When W Meets Science …

… science always loses.

More Scientific Sleight of Hand
William Fisher

NEW YORK, Nov 24 (IPS) – Most abstinence-until-marriage education programmes in the United States — which receive about 158 million dollars annually from the Department of Health and Human Services — are not reviewed for scientific accuracy before they are granted funding, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office released this week.

“Efforts by HHS and states to assess the scientific accuracy of materials used in abstinence-until-marriage education programmes have been limited,” the GAO report states.

“This is because HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) — which awards grants to two programmes that account for the largest portion of federal spending on abstinence-until-marriage education — does not review its grantees’ education materials for scientific accuracy and does not require grantees of either programme to review their own materials for scientific accuracy.”

GAO auditors contacted 10 states that receive funding from ACF for their abstinence-until-marriage programmes. It found that only half reviewed the programmes for scientifically accurate data on contraception, sexually transmitted infections and other information.

The report also found that most state and federal efforts to assess the effectiveness of abstinence-until-marriage education programmes “do not meet the minimum scientific standards” that experts say are necessary to be scientifically valid.

The GAO report is the latest in a multi-year series of findings that the administration of President George W. Bush has systematically manipulated science to comply with ideology.

On the subject of abstinence education, the administration changed sex education performance measures to produce the appearance that scientific evidence supports abstinence-only programmes.

Pres. Bush has consistently supported the view that sex education should teach “abstinence only” and not include information on other ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Until recently, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) initiative called “Programmes That Work” identified sex education programmes that have been found to be effective in scientific studies and provided this information through its web site.

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