

    The comprehensive view is neither realistic nor protective. To encourage sexually active teens to be chaste or to use contraception correctly is difficult, if not impossible. Considering the messages they are receiving from television, movies and music, and considering the unlikelihood of ‘protected sex” happening, the abstinent message must be given chance, especially in our schools which should strive for the best

    So yes, he is definitely calling for abstinence only sex ed.

    Here’s excerpt from McLeroy’s page that I found kind of funny:

    Today in our schools “the chaste” exist. Many of us reading this article are proof of the possibility of teen chastity.

    Heh. I was “chaste” in high school, too, but it had very little to do with me choosing it, and very much to do with me not being able to get a girlfriend.

  52. #52 ema
    July 27, 2007

    Evolving Squid,

    …the quote, taken from the referenced web site is very much slanted.

    How so? It’s a full quote.

    The president of the SBOE is simply saying that throwing information isn’t solving the problem (semi-true) and that it is more of a societal problem than a school problem (very true).

    He’s saying no such thing. He’s not making a statement about an existing situation ["We're giving our students all this information (comprehensive sex education) and this approach isn't solving the problem."]

    The president of the SBOE is saying that it’s naive to think that increasing access to information [going from the status quo of no information (abstinence "education") to more/a lot of information (comprehensive sex ed)] will solve the problem.

    Basically, the Texas SBOE president doesn’t believe that access to information is the way to go when it comes to education. If you think that’s acceptable, fine. I don’t.

  53. #53 Fatboy
    July 27, 2007

    You know, what I just don’t get about abstinence-only sex education is that teens become adults, and adults aren’t in school anymore. Unless you want to profess that nobody should ever have sex, (which I think some of these folks do) you really need to think not just about fourteen year olds, but the adults they become.

    Well, yeah, McLeroy does want people to stay abstinent until they’re married:

    It is just as natural to be chaste until marriage as it is to be promiscuous. The desired result of the abstinent view is totally realistic; it happens all the time.

  54. #54 Steve_C
    July 27, 2007

    More or less information will have no effect on the amount of sex teenagers will have.
    It will only affect resky behaviour. People take more risks when they have less information.

    Just say no doesn’t work when it comes to sex. If your goal is for teenagers to not have sex… a whole societal shift in behaviour towards sex would be needed, what that would be I don’t know. And do we even want it?

    We need to teach our young adult about the responsibilities and emotional implications of having sex.

    Bullshit biblical morals teach nothing about sex in the real world.

    Those christians do like to keep their girls oblivious and virgins. The truth is their just becoming oblivious and sexually active.

  55. #55 arachnophilia
    July 27, 2007

    I wonder what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?

    is that a rhetorical question?

  56. #56 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 27, 2007

    From the Baptists for Brownback site

    ortunately, others have joined Senator Brownback in the long, difficult journey to return the science of Genesis to our nation’s classrooms. Just last week Governor Rick Perry of Texas appointed a Creationist and anti-evilutionist, Don McLeroy, to head the Texas State Board of Education. Brother McLeroy is an experienced dentist, committed Christian and former boy scout troop leader, and as such is highly qualified to judge what should or should not be taught to boys and girls in science classes.

    hawhaaa?

  57. #57 Carlie
    July 27, 2007

    Let’s say every teen in America has sex, but with appropriate protection against STDs and pregnancy.

    What happens? How is the country suddenly a worse place to be? Why is this horrible? Physical damage? No, not if they’re well educated to prevent problems during sex. Emotional damage? Teen angst is teen angst, no matter what’s led up to it. I read another article recently that stated that teen pregnancy was down, teen STDs were down, but not the rate of sexual activity itself OH NOES! I just don’t get it. What irreparable harm is caused by having sex as a teenager? I was a fundamentalist and didn’t, and I really don’t see how my life is so much better off for having not done so.

  58. #58 MyaR
    July 27, 2007

    a whole societal shift in behaviour towards sex would be needed

    wouldn’t that require a biological shift in behavior as well?

  59. #59 kmarissa
    July 27, 2007

    Carlie, for the most part I agree with you. And although I can’t back this up, I suspect that a lot of the emotional harm that comes from teenage sex is directly linked with our purity obsession. Anecdotally, most of my high school friends’ emotional issues with sex involved no longer being “pure,” or “giving it up” to the wrong guy. And if you’re told repeatedly that your value lies in being a virgin, what’s the point of making responsible and healthy choices when you no longer are one? What might otherwise just be a bad/drunken/irresponsible decision one night instead becomes a defining feature of a person. No longer a virgin–no longer pure. Who would want to marry her? And etc. Talk about inflicting emotional harm on a kid.

  60. #60 Steve_C
    July 27, 2007

    Nope. I don’t see what the point would be either.

