T Nation

Union of Concerned Scientists

Someone asked recently, in one of these political threads, to see evidence of the Bush administration pushing religion as opposed to just mentioning the word God from time to time.

This group, the union of concerned scientists, has put together a web page to show how science is being ignored or pressured by the Bush administration when it is at odds with “political” issues.

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/rsi/page.cfm?pageID=1355

The item I’ve quoted shows that Bush prefers abstinence-only education for youth. While you can argue that this is not necessarily a religion only topic, it is generally understood to be a religious stance. Pressure on scientists and cancellation of studies showing what is truly effective are “chilling” indeed.

Anyway, take some time to dig around the site, it is not just a small wacko group. It is just another example of the way that the Bush administration operates to support its own views and policies – and the willingness to do almost anything in the process.

It almost makes me wonder if Bush is really in control or just lets underling cronies set up a neo-con agenda…

Unfortunately, while the UCS is not a wacko group, its political agenda is no secret.

As for abstinence-only education, I think it is a mistake, it’s unrealistic and bad policy, but to try and latch it on to some theory that it is part of a grander religious takeover in government is preposterous.

There seems to be a reflex among Bush critics that nearly every piece of legislation being suggested nowadays at the urging of conservatives - from opposing gay marriage to this issue with sex education - is an agenda to run the state from the churchhouse.

Laws and policies are often reflections of values - isn’t one of the main reasons environmentalists want to protect the earth the inherent reverence and humility to Mother Nature? By the Left’s tedious and tortured versions of church-versus-state, couldn’t advocated environmental regulations be an advancement of religious beliefs in government?

Oh, and by the way, ‘neocons’ are not the Bible-thumping crusaders of the Right, they are the imperialists. You need to get your Boogeymen straight.

Little bit of background on this non-partisan group:

-Founded in 1969, 48 professors organized at MIT to protest the Vietnam War
-Noam Chomsky was among the initial speakers, as was Eric Mann (notorious member of the Weatherman faction of the Students for a Democratic Society, which was responsible for bombing the US Capitol building in 1971)
-Jonathan Kabat, an organizer declared “we want capitalism to come to an end”.

Now, I’m not staging an ad hominem attack here. The opinions represented by the UCS are as valid as any other activist group - but clearly, it’s a mistake to suggest they are non-partisan and even-handed.

Since when has Bush supported an “abstinence only” prevention model? I thought he was solidly behind the Ugandan model (the “ABC” Model), which featured abstinence as one of three pillars:

Abstinence
Be Faithful
use Condoms
“ABC”

Interestingly, the ABC model is, to my knowledge, the only model that has so far proved actually effective in stemming the spread of AIDS in any of the African countries.

Boston, read up then…

Thunder, why don’t you take a look at who is involved today, and the types of things they actually do today?

Dismissing them because of their beginnings is a silly way to go about it. Today, for example, they support scientists who are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

A far cry from the activities you mention…

Sigh… I should be working… anyway, here is there original founding document… doesn’t seem to subversive to me. Perhaps you are attempting to place the fault of the actions of some members on the community in general?

[b]Founding Document: 1968 MIT Faculty Statement

Below is the text of the Faculty Statement written at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in December 1968. This document was originally signed by 50 senior faculty members, including the heads of the biology, chemistry, and physics departments, and was later circulated to the entire faculty for endorsement. Faculty and student actions on the concerns that prompted this statement resulted in the founding of the Union of Concerned Scientists in early 1969.

Misuse of scientific and technical knowledge presents a major threat to the existence of mankind. Through its actions in Vietnam our government has shaken our confidence in its ability to make wise and humane decisions. There is also disquieting evidence of an intention to enlarge further our immense destructive capability.

The response of the scientific community to these developments has been hopelessly fragmented. There is a small group that helps to conceive these policies, and a handful of eminent men who have tried but largely failed to stem the tide from within the government. The concerned majority has been on the sidelines and ineffective. We feel that it is no longer possible to remain uninvolved.

