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June 20, 2005

Chastity pledge study deliberately flawed

From The Heritage Foundation:

For more than a decade, organizations such as True Love Waits have encouraged young people to abstain from sexual activity. As part of these programs, young people are encouraged to take a verbal or written pledge to abstain from sex until marriage.

A recent article by professors Peter Bearman and Hanna Bruckner in the Journal of Adolescent Health claimed that, when they reach young adult years, adolescents who made virginity pledges were as likely to have sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), as were those who never made a pledge.

The MSM covered Bearman and Bruckner's report like flies on rotted meat. The trouble is, they took the scam artists at face value.

Examination of the Bearman and Bruckner article reveals that the methods employed have serious limitations. For example, the methods used to assess the impact of virginity pledges on STD’s also demonstrate that condom use has no effect in reducing STD’s. This peculiar result underscores the problematic nature of their analysis....

Our analysis shows that with four of the five STD measures examined, virginity pledging predicts lower STD rates among young adults with statistical significance at the 95 percent confidence level or better. With the fifth STD measure, virginity pledging was found to predict lower STD rates at the 90 percent confidence level. (This fifth STD measure was the one employed by Bearman and Bruckner: evidence of any of three STD’s in urine samples.)...

Given the aggressive claims of the press and anti-abstinence groups, many will be surprised to find that the Add Health survey data used by Bearman and Bruckner actually show that pledgers have noticeably lower STD infection rates than do non-pledgers. Male pledgers have an infection rate 30 percent lower than non-pledgers (4.2 percent to 6.1 percent.) Female pledgers have an infection rate some 15 percent lower than non-pledgers (6.7 percent to 7.8 percent.) These differences are roughly in line with what might be expected given that the behavioral differences between the two groups have attenuated by young adulthood....

If pledgers and non-pledgers truly had identical rates of STD infection, one would expect to see a wider variation in outcomes across various STD measures; some STD measures would probably show the pledgers had higher disease rates; others would show the STD rates of pledgers and non-pledgers to be nearly identical, and other measures would show pledgers to have lower rates. The Add Health data clearly do not show this pattern; all five STD measures show that pledgers have lower STD rates. The only real difference between the five STD measures is that four show the relationship between pledging and reduced STD’s is significant at the 95 to 99 percent confidence levels while the fifth measure shows significance at a 90 percent confidence. This seems to build a prima facie case that virginity pledgers do have lower STD rates in their young adult years despite the fact that many years may have elapsed since they took their pledges....

One thing in the Bearman/Bruckner scam that the MSM “conveniently” forgot to mention was that the same exact comparison between “pledgers” and “non-pledgers” in relationship to occurrences of STD, exists between those who use condoms, and those who don't. Wonder why they didn't also blow their trumpets about that?

Posted by Danny Carlton at June 20, 2005 07:31 AM

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