Nearly every ill mentioned in the debate would be reduced if there were effective sex and relationships education in UK schools. It would be further reduced if the responsible broadcasters such as the BBC were not prevented from providing information and wholesome role models regarding the body and sexual relationships. It would be still further reduced if prudery was less prevalent. The body-positive attitudes of the Danes and the other high performing western countries should be a lesson to us all but some people are so wedded to prudery that they seem unable to comprehend what the evidence is saying even when world experts explain it to them.
There is no evidence that prudery works and there is good evidence that it causes harm. There is good evidence that body-openness works and there is no evidence that it causes harm. (Aggression and violence are not body-openness). But despite that some of the participants in the debate are determined to promote the attitudes associated with the worst outcomes in the western world. The correlations are near perfect, the causal mechanisms well understood, and the differences in outcomes enormous, for many indicators a factor of ten or more. Even a cursory glance at the international comparisons shows that present policy encourages the attitudes associated with the worst outcomes and discourages, even to the extent of prohibition, the things associated with the best outcomes. It is no coincidence that the teenage pregnancy rate of Denmark and many other European countries is nearly ten times lower than that of the USA and all the related indicators follow a similar pattern. Why then is anyone even suggesting measures that will make the UK more like the USA?
The proponents of prudery seem oblivious to what they are doing and why they are doing it. They continue to peddle their personal ideology hiding behind evidence that is not evidence and logic that is not logic. It is necessary to be very blunt about this. Methodological errors are errors and errors of logic are errors. They are not a matter of opinion or balance, they are just simply and incontrovertibly wrong. The logic required is slightly more difficult than two plus two but just as 2 + 2 = 5 is wrong so the errors in evidence gathering and logic are wrong. No amount of wishful thinking, strength of feeling, or righteous indignation can change that.
If a school pupil were to submit work with such howlers after the mistake had been explained then the teacher would be having words. Fortunately most school pupils are quick to realise why scientific method and logical correctness work so that is rarely necessary. It works and that is what this should all be about. It should be about putting children first and doing what works instead of doing what appeals to the emotions of some adults. This is a plea to anyone who promotes failure because they do not understand how science and engineering achieve such spectacular success; either learn from what works or next time travelling by air please please choose an aircraft designed using the principles that they deploy, emotion and sloppy thinking.
The psychology of why some people persist with promoting such counter-productive policies is interesting but not particularly useful as it offers no solution to the problem. The studies show that changing deeply held opinion (aka prejudice), particularly when held by a group, is extremely difficult no matter how strong the evidence, but unfortunately they do not suggest any remedies.
It has taken half a century to make significant progress on undoing the damage done to homosexuals, damage encouraged and supported by Parliament, and there is still a long way to go. Undoing the damage done by the prudification of society is likely to also take a generation or more, even if we start now.
Some of the contributors to that debate in the House of Lords will feel aggrieved by the implication that they are acting illogically and in a way which will harm children but if the hat fits wear it. Have you noticed how phrases such as “I am not a prude but” are almost invariably followed by a statement demonstrating that the speaker is indeed a prude? This debate was ammunition for both those wanting to reform the House of Lords and those who want to remove the bishops from it.
British Naturism will shortly be publishing a report entitled “UK Child Policy 2016” which addresses these issues in more depth. We will also be asking the House of Lords what training they provide to members on evidence, logic, use of statistics, and evidence based policy making. It is desperately needed.