On this blog, we recently discussed the book by Robert Niose, Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, in which he stated:
When a significant segment of the politically engaged population stands firmly opposed to science, reason, and critical thinking, intelligent debate and policy making become impossible.
This weekend, in full living color, we saw and heard Rep. Todd Akin, Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, state his “utterly, incomprehensibly offensive” views on rape and pregnancy.
First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Where did he even get such bizzare thoughts? Not surprising, it came from junk science that has been circulating unchallenged for some time. Kristin Powers over at the Daily Beast did some digging, and found:
It’s junk science that has been circulating in the anti-abortion rights movement for some time. In a 1999 essay titled “Rape Pregnancies Are Rare,” National Right to Life president John Willke urged abortion opponents to make distinctions between different kinds of rape. He argued that the physical trauma of rape made it close to impossible to get pregnant.
This line has been spread without any attempt to examine the real science, which by the way is being funded by the National Institutes of Health, and being published in real journals. Sarah Kliff over at Ezra Klein’s Wonk Blog notes that there is not one ounce of truth in the stupidity put forth by Wilke and Akin.
Research published in the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests over 30,000 pregnancies result from rape annually. “Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency,” the trio of researchers from the University of South Carolina concluded. “It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies.”
A separate 2001 study – which used a sample of 405 rape victims between ages 12 and 45 – found that 6.4 percent became pregnant.
So there we have it. A candidate for the United States Senate, vying for seat among the elite one hundred leaders of this country. A group that is charged with setting policy in medicine and health care, having absolutely no idea about the difference between junk science and real science. To rephrase Niose, when there are members of Congress who stand firmly opposed to science, reason, and critical thinking, intelligent debate and policy making become impossible.
I hope we do more than just laugh at clowns like Akin and the public demands that our leaders to be well-versed in science, reason, and critical thinking. It is time to have Science Debate at the Presidential level. Our future depends on it.