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Pyle: Study of lesbians' kids shows weakness – of research
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"I could prove God statistically." — George Gallup

The text for today's sermon is from the Book of Adams (Douglas), the Parable of the Babel Fish.

As explained in the wonderful "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," a Babel fish is a tiny yellow thing that eats and excretes brainwaves.

Stick one in your ear, and the fish will consume the brainwaves of any sentient creature nearby and give off brainwaves that just happen to be in tune with the language of the person whose ear it is inhabiting at the moment. So it translates any language in the universe into any other language in the universe.

Such a useful creature could not possibly have evolved by accident, so its existence in turn proves the existence of God. But because God only exists in the presence of faith, the opposite of proof, this slam-dunk proof of God's existence caused Him to cease to exist. Poof.

Hey, it's just a parable. But it does show why people who want society to abide by the tenets of their faith should beware using scientific evidence to buoy their arguments.

For example. A new study from a bloke named Douglas Allen suggests that children raised by same-sex parents are worse off than children raised by opposite-sex parents.

It's just about families in Canada, where there is a lot of data about households headed by same-sex couples. And it's only about the rate at which the children of such households graduate from high school.

Which, according to Allen, plummets for the children of such households, and is particularly bad for girls raised with lesbian parents. Such unfortunates, he concludes, are 65 percent less likely to graduate from high school than are girls raised in intact "traditional" families.

This has been seized upon by those who are very nervous about the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage as proof that it can harm innocent children.

Except. There are no Canadian children old enough to have graduated from high school who have lived their entire lives in a household headed by two women — or two men — who are married to each other. Same-sex marriage has only been legal in Canada since 2005.

Compare the graduation success of children raised in cohabitating opposite-sex households to those raised in same-sex households, and the difference all but evaporates. Come back in 20 years, when a significant cohort of children of same-sex households have been raised in unions cemented by marriage, and we'll talk.

Or maybe we won't. Since when do we base our acceptance of other people on statistical models?

Blacks drop out of high school at higher rates than whites. Hispanics drop out at higher rates than blacks. So do we just stop trying to educate blacks or Hispanics? Do we try to prohibit blacks and Hispanics from reproducing, in marriage or out?

Statistically, any crime reported is likely to have been committed by an unmarried male. And the people we are frightened of enough to imprison are much more likely to be black, compared to their percentage of the overall population, than white. What useful information does that give you about the black dude on the bus, the one without a wedding ring? Utterly none.

Many people used to believe — probably based on personal experience, if not empirical data — that marriages arranged by parents work out better than those where foolish young people are allowed to decide for themselves who they will marry. So why has that practice fallen out of favor?

Simple human decency — which, more than statistics, should be the basis for any religious or ethical standard — no longer allows such demeaning and judgemental behavior.

The universal acceptance of same-sex marriage, at least in Western Civilization, is just a matter of a staggeringly short time. But, as it is written on the cover of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," in large, friendly letters, "Don't panic."

George Pyle, a Tribune editorial writer, may have made the above argument just because he is bad at math.

gpyle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @debatestate

Facebook: facebook.com/stateofthedebate

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