Sex, driving and Jevon’s paradox

The reactionary argument that providing birth control to women in order to increase their personal autonomy will lead to more sluttiness which is a bad in and of itself.  Once we strip out the patriarchial authoritarianism it sounds like a Jevon’s paradox argument:

improved efficiency lowers the relative cost of using a resource, which tends to increase the quantity of the resource demanded, potentially counteracting any savings from increased efficiency

Properly used birth control lowers the potential costs of any given sex act by at least reducing pregnancy risk if not also disease risk.  Therefore, more people will have more sex,(why is that a bad thing?) and this increase in sexual incidents will lead to the same number or more of pregnancies, STDs or sexually empowered women.

That is the argument.  

The Incidental Economist passes along an interesting  study that looks at how women change their sexual behavior once they go on birth control:

We observed a statistically significant decrease in the fraction of women and adolescents who reported more than one sexual partner during the past 30 days from baseline to 12 months (5.2% to 3.3%; P<.01). Most participants (70-71%) reported no change in their number of sexual partners at 6 and 12 months, whereas 13% reported a decrease and 16% reported an increase (P<.01). More than 80% of participants who reported an increase in the number of partners experienced an increase from zero to one partner. Frequency of intercourse increased during the past 30 days from baseline (median, 4) to 6 and 12 months (median, 6; P<.01). However, greater coital frequency did not result in greater sexually transmitted infection incidence at 12 months.

The cost of sex is an amazingly complex multi-variate problem with health, emotional, social bonding, and physical interactions.  

Let’s take a leap for a moment.  The IRS currently gives a standard $0,56 a mile deduction for business use of a car.  That $0.56 is the sum of a variety of costs.  Fuel is calculated on the assumption of an automobile gets roughly 25 miles per gallon and it tends to be about $.13 or $.14 cents per mile.  Most of the remaining deductible allowance is built on depreciation, insurance and repair costs.  Personal time lost in traffic is not included in this calculation.

The argument that a rapid conversion of the US automobile fleet from pure internal combustion engines to hybrids has produced some really bad arguments at the usual places that this won’t do much if anything for US fuel consumption as efficiency gains will be consumed by increased driving (let’s not look at the secular trend of fewer vehicle miles driven for the moment as the theory does not predict that).

The problem is that the true cost of driving between is the cost of the car plus the cost of time in a car.  A low estimate is a dollar per mile.  Doubling fuel efficiency decreases the cost of driving by perhaps 5%.  All else being equal, people may be slightly more willing to drive as it got cheaper, but a new equilibrium of more cars on the road leading to more congestion will quickly increase the time cost of driving the same mile.

So back to birth control, it reduces a particular set of costs (pregnancy and disease risk,) as well as increasing the option value of having sex for a woman on her own terms.  However, these costs are often dominated by other interwoven factors, so the birth control leads to women having too much sex (if you can even assume that is a problem) argument fails on its own merits.

74 replies
  1. 1
    greennotGreen says:

    So, if we had a lethal pandemic like the Black Death and the response to it was that people sequestered themselves in their houses, a vaccine would be a bad thing because it would encourage people to go out of their houses more often?

  2. 2
    Elizabelle says:

    There you go again, Richard, thinking this one out.

    And why do I suspect Jevon might be the name of Anne Laurie’s next rescue pet?

  3. 3

    Reading the multiple references to ‘birth control’ as ‘The Pill,’ though not necessarily so?

    @greennotGreen: A bit sidewise from your statement, but basicially once a quarantine is announced that it is working and this brings people out of their houses, it stops working. If a vaccination program makes them immune, then the quarantine becomes irrelevant.

    @Elizabelle: … and how is it pronounced? Rhymes with Kevin or Yvonne?

  4. 4
    Fred Fnord says:

    Just like if we produce more water-efficient toilets, people will just poop more often.

  5. 5
    Fred Fnord says:

    @Elizabelle:
    And he shall be Jevon
    And he shall be a good dog
    And he shall be Jevon
    By prediction of the snarky blog.

