RIGHT REASONING: Checking Questionable Claims (Or, Proving ‘Richard’ Wrong — Again!)

As I constantly try to explain, there are rules for how to properly think our way through things.  In my continuing efforts to help others learn these rules, I am going to continue to use the caller known as ‘Richard’ on Steve Nichols Morning Drive talk radio show as a learning opportunity to teach that just that keeps on giving.  In this case, I am going to use a message ‘Richard’ sent to one of Steve’s listeners to demonstrate why we shouldn’t just accept what people tell us — especially when they do not provide any sources to support their assertions.  However, before we begin, I would like to let Steve’s listeners know that I checked with Steve to make sure he was OK with me writing this post before I wrote it.  Contrary to him saying otherwise, I consider the risk of violence from ‘Richard’ to be very real and I do not want to place others in danger without first consulting with them (and yes, I am serious about this — and I have good reason to be).  So, with that said, here is the message from ‘Richard’ that was shared with me:

Hi [name redacted]. This is in response to your comment on my comment that sex education reduces abortion. You said that abstinence and morals decreases abortions. What you advocate with regard to sex education was the way it was before 1930. The abortion numbers were around 1.5 to 2 million per year between 1890 and 1930. That’s an abortion rate 320 percent higher than the current one if you factor in the population. There’s nothing wrong with teaching abstinence but if you teach that alone, the number of abortions could triple based on historical evidence. During that time between 1890 and 1930 they also had protestant prayer in the public schools. People still had sex but were uneducated about it resulting in a super large number of pregnancies and termination of them. Abortion was illegal then too resulting in from 1 to 1.5 million deaths of women from self performed and back ally abortions yearly. Would you want to go back to all that? I didn’t mean to suggest that prayer in school caused people to have sex and get pregnant but there’s no evidence that it ever prevented it. The abortion rate has been going down since 1930 and the number of them performed per year since 1990. Also the annual rate of women dying from abortion is down 93 percent since 1973. If you care about human life, why would you ever ever want to go back to the past? Always enjoy chatting with [name redacted] and hearing you on the radio. Enjoy your weekend and I know you like myself will be praying for the people in the Carolinas. [sic]

OK, whenever you encounter a claim like this, the first thing you should do is look for some sort of citation telling you where you can find the data used to support the claims being made.  In this case, that claim is that there were 1.5 – 2 million annual abortions from 1898 through 1930.  If this citation is not provided, that is usually a good indication that you should be suspicious.  Therefore, in cases such as this one — where the citation is not offered — it is unwise to accept anything that is said until after you check to see if it is true.  I have done this.  I have spent the past few days looking for the Data  ‘Richard’ supposedly used to support the claims he made in this message.  Guess what I discovered?  I discovered that ‘Richard’ is not telling people the truth.  Here is how I know I can safely say this:

First, simple reason should tell us that there is something wrong with ‘Richards’ claims.  Before 1970, abortion was illegal in this country.  This means that it is unlikely that there will be any official data on the number of abortions — legal or otherwise — before 1970.  It would be like looking for official records on the number of times people bought illegal drugs every year.  The best you could do is make an estimate, and, just like drug use, there is no real baseline by which to establish anything more than a guess about how many abortions there might have been before 1970.  This was enough for me to be suspicious of ‘Richard’s’ claim from the start, but I know better than to stop there.  I wanted to look deeper.

Let’s start by remembering what ‘Richard’ said:

The abortion numbers were around 1.5 to 2 million per year between 1890 and 1930. That’s an abortion rate 320 percent higher than the current one if you factor in the population.

I checked for his data.  I found a consistent trend in the sources listed on the first 2 pages of my Google search.  This is the easiest of those sources I found for the laymen to understand (this includes me):

Historical abortion statistics, United States

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 23 February 2017

According to this source, the total number of reported (i.e. known) abortions in the United States between 1898 and 1930 was 10!  Not 10 million, not 1.5 – 2 million per year: 10!  There are only 10 known abortions in the 42 years ‘Richard’ cites! Before I do the math for you, remember: ‘Richard’ said:

That’s an abortion rate 320 percent higher than the current one if you factor in the population.

