2011-06-25 17:15:46MADE TO STICK Part 4: Credibility
John Cook


What makes people believe ideas? In large part, the credibility of the messenger and the message. Who/what has credibility in people's eyes is more diverse and complicated than you think.

External sources of credibility - authorities and anti-authorities

Naturally experts have credibility. In surveys, the public trust scientists as a reliable source of info about science more than any other source. Peer reviewed science is an authority even most deniers respect. A big step in persuading the public about climate change will be making them more aware of the 97% consensus among climate scientists.

Surprisingly, 2nd on the list of most trusted sources of climate information is friends and family. One consequence of this is we should be using social networks to reach the public. Not just online social networks but face to face, across the kitchen table outreach.

Anti-authority figures also have credibility. These are not experts but ordinary people with personal experience - they have credibility when they talk about it. When my hometown suffered flood, with the suburb next to mine being evacuated, media outlets like the Guardian and ABC Environment asked me to write about extreme weather. Luckily my house didn't get flooded although if it did, my credibility would've been off the scale. Talking from personal experience also provide powerful, concrete stories - this ticks a lot of "sticky" boxes.

The reason why friends, family and anti-authorities are credible sources is because they're not trying to sell you something - it's their honesty and trustworthiness rather than their status that makes them authorities.

Tellingly, last on the list of trusted sources of climate science is fossil fuel companies. Thus an important narrative to communicate is the support climate deniers get from fossil fuel companies.

Internal sources of credibility - details

A message gains "internal credibility" by using vivid, specific details. Often the teller's knowledge acts as a proxy for their expertise. This technique is Monckton's bread and butter - spouting rapid-fire technobabble is his way of establishing that he has mastery of the science, establishing credibility in the audience's eyes.

Details add credibility to both the messenger and the message itself. By making a message tangible and concrete, it's more real and believable. But to maximize effectiveness, don't just use gratuitous details. Use concrete details that symbolize and support your core message.

Statistics are another detail that add internal credibility but they can also be eye-glazers. Statistics need to be communicated in a concrete, visceral way.  Statistics are meaningless in isolation - they should be used to describe relationships. When comparing CO2 warming to waste heat, the important thing wasn't the exact numbers - what was important was to compare the relationship between waste heat and CO2 warming (eg - waste heat is freaking small in comparison).

If possible when communicating stats, use analogies relevant to human experience. That's why statistics are often described in concrete terms like football fields, sporting teams and Sydney Harbours (or maybe the last one is just me). They allow people to use everyday experience and common sense intuition to understand scale and context.

A powerful source of credibility - the audience

One of the most powerful sources of credibility is the audience. Make a falsifiable claim and ask the audience to test it for themselves - "try before you buy". Use the audience's own experience/knowledge/judgement. One possible way to do this is to invoke the audience's observations of what's happening to our climate (eg - more extreme weather) and then provide an explanation - add meaning to their existing observations.

To summate, different messages, messengers and audiences will require different sources of credibility. The most obvious sources, experts and statistics, aren't always the most powerful sources.

2011-06-26 10:52:26Another thought on audience credibility
John Cook

Had a thought on another way to get audience credibility - make the data (or even better, to our spreadsheets) available to the reader, encourage the reader to check it for themselves. We should look to do that more often when we plot graphs ourselves, make the XLS files or at the least links to the original data - go that extra mile to enhance our articles. If we make a habit of it, regularly make our graphs and data available and encourage readers to dive into it themselves, that will build credibility over time.
2011-06-26 14:01:31Perception of shared identity & values more important than expertise, with some groups
Tom Smerling


To reach beyond the people already convinced, we desperately need more diverse spokespeople.

It's been show many times that often people simply won't listen to what you have say, unless they feel you share their values.  

In particular, in the US we desperatly need climate spokespeople who enjoy trust and credibility with those who self-identify as conservative.    Many conservatives simply won't accept information from somebody they perceive as not being from their political "tribe" -- i.e. shares their values and worldview.    That rules out most climate scientists and all environmental activists.

I'd be very interested to hear about anybody -- in any country -- doing effective outreach to conservatives.

