When Marty Baron, former editor of the Boston Globe, directed his Spotlight reporters “to focus on the institution,” he was quite laudably pursuing the big picture of clergy sexual abuse. But the big picture is exactly what the media has been missing now for more than fourteen years. For the big picture would recognize that, whatever the causes of sexual abuse within the clergy, those causes are almost certainly identical to the causes of sexual abuse outside the clergy. That’s what the law of parsimony tells us.
The logic of parsimony tells us to look for common causes, not unique ones. We don’t assume that emphysema among the clergy has a different cause from emphysema among the laity. If a priest and an atheist both die of emphysema, we can safely assume that both were smokers and that this common deadly habit was the cause of death in both cases. The same is true for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and tooth decay: whatever their causes, they are the same for everyone.
And the same goes for the causes of sexual abuse. If you want to understand the underlying causes of clergy sexual abuse, you would be well advised to look for commonalities with sexual abuse perpetrated outside the clergy. And since exactly 0% of the child molesters outside the Catholic clergy were under a vow of celibacy, this fact has got to make celibacy the absolute worst hypothesis you could come up with to explain the phenomenon of child sexual abuse.
Yet it is easily the most widely accepted and unquestioned theory of the priest scandal. Even those self-anointed champions of reason, the New Atheists, are guilty of this dogmatic groupthink.
And the movie Spotlight agrees as well with the secular dogma that the institution of celibacy was responsible for the abuse crisis in the Church. So in my next post, the spotlight will be on celibacy. Just as I did in my book, I am going to focus on the neuroscience of celibacy, to see what light it can shed on the priest scandal. So stay tuned! The next post is on its way! JG