Monday, 3 September 2012

Anthony McCarthy rebuts the vices of bad science

Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's education and publications manager, has written the following response to the latest attack on SPUC's campaign against same-sex marriage:
"Following a dishonest article in Pink News, a website called (without irony) Vice published a hit piece about SPUC’s real marriage campaign. Although the writer was given various materials by SPUC (lobby briefing, position paper, background paper) containing academic sources for our claims, he declined to peruse these – or if he did, no hint emerges from his post.

SPUC has already pointed out in our literature that in the UK babies conceived outside of marriage are about 4-5 times more likely to be aborted than those conceived inside marriage. (Unmarried status and abortion are also closely linked in the US  as we mentioned in a blogpost on this issue earlier this year.)

Moves which undermine marriage by redefining it out of existence will inevitably impact harmfully on society. Aurel Kolnai, the philosopher, pointed this out in relation to proposals for ‘trial marriage’:
“as though the genuine attempt to give oneself in marriage were possible for a trial period! As though real marriage could ever develop at all in a society adapted to officially approved weekend relationships finalised as forms of life.”
The evidence for the importance of traditional family structure for children’s well-being is overwhelming. For example:
In the case of abortion: have we, in fact, seen an overall increase in abortion rates in those countries (very few countries) where same-sex marriage has been legalised for more than five years? Perhaps not, but would we really expect such an increase, after such a relatively short period? Just as with easy divorce laws, these things take time: would any serious social scientist expect an effect so soon? Yet as with easy divorce laws, it is not unreasonable to expect an adverse effect of same-sex marriage on attitudes to marriage, sex and children – even if these attitudes are likely to be already somewhat damaged in the countries in question. We are after all, talking about a radical redefiniton of marriage. Now it is no longer connected to - or consummated by - the life-giving kind of act (if not always fertile in practice) of a kind of union built around and oriented to the conception, welcome and nurture of new human beings.

Of course, many societal pressures, pulling in different directions, will affect the abortion rate in any given country. What we can say, however, is that where traditional marriage has been weakened and where the sexual revolution has been fostered by those who wish to displace the central role of traditional marriage in society, children suffer, and unborn children suffer most. Hardly surprising when adults’ ‘sexual rights’ trump considerations of the common good and the genuine rights and dignity of all. SPUC will continue to reiterate this message in season and out – confident in the science and the basic human experience behind our message.

Following Vice's scientifically na├»ve piece, Dr Ben Goldacre, someone who claims to detect ‘bad science’ on a regular basis, weighed in on Twitter. He wrote:
A hipster from Vice talks to an idiot about science.
Of course, Dr Goldacre identifies no error in what we said. This is the same Dr Goldacre whose smear tactics against Professor Priscilla Coleman and her research on abortion and mental health – research boldly defended by the pro-choice researcher David Fergusson - have been exposed. Dr Goldacre never, of course, utters a word against the ‘bad science’ claims of the abortion industry regarding mental health (refuted by papers such as "Reactions to abortion and subsequent mental health", David M. Fergusson et al., British Journal of Psychiatry, 2009), or the claims about gay parenting made by the pro-abortion American Psychological Association (see "Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting". Dr Goldacre also lends support to the British Humanist Association, whose 'commitment' to truth and science in regard to abortion has also been exposed.

It is perhaps fitting that Dr Goldacre should, in the end, be unable to contain his contempt for young human life, as this obscene retweet reveals:
o..m...f...g... RT @robertofoddai: they even have a cute upset fetus as a logo...
Dr Goldacre may wish to know that the logo he sneers at simply reflects real-life images of unborn children, including those now available in high-resolution ultrasound Seeing a photograph of one such baby drew the sad comment from one post-abortive woman, remembering her own baby aborted at 12 weeks, that the baby was not only human, but recognizably so.

SPUC is here to defend such babies and their mothers, in relation to threats which arise in different areas of social life, including threats to marriage, the institution that has always offered them protection. Our aim in all we do is to honour, not dishonour, truth, science and the dignity of all human beings."
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