Well, the math says differently.  In fact, if we assume that the ration of men to women in 1930 was 1:1 (a generous assumption in this case that actually helps ‘Richard’s’ claim), then there were 0.000032 abortions per 1000 women in 1930.  [I used the U.S. Census data from 1930 to make this calculation]. According to the information in the link I provided above, in 2017, the abortion rate was 14.6 per 1000 women.  Now, my math is a little rusty, but I think this is something on the order of a 45,624,900% increase in the rate of abortion since 1930!!!*  Let me say that again;

The actual data on known abortions in the U.S. shows a 45,624,900% increase in abortions since 1930.*

If we want to, we can stop right here and dismiss everything else ‘Richard’ has to say in his message to Steve’s listener.  We have just shown that he is wildly incorrect about his primary claim, therefore, we have no reason to believe anything else he has to say will be correct.  No, this does not mean he is wrong, or that this one mistake makes the rest of what he has to say wrong.  Making those assumptions would be a fallacy.  No, as an evaluation of ‘Richard’s’ character, we would be justified if we dismissed all his other claims.  But we’re not going to stop here.  We are going to address two more claims in ‘Richard’s’ message.  ‘Richard’ also said:

During that time between 1890 and 1930 they also had protestant prayer in the public schools. People still had sex but were uneducated about it resulting in a super large number of pregnancies and termination of them. Abortion was illegal then too resulting in from 1 to 1.5 million deaths of women from self performed and back ally abortions yearly.

Remember, we have just demonstrated that there were 10 total abortions in the 42 year period ‘Richard’ addresses.  Now let’s look at the claim there were 1 – 1.5 million deaths due to failed abortions every year during this same period.  In order for there to have been 1 – 1.5 million deaths per year because of bad abortion attempts during this same period, it would mean that there was 1 death due to a failed abortion attempt for every two to three  woman who actually delivered a baby.  That is 1/4 to 1/3 of all women who got pregnant every year.  This number not only defies reason, I couldn’t find a single link that provided any data to support this claim.  But there is more.  According to the data we do have on known abortions in this time period, ‘Richard’s’ claim about the number of women who died due to failed abortions would mean that — statistically speaking — 100% of all attempted abortions failed!  ‘Statistically speaking’, this is impossible!

Finally, in regard to the affect of prayer in school, ‘Richard’ says this:

I didn’t mean to suggest that prayer in school caused people to have sex and get pregnant but there’s no evidence that it ever prevented it.

Well, just do some quick Googling here and you will find data such as this:

A. Young People

1. For 15 years before 1963 pregnancies in girls ages 15 through 19 years had been no more than 15 per thousand After 1963 pregnancies increased 187% in the next 15 years.

2. For younger girls, ages 10 to 14 years, pregnancies since 1963 are up 553%.

3. Before 1963 sexually transmitted diseases among students were 400 per 100,000. Since 1963, they were up 226% in the next 12 years.

You will also find this information (the information in this post will really surprise most readers):

RIGHT REASONING: How To Decide Which Side To Believe When You Don’t Have The Facts?

In the science of Sociology, the information presented in these last two links is said to show a ‘correlation.’  This means there is a connection of some sort between two or more observations.  In this case, those observations would be the end of school prayer and the increase of teenage pregnancy and the spread of STD’s among school-age children.  In most every case where the correlation is as strong as it is in these links, it is said to be ‘causal,’ which means that one observation causes another.  In this case, that means the information I just presented shows that the removal of school prayer is at least partially to blame for the increase in teen pregnancy and STD’s.  This directly contradicts ‘Richard’s’ claim.

We have now demonstrated that ‘Richard’ is wrong about three of the claims he made in his message to Steve’s listener.  But he is also wrong about his assertion that we are more moral today than in the past.  If a decrease in abortion is used as a measure of increased morality, then we are on the magnitude of hundreds of thousands of times less moral than we were in the period from 1898 to 1930.  Furthermore, the data does — in fact — suggest that the removal of prayer from our schools is directly linked to the increase in teenage pregnancy and STD rates.  That would be evidence to support the Founders’ assertions that morality is directly tied to religion.  Since the data on religiosity in America shows a steady decline, that is still further indication that we are becoming less moral as a society over time.