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    i’ve found that once i give myself permission to do something i’ve previously had to work to deny myself doing, then my desire to do that thing diminishes just a little.

    once it becomes simply something i can do if i want instead of something i shouldn’t do no matter how much i want, doing it loses a little bit of urgency. it goes onto the list of things that aren’t a big deal.

    i wonder if that’s a factor here.

  7. 7
    moderateindy says:

    It’s such a silly argument as it ignores the reality of human personality. A woman that is not prone to being promiscuous is not going to start going around, and screwing every dude she meets (although I wish they would) because she is on the pill. Likewise, a woman that enjoys having multiple partners isn’t going to curb her lifestyle to any great extent because birth control isn’t available.
    It’s ridiculous how many conservative theories ignore how humans actually act, and replace that with some imaginary presumption of how people should react.
    The idea that there doesn’t need to be regulation on anything, because businesses wouldn’t do things that would threaten their viability is one of my favorite. Supposedly environmental regs aren’t needed because a company wouldn’t want to be foundout as a polluter, because then the public wouldn’t buy their product, or a company wouldn’t sell you a financial product that was bogus, because they would be found out, and they would end up going out of business, are some of the ridiculous canards I’ve heard from conservative friends over the years.
    They completely ignore history, reality, and human behavior, and instead make up these fantasy scenarios that sound logical for about 3 seconds, until you actually examine the premise.

  8. 8
    Joey Maloney says:

    My takeaway is, once again, the American Right has absolutely no understanding of normal human desires and behavior.

    Am I close?

  9. 9
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Joey Maloney: close? i’d say you were dead on target..

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    But, but they’re having icky sex with no consequences of babies and having their lives devoted to babies which will inhibit more icky icky sex, Richard!

    Ewww! Ewww!

    The sluts MUST BE PUNISHED!

  11. 11
    greennotGreen says:

    @BruceFromOhio: Yeah, but then you’re thinking this through which we’ve already established as something conservatives don’t do.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @moderateindy:

    Well, you know, it’ s like how the ghey marriage is legal, so many men will dump their wives or girlfriends for a rentboy or three and then they’ll be doing THEIR icky, icky thing all the time in the living room window so passersby can watch the hot sticky action…

    Now I seem to have this need for a cigarette, and I’ve never smoked…

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    So the argument is that we have to save the wimmins from being sluts (which is their natural state) by denying them birth control? Because the only thing stopping them right now is fear of babies? Is that the argument?

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    so the birth control leads to women having too much sex (if you can even assume that is a problem) argument fails on its own merits.

    This isn’t about money for these assclowns.

    It’s about icky icky icy SEX. They can’t stand the idea that someone, somewhere, is having wet, hot, tingly fun. It drives them absolutely crazy.

    If these people could eliminate the orgasm and still have reproduction going on, they’d be on board with that 100%.

  15. 15
    scav says:

    They don’t need nohow to observe or account for how actual humans behave, for they are possessed of the Truth! of how humans behave in Theory. Praise Be!! Homo economics or Homo original sinamus or Homo razzledassamus, no matter, They Know! They have the Books! They have the revealed transcendent knowledge given to them by the Lord or Ayn or whatever that little voice in their head that keeps telling them they are invariably correct and perfect and chosen is called.

  16. 16
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    On a related note, vile sack of Southern Baptist shit Mike Huckabee was railing at CPAC that the “conservatives” must push push push their social agenda in the midterms, doing their utmost to admonish women, gays, liberals, and in general uphold Cleek’s law at every fucking turn, no matter what the electoral consequences. Also, too, their idea of “minority outreach” should continue to be limited to using a whip to get them back to work in the fields.

  17. 17
    slag says:

    Will Republicans ever factor in the enormous cost of children when they’re engaged in their moral/jevons paradoxical fantasies? Especially now that the government has to add the cost of a brown paper bag to every subsidized lunch.

