Simon Says, the Pope Distorts Science

In condemning the Pope’s public statements about condoms, scientists have been guided not by facts but by popular ideology.

The Lancet blows a gasket, and the BBC is on the story:

One of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, the Lancet, has accused Pope Benedict XVI of distorting science in his remarks on condom use. It said the Pope’s recent comments that condoms exacerbated the problem of HIV/AIDS were wildly inaccurate and could have devastating consequences.

Sounds serious. These are spectacled men in white lab coats, right? They hold test-tubes and appear with Erlenmeyer flasks beside them. It behooves us to pay attention:

But the London-based Lancet said the Pope had “publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue.” It said the male latex condom was the single most efficient way to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS. “Whether the Pope’s error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear,” said the journal.

See if I’ve got this right. The “male latex condom is the single most efficient way to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS.” Solid. That means Science is telling me that, if my son’s an HIV-negative abstinent virgin, he positively REDUCES his risk of AIDS infection by abandoning abstinence and engaging in passive sexual relations with some gork who’s outfitted with a condom. Well, that’s what the man says, isn’t it?

Not Science but Advocacy

We can all relax. The Lancet’s assault on the Pope has little to do with medicine and nothing whatever to do with science. It belongs to the field of public health advocacy, which is a joke discipline, exercised exclusively for the amusement and flattery of social elites.

Think about it for a minute. The District of Columbia still requires couples applying for a marriage license to undergo the humiliation of a blood test for syphilis. Why? Because at one time the jokers considered syphilis a public health problem. So why don’t they test for HIV? Because that test would cause offense to gay activists, which defeats the whole purpose of public health advocacy. It’s not that there’s no concern for disease transmission among public health advocates, but any such concern is dwarfed by the reason for their existence: the project of fortifying the sexual esteem of their betters.

Some of us can remember when AIDS was not yet a problem, back when the public health game was to get all young women on the Pill—ostensibly to reduce pregnancy, in reality to justify the emancipated sexuality of the advocates. In that period Science (i.e., spectacled men in white lab coats grasping Erlenmeyer flasks) was droning on about the high failure rate of the condom. Condoms were ridiculed by public health advocates as a crude, backwoodsy expedient that only the naive or the unscrupulous would employ. Has the science changed in the meantime? No, only the terms of flattering the People Who Count.

Take a look at the persons who really care, as opposed to persons for whom “caring” is an ideological posture. Mother Teresa’s nuns have been running AIDS hospices in Manhattan, San Francisco, and elsewhere since the 1980s. The caregivers are nuns who come mostly from third world backgrounds; their patients come mostly from first world cities. The nuns are chaste and healthy; yet it’s their patients, not they, who came of age surrounded by free condoms, sex ed, and the full force of the public health propaganda machine. If the Lancet were right it should be the other way around: the little sisters would be wasting on the cots and the Manhattanites would be tending to them. Can’t help but think that what the Lancet calls the “Pope’s error” is a very felix culpa.