[Content warning: Swearing. Lots  of it.]

[Update: I got my principle back, minus a few Dollars for fees and a few Euros because the Dollar got stronger.]

So during the sedisvacancy I put $500 into Intrade, betting most of it on the conclave’s outcome. Yep, that’s totally legal canonically, though I’m not quite sure about Germanically. If they hadn’t canceled all positions a few days before the conclave, I would have won, by my calculation,$82.41. Now it looks like even my original investment is in danger.

No need to worry about my wellbeing, I can afford the loss, or I wouldn’t have been gambling with that money in the first place. This isn’t my lunch, it’s my Nexus 10. Still, I am really fucking pissed off and need to vent a little.

Random points of random:

• Conspiracy theory: When the American authorities shut Americans out of Intrade for flimsy reasons a few months ago, did they know something?
• Alternative speculation: Or otherwise, did the exodus of American customers break the camels back?
• Incredulous swearing: How the fuck do you need external auditors to tell you the balance on your bank accounts is \$700000 less than in your computer system? This ain’t rocket surgery.
• Policy proposal: The directors of a financial service company  should have to pledge their personal property on its survival. Not because there would be much to collect but to align incentives.
• Insight: Perhaps illiquid markets are illiquid for reasons.
• Dire prediction: For the foreseeable future, this is the end of prediction markets. Governments don’t like them, so there will be no properly regulated versions. The main prediction market advocates are libertarians anyway, so basically nobody wants prediction markets regulated to the the degree that is objectively necessary for them to work. And the free market is plainly unable to do it. Sorry GMU econ department, come back in 50 years.
Posted in Minor notes | Tagged | 2 Comments

## Marriage: The natural type and the social institution

Internet discussions about controversial issues often quickly degenerate into rather unpleasant shouting matches.  While this problem has some sources outside of itself, it is also self-reinforcing.  If the discussion is dominated by people who enjoy shouting matches, even slightly nonstandard points will have trouble getting a hearing. And if nonstandard points don’t get a hearing, the people who like to make them get frustrated, leaving the field to the people who prefer shouting matches. One partial solution is for people who make interesting points to seek each other out for discussions outside of the most popular fora. In that vain I’m pleased that Brandon Jaloway wrote in to ask my opinion on some of his thoughts on the definition of marriage. Specifically on his comments in two of the occasional marriage debates over at Unequally Yoked.

To summarize, he has three main points:

1. Looking at marriage as an institution either of the state or of religion is wrong, because it is actually prior to both, making it a natural or human institution.
2. Marriage is recognized (but not created) by human communities, and that recognition is near universal.
3. Given that marriage is natural, there can’t be competing definitions for it like there can’t be competing definitions for other objective categories of nature like biological species.

I completely agree on points 1 and 2, but only partially on point 3.

Number 2 is simply an empirical fact. Number 1 is basically a point of natural law, but someone not on board with that could easily interpret it as marriage being part of the extended phenotype of humanity. So I don’t think there is much room for doubt 0n those two.

Number 3 is more complicated, because as a matter of fact where religion and civil law haven’t been united  there have normally been competing definitions of marriage. That’s because most communities regulate marriage beyond its intrinsic limits and sometimes those regulations can conflict. For example, Catholicism doesn’t recognize divorces between two baptized people. There are good arguments that divorces are immoral as a matter of natural law, but their sometimes being impossible is clearly a Christian add-on even though it’s one God himself established. So even if we had civil marriage laws simply protecting natural marriage without revealed restrictions, that alone would suffice to make some people married to different partners religiously and civilly. One of those marriages has an ontological dimension the other one lacks, but as a sociological fact two different institutions are recognized by overlapping communities. And the overlap is not even necessary. For example, I could imagine two stone-age communities imposing different age-limits on marriage, which would mean some traveling couples would not be recognized as married in their guest communities.  Also, though it probably violates natural law, many communities recognize polygamous marriages and some of them have been stable for centuries, so marriage as a social institution is often different from marriage in natural law.