  18. 18
    Carol says:

    It is always ICKY SEX if women are having it, but a divine male right if a man is having it (no birth control for you but Viagra for me). Especially if it is a rich white man who is entitled to sex and prostitutes and all the other accoutrements of their Calvinist elitism. I haven’t figured out how they can conflate this deflation without serious cognitive dissonance, but there you go.

  19. 19
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Because the only thing stopping them right now is fear of babies? Is that the argument?

    No it isn’t the argument. It goes much deeper than that.
    It isn’t even about women’s autonomy, although it sounds like it is. It is about the “power” that a man is supposed to have. The power to control those about him. The man in power is supposed to actually have some power. If you give women autonomy over their bodies then the man must lose that same power. If you give autonomy to a black man, the white man loses that power.
    Conservatives have always been about conserving power, the power of some hold over others. Liberals want to take away that power and control. Libertarians are conservatives who want there to be no government to insure that they keep power. That’s why they vote with conservatives. It is all about power. Most rich are conservative because they like the power of money more than the trappings of it. That’s why they always want more, to lord it over those with less.
    It’s about power, always has been, always will be.

  20. 20
    Carol says:

    @Ruckus: Yes., absolutely, you are so correct . Power is the driver, and addiction to power is a real problem (see discussions of rankism, etc). This makes it difficult in this country for workers to see that they are natural allies against the wealth thieves. They all believe that at some point they too will have power, and they see that they have some perceived power over some subset of people, and they won’t give it up.

  21. 21
    Bill D. says:

    @slag: No, those children are “takers” and should be shown the back of the hand, at no cost to the “makers”. All while one continues to rant incessantly about the value of and need for “Christian morality”.

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    So the solution to unwanted pregnancies is moar gonorrhea?

    Makes sense to me.

  23. 23
    Roger Moore says:

    @greennotGreen:

    So, if we had a lethal pandemic like the Black Death and the response to it was that people sequestered themselves in their houses, a vaccine would be a bad thing because it would encourage people to go out of their houses more often?

    More or less. Traditional social mores are based around solutions to social problems when those mores came into being. For people who look to the Bible for their idea of how to behave, that’s what society and technology looked like two or three millennia ago. It rarely occurs to them that there’s been some change in technology and the structure of society since then that might change what ideal behavior is.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ruckus: Oh, I agree that what you describe is the real motivation. I am just trying to get a grip on the cover argument they are making.

  25. 25
    Elizabelle says:

    @Fred Fnord:
    @BruceFromOhio:

    Am thinking Jevon like Yvonne or Zevon.

    And great song for a good dog.

  26. 26
    Linda says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yeah, that’s the argument. But in my Catholic childhood, not using birth control did not make girls have sex less. It put them in a state of denial about their sex lives, because if you prepare for sex ahead of time, you’re a slut, but if you just “fall into” it on a Friday night–or several in a row–you’re just a good girl who gave way to passion and moonlight. But then you got pregnant.

  27. 27
    Violet says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Wingnuts don’t think sex is icky. They think it’s hot and therefore dangerous and morally wrong. And if a woman likes sex that’s hot if you’re the guy and a sin if she’s your daughter or sister. Women have to be protected from themselves and it’s your job as the man to do it, because clearly they’re incapable of doing it themselves.

  28. 28
    Violet says:

    @Linda: My friend who went to a Baptist university said it was astonishing how many “virgins” there were. And how many “became virgins” again after every breakup.

  29. 29
    slag says:

    @Bill D.: We must starve the child to save it!

    Is there any problem that line of thinking won’t solve?

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Violet: You know Carrie’s mom in Carrie? A good many of them think exactly that.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @slag:

    If you’re a randite asshat, that’s the magic solution to everything. Be as mean as possible for the good of the object you’re being mean towards.

    Displays of compassion, humanity, or long term self-interest in people not being mean to you are unspeakable heresy.

  32. 32
    Violet says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: The women may, but not all do. I live in a red state and know plenty of wingnuts and there’s a range of views on sex. But men make the rules. And as usual it’s all about controlling women.

