An article in the Washington Post last week (“How to break free from monogamy without destroying marriage”) described the dynamics of an open marriage and the various “apps” now available for facilitating extramarital relations. The amorality might have been shocking twenty years ago but today such well-traveled territory likely provokes little more than a yawn. Yet the article is still instructive for what the author’s analysis (or lack thereof) tells us about contemporary culture. Indeed, it is a classic example of what happens when your side in the debate is utterly dominant: You become lazy and put forward obvious stupidity as if it were compelling argumentation.
Take, for example, the attempts at offering evidential support for the incontinent sexual promiscuity described. All the usual tricks of persuasion are on display. Tendentiously selective history is wheeled out to make it seem that the idea of love as part of marriage is a recent innovation, emerging presumably after aeons where marriage was merely driven by pragmatic convenience. Homer would have disagreed, as would Dante and Shakespeare.
Bogus science makes a predictable appearance in the form of a piece of pure speculation about the marital motivation of cavemen. Real science, in the form of analysis of the significance of the statistics on, say, sexually transmitted diseases is conspicuous by its absence. That omission is, of course, now de rigueur in all politically acceptable discussions of sexual behavior and human “flourishing.”