I'm aware of the following groups/people reaching out to conservatives through a "side door" -- a non-political shared identify, eg.

  • Evangelicals -- Katharine Hayhoe (Texas Tech) and Richard Cizik.
  • Hunters & Fishermen -- Nat'l Wildlife Federation
  • Security hawks -- CNA and other military figures
  • Republicans -- "Republicans for Environmental Protection" etc.

Unfortnately, all of these good efforts appear to be very limited in their reach.   

Does anybody know of others who are reaching out to conservatives and doing it effectively?

If even one highly visible conservative icon took a courageous stand (in support of climate science), it would allow others to say, "Look, I'm conservative, but I'm not anti-science....I agree with so-and-so...."





2011-06-26 15:00:00Shared values
John Cook

That's a very important point, thanks Tom. There's plenty of research to indicate people are more accepting of info fom people who share their values - hence sharing values is a strong source of credibility with particular audiences.
2011-06-26 18:24:23


In italy, there's not as much political polarization as in the US and people are even less polarized; I belive it's the same in other european countries. This has an important consequence, the right wing parties are less extreme in their views because they wouldn't have people support.
Religion plays a role, luckly on our side; the Catholic Church lined up on environmental protection long ago.

2011-06-26 18:59:10
Glenn Tamblyn




Where do some of the US Elder Statesmen on the conservative side stand. Not the up and coming wannabee's. Cabinet members from the Reagan/ Bush the Elder years, What divides could there be between the Tea Party/Folksy American Values people and the old Cold Warriors. Not the fossilised ones like Lindzen but the people who fought a fight from their values but without getting fossilised into running on autopilot till they keel over. Who can still look at a new day and its new challenges and not need to see it through the lens of the past.


A term that has gained some currency lately is to describe environmentalists as watermelons. Green on the outside and red on the inside. Who are the conservatives who have been able to move beyond the frozen 20th century thinking of FREEDOM vs EVIL SOCIALISM

2011-06-27 05:34:23Elder statesmen
Tom Smerling


Glenn -- Good point about the Republican "grey beards."   I know that James Baker -- RR's chief of -- stands with the science.   I think George Shultz is on board.     Then of course there's David Brooks, Arnold Schwartznegger and Bob Inglis. 

In fact, you've inspired me to start putting together a list....   I may have seen one online once.  

But as you suggest, these moderate and/or traditional Repubicans just don't have much credibility with the radical Tea Party/Talk Radio/Fox New wing that now drives policy.    We need one highly audible Tea Party type to "break ranks" to make it safe for others.

2011-06-27 05:52:33


Isn't that like searching for an objective conspiracy theorist?

Or a compassionate sociopath?

2011-06-28 00:57:39Tea and other partiers
Tom Smerling


A few months ago I heard Van Jones, formerly with the Obama White House and the promoter of the concept of "Green Jobs," speak at a rally in support of the Wisconsin protests.   

When somebody in the crowd shouted something cynical about the Tea Party, he interrupted his speech to say, "Don't give up on the Tea Party.    They are on our side, really.    They just don't know it yet."   

I've pondered that, and think he may be right at least about some Tea Partiers.   They are right about some things.  For one thing, they are thinking inter-generationally, talking about our legacy to our grandkids.    Another, is that many are almost as mistrustful of corporate motives as they are of government.    And there's nothing inherently anti-science in their ideology.   They didn't adopt anti-climate science ideology until the professional deniers went around the country speaking to them.

We should be leery of overgeneralizing about, or giving up on, any large segment of society. 




2011-06-28 01:33:39



Check out Craig Good, at: http://skeptoid.com/blog/2011/06/15/i-global-warming-skeptic/


2011-06-28 06:40:57Craig Good .... interesting!
Tom Smerling


Thanks for the tip re: Craig Good.    Very interesting!..and what an endorsement of SkS!   Now I want to learn more about Peter Gleick, to see how/why he was so effective, at least with Craig G.

What do you think of Craig's insistence that to reach skeptics (actual skeptics, who aren't closed to new info), we should stop using the term "denier" altogether, because skeptics who hear it are insulted?

