Choosy mothers choose science

Choosy moms choose science

Those who want the very best for their children choose science over pseudoscience.

Of course science is hard, and that means that many people don’t understand it. To cover up their lack of understanding, they whine that science is male and patriarchal and that women have “different ways of knowing.”

Science does not give you “atta girls” for defying authority. Science is about adult behavior, not juvenile antics to impress your friends.

Science doesn’t give you the opportunity to claim that you “did your research” and are “educated.” Anyone who has really done research or has obtained a degree in a scientific discipline would never be found boasting that they are “educated” and would never do “research” on Google.

Science is no fun. There are no grand conspiracy theories, no government organizations trying to make you and your children sick. There’s just reality, as boring as that is.

Science is a killjoy, always demanding evidence, and displaying extreme skepticism about people curing cancer and autism through their own efforts.

Science makes it hard to preen as a Sanctimommy because science offers no guarantees, only probabilities.

It’s easy and so much fun to choose pseudoscience, especially because it allows you to pretend that you are a better mother than others, but being a good mother isn’t about easy and fun.

That’s why choosy mothers choose science.

178 Responses to “Choosy mothers choose science”

  1. Elizabeth
    July 13, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    Its true decision making and informed consent should be based on science and not pseudo science. However the issue does not stop there. If I understand the science and statistics and the potential adverse outcomes then I am informed – and yes I do mean from reading medical journals, reference books and texts not from Dr Google. However if my tolerance for accepting the risk is higher than my doctor’s that does not make me wrong and them right, it just makes me less risk averse than they are. It doesn’t make me understand science any less just because I have a greater risk tolerance. I have a son with a genetic condition and have read many articles on his condition to ensure I could discuss not be dictated to by his doctors in relation to his treatment and to ensure I understood what they were proposing. On more than one occasion I have provided them with medical articles I had found in foreign medical journals that they had not read and which actually resulted in them modifying their recommendations. I did the same with the birth’s of my children. The problem with many doctors is they assume all their patients are ignorant or misinformed and need to be told what to do rather than be active participants in learning and understanding the risks associated with the medical situation being treated. Perhaps when doctors start having two way conversations rather than having paternalistic attitudes to their patnients there will be less searching for “the answers” in the wrong places by those patients.

    • Eddie
      July 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      I believe that most (if not all) regular commenters here are comfortable with true informed consent when the difference between doctor and patient is only risk tolerance, and not a general dismissal of the reasoning that doctors use to make their decisions and recommendations.

  2. Captain Obvious
    July 2, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    God, send me a sign that I should be delivered”

    VBAC hopeful conspiracy theorist trying to outlast her doctors despite previous CS after being induced for pre eclampsia now currently at 39 weeks 3 days with elevated BP again, platelets are borderline low around 124 to 115, decreased fetal movement, 6/8 BPP, sporadic intermittent decels on fetal monitor with an unfavorable cervix. What is she waiting for? She is not in labor and her doctors don’t want to induce a previous CS , although they offered a foley balloon trial. So does she have preeclampsia? Developing HELLP? Intermittent sporadic decels are not good.

    • Eddie
      July 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

      An early comment that is true insanity: “Also, I think babies r us carries fetal dopplers for about $25, maybe that would help ease your mind” Plus people telling her not to worry about high blood pressure but instead talk to a midwife. Yikes.

      • Captain Obvious
        July 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

        Even if she doesn’t have preeclampsia per se, high blood pressure can damage fragile blood vessels in the brain (stroke), heart (MI). Retina, kidney, placenta (abruption). Why worry?

    • amazonmom
      July 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

      Sometimes I think these women expect a burning bush or for handwriting to appear on the wall. The team of medical personnel telling them its time to deliver isn’t enough?

  3. Chris
    July 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    If everyone chose science, 9/10 kids would be over medicated. Pharmaceutical companies would be rich and powerful, commercials would be influencing people to pop pills. Doctors would be using studies to push certain medicines or procedures to benefit themselves and depressed messed up kids would be performing acts of mass violence. Wait… maybe this is already happening?!?!

    • Eddie
      July 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

      What does any of what you said have to do with science? You’re talking about consumer culture and corporate free reign, which has nothing to do with science, which may or may not be present in that environment.

      • Catch
        July 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

        “which may or may not be present in that environment.”
        Science is used as a tool. People have used it as a tool to benefit “Interests”. Amy is no different.

        • KarenJJ
          July 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

          Right, then your beef is with Amy, not science. Still not sure how that fits with mass violence, but I imagine you’re more then happy to explain it again.

          • Catch
            July 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

            Only because you tempted me, but what the media tends to not mention is that all those kids that have been doing atrocious acts such as shootings, stabbings, ect.. have all been on heavy duty medication that is known to alter moods. Doctors that studied the sciences, prescribed them.

          • Eddie
            July 2, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

            Repeat with me: Correlation is not causation.

            You know, I bet a high fraction of people taking powerful pain killers like to rest quietly in a dark, quiet room. Is that a side affect of pain killers that I am not aware of?

          • realityycheque
            July 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

            Honestly, saying that the medications triggered their actions whilst completely dismissing the probability that the underlying conditions those medications were there to treat were actually the cause is the same style of flawed logic used by homebirth advocates….

            “But the homebirth baby died in hospital! Therefore hospital must be dangerous!”. No, the baby died because by the time it arrived at the hospital it had already sustained such horrific injuries that nothing could be done to save its life.

            Medication aside, risk of harming yourself and/or others is elevated in depression and psychoses.

          • realityycheque
            July 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

            Correlation/causation fallacy.

            Just because they were ON the medication doesn’t mean that the medication caused their actions.

            The medications are there to treat underlying depressive and psychotic symptoms which are much more likely to be the cause of their behaviours than the medications themselves.

          • Catch
            July 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

            Of course correlation doesn’t always lead to causation. Correlation should call for inquiries. If one does not point it out, it may be missed.

          • Clarissa Darling
            July 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

            Every day I thank Jesus that my college major required me to take a statistics class. I’d hate to be the one of the fools that go around believing these kinds of things.

          • Catch
            July 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

            Ahh, so correlation is completely irrelevant? Many scientific discoveries were made only after pursuing reasons of correlations. When ever is serves fanboys well, they claim “fallacy”.

          • PJ
            July 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

            Speculation is not scientific evidence. It may be useful for suggesting directions that research might take, but until it’s bolstered by evidence it can’t tell us anything meaningful–no matter how much we would like it to.

    • Box of Salt
      July 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

      Actually, Chris, if everyone did truly chose science, marketing campaigns wouldn’t work at all, and everyone would get treatment that is appropriate for them. There goes your entire premise.

      • Box of Salt
        July 2, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

        Catch or Chris? Disqus is acting up again.

        • LibrarianSarah
          July 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

          or Chris is using a sock puppet.

      • Chris
        July 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

        Everyone choosing sciences to the extent your talking about is unrealistic, to many human behaviors that are to hard to overcome. What I was talking about was something more realistic and was actually sarcasm. People claim science, everyone else nods their heads and agree.

        • PJ
          July 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

          You aren’t making any sense.

        • Box of Salt
          July 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

          Chris, I’m sorry, but using sarcasm does not excuse the total lack of logic.

    • realityycheque
      July 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

      All you’re displaying in this comment is a fundamental misunderstanding of what science actually is.

      SCIENCE itself is a systematic method of study that uses observation and experiment to acquire knowledge, solve problems and discern fact from fiction.

      What you’ve described isn’t “science”, it’s individual PEOPLE or groups of people abusing scientific creations for their own selfish monetary gain.

  4. Morgaine
    July 1, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    Nonsense. Science is awesome, incredibly interesting, and has been for most of humanities existence!

