Friday, March 15, 2013

Patrick Fagan of Family Research Council explaining why single people shouldn't have sex.

Here is another in a long list of articles published by conservative religious groups who think the sky is falling down because people have sex. Patrick Fagan of Family Research Council complains that some people have sex without his permission.

Patrick Fagan is angry about Eisenstadt v. Baird, a supreme court case from 1972 in which they ruled that the government does not have the right to make laws barring single people from purchasing contraception.

He makes a lot of outlandish and bizarre claims in this article so lets look at a few.
The Court played God by redefining the purpose of sexuality. In the process it unleashed sex’s destructive power detached from marriage. 
First off this is built upon an argument that allowing single people to have contraception will cause them to have all sorts of sex they would not have had otherwise. This is quite frankly false, people have been having sex outside of wedlock since always and the invention of marriage did nothing to curb it. The court did not redefine the purposes of sexuality. Human sexuality is about more than procreation and has been since there have been humans.
Since then, the community has been paying to raise children born outside wedlock. The cost comes in the form of welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, supplementary education, costlier child and adult health bills, more prisons, addiction centers, and mental health services. The list goes on and on, now cumulatively and possibly to the tune of trillions of dollars.
He suggests here that all this contraception somehow led to more children born out of wedlock and is somehow also causing us to spend more money on other government programs. First off the notion that making contraception more available leads to more pregnancies is not only wrong, it is absurdly wrong since the goal of contraception is to stop unplanned pregnancies.  First, there is no evidence that people start having more sex when they have access to contraception than when they do not, secondly when properly used most contraception is very good at preventing pregnancy and third teen pregnancy rates are lower now than they have ever been in U.S. history. The highest year for teen pregnancy in the U.S. was in 1957, long before this court case.  Check my article here for some more stats on this.

As far as the claims about higher government costs, what is the evidence that any of these higher costs (assuming they are in fact higher) were caused by contraception access?  He acts as if it were obvious, but it strikes me as an overly-simplistic explanation.

He also goes on to blame planned parent hood on single parent families, but eliminating unplanned pregnancies is one of their goals, one they would be able to meet much better if certain conservative religious groups like Family Research Council stopped trying to shut down their funding at every turn.
Prior to that time, those who intended to raise children together were expected by tradition, common sense, and culture to marry first. The law protected these expectations.
A statement that is not entirely true. I would agree that due to the path our evolution took pair bonding is the most common form of relationship in most societies, but there have been and still are many successful human societies that do not work this way, so claims that we are doomed if we do things any other way are simply scare tactics not based upon real facts.
This interdependence plays out in the raising of children. They grow quickly to become the actors in each of these realms, and if they come from broken families, they generally bring lessened capacities to these tasks in their own lives and to the institutions involved in the functioning of society.
This statement just seems bigoted against people who come from single parent families, suggesting they are less able than "normal" people. It should be deeply insulting to people from single parent households.
In America, the chaos from Eisenstadt must eventually be checked. If not by the Supreme Court and Congress, then by whatever government will follow after the collapse of our present order. Sexual license and republican liberty cannot live together. One of them will supplant the other. Either we become a sexually restrained people—a form of self-control needed for institutions that depend on liberty—or, as we become more and more sexually unrestrained, we will need the all-helping state to do what we won’t be able to do for ourselves and our children.
There is something odd  about this argument, since he is arguing that in order to be free of control from the "all-helping state" we must submit to state regulations telling us who we can sleep with and when. This is clearly theonomy, but I suppose he thinks that is a good idea.

Of course he ends his article mentioning how he hopes that the decisions on the current supreme court cases of Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor will protect marriage ( I.E. make sure all those people he doesn't agree with don't get their civil rights).

I too hope these decisions will be a new beginning to our country. I hope that the supreme court will send a message to the Patrick Fagan's of this country that their hateful attitudes and opinions are no longer welcome here. I'm sure there are a lot of racists out there who don't like the Loving v. Virgina decision either, yet I don't lose a bit of sleep at the thought of racists feeling disenfranchised with the U.S. government. I have no patience at all with people who believe they have the right to use the government to tell me where I can legally stick my penis.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Science reporting on evolution still bad

Ran across this article last night.

The article is about evidence that dust mites who are currently parasites may be evolving into a free living organisms. The reason it is talked about as reverse evolution is because dust mites used to be free living organisms before they became parasitic. The article is written as if the author is presenting a startling new find that is over turning scientists previous belief that evolution does not work in reverse. The idea that evolution is working towards some sort of goal is inaccurate

The main problem here is that the author seems to confuse the evolutionary process which is basically genetic variances, with the taxonomical or behavioral changes that are sometimes produced. That is, in order for evolution to reverse the species would have to follow the exact same genetic changes one step back at at time, considering all of the possible variances it is easy to imagine that, while this is technically possible, it is not very likely. This is actually a concept called Dollo's law of irreversibility.

However, it is entirely possible for a species to follow an evolutionary pathway that leads something very similar behavior or taxonomy to an earlier or separate species. It's called Convergent evolution and we have know about it for a long time because there are already examples of it everywhere. For instance, most birds, many insects, and bats all use wings to achieve flight but the genetics that created those wings are each completely different, and we can see this in taxonomical differences in these wings. Another good example is whales who, despite their earlier ancestors moving out of the water, moved back into it. They did not stop being mammals but they did evolve many traits to deal with aquatic living that are very similar to fish. Again whales did not go backwards, they did not use the same genes as fish, they evolved a new set of genes that created similar taxonomy.

There is nothing to suggest that dust mites have followed some path backwards to an earlier form, but why should the facts get in the way of science reporters making up attention grabbing headlines on their articles to increase their readers? People will know what they really mean right? It's not like there are systematic misunderstandings of evolution in this country or anything.