I ascribe to SkS's useful distinction between a denier and a skeptic, but in actual use the two terms do get muddied.   

2011-06-28 06:58:46


I don't know if I accept any of Craig's specific recommendations, for general application. However, the "denier" issue is probably valid enough: It does seem to bug people.

I am more interested in the question, What common values can we draw upon with the conservative/libertarian types?

2011-06-28 09:35:45Using the term denier
John Cook


For years, I avoided the term denier because it's so alienating. When Haydn suggested writing a book "Climate Change Denial", I suggested calling it "Climate Change Skepticism" instead. But he firmly insisted on denial because the book is about the phenomena of denial, and fair enough.

I've written a few articles on the ABC website since then, referencing the term denier and outlining scientific evidence, and my observation has been just using the "d-word" so alienates many readers that they can't even process the scientific evidence - it's like it's not even there. So I'm starting to test the idea of softening the language, engaging values that you share in common with your audience, in order to "give the facts a fighting chance".

So I'm writing an article for a Christian magazine - in that one, I start by referencing scripture about how truth is established by two or more witnesses and showing how science runs on the same principle. I've also drafted something I'll send to the ABC where I start by quoting some skeptics demanding evidence, complimenting that attitude.

Other communicators draw upon other conservative values like national security and energy independence which seem to play well with U.S. audiences although not big issues here in Australia.

2011-06-28 10:20:20common values
Tom Smerling


National security and energy independence do work to establish some common ground with conservatives and "give the facts a fighting change."

There are others values too, but what works is very personal to both the speaker and audience.   I've used a variety of shared values to gfind commond ground with conservatives:

  • my libertarian leanings and roots (in college I was an Ayn Rand fan).
  • family and parenting -- we all care deeply about our children and their future
  • respect for elders, prior generations
  • conservative approach to what we inherited -- and the legacy we leave behind
  • skepticism about "grand schemes," like geo-engineering
  • respect for the field research scientists ("boots on the ground")  vs. think tank desk jockeys and lobbyists
  • resentment about high gas prices amid record oil industry profits.
  • pro-nuclear power, with proper safeguards
  • point to science denial on the left (anti-vaccine, power lines, GMOs, etc.), not just the right

Katharine Hayhoe, in her book for evangelicals, uses the story of Gideon and the "marked fleece" as a metaphor for  rational scientific skepticism and risk analysis


2011-06-28 15:49:47
James Wight


“In particular, in the US we desperatly need climate spokespeople who enjoy trust and credibility with those who self-identify as conservative.”

The problem with that is, if you understand global warming then that makes you extremely unlikely to vote conservative.

2011-06-29 07:56:55
Tom Smerling


James -- That may be largely true.   Personally, its very hard for me to see how one could accept climate science and vote Republican.

But people are complicated and live with contradictions.    In the U.S., there are plenty of "conflicted conservatives" who vote Republican because they are, say,  fiscally conservative or hawkish on defense, but remain adamantly pro-choice on abortion and oppose the religious right.   However, they choose to "fight their battles" within the party.

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-FL), who lost to a Tea Partier, remains outspoken about climate yet still a Republican.

Think about the Log Cabin Republicans -- gay men who vote Republican but fight within the party for gay rights (and just won a big victory in NY).  

For that matter, how about Dr. Richard Alley, of Penn State, a prominent climate scientist who self-describes as a "registered Republican?"    (I suspect, his voting behavior is not down-the-line Republican, which would illustrate your point!)



2011-06-29 08:10:04
Dana Nuccitelli

Barry Bickmore, Richard Alley, and Kerry Emanuel either are or have previously been registered Republicans.

2011-06-29 09:02:34


And presumably, so is Craig Good - which is why it could be useful to enlist his help.

2011-06-29 16:42:19
James Wight


Presumably Alley, Emanuel, and Bickmore joined the party before it started attacking climate scientists.

2011-06-29 16:48:25
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

"its very hard for me to see how one could accept climate science and vote Republican."