    • Kelly
      July 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      I think you mean “humanity’s.” The humanities are the studies of human nature (history, literature, the arts, etc.)

  5. Kelly
    July 1, 2013 at 3:10 am #

    Science is patriarchical, our entire society is recovering from patriarchy. I also fail to see how knocking feminism helps this argument. If you want to empower women to make informed decisions, you should treat feminist thought and women at large respectfully.

    • KarenJJ
      July 1, 2013 at 3:17 am #

      I’d say that society is patriarchal. Science doesn’t particularly care either way. Treating women respectfully would involve not treating them like idiots that don’t understand science as a start.

      • Lizzie Dee
        July 1, 2013 at 5:59 am #

        I don’t really understand what is meant by “not understanding science”. There are rather a lot of different sciences that I don’t understand at all – like neuroscience, which I would like to understand, and quite a few others that I am content to leave not understood and take an expert’s view of it with a degree of skepticism or open mindedness, depending on mood. My education in the sciences was sketchy and erratic, but I can grasp the idea of evidence, testing a hypothesis etc. I understand that science needs to be rigorous and have a very specific knowledge base I lack so factoring in what I don’t know perhaps makes me less gullible to gee-whiz science. I know enough about statistics to know that I would need to learn more to make full sense of them. What I am getting at here is that to me this is common sense, not expertise. Those of you with better training can make sense of things I can’t, but it is a bit horses for courses.

        When I read some research, my attention tends to be caught by the use of language – where I do have some expertise, and I sometimes think careless writing or reading should be a factor. Words like “may” or “there is no evidence” are a bit on the weasily side. The idea that advanced study in the humanities boils down to “reading books” I find a bit quaint – there is a bit more to the old “Two Cultures” debate than that. High level study ought to train the mind to think clearly but ever more narrowly, not make us experts in everything.

        As for this debate, I don’t think it is a matter of misunderstanding science so much as preferring magic. So much more appealing to those of a nervous dispostion and power hungry control freaks.

    • Wren
      July 1, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      How is science patriarchal? I don’t mean the institutions around science, but science itself? I hear this often but no one ever bothers to explain.

      • Admanda
        July 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

        That’s because they don’t have an explanation. They’re spouting nonsense. If science is meant to explain the natural world through the testing of hypotheses it can just as easily be used to study things like intuition and 6th sense or “women’s ways” the author refers to as it can be used to determine the relative brain size or mathematical ability of the genders. Science is not biased. Researchers and those funding them may be biased. That has nothing to do with physics or biology.

    • Eddie
      July 1, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      OK, I’ll bite… where do you get that Dr Amy is knocking feminism? If you want to empower women to make informed choices, teach them science and the language of science (especially statistics). Exactly the same if you want to empower men to make informed choices. Science doesn’t care what your gender is.

      Some individuals and some scientific institutions have been patriarchal. To blame “science” for that is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The flaw there is not science. It’s the people.

    • Kelly
      July 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Few things:

      – I don’t mean to say that because science is patriarchal that it is evil. It is biased, as is everything, and it is biased in a masculine superiority sort of way. Science is overwhelmingly male, just look at how many incentives there is to get women into the field. Furthermore, from a psychological point of view, science is a more “masculine” way of thinking. Black and white, emphasis on intellect as opposed to emotional and experiential ways of knowing. Science it utterly vital, but people have a hard time with the idea that it is not the only way of knowing. (As an FYI, I DO think it is vital in birth, I am taking issue with the approach and tone here)
      – Reducing a feminist point of view to a belittling line “women have different ways of knowing” is knocking it. Feminism is a different point of view, a point of view that has been missing from the culture for the past few thousand years and is just able to jump back in in the last one hundred.
      – I have no idea what the “not understanding science” part is. My comment about empowering women is from the point of view that this blog clearly exists to save mothers and babies lives, but being a jerk is a crummy way to do it.

      • KarenJJ
        July 1, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

        I see science as a tool. You have a hypothesis, test it, show methods so that others can verify and test it too. Similar to computers are a tool, finance is a tool, medicine is a tool, cooking is a tool.

        I don’t see any of that as inherently patriachal or masculine or feminine. Gravity is gravity. The way education in science and using the tools of science has been restricted to women is a societal problem. Walking away from knowledge and tools because they are unfeminine is exactly the sort of thing I am against. Yes the culture can be intimidating (I work in a field (technical but not science or medical) where around 10% are women and I agree that could be changed for the better and I hope it will change over time. In my field though, there are no ‘other ways of knowing’ – either something works or it doesn’t.

        I completely disagree that science is a more masculine way of thinking. Society has called it that for many years and women who have that ‘masculine’ way of thinking (which I don’t believe is innate BTW) have been sidelined by the scientific community for being too female, and by other women for being ‘too masculine’. You can’t lock women out from scientific education and then say that women don’t think ‘scientifically’ and call it an innate preference in women.

      • Eddie
        July 1, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

        You misunderstanding Dr Amy if you think she is reducing all feminism to “women have different ways of knowing.” In fact, Dr Amy does not use the word “feminism” in her blog post, so I don’t get how you think she is talking about feminism at all.

        There are women who self-identify as feminist who believe in gender essentialism who refer to these different ways of knowing. IMHO, gender essentialism is not very compatible with feminism, but some people out there disagree.

        I strongly disagree that “science is a more “masculine” way of thinking”. Yes, for a long time science was an old boys club. So was politics. Does that mean that politics is inherently masculine, or does that just mean that men in positions of authority co-opted the processes to exclude women?

        Some areas of science are predominantly female, such as biology. Those areas are just as much “science” as the areas that are still predominantly male.

        IMHO, when you say “emphasis on intellect as opposed to emotional and experiential ways of knowing” means it is male thinking (and I suppose the opposite would be female thinking), you are buying into and supporting patriarchy by supporting rigid gender roles. Men can be emotional/experiential. Women can be intellectual. Only patriarchal gender roles say otherwise.

      • PJ
        July 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

        ” Furthermore, from a psychological point of view, science is a more
        “masculine” way of thinking. Black and white, emphasis on intellect as
        opposed to emotional and experiential ways of knowing”

        As a feminist, I find this so offensive. Men don’t have any special claim to the kinds of thinking that make good scientists. That’s just Victorian rubbish.

        And women do go into the sciences. More women than men study medicine and biology, for example. There are big gaps in physics and engineering, true, but that has nothing to do with lack of aptitude. We may as well say women are intrinsically smarter than men because they do better at education in general.

    • Kelly
      July 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

      Clearly some of you do not understand where I am coming from. Firstly, I am a feminist, so what I mean to say is in support of women wholly and completely. When I say that there are masculine/feminine styles from psychological perspective, perhaps it would have been better to say philosophical perspective. Spirituality, the Eastern philosophy of the Yin/Yang, psychology’s anima/animus all acknowledge masculine and feminine styles of thinking and being. These styles are, and I want to emphasis this, totally independent of gender and sex. Science does not concern itself with morality, the nature of God, what makes good art, and a slew of other things. This should not imply that those things are feminine, girly, or whatever, but you cannot deny that those are different ways of looking at the world!

      So, in short, science is not the only way to look at the world, and masculine/feminine does not always refer to gender and sex.

      • PJ
        July 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

        You don’t seem to understand how problematic it is to characterise any particular way of thinking as “feminine” or “masculine.” Also, I’m a bit lost on what your point is, to be honest.

      • Box of Salt
        July 7, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

        Kelly, “Clearly some of you do not understand where I am coming from.”

        That’s probably true. However, the same can be said about you. You don’t understand where many of us are coming from.

