August 30, 2012

August 30,2012

Is this 2012 or 1896? Romney/Ryan v. Obama/Biden- TIC (Domitrovic)

Liberals and the Politicization of Rape - AT (Thomas)

The Last Line of Defense: Property - AT (Jonescu)

How 'The Shy Republican' Could Be Masking a Landslide - AT (Shaw)

Race, the Race, and Racism - AT (Hundehutte)

Romney/Ryan Must Target Catholics and Evangelicals - AT (Voshell)

Being Successful is Romney's Greatest Appeal - AT (McQuillan)

Political Scientists Bow to the Laws of Nature - Liberty Law Blog (Masugi)

A Job Is a Social Issue - The Indiana Barrister

Dems Give Their Best Shot, Ryan Still Standing? - Via Meadia

The Free Society and Its Limits - Liberty Law Blog (Conway)

RNC and the Ghost of Cuomo's Famous Keynoter - AT (Trzeciak)

Attorney General Holder grants BATFE expanded forfeiture powers - Volokh (Kopel)

Swing State, Religion, and Policy - MoJ (Leary)

Romney Prepares to Battle Obama on Foreign Policy - Via Meadia

President Obama: American Tory? - Via Meadia

Legally recognized multi-partner unions: Why not? - MoJ (George)

Ryan: "A Country Where Everything is Free but Us - Pundit & Pundette

California Pension Reform: Too Little, Too Late - Via Meadia


Miller v. Alabama: Mandatory Life Sentences for Juvenile Homicide Offenders as Cruel and Unusual Punishment - The Originalism Blog (Rappaport)

Does Rand Paul Have the Future? - The American Conservative (McCarthy)

August 25, 2012

August 25, 2012 (Late Afternoon)

Young People Abandoning Smoking - Via Meadia

Neil Armstrong: Requiescat in Pace - TAC (McClarey)

Mitt Romney selling mugs with his birth certificate on them … oh, wait - Legal Insurrection (Jacobson)

Why Do Jews Do So Well and Arabs So Poorly? - Maverick Philosopher

A Difference Beyond Question - RCP (Cohen)

Behavioral Fatalism

Welcome to the first "real" blog post of Sardonic Ex Curia. It will likely be followed by more, though not on as regular a schedule as my link postings. Therefore, they will be irregular, but (I hope) interesting.

      I have long wondered at the philosophy at the root of the argument that condoms and hormonal birth control ought to be available for teens (and anyone else) to use in preventing pregnancy and disease. Scientifically, that they can prevent pregnancy and disease cannot be doubted. However, my thoughts revolve more around the behavioral questions.

      The first behavioral aspect to which I refer is the argument (used to justify both greater access to all birth control and against abstinence education) that "they are going to have sex anyway". (The "they" may refer to Africans, teens, the poor, college students, or any mix of these.) In conversation with conservative friends, this line - that the sexual urge is so uncontrollable that it will occur regardless of risk of pregnancy or disease - has become so commonly attributed to proponents of contraception that I thought it must be overstated. However, it turns out that the line "going to have sex anyway" is fairly widespread, and proponents of contraception, including teenagers, use it as often a conservative writers. See, for instance, the statement "Some schools only teach abstinence. I don't think that's very good because kids are going to have sex anyway" made by a 16-year old in an interview with The New York Amsterdam News, or the statement by a Canadian "sex therapist and radio personality"  in the Alberta Report that she is "not saying girls should jump every Tom, Dick and Harry....But they're going to have sex anyway. We have to teach them not to settle for mediocre sex. Great sex is not one night stands. It tends to be with people who know you, and who can provide intimacy." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides another example, with an editorial arguing that "It is about grasping reality -- knowing that some youngsters, even knowing the risks, will have sex anyway." Or the statement by a U.N. STI/HIV advisor that "People, especially sexually active people, will have sex anyway because it is a normal part of life and people enjoy it."

Putting aside the somewhat circular statement contained in the last quote, it seems like the philosophy behind these statements is something to the effect of a naturalist fatalism - the idea that, no matter how much the risk of disease or the possibility of pregnancy, the sexual urge is so powerful that many will engage in it regardless of their knowledge of the potential bad outcomes. So, the argument goes, contraception is necessary because it will prevent / reduce the risks associated with sex.

But does that argument work if one extends the naturalist fatalism in question to ALL aspects of behavior? I believe that the argument as one for greater use and availability of contraception eventually turns back on itself. In regards to condoms, to sum up the argument for their greater availability, "condoms should be more available because the natural sexual urge is so powerful that sex will occur regardless of education of risk". However, condoms themselves are inherently unnatural. There is nothing in the history of the sexual urge that indicates an evolutionary predilection to use a barrier during the sexual act. In order to make the claim that condoms are effective in terms of preventing the naturalistic fatalism, one would have to argue the following: "The sexual urge is inherently natural and powerful, and therefore, sex will occur because humans are programmed to do it. However, the sexual urge is not so inherently natural and powerful that humans cannot be programmed to pause before or during the act to use condoms." I suspect there is a fallacy here, in which the "it is natural" meme is twisted to make arguments for condom use work however proponents wish. (I do not get into the questions about condoms raised by Harvard researcher Dr. Steven Green on the idea that condoms may be increasing AIDS in Africa due to risk compensation....another example of the failure to extend naturalistic fatalism to its ultimate conclusion.)