    Teens having safe sex isn’t a problem.

    Boys attitudes towards girls does need some work however.

  61. #61 Brownian
    July 27, 2007

    Carlie, those are all great questions. It would be nice if all the abstinance advocates would sincerely ask themselves those.

    I have a Mormon coworker who’s unmarried and a virgin at 32. She’s fond of ‘theorising’ about the problems with pre-marital sex (and I’m fond of pointing out to her that a theories are built on evidence, not conjecture). Her interest is not so much the truth as a desire to justify her church doctrine.

    To be fair to her, I appreciate that she’s more than willing to listen to my atheist and humanist perspectives, and on occasion her thought shield cracks and a little bit of empathy shines through.

  62. #62 ktesibios
    July 27, 2007

    It is strange that there’s this whole suite of positions that would seem to be unrelated, but almost always seem to be adopted wholesale. If you know someone is against evolution, you can pretty much predict their positions on abortion, stem cells, the death penalty, education, GW Bush, and homosexuality. I wonder what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?

    This phenomenon is old enough that familiarity should have robbed it of strangeness by now. In the book The Life and Times of the late Demon Rum, J.C. Furnas took note of the tendency of temperance-movement adherents to hold a particular spectrum of views, i.e., if you were a mid-19th-century temperance advocate there was a very high probability that you were also an abolitionist and believed in phrenology and spiritualism. There was also a correlation between temperance beliefs and advocacy of female suffrage- not surprising because the temperance movement had a strong base among women. Furnas called this tendency to acquire beliefs as a sort of package deal “syndromism”.

    We don’t just see this among religious right woo-woos like McLeroy. I’ve observed the same phenomenon (with a different package of beliefs) among left-wing activists- in fact, it’s one of the most tiresome things about political-activist types in general- and it’s very common among paranoid conspiracy theorists (in that milieu I like to call it “the betcha can’t eat just one effect”).

    I don’t know whether this a piece of Americana or the reflection of a more universal human tendency steeming from the difficulties of using an information-processing system adapted to the needs of hunter-gatherers to try to make sense of a much more complex social environment.

  63. #63 Alison
    July 27, 2007

    Baptists for Brownback is obviously a parody (well, not obviously, judging from the comments) but it’s awfully sad when a parody seems almost identical to the real thing.

    Knowledge is power. When people get out into the real world and don’t know certain essential things, there are other people out there willing and able to take advantage of that. Kids who know nothing about sex can be easily swayed by raging desire and false (or no) information into making mistakes that will change their lives. Sex education in school is for teaching them the facts – the things parents don’t tell them. If all it does is parrot the information of the parents who don’t want their kids to know how it all works, then it might as well be eliminated. The kids whose parents teach them what they need to know at home won’t suffer, and the kids whose parents want to insulate them will be getting sick and/or pregnant, and it’ll save tons of tax dollars. Idiots.

  64. #64 MAJeff
    July 27, 2007

    You can’t get pregnant if you have sex in a pool, because chlorine kills the sperm.
    2. You can’t get pregnant if you douche with coke after sex, because it kills the sperm.
    3. You can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex.

    Some others I’ve heard (and these are from teens, so the boy/girl thing is probablyb still appropriate):

    1. Smoking marijuana reduces sperm count, so if you screw while doing it high, you can’t get a girl pregnant.
    2. You can tell if a girl has an STD by rubbing your finger in your ear to get a little wax on it, and then putting it in her vagina. If it burns and she jumps away, she’s got something.
    3. Drinking a Heinekin after sex can prevent pregnancy.

    We don’t want kids trying to educate themselves. This is the sort of thing they come up with when we leave them to their own ignorance.

  65. #65 John Danley
    July 27, 2007

    Oh, that’s easy. The common force is Chuck Norris.

    http://thestubborncurmudgeon.blogspot.com

  66. #66 Phil
    July 27, 2007

    Why is it that “teaching both sides” or “teaching the controversy” never applies to Sex Ed?

    The folks that demand “equal time” for ID tripe are the exact same folks that insist “science demands teaching abstinence-only” (regardless of how wrong they are on the real data).

    Ah, the hypocrisy!

  67. #67 Randy
    July 27, 2007

    PZ:
    “If you know someone is against evolution, you can pretty much predict their positions on abortion, stem cells, the death penalty, education, GW Bush, and homosexuality.”

    You’re right about everything else, but even the creationists are leaving GW Bush. I guess even they expect a certain level of competence and integrity in the highest office in the land.

  68. #68 bullfighter
    July 27, 2007

    PZ: “If you know someone is against evolution, you can pretty much predict their positions on abortion, stem cells, the death penalty, education, GW Bush, and homosexuality.”