        Your comments suggest your educational background had a greater emphasis on the humanities than on science. You are commenting on a blog frequented by MDs, RNs, and other science professionals in a variety of fields.

        Why are you surprised that your philosophical generalities regarding what we (meaning scientists of both genders, and including those who have studied science in preparation for other fields such as medicine and engineering) actually do for a living did not go over well?

        I see you’ve fallen back on complaining about Dr Amy’s tone on her blog. Well, if we’re going to talk about tone, please consider how your statements below “Furthermore, from a psychological point of view, science is a more “masculine” way of thinking. Black and white, emphasis on intellect as opposed to emotional and experiential ways of knowing” sound to the women who actually do science?

      • KarenJJ
        July 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

        “So I resist the urge to ask Storm whether knowledge is so loose-weave of a morning when deciding whether to leave her apartment by the front doorOr the window on her second floor.”

        Sure it’s not the only way to look at the world but most people are happy to believe in gravity. But you don’t have to just believe in gravity because someone said so. You can test it out yourself. How does someone acquire knowledge without science – testing something and seeing what happens is what we do. Is it better to leave by the front door or a second floor window – something a toddler might have a go at when they are still testing and figuring out the world.

        You seem to be setting up an ‘either/or’ situation that doesn’t exist. Science and art have a lot to say about our experiences. Tossing out the science or calling it masculine when there are a truckload of women very comfortable with scientific method and thinking is discounting the basis of an enormous amount of your knowledge. And if masculine/feminine is not referential to gender or sex, then what is your point of calling it masculine?

        (quote above is from Tim Minchin’s “Storm”)

  6. July 1, 2013 at 2:40 am #

    Tell you, this is copied and pasted from my own email, blog entry, post/threads, etc. In which I’m really love to know from the source as the other way around.

    Open letter Amy Tuteur and Skeptical OB


    Dear Whomever this may concern:

    Who are you really and what’s behind your blog story? Have to say I
    never really questioned you, your blog, story before until I exactly
    read of your many blog entries. In which it appears to me you appear to
    be no skeptical OB and etc. By the way I got the link via another link
    and which I started to investigate you. But really haven’t found
    anything solid on you or blog as of yet to determine if you exactly a
    skeptical OB or something else entirely. In which I came here to see if
    theres anything solid about you and you blog to help me to determine
    whom you really is and you blog as well.

    Think thats it for now.

    Thank you, in advance.

    Yours truly,

    Jessica A Bruno

    • KarenJJ
      July 1, 2013 at 2:49 am #

      Just googled the name. Interesting.

      • Lizzie Dee
        July 1, 2013 at 6:30 am #

        Oops so did I. How do I delete my post? Can’t figure it out so will “rub out” as best I can.

        • Eddie
          July 1, 2013 at 10:13 am #

          You can delete a post only from within the Disqus website, I believe.

    • Lizzie Dee
      July 1, 2013 at 6:16 am #

      “Whom you really is..” I love it!

      I think it is very low to pick up on spelling/grammar mistakes. I make a few of my own, but that one is a peach.

      The inventivness of those who want Dr. A to be a sinister conspiracy has improved of late. More literary flourishes and less vulgar invective. I suppose you have to be a bit prone to conspiracy theories to swallow the NCB version of what goes on in hospitals, but what DO they imagine?

      • Lizzie Dee
        July 1, 2013 at 10:20 am #

        I tried to delete the above, but only succeeded in deleting my name It seems this person has a neurological problem affecting language, so my comments are uncalled for and unkind.

        I tend to believe that if you post on the internet you have to take whatever flak that brings, but maybe I should reconsider..

      • Lisa Miller
        July 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

        in think she is using google translate? Addie tried talking to her in Italian and she didn’t get that :/

    • Dr Kitty
      July 1, 2013 at 6:29 am #

      Jessica, perhaps you’d like to read all the blog posts with “Lawsuit” in the title.

      You will find links to court documents which are a matter of public record, confirming that Dr Tuteur is an OB who has retired from clinical practice.

      Your open letter is a little hard to understand, but I think you’re saying that you’re not sure if Dr Tuteur is who she says she is.
      She is.

    • July 6, 2013 at 1:51 am #

      Back with more info pertaining to all of this and etc. Sorry, it took me awhile and etc.

      Dear Dr. Amy:

      I’m sorry, to read about you ongoing battle Ms Crosley-Corcoran and her blog site The Feminist Breeder. In which I was member of briefly (either last yr or yr before, I can’t remember). But no longer and which in retrospect I’m glad for.

      Think thats it for now.

      Thank you, again, in advance.


      • July 6, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

        Back with my own comment to someone else comment on my FB (Facebook) wall. In which I copied and pasted both ours, but have removed her name because of privacy.

        My comment

        Thanx, her name was here, I’m with you on this. At the same time it also good to get both sides of the story. Now, wheres your opinion/s regarding Gina and her blog because to me thats another side/part of the story. I for one don’t intend to form a opinion on this and etc.

        Her comment This is a terrible blog and Amy tuteur likes to scare people with her horror stories. I love homebirth! I am also grateful for the Canadian system that allows home birthing women access to emergency services and obstetrical care in the event of a medical emergency or true complication.

        Think thats it for now.

        Thank you, again, in advance.


        • July 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

          Back with something else regarding all of this. In which I asked on Yahoo Answers.

          My question as follows.

          Why no one else besides me has yet to report Gina Crosley-Corcoran and her blog website The Feminist Breeder to the authorities including the social media networks that both of them are on? In which I did all of it, last night. I mean just look at the lawsuit that started Dr. Amy B Tuteur and her blog Skeptical OB because of all of this for more info. In which Dr. Tuteur claims that Ms Crosley-Corcoran and her followers have been doing this to her and blog. Well, at least the site providers and at this time don’t knowledge regarding the social media networks as well. To me that would be more apporiate spl (spelling) thing to do instead of not doing anything.

          Think thats it for now.

          Thank you, again, in advance.


        • July 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

          Back again. To forgot to mention before that Ms Crosley-Corcoran has started a legal fund via her blog website and which is still in place as I know of. I mean its whenever click on to something to access, but instead it takes you to where you need signed up and etc.

          Think thats it for now.

          Thank you, again, in advance.


  7. Zornorph
    June 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    She blinded me with science!

  8. jmb
    June 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    More scientific facts: Anglo-Saxon cemeteries & maternal mortality, affecting the wealthy as much as the poor:

  9. Tiffany
    June 28, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    A big thanks to science! Sadly, I fell for the hype of so-called natural birth and came extremely close to having one at home with my last pregnancy (after already having had two prior c-sections). I began to feel very uneasy about my “midwives” (CPMs, of course) after several displays of incompetence and happened to find this blog; a strong factor in why I sought out professional care. My son was born this May, at a hospital, via c-section due to his breech/transverse presentation and subsequently placed in the NICU because he was three weeks early. All in all, we had a fairly good hospital experience but most importantly, my son survived and is healthy as he could be, and how he got here is irrelevant to that. 🙂

  10. Emaal
    June 28, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    My favourite post of this blog so far

  11. T.
    June 28, 2013 at 5:31 am #


    This woman’s baby couldn’t tollerate something in her milk and screamed in pain costantly. For months. And couldn’t be put down. When they discovered the allergy, instead that, I don’t know, GIVING FORMULA she went on a very strict diet and when she strayed then days of hell…
    People are crazy. The poor kid…

    • yentavegan
      June 28, 2013 at 6:38 am #

      Perhaps her infant suffered because her country’s health care is ruled by government interference and she could not see a pediatrician immediately. This mother also had celiac disease so any lactation professional should have been looking at food intolerances before this mom even left the hospital with her baby. in fact it is hard for me to get my head around the lack of information this mother had.
      I suspect there is some gratification this mother gets from magnifying her suffering. Every breastfeeding mother knows that a baby who screams and who chokes and who has mucous diapers is reacting to something in the mom’s diet

      • Ivy Wilson
        June 28, 2013 at 6:54 am #

        According to that article, the child was eventually diagnosed correctly by a pediatrician at Yorkhill Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, which is a National Health Service (government guaranteed) hospital. The private, non National Health Service, pediatrician the mother took the child to did not correctly diagnose him but instead prescribed sedatives that were not an effective treatment.

