My Friend Kari Will Agree: Focus on the Family Can Kiss My Balls
Of all the logical fallacies, perhaps the trickiest one to avoid is the confusion of correlation and causation; it’s the old cum hoc, ergo propter hoc trap. Kari has a great example: the consumption of ice cream tracks very closely to the rate of drownings in the United States. It’s absolutely true that when a lot of delicious ice cream is being consumed, more people drown. It’s also true that when the rate of ice cream consumption falls, fewer people buy the kelp farm, so to speak.
The federal government knows about this, so why don’t we have to wear water wings when enjoying a delicious cone of deadly ice cream? Perhaps you’ve figured it out already. If you realize that ice cream doesn’t have a fucking thing to do with drowning, you’re halfway there.
The other half, of course, is that eating ice cream and swimming are activities usually reserved for warm weather. More people swimming means more people drowning. Frozen treats and drowning deaths correlate to one another, but ice cream is not a cause of death, saving us all the embarrassment of trying to tan or pick up babes while wearing inflatable flotation devices on our upper arms.
None of this stuff is rocket science, but I guess Focus on the Family doesn’t employ rocket scientists. Instead, they employ people who stupidly walk into the correlation/causation trap. This article in Focus’s rag Citizen Link says that childhood sexual abuse is a cause of homosexuality. Interesting idea. Let’s check it out. Are the former inmates of Irish Catholic homes for children unusually likely to be gay? No. Were they unusually likely to be raped? Yes. I guess it’s back to the drawing board, Citizen Link.
But it’s actually worse than that. Not only does the Citizen Link article proffer a faulty conclusion, it bases said conclusion on a mountain of evidence bullshit. For example, the article cites Unequal Opportunities: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States, a 2008 book edited by three actual scholars. Nice of Focus to attempt to use scholarly work. Not nice of Focus to fail in that attempt. The scholarly work mentioned that some gay men had been molested as children. The shitty work took that as evidence that the molestation caused the homosexuality. That’s not what the book said. That’s not what anyone says who’s given the issue more analysis than that in the book of Romans. The fuckup did not go unnoticed. In fact, the editors of Unequal Opportunities wrote a sharp letter of rebuke.
So the bigmouths at Focus on the Family jumped in the deep end without realizing that they were in over their heads. But they feel safe. After all, they’re pretty sure they didn’t have any ice cream first.
For this particular torrent of abject stupidity, I award Focus on the Family one snarling chihuahua.