Why it's hard to take the Heritage Foundation seriously

(One of a series?)

It’s late, and I’ll forego the detailed discussion of claims by the Heritage Foundation to contradict the findings of Hannah Brückner and Peter Bearman that virginity pledge programs fail to prevent STD infection (link from the NYT). I looked at the Heritage papers and came away with two general impressions: Boy, that’s a lot of regression tables; and it shouldn’t be suprising that the Heritage papers found different results because they used different dependent variables. I assume somebody else will tackle the data in more detail.

So back to my main point: Why it’s hard to take the Heritage Foundation seriously (aside from the above). It’s hard to take the papers seriously when the authors write this:

Overall, virginity pledge programs have a strong record of success. They are among the few institutions in society teaching self-restraint to youth awash in a culture of narcissism and sexual permissiveness. They have been unfairly maligned by two academics who should know better.

Somehow amidst all the narcissism and sexual permissiveness I get the feeling that STD outcomes isn’t really what they’re interested in. Throw in the rather unbecoming slander and we’ve got a nice combination of self-fulfilling contempt for that liberal professoriate while trying to trade on one’s own PhD cred at the same time. Tricky, that.