        • yentavegan
          June 28, 2013 at 6:57 am #

          but it took her 3 months to get there, when an ibclc would have known in the first ten minutes of talking to this mother.

          • SMM
            June 28, 2013 at 8:13 am #

            I love my government interference healthcare. Means that my children and family are kept in health for free and we don’t have to stand by and watch people die because we can’t afford treatment/isn’t covered by insurance.

          • yentavegan
            June 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

            The united States is unlike any other country. I fear doom if the USA tries to duplicate the health care systems of other countries. We do not have a history of hundreds of years of familial affinity for our country men, we do not have a sense of shared history and interconnectedness.
            so perhaps I am guilty of projecting my faithlessness in the USA to getting healthcare right onto other nations that have had government health care for decades.
            Still the poor infant who suffered due to food intolerances might not have faired better on formula which is made either from cows milk or soy, two highly reactive foods for allergic people.

          • mimi
            June 28, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

            I have received excellent and mediocre care both in the public and private sector. The most socialized system in the whole world is the United States VA system. I have utilized it for many things and am pleased with the care I have received. They are professional and thourough. And FREE.

          • Ivy Wilson
            June 30, 2013 at 6:44 am #

            One of the focuses of this blog is to show how some people will believe in the false prophet of “nature” and shun medical science and interventions despite statistical evidence (based on thousands of cases) as well as personal stories. This comment is so important and interesting because it shows that some people will also steadfastly believe in the vast superiority of American health insurance and its patchwork of public and private coverage, uninsured citizens, and under insured citizens despite evidence of perfectly good universal healthcare coverage in other developed nations as similarly indicated by both statistical evidence and personal stories.

          • PJ
            June 28, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

            What you don’t seem to understand is that people with public healthcare still have the choice of private care. In the US, you actually pay more in healthcare taxes than countries like the UK but you have no general public healthcare option.

            I also don’t understand why people are paranoid about the government ‘interfering’ in healthcare, but are happy to have private companies, whose goal is solely to make a profit, ‘interfere’ instead. I’d be far more distrustful of an entity whose aim is financial gain, personally.

            I’ve experienced both systems, by the way. I think the US healthcare system is actually a very good one (if you can afford it), but value for money it definitely ain’t. I would much rather have the option of public healthcare.

          • MikoT
            June 29, 2013 at 10:54 am #

            What you don’t seem to understand is that people with public healthcare still have the choice of private care
            How many times does this need to be repeated before it sinks in?

          • Bombshellrisa
            June 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

            People with no health insurance in the US have that option too, they just have to cough up enough to pay for it.

          • KarenJJ
            June 30, 2013 at 3:16 am #

            That’s the funny part, the US has less options as I see it. Here I can get free health care, or pay extra and go private with private health insurance, or pay further again and pay outright for private health care without private health insurance. It doesn’t matter who I work for.

          • KarenJJ
            June 30, 2013 at 3:19 am #

            “We do not have a history of hundreds of years of familial affinity for our country men, ”

            In what way is this any different from the history of Italy or the UK or even Australia?

          • S
            June 28, 2013 at 11:11 am #

            Where does it say the child was unable to be seen for three months? Or is there some standard procedure for seeing a pediatrician that this American is not aware of?

            It says in the article that the baby was seen in hospital at a few weeks old, and at that time the mother asked for “more tests” and was refused because they thought it was just newborn fussiness.

      • T.
        June 28, 2013 at 7:54 am #

        I am Italian, and I live in a country with “government interference” in healtcare. Even IF it would be true what you say, I would take a story like this any day against having to watch while a loved one is dying of cancer because we can’t pay the threatment or getting a whole family going bankrupt over paying it or seeing my father being denied coverage because he has had a heart attac.
        Good doctors/bad doctors exhist everywhere. My NHS doc is very good, and had been a lifesaver during my depression.

        I still think that the most logical thing to do was getting the kid some formula. This whole attitude about breastfeeding is highly inflated.

      • realityycheque
        June 28, 2013 at 9:10 am #

        I, too live in a country with “healthcare ruled by government interference”.

        For a non-urgent appointment, it only took a week to get my son into a pediatrician. I have scheduled appointments with a variety of health professionals and always manage to get a spot within a few days to a couple of weeks- tops. Specialist providers and surgeons may have longer waits in certain circumstances, however, if your needs are urgent, your care will be prioritised. I’ve had my appointments brought forward on many occasions. If that’s still not fast enough for you, you can get basic hospital cover with private insurance for as little as $5-odd dollars per week.

        I wouldn’t be alive without public health care. I suffered severe and chronic illness in my mid teens – early 20s, and my family would have been unable to afford several years of intensive treatment without this wonderful system. Today, we are able to move on with our lives without debt looming over our heads.

        Please keep your disrespectful comments about public healthcare and the physicians who work within the public health system to yourself. These are individual people who care about their patients just as much as any of the doctors in the US. There are good and bad doctors in both the public AND private systems.

        • KarenJJ
          June 28, 2013 at 9:26 am #

          My family would be stuffed if we were in the US. As it is, we go on with our lives (including working and paying taxes) as though we don’t have a rare, chronic syndrome that requires at least $20k in health care a year for each affected member (which unfortunately is most of us..). Free to change jobs without insurance worries. No concerns about whether we’d be on medication once retired etc. No concern about it sending us bankrupt.

          • KarenJJ
            June 28, 2013 at 9:27 am #

            Oh and my kid got into a very busy clinic of a very busy public Children’s hospital in Sydney within a week. Triage worked well, and doctors were very quick to get her checked out once we realised what we were dealing with.

          • KarenJJ
            June 28, 2013 at 9:30 am #

            Should add that they were absolutely fantastic doctors. Best I’ve ever come across. They really went above and beyond and were incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

      • Guesteleh
        June 28, 2013 at 9:27 am #

        Speaking of “government interference in healthcare,” 50 percent of the healthcare in the U.S. is paid for by the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid (and this predates the passage of the Affordable Care Act). The care may be provided by private companies but the dollars come from the ebil guvmint. Also, healthcare is heavily regulated by every level of government. You need to sit down with that nonsense.

        P.S. I saw an lactation consultant who failed to diagnose my son’s poor latch and suck and it wasn’t until he failed to start eating solid food by age 1 that he was diagnosed with a feeding disorder. So I wouldn’t assume that a private lactation consultant would’ve diagnosed this baby correctly. In fact, I’d love more government interference with training and licensing LCs because there are so many shitty and unprofessional ones operating out there.

        • yentavegan
          June 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

          I agree. IBCLC’s really should be RN’s.

      • Guesteleh
        June 28, 2013 at 9:28 am #

        Another point: what’s the point of being able to get an appointment with an LC right away if you can’t afford to pay for it? It cost me close to $200 for one session.

      • theadequatemother
        June 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

        I have government interference healthcare. I love it. I was referred to an LC from the LDR…appt in one day…plus the public health nurse that came to my home daily to check on me and baby post partum was also an LC. Plus we saw our family doc the first day after we were discharged and then again by the end of the week.