As a matter of faith, I vote for the candidates endorsing controls on abortion.  In the US, that is the Republican Party, by default.  It's not my preference, as I would prefer to vote on the environment, but one has to stick with one's principles.

I know many conservatives who are left on the environment and many other issues as well, who also vote Republican for the same reason as me.

2011-06-29 20:06:41Voting
John Cook

Daniel, do you mind if I explore your views some more? As a Christian, my faith often dictates how I vote but it really depends on what issues are at stake and I don't consider any one single issue as the magic bullet that decides which way I go. I've actually voted for three different parties in our last three federal elections, with my vote decided by different issues each time (just to demonstrate I'm not an ideologue). Do you consider the abortion issue the one issue that should decide how Christians vote? What if the conservative party policies conflict with other Christian values?

I'm not asking because I want to get into a debate with you - I'd like to understand your viewpoint and line of thinking.

2011-06-29 22:43:14
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Sure, John.  As a Christian I'm taught to love God with all my heart and soul and mind.  And to then love others as I do my God.  And that all other commandments pale before these (if you keep these two then the Big Ten will naturally be complied with).  Many evangelicals here in the States view the rights of the preborn as non-negotiable: the difference between a life in the womb and that of anyone in their old age is food, shelter...and time.

Being raised here in the States, most are ingrained with the verbiage found in our Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

In like fashion, my faith demands that the inalienable rights of the preborn are self-evident.  Given the selfsame food, shelter and time, all will have a more or less equal path and chance to live and achieve happiness in the fullness of the time given to them.  But when those rights are abrogaded through abortion, how is not the deprivation of all that they have yet to be, which has been summarily and arbitrarily taken away from them, not viewed as a most heinous crime like Murder?

Therein lies the position of most evangelicals here in the States.  As much as I would like to consider climate change my primary voting delineation, it must be subborned by my need to stay true to my faith and my race.  For faith calls me to love my God and my fellow man, including those not yet born, but endowed with the same life as our Creator gave freely to us.

Thus abortion and the right to life is the primary decisional factor I use when voting.

2011-06-29 23:43:48Conflicting values
John Cook


But if conservative policies save unborn babies but also cause the death of hundreds of thousands of people each year due to increased climate impacts, how do you decide which issue is more important?

2011-06-29 23:51:40Being inconvenient sucks
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Abortion is responsible for the absence of over 50 million US taxpayers and workers in the United States alone.

Consider that over 92% of abortions performed were because having a child was an inconvenience.

How many of those lost souls could have offerred up significant advances in medicine and science, thus contributing to saving other (now lost) lives?  Note, those lives saved add up into infinity, just as those lost to increasing climate change impacts.  But the 50 million so far, and the millions more still at stake, is the bigger issue.

Back to you.

2011-06-30 00:13:31So it's simple maths?
John Cook


Does it come down to 1.3 million unborn babies per year > 300,000 climate deaths per year?

So if the # of abortions per year is decreasing and the # of climate deaths per year is increasing, would your voting decision change when they cross paths? What about the consideration that we're committing ourselves to greater climate impacts in the future so even if we act now, we are still committed to millions of deaths in future decades?

To me, the sanctity of life is a black and white issue as a Christian. But the grey area is when one policy saves lives and the other policy takes lives - and commits us to millions of deaths into the future.

(note - I'm just simplifying "50 million abortions since 1973" down to "1.3 million per year" but I have no idea if the rate has increased or decreased over that time)

2011-06-30 00:16:40
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Just running out the door for a bit John, will get back to you soon.  But those aren't easy questions to answer...and the answer deserves more time and consideration than I have right at this moment.

2011-06-30 00:36:20The heart of the matter
John Cook


I agree, they're not easy questions which is kind of my point - how a Christian should vote is not a black and white issue. I'm not trying to out-debate you or win an argument, just trying to get to the heart of the matter for Christians. It seems to me the matter is not whether one values life or not. It's a matter of whether the good of preventing abortion outweighs the evil of allowing climate change. Lives are at stake either way.

2011-06-30 01:31:19
Tom Smerling


This is an interesting dialogue, Daniel.   I hope you'll continue.   Many readers, though they may not be commenting, would like to better understand your perspective, which is shared by many people. 

