Thursday, November 25, 2004

Ignorance Is Bliss

Ignorance is bliss, but at what cost? According to Wade Horn, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in charge of federal abstinence funding, when it comes to sexual education we don't need no stinking science:

"We don't need a study, if I remember my biology correctly, to show us that those people who are sexually abstinent have a zero chance of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease"....

There are two possibilities here: either Mr. Horn isn't capable of logical thought [knowing the mechanism of action of a birth control method does not give us effectiveness rates], and this impairs his ability to grasp the issues involved, or he understands the science, but is being purposefully deceitful. In either case he shouldn't be employed by the HHS.

Contrary to Mr. Horn's belief-based pronouncement, we need a lot of studies [frankly, even a couple of studies would be very helpful at this point] before we can make any statements about the effectiveness of abstinence. Currently, we have no data on the typical-use effectiveness rates of continuous abstinence.

Moreover, we need more long-term studies on the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs. So far, there is no reliable evidence whether these programs are effective in reducing teen sex, pregnancy or the transmission of disease.

Mr. Horn does acknowledge that the research on the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs is not as adequate as it needs to be.

Unfortunately, the lack of facts isn't a deterrent as far as Mr. Horn is concerned, since he is not willing to wait for more evaluations, calling abstinence education "something that parents and children want." [This is almost too easy, but here it goes: If the only criteria we use is "something that parents and children want", how about free education, at all levels, for everybody?]

Am I the only one who finds it troubling that an HHS bureaucrat in charge of federal educational funds believes that what parents really want is for their children to be ignorant?

Unless you have complete and correct information, it's not possible to make an informed decision. This holds true even for lowly teenagers. Just because teenagers need guidance and supervision, doesn't mean they should be deprived of knowledge.


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