We therefore call on scientists and engineers at MIT, and throughout the country, to unite for concerted action and leadership: Action against dangers already unleashed and leadership toward a more responsible exploitation of scientific knowledge.

With these ends in mind we propose:

  1. To initiate a critical and continuing examination of governmental policy in areas where science and technology are of actual or potential significance.

  2. To devise means for turning research applications away from the present emphasis on military technology toward the solution of pressing environmental and social problems.

  3. To convey to our students the hope that they will devote themselves to bringing the benefits of science and technology to mankind and to ask them to scrutinize the issues raised here before participating in the construction of destructive weapons systems.

  4. To express our determined opposition to ill-advised and hazardous projects such as the ABM system, the enlargement of our nuclear arsenal, and the development of chemical and biological weapons.

  5. To explore the feasibility of organizing scientists and engineers so that their desire for a more humane and civilized world can be translated into effective political action.

As a first step toward reaching these objectives, we ask our colleagues–faculty and students–to stop their research activity at MIT on March 4 and join us for a day devoted to examination of the present situation and its alternatives. On that day, we propose to engage in intensive public discussion and planning for future actions along the lines suggested above.

If you share our profound apprehension, and are seeking a mode of expression which is at once practical and symbolic, join us on March 4.[/b]

In short, I think you are firing from the hip…

Vroom,

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying their opinions aren’t valid or relevant. I just think it is important to view them in the right context. I am not suggesting that they should be dismissed.

“2. To devise means for turning research applications away from the present emphasis on military technology toward the solution of pressing environmental and social problems.”

Clearly a political agenda. Nothing wrong with that, but they are not offering pure scientific points of view - they are also offering political opinions of how the science should be used. That’s very different than a neutral body of scientists commenting on natural phenomena.

My primary objection is that this UCS article is evidence of Bush’s advancement of religious belief in state affairs. I think it plainly not, nor do I think the original premise - the idea that Bush is, in fact, trying to use the state to advance religion - is wrong, so the article can’t be evidence of it.

LAME!!!
Considering abstenince is the ONLY 100% effective method for prevantion of the miriad of sexually transmitted things like AIDS and pregnancy, this report is lame.

Whether the teaching of it realistic or not is moot. most of my high school education was not realistic- and I am 6 credits away from my masters in mechanical engineering. so why not write a report on other things being unrealistic or a waste of time or pointless? why single out this one thing?

I personally dont think it is realistic to teach abstinance only, but I also beleive it is the damn parents job to educate their own damn children about sex, not the schools.

I could have used a few more credits of calculus and a few less of sex ed- cuz I was taught by responsible parents. instead of being exposed to more math, physics, programming, arts, lit, etc, i had to sit through lectures about STDs and how to put condoms on. does that really serve the greater good for those with a future? it is unrealistic and pointless, imo, because it should be taught by the parents.

Sigh. I don’t imagine anybody is going to dig around the site and read things… I picked one measly example because it is related to a question posed earlier.

Clearly a political agenda.

Thunder, I would counter that the claim you have specified is actually a moral agenda, not a political agenda. Where have I heard people speaking on the appropriateness of “moral issues” before?

If you wish to consider it a political claim, it certainly isn’t a party specific one.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Thunder, I would counter that the claim you have specified is actually a moral agenda, not a political agenda. Where have I heard people speaking on the appropriateness of “moral issues” before?

If you wish to consider it a political claim, it certainly isn’t a party specific one.[/quote]

Vroom -

Abstinence is not a religous imposition on your life. It is one of many different birth-control/std prevention measures out there.

To say that religion is being imposed on you because Bush supports one measure over another is simply hogwash.

Is it a moral issue? Most definitely. But that is quite different from Bush imposing his religous views down anyone’s throat.

You gotta do better than this to convince me.

