After having a career outside my college degree, I often forget that in preparation for Med School, I took up the natural sciences – and that by training and education, I am a biologist. And so after having wandered around the globe as investments promoter, network administrator, web designer, business planner, landscaper, chauffeur, waiter, dishwasher, chief of staff of a US Congressional candidate, supply chain analyst and designer, and more recently a process improvement practitioner in the tradition of lean six sigma and kaizen culture, I have come full circle as I revisit the topics of population, reproductive health, carrying capacity being one of our core subjects.
Of course along with this comes the rigorous academic training on the scientific method.
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: “a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”
Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable, to predict future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. Theories, in turn, may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.
Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible, to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.
Scientific methodology has been practiced in some form for at least one thousand years. There are difficulties in a formulaic statement of method, however. As William Whewell (1794–1866) noted in his History of Inductive Science (1837) and in Philosophy of Inductive Science (1840), “invention, sagacity, genius” are required at every step in scientific method. It is not enough to base scientific method on experience alone; multiple steps are needed in scientific method, ranging from our experience to our imagination, back and forth.
In the 20th century, a hypothetico-deductive model for scientific method was formulated (for a more formal discussion, see below):
1. Use your experience: Consider the problem and try to make sense of it. Look for previous explanations. If this is a new problem to you, then move to step 2.
2. Form a conjecture: When nothing else is yet known, try to state an explanation, to someone else, or to your notebook.
3. Deduce a prediction from that explanation: If you assume 2 is true, what consequences follow?
4. Test: Look for the opposite of each consequence in order to disprove 2. It is a logical error to seek 3 directly as proof of 2. This error is called affirming the consequent.
This model underlies the scientific revolution. One thousand years ago, Alhazen demonstrated the importance of steps 1 and 4. Galileo 1638 also showed the importance of step 4 (also called Experiment) in Two New Sciences. One possible sequence in this model would be 1, 2, 3, 4. If the outcome of 4 holds, and 3 is not yet disproven, you may continue with 3, 4, 1, and so forth; but if the outcome of 4 shows 3 to be false, you will have to go back to 2 and try to invent a new 2, deduce a new 3, look for 4, and so forth.
In 1877, Charles Sanders Peirce (pronounced /?p?rs/ “purse”) (1839–1914) characterized inquiry in general not as the pursuit of truth per se but as the struggle to move from irritating, inhibitory doubts born of surprises, disagreements, and the like, and to reach a secure belief, belief being that on which one is prepared to act. He framed scientific inquiry as part of a broader spectrum and as spurred, like inquiry generally, by actual doubt, not mere verbal or hyperbolic doubt, which he held to be fruitless. He outlined four methods of settling opinion, ordered from least to most successful:
The method of tenacity (policy of sticking to initial belief) — which brings comforts and decisiveness but leads to trying to ignore contrary information and others’ views as if truth were intrinsically private, not public. It goes against the social impulse and easily falters since one may well notice when another’s opinion is as good as one’s own initial opinion. Its successes can shine but tend to be transitory.
The method of authority — which overcomes disagreements but sometimes brutally. Its successes can be majestic and long-lived, but it cannot operate thoroughly enough to suppress doubts indefinitely, especially when people learn of other societies present and past.
The method of congruity or the a priori or the dilettante or “what is agreeable to reason” — which promotes conformity less brutally but depends on taste and fashion in paradigms and can go in circles over time, along with barren disputation. It is more intellectual and respectable but, like the first two methods, sustains capricious and accidental beliefs, destining some minds to doubts.
The scientific method — the method wherein inquiry regards itself as fallible and purposely tests itself and criticizes, corrects, and improves itself.
Peirce held that slow, stumbling ratiocination can be dangerously inferior to instinct and traditional sentiment in practical matters, and that the scientific method is best suited to theoretical research, which in turn should not be trammeled by the other methods and practical ends; reason’s “first rule” is that, in order to learn, one must desire to learn and, as a corollary, must not block the way of inquiry. The scientific method excels the others by being deliberately designed to arrive — eventually — at the most secure beliefs, upon which the most successful practices can be based. Starting from the idea that people seek not truth per se but instead to subdue irritating, inhibitory doubt, Peirce showed how, through the struggle, some can come to submit to truth for the sake of belief’s integrity, seek as truth the guidance of potential practice correctly to its given goal, and wed themselves to the scientific method.
In the following sections, I review the existing scientific studies on population and reproductive health in an effort to get clarity – about the RH Bill – and its goals and objectives. The long and short of it is that RH bill advocates have fallen into a fallacy that only government procurement and distribution of contraceptives will reduce fertility rate, thereby reducing population size, and since there are less people sharing resources – then there will be less hunger.