Now, before I add an aside to this post, let me predict what ‘Richard’ will do in response to this post.  If he reads it, ‘Richard’ will most likely respond by attacking me, as well as Dr. Barton.  If he addresses the data I have presented, he will dismiss it.  However, it is most likely that he will ignore it all together. Instead of trying to deal with the reality of the numbers, he will try to destroy the character of the people presenting it (i.e. me and/or Dr. Barton).  This is the fallacy of ad hominem attack, also known as ‘against the man.’

 

A SHORT ASIDE:

‘Richard’ is correct in pointing out the fact that there has been a decline in abortions in recent years.  However, if you look into this, you will find there is no ‘consensus’ as to why this is happening.  they will look at the availability of free abortion clinics.  they will suggest it is connected to easier access to birth control.  they even credit sex education for the decrease.  Well, there are several other very likely ‘culprits’ that no one has addressed — because they do not fit the PC narrative.  This is where my Sociology degree actually has served me well.

Over the last couple decades, the people who would normally have abortions have been having fewer children.  This is connected to the phenomenon we call ‘the me generation.’  In short, people are too self-focused to want to be bothered raising children, so they have been taking precautions to prevent pregnancy.  On the surface, this would appear to be connected to better access of contraception and sex education, but that explanation ignores the fact that, because of this trend, over several generations, the number of younger women goes down.  Now think about it.  If you have fewer women total, then you are going to have fewer abortions.  Now, admittedly, this is why we use ratios, but the problem there is that the socio-economic status of the women in question is not addressed.  In short, the yuppies selfish lifestyles throw off the numbers because it is not accounted for — especially in regards to this next observation.

Sine the 1990’s, the legal and illegal immigrants coming to this country have primarily come from parts of the world where abortion is a taboo!  For those coming from Central and South America, their Catholic influences lead to increased birth rates and almost no abortions.  The same applies to the influx of Muslims over the last decade.  Islam encourages Muslims to have many children and frowns on abortion.  This, combined with the fact that younger women have been shying away from having children makes for a statistical mess.  And that is because the vast majority of the people studying the abortion figures never even consider the things I just mentioned.  I know.  I read some of the abstracts in the studies I looked at before i wrote this post (abstracts are the technical details behind a study — the type of stuff that makes the average person’s eyes bleed and head explode).

Still, as I always tell my readers, you are free to dismiss me.  It does not matter.  You have to decide what you will believe for yourself — and why.  But I know that, if the reader follows behind me, they will find I have not falsely presented any of this material, and that is because i don’t have to.  🙂

 

ADDITIONAL READING:

UNDERSTANDING THE CONSTITUTION: STOP IT! Abortion is NOT and Has NEVER Been a “Constitutional Right!”

Roe v. Wade is not only bad law, it is flt-out unconstitutional and the Supreme Court knew it — still knows it.  Just read that link.  The founders considered it murder to cause the death of a child after the point of the quickening.  In their day, this was usually the first point where a woman knew she was actually pregnant, so…  From the time that it could be known a woman was pregnant, the child was protected by law!  What’s more, I have never encountered a definition of ‘human‘ that excludes the unborn child that I could not also break.  If the reader wants to try, feel free, but be prepared to have your argument broken.  That said, please, do not read this challenge or my words as an attack or judgment upon anyone who has had an abortion.  Personally, I believe there are two victims in every abortion: the child and his or her mother. 😦

 

* I mean it when I say I may have done the math wrong on this one.  The rate of abortions in 1930 would have been 0.000032 per 1000 women (61388500 women divided into the 2 known abortions, then multiplied by 100 known abortions to get the number of abortions per 1000 women).  In 2017, it was 14.6 per 1000 women.  I then performed the calculations according to this link to arrive at an increase of 45,624,900%!  Again, my math is rusty, and I know I could be wrong, but only by a decimal place or two.  Either way, the increase is huge, and it is not favorable to ‘Richard’s’ claims.

 

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