Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Evidence-based reality

According to the pundits, the recent American election was decided on the issue of values -- "God, guns, and gays." Where is the scientific data that would show us the superiority of red state values?

We know, for example, that the divorce rate is highest in Bible Belt states and lowest in Massachusetts, which says something, I suppose, about the "sanctity of marriage." (Born-again Christians divorce just as often as the rest of us.) The teen pregnancy rate also tends to be higher in red states than blue states. The abortion rate is the same in Texas and Massachusetts. And so on.

Meanwhile, those of us who try to live in evidence-based reality recognize the colossal disparity in health, wealth and education between the U. S. and the developing world. Surely if we want to talk about values we should address the fact that America, the richest nation in the world, contributes less to alleviating world hunger, ignorance and disease than any other developed nation, a mere 0.2 percent of our GNP, less than a third of what donor nations promised at the Monterrey Consensus of 2002.