Posts filed under Conservatism

In Which Bryan Fischer Doubles Down on Todd Akin’s Pseudo-Science Stupidity

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Conservatism, Elections, Pseudo-Science, Rape

I used to enjoy a good Fisking, usually of an article by a liberal columnist from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But today, the honor goes to Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association.

In the wake of Todd Akin's profoundly stupid comments asserting pseudo-science in defense of a policy position, Mr Fischer has chosen to double-down on Akin's stupidity by attempting to defend the scientific credibility of Akin's statements.  First, for background, Akin's quote:

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 down.

Now, both this comment, and the response it has elicited, is fertile ground for discussion (not the least of which is the left's absurd attempt to claim that Akin somehow expressed "pro-rape" views due to the term "legitimate rape"); but the bottom line is that Akin's assertion is prima facie absurdity. Debate whether or not such comments should be grounds for pressuring Akin to withdraw from the Senate race, but don't be foolish enough to try to defend the validity of his assertion.

Alas, that is precisely what Bryan Fischer has done. And because of such manifest foolishness, I must respond. Let's roll tape on Fischer's on-air remarks in defense of Akin. Fischer accompanies those remarks with a blog post, from which I will quote liberally (all emphasis added by me):

Akin’s words, for which he apologized even though he had no need to, were right. He was entirely correct to say that pregnancies in cases of forcible rape are rare. Even if the exaggerated figures of the pro-abortion medical community are accurate, pregnancies due to rape amount to just 0.005% of all pregnancies. That’s rare in anybody’s book.

In defending the assertion that a woman's body can somehow reject or stop conception from rape, the relevant question is not whether total pregnancies resulting from rape are rare with respect all total pregnancies, but rather whether rape results in conception less frequently than conception from consensual, unprotected sex. The given statistic is silent on this comparison.

Fischer later says:

Unfortunately for the nattering nabobs of negativism who think Akin is some kind of medical Neanderthal, the London Daily Mail has a headline story TODAY which has this as the very first paragraph: “Stress can make women infertile, research has revealed. Scientists found that those with high levels of a stress hormone stop ovulating and are therefore unable to conceive.”

Who look like the dumb ones now?

Who looks like the dumb ones, indeed? Implying that the linked study proves his point requires one to ignore the cardinal rule of data analysis: correlation does not prove causation. Did Fischer consider any of the following questions:

  • Does the study involve acute stress, chronic stress, or both?
  • Does the study address the effects of acute stress on ovulation?
  • Assuming that acute stress can adversely impact ovulation, how often does rape occur within the extremely small window  of time required for the rape-induced stress to have that impact?
  • What impact does rape have on the body's production and sustained levels of cortisol?
  • Can rape interrupt or stop altogether the victim's menstrual cycle?

In fact, the referenced study can't answer any of those questions. It was merely an epidemiological study intended to suggest a potential correlation between stress levels and ovulation/menstruation. Sound science doesn't take a small, epidemiological study that can do nothing but suggest a correlation that may warrant further study, and turn it into an assertion of causation. Unfortunately, Fischer is not similarly disciplined:

Here’s the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: “In an occasional woman, too much stress can change her hormone levels and therefore cause the time when she releases an egg to become delayed or not take place at all.” Sounds like maybe her body can shut down the process after all.  

Such an assertion is an unwarranted jump to conclusion, and is as foolish as it is absurd. Suggesting a link between stress levels and ovulation in no way whatsoever proves an assertion that a rape victim has an innate physiological response that inhibits ovulation, and therefore conception.

Unperturbed by scientific and logical discipline, Fischer finds yet another epidemiological study to attempt to defend his position:

How about the New York Times, the Bible of wingers on the left? Here’s the headline of a May 11, 2011 feature article: “Lowering Stress Improves Fertility Treatment.” The article refers to findings published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, and quotes Dr. Alice D. Domar, a psychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who serves as director of mind-body services at Boston IVF, a large fertility center.

Said Dr. Domar, “If you’re really stressed out and depressed, the body seems to sense that’s not a good time to get pregnant.” Hmm. Sound suspiciously like the body shutting down, no?

Multiple epidemiological studies suggesting the same correlation still do not prove causation; rather, they merely provide a stronger argument for further studies. So I'll refrain from quoting the third such example Fischer uses.

