Tuesday, April 09, 2013

On faith versus fact

Yesterday someone made an absurd (and irrelevant to the post) claim:

The fact that Maori birthrates are higher is not an indication that they are more promiscuous. But more an indication that non-maori have more abortions.
Teenage pregnancy rates are exactly the same.
Teenage birth rates are different because of NZ European Abortion rates... Who is worse - someone who has a baby as a teenager or someone who murders an unborn..?
What I wonder about is where this sort of thinking comes from? In this day and age it is very easy to check the veracity of your claim before making it. But I suspect this man, young man (?) has latched on to an idea that suits his ideology - anti-abortionism -  and never felt a desire to question or doubt it. Perhaps he'd gotten the idea from a source he trusted.

It recalled an ocassion which taught me to be more thorough. I was giving a presentation on the US welfare reforms and a catholic attendee stood up and claimed the reforms had pushed up the abortion rate. I thought she was wrong but wasn't 100 percent certain. She repeated it as absolute fact. As I was prepared to admit I didn't know and she was adamant she did, I came off the worse in terms of credibility.

I contacted her later to say she had in fact got it wrong. But the damage was done. She'd won support for her objection by being dishonest but resolute.

Anyway, for Ben, if he comes back, here's a scan from a paper amongst my files. It's 1997 but the relative teenage fertility  patterns have not changed substantially.

1 comment:

Johnny said...

Who is worse, Ben? Well seeing as you asked.
The worse one is the one which brings into this world offspring whose upkeep they expect others to pay for, for at least 18 years.