  33. 33

    @Violet:
    Yes. Terrified fear of what will happen to their special snowflake, or any special snowflake even, is a big part of this. Their own sex life has been a clear example that sex is a process where men prey upon and violate and degrade women, so of course they want to protect their daughters from that.

    Then the other half hits, and this is the half that makes Richard’s very interesting and informative discussion… moot. They don’t care about results. They don’t think about results. Their decision processes are moralistic. Make abortion illegal. Remove access to contraception. Don’t let girls know that sex exists. If they find out, tell them that it’s wrong. Because these are the policies that feel like a moral high ground, they must work. There is no ‘does this really work?’ There are no more complex arguments. If you try more complex arguments, you get blank looks. That stuff is meaningless, not just useless but gibberish to the moralistic mindset.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Violet:

    Of course, these dickheads (see what I did there?) never bother to ask themselves that they’re getting all hot and steamy with some other man’s sister or daughter, do they?

    Hey, the dickhead is doing the thinking for them. ALWAYS.

  35. 35
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OT, but the obvious contradictions to anyone who is not a wingtard plays itself out in a Noisemax headline:

    Rand Paul: WH ‘Shredding’ Rights, Obama Too ‘Timid’

    A ruthless tyrant at home, a pathetic wuss abroad.

  36. 36
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    I figured as much but I think we suffer when we over look the real reasons people do asinine stuff. We fight each individual battle while they are pushing the war. They don’t want to lose any battle but they are in it for the war. We don’t want to lose a battle but so often don’t recognize the reason the war exists.

  37. 37
    Ruckus says:

    BTW, Richard, a great post.

  38. 38
    Baud says:

    @Ruckus:

    BTW, Richard, a great post.

    I prefer posts that don’t remind me about how much sex I’m not having. :-(

  39. 39
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Linda:

    because if you prepare for sex ahead of time, you’re a slut, but if you just “fall into” it on a Friday night–or several in a row–you’re just a good girl who gave way to passion and moonlight. But then you got pregnant.

    That might be the nut of it there. I’ll tell you that even among liberal dads, there are very different attitudes about sons and daughters about sex. Not much worry about sons having sex, LOTS of worry about daughters having sex. Obviously not fully recognizing that our son is having sex with your daughter. That’s a very difficult thing to shake (trust me, I’ve been trying) and I guarantee that bleeds over into policy attitudes.

  40. 40

    @🍀 Martin:
    When sex is viewed as something that men do to women, often harmfully, that happens. Our society is deeply carved by the story of Little Red Riding Hood. It is carved so deeply that even among the most sexually accepting, it is assumed that there is a high risk that any man will force sex on anything he is attracted to if they’re left alone.

  41. 41
    sempronia says:

    Slightly on-topic – it irks me that my hospital carries C.ia.lis for inpatients with pulmonary hypertension (it’s a standard treatment), but not birth control pills, even for inpatients with endometriosis (it’s a standard treatment). If you sluts want to take BCPs, you have to bring your own from home. And it’s a major university hospital, not a religious place.

  42. 42
    slag says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: The funny thing is that they seem to truly believe that the rest of us don’t concern ourselves at all with personal responsibility. As if we don’t actively prefer that parents care for their children and work hard to give them rich and vibrant lives.

    Their thinking seems to be: “If you don’t get how depriving the sluts of their birth control+depriving children of their lunches=Narnia, you’re an immoral idiot, so in the name of democracy, we have to find a way to prevent you from voting. USA! USA!”

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @🍀 Martin: I think partly it’s just basic biology. At its most basic, when two people (of opposite genders) have sex, only one of them can end up pregnant, with all the physical and psychological ramifications that go along with that. Sure the male partner can end up being a dad, but his body doesn’t change for nine months, he doesn’t have the potentially serious health risks, his body isn’t changed forever. His reproductive future isn’t potentially affected by the pregnancy. Or, if she/they decide on an abortion, he doesn’t go through the physical process of that. His physical health isn’t affected.