Instead, I'll turn to relevant analysis of the assertion, by attempting to make a meaningful statistical comparison: the percentage of rapes that result in pregnancy, versus the percentage of consensual, unprotected sex that results in pregnancy. To that end, I'll reference three studies linked by PopSci.

Using this study as the baseline, 3.1% of unprotected, consensual sex results in pregnancy. How does that compare to pregnancy rates from rape? This study indicates that 5% of rapes result in pregnancy, and this study indicates that anywhere from 6.4% - 8% of rapes (factoring in birth control usage) result in pregnancy. Thus, according to these studies, rapes result in pregnancy at a rate around 2-3 more frequently than consensual, unprotected sex.

I don't know if those studies controlled for forcible versus statutory rape. But even such distinction likely won't change the numbers significantly enough to lend credence to the "magic uterus" pseudo-science. While hard numbers are difficult to acquire immediately, I did find this reference to a study from 1949 that indicates that statutory rape constitutes 30 percent of all sex crimes, and this site that asserts that 3/4 of all juvenile rape is forcible. Taken together, the two studies would indicate that non-forcible, statutory rape accounts for anywhere from 7.5% to 30% of all rapes. So even assuming the worst-case scenario, the statistics still indicate that rapes result in pregnancy with a frequency equal to or higher than consensual, unprotected sex.

I welcome more precise statistics, but based on what I've found, I don't see any reason to believe that differentiating between forcible rape and other forms of sexual assault (statutory rape, incest, etc.) would alter the conclusion that there is no evidence to support the assertion that rapes result in pregnancy less frequently than consensual, unprotected sex.

Thus, both Todd Akin and Bryan Fischer are foolishly and dangerously peddling pseudo-science. In so doing, the least of our worries is that Todd Akin will lose a Senate race. The bigger travesty is that, by changing the narrative to a defense of pseudo-science, those who peddle that pseudo-science forfeit the ability to hold a legitimate policy discussion regarding rape and abortion. Those who are pro-life, who believe that life begins at conception and that an innocent, unborn child should not be murdered simply because his father is a rapist, lose the opportunity to have that debate.

Thus, Todd Akin, Bryan Fischer, and anyone else who chooses to peddle such pseudo-science (or defend those who do) actively harm the objectives of the pro-life movement.

Anders Breivik: NOT a Christian

Filed in Politics, ReligionTags: Conservatism, Liberalism, Media Bias

Anders Breivik in his own words:

A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians?

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.

Jesus Christ in His own words (from John 14):

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. f you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

And this is instructive, too (James 1:22-25):

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

And James goes even further: (James 2:14-19):

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

I rest my case: Anders Breivik, by his own admission, is not a Christian. He claims to be only a "cultural" Christian - a term that has absolutely no meaning in Christian doctrine.

(H/T: cordpt @ RedState)

Texas Board of Education: Liberal Media Bias on Full Display

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Academia, Conservatism, Education, Liberalism, Media Bias

The unabashed liberal bias of the mainstream media is on full display in their reporting of the recent Texas Board of Education curriculum-change vote.

This Associated Press article (h/t Lucianne) practically hyperventilates before it even gets to the byline, with the following headline:

Texas ed board vote reflects far-right influences

One immediately wonders what sort of radical beliefs the Texas Board of Education had just voted to include in the state curriculum. "Far right influences"? The headline virtually drips with alarm. On to the body of the article, then. First:

Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state. Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic," and students will be required to study the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.


By late Thursday night, three other Democrats seemed to sense their futility and left, leaving Republicans to easily push through amendments heralding "American exceptionalism" and the U.S. free enterprise system, suggesting it thrives best absent excessive government intervention.


Board members argued about the classification of historic periods (still B.C. and A.D., rather than B.C.E. and C.E.); whether students should be required to explain the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on global politics (they will); and whether former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir should be required learning (she will).

In addition to learning the Bill of Rights, the board specified a reference to the Second Amendment right to bear arms in a section about citizenship in a U.S. government class.

Conservatives beat back multiple attempts to include hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement.

Numerous attempts to add the names or references to important Hispanics throughout history also were denied, inducing one amendment that would specify that Tejanos died at the Alamo alongside Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. Another amendment deleted a requirement that sociology students "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society."

Oh, but it gets even worse (at least as far as the liberal media are concerned). From this NY Times article:

They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

And then:

Mr. Bradley won approval for an amendment saying students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. He also won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.

Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.” The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.

Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”


In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”


In the field of sociology, another conservative member, Barbara Cargill, won passage of an amendment requiring the teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders.