This discussion brings to mind a haunting fact I read just yesterday, in a book on public health:

"More than ten million children die each year from completely preventable causes...pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and malaria.   Ironically, most of those who die could be saved with the cheapest and easiest of all treatements:  routine vaccines, simple antibiotics, vitamin A,...[that] cost a few cents to a dollar each."   (Rx for Survival, Hilts, 2005)

Ten million.   Every year.   Preventable.  A picture of just one grief-stricken mother, holding her dead child in her arms, is almost unbearable.   Imagine what will happen to that number when climate-driven drought and floods uproot untold millions of families from their homes, overwhelming public health systems.   

That's why some people view climate as primarily a public health problem.   

2011-06-30 06:08:59Thanks, John & Tom (Warning: getting deep in here)
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

"I'm not trying to out-debate you or win an argument"

I know that, John.  Nor am I.  This is not an argument that can be "won". 

One's faith is an intensely personal matter, as it involves a relationship between the individual and their Creator.  As such, we are given life, the free will to choose how to dispense this life and to make of it what we will. 

One way of looking at it:  All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us.

So we have an intimate choice before us as Americans:

  • to choose life over death and vote against abortion, knowing full well all the while that we extend the rule of the madness of our current paradigm and add to the climate change bill that will eventually come due
  • to try and overturn the status quo of political/financial rulership to mitigate that which lies in store for us under BAU, knowing all the while we consign millions now and forever to a fate in which they have absolutely no say and suffer an end they do not deserve

Damned if we do and damned if we don't.  Yet to not choose...that is one option denied us.  For not choosing is still a choice.

I'm not saying mine is the right choice.  I served in the culture of death in the US Department of Defense for 13 years...and for the last 8 years in pharmaceutical sales, the culture of life.  The choice I make for me is for me alone.  It is a choice I am compelled with every fiber of my being to make.  I say compelled, because my intellect screams at me to choose to vote against the madness of BAU and to try & keep this car we are all passengers on from driving over the cliff looming out of the mists ahead.  But it is really no choice at all.  Why?

Let me add a wrinkle now to the mix, because it comes into play for me as an evangelical Christian.

The thing to keep in mind about Christianity is this:  This world is not our home.  True, we are born here, we live our lives here, and we die here.  But that is just our physical bodies.  It is a matter of faith that we are more than just our physical bodies, that we are imbued by our Creator with a unique spirit that lives on beyond this world.  And since it lives on beyond this world, that there is indeed a next world.  That at the end of all things, our Creator will come again & renew this world as it was intended to be.

Therefore, since this world is not our ultimate destination and we are but strangers in a strange land that is not our home, let us focus not on things of this world but on those things of lasting value: Faith. Hope. Love. Friendship. Family. Community. Life.  All these things endure, for they are not of mortal coil. 

I choose life at election time and I choose outreach through SkS to help spread the word because what I know gives me no alternative.  I choose to exercise the gifts that I have been given, to use the position that I am in, to benefit as many as possible for as long as possible.  As long as there is breath left in me, anyway.  Given this, I make my choice and my bed, and lie in it content that I have done what I can with my life with the choices I make for me.

At the very end of all things, I, other Christians, and all who have ever lived, will be called to give account of what they have done with what they have been given in this life, and the choices made therein.

Consider it our final performance review.

2011-06-30 06:42:40
Dana Nuccitelli

This is a subject that's always fascinated me, because as an atheist, I have a hard time understanding the logic of the pro-life crowd.  For example, how do you define when life begins?  Is it when the egg becomes fertilized?  Is it 9 weeks later when it becomes a fetus?  Somewhere in between?  Somewhere later?

Personally, I don't consider a fertilized embryo a "life".  From my perspective, it's on its way to becoming a life.  It's a potential life, but it's not a life yet.  But the real issue is that how you define when 'life' begins is very subjective.

Another issue is that overpopulation is already a problem.  We're quickly depleting a lot of natural resources, and if abortion isn't allowed, that only accelerates the problem.