        Sometimes patients fall through the cracks…but its not a public vs private issue and the entire idea that private health care is somehow superior because of “market forces” has been absolutely debunked by lots of high quality health services research.

      • Michellejo
        June 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

        I can think of stacks of such incidents.

        I live in a community where the breastfeeding rate is 98%. (Seriously.) I have seen poor babies scream themselves silly for weeks on end while they are being used as a glorified birth control pill. Then, if they’re lucky, their mothers will start experimenting with cutting out different foods, but this can take time. And all the time the mothers are feeling sorry for themselves because they get no sleep at night.

        As someone who bottle fed, I may not say a word, because I’m tainted. I don’t see the *enormous* life saving advantages of breast feeding and am short changing my children big time. But what of their poor little mites… It’s maddening.

      • Wren
        July 1, 2013 at 8:42 am #

        Yet another lover of government interference healthcare. Somehow every medical need we have had has been met, including fertility treatment when I needed it and a world expert when my mother-in-law developed a rare cancer. When my friend had a daughter with a lot of food allergies (including dairy and gluten) it was handled very well on the NHS. Her daughter is 1 week younger than my son and we met in antenatal classes, so I’ve seen it all from start to now, at 7.
        And just for the record, my son has no food allergies or intolerances and spent some time screaming, choking and having unpleasant, mucous diapers. Turned out I had a major oversupply and he had a hard time with it. His sister had an easier time handling it.

  12. Cosmic Mummy
    June 28, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    I am a choosy mother, therefore. I’m a physicist, and I apply scientific method in every aspect of my life, especially in childcare. My blog (in italian) is the “diary of a scientist mummy”, where I explain my way of seing things. I like this post very much.

    • T.
      June 28, 2013 at 7:55 am #

      How interesting! I am italian too 😀

  13. Bombshellrisa
    June 28, 2013 at 12:50 am #

    I find spending the day as a family at the science center much more fun then sitting around with woo nuts and “birth workers in miniskirts” retell the stories of their children’s births.

  14. Sarah
    June 28, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    Hey! Science is totally fun! Hahaha I’m a nerd

  15. Sue
    June 27, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    ”Of course science is hard, and that means that many people don’t understand it.”

    For me, finance is hard, and I don’t understand it. I happily defer to, and take advice from, others who do. There – it’s not so hard.

  16. Lisa Miller
    June 27, 2013 at 9:29 pm #


  17. Captain Obvious
    June 27, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Just playing around. To Oingo Boigo, Weird Science…

    (Woo science)
    Birthing tubs and on the Farm
    Hemp and Hippy and
    Magic from the NARM
    We’re makin’

    (Woo science)
    Things I’ve never seen before
    Behind bolted doors
    Home birth and affirmation

    (Woo science)
    Not what doctor said to do
    Makin’ dreams come true
    HBAC and breech, Trust birth

    (Woo science)
    Birthing tubs and on the Farm
    Hemp and Hippy (and)
    Hemp and Hippy (and)

    (Bits of) my creation–Is it real?
    It’s my creation–I do not know
    No heart beat at all–Not since the birth
    Just flesh and blood–I do not know

    From my Home and from my tub
    Why don’t people understand
    It’s MY birth plan . . . . Oooh, woo . . . .
    Woo science!!

    (Woo science)
    Magic and pseudoscience
    Voodoo dolls and chants
    We’re makin’

    (Woo science)
    Fantasy and Yoni treats
    Nursing from the teat
    Something different
    We’re makin’

    (Woo science)
    Pictures of my experience
    Placenta smoothie
    Mending partum blues (and makin’)

    (Woo science)
    Something like a fantasy
    Hemp and Hippy . . . .
    Hemp and Hippy . . . .

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      June 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

      For some reason, I have Tomas Dolby in my head…

      “She’s tidied up, and I can find anything…All my tubes and wires…and antiquated notions…”


  18. Leslie
    June 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    While breastfeeding my first, I developed REALLY severe mastitis. My deep-in-the-Woo friend told me to nurse my baby on that infected breast to “draw the infection out” (what, out of my breast and into my baby??) and to use cabbage leaves to cure it. I said, yeah, right, and went to the ER. Turns out, I had sepsis; I needed a central line with last resort antibiotics for four days, but I survived. Science saved my life — Woo, not so much..

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      June 27, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

      But did you try the cabbage leaves? Hmmm??????

    • Sue
      June 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

      Ha – take a look at this article, then, which celebrates the presence of pus cells in breast milk from infected mothers! (Can’t post link – but go to The Conversation – Health+ Medicine 27 June ”
      Breast milk protects mothers and babies from infection”

      • Leslie
        June 28, 2013 at 2:41 am #

        It’s so crazy, I don’t even know where to begin. Really, does anyone seriously think it’s a good idea to feed infected pus to an infant??

        • yentavegan
          June 28, 2013 at 6:50 am #

          No. no one medically trained thinks it is a good idea to feed pus to an infant. You had sepsis. Without anti-biotics you wold have died. Thank you science and medicine for saving your life, Untrained idiots who tell you to feed from a weeping oozing wound are untrained idiots,

    • annon
      June 27, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

      Maybe you didn’t Trust Breastfeeding enough…
      seriously, glad you’re ok now.

      • Leslie
        June 28, 2013 at 2:47 am #

        Thanks. You’re kinder than my D-I-T-W friend. When I got out of the hospital, I told her I was giving up breastfeeding on the advice of FIVE doctors, who all said another infection could kill me. She actually urged me to reconsider, saying that “breastfeeding is the most loving thing you can do for your child.” WTF? She was seriously saying that my baby would be better off with breastmilk than his mommy. WOW.

        • Anj Fabian
          June 28, 2013 at 8:44 am #

          I read The Alpha Parent and like to think she’s a member of the fringe few.

          Your post reminds me that there are more than a few and they can do real harm with their faith based philosophies.

        • Michellejo
          June 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

          Well, what would you know, you asked five DOCTORS! Dontcha know that they don’t understand the benefits of nursing, and they’re in cahoots with big pharma. Now the NCB crowd, they know, because they have in-tyu-i-shun.

    • Antigonos CNM
      June 28, 2013 at 5:04 am #

      Cabbage leaves are for engorgement, not mastitis.

      Wish someone could give me the scientific rationale for cabbage leaves, because they work. They also work on buttocks sore from repeated fertility injections, especially with the oil-based progesterone IM injections which are no fun at all.

    • theadequatemother
      June 28, 2013 at 8:42 am #

      When I was in the emerg one week postpartum with an infection and septic…not quite in shock but I could tell I’m was probably going in that direction, the emerg doc asked me if I was breastfeeding and was hemming and hawing about what abx would be safe and maybe consulting obs/gyn for an opinion on the bug juice. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t care. I’d pump and dump or give up…just give me the drugs that were going to prevent an ICU admission and GIVE THEM TO ME NOW. But I couldn’t articulate that.

      Maybe I was in septic shock (def sepsis + organ dysfunction) because clearly my brain wasn’t working right – had it been I would have been able to articulate that.

      • Leslie
        June 28, 2013 at 10:01 am #

        Crazy! (P.S. Love your blog!)

  19. yentavegan
    June 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    And true feminists choose college educated professionals with advanced degrees in gynecology rather than charlatans with a background in auras to deliver their babies.

  20. Certified Hamster Midwife
    June 27, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

  21. Expat in Germany
    June 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    “other ways of knowing” is a fundamental misunderstanding of what constitutes knowledge. Knowledge is justified true beleif. The definition has been set since Plato. You can beleive something is true which is in fact true but if you don’t have evidence that it is true, then it ain’t knowledge. You can also have a justified belief which is not true. I may have a personal experience which justifies my belief in something, but there may be a body of evidence out there that proves my beleif false. It is sad that this stuff doesn’t get widely taught.