And finally:

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

So, to summarize, the following points are considered "far right" by AP:

  • The Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers
  • Not highlighting the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state
  • Describing the US system of government as a "constitutional republic", rather than as "democratic"
  • Studying the decline of the US dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard
  • Heralding "American exceptionalism" and the free-enterprise system
  • Suggesting that the free-enterprise system thrives best absent excessive government intervention
  • Classification of historic periods as BC and AD, rather than as BCE and CE
  • Requiring students to explain the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on global politics
  • Requiring students to learn about Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir
  • Learning the Bill of Rights
  • Emphasis on the Second Amendment in a citizenship section in US Government class
  • Rejection of hip-hop as an example of a significant cultural movement
  • Not specifying that Tejanos died alongside Davy Crockett and David Bowie at the Alamo
  • Removal of a requirement that sociology students "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society"
  • Teaching the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the NRA
  • Including the violence of the Black Panthers along with the nonviolence of Martin Luther King, Jr. in teaching about the Civil Rights movement
  • Including the Congressional votes on civil rights legislation, largely supported and passed by Republicans
  • Studying the unintended consequences of Great Society legislation, affirmative action, and Title IX
  • Teaching that Germans and Italians were interned during WWII, and not only Japanese, to counter the alleged racial motive of internment policy
  • Requiring the inclusion of the Verona papers, which confirmed Soviet infiltration into US government, in discussions of McCarthyism
  • Rejecting the requirement that students study the reasons "the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others"
  • Studying economists Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek along with Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Maynard Keynes
  • In Sociology, teaching “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders"
  • The removal of Thomas Jefferson from the list of figures whose writings influenced late-18th and 19th century revolutions, and instead including Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, and William Blackstone

As NewsBusters expressed: "Oh, the humanity!"

That the AP article would list the above points is far more indicative of its own bias. Such points - and opposition to them with respect to high school curriculum - can only be described as "far right" from a worldview that is so removed from the mainstream as to be itself properly described as far-left.

Apparently, to the far-left liberal media, any mention of the free-enterprise system, the Christian influence on the founding of our country; any less-than-utopian mention of liberalism; or any positive mention of the Constitution, conservatism, or Israel constitutes "far right" influence.

That the mainstream media holds such radically biased views so far removed from the mainstream is not a surprise; however, that this bias would be so blatantly on display is somewhat surprising. The AP makes absolutely no attempt whatsoever to hide is radical bias.

A History Lesson for the President of Goshen College

Filed in Religion, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Conservatism, Constitutional Rights

A recent RedState post detailed the valiant efforts of conservative students at Goshen College (Goshen, IN) to reverse the school's decision to ban the National Anthem. Apparently, the President's Council at the school deemed the lyrics of the song ("the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air") to be incompatible with the school's pacifist Mennonite beliefs.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending, as the students, led by Sophomore Ryan Troyer, convinced the President's Council to reconsider its stance. The school will now allow an instrumental version of the song to be played before sporting events. However, I take issue with the views expressed by the school's president, Jim Brenneman. I believe Mr. Brenneman is in need of a history lesson.

The statement announcing the decision of the President's Council to permit instrumental versions of the National Anthem includes the following statement:

One concern that many Mennonites have had with the playing of the national anthem has been that it places love for country above love for God. But, Brenneman said, "we believe playing the anthem in no way displaces any higher allegiances, including to the expansive understanding of Jesus – the ultimate peacemaker – loving all people of the world."

As I will demonstrate, the concern that the playing of the national anthem "places love for country above love for God" belies an ignorance of both the historical context and the religious connotation in the content of the anthem.

Regarding the lyrics of The Star Spangled Banner, I remind Mr. Brenneman of the backstory of the poem that would become our National Anthem:

Meanwhile, Britain’s naval force, buoyed by its earlier successful attack on Alexandria, Virginia, was poised to strike Fort McHenry and enter Baltimore Harbor.  At 6:30 AM on September 13, 1814, Admiral Cochrane’s ships began a 25-hour bombardment of the fort. Rockets whistled through the air and burst into flame wherever they struck. Mortars fired 10- and 13-inch bombshells that exploded overhead in showers of fiery shrapnel.  Major Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry and its defending force of one thousand troops, ordered his men to return fire, but their guns couldn’t reach the enemy’s ships. When British ships advanced on the afternoon of the 13th, however, American gunners badly damaged them, forcing them to pull back out of range. All through the night, Armistead’s men continued to hold the fort, refusing to surrender. That night British attempts at a diversionary attack also failed, and by dawn they had given up hope of taking the city.  At 7:30 on the morning of September 14, Admiral Cochrane called an end to the bombardment, and the British fleet withdrew. The successful defense of Baltimore marked a turning point in the War of 1812. Three months later, on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent formally ended the war.

