There have never been any controlled randomized trials on “Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge,” according to this review published in the British Medical Journal in December 2003. And yet, in the nearly 3 years since it was documented in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal that the evidence supporting the use of parachutes by those who jump from planes is anectotal, Federal, State and private entities continue to support the private parachute industry.
The Government Accounting Office released a review (in pdf) on the accuracy and effectiveness of abstinence sex education programs, in response to a request by several members of Congress. Editorials from the Bangor (Maine)Daily News, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and others on the review indicate that abstinence education is “scientifically invalid.”
The International Herald Tribune‘s headline reads, ” . . . no-sex-before-marriage programs forgo accuracy, are ineffective.”
The GAO report actually covers several ways that an entire alphabet soup of agencies and States fund abstinence-until-marriage programs, how these programs are reviewed for accuracy and efficacy. There are also descriptions of problems that have been found and corrected. There is a mention of studies that are pending that would be equivalent to the “randomized controlled studies” that will supply “scientific validity” to measurements of evidence comparing outcomes in children who participate in abstinence-until-marriage programs to those in abstinence-plus programs and those who receive no structured sex ed according to standardized end points.
None of the sources give any references for “scientifically valid” “abstinence-plus” or “if you do it, use a condom and a back-up method of contraception” sex ed.
If I may, I’d suggest that editors learn to read reports and perhaps take a class in statistics. Or, they could follow the recommendation of Smith and Pell:
A call to (broken) arms
Only two options exist. The first is that we accept that, under exceptional circumstances, common sense might be applied when considering the potential risks and benefits of interventions. The second is that we continue our quest for the holy grail of exclusively evidence based interventions and preclude parachute use outside the context of a properly conducted trial. The dependency we have created in our population may make recruitment of the unenlightened masses to such a trial difficult. If so, we feel assured that those who advocate evidence based medicine and criticise use of interventions that lack an evidence base will not hesitate to demonstrate their commitment by volunteering for a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial.
(Final emphasis, mine)