    From the standpoint of fathers, a daughter having sex just carries a lot more risks than a son having sex. Sure, they could both end up being parents, but only one of them is physically pregnant.

  44. 44
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Yeah, I have zero defense for the attitude, but it’s pretty deeply ingrained. I developed this huge anxiety the day after my daughter was born and that was a real shock. I didn’t get that a few years before when my son was born. That was already in my head waiting to come out. At first I decide to embrace it just so I could sleep, and then work to break it and make sure I don’t pass it along to my son.

  45. 45
    Violet says:

    @Linda:

    But in my Catholic childhood, not using birth control did not make girls have sex less. It put them in a state of denial about their sex lives, because if you prepare for sex ahead of time, you’re a slut, but if you just “fall into” it on a Friday night–or several in a row–you’re just a good girl who gave way to passion and moonlight. But then you got pregnant.

    I’m not Catholic, but I’m very familiar with this way of thinking. Being prepared to have sex meant you were a slut. Just falling into it meant you were a “good girl” who just got overcome by passion or whatever.

    Further to that, if you carried the condoms around in your purse or you were on birth control, the guy you were with might view you differently. He’d view you as a slut. And thus he wouldn’t take you seriously–he’d just see you as a fling. So in some ways, it was “safer” to be unprepared for sex because that meant you had a shot at the real golden ring–marriage–rather than be prepared and be put into the “slut who’s just good for a fling” category. In other words, it’s taking short term risk for potential long term gain.

  46. 46

    @🍀 Martin:
    It’s especially hard to break because in a society where sex is viewed that way, it self-justifies. Social dynamics are created where, yes, sex becomes something men do to women. Like everything, the best approach is nuanced education, not pretending it’s too dangerous and slamming the door. That’s hard when your social instincts and society around you are both yelling ‘Protect her! Don’t let her get anywhere near danger, ever!’

  47. 47
    cmorenc says:

    @Richard Mayhew:

    The reactionary argument that providing birth control to women in order to increase their personal autonomy will lead to more sluttiness which is a bad in and of itself.

    Goooooo Autonomy!
    /ducks :=)

  48. 48
    🍀 Martin says:

    @Violet: Yeah, but it’s not the 50s. Unintended pregnancies tore my family apart – first my grandmother and then her daughter. We’re in CA, our daughter will have access to birth control the moment it’s right for her, if something does happen, access to emergency contraception or a D&C is not a problem. My insurer has a nice little pamphlet (like any other medical procedure) explaining what’s involved – it’s covered by our insurance, it can be done a mile from our house, she’ll (soon) be able do it without our permission.

    Put short, there’s no reason for me to have that attitude. We’ve made sure absolutely everything is working in her favor. But it’s still a hard thing to shake.

  49. 49
    Roger Moore says:

    @slag:

    If you don’t get how depriving the sluts of their birth control+depriving children of their lunches=Narnia, you’re an immoral idiot, so in the name of democracy, we have to find a way to prevent you from voting.

    The first part is correct, but the second part is missing the point. They don’t do anything in the name of democracy because they don’t really believe in democracy. Their attitude toward democracy is basically the same as it is toward science or any other source of answers: they tolerate only as long as it reinforces their preconceptions, and not a moment longer. They have no commitment to process, only to outcomes favorable to their preferred worldview.

  50. 50
    Anoniminous says:

    ah … er … um …. h’mmmmm (This subject happens to be, in part, my field.)