Star Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner: the flag that flew over Ft. McHenry the morning after the Brittish bombardment during the War of 1812, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would become our national Anthem

Because the British attack had coincided with a heavy rainstorm, Fort McHenry had flown its smaller storm flag throughout the battle. But at dawn, as the British began to retreat, Major Armistead ordered his men to lower the storm flag and replace it with the great garrison flag. As they raised the flag, the troops fired their guns and played “Yankee Doodle” in celebration of their victory. Waving proudly over the fort, the banner could be seen for miles around—as far away as a ship anchored eight miles down the river, where an American lawyer named Francis Scott Key had spent an anxious night watching and hoping for a sign that the city—and the nation—might be saved.


Friends of Dr. Beanes asked Georgetown lawyer Francis Scott Key to join John S. Skinner, the U.S. government’s agent for dealing with British forces in the Chesapeake, and help secure the release of the civilian prisoner.  They were successful; however, the British feared that Key and Skinner would divulge their plans for attacking Baltimore, and so they detained the two men aboard a truce ship for the duration of the battle. Key thus became an eyewitness to the bombardment of Fort McHenry.

This flag - the Stars and Stripes, the Star-Spangled Banner - whose against-all-odds presence inspired Francis Scott key that fateful morning, represented the triumph of freedom over the forces of war. See the third verse:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Thus, in its mention of "the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air," the poem is not romanticizing the war, but rather celebrating the triumph of America - and the freedom our contry represents - against the onslaught of its attackers. Far from glorifying war, Key is praising God for defending "the land of the free and the home of the brave" with which He has blessed us. See the fourth verse:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

In fact, it is from this poem in which are rooted not only our national anthem and the symbolism of Old Glory, but also our national motto: "In God We Trust." Far from placing love of country before love of God, the song glorifies God as "the Power that hath made and preserved" our nation, and who has blessed our nation with victory and peace.

If history has proven anything, it has proven that peace requires constant vigilance and struggle against those who would oppress. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Even as peacemakers, war can be imposed upon us - and as reprehensible as we may find war to be, those who fight on our behalf do so with a just cause.

The Goshen statement further reads:

In addition, the national anthem is one way that is commonly understood to express an allegiance to the nation of one's citizenship. The college has shown that in the past in other ways: flying a flag on campus, praying for all men and women serving our country, welcoming military veterans as students and employees, annually celebrating the U.S. Constitution and encouraging voting.

It is counter-productive to pray for all men and women serving our country, while at the same time decrying any and all reference to the means they must emply to protect our country and our freedoms - including our freedom to worship God and to live as peacemakers.

Further, I have problem with this statement [emphasis added]:

Finally, the decision was made with the belief that "playing the anthem opens up new possibilities for members of the Goshen College community to publicly offer prophetic critique – if need be – as citizens in the loyal opposition on issues of deepest moral conviction, such as war, racism and human rights abuses," according to the statement by the President's Council announcing their decision.

While the intrinsic tie between the national anthem and war is understood, what, pray tell, does the national anthem have anything to do with racism and human rights abuses? What opportunity does the playing of the national anthem provide for prophetic critique in loyal opposition to racism and human rights abuses? This statement implies that the national anthem represents such matters - an implication that I find to be abhorrent.

The national anthem represents the best of America: a nation founded on the principle that our rights derive from our Creator, and that all men are created equal, and have equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More American blood has been shed protecting and defending those rights - not only of Americans, but of all people the world over - than that of any other nation in history.

In closing, Mr. Brenneman, I applaud both your willingness to hold open dialogue on the matter of the playing of the national anthem, and your willingness to reconsider your stance. I urge you, however, to temper similar decisions in the future with the sober remembrance of the unique blessing of God that is our great nation, as well as the great sacrifices of our forefathers that have given us the freedoms we exercise - and often take for granted - today.

Currently On The Coffee Table

Filed in PoliticsTags: Books, Conservatism, Media Bias, Republicans

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Letters to a Young Conservative: Dinesh D'Souza