    That may be right if they are also white and suburban, but in general I’d only be willing to bet on their views on homosexuality (and abortion before they’ve had one themselves).

  69. #69 Rey Fox
    July 27, 2007

    “I guess even they expect a certain level of competence and integrity in the highest office in the land.”

    I think it’s more because he hasn’t stopped all immigration and deported all Mexicans. But that’s just me.

  70. #70 Sastra
    July 27, 2007

    When I was in high school, I read some sort of official pamphlet on teen sex which made the point that whatever you thought about the morality of premarital sex, that having sex without contraception was immoral. You can tell yourself that what happens between you and your partner is your own business, and hurts only you — but IF there is a pregnancy, you WILL hurt other people, no matter what else happens. It would no longer be something that only involves you.

    This made a huge impression on me at the time. I was not religious. Appeals to divine commands would have had zero impact. But here was a moral argument that made sense by appealing to common ground ethics. It is wrong to cause or risk unnecessary harm to other people. If you don’t use birth control, you either cause or risk unnecessary harm to other people (including any potential babies, who should be wanted and have mature parents who can take care of them.) Like most teenagers, I really wanted to be a *good* person. This argument spoke my language, and made me stop and think, hard.

    It didn’t prevent me from having premarital sex, but it DID persuade me to always, always use contraception. That was my moral imperative. However, I suspect that’s exactly why the Abstinence Only crowd would hate this particular appeal to morality. It’s the wrong sort of morality. It’s the morality that’s concerned with hurting others, instead of keeping pure.

  71. #71 Pierce R. Butler
    July 27, 2007

    Markk: I know there were studies recently stating that abstinence only sex education is useless, but are there any that testify to the usefulness of other forms of sex education?

    Yes, yes, yes!

    Teen pregnancy rates in the US are twice those of, say, England or Wales, and about nine times those of, say, Japan or the Netherlands. This is not because those countries show less skin on TV.

  72. #72 Dr. Steve
    July 27, 2007

    Oh, this is priceless – check out the prayer to protect yourself from online demons (and atheists).
    http://baptistsforbrown2008.wordpress.com/sow/

    Note how it protects you against parody and satire (along with witchcraft).

  73. #73 Lana
    July 27, 2007

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I think abstinence before marriage is a really bad idea. How do you know you’re compatible in the sex department? It all comes down to information. How can you marry someone without knowing you have similar requirements? Of course, it’s wise for kids to wait until they’re ready but they should be using their young years for information-gathering. At the same time, they should protect themselves. What’s wrong with just providing the facts?

  74. #74 Shawn Wilkinson
    July 27, 2007

    Yes, Sastra (#70), there are larger social implications of having unprotected sex. Glad a pamphlet like that exists/existed.

    But to be a bit more humorous, we could adopt the approach Ms Chokesondick did in South Park. That is, pregnancy is the worst sexually transmitted disease ever. Though a bit extreme(ly funny), it kind of summarizes things a bit.

  75. #75 Shawn Wilkinson
    July 27, 2007

    Lana (#74), not everyone’s romantic relationship is dependent on a strong sex life. Despite my hedonistic tendencies, I would much rather spend the rest of my life in a monogamous relationship with somebody whom I can easily converse with rather than someone who’s a freak in the sheets. That is, I value the ability to communicate and being personable over sexual pleasure. My partner could literally be the worst lay (like having sex with a brick), but if she can talk about politics, philosophy, science, history, and mathematics to my level of satisfaction and gratification, I wouldn’t complain at all.

  76. #76 kmarissa
    July 27, 2007

    Shawn, that’s true, but I highly doubt that, on the whole, the no sex before marriage crowd is following that course because they are totally indifferent to whether or not they have a sexually fulfilling relationship once they are married. The comparison you’re making is kinda like not caring whether your partner wants to have 10 kids, or two, or none at all. If you don’t care, it makes no difference (and that’s fine). But if you care very much about wanting to or not wanting to have children, it’s just plain dumb to refuse to discuss the issue before marriage, hoping it all works out.

  77. #77 Stephen Wells
    July 27, 2007

    Shawn, I’m happy to say that the ideal solution is to spend the rest of your life in a monogamous relation with someone who’s smart, funny, AND great in bed. It’s working for me so far :)

    Re the OP: isn’t it odd that people who would never accept “abstinence-only driver’s ed” or “abstinence-only gun safety” are so keen on sexual ignorance?

  78. #78 kmarissa
    July 27, 2007

    Stephen, seat belts are from the devil. Obviously you don’t need to know about them if you remain automotively pure. If you get in one of those death machines, you’re just asking to be thrown through the windshield.

  79. #79 antaresrichard
    July 27, 2007

    Oh Hell Post 39, with all that Christ’s blood (internet road kill?) now my computer screen’s gunked up! Windex anyone ?