Basically I think we need to distinguish marriage as  a natural type and as a social institution.  The natural type consists in humans depending on the social institution for flourishing. It also includes some constraints on how it must be organized.  A wrongly organized social institution will diminish that flourishing, sometimes so extremely that social order can’t be maintained in the long run. So the type clearly constrains the institution, but that doesn’t mean they’re identical. And that, in turn, means there can be competing definitions of the social institution.

Posted in Armchair philosophy | | 3 Comments

## Thinking about a pseudonym change

I first used the Gilbert moniker on German fora. In that context it’s a relatively subtle reference. But I think using it in English-speaking contexts might have been a mistake. A Catholic naming himself after Chesterton is a bit pretentious and cliché, no?

Also, though I used to plan to do so occasionally, I never really tried to imitate his writing style and no longer plan to do so. So it might also seem like false advertising.

There are potential downsides to a change though: I would lose visible continuity with a lot of old blog comments. I’m not sure I have a better pseudonym at hand. And maybe I’ll want to use my real name at some point in the future, in which case an intermediate pseudonym change would double the hassle.

So there may or may not be a pseudonym change announcement soon. For now I’m just thinking out loud.

Posted in Minor notes | Tagged | 3 Comments

## Two and a half songs

At First Things, Tristyn Bloom reports on a funny song that used to be sung by the Yale Glee Club in the old days. Then she notes:

“The Pope” is apparently actually a translation of a German drinking song, so be sure to file this away somewhere for next year’s Oktoberfest.

Passing over this so-American-it’s-almost-Japanese view of German culture, I found this interesting because on closer inspection it turns out the old Yale Glee Club version changes the tone of the song considerably. Here’s an actual translation of the German song (destroying rhyme and meter of course) side-by-side with the Yale Glee Club version. I’ve bolded the differences I found most striking:

 German Yale Glee Club The Pope lives gloriously in the world, he never wants for indulgence money. |:He drinks of the very best wine: and therefore I would quite like to be the Pope.:| The Pope he leads a jolly life, He’s free from every care and strife; |:He drinks the best of Rhenish wine, I would the Pope’s gay life were mine.:| But no, he is a poor wretch, a fair girl kisses him not ; |:he sleeps in his bed alone: and therefore I wouldn’t like to be the Pope.:| But he don’t lead a jolly life, He has no maid or blooming wife, |:He has no son to raise his hope, Oh! I would not be the Pope.:| The Sultan lives on high, he dwells in a brothel |:full of gorgeous maids: therefore I would quite like to be the Sultan.:| The Sultan better pleases me, His life is full of jolity, |:He’s wives as many as he will, I fain the Sultan’s throne would fill.:| But no, he is a poor man, for if he follows his Al-Koran, |:then he drinks not a drop of wine: therefore I wouldn’t like to be Sultan either.:| But still he is a wretched man, He must obey the Al-Koran, |:He dare not drink one drop of wine, I would not change his lot for mine.:| Divided I despise both’s bliss and return to my station; |:but this I happily incur: half Sultan and half Pope to be.:| Therefore, girl, give me a kiss, for now I am your Sultan! |:You close brothers, pour in, so that I can be the pope too!:| So when the maiden kisses me, I’ll think that I the Sultan be, |:And when my Rhenish wine I tope, Oh then I’ll think that I’m the Pope.:|

It turns out there’s an even older Latin version, and I don’t know which one inspired the one that used to be sung at Yale.

Minor points: On his way from Latin over German to English, the poor pope is reduced from Falernian to generic and then finally to Rhenish wine. That’s just mean, but it’s interesting Rhenish wine was at least in competition for being best among American student drinking song translators of old. Also interesting that the translator may have omitted the idea of a station/estate to return to, but then if he was going by the Latin version that wasn’t even there in the first place.