    Anyone attempting to subsume human sexual activity under the Jevon’s Paradox is stunningly ignorant of the Cognitive Psychology and Neuro-biology of human Decision Making. See: Fractals in the Nervous System: conceptual implications for Theoretical Neuroscience section 2 “Power-law scaling in neuronal structures and processes” and follow the cites in the bibliography. The same section will give sources for why the linked study needs to being carefully analyzed before accepting its findings; in short, human neural activity thus human Decision Making is best analyzed under Power Law rather than Gaussian distribution, an assertion supported by, among others, “Scaling laws in cognitive sciences” by Kello, et. al., “…scaling laws describe a fundamental order in living and complex systems.” And also by the commonplace knowledge the largest number of female sexual activity occurs by sex workers who are, roughly (taking the high-end numerical estimate,) .01% of the US female population. Additionally, it is commonplace to state individuals vary in their sex drive, availability of a sexual partner, psychological attitude towards sex (diverges sharply by gender,) sexual orientation, physical capability, age, etc. etc.

    tl;dr: Those pushing the Jevon’s Paradox need to shut up until they do their homework. The authors of the linked study may or may not need to do the same, can’t tell without reading it and I’m too buried to do it.

  51. 51
    smith says:

    @🍀 Martin: It seems you’re doing what should be done for all teenagers: promoting her autonomy rather than imposing your control. I hate to think about those purity ring girls who never experience any autonomous decision making about their bodies and how ill-prepared they are for mature sexual relationships. I’d bet they are well set up to become abused in one way or another.

    When my kids were teenagers I was working in a public hospital in a large city, and at the time we were scrambling to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. That terrified me a lot more than my daughter getting pregnant or my son fathering a baby. I followed the advice of someone I knew who was working on the front line of HIV/AIDS care and who also had teenagers. I got a bag of condoms and put them in the hall closet and told the kids they were there to take as needed, and that the bag would be kept topped up when necessary, no questions asked. My kids are in their 30’s now, and after typical teenage/young adult relationships and (probably) escapades, they are both happily settled in committed relationships without having suffered any of the outcomes parents dread when their kids become sexually active.

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @Violet:

    Sure the male partner can end up being a dad, but his body doesn’t change for nine months, he doesn’t have the potentially serious health risks, his body isn’t changed forever.

    And it’s much easier for him to skip out on taking any kind of responsibility for the pregnancy (and child, if it comes to that) than for the mother to do so, especially if there’s any way the paternity might be in doubt. Unprotected sex is much, much more likely to result in a single mother than a single father.

  53. 53
    SRW1 says:

    Properly used birth control lowers the potential costs of any given sex act by at least reducing pregnancy risk if not also disease risk. Therefore, more people will have more sex,(why is that a bad thing?) …

    See it’s in that bracket right there. Your slutiness meter obviously is broken. Plus your moral compass is spinning!

  54. 54
    Davis X. Machina says:

    The cost of sex is an amazingly complex multi-variate problem with health, emotional, social bonding, and physical interactions.

    No it isn’t. “It’s $20 dollars. Same as in town.”

    Thank you, I’ll be here all weekend. Tip your waitress.

  55. 55
    patrick II says:

    Jevon’s paradox only is true relative to the rarity of the original resource. As oil becomes more rare or more expensive to mine it adds cost to the end product price. I don’t see any such shortage of people wanting to have sex.

  56. 56
    scav says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Does the waitress also get $20?

    runs
    I need to find a CPACist to kick. Luckily, I didn’t even pretend to give that up for Lent.

  57. 57
    McJulie says:

    As far as I can tell, women’s sexual and reproductive autonomy drives right wing cultural conservatives out of their freaking’ minds, and they’re always looking for SOME way to “logically” justify that intense emotional reaction. I think they proceed from the gut-level notion that only old, rich, white, conservative men TRULY DESERVE to be granted full adult personhood. They couple this with a narcissistic instinct that everyone else must see things that way too, deep down, even if they won’t admit it.

  58. 58
    StringOnAStick says:

    @McJulie: I suppose someone has done a study to see how closely narcissism and authoritarianism are linked; I’m betting it is two peas in the same pod.

  59. 59
    Ruckus says:

    @Baud:
    I don’t need a post for that!

  60. 60
    WereBear says:

    @Joey Maloney: My takeaway is, once again, the American Right has absolutely no understanding of normal human desires and behavior.