  80. #80 sil-chan
    July 27, 2007

    I’m so ashamed of my state… We’ve managed to surpass the idiocy of Alabama on every single front now… and I thought evolution in the schools was one of the safe havens here…

  81. #81 Ian H Spedding FCD
    July 27, 2007

    If you know someone is against evolution, you can pretty much predict their positions on abortion, stem cells, the death penalty, education, GW Bush, and homosexuality.

    Does the same apply to those who support evolution?

  82. #82 JHebblethwaite
    July 27, 2007

    Sastra, I can relate to what you talk about in #70. Something similar happened to me in my hesitant high school years. Besides hanging back from “taking the wheel” of a potential life machine, I did the same with the wheel of a potential death machine (car). At 22, I finally got a license, but it wasn’t until several years after that that I finally got fully licentious.

    OK, so it has occurred to me that taking the wheel of the latter potentializer influenced the success rate with the former (as a critical amount of shyness also did).

    However, What’s the Use [religion copyrighted by John Cleese] of complaining about that delay [not De Lay]? It was all predetermined many eons ago (I lost count) by the One Big Note. Credit Frank Zappa for that–though I don’t know how he found out about it.

  83. #83 Pierce R. Butler
    July 27, 2007

    … what common force ties all those disparate ideas together?

    Fear.

    Quoth Ira Chernus on Ward Churchill’s de-tenurization:

    … it’s a good bet that the cultural conservatives are back in town, gunning for some more or less arbitrary target who symbolizes the uncertainty of truth, which frightens conservatives so badly they don’t really care who gets hurt, as long as they can wage another battle on behalf of the absolute truth and absolute certainty they crave.

  84. #84 mss
    July 27, 2007

    Baptists for Brownback appears to be an elaborate satire from which the mask slips only occasionally. What I wonder is how many of its rightwing commenters are genuine…

  85. #85 mss
    July 27, 2007

    Hmm. A quick google search for “T. D. Gaines-Crockett”, the webmaster of Baptists for Brownback, turns up this very interesting blogger user profile. I’m not really a fan of Jesus’ General, but the style is awfully distinctive…

  86. #86 kemibe
    July 27, 2007

    “maybe if humanity gets dumb enough we won’t be able to trash the planet any more.”

    I believe this qualifies as optimism in a neo-Panglossian sense.

    I can’t wait for this crazy-train to bottom out, assuming it can and will anytime soon, although I guess there won’t be a way to immediately know that this has happened.

  87. #87 CarrerCrytharis
    July 28, 2007

    @dkew: Man, the stuff on that page is offensive.

    I mean, honestly, “Obama Hussein Bin Laden”? And what they said about Feministing: “that is why [they] have husbands” — god, that’s sickening. What do they think this is, the Dark Ages?

    What always strikes me as odd about people like this is the fact that billions of people across the planet believe something different than them, based on reasons that are at least as sound as, and often more logical than, their own. It amazes me that in spite of this, they can actually condemn all these other people to hell and damnation. Based on what? “Ooh, but the Bible says they’re going to hell!”

  88. #88 hoary puccoon
    July 28, 2007

    Ian (#81) People who ‘support’ evolution (by which I assume you mean people who are convinced it happens) don’t necessarily line up on other issues. Vatican City, for instance, is simply crawling with people who accept the reality of evolution, are violently opposed to abortion, and claim, at least in public, to oppose homosexuality. And pederasty.

  89. #89 Keith Douglas
    July 29, 2007

    Tom @Thoughtsic.com: But the “god particle” is the Higgs boson! We need those! They are hardly horrible.

  90. #90 Kausik Datta
    July 29, 2007

    #59 Kmarissa: You touched such a chord with your post. Having been born and brought up in India (where ‘sex’ is a taboo – why, I don’t know), I can totally identify with the situations you brought up in your post. Even though the religious texts of Hinduism – that many Indians swear by – are replete with references of divine promiscuity and procreation, abstinence is accorded an inordinate premium in the society. The popular media, television soaps and movies, are choc-a-bloc full of references to the glories of sexual purity, and finding that one person to give it all; one public kiss on the cheek creates such a furore by self-appointed guardians of public morality that it threatens to put daily activities in disarray; it is a country where homosexuality is still punishable by law (a throwback from its British colonial past), and possession of a sex toy, or anything that remotely resembles it, is a culpable offence. It is an entire country inextricably mired in hypocrisy and also chauvinism, because inevitably it is the girls that have to bear the burden of carrying on the delusions of purity and chastity.

    It appears, then, that as far as public ignorance and sentiment (read ‘delusions’) is concerned, the United States, such a developed and technologically advanced nation, is not really very different from a so-called Third World, poverty-stricken, backward country… Ah, well!

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