But the actually striking difference is in the more obvious Bowdlerizations: The pope is just rich rather than living on abundant  indulgence money. (The Latin version may or may not be old enough for that to have been true, but it was as clearly a past thing at the time of the German translation as it was at whenever the English version was made.)

But most strikingly, American-version!pope is a poor sap mostly because he doesn’t get to have a family, while German-and-Latin-version!pope is a poor sap mostly because he doesn’t get to have sex. Likewise, American-version!Sultan has lots of wifes, while the other two versions have lots of slave-girls. And finally, the kiss is demanded in the Latin and German versions and freely given in the Yale version. I wonder whether the translator was catering to early feminist or late Christian sentiments there.

I think I actually approve of those Bowdlerizations. It’s still edgy enough for a good drinking song, but balanced with a glimpse of wholesomeness. And who could dislike wholesome drinking songs?

Posted in Feuilleton | Tagged | 2 Comments

## Booooring

Everyone in America seems to talk about the Les Mis movie. Here in Germany it starts on Feb. 21. And because I’m an uneducated parvenu,  I’m preparing by reading the novel for the first time.

So was Hugo paid by the line or what?

I think I’m in the digital equivalent of maybe 100 pages and so far I know the bishop is a saint. Bully for the diocese.

But maybe we could move on soonish? Look, I’m not principally opposed to long books and  I know that characters are more important than plot. But then maybe we could have heard about the next character like five chapters ago? Or maybe an occasional joke to break the monotony? (One that I caught so far, and it was lame.) Or, if he’s working up to surprise us with the bishop being evil, even that would have worked better ante saeculos saeculorum. Amazon carries abridged editions and the critiques are full of complaints how people could dare to cut more than 1000 pages from a classic. And normally I sympathize with that kind of sentiment, but in this case that’s what the f— editor should have done 150 years ago. Every tabloid has a higher information density than this.

Probably I’m going to tough it out because supposedly there is something great ahead. But seriously, this was written at a time when the sunk cost of a book was large enough to force people to read it all. To get the same effect nowadays  one would have to write a blog rant making the whole world aware of the beginning attempt.

Posted in Feuilleton | Tagged , | 6 Comments

## Continued

A continuation of last week’s dialogue.

