"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 20, 2006

Abstinence and the Avoidance of Facts

The cons in the White House have never had a problem discerning "scientifically-based" research when same research advanced their antiquarian agenda of social control based on bigotry. Suddenly, when challenged to offer the same evidence they require of everyone else for practices based on lies, the cons are nonplussed. From TPM Muckraker:

This is kind of fun. In a new report on publicly-funded abstinence programs, a government watchdog charged that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allows programs to distribute inaccurate sex information to kids, and suggested the agency clean up its act.

But in its defense, HHS argued that it doesn't know how to tell whether something is "scientifically accurate."

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), HHS last year spent $153 million on abstinence education programs -- including my favorite, "A.C. Green's Game Plan Abstinence Program," developed by the famously abstinent onetime NBA superstar (ironic nickname: "Ironman").

Set aside the issue of whether they do any good. GAO tried to see if they did any harm, and concluded they did: Some of the abstinence programs are telling kids stuff that just isn't true. The GAO cites one program which told kids that HIV can pass through latex condoms, because latex is porous. (That's false.)

The GAO gave the reasonable-sounding recommendation to HHS that it ensure that all information given to kids through these programs should be scientifically accurate.

If only the world were so simple! In response, the Department of Health and Human Services -- which has on staff more than a few scientists and other educated types -- said the GAO's suggestion was useless. "GAO never defines the term 'scientific accuracy' in its report," HHS complained. "As such, it is difficult to precisely determine the criteria employed by GAO in making the recommendations as to scientific accuracy."

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