To say that abstinence programs are %100 effective is totally missing the concept of cause and effect. There was a statistical study that came out in the last year that showed that people in their twentys who went through abstinence programs in their teens had higher rates of std infections than their peers who were active as teens. Abstinence programs have a serious flaw, in that they create young adults who are very naive sexually. A much better approach would be to teach the concept of standards and selectiveness this works for everybody, not just those who are willing to put off sex. The kind of thing to teach is, be sophisticated and choose wisely because sex will blind you to a persons faults, if you jump into it too soon you might come to regret it. Absolute abstinence is not a natural urge and it is creating it’s own set of problems.

[quote]Sifu wrote:
To say that abstinence programs are %100 effective is totally missing the concept of cause and effect. There was a statistical study that came out in the last year that showed that people in their twentys who went through abstinence programs in their teens had higher rates of std infections than their peers who were active as teens. Abstinence programs have a serious flaw, in that they create young adults who are very naive sexually. A much better approach would be to teach the concept of standards and selectiveness this works for everybody, not just those who are willing to put off sex. The kind of thing to teach is, be sophisticated and choose wisely because sex will blind you to a persons faults, if you jump into it too soon you might come to regret it. Absolute abstinence is not a natural urge and it is creating it’s own set of problems. [/quote]

Reread my post, I did not state that teaching abstinance was 100% effective at preventing, I said abstinance itself was the only 100% effective method for prevention.

And I am a perfectly healthy young adult male that has abstaned from many opportunities due to my ability to think. She is grabbing my junk when she just met me… has she done this before? Odds are… And I have found out after the fact on 2 occasions that I was indeed smart for passing…

But back to the point- you misread what I wrote. Abstinance itself is the only fail safe method, not the teaching of it.

Now off the point again, it should be the parents job, not the schools.

Has anyone heard of schools opposing any discussion of abstinence just because it is a “religious” stance?

Some people are pushing that oral sex as a pregnancy prevention should be taught in schools.

“What did you learn in school today?”

“That spitting is better then swallowing.”

Abstinence should be pushed in high school. But they should also be taught responsible behavior for when they are ready, and older. Abstinence is more about patience then avoiding sex. A 20 year old wanting to lose her virginity is different then a 12 year old. (Or is that 9 now?)

People argue against it with the argument that they will do it anyway, but that is just a cop out, just giving up without trying.

The article is quick to mention that Texas had the smallest decline, but does not break the state down, and explore how the programs were implemented. Not to mention that there are so many factors influencing the statistics that to even call this scientific evidence is ludicrous.

And I love their scientific references:

  1. Author interview with current CDC staff member, name withheld on request, November 2003.
  2. Author interview with former CDC staff member, name withheld on request, March 2004.

I looked through the thing and I find no science what so ever. Just because they call themselves scientists does not mean they are.

This is just another political agenda group acting like a scientific organization. Like the center for science in the public interest.

I found references to this publication on other liberal web sites.

If they were true scientists they would ask how they could make it work better, not quoting other political organizations and calling it proof that it does not work.

I dug around on the website and looked at many of the items there. All are interesting, but unfortunately it is difficult for me to assess their methodology – first, because I am not a scientist, and secondly, because they don’t talk much about their methodology. Their reports are heavy on conclusions and accusations, but short on back-up data. I guess that’s why they publish their reports for the media and not for scientific journals, in which claims are vetted and people with expertise could weigh in with criticisms or agreement.

After I looked at the website, I did a google search of their name and saw what came up. Lots of links by liberal political organizations - including lots of links for funding purposes - and a few links to complaints about them from conservative organizations. I don’t think this gives evidence to whether they are right or wrong; however, I do think it indicates this is more about politics than science. To buttress this, I found several complaints – from conservative organizations – that the actual membership of the organization is only around 10% scientists.

Finally, while I am not an expert on global warming, mercury standards or arsenic standards, I know enough from reading many articles surrounding the controversies in those areas to know that the science in global warming is disputed, and the controversies from arsenic and mercury are largely political in nature. These topics make up a large amount of the material on the Union of Concerned Scientists website. The group was apparently founded in order to protest nuclear weapons and power, which, needless to say, had a large political element.

