Are homebirth advocates stupid? Gloria Lemay thinks so.

cargo cult plane

Homebirth midwives don’t have a motto, but if they did, I propose the following:

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the homebirth advocate.

If you think that’s not snappy enough, they could just shorten their motto to this:

There’s a sucker born every minute.

Don’t believe me?

Consider today’s post from Gloria Lemay, the Canadian version of Australian killer midwife Lisa Barrett:

I discourage routine ultrasound and recommend that dopplers and imaging devices be kept well away from the developing fetus.

But women still want to see how the baby is doing inside the uterus, so she offers them a nonultrasound solution. (The picture is NSFW, but only because it will make you laugh out loud, so be prepared before you click on it).

This is part of the growing amount of cargo cult science in homebirth midwifery.

What is cargo cult science?

Physicist Richard Feynman coined the expression in his 1974 commencement address at CalTech.

…In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to imitate things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas –he’s the controller– and they wait for the airplanes to land… So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

More familiar examples of cargo cult science include the TV shows Gilligan’s Island and The Flintstones. The Professor on Gilligan’s Island used coconut shells to mimic all sorts of technology, like telephones, and, because it looked like the item of technology, it worked like the item of technology. Similarly, when Wilma Flintstone vacuumed her living room floor with a baby mammoth on wheels, we were to assume that because it looked like a vacuum cleaner, it functioned like a vacuum cleaner.

Melissa Cheyney and Oregon homebirth midwives were the first to employ cargo cult science in homebirth midwifery by creating Auscultated Acceleration Testing, the cargo cult version of the non-stress test (NST).

Now Gloria Lemay has gone them one better with the cargo cult version of ultrasound. Just like real ultrasound it creates an anatomically detailed image of the developing fetus. You can send pictures of it to your relatives and friends and post it on Facebook just like other women post their ultrasound picture.

Here’s what I’m puzzling over: Does Gloria Lemay think that homebirth advocates are morons and will find the image useful? Or does she think they are such simpletons that they will actually believe that there are benefits to the image? Or is it supposed to be a statement? Other women may expose their babies to ultrasound, but I can find out everything I need to know with a drawing.

In any case, she is certainly operating by the motto that there’s a homebirth sucker born every minute.