Monday, June 23, 2008

The Gloucester Myth

The Gloucester Pregnancy Pact story shows how difficult it is to separate myth from fact. Kathleen Kingsbury of Time Magazine wrote an article claiming that some of the 17 pregnant teens at Gloucester High School did so intentionally as part of a strange pregnancy pact.

The girls now deny that anyone would have done such a silly thing. It is possible that Kathleen Kingsbury did a poor job researching her story. Perhaps the pact was real but the girls, not wanting to appear silly, changed their story.

There is even a chance that parents, priests or teachers manipulated the girls into telling a different tale.

The Gloucester Teen Pregnancy Pact is now a myth. The existence or extent of such a pact is unknown.

The fact that it is a myth does not mean people can't talk about the issue.

If discussions about the pregnancy pact caused some teens to put off experimentation with sex, then the myth did a good thing. Reasoned reactions to the myth are not invalid simply because the factual basis of the myth is in question.

People surfing the internet should be wary of downloading programs that might be a Trojan Horse for spyware even though there is no evidence that Troy existed.

The story occurred while I was researching the rise of reason in Ancient Greece. For me this story provides a good example of the interplay of myth and reason. Good ideas drawn from myth are not invalid.

Reasoning is not invalid simply because one doesn't have all the facts upfront. Reasoning, after all, is a method to overcome lack of knowledge.

Regardless of the brand of stupidity that led to the baby boom at Gloucester High School. The fact is that there are 17 babies that were produced through a faulty reasoning process.

Speaking of myth, the modern myth is that marriage is about delirious happiness that magically follows meeting one's significant other. The leftist myth continues with the belief that traditional Christian society preference for monogamous heterosexual marriage is the result of ignorant hatred of different people.

I believe the Christian preference for marriage is a direct result of a high esteem for reason. Christian societies thought that the process of bringing children into the world was such an important decision that they demanded a rigorous deliberative process. People who want children are to suffer through a horrifically imperfect thing called marriage.

The stigma for out of wedlock birth was driven by a belief that people who did not go the deliberative route had little self control and fell short in the reason category.

Christian cultures clearly didn't think marriage was for everyone, because traditional Christian societies had all sorts of interesting things for single people to do.

Anyway, I wanted to get back to the Gloucester Public School. I spent several hours browsing through the academic offerings at the school.

No where did I find mention of logic or ethics. We dump trillions of dollars building these massive school edifices, but they are failing to pass on a high esteem for reason. A google site search on the school district's site found only one reference to "logic." That word was in reference to a math class talking about computer logic. Searching the word "ethics" found several documents about how teachers and board members must have ethical standards. Little about helping the students develop personal ethics. The site had 19 pages with the word "reason" but again none were about the school teaching students how to engage in quality reasoning in their personal lives.


Scott Hinrichs said...

Economist Friedrich Hayek argued that the stigma of out-of-wedlock birth stemmed from millennia of experience of what type of social construct actually produced the best outcomes. While an agnostic, he argued that our headlong rush to scrap traditional strictures in the name of social justice is the height of arrogance.

y-intercept said...

You may have noticed that I am on a kick about classical vs. modern thinking. Hayek is a modern thinker. He is trying to come up with a scientific sounding explanation for the way traditional christian society behaved.

I think Christians would do better by arguing for the rational foundations of marriage. That is, the sanctity of marriage comes from the demand that people make a rational, concious moral choice concerning those acts that bring children to the world.

The description you gave that the stigma is the result of millennia of experience boils down to a description that Christianity is just a vain superstition.

I think the more correct view is that the tradition arose through reason. The early Christains saw the infantcide, abandonned children and gross depravity of the Romans; The Christains developed the Greek path and demanded a rational commitment before engaging in child production.