Scientists and Their Dogma

A series of papers on “HIV in Men Who Have Sex with Men” from the prestigious British medical journal, Lancet, were presented as a symposium at the recent international AIDS 2012 conference in Washington, DC.  Not necessarily surprisingly, given current scientific dogma, one of the major causes of the continuing epidemic among active homosexual men was cited as homophobia and discrimination against gay men.

Oh yes, there are some behavioral risk factors, of course, but if only gay men felt secure enough to take advantage of best medical practices, HIV incidence would plummet.  Toxic intolerance, especially religious bigotry, compels homosexual men, particularly black homosexual men, to forgo proper care and increases risk. Huh?

One might reasonably ask what behavioral risks?   Within the papers, we find that active homosexual men are eighteen times more likely to contract the HIV virus and AIDS than the general population.  A single homosexual act with a new partner puts the impassioned at a 1.4% risk of HIV infection.  Why is that?

Several factors are named.  In the interest of keeping this a family friendly, PG rated blog, some discretion will be necessary.  Anal sex is more risky (if not more frisky) since HIV is a gut-tropic virus.  (i.e. the little guys tend to prosper in the alimentary canal.)   Secondly, since the male can be (not to put too fine a point on it) either the inserter or recipient in the transaction, the odds of something going awry increase and things can get dicey.  An additional risk factor, despite protestations of forever love and marriage, irrefutable statistics show the gay lifestyle to be predominantly promiscuous.  Multiple partners mean multiplication, if not exponential risk; it’s just math.  As a further result of these behaviors, gay men also have far higher rates of infection by other STDs, depression and substance abuse.   But, it’s homophobia that’s really at the root of the problem.

Whether the discussion is global warming/climate change, the creation of our universe, embryonic stem cell research (now largely moot due to scientific advancements using adult stem cells) and even “definitive” studies “proving” conservatives suffer from a kind of mental illness,   increasing impenetrability is encountered when trying to ascertain the real facts.  It seems almost impossible to determine what’s really behind the conclusions.  Larry Summers, former head of the Economic Council for President Obama and Treasury Secretary for President Clinton, lost his job as President of Harvard University when he said women were underrepresented at the highest levels of science, and that may be caused because women, while possessing higher average intelligence than men, are underrepresented at the periphery of the intelligence bell curve – both ends:  more male geniuses and more males with below normal IQs.  Just citing a scientific study sealed his fate among the faculty, which condemned him with a vote of no confidence.

 If someone presumes to question the causes or the proposed solutions for global warming, they are relegated to the ranks of anti science Neanderthals, but the scandalous emails exposing the ideological agenda of the purveyors of global warming are passed off as an anomaly.  If a layperson suggests that cloning human beings to kill them and harvest their stem cells may pose moral difficulty, well that reactionary is clearly a desperately ignorant, knuckle dragging dupe.  Physics by definition has no idea what occurred before the Big Bang, when time and space and light and matter came into being, yet if someone suggests that there may be a theological explanation, the derision dripping from some scientists is transcendent.

Dogma of any kind is similarly derided by the ideology of the left.  Yet someone’s dogma prevails always; whether the dogma of science or ideology or religion, there is a body of thought and belief that forms conclusions and solutions.  To believe that there is no dogma promulgated by worship at the altar of the god of “purely objective” science, is naïve and dangerous.

“Science is silent on what should be done with the fruits of science.  Science can cure illnesses and cause them, destroy cities and build them, save lives and take them.  It is the realm outside of science, the realm of morality and religion.  i.e., the realm of dogma that tells us what is permissible and what is taboo.  The scientist free of moral dogma is a cartoon villain who creates death rays for sport or ransom. 

Dogma constrains how science should be doneThe Hippocratic Oath… represents not a triumph of science but a triumph of moral absolutism.” 

“The Tyranny of Clichés”, Jonah Goldberg.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Scientists and Their Dogma

  1. Rita

    Since the Enlightenment we’ve abandoned Natural Law and Divine Law, leaving us with manmade law. Manmade law devoid of Natural Law and the Judeo/Christian principles that undergirded our civilization for five thousand years is what led us to Nazi medical experimentation on human beings, mostly Jews, during WWII.

    The Nazis passed a law authorizing everything they carried out; human experimentation was perfectly legal in the Eternal Third Reich. However, those laws were not under the influence of God’s law. In addition to his hatred of Jews, Hitler hated Christianity and wanted it eradicated.

