This headline sounds shocking, doesn’t it?

It’s a quote from ‘More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics’ over at NYTimes.

It’s a highly controversial article (and that’s an understatement, for lack of better word) that got me thinking.

You’ve read elsewhere about the sin of promiscuity. Let me tell you about the sin of self-restraint.

Ok, that starts well. The sin of self-restraint? Did he just seriously say “sin”?

In Martin’s absence, Joan hooked up with the equally charming but considerably less prudent Maxwell - and Joan got AIDS.

Consider this then: If Martin had hooked up with Joan, Maxwell would have hooked up with some other innocent female and given her AIDS, instead of Joan.
Statistically, it doesn’t matter who gets AIDS, what matters is how many innocent people do get it. Joan not getting AIDS does not change that number at all, if somebody else gets it instead.

A cautious guy like Martin does the world a favor every time he hits the bars. In fact, he does the world two favors. First he improves the odds for everyone who’s out there seeking a safe match.

True enough, I’ll give you that.

The second favor is more macabre, but probably also more significant: If Martin picks up a new partner tonight, he just might pick up an infection as well. That’s great. Because then Martin goes home, wastes away in solitude, and eventually dies - taking the virus with him.

That’s where it gets arguable… “That’s great”. How can it be great that when someone gets AIDS?

Yes, the virus dies with him. But had he not gone out and gotten laid that night, he would not have the virus in the first place. You’re logic’s broken, Mr. Author.

I’m always glad to see guys like Martin in the bars. When he takes home an uninfected partner, he diverts that partner from a potentially more dangerous liaison. When he takes home an infected partner, he diverts that partner from giving the virus to someone who might spread it far and wide. Either way, I sure hope he gets lucky tonight.

Another flow in your logic: If you’re encouraging more sex, and Martin becomes more sexually active (ie. more promiscuous), then he’ll become one of those dangerous person, along with all other people who follow that logic. Turning safe matches into dangerous matches will do the work no good!

If multiple partnerships save lives, then monogamy can be deadly. Imagine a country where almost all women are monogamous, while all men demand two female partners per year. Under those circumstances, a few prostitutes end up servicing all the men. Before long, the prostitutes are infected; they pass the disease on to the men; the men bring it home to their monogamous wives. But if each of those monogamous wives were willing to take on one extramarital partner, the market for prostitution would die out, and the virus, unable to spread fast enough to maintain itself, might well die out along with it.

Fortunately, that theory is just that: theory. “A country where almost all women are monogamous, while all men demand two female partners per year” doesn’t exist. Which is a good thing. The reality is that most couples are monogamous, and equally so in both genders, which invalidates your point.

That’s one reason why you should root for Martin to have sex with Joan. Here’s another: they’ll probably enjoy it.

That has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand. Absolutely nothing

Enjoyment should never be lightly dismissed. After all, reducing the rate of HIV infection is not the only goal worth pursuing; if it were, we’d outlaw sex entirely.

Yeah right… And how would we make babies?

The article then goes on to make some more flawed analogies, and counter-arguing valid arguments against his theory. Go read the whole thing and make up your own mind. Some of the theories there are worth thinking about, but be sure to make up your own mind, and don’t believe everything you read blindly.

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 11:20 pm and is filed under English. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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