[…]
Matthew: Likewise, it will be the damnation that’s bad, not the life.
Simplicio: So you think a good life outweighs damnation?
Matthew: No, just like you don’t believe an otherwise good life outweighs torturing a dozen people to death.
Simplicio: So then the kid dying would be better than xer living and going to hell after all?
Matthew: Yes, like her dying would be better than her living an torturing a dozen people to death.
Simplicio: So then you should be happy about xer drowning in the baptismal pool.
Matthew: Only to the extent you should be.
Simplicio: Ah, but xer going to hell is much more likely than xer going on a murder rampage.
Matthew: I’m not sure about that, but I’ll assume it without granting. So what?
Simplicio: So on net your expectation value of the happiness generated by xer continuing to live is negative while mine is positive.
Matthew: Et iterum quaero: So what?
Simplicio: So your analogy breaks down. Having the child live will increase total happiness from my perspective but not from yours.
Matthew: I think I already told you I’m not a consequentialist.
Simplicio: But here the consequentialism is not for deciding what we rightly should do, it’s for deciding what we rightly should be happy about.
Matthew: I’m not even convinced that is a valid distinction, but even if it is, I’m neither kind of consequentialist.
Simplicio: Everybody is a happiness consequentialist.
Matthew: Nope. I, for one, am not.
Simplicio: Are too.
Matthew: Are not.
Simplicio: Well, I just don’t believe you.
Matthew: I think it might help to look at yet another thought experiment. This time the setup is a classic: A transplant surgeon has five patients that will die without (presently unavailable) transplants of different organs.  A healthy traveler comes in for a routine checkup and mentions that  he is conveniently without family or friends who would miss him. During the checkout it turns out that his organs are compatible with the five patients needing them.  If the surgeon killed him for the organs nobody would ever know. Now the normal usage of this scenario is that under consequentialist theories of morality killing the traveler is the right thing to do, which for many people is a reductio ad absurdum of consequentialism …
Simplicio: … Hold on there, there are several arguments why  this wouldn’t be the right thing to do even under consequentialism…
Matthew: … all of which are incredibly lame. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make right now. Right now  I want to use it as an argument against happiness consequentialism. So suppose exactly this had happened, and the surgeon had actually killed the traveler, and the five patients had been saved. Only he was wrong about nobody finding out and now you’re hearing it on the news. Would you be happy he did it? And if yes, are  you also sure every secular rationalist would be happy about it?
Simplicio: Not really.
Matthew: So there, that means happiness consequentialism is at least not the only option.
Simplicio: But maybe they’re just unhappy about people doing evil things,  even if good came off it.
Matthew: While that would be beautiful, I can modify the scenario to remove that excuse: The traveler actually had some kind of accident that would have knocked him out for a week.  And due to some bizarre defect of the EEG machine he was wrongly presumed brain-dead. He was a registered organ donor, so his organs were harvested before the broken machine was discovered. Nobody was morally responsible, otherwise the consequences were identical. Must  everybody be happy now?
Simplicio: Well, that scenario is getting rather far-fetched.
Matthew: Please. The the least convenient possible world and all that.
Simplicio: Fine, that’s not the difference. But I’m not done yet. Another difference is this: Both with the child who might turn a murderer and with the five saved organ recipients, the reason you’re not happy is because their good comes at the price of damage to other people. But when it comes to the child who could be damned, were talking about a damage to xirself. So maybe different people are just not commensurable for  happiness consequentialism purposes.
Matthew: OK, new excuse, new thought experiment. There is some evidence that arranged marriages are happier. I think it’s not clear-cut, but lets assume it’s true in the least convenient possible world. The downside is, of course, the thwarted freedom of the spouses. But note how it gets thwarted for their own happiness. So should you be happy if society decides to go back to involuntary arranged  marriages on that ground?
Simplicio: Hmm. I might say…
Matthew: Let me strengthen that: Could any rational person be unhappy about society going back to that arrangement?
Simplicio: Yes.
Matthew: So then peoples autonomy being thwarted for their own happiness should not always make everyone happy.
Simplicio: No – so do you have any point coming?
Matthew: Yup, the reason the kid of your original example might be damned is precisely that she might chose so if we give her the chance.  So your argument just doesn’t work.
Simplicio: Yeah, that’s the usual story, but I don’t buy it.
Matthew: Doesn’t matter. Christians do, so you would expect it to factor into their happiness reactions.
Simplicio: OK, so technically you wouldn’t have to be happy about a kid drowning in the baptismal pool even if you believed in heaven. But you wouldn’t mention any of these ideas if you weren’t trying to escape that conclusion.
Matthew: Uhu, when I answer a question it’s usually because I’m trying to answer it. What’s your point again?
Simplicio: I can’t imagine you actually thinking that way. You’re obviously rationalizing.
Matthew: Well it’s not my problem you’re a bigot.
Simplicio: Pardon ma French, le fuque?
Matthew: You heard me quite right. Bravo, India, Golf, Oscar, Tango.
Simplicio: Look, it’s you who’s always ranting against gay rights.
Matthew: I realize the kids nowadays like to use that word as a dysphemism for social conservative. But that’s not actually its meaning and using it that way is just another sign of your bigotry.
Simplicio: This is out of line. You can’t just call me names in the middle of a sober discussion…
Matthew:  Was it that sober though?
Simplicio: Huh?
Matthew: Dude, you started out telling me I don’t actually believe my religion. Your whole point in this entire discussion  was accusing me of insincerity and rationalization and now it’s suddenly too mean to turn the table? Bit rich, no?
Simplicio: (breathes deeply) So perhaps you would like to explain how I’m supposed to be bigoted?
Matthew: Let me count the ways. You’ve got your identity invested not only in atheism being true but also in it being obvious. You clearly derive some of your self-worth from feeling  rationally superior to all those religiulous drones. You assume they must be insincere and driven by willful ignorance  or dishonesty and obstinately persist in that model even if much more charitable interpretations  are obvious.
Simplicio: But this is different! My opponents actually are that way!
Matthew: Said every bigot ever, and most with better evidence.
Simplicio: Look who’s coming in. Hi Jenny, when will you come out as an atheist?
Matthew: Don’t feed him,  it’s the same stuff as every week.
Jenny: So you folks have been psychoanalyzing each other again?
Simplicio:
Matthew:
Jenny: So is either of you closer to the other’s position than before?
Simplicio: No, quite the opposite.
Matthew: You can say that again.
Jenny: Not a great strategy then, eh?
Matthew: True. But the thing is, we disagree on the same information, so one of us must be thinking wrong.
Simplicio: Exactly.
Jenny: And of course you realize people are a bit more complicated than your usual just so stories even when they are wrong?
Matthew: Yes. But that doesn’t help fixing the problem.
Jenny: So are you trying to fix the problem or just the blame? Because if it’s about the problem, you would do a lot better appealing to each others rational side so it can eventually overcome whatever resistance is in its way, no?
Matthew: Of course you’re right. But we still fall for the other way every single time.
Jenny: (warmer now) I know, concupiscence sucks. But keep fighting the good fight and I think it will get easier with time.
Simplicio: Concupiscence, yeah right.
Jenny: Or akrasia if you so prefer. Anyway, I’ve got this super-important petition you both need to sign. The government wants to steal chocolate from blind schoolchildren with AIDS, and…