    • realityycheque
      June 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      I probably couldn’t count the number of times I’ve had a good or bad feeling about something and been way off the mark. The thing is, they ignore the times they’re wrong and play up the times they’re right.

      A family member of mine thinks she’s psychic because she “predicted” the outcome of a couple of events. Any person can look at a situation – particularly one that already has a limited number of possible outcomes, or that is already heading in a particular direction – and speculate on what will happen with at least some chance of being correct.

      The number of times she’s phoned to “warn” me about something that is DEFINITELY going to happen and nothing has eventuated? We’ll just ignore those, because they don’t play into the way she wants to see herself and the psychic abilities she wants to have.

      • rh1985
        June 27, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

        I am a pessimist. I almost always have a bad feeling so I’d be terrible at warning myself about anything.

        • Antigonos CNM
          June 28, 2013 at 5:06 am #

          But you must be a very happy person as so few, if any, of your dire predictions come true :-))

      • Bomb
        June 28, 2013 at 4:16 am #

        My mom thinks she is psychic because her predictions always come true. The problem is that she takes the shotgun approach to predictions. “I have a feeling it’s a girl!” A month later “I think it will be a boy!” After u/s: “I knew it was a girl!” Or “I think you’ll have her early!” “You’ll have her late!” “I bet you have her right on your due date!” “I knew you’d have her early!”

        The fact she is wrong about 99% of her millions of predictions doesn’t seem to phase her.

        • Michellejo
          June 30, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

          Yeah, I heard of a guy who could predict the sex of your child with 50% accuracy. If he got it wrong you could claim your money back.

  22. guest
    June 27, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    I don’t comment here very often any more, because my antiquated hardware does not play well with Disqus. This is only slightly OT–some may remember that I used to post about a friend who was deeply into the woo to the great detriment of health. Today’s post is timely. My friend (male) died on 11 May due essentially to consequences of a lifetime of achalasia with no medical treatment, with a side order of myelodysplastic syndrome. TPN was tried, with line infection/sepsis/kidney failure; he survived those, and tube feeds via J-tube were instituted. A spontaneous hematoma occurred and the wound from the I and D grew out MRSA due to incorrect management of a wound vac while in rehab. The damage to all the organ systems was, I think, simply too great. It seems that when you add the qualifier “in the setting of chronic severe protein-calorie malnutrition” to ANY diagnosis you move that diagnosis into another category of severity.

    • Alenushka
      June 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm #


    • June 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

      Sorry for your loss.

    • moto_librarian
      June 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      I am so very sorry to hear this.

    • Anj Fabian
      June 28, 2013 at 8:49 am #

      I’m so sorry…

      I do remember the story and your distress then.
      You were a good friend to him.

      • KarenJJ
        June 28, 2013 at 9:37 am #

        I remember too. I’m sorry for your loss.

  23. June 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    I like science – I like folks who get math and statistics and do not believe our bodies “are made to” do things. I like people who know how truly problem prone the human body is and are trained to diagnose the problem and know who to and when to refer to a specialist. I do not believe in ‘no risk’ humans — being healthy is great, until one day you aren’t and on that day I want somebody who will cut to the chase and not waste time diagnosing and treating the problem. This is why for the past nine months I’ve been looking for a new family doctor – because I am unwilling to settle for less than a MD and am really wary of providers who may be prone to the woo. As such the search continues – even though it means remaining in an awkward situation.

  24. areawomanpdx
    June 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Ahhh, different ways of knowing. That’s the one that makes me crazy, especially when it was part of my nursing school curriculum. You might be able to intuit something, but the way to really KNOW it is to test your intuition using the scientific method.

    I also agree with some of the other commenters: science is FUN!!! Even when it’s hard. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to literally do your research.

    • Yammy
      June 27, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      Aye. I hope one day that the scientific method becomes as sacred in popular society as the golden rule, because inverting the method is exactly what creates the distortions that are pseudoscience.

    • Sue
      June 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

      I’ve done some work analysing what sometimes passes for ”intuition” in experienced triage nurses. What they actually are using is learned information and patterns which they can call up without conscious thought. It’s not magic – just abbreviated thinking and pattern recognition, based on experience and training.

      On the same note, my view is that so-called ”women’s intuition” is just a reflection of girls generally being taught to identify signals and nuances of behaviour – many men have this skill too. I prefer the term ”perceptive” to ”intuitive”, because it is about sub-consciously perceiving signals and evidence, not about any sort of extra-sensory phenomenon.

      • prolifefeminist
        June 28, 2013 at 12:09 am #

        “What they actually are using is learned information and patterns which they can call up without conscious thought.”

        Sue, I think you are absolutely spot on – very well put. I hate seeing this idea of “abbreviated thinking and pattern recognition” hijacked by undertrained, inexperienced midwives who throw in a big dash of arrogance and repackage it as “women’s intuition.” No matter how you dress it up, it’s complete bullshit if you don’t have the education and experience to back it up.

        Case in point – I’ve always been drawn towards aviation, and as a student pilot I felt very comfortable at the controls and sort of “one with the plane,” so to speak. But although I loved flying and spent a fair number of hours studying aerodynamics on the ground and flying with an instructor, I still lacked the necessary knowledge and hours in the air to qualify for solo flight. It didn’t matter that I felt “one with the plane” and comfortable flying it – that was just a feeling and it was unimportant because it wasn’t based on knowledge and experience. It was just a feeling. It wasn’t some special “pilot’s intuition” or any such crap. If the shit hit the fan, that special feeling meant absolutely nothing.

        It’s crazy to me that in many US states it’s easier to get a midwife license and attend births in a low-resource setting than it is to obtain a pilot’s license. No pilot I know would take off without the proper training and proceed to fly a route where there was no landing strip. Not too many pilots trained on single engines for daytime flying would take off at night in a multi-engine plane, unless they had a death wish. Maybe that’s because in flying, our own butts are on the line, unlike a midwife who can just blame the mom and skip off to attend the next HBA3C breech birth she has scheduled.

        • theadequatemother
          June 28, 2013 at 8:45 am #

          “Maybe that’s because in flying, our own butts are on the line, unlike a midwife…”

          That is the exact reasoning some have used to illustrate why aviation so quickly developed a safety culture and a high safety standard while medicine has been slow to do so.

          • Sue
            June 30, 2013 at 6:18 am #

            Yes – and not to mention the fact that aviation is not compulsory, and you can always cancel the flight or refuse passengers if things aren’t right. If the pilot is sick, you certainly don’t get the flight attendant to take over – or make the previous pilot work a double shift!

      • Antigonos CNM
        June 28, 2013 at 5:11 am #

        Absolutely. Many times I’ve been complimented on my “genius” in seeing OB problems before they are obvious to others. But the “genius” does not extend to the nursing of prematures, only OB situations. I have a friend who is the exact opposite. She “senses” impending situations with premies way in advance of the doctors but has no awareness of developing complications in pregnant women.

        It’s like knowing it’s going to rain in a couple of days because you get a headache. What you are responding to is the change in air pressure as a low front comes in.

      • CanDoc
        June 28, 2013 at 7:28 am #

        Super-interesting, Sue. I knew there had been a lot of work done on this sort of heuristic situation analysis in other settings, but not in health care. But when one of our L and D nurses tells me that her “spidey sense” is tinging about a patient, I know enough to sit up and take notice.

  25. DiomedesV
    June 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Science is not hard. It is not mystical, it is not magical, and understanding is not restricted to the initiated practitioners. Its basic concepts can be grasped by most with relatively little effort. The stereotype of science as “hard” is a major problem in our society, especially for young women.