The careful reader will note that I do not discuss hormonal contraception much above. Hormonal contraception does not seem to be subject to the same naturalistic fatalism problem that condoms face. However, I believe it is but one step removed. First, take the example of antibiotics - the problems with individuals failing to finish their entire prescription results in a series of problems, individually and societally, with (for example) both the drug being less effective for the individual and more resistant bacteria developing from the bacteria the lessened dose failed to kill. And, as is well known, some individuals may be naturally more inured to certain antibiotics, making them less effective. While claims for hormonal birth control range to 99% effectiveness, due to these natural and behavioral effects, the actual effectiveness may be lower, and estimates vary from the 91% to the 92% range, with women potentially overestimating the effectiveness of contraceptive types. This may be for several reasons. One may be that drug companies claim a high effectiveness rate for oral contraception, and that is taken as "gospel".  (Curiously, the teen penchant for underestimating risk seems to spread even to contraception - yet another example of failing to take naturalism argument to their utter end.) In addition, antibiotics may interfere with the effectiveness of hormonal birth control, as well as other medications, including tetracycline, commonly prescribed for acne(!), another problematic risk - if sex will occur regardless, why would a woman abstain from sex despite the knowledge that the effectiveness of her hormonal birth control would be reduced?

The argument I am addressing here is solely the one based upon "fatalistic naturalism", and the necessity to confront claims for expanding use of condoms and oral contraception based upon the idea that one can somehow argue that the unnatural use of birth control will occur simultaneously in people that have ireprressible urges to have sex.

August 25, 2012

The Asian Industrial Revolution - Via Meadia

Are Stingy Atheists Ruining America? - Via Meadia

The Liberalism of Archbishop Rowan Williams - Via Meadia (Berkowitz)

Obama Demands Race-Based School Discipline - AT (Pullman)

Embattled Arizona Governor Stands Strong against Chicago Administration - AT (Cooper)

MSM: Focusing on the Minor While Ignoring the Major to Help Obama   - AT (Marcus)

Celebrating Ignorance - AT (Heck)

Liberals' Illegitimate War on Women - AT (DeAngelis)

Has the old media worm turned against Obama? - AT (Cary)

Washington and Franklin - Symbols or Lawmakers? Their Significance in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 - TIC (Allen)

The Constitution of Affluence: An Update - Liberty Law Blog (Greve)

Would the North be Better Off Without the South? - Volokh (Somin)

Are Unions the Key to Obama’s Reelection? - Via Meadia

August 23, 2012

August 23, 2012

Obama's Oil and Gas Folly - AT (Folks)

Has Ryan “Softened” His Pro-Life Views? - TAC (Bonchamps)

The Theory and Practice of Toleration - Liberty Law Blog (Samuelson)

Nathan Harden on campus culture at Yale (and beyond) - MoJ (George)

The sickness out there - Pundit and Pundette

The Conquest of Poverty - TAC (Bonchamps)

Mann v. Steyn - Volokh (Adler)

August 16, 2012

August 16, 2012

Surrogates and Their Discontents - Public Discourse (White)

Iran Dodges Sanctions With Help from Sleazy Bankers - Via Meadia

Long-Term Funding Gap for Social Security: $30 Trillion - Via Meadia

Royal Waivers from Passed Law - AT (Johnson)

Obama 'Intellectually Exhausted, Out of Ideas, and Out of Energy'  - AT (Hunt)

The Ghost of Solyndra: Still Haunting Taxpayers - AT (Beatty)

Conservatism Defined (sort of) - TIC (Birzer)

Obama's Shared Prosperity: A Euphemism Wrapped in a Lie - AT (Jonescu)

Irving Babbitt and Cultural Renewal- TIC (Seaton)

A New Chinese Foreign Policy? - Via Meadia

Remembering John Courtney Murray, S.J. - MoJ (Garnett)

Is the J.D. Degree Not Versatile After All? - FedSoc Blog (Publius)

Is Joe Biden setting up health (or insanity) defense to renomination? - Legal Insurrection (Jacobson)

August 15, 2012

Yes, Tax the Rich - Liberty Law Blog (Greve)

Redeeming Liberty: Tocqueville on the Omnipresent Threat of Democratic Pantheism - Liberty Law Blog (Craiutu)

The Childishness of the American Left - AT (McCann)

Americans are Anti-Intellectual Because... - AT (Chantrill)

Humanitas and the Limits of the Market- TIC (Ancil)

Unscripted Praise for Paul Ryan from a Serious Democrat - MoJ (Breen)

Blue Blight Slouching Toward Berkeley - Via Meadia

Small Business Not Feeling Recovery - Via Meadia

Shooting at Family Research Council headquarters - Legal Insurrection (Sorock)