Posted in Socratic dialogues | | 6 Comments

## It’s official

The circumcision act is in yesterday’s Bundesgesetzblatt (the federal official journal), which means it’s now in force and circumcision is again unambiguously legal in Germany. I guess there will be some unsuccessful court challenges, but basically it’s over. Here’s an English translation:

Act on the extent of the care for the person in the circumcision of a male child

Of December 20, 2012

The Bundestag has resolved on the following act:

Article 1

Amendment of the Civil Code [Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch]

After section 1631c of the civil code in the version of the promulgation of January 2, 2002 (BGBl I S. 42, 2909; 2003 I S. 738), which has last been amended by article 7 of the act of October  19, 2012 (BGBl. I S. 2182), the following section 1631d is inserted:

“Section 1631d

Circumscision of the male child.

(1) The care for the person [Basically the guardianship-G.] also encompasses the right to consent to a medically unnecessary circumcision of the male child incapable of insight and decision, if it is to be performed according to the rules of medical art. This doesn’t apply if the  circumcision endangers the child’s welfare even in view  of its purpose.

(2) In the first six months after the birth of the child  persons delegated for that purpose by a religious body too may perform circumcisions according to paragraph 1, if they are especially trained for that purpose and, without being physicians, are comparatively qualified for performing circumcisions.

Article 2

Entry into force

This act enters into  force on the day after its promulgation.

The constitutional rights of the Bundesrat are observed.

The preceding act is hereby certified. It is to be promulgated in the Bundesgesetzblatt.

Berlin, on December 20, 2012

THE FEDERAL PRESIDENT
JOACHIM GAUCK

THE FEDERAL CHANCELLOR
DR. ANGELA MERKEL

THE FEDERAL MINISTER OF JUSTICE
S. LEUTHEUSSER-SCHNARRENBERGER

THE FEDERAL MINISTER OF THE EXTERIOR
GUIDO WESTERWELLE

THE FEDERAL MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR
HANS-PETER FRIEDRICH

THE FEDERAL MINISTER OF FAMILIY, SENIORS, WOMAN AND JOUTH
KRISTINA SCHRÖDER

THE FEDERAL MINISTER OF HEALTH
DANIEL BAHR

## In divided roles

Matthew, whom we know as a member of the  St. Hypotheticus drinking and nerdery club, is talking with a college friend.

