From the creator of Video Skepdude

Parental Consent for Sex Education?

The Oklahoma House voted 51-50 on Wednesday to:

reject a bill (HB 2628) that would have required parental consent before children could receive sex education in public schools, the AP/Muskogee Phoenix reports. Currently, Oklahoma school districts send “opt out” forms to parents of children enrolled in classes that provide sex education.

Rep. George Faught (R), sponsor of the bill, said he wanted an “opt in” provision so that parents would know in advance that their children would be enrolled in sex education classes and would not receive instruction the parents did not approve of.

Opponents of the bill said the measure would make it more difficult for children to receive sex education in the state, which has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. Oklahoma also has the 12th highest percentage for repeat births to teenage mothers in the country, according to a study conducted by the research organization Child Trends.

I kind of understand the thinking behind this law, however I am glad it did not pass. As a parent you want to ensure that your kids are not exposed to certain things, and for most parents sex is taboo. However, this is not simply an issue of what the parent wants for their children. This is about the safety of the children. It is one of those cases where you must ask yourself “How much rights can parents be allowed over their children?”.

Of course parents have the right to choose what they think is best for their kids. But I do believe there are limits, that there are certain areas where those rights should be curbed, such as sex education, vaccinations, schooling etc. The reason is simple, we cannot allow parents ideological views to handicap our youth. A staunch anti-vaccination parent cannot, and should not, be allowed to withhold potentially life saving vaccines from their children simply because they themselves have fallen for that faulty logic.

A strict religious parent cannot and should not be allowed to intentionally keep their kids in the dark when it comes to sex education, especially if that has a high probability of resulting in unwanted pregnancies and unsafe sexual practices.

It seems clear that Oklahoma has a problem with teenage pregnancies. I never understood the logic behind the “keep ’em in the dark” camp. Somehow these people think that by not mentioning it, kids will steer away from it, when in fact it is the complete opposite. They will only learn from it in the streets without a counterbalancing point of view. They will miss out on the real scientific facts and fall for the popular myths, such as the “you can’t get HIV from oral sex” variety. To me this sounds the same as sending soldiers in Iraq and not tell them about the war and how to use the gun, even though it is sure they will have to face some enemies and must fight.

The focus of these parents and these lawmakers is misplaced. The problem they are having with teenage sex and pregnancies does not stem from the knowledge. In fact it is ridiculous to think that they can block out all knowledge. You cannot censor this kind of thing away. Magazines, movies, books, the internet are all around and finding information, especially bad one is not hard at all. You cannot fight misinformation with censorship. Only information can fight misinformation. And what do these people want to do? Legislate away information. Does that make sense to you?


March 17, 2008 Posted by | Critical Thinking | , , | 1 Comment

Hilarious Parody of Christianity! Must See!

Thanks to Evolved and Rational for posting this video originally in their blog.

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Funny, Religion | | 2 Comments

Just legalize it already!

Why is prostitution still illegal in the US? It is the 21st century for God’s sake and we’re supposed to be a democratic country. Why is sex for money such a taboo? Why do people work so hard, spend so much time and energy to forbid something which, quite frankly, is none of their business? The NY Times in a recent article speaks about NY Governor Eliot Spitzer’s “war on prostitution”:

Prosecuting an international sex tourism business based in Queens, he listened to the entreaties of women’s advocates long frustrated by state laws that fell short of dealing with a sex trade expanding rapidly across borders.

And with his typical zeal, he embraced their push for new legislation, including a novel idea at its heart: Go after the men who seek out prostitutes.

Now the human rights groups, which credit him with what they call the toughest and most comprehensive anti-sex-trade law in the nation, are in shock. Mr. Spitzer stands accused of being one of the very men his law was designed to catch and punish.

The law, which went into effect Nov. 1, mainly deals with redefining and prosecuting forms of human trafficking, which Governor Spitzer called “modern-day slavery.”

Modern day slavery? Yes, but only because criminalizing it has pushed it into the hands of criminals. Instead of businessmen you have pimps running it. Workplace protections laws do not apply to prostitutes. There is no minimum wage, no paid holidays, no workers compensation, unemployment benefits, medical benefits, time off etc. etc.

Prostitution is dangerous to the women engaged in it, not because of any inherent property of the thing itself, but simply because of who is running it. And who is running it depends largely on the laws criminalizing it. It is the laws that are meant to protect the women that at the end of the day end up hurting them more.

We all wear sneakers. There still are factories in the third world where children are exploited and forced to work long hours under unacceptable conditions, and we wear the product they produce. Does that mean that sneakers should be illegal? That’s a form of modern day slavery as well, but just like prostitution it is not the fault of the product, it is the fault of who’s in charge of running the business. You can’t fix that problem by going after the people buying sneakers. And you cannot fix the prostitution problem by going after the people buying prostitution.

If someone was really interested in the health and well being of these women, they would decriminalize prostitution. They would make it a business just like anything else. The laws would apply. It would be regulated, controlled. There would be protection and security for the women. No more sex romps in back alleys, cars, or obscure motels. Certain standards would be reinforced. You take the business out of the shadows, out of the hands of criminals, and you take away all the risks that people today use to excuse this stupid law.

At the end of the day, prostitution is a moral issue. Some people find it immoral. Others don’t. Every one has the right to refuse to partake in such activities if they so choose. Every one should also have the right to participate. Morality cannot be legislated. It is immoral to force your moral beliefs on another human being. I want a strong government, but I want it to butt out of my bedroom. What I do with another, consenting, adult human being is no one else’s business.