August 8, 2012

August 8, 2012

Am I a 'Homophobe'? - TAT (Norling)

Law schools significantly understate graduate debt (Part I) - Inside the Law School Scam

Should Ben Bernanke Be Impeached? - Liberty Law Blog (Rappaport)

Busting Through Our Dysfunctional Political Consensus With the Wisdom of Alexander Hamilton - Liberty Law Blog (Greve)

Wishful Thinking: A Response to Winston Elliott on Foreign Wars - TIC (Carey)

Let's Talk about Inequality, Liberals - TAT (Chantrill)

Greece: Behind Schedule and Running Out of Cash - Via Meadia

Mormon Utopia in Utah? - Via Meadia

‘The Road We’ve Traveled:’ A misleading account of Obama’s mother and her insurance dispute - WaPo Fact Checker

The Power to Destroy - Public Discourse (Paulsen)

Themes of Beauty in the Word (I) - TIC (Caldecott)

Obama Complains: The Press Hates Me! - Via Meadia

Grover Norquist and the Muslim Takeover of America - Via Meadia (Berkowitz)

August 7, 2012

The English War and Peace: Paul Scott's Raj Quartet - TIC (Brann)

A City on a Shoestring - Via Meadia

The Far-Reaching Benefits of America’s Energy Boom - Via Meadia

Conservatives, Liberals, and Happiness - Maverick Philosopher

Remembering the Dead, from Selma - Pajamas Media (Hanson)

Missing the Significance of Cass Sunstein - Liberty Law Blog (Masugi)

A Czar is Born - Claremont Institute (Postell)

August 2, 2012

August 2, 2012

Sell Globally, Tax Locally - Liberty Law Blog (Greve)

Democratic Mayors Are Out of Control - RCP (Elder)

The Curse of Beatlemania - TIC (Sobran)

Founders Famous and Forgotten - TIC (Dreisbach)

House Hearing to Consider Illegal IRS Rule Implementing Health Care Reform - Volokh (Adler)

What Can the Law Hope For In the Age of Progressivism? - Liberty Law Blog (Postell)

Good Democrats and Bad Republicans - MoJ (George)

U.S. Consumers Saving More, Spending Less - Via Meadia

Goldman Sachs Goes to Jail: To Make Money - Via Meadia

Obama insults small-business owners - Sun Times (Huntley)

Religious Freedom Issues in Russia - MoJ (George)

Liberal Love and Sargent Shriver - Public Discourse (Snell)

Corporate Exercise of Religion and Other Thoughts on the RFRA Claim in the Mandate Litigation - MoJ (DeGirolami)

The Olympics and Feminist-Style Reporting - TAT (Duke)

The Narcissistic Style in Liberal Politics - TAT (Daughtry)

Everyone Freaks Out About Two New Climate Change Studies - Reason (Bailey)

Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians: The Religious Roots of Free Societies - Liberty Law Blog (Conway)

Three Easy Ways to End Cronyism  - The Daily Beast (Schweizer)

The Obama Ad Blitz Isn't Working - WSJ (Rove)

This is why we can't build that - Washington Examiner (Klein)

A Conversation with Robert Bellah - The Hedghog Review (Joas)

Some Thought Experiments Involving Assassination - Bleeding Heart Libertarians (Brennan)

August 1, 2012

August 1, 2012

The Mandate Kicks In  - NRO (Weigel)

The Recession Is So Bad Even Harvard Has to Innovate - Via Meadia


Taxmageddon in 2013 - NY Post (Pethokoukis)

One Man, One Vote, One Culture: In Defense of Towns - Public Discourse (Esolen)

A Letter to Young Voters - NRO (Prager)

Romney’s Foreign Takeaways - Via Meadia

Health Care in MA Is Bad Omen for Obamacare - Via Meadia

Ebola Spreads to Kampala; Outbreak Still Uncontained - Via Meadia

Is Obama Beating Himself? - WSJ (Jenkins)

Culture Does Matter - NRO (Romney)

America Is Hard to See - TIC (Stanlis)

Big Big Train: Chaos Flees Before Beauty- TIC (Birzer)

Adam Wheeler Went to Harvard - The Baffler (Newell)

Winters, Camosy & Garnett, cont'd - MoJ (Garnett)

The Senate Gets a Little More Hispanic and a Lot More Conservative - TNR (Kilgore)

Iraq Update: Al-Qaeda Making a Comeback - Via Meadia

Richard Posner Gets It Wrong - Defining Ideas (Epstein)

Mr. President, You're No Bill Clinton - Weekly Standard (Stelzer)

Mayhem at GM - Daily Caller (Kaus)

Has Obama Peaked? - American Spectator (Young)

The smallness of the new Obama - Washington Times (Hurt)

Don’t Believe the Techno-Utopian Hype - Daily Beast (Ferguson)

Batman Battles The Politics Of Resentment - WSJ (Klavan)

Pew Center Dishes out the Truth about Pensions - Via Meadia

The HHS Mandate Goes into Effect - NRO (The Editors)