Simplicio: So Matt, when are you coming out atheist?
Matthew:  Huh?
Simplicio: Come on, you don’t really believe in talking snakes.
Matthew: Look, I’m Catholic. Catholics think this a little more complicated than you seem to imagine. If you actually want to debate talking snakes, I think Joe goes to Bill and Ted’s excellent bible shack.
Simplicio: Yeah, whatever, you don’t believe in heaven either.
Matthew: That’s news to me.
Simplicio: You just need to come out to yourself, deep down you know it’s a myth!
Matthew: Excuse me, but I think when it comes to what I know, my introspection carries a tad bit more authority than your wishful thinking.
Simplicio: It’s called belief in belief. You don’t really believe in heaven, just that you do believe in heaven. But you’re mistaken, you don’t actually believe it.
Matthew: And of course if I deny that, you’ll count it as evidence of my belief in belief. Well, I can’t prove I’m not a witch, and I don’t think I should have to.
Simplicio: Ah, but in this case I can prove you’re a witch.
Matthew: Enlighten me o wise one.
Simplicio: You claim to believe people who die free from sin go directly to  heaven right?
Matthew: Right.
Simplicio: And you think baptism extinguishes all sins?
Matthew: Yup.
Simplicio: So do you support drowning children in the baptismal pool?
Matthew: No.
Simplicio: See, but if you actually believed it was sending them directly to heaven, why wouldn’t you support it?
Matthew: Yeah, how obvious. You caught me, my faith is a sham.
Simplicio: You’re only getting sarcastic because you can’t answer the question.
Matthew: Oh sorry, I had thought it rhetorical. Well, my answer is, I’m not a consequentialist, so that just doesn’t follow.
Simplicio: Ah, fine, but suppose someone else drowned the kid in the baptismal pool, would you feel happy for that  child?
Matthew: No.
Simplicio: There you have it.
Matthew:  So suppose the child was rich. Would you feel happy for the heirs?
Simplicio: Probably not. OK, so let’s take morals out of it completely. The child drowns in the baptismal pool by accident.  Will you be happy now?
Matthew: No.
Simplicio: Gotcha!
Matthew: Not really. Heaven is that child’s ultimate purpose, but not his only one. Many of his other purposes got frustrated.
Simplicio: Hey you sexist pig, I never said it’s a boy!
Matthew: Her purposes then. I need to use some pronoun.
Simplicio: You could use gender-neutral pronouns.
Matthew: Yes, if I was trying to signal green-haired socialist genderqueer collective individualism. I could also saw off my hand with a rusty knife.
Simplicio: A fight for another day. Anyway, that frustrated purposes stuff is just meaningless theobabble.
Matthew: I don’t think so. If I remember right, you think life is ultimately for happiness right? So why not drug the water supply? That would make loads of people happy.
Simplicio: They wouldn’t really be happy! It would be an illusion!
Matthew: So it’s a new drug that makes their brain look exactly like a genuinely happy brain.
Simplicio: Well actually it’s not just happiness I value. The way to happiness is important too.
Matthew: Exactly. And it’s not just salvation I value. The way to salvation is important too.
Simplicio: But that’s different!
Matthew: How?
Simplicio: If the child grows up, xe may turn out evil and go to hell.
Matthew: So will you support drowning her?
Simplicio: No, but I don’t believe in an afterlife, so it’s not my problem.
Matthew: It is. What if she turns out evil and tortures a dozen people to death?
Simplicio: Then it’ll be the torturing that’s bad, not that xe lived.
Matthew: Likewise, it will be the damnation that’s bad, not the life.