    At the Nuremburg trials, it was Natural Law — deeply seeded understanding of what is right and what is wrong, planted by our Creator in the consciences of all humanity — that was cited to convict the Nazis of their atrocities. In the name of progress, the Nazis and the communists jettisoned Natural Law and Divine law and imposed manmade law to achieve their ends. They made themselves “like God.” Millions of people died. Could this be human progress? I think it is much more like a return to barbarism. But we seemed to have learned nothing from the godless atrocities of the 20th century as we continue to abandon God and put ourselves in His place.

    Without God, anything goes. Today in America, we’ve seen the murder of over 50 million pre-born babies since abortion was made legal in 1973. Is this not barbarism and do we really think that this kind of barbarism doesn’t have an effect on the overall culture? The culture of death is alive and well and it looks pretty barbaric to me. Just check out MTV… This is what we are passing on to our children.

    BTW…I highly recommend reading Jonah Goldberg’s book and another book I recently read by Charles Rice titled 50 Questions on the Natural Law.

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  2. Jack, as always an interesting and penetrating analysis. I have little doubt that your essay will generate a great deal of thought and discussion. I can only hope that the discussion encourages, accepts, and includes other viewpoints, else it will be little more than an exercise in intellectual onanism. As, perhaps or even probably, your only current libertarian reader, here are my thoughts:

    But what of causation? Research indicates that on average about 3% of the human population are genetically predisposed homosexuals. It is simply how they are born and who they are born to be. (Why? Well, evolutionary biologists have some interesting ideas, but I will have to leave it up to you read up on the matter if you are at all interested.) As near as independent examinations of historical records and a bit of mathematical extrapolation can determine, this number has remained constant for most of human history. With only a handful of exceptions (Ancient Greece and Rome to name but two) homosexuals have historically been persecuted, prosecuted and violently driven “underground.” Could this underground culture, steeped in fear, society-inflicted hate and self-loathing, and psychological distress have led to (caused) unchecked homosexual promiscuity? I would argue that it is possible. After all, we all need love, sex and human contact – Each of them are found in the basic foundations of Maslow’s Hierarchy for good reason. The imperative is strong, and if you can’t fill it in the open, you are left to seek it elsewhere: The darkness, shackles and dungeons of the closet. I would also argue that acceptance of homosexuals by general society will eventually result in a significant decrease in incidents of unbridled homosexual promiscuity as they are allowed to openly live in society and allowed to marry. After all, that is exactly what happened with heterosexuals once they were enjoined to pair up.

    Interestingly, when the next issue of my own modest little newsletter, Waypoints, is published this Thursday (August 9th), it will be interesting to juxtapose my essay with your latest offering. In a random serendipitous act we have both written about the effect of dogma on social issues. (Any of Jack’s readers who may be interested in comparing and contrasting the two points of view, just drop me a request at: anthony@anthonyvinson.com – I will not add you to my regular mailing list, but will simply send you a copy of the August 9th issue. Just use “Single Issue” as the subject line. Of course if you’d like to sign-up for future issues I would be happy to have you. The wider the ideas and opinions we expose ourselves to, the better able we are to make up our own minds, after all. And that is exactly why I subscribe to and read Jack’s blog posts.)

    AV

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  3. Thank you both for great comments!
    Rita,
    I think you point out a vital issue, and one that will not be resolved in our lifetimes. A direct result of the “Enlightenment” (sidebar: it must be great to prejudge the conclusion within the opening rhetoric, although “Benighted-ment” doesn’t resonate as well) is our massive cultural paradigm shift from Natural Law and revelation to utilitarian positivism and relativism as moral standards. Not to my mind an improvement and one which opened the gates to Marx, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, et al. As a consequence, this generation was spawned and acculturated in the bloodiest century in human history. This is a discussion that merits more than a few symposia and a lifetime of study, not to be determined or even defined in a blog post or two.

    Anthony,
    While it is certainly true that languishing in the closet could lead to ever more aberrant sexual practice, like emotionally flat lined, dead eyed, increasingly desperate, unfulfilling promiscuity, I don’t believe that this is the prime driver of the behavior. It is also true that over 30% of gay men admit in surveys to having sex with under legal age partners, a far higher percentage than in the heterosexual population. Sexual activity at a young, emotionally immature, age has been shown to cast into confusion sexual identity, so a nature vs. nurture conundrum is not going to be resolved anytime soon. As to “genetic predisposition”, I am not aware of any study coming out of the mapping of the human genome that has identified a “gay” gene despite great efforts to do so. If you are aware of such a study, I’d be interested. Neither, however, do I think a “gay” lifestyle is chosen; it’s a more difficult road to travel.