    It can be difficult to accept science for the reasons you mentioned, of course.

    I would add that science is indifferent to one’s virtue. It destroys the comforting illusion that one’s own virtue will be protective against pain, suffering, and death. As such, it is no friend to the sanctimonious and self-absorbed.

    • AmyM
      June 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      It can be hard…depends on what you are trying to learn. I understand the basics of signaling pathways (in cells), but I get lost when trying to read and understand very specific individual pathways, especially when it gets down to the organic chemistry level. That is hard for me. On the other hand, since I’ve been doing Qpcr for more than a decade, I find it easy. I’m sure a lot of people don’t even know what that is, let alone would claim it is easy.

      If you mean basic concepts like what is taught on a high school level, then yes, I agree that the average Westerner should be able to grasp those concepts. I also agree with your last paragraph.

      • realityycheque
        June 27, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

        I feel as though the belief that “science isn’t hard” is actually a pretty big problem in terms of the NCB community.

        Science and statistics can be extremely complex and confusing, even for the brightest of people. It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect at play, with people believing that if they can Google something and find an explanation that they’re able to grasp – even in part – then the credentials of the ACTUAL professionals, and the scope of knowledge of complex processes they hold mustn’t be that impressive.

        I know more than a few very arrogant people who act as though “There’s nothing the doctor knows that I can’t Google!” is an excuse for completely dismissing the views of a person with years – sometimes decades – of experience. The anti-authoritarian/”You can’t tell me what to do!” attitude reminds me of a petulant teenager at war with their parents.

        People don’t like to believe that someone knows more than they do, or that they can’t acquire the same depth of knowledge by typing a few words into Google.

        • Sue
          June 28, 2013 at 2:12 am #

          Precisely! Some people will proudly crow that ”the doctor had to go to the same internet site that I went to”, but the difference is, the doctor is refreshing the detail in an area they have already studied, and they also know all the rest about how the body works. Context.

      • DiomedesV
        June 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

        Becoming an expert or even proficient in any given field of science is hard. But understanding the basic concepts is not. One is not required to know the details of cell signaling to understand the basic principles of hypothesis testing and study design. It is also not difficult to understand science enough that you know your own limitations. You are conflating technical expertise with a scientific mindset. They are not the same.

        • AmyM
          June 27, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

          Ok, I see what you are saying there. So you mean that the average Westerner should be able to grasp high school level science. I agree.

    • areawomanpdx
      June 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      It’s true that basic scientific concepts are not hard and that anyone should be able to understand them. However, slightly more advanced study in any scientific field *is* hard. I’m college educated and have taken all kinds of political science, history, language and other courses — some on a graduate level. They were all a joke compared to 300 level chemistry or pathophysiology courses I’ve also taken.

    • guest
      June 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

      Religion, as some of us understand it, also destroys that comforting illusion. No one gets out of this life alive.

    • Sue
      June 27, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

      Diomedes – I agree that the idea of science isn’t intrinsically ”hard”, but I do have an issue with untrained people assuming that just being ”smart” is enough for you to interpret sophisticated information within any profession or specialty.

      Whether the field is engineering, astronomy or medicine, one needs to understand the underlying theory and operating principles before being able to evaluate and fully understand the decision-making and new research in the area.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        June 27, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

        In order to understand things properly, you have to have a solid grounding in a lot of facts. For example, it is really hard for me to explain my research to you if you don’t know what an electron is, or a carbon atom, or bonding patterns of atoms (although the latter is a little easier to get around).

        I always figure the same is true for other fields. At least science.

        This is actually something that many in the humanities don’t appreciate. For example, at most universities, pretty much anyone can take a senior literature class. You don’t need much for background. However, very few can take a senior physics or math or biology or chemistry class, because in order to do so, you have had to had 3 years of prerequisites (you need a junior level class as a pre-req, but that required a soph level course, and that required a freshman level course). You need the elementary knowledge to understand the advanced material. I have found that my colleagues in the humanities don’t even comprehend this concept. They are like, why do you need so many prerequisites? They don’t have them. It’s weird.

        A senior math major is able to take a senior level english course having no other english courses. However, a senior english major wouldn’t stand a chance in a senior science course without the science sequence.

        Different worlds…

        • Sue
          June 28, 2013 at 2:09 am #

          I largely agree, Bofa – except for one crucial point – we ALL have years of training in the prerequisite skills for literature – which are reading and writing. We usually start learning these skills from about the age of two, and continue till the end of high school.

          If there is an issue, it is the assumption that literacy and numeracy are core skills, but scientific knowledge is optional.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            June 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

            But reading and writing are just as much prerequisite for science classes.

      • DiomedesV
        June 28, 2013 at 9:45 am #

        The underlying theory of a field is not “science” as I am referring to it. I am discussing methodological principles. I am a scientist but I could not really interpret the obstetric literature, although from a statistical standpoint I’m probably better equipped to pick apart fallacious reasoning than most obstetricians.

        Again, I don’t think that becoming an expert in a given scientific field is any more difficult than becoming an expert in American history or 17th century French literature. It is difficult to become an expert in anything. But most people, even “smart” people, do not become experts in anything. It is incorrect to assume that being “smart” makes you competent to interpret the literature in any field–although this is especially true in the sciences, which require fluency of technical language–but that does not mean that one cannot understand the basic principles of hypothesis testing, for example.

  26. suchende
    June 27, 2013 at 1:10 pm # these #overlyhonestmethods are only somewhat off topic 🙂

    • Renee
      June 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      Thats great!

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      June 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      The reality of science, for better or worse.

    • Felicitasz
      June 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Perfect 🙂

    • Dr Kitty
      June 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      Oh that is priceless!
      The last “experiment” I did was one they made us do in medical school to show how anti diuretic hormone excretion is affected by exercise, alcohol and tobacco. They divided us into four groups, with the smokers in one (because they had to chain smoke 3 cigarettes), those willing to run around the cricket pitch a few times in another, those willing to drink 500ml of cheap beer in under 2 minutes in a third, and a “control” group, who didn’t fancy any of the above.
      Then we all had to try and urinate every 10 minutes for 2 hours and record the volumes.
      I was in the beer group, so I’m afraid my memory of the results is somewhat hazy.

      I’m really not sure who in the physiology department decided that lab was a good idea, but apparently it was an annual event.

      • Sue
        June 27, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

        Our physiology lab time included doing your own 24-hour urine collection, and carrying it in a big glass bottle. Each year, at least one person dropped and broke their bottle.

        This is brilliant, and just goes to show that poor science is not commonly about the conspiracy of multinational corporations and financial conflicts of interest – it’s almost always about not having the time, skills or resources to do the thing better.

      • Mel
        June 28, 2013 at 11:59 am #

        We still do this at my med school 🙂 minus the smoking!

      • Kristie
        June 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

        Our big experiment involved a group that ate some disgusting concoction made from ice cream and oil, vs a regular diet and fasting. Then they had to run on a treadmill. Totally not as fun!

    • auntbea
      June 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Reviewer #1 is ALWAYS a f***ing idiot. Always.

  27. June 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    The problem is that some moms don’t know what science is and have confused fiction and fantasy with fact.

  28. Renee
    June 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    I ESPECIALLY hate “science is patriarchal” because it totally ignores and discounts all the women, and their work in science, over the centuries.

    What is patriarchal is the history book that left the women out, the schools that banned them, the society that told them to stay home and out of the lab. The practice of science is simply a method to search for truth, which has no gender.

    The idea that science is “patriarchal” has been left behind along with some other parts of the 2nd wave that were either wrong, or are no longer relevant.

