Bleats

Abstinence Only Education Works Great As Long As You Want Young People Having Loads Of Pregnancies, STIs And Backdoor Action

In other news: water remains wet, sun still hot.

Sex education in most places is pretty lousy and could stand to be massively improved, not least since certain places seem to leave this rather important matter to a combination of churches and porn. Which, it has to be said, are not selling the same message.

Nowhere is this more true that the United States, where the predominant form of sex ed is in the form of abstinence-only education, teaching kids that sex should only happen between married people. Married to one another, we assume, although the president might have different views on that.

Isn’t that right, Ms Daniels?

Anyway: for a long time sex educators have been arguing that telling young people not to have sex isn’t nearly as useful as telling them about how to have safe, respectful, consensual sex with adequate precautions. However, that all sounds like a lot of work.

And now a twenty year meta-analysis (ie: a study that bundles up all the existing research and sees what the overall result is) has found that telling people not to have sex is a remarkably successful – provided that what you want to achieve is to have kids getting pregnant, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and having anal sex in the belief that it doesn’t count as sex.

The report is in the American Journal of Public Health, entitled Funding for Abstinence-Only Education and Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention: Does State Ideology Affect Outcomes?. And not to give the ending away, but: yes, it does.

The findings are predictable: abstinence-only education has been found to have zero effect in reducing pregnancies or reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, since it turns out that kids that don’t know how to do sex safely end up doing it unsafely.

Along with this, making “virginity pledges” to keep one’s genitals unsullied are also popular in the conservative regions where abstinence only education is the norm.

And the upshot is that straight horned-up teens engage in higher levels of non-penis-in-vagina action, with higher rates of oral and anal sex since that’s not specifically outlawed. Garfunkel and Oates did an especially brilliant (and very filthy) song in its honour. Absolutely in no way safe for work, by the way:

And that song’s ready for a renaissance since, as ScienceAlert pointed out, “Not only has the Trump administration proposed an additional $277 million in abstinence-only education, they recently cut more than $200 million to adolescent pregnancy-prevention programs.”

So that’s nifty.

And sure, if science and research and evidence hasn’t done the job of changing policy yet this study isn’t about to suddenly do so. But for those of us a bit more into doing smart things that help people, it’s good to know.

The Naturopathy Insurance Rebate Is Being Removed From April Because It's Fake Medicine

Mind you, real medicine, you can stop looking so goddamn smug and start doing a better job.

Here’s the short version, friends: your private health insurance will shortly no longer feature claimable naturopathic treatments, and the reason is because they don’t work.

That’s not just a snide slam against alternative medicine by a smug middle class science dude, to be clear. That’s the opinion of the Office of the National Health and Medical Research and the government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley.

He was tasked with the job of assessing whether or not a swathe of alternative medical practices were clinically beneficial and therefore worthy of being subsidised by the government under the private insurance rebate.

And the answer was “nup”.

Now, before we get into a furious debate about how aromatherapy has absolutely fixed mum’s joint pain, let’s make clear that just because something makes us feel better doesn’t necessarily mean it’s actually addressing a medical problem.

That’s because loads of things make us feel better.

Relaxing is a big one. Being massaged is hugely comforting (humans literally develop mental illness if they’re not touched enough: it’s got the creepy-as-hell name “skin hunger”, and it’s a real thing).

Heck, I can confirm that drinking a lot of gin does wonders for toothache, and that it also has zero therapeutic dental benefit the following morning.

Sure, but the dentist is all the way down the road…

And naturopathy has a lot of very comforting elements to it, especially compared with the alternative of seeing a harried, stressed out GP trying to get through a bunch of patients.

But here’s the thing about naturopathy: it’s more a faith tradition than a form of medicine, and when it’s subjected to the sorts of objective testing that medicine is subjected to, those benefits vanish. And that’s why the government have decided not to support it anymore.

That, and to save money. It’s the government, after all.

At best, it’s a placebo, which is fine. Symptom relief is obviously valuable.

But at worst alternative medicine can be actively harmful – not least because people often waste valuable time pursuing magical cures instead of going with absolutely-horrible-but-successful medical procedures like chemotherapy.

Indeed, Steve Jobs reportedly thought that he might have survived had he not spent time attacking his pancreatic cancer with juice and acupuncture instead of medicine and surgery.

Pictured: not medicine.

It’s also worth pointing out that this will disproportionately affect women, since females have historically sought out alternative medicine at a much higher rate than males. And before you conclude it’s because dames don’t do science, it’s for a really sensible and damning reason: medicine is notoriously terrible at treating female patients.

Drug trials are almost exclusively done in the US on young, college age men and there’s a growing body of evidence that drugs tested on men don’t work as well for women, especially painkillers. And that’s a huge problem because the male-dominated medical profession have historically not taken female pain seriously.

OK, Lori Petty, bad example.

So it’s hardly a surprise that women are more likely to go “well, I could go see the condescending dickhead who prescribes me drugs which don’t work, or I could go see someone who takes me seriously.”

Unfortunately that person is prescribing stuff which either hasn’t been clinically proven to work or has been clinically proven not to work, so it’s a lose-lose.

What’s the answer? Well, a better funded public health system which was more actively welcoming to women would be a great start.

In the meantime, you’ve got until April to get your wellness rebates in.

Breakfast Is A Filthy Lie Invented By The Cereal Companies, No Matter What Your Mum Says

Also, cereal was invented to stop you having a… um, downstairs fiddle.

Corporate money in research is a tricky thing. On the one hand, it shouldn’t necessarily prevent the research being taken seriously.

On the other, it has a curious history of conveniently dovetailing with the claims made by the company’s media department more often than not.

If you’ve been stuffing yourself in the morning under the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then we have some bad news for you. It’s not. And what’s more, it might even be enfattening you in the bargain.

Good instincts, Goslo.

It turns out that the idea that skipping breakfast is bad for your health and even leads to weight gain is, it appears, an invention of cereal companies.

One damning piece of evidence is that once you eliminate corporate studies from the research into health risks associated with skipping breakfast then it turns out there’s basically no support for the claim left at all.

More specifically, the British Medical Journal has just published a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials into skipping breakfast vs not, and found “no evidence to support the notion that breakfast consumption promotes weight loss or that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain” and concluded that “This study suggests that the addition of breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss, regardless of established breakfast habit.”

Honestly, we should have guessed when the industry adopted Fraudsy, the Fake Research Nightmare Clown as their mascot.

It’s not the first time that the cereal makers have been involved in dubious scientific claims, mind. John Harvey Kellogg, the man who invented Corn Flakes, did so as a way of discouraging masturbation because that totally makes sense.

It’s worth making clear that Kellog wasn’t just anti-masturbation: he was anti sex full stop, including within marriage (he remained celibate himself, which may not have thrilled his wife). Reportedly he believed that wanking put one at risk of “leprosy, tuberculosis, heart disease, epilepsy, dimness of vision, insanity, idiocy, and death” – but it was still not as bad as sex, which he called “the ultimate abomination”.

He didn’t, however, create the Kellogg cereal company: that was the work of his brother Will, who also made his brother’s awful-tasting breakfast food-slash-orgasm-denial-meal edible by stuffing it full of sugar, much to JHK’s displeasure. Hey, isn’t learning fun?

Just for the record, cornflakes do absolutely nothing to prevent or decrease interest in masturbation. Unless you crunch them up in your fist first, maybe?

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