    No person ever should have to live with diminished dignity, love or respect, irrespective of sexual orientation, nor ever be discriminated against in the workplace, in their housing, opportunities, within the legal system or in any other way treated differently. Neither, however, should those who hold moral views which see homosexuality as sinful be treated unfavorably by government or accused of “hate speech” for voicing their opinions as was most recently done in the Chick fil A controversy. In Canada, Christian pastors have been arrested for hate speech for simply citing relevant scripture passages to their congregation — not advocating for discrimination, not advocating for hating anybody, just preaching what they hold to be true. This is a grave danger to free speech and religious freedom.

    Homosexuality is a difficult and different civil rights issue than that engendered by race. If everyone in the world woke up tomorrow black or Chinese, this tired old world and its human population would keep on keeping on just fine (or at least as well as we’ve been doing). If, however, everyone in the world woke up tomorrow morning gay, absent wholesale in vitro or turkey baster insemination, ours would be the last generation. Or as David Cathy at Chick fil A would tell us, no unfertilized egg ever grew up to be a chicken sandwich.

    Incidentally, my friend, given the subject matter, I loved your onanism metaphor. Freudian slip?

    Hey, folks, sign up for Anthony’s “Waypoints”, it’ll get your juices flowing.

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    • Pardon the delayed response. I have been on the road finishing up the last couple of public library Summer Reading Program gigs before schools start back up in the metro Atlanta area.

      No, there’s no “gay gene” and if I appeared to imply otherwise I apologize. Perhaps I should have used the unwieldy, but more accurate, construction “genetic/biological” (or vice-versa) to express my point. The debate over the root cause or causes of sexual orientation will continue to rage for a long time to come, I think, but a majority of those researching the topic appear convinced that the cause is most likely a combination of genetically heritable traits, biological imperatives, and even a sprinkling or two of environmental factors. I continue to insist that we should more closely examine the psychological and psychic results of thousands of years of scorn and abuse against homosexuals before judging too harshly their proclivities toward promiscuity and other demeaning behaviors. It almost seems a form of self-punishment, don’t you think? Besides, there’s a reason for every human behavior, and determining that reason is key to eliminating, changing or modifying it.

      And yes, my choice of words was deliberate. That includes my use of “penetrating” in the opening sentence. I just can’t help myself…

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  4. I bet those are lively sessions at the library; I’ve seen you work. Reading aloud always was a priority almost every night and a cherished memory when my kids were growing up, even into their pre teen years. All the “Little House” books, all the “Chronicles of Narnia”, The Hobbit, even some Dickens, etc. Good times and I’m sure you are terrific at it.

    Thanks, again, for inserting some deep thought into the subject and for addressing these issues through the back door (as it were) from my position. You always make me think and smile, which, when we all can get way too serious, is of great value. To think and smile at the same time isn’t a bad way to go.

    I’ve had the good fortune to work with some very talented gay folks, mostly sales people and designers. I liked and respected them and their contributions. Theirs can be a difficult path, but far less tortuous than it once was. I support civil unions, but draw the line on redefining several millennia’s worth of the understanding about the meaning of marriage as one man/one woman – not to mention the clear scriptural definition and admonitions against homosexual practice. They are not ambiguous. The form and function of “marriage” carries theological as well as civil connotations and weight. The religious sensibilites of others need to be respected as well.

    Full legal rights and protections should be a given for all – gay, straight, married, single or any permutation thereof, but neither should religious organizations be condemned for not conferring their blessing on that which is against all their principles and beliefs. The road that Canada has embarked upon to prosecute (and persecute) any voicing of ancient teachings and scripture as “hate speech” is a scary ride. The scorn (not to mention vandalism) being heaped on religious organizations and private businesses (e.g. Chick fil A) for living their values is also extremely troubling. Why can’t we discuss, articulate our differences and agree to disagree where we disagree civilly as well as agreeing where we can, as you and I seem able to do?

    If flamboyant, deliberately provocative, gay pride parades are to be countenanced by those who may take issue with the sentiments and choices (and they need to be countenanced as expressions of free speech in this country), why is it considered unacceptable for those who deviate from contemporary politically correct positions to express that disagreement? The intolerance from those who allegedly espouse tolerance as an overruling good is just one of the profound ironies we encounter in this discussion.

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