    • Pappy
      June 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      This sort of reminds me of the many times Christians have said that religion and faith are two different things. I see the point they’re making (that it’s inaccurate to equate faith in something with the religious organizations that rise up to encourage/exploit it) and I think the same applies to science/academia. Science itself (or the scientific method) is not patriarchal but the academic institutions that rose up around it traditionally were. I feel like that’s the mistakes many people make- not being able to separate critical thinking and the empirical method of research from holier-than-thou scientists. What does anyone else think?

      • KarenJJ
        June 27, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

        I liked the mythbusters definition – something like the definition between science and messing around is writing it down. Women’s contribution to science has rarely been written down and if it has, it has been written down by men and been in that name. It’s not that women haven’t been experimenting over the years.

  29. Anonymous
    June 27, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    I disagree Amy. Science can be fun, engaging, and exciting.

  30. KumquatWriter
    June 27, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    I will debate one point in this article:

    Science is LOTS of fun!

    • Renee
      June 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      Reality is exciting!

      • Yammy
        June 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

        Gravity is exciting for me because rollercoasters.

    • Sue
      June 27, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      I suspect Amy was referring to the hard slog of learning the basics – not so much working at a level of expertise.

      I love the challenge of diagnosis, based on an intimate knowledge of the clinical sciences, but I can’t say I loved learning organic chemistry to understand the Krebs cycle or the structure of cell membranes. Or memorising detailed anatomy. Or sitting in darkened rooms looking at slides of stained cells in Histology.

      The Google Graduate wants to go straight to diagnosis without the anatomy, physiology or pathology.

  31. quadrophenic
    June 27, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    If only there were people trained in science who parents could talk to about their children, and visit them periodically when their kids are “well” as well as sick. And if only health insurance would help parents pay to see these professionals.

  32. AmyM
    June 27, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Oh science. Science has been very disappointing this morning. I found out that a project I have been working on for almost three years was based partially on an incorrect premise. And I am giving a presentation on Monday. Luckily, most of the presentation is focused on the part is correct and it is salvageable. But disappointing all the same. All that work in the wrong direction….Oh well, I guess I will have to re-focus the project. That’s science for you. Stupid mice, always doing what THEY want.

    • suchende
      June 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      This reminds me of when AAP changes positions on something. The mommyverse collapses on itself to condemn the AAP for recommending something contrary to what they “knew” to be true. Their original source? the AAP. Laypeople are so bad at staying abreast of new research. At least when the new research challenges their assumptions and beliefs.

      • AmyM
        June 27, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

        Seriously..that’s is what science is about. When new information comes out, though it may take time to catch on, eventually, it becomes accepted in place of the old because hey, that’s reality. We used to think the earth was flat. Eventually, there was enough evidence to show it was round, and everyone except a few lunatics accepts that it is round. If the earth somehow changes shape, or we are somehow wrong about what “round” is, hundreds of years down the line, all the books may say the earth is “blorg shaped.” It’s ok to be wrong–we can only go on the information we have at the time.

    • auntbea
      June 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Gah! That sounds terrible!

      • AmyM
        June 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

        Remember everything we learned about dinosaurs when we were in elementary school? I think it has all been disproven, or at least greatly expanded upon. There’s another 4yr old in my children’s swim class who is a paleontology nut, and I am sure he can correct all of my misconceptions about dinosaurs. Wasn’t there something about the wrong skull on the wrong body and there was no such thing as a brontosaurus? I’ll have to ask him.

        • Therese
          June 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

          There is still the same creature we grew up knowing as the brontosaurus, only now it’s known as an apatosaurus.

          • AmyM
            June 27, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

            Good to know! I knew I was behind on my dinosaur knowledge.

          • auntbea
            June 27, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

            Is THAT what happened? I was wondering why there was this second dinosaur that looked like a brontosaurus.

          • KarenJJ
            June 27, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

            Me too! That explains my kid’s dinosaur book. I thought they were being a bit precious about some unknown dinosaur – but it was a brontosaurus corrected. That makes much more sense.

          • Spamamander
            June 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

            Apparently two skeletons of the same species were discovered and named- one Apatosaurus, and the other Brontosaurus. When naming species whichever name came “first” wins, so Apatosaurus became the official nomenclature. Which sucks, because Brontosaurus means “thunder lizard” so is a much cooler name. Apatosaurus means ‘deceptive lizard’. Not nearly as awesome.

        • Sue
          June 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

          THIS is what the anti-scientists don’t get: they can’t distinguish between ”truth” and a scientific model, which is based on the best available evidence at the time. As the evidence accumulates or changes, the model evolves and, rarely, gets overturned. That doesn’t mean that the earlier model was ”wrong”.

          Then they get confused again: ”if everything is just a model, then how do we know that what you are saying NOW won’t be proven wrong later?”

          Well, some things are directly observable and measureable. We can observe and measure the shape of the earth, the earth-moon distance, the relative density of oil and water, the structure of the cell membrane, the concentration of potassium inside and outside cells, the rate of acceleration due to gravity. These things are no longer open to debate. The model(s) for autism, or schizophrenia, or multiple sclerosis, or PIH, on the other hand, are still evolving.

          I’m tired of the anti-scientists pointing out that ”doctors used to encourage people to smoke.” Well, some did, but who developed the evidence which turned this around? Homeopaths? Chiropractors? No – mainstream medicine.

          Hippocrates was an exceptional thinker, but he believed in ”humors” as a model for how the body worked. Was he ”wrong”? According to the evidence available at the time, that was an adequate model. These days, not so much.

          • Anna
            June 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

            Thank you for being so articulate! I get so frustrated with the same things – ding trust doctors, they know nothing, they used to say smoking was good!!!!
            I’ve copied some if your comment for further pondering and may use to rebut such people in future. Hope that’s ok. I could just never quite put my fingers in what was wrong with their remaining, and you have!

          • Sue
            July 1, 2013 at 7:07 am #

            Thanks, Anna – by all means use it – I’ve spent a long time thinking and writing about all this stuff, so am glad to share it!

    • Bombshellrisa
      June 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      That is the difference between you and the woo nuts-you are willing to admit that a premise was incorrect. The woo nuts refuse to change direction, no matter how incorrect their theory (cervix is a sphincter, praising it works better than pitocin to get labor going).

      • Eddie
        June 28, 2013 at 2:22 am #

        “Praising the sphincter” sounds like a great name for a band.

  33. amazonmom
    June 27, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    This reminds me of what my OB said to me when I asked her how she handles the criticisms laid on her by the Woo Pitchers in the Seattle area. She told me that many will choose Woo because they are being irrational, and want to make decisions based upon emotion and what feels good. She then said she offers the best OB care she can based upon the best scientific evidence she can get. Her practice is so busy that there is a several month wait list to be a new patient with her, and 99 percent of her clients come back for all of their future pregnancies. To her that means there is no shortage of women that appreciate the care she provides, and that is all the encouragement she needs to keep speaking out against the people who only end up hurting and killing women and babies in the end.

    • Renee
      June 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

      This reminds me of the ridiculous NCB saying:
      “OBs are just scared of HB MWs taking their patients/business!”

      Yes, they are, but not because of loss of money, but because the docs fear the bad outcomes from the HB MWs. Especially since they may be asked to fix a mess they could have avoided in the first place.

  34. OBPI Mama
    June 27, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    When I was trying to dissuade a woman from a stunt birth, unassisted, another mom chimed in and said she was disheartened by my response. My response to her, “Reality can be disheartening.” I should have said that scientific facts can be disheartening… gah.

  35. LynnetteHafkenIBCLC
    June 27, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    It’s easy to choose wishful thinking…until your child gets sick. Then she depends on you to choose science for a cure, and hopefully there is one.

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