Why is sex for money different from sex for jewels, for a promotion? Why is the exchange of money so problematic? There is no reason, no logical reason, for prostitution to be illegal. None whatsoever. I challenge anyone to come up with one good logical reason in the comments to this post. Why are one night stands ok, but a paid one night stand is not?

It is time we as a society stop being so judgmental. It is time for us to say enough is enough. I do not want the government to stick its nose where it don’t belong. I want it out of my personal life. I don’t want it wasting my money on anti-prostitution laws, anti gay marriage laws or any such stupid endeavors. It has more important things to worry about.

It is time we legalize prostitution.

March 12, 2008 Posted by | Morality | , , | 4 Comments

Pimpin’ Eliot!

It’s all over the news. NY Governor, Eliot Spitzer, aka “client #9” has been caught with his pants down, so to speak. Mr. Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap discussing payments and arranging to meet a prostitute in a Washington hotel room. According to the NY Times, Mr. Spitzer had used the service before, but it is not clear how many times.

“I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my, or any, sense of right or wrong,” the governor said. “I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.”

“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

So how should we loot at this? Is this a purely personal matter? Should this affect his post as the governor of NY State? Should we care at all?

Well, I have mixed feelings about this one. There are three facts that should be taken into consideration when considering this story:

1-He used prostitution services.

2-He did this while married.

3-He was involved in an illegal activity.

Now as far as #1 is concerned, I don’t see a problem with it. Frankly, I do not see why prostitution is illegal in the US. There are no logical reasons for it. It is simply a relic, a leftover piece of stupid legislation whose sole purpose is to legalize someone’s own moral tenets. There is no reason why sex for money should be illegal. That’s what 50% of relationships out there amount to (I just made up that statistic. I do not know the real number.). People use sex as a means for attaining all kinds of favors, money being only one of them. Some use it to advance in their jobs and careers. Others use it to attain power over others. Some use it for money. Why we have to outlaw this last activity beats me! Some say that legalized prostitution increases the number of STD infections. I say that a regulated profession decreases this by requiring use of condoms, and/or quick blood test of clients and workers, and enforcing such requirements. Some say it is dangerous for the women involved in the business. I say it is only dangerous while it is illegal. The prostitutes today have no protection, not from their employer not from the police. A regulated, legalized system would actually be much safer for the prostitutes than the system in place today. Others say it is immoral. I say it is none of their business. Morality cannot be legislated, and we don’t all share the same moral values anyway.

#2 is where we start getting in trouble. While it is not illegal to seek the services of a prostitute while married, it certainly is not an action that a trustworthy person will undertake. I personally find it immoral, even though I understand that someone else may not. At the end of the day it is a personal issue that Gov. Spitzer needs to work out with his own family. He certainly does not owe us an apology for it. What it does do for his public persona, however, is that it takes away the trust the public may have had in him. If he is not faithful to his own family, it kind of makes you wonder how faithful he will be to our interest, you know the job we elected him to do.

#3 is where things get bad. Even though, as I already said, I am against criminalizing prostitution, nevertheless it is the law of the land. He is the highest elected official in NY state. You cannot get any higher than Governor in NY State. He must set an example for the rest of us. He cannot go around breaking the law, or promoting illegal activities. If he does not like the law, then it is in his power to, if not change it, at least make a big effort to change it. Either way, as the governor, his behavior is inexcusable. He has lost all credibility, especially given how he came to power, as the tough prosecutor who was taking on the sort of behavior he now is exhibiting himself, i.e. drunk with power and thinking that he is above the law and the rules. That is why, I think he should resign. Not because he used prostitutes, not because he cheated on his wife, but because he engaged and promoted a clearly illegal activity. Bill Clinton cheated on his wife too, but he did not break any laws while doing it.

Mr. Spitzer, goodbye and good luck to you in your personal life. I truly hope you can in fact gain back the trust of your family. Please hand over your badge and gun and go take care of your personal issues. I no longer want you to be my governor.

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Morality | , | Leave a comment

How not to argue – Argument from popularity

There’s one way to argue properly and about a thousand ways to argue improperly. Logical fallacies are so common, and tend to get so intricate, that even the most skilled skeptic can fall for a bad argument. So without further ado let’s go on to our first fallacy.

Ad Populum – Argument from Popularity

The Argument from Popularity, also known as popular appeal or appeal to majority, has to be one of my favorite logical fallacies, simply because it is so simple, so intuitive (although wrong) that you can’t go a few days or hours without running into it. In simple terms the argument from Popularity rest on the assumption that if a large number of people engage in some activity, then it must be the right thing to do.

The premise is that large numbers of people are not likely to be wrong. So if large numbers of people think A is right and B is wrong, then A must be right.

Of course the problem with this sort of argument lies with the premise. There is no reason to believe that large numbers of people who believe the same thing are right, simply by virtue of the large number. What happens if equally large numbers of people believe two contradictory things?

In general the fallacy goes like this:

Everybody likes/does/thinks/agree on A. Therefore A must be right.

However, we must be careful. IF the majority are experts in the field or subject that the argument applies to than it is not a fallacy to point out that all, or a majority of the experts agree on something. For example if we say “Most people floss, therefore flossing must be good for you” we are committing the ad populum fallacy (regardless if the conclusion is right or not. As long as the argument rest solely on the number of (non-expert) people that do something, it is a fallacy!) However, if we say “Most dentist recommend flossing, therefore flossing is good for you” we would not be committing a fallacy. Dentist are experts in dental care, therefore it is highly unlikely that a majority of the experts would be wrong (although not impossible). Even though it is possible for most experts to be wrong, it is not fallacious to present the fact that most of them agree on A, to support your claim that A is right.

March 7, 2008 Posted by | Critical Thinking, Logic | , , | 1 Comment