[Update: This dialogue got continued a week later]

Posted in Socratic dialogues | | 7 Comments

## Glooooooooooooooria in excelsis deeo!

So I kind of expected the committee to take its time, relegated the question to the back of my mind, forgot to follow the parliamentary calendar – and dropped the ball on reporting the main event.

The Bundestag passed the circumcision bill today!  The Bundesrat will assent on Friday. Even if the president takes a few days to sign it, that means Germany is rejoining human civilization next week!

## More on the uselessness of sex ed

Update: Yvain, who unlike me knows what he’s talking about, takes a somewhat more nuanced position and I infest his combox.

This is basically a response to a comment that got so long I made it a post.

In my last post I recommended looking for similarities between both sides of ideological polarizations to ameliorate our ideological biases. As an example, I mentioned I don’t think either side of sex ed works. In response to that Leo asked:

What do you mean by “neither kind of sex-ed (abstinence only or comprehensive) shows any signs of effectiveness”? I’d certainly expect education about the morning-after pill to reduce unwanted pregnancies, and about safe toys to reduce ER admissions.

I was thinking of what we normally mean by sex ed: There are lessons in school that will include some information and some behavior advice. Then reactionaries like me hope the kids have less sex, modernists hope they contracept more and both sides hope for less pregnancies and STDs.

On that the evidence is pretty clear: The lesson content doesn’t matter, there are simply no statistically significant differences between kids getting the different options available. See here and here. In other words the sex ed doesn’t work. I don’t think that is in any way surprising. Nowadays nobody growing up in the western world is dependent on school  for information on where babies come from, and it actually would be surprising if horny dumb kids heeded their teachers moralizing, particularly since we already know that drug scaring programs don’t work either.

To be fair, both sides of the American sex ed wars can point to better effects for much more intense community based programs like mentoring or situationally adapted one-on-one counseling. Basically, if you give lots of individual attention to a kid from a broken home, that kid is likely to take your advice seriously.  But that’s not what we normally mean by sex ed, it’s basically proof that social work works.

The two effects Leo proposes are  actually variations I hadn’t considered before, so I did a bit of a literature search.

On the morning-after pill there seems to be a scientific controversy whether preemptively dispensing it for possible future use with some counseling leads to more usage and whether it displaces other contraceptives. Different studies come down on different sides of both questions. My intuition says both effects probably are real but small and that seems consistent with the data, but other conclusions are also possible. Anyway the effects are small in usage and  too small to be observable in actual pregnancies at realistic sample sizes.  Also, just teaching about it without handing out the actual pill doesn’t seem to work.

I didn’t find anything on sex-toy education. Probably it would be prohibitively hard to get a sufficiently large sample on that question, because both of the possibly related attributes (receiving sex-toy education and presenting at an ER because of having used unsuitable tools on ones genitals) would be rare. I certainly didn’t receive any sex-toy-ed, despite my German sex ed being essentially a long advertisement for (contraceptive) sex. Abstinence wasn’t presented even as an option, much less a preferable one, and there were tips like preemptively masturbating to avoid erections at swimming lessons, so there clearly was no Christian bias like you might suspect in some parts of the United States. Still, safe toys didn’t come up, probably because nobody thought them a relevant question. On the other side, accidental sexual self-mutilations occasionally make the news, but my understanding is that they are newsworthy because they are rare freak accidents. Also, my suspicion would be that teen-agers using dangerous stimulation tools do know that there are safer toys but just don’t have them. A correlation between two rare attributes is very hard to measure, so I think there probably is no science on this. Anyway, if your supposed effect exists, it would have a very minor effect on public health. You certainly could get much more, ahem, bang for the buck by spending the lesson time on pro-vaccination propaganda.

So, to sum it up, you can always think of special cases, but on the whole neither kind of what we normally think of as sex ed has the desired effects.

Posted in Arguments | | 1 Comment