Another issue is that there's a reason the pregnancy is inconvenient.  Usually it's because the people aren't equipped to be parents.  Do we really want 50 million children being born to parents who don't have the resources or the desire to raise a child?  It's not a recipe for a good life for those kids.

And then there's the fact that it's easy for us men to write a pregnancy off as 'just an inconvenience'.  We're not the ones who have to go through the pregnancy, carrying around a bunch of extra weight, having all kinds of pains, and that's before the actual birthing process - talk about an inconvenience!  Certainly something I'm glad I'll never have to go through.  Personally I don't feel like I'm in any position to tell a woman that it's her responsibility to go through all of that.  And then of course there's the 18+ years after that of having to devote the time, energy, and resources to raising the kid.  As someone without kids who watches a lot of friends and co-workers with kids, that's a very underestimated inconvenience right there.

So from a purely logical standpoint, abortions in certain situations just make sense.  And your position is purely a religious/moral one, but you're effectively trying to impose it on people who don't share those beliefs/morals.  Frankly I don't really think that's fair.  I can understand sharing your religious/moral beliefs with others, but to try and make them into law and dictate that others have to follow them - I really don't understand that.

And then of course there's the problem that the Republicans those religious/moral beliefs are forcing you to vote for are doing a whole lot of other really, really bad things.  It's really hard for me to understand.

2011-06-30 07:15:25



I'm personally against abortions, and therefore take all steps to avoid being involved in one, by any angle.

I also support all methods for helping other people avoid that same problem: education, counseling, resources, access to adoptive parents, etc.

However, there are always going to be other people (specifically women) who won't want to go through a pregnancy: maybe she has health problems, maybe she was raped, maybe the fetus is clearly brain-damaged. I don't see that I can impose a decision on her.

In fact, the truth is that I cannot: None of us can really stop a woman from having an abortion: There are always coat hangers, flights of stairs, bottles of drugs.

We can only stop her from having a SAFE abortion.

2011-06-30 07:50:29Thanks for your perspective, dana
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Dana, I sympathize, I really do.  It is a conflicted thing to be raised a Christian in the US and to believe in science at the same time.  No matter what you do or what you choose, you're screwed.  Democrats are on the wrong side of abortion, the Rupublicans, climate change.

Vote every incumbent regardless of party affiliation out for the next 3 election cycles = a good start.

As for abortion...people have a choice.  They have the choice to exercise the same control over using their reproductive rights that they do using their car oa their gun (if they own have one).  Few get pregnant through abstinence.  However, that entials making a choice our society is geared up to prevent.  From birth, men and women are raised with the expectation that adults engage in intercourse in or outside of marriage.  I by no means am implying that sex outside of marriage should be forbidden, either.  That is also a very personal choice, one to be made according to the dictates of one's faith/personal beliefs.  But if you're going to choose to "drive the car" then you better damn well choose to accept the consequences that may come of it.  To plead ignorance these days is simply unacceptable.

As to differentiating between birth/time of conception/age___________ as to when "life" begins, I'm not going there.  All I was trying to do was to point out that the only difference between a fetus in the womb, you, me, and those 80+ out there is food, shelter and time.  Pinning down a "start" date at any point in-between is going down a slippery slope towards possible forced euthenasia at some point.  In an ideal world, women would determine whether to get pregnant or not by conscious control over ovulation.  Period.  But we are not in that world.  In this world, the vast majority of human life terminated in the womb is done because they are coldly deemed "inconvenient".  And that is a travesty.

When I was a young adult, I was much the same as you, dana.  I don't mean that in a condescending or judgmental way, either.  Though I was raised in a Christian house, I was an atheist.  I studied science & believed in the power of the human intellect.  I had no position as regards to abortion because quite frankly, I didn't give a damn.  I didn't even get married until my late thirties, after I became a Christian.  And we practiced birth control because we "weren't ready".  Until we had an unplanned pregnancy (I was 39, my wife, 33).  And then we had a miscarriage, 4 weeks later.  It was only then I came to realize the value of that life no longer with us.