    True; and it seems to be rooted deeply, even before their Unholy Alliance with the Xantian Taliban.

    Perhaps in both cases, it is a feature? Because if you set up a system of morality that runs counter to human nature (ascetism: no eating, no sex, no dancing, no card playing, no drinking…) it will be a continual struggle to achieve. And then they can make you feel guilty for not achieving it.

    That’s the way the religion part works, anyway.

  61. 61
    Anoniminous says:

    @StringOnAStick:

    Narcissism is directed towards the Self. Authoritarianism is directed towards the Other. When both are present the person is usually placed somewhere on the Sociopath continuum.

  62. 62
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Those pushing the Jevon’s Paradox need to shut up until they do their homework.

    You see, there’s a slight problem with this. Journamalists are involved, and the four letter word that frightens them the most is in your quote here.

    I’m referring, of course, to “work”.

  63. 63
    Avery Greynold says:

    A@Linda: Story was that catholic women with full families favored tubal ligation over birth control because then you only sinned once with the procedure, and repented, rather than sin repeatedly with birth control. If christian conservatives succeed in demonizing contraception, abolishing female sterilization will be on their menu because denies men their right to control.

  64. 64
    SRW1 says:

    Boys will be boys, but sluts are always sluts.

  65. 65
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    @🍀 Martin: I have two sons and a daughter, all under 8. One joke I thought was funny was that if you have a son you only have to worry about one dick, if you have a daughter you have to worry about all of them!

    It’s funny because it does hit home for the reasons you and Violet are citing.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @slag: They’re the only righteous people in a world of secular sinners, who have no moral compasses, no inhibitions, and are constantly engaging in hot, wet, sex fueled by euphoric ecstatic mind altering substance use and absolutely no need to engage in any toil to live their lives, and not a care for any consequences thereof.

    Where the fuck is this place? I want to move there!

  67. 67
    The Tragically Flip says:

    It’s supply side thinking yet again. If you increase the supply of NSA sex, women’s demand for it will increase comparatively.

  68. 68
    Big R says:

    @Anoniminous: Wait, wait, wait. You can’t just throw a jargon salad at us and then tell us to go screw ourselves. This happens to be my field (which is a little closer to the actual study than yours), so let me ask you a few questions that you are, of course, free to ignore:

    1) I understand (I think) that your argument seems to be, “brain structure dictates certain behaviors in a way that makes the use of the normal distribution inappropriate.” Now, that is a serious guantlet thrown down to pretty much every social scientist in the world, since our disciplines more or less assume that populations tend toward a normal distribution. So, assuming you’re correct (and I have no reason to think you aren’t – this part is way outside my expertise), do we have to throw out all of the theoretical underpinnings of social science and start over? Does the human capacity for metacognition enable us to overcome the tendencies of our brain structure? Am I so far out of my depth that my questions are worthless?

    2) I think your external critique doesn’t carry a lot of weight because it doesn’t fit the recognized empirical evidence. In brief: the use of the normal distribution has led to a lot of social science work that appears to accurately describe human behavior. To suggest that all of this has to be thrown out (which is what I’m reading you as saying) is going to require a pretty stiff standard of proof and an alternative approach that is just as empirically robust. The internal critique of the study (that the Jevons paradox doesn’t apply because it strips out too many endogenous variables in this context) is stronger because it doesn’t require a complete restructuring of the entire discipline.

    3) See https://xkcd.com/675/ for the proposition that “what’s more likely — that I have uncovered fundamental flaws in this field that no one in it has ever thought about, or that I need to read a little more? Hint: it’s the one that involves less work.”

  69. 69
    Anoniminous says:

    @Big R:

    [Note: Quotes are out of order]

    “do we have to throw out all of the theoretical underpinnings of social science and start over?”

