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crypto and public policy

Winning Elections and the Truth

Filed under: Policy — December 17, 2004 @ 11:50 am

I said I wouldn’t be too political, and I’m trying to keep it that way. But sometimes, you have to say a few things about facts, science, and this all-too-elusive thing we call Truth.

The current administration has long had a difficult relationship with the truth. Not everything can be interpreted as fact, of course, and many things are open to interpretation, so one should be careful with that word – Truth. But some things are facts. Some things are undeniable. Some things are simply true and some other things are simply untrue. And just because you win an election doesn’t mean you are a source of truths.

Take the recent study of abstinence programs in the US (CNN article, PDF report). These programs are making a number of amazing claims:

  • CLAIM 1: condoms are 31% ineffective against HIV transmission. In fact, they are less than perfectly effective less than 2% of the time, and that statistic was obtained under worse-case scenario testing.
  • CLAIM 2: 5-10% of women who have abortions become sterile. Others have risk of having children with mental retardation. This is completely bogus. In fact, there is no increased risk at all.
  • CLAIM 3: HIV can be transmitted through sweat or tears. This is completely untrue according to the CDC (even Bush’s CDC).
  • CLAIM 4: mutual masturbation can lead to pregnancy. Yes, it’s okay to laugh.

And the scary thing is, when Dr. Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader and licensed medical doctor, is asked about the HIV sweat-and-tears claim, he dodges the question, saying only it would be “really difficult” for transmission to occur this way. That is criminal behavior. Misinformation of this kind, when it has been known for 15 years that such transmission is impossible, should result in the AMA revoking Mr. Frist’s license.

But it’s not going to stop here. Today, Zell Miller congratulated the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth for taking “a lot of undeserved criticism for daring to speak the truth.” Someone should ask when it was proven that the Swift Boat Veterans told the truth? The Navy report into the issue discredited their claims. No new report has been issued since. So why the celebration?

Well, according to Swift Boat Vets, they “accomplished their mission,” which was to “ensure that John Kerry didn’t become commander in chief.” So it seems the truth was never really their concern. The Navy report dismissed their claims, but at least John Kerry didn’t get elected. Truth plays no part in their goals, even though the word “Truth” features prominently in their association’s name.

As for why Zell Miller is congratulating them, I suppose it’s because he and other Republicans think Bush’s election means they were right. That’s the sad state of affairs today. We have an administration who believes that, because they were elected, their opinions are inherently truths.

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