About a year and one car acciedent (during which, right after the miscarriage, a drunk driver crashed his car, which went airborne and landed on my wife's car; the resulting abdominal injuries would have been non-survivable for a fetus in the womb) later, our daughter Addison was born.  I had just turned 41, an older first-time father.  And I cannot tell you, Dana, how much that little life I then held in my arms meant to me.  Or how much more she has become.  I thought I had known what it was like to be a father (my wife has a son through a previous marriage), but in retrospect, until I had one of my own, I was just speaking "out my ass" when I said that I knew how it felt.  Until one holds one's own flesh and blood, one's own child, a babe in one's own arms, I feel that one cannot really know what it is like to be human.

That being said, I am no prurient saint, either.  I little expect other's to hold to any of what I say in thi matter.  Indeed, I have consistently said that all of this a matter between one and their Creator.  I did not have one for a long time, until I was called into the Faith.  I'm still human and make mistakes; less of some and more of others (I find the total volume is about the same, sadly).  And in all honesty, even as a Christian, if children weren't in the picture, in this day and age there is little point in getting married.  (that last will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows)

2011-06-30 07:54:17
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

@ neal: I am actually in agreement with your position.  There is no easy answer for unwanted pregnancies other than to do all that one can to not get put into that situation in the first place.

If it were possible, no one should be able to get pregnant or married until after the age of 25.  That would solve quite a bit of societal ills before they happen.  But that's neither here nor there.

And I have had a vasectomy since becoming a father.  And all our pets are either spayed or neutered.  But our 17-year old son does steer me a wide birth...  ;)

2011-06-30 07:58:10
Dana Nuccitelli

Well, I still don't understand the voting for Republicans on this issue.  I (sort of) understand your perspective, but by trying to make it law, you're still forcing your morals/beliefs on others.  That's where I have an issue, aside from the logical problems.

2011-06-30 08:02:06
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Isn't any politics-based decision just forcing one set of choices on another?  In the real world, this happens, daily.

In this world, if Obama or the Dem's would give ironclad support for the right to life of the not-yet-born, the Christian support of the Republican side would utterly collapse.

2011-06-30 08:04:03
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

After all, other than her support for gun ownership, Palin is a loon and mainstream America subconsciously knows that.

2011-06-30 08:08:24
Rob Painting

"There is no easy answer for unwanted pregnancies other than to do all that one can to not get put into that situation in the first place."

So a woman is supposed to have an idea of when she is likely to be raped? What if the offender is a family member and the victim a young girl? I agree with the notion that some women get abortions simply because it is more convenient than raising a child, which is appalling, but there's no cut-and-dried simple answer to this issue.

2011-06-30 08:19:44As brer Rob points out, there's no easy answer
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

I don't believe I ever said that no exceptions could ever be made.  I also never said that a woman should have to retain the baby after the delivery even if unable to provide for it.  The point simply being made is that the current practice of unfettered abortions in this country due to the baby being "inconvenient" is intolerable to most Christians in the United States.

Per my link above:

Reasons for abortions

In 2000, cases of rape or incest accounted for 1% of abortions.[26] Another study, in 1998, revealed that in 1987-1988 women reported the following reasons for choosing an abortion:[27]

  • 25.5% Want to postpone childbearing
  • 21.3% Cannot afford a baby
  • 14.1% Has relationship problem or partner does not want pregnancy
  • 12.2% Too young; parent(s) or other(s) object to pregnancy
  • 10.8% Having a child will disrupt education or job
  • 7.9% Want no (more) children
  • 3.3% Risk to fetal health
  • 2.8% Risk to maternal health
  • 2.1% Other


Abortion in the United States by gestational age, 2004. (Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

2011-06-30 09:20:05
Tom Smerling


I doubt we'll resolve the abortion debate here, but I wonder about this:

Could the pro-life and pro-choice camps ever will find common ground on saving the lives of "post-birth" children, e.g. by lowering infant mortality?

For saving souls, ten million unnecessary child deaths per year -- preventable for pennies to a dollar each (see my post above) -- would be a good place to start, no?  

A logical extension:   thinking about the coming impact of climate change on the lives of children in poor, hot countries.