    No

    Power Laws in the Social Sciences have been known since Pareto’s article “La Courbe de la Repartition de la Richesse” published in 1896. (See: here for what it is and more info.) Whether the phenomena under investigation is best analyzed using Gaussian, Power Law distribution, or something else depends on the congruence of the phenomena with the axioms of the mathematical tool (call it.) One also has to be aware whether one is doing Real Time or posteriori analysis and whether the data is a Collection or Set; if it’s the former there’s no way to accurately assign measurement. In any case, the choice has to be proven, not assumed.

    “Now, that is a serious guantlet thrown down to pretty much every social scientist in the world, since our disciplines more or less assume that populations tend toward a normal distribution. ”

    Yup. And it’s not limited to the Social Sciences. We’re in the middle of an intellectual revolution that started in Biology, leaped over to Weather Forecasting, sidled over to mathematics, add a side order of Computer Modeling, then the physicists got involved and now there is hell for breakfast.

    “the use of the normal distribution has led to a lot of social science work that appears to accurately describe human behavior.”

    It has done that. It has also led to vacuous nonsense (the IQ debate,) intellectual drivel (Black-Scholes Model,) and disastrous Public Policy.

  70. 70
    mclaren says:

    Richard Mayhew here reveals his neoliberal Milton Friedman economic roots:

    So back to birth control, it reduces a particular set of costs (pregnancy and disease risk,) as well as increasing the option value of having sex for a woman on her own terms. However, these costs are often dominated by other interwoven factors, so the birth control leads to women having too much sex (if you can even assume that is a problem) argument fails on its own merits.

    Using this twisted reasoning, a terrorist A-bomb detonation in Los Angeles would be great news economically. Think of all these profits! Hospitals would need to treat all the burn and radiation victims, contractors would need to rebuild all the flattened skyscrapers, auto manufacturers would need to sell all the survivors new cars.

    This is the kind of insane backwards thinking induced by America’s sick debased version of cannibalistic dog-eat-dog c(r)apitalism, which reaches its ultimate point of degradation in America’s broken health care system.

    Each illness gets treated as a profit opportunity. Richard Mayhew’s imaginary rational economic consumer would immediately sell his children once he had them, in order to reduce future costs and increase current income. Of course, no one thinks that way and no sane person acts that way.

    Likewise, no one thinks of sex in terms of costs. But the concept of anything in life that can’t be given a dollar amount price tag is alien to Richard Mayhew’s sociopathic neoliberal mindset.

    Speaking of costs, we’d all like to know what parasites like Mayhew cost us.

    How much money do you strip-mine out of America’s broken medical-industrial-fraud complex every year, Richard?

    $400,000?

    $700,000?

    A million dollars per year?

    How much do you cost us, Mayhew?

    Notice that while Mayhew is eager to put a price tag on sex, he’s not so willing to put a price tag on his services…

  71. 71
    Heliopause says:

    women having too much sex (if you can even assume that is a problem)

    Obviously it’s not, and even going to the trouble of refuting it lends it some legitimacy.

  72. 72
    Big R says:

    @Anoniminous: Many thanks for that respectful education of a stupid whippersnapper.

  73. 73
    Sondra says:

    @moderateindy:
    You have just hit on the whole problem with adapting a work of fiction like “Atlas Shrugged” into a viable economic model. Rand’s heros were honest and high minded and would never have considered selling a bogus product just because they could. Just as in “The Fountainhead” the hero would not have designed and built a structurally unsafe building.

    She could call their “selfishness” a virtue which did not need a regulation to keep them honest and theoretically be correct. In real life we get real villians and very few heros. We get crooked mortgage lenders and buildings that fall down killing everyone inside.

    As for the paradox, the same theory applies to every new substance invented: paper, rubber and plastic come to mind. When paper was dear, there were few books and fewer people could afford to have them; and so on.

    How any of this applies to women is beyond me but Ayn Rand’s books were sexy bodice rippers too you know.

  74. 74
    noabsolutes says:

    Yeah and the fact that birth control works means more use of it won’t lead to more pregnancy. I can see how it increases the occurrence of situations in which pregnancies might result, but… it prevents pregnancy, so…

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