Is this belief true? What do the latest empirical studies show us?
INCREASING POPULATION DESPITE REDUCTION IN FERTILITY RATE
The seeming contradiction between smaller-than-ever families and near-record births is easily explained. The number of women of childbearing age keeps growing and global life expectancy at birth continues to rise. These two trends explain why population continues growing despite declines in family size. There were 1.7 billion women aged 15 to 49 in late 2007, compared with 856 million in 1970. The average human being born today can expect to live 67 years, a full decade longer than the average newborn could expect in 1970.
Fertility rates that were consistently below two children per woman would eventually lead to a shrinkage of national populations in the absence of counterbalancing immigration. It can take decades for low fertility to halt growth, however, in populations with large proportions of young people due to high fertility in the past.
Life expectancy worldwide varies from a high of 83 years in Japan to a low of 40 years in Swaziland, the country with the highest prevalence of HIV infection
Among the most direct influences on fertility is access to and use of contraception. More than 700 million women, half of those aged 15 to 49 in developing countries, are at risk of unintended pregnancy, due to either improper use of contraception or—for an estimated 137 million women—no use of contraception at all.9 At the same time, spending on family planning by governments worldwide has been stagnant in recent years—and has remained at a fraction of what governments agreed is needed to assure all women and couples access to services and contraceptives.10
*********** WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM TRENDS – FEMALE STATUS and FERTILITY
A trend that may be more hopeful for the future of world population is the gradual improvement worldwide of women’s health and their economic, educational, and political status relative to men.
For the past two years the World Economic Forum (WEF) has assembled a global index of the closing of this gender gap.
The 2007 index showed slight improvements over 2006 in every category except health.
A comparison of the percent of the overall gender gap that had closed and the fertility rates of 128 countries indicated a clear correlation between high female status and low fertility.
COST OF CONTRACEPTIVES
One of the core arguments by the RH advocates is that “free” contraceptives are needed to be given to “the poor” because contraceptives are expensive. Remember the “don’t give fish, teach how to fish” thingie? Obviously the RH advocates would rather give the contraceptive instead of teaching people how to be able afford the cost of contraceptives. Da Pinoy‘s penchant for choosing the path of least resistance does not come as a surprise – what else is new.
How Much Does Birth Control Cost?
Cost Per Year Birth Control Pills 95 percent $160 to $600 Birth Control Patch 95 percent $160 to $600 Cervical Cap 77 to 83 percent $35 to $60 Condoms 8 5 percent $150 Diaphragm 85 percent $60 Fertility-Awareness 75 to 88 percent Free IUDs 99 percent $100 (varies) Shot (Depo-Provera) 99 percent $220 to $460 Sterilization 99 percent $30 to $200 (varies) Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing) 95 percent $160 to $600 Vaginal Sponge 68 to 84 percent $500 Abstinence 100 percent “FREE”
Here’s a “FREE CONTRACEPTIVE” – Abstain from sex, you lecherous dog! If you can’t afford it – don’t boink.
Here’s the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
“ARTICLE III, BILL OF RIGHTS
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.
(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
Section 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.
Section 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
Section 8. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.
Section 9. Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
Section 10. No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.
Section 11. Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.
Section 12. (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.
(2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.
(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.
(4) The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violations of this section as well as compensation to the rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices, and their families.
Section 13. All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.
Section 14. (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.
(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused: Provided, that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.
Section 15. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.
Section 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
Section 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
Section 18. (1) No person shall be detained solely by reason of his political beliefs and aspirations.
(2) No involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
Section 19. (1) Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.
(2) The employment of physical, psychological, or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions shall be dealt with by law.
Section 20. No person shall be imprisoned for debt or non-payment of a poll tax.
Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.
Section 22. No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted. “
In Section 3, Guiding Principles of the RH Bill – it states:
“i. Protection and promotion of gender equality, women empowerment and human rights, including reproductive health rights, are imperative;”
When it comes to constitutionality, the question to be asked from the RH Bill advocates is this – Please cite the constitutional provision which states that there is such a thing as “reproductive health rights” – THERE’S NONE.
In effect, the RH Bill is guided by the principle of a a non-existent legal “right” which is not provided for in the constitution. – THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES.
For the “reproductive health rights” to become constitutional rights that are constitutionally protected – one needs.. voila… CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM.
On all counts the RH Bill advocates have right intentions, but are wrong on the science, and wrong on the economics – but “free contraceptives” does make good politics.
What else is new with Da Pinoy’s penchant for coming up with irrelevant solutions.
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