Bottom line: If the charge is “politicizing science” or selectively using or ignoring science based on politics, it seems to me this organization should remember the old wisdom about removing the plank in its own eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s. It seems to me this is a political organization dressed in a lab coat to attempt to achieve greater respectibility for its political positions.

Here are a couple articles mentioning the Union negatively, mostly with respect to its Global Warming and environmental politics:

http://www.techcentralstation.com/030304G.html

http://www.techcentralstation.com/031703C.html

http://www.techcentralstation.com/011204F.html

If you follow the news you would know that thanks to these abstinence programs scaring the kids off of regular sex, teenagers are turning oral sex as an alternative and as a result of that we are now seeing an increase in teenagers who are orally infected with genital herpes. This in turn is making it unsafe to even engage in kissing. Another thing to consider is their impact on a persons development, while there are problems with starting too young, there can also be problems with starting really late or not at all. A good example of this is the troubles the roman catholic church has been going through with some of it’s preists. These men are going into seminary school at 17-19 years of age and have never had a real relationship, then they go into this celibacy ritual and several years later when they get out as priests they have an immature sexual development. Adolescent development is not something to mess with. You can’t just stop it through your teen years then pick it up when you are 20. There is a term: cause and effect relationship, the pundits who come up with these ideas to fix percieved problems never consider their proposed fix will cause any new problems or they just don’t care.
Having said all that however, patience is a virtue, that I have found lacking in a lot of women. I find they usually are available when I first meet them but because I don’t just dive right into it they retract the offer. It’s like they don’t want me to observe their behaviour and get to know them, they want me into that pussy first so they have something to hold over me. It sounds like DaMan has had a similar experience.

For anyone interested, here is a link to the response by the administration, directed to Congress, concerning the Union of Concerned Scientists’ April 2004 document accusing the Bush administration of politicizing its science.

Aren’t we dancing around the issue of excluding the discussion of birth control via OTHER means, which is where the religious aspects start to arrive?

[quote]Sifu wrote:
If you follow the news you would know that thanks to these abstinence programs scaring the kids off of regular sex, teenagers are turning oral sex as an alternative and as a result of that we are now seeing an increase in teenagers who are orally infected with genital herpes. This in turn is making it unsafe to even engage in kissing. Another thing to consider is their impact on a persons development, while there are problems with starting too young, there can also be problems with starting really late or not at all. A good example of this is the troubles the roman catholic church has been going through with some of it’s preists. These men are going into seminary school at 17-19 years of age and have never had a real relationship, then they go into this celibacy ritual and several years later when they get out as priests they have an immature sexual development. Adolescent development is not something to mess with. You can’t just stop it through your teen years then pick it up when you are 20. There is a term: cause and effect relationship, the pundits who come up with these ideas to fix percieved problems never consider their proposed fix will cause any new problems or they just don’t care.
Having said all that however, patience is a virtue, that I have found lacking in a lot of women. I find they usually are available when I first meet them but because I don’t just dive right into it they retract the offer. It’s like they don’t want me to observe their behaviour and get to know them, they want me into that pussy first so they have something to hold over me. It sounds like DaMan has had a similar experience.[/quote]

Concerning causal connections- havent seen enough evidence or properly set up experiments to support causation. It may be believed, but not proven.

The problems later could be associated w/ many, many unaccounted for variables. There is no way to limit life to only 1 variable for proper analysis, and the result is a truckload of inaccurate or inappropriate conclusions in the field of psychology. Some in the scientific community still think that psychology is not a “real” science due to this (and other things).

Just because someone has a sexual issue when they are 25 and practice abstinance until then does not mean that the abstinance was the cause. Could have been childhood trauma, abuse by family, teacher, peer. Could have been an underlying chemical issue. Could have been something that I cant even think of right now. I have yet to see a study that convinces me, and evidently many others, of the causal link. Many studies dont even attempt to exclude other possible causes, some make only small attempts at flushing out all possible causes for examination- like a questionare. In some cases the trauma may have been repressed, or the subject may simply not think it is important or may just not want to mention it. That destroys the study.

anyhoo, yeah, some women are manipulative…