Flynnine Brilliance from Mike Flynn

From the irreplaceable pen of the irrepressible Mike Flynn, venerable Boy Genius, a charming man, and one of the people to whom I will grant Way Cool Mind Powers (including clairgustatory sense)  to rule the Earth in my name once I unravel the mystery of the Dimensional Omnihedron.

Here is an article on lies, damned lies, statistics, and government mandates, with the emphasis on statistics.

If you like his essay, go out immediately and buy nine copies of IN THE LION’S MOUTH as a Valentine’s Day gift for any veterinarian dentists working on leonine dentistry.

here is one money quote:

This power grab was evidently made not so much to control the birth of untermenschen as to assert the Executive’s authority to order private citizens to buy Stuff the Executive thinks is Really Kool.  (cf. Obamacare wrt buying insurance).  It has nothing to do with whether contraceptives are a good idea; nor with whether they are legal, nor with whether lots of people want them.  It does have to do with the Omnicompetent State instructing a religious body as to which of its activities are “truly” religious and which are not.  That is explicitly forbidden by the First Amendment to do so.  As Jefferson said, “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

But this president said, long before his election, that the Constitution was an “obstacle” to doing the right thing and has on more than one occasion expressed the wistful desire to rule by decree – though quickly backing off after doing so.  And after worrisome applause by his audience.  The appeal of fascism did not die with the 1920s and 30s.

Now, the old encyclical Humanae Vitae warned of four trends that would result from freely available contraception.  These can easily be seen as raving delusions of a “slippery slope.”  He predicted:

  • a general lowering of moral standards throughout society;
  • a rise in infidelity;
  • a lessening of respect for women by men; and
  • the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.

As you can see, none of these…  Er, um…

And here is another:

A basic rule of statistical inference is that the conclusions of a sample apply only to the population from which the sample came.  If the Literary Digest sampled only telephone owners, a legitimate conclusion cannot be drawn about all voters, only those who have telephones.  If a survey covered only left-handed Iowans, no conclusion can be drawn about right-handed Michiganders.  Get the picture?

Now, one meme that has been repeated in the current foo-foo is that “98% of Catholic women use contraceptives.”  How this obligates the Catholic church to pay for them is unknown, since Church dogma is not determined by popular vote, but by either revelation or (as in this case) natural reason.  Since the Church has been described as “a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints,” we would expect that there are many at least nominal members who do not adhere to the moral law.  I know I haven’t.  I bet 98% have pilfered office supplies from their place of work, too; but that does not suggest the government should mandate the underwriting of kleptomania.

However, the 98% figure is bogus.  It comes from Figure 3 in a Guttmacher Institute study of the kinds of contraceptives women choose.  Now, the mission of the Guttmacher Institute is to propagandize the use of contraceptives, and their studies should be viewed in that light.  However, this particular study, though statistically primitive, does not itself make the claim attributed to it by the statistically illiterate. 

The 98% seems suspicious.  What of the elderly?  What about nuns?  What about the proverbially fertile Catholic mother?  Do they comprise only 2% of the Church?
Remember what we said that the results of sample S can only be projected onto the population P from which it was randomly selected?  Ignore for a moment the issues related to methodology, randomness, etc.  What was their population? 

We discover that the study was restricted to “women at risk for unintended pregnancy.” [emph. added].  They defined this group as those:

  • aged 15-44
  • who were “sexually active” in the three months prior to the survey
  • but were not pregnant, postpartum or trying to get pregnant
Fits Guttmacher profile

IOW, it excluded any woman participating in the Darwinian effort to colonize the future.  Excluded are Catholic women who are married, trying to have a baby (or at least open to the possibility), nuns and other virgins, and any woman older than 44 years or younger than 15.  This may actually exclude a fair number of “Catholic women” from the population.

So the study tells us only that 98% of women of child-bearing age who want to have sex without having babies use some form of birth control.  That qualifies as a sort of “d’uh” moment.

(Remember, Guttmacher focused on this group because their interest was centered on which form of birth control different groups used.  It was not they who made the unwarranted inference to “all Catholic women.”) 

BTW, you will notice the criteria also excludes anyone sexually active in the preceding three months, using contraception, but who became pregnant anyway.  That would be an interesting number.