There is a scary trend in our instant world that we as parents should be alerted to: Pseudo-Science. What is Pseudo-science you ask? Pseudo-science is the act of passing off half-truths, incomplete data, and pure assumptions or personal opinions off as scientific fact and spoon-feeding it to the public. There is a particular glut of this going on concerning mothers and their babies. Why? Because in a world economy that is increasingly driven by how many “hits” you get on a website and where statistics are everything; the people behind these informational websites know that moms equal money. Mothers have become the powerhouse driving the internet in our world. They are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to make the lives of their families better. The problem with this is that science cannot keep up with the demand and the people we are looking towards to provide the latest and greatest are more than willing to share bullshit dressed up as fact.
Now I go into this article knowing that I will upset a great many people but I feel the need to alert people to the dangers that lie behind this act. Far too often I have been reading the news online only to come across an article shouting “New Research Explains New Way How Moms Are Screwing Up Their Kids!” All of these articles are followed by thousands of comments from scared moms exclaiming “OMG! I had no idea I was ruining my baby forever!” Don’t believe me? Just yesterday I came across one that was titled “New Research Show Moms With Anxiety Have Babies Who Cry More”. As a mom who struggles and is being treated for Agoraphobia I instantly said “WTF is this BS?!” So did research really prove that I am making my children anxious and cry more than anyone else’s child? No. If you actually read this article you find out that one group in a college (yes; you are allowing a group of 18-21 year old college students give you advice.) happened to find a trend in a study that moms who have anxiety have babies who cry more often. So what is wrong with this information you ask? Well simply put it is nonsense. This is no more fact then if I told you “if you get a group of ten kids together one will love the color puce.”
In order for something to be a scientific fact then you must follow the scientific method. These college students only got to step 4. There are 7 steps:
2-State the problem
So these kids experimented on one group of mothers and babies…where are steps 5 though 7? Especially 7! You need to have a controlled experiment that many people can replicate and still have the same end results in order to have a scientific fact. Not only has this not been done but they have not even bothered to account for other factors that could have resulted in the babies crying more. Any number of things could have made these babies cry and for that matter made these mothers more anxious! I don’t know about you but if I feel someone studying how I am parenting I get tense and my kids don’t like it either.
Incomplete or poor research is not the only source of Pseudo-science out there though! There are falsified studies as well; such as the famous “vaccines cause autism” study. It is sad how many parents still don’t know that the man who ran this study admitted in a court of law that he falsified his results! The side effects of vaccines may not all be known but I do know of one: millions of children don’t suffer needlessly from deadly and horrible diseases. This one study set off a dangerous trend partially because we are a generation of parents who were vaccinated and never knew the devastating effects of these diseases; we didn’t know we were the lucky ones. Don’t believe me? Ask your grandparents. There is a fair chance they knew someone who died from something that we can now prevent.
The last avenue of Pseudo-science I will touch upon will make many a mom want to crucify me and that is: personal opinion/assumption. Every mom on Facebook has clicked on a link from a fellow mom who has proclaimed “This woman/blogger knows what they are talking about! I love them! What a great resource!” In fact I did that today and was horrified! In an article that was clearly targeted at new moms this blogger has the audacity to say that feeding your baby formula is emotionally and physically dangerous and leads to SIDS. What kind of scare tactic bullshit are you trying to pull, you piece of moronic shit?! This leads back to bad science and personal opinions people; NOT fact! There is no bigger way to terrify a mom then to say SIDS, but here is the reality on SIDS guys: they have no idea what causes it. There are plenty of theories but no hard facts and beyond the theories there are thousands of studies that have failed to prove anything. Even when a pediatrician recommends you put your baby to sleep in a bare crib with no bumpers and swaddled on their back; this is all based on research that saw a trend. Go back and read my second paragraph. Now I am not saying don’t follow the pediatrician’s advice, but please keep in mind that when your mom had you she was being told to put you to sleep on your side; and when your grandmother had your mom she was told to put her to sleep on her stomach for the exact same reason!
As far as baby formula being dangerous to this I will repeat what my father-in-law told me when I was in tears because my baby had a medical condition where he could not breast feed and my milk had dried up by the time they figured it out. “Baby formula has been keeping babies alive and healthy for hundreds of years.” Yes you read that right; in one form or another baby formula has been around since the early 19th century. Not every baby or mom can breast feed despite what many people naively proclaim nowadays, and baby formula will keep these children alive and healthy. As far as all this “research” into how much healthier, intelligent, etc breastfed babies are vs formula fed babies; propaganda. No I am not a conspiracy theorist, but if you think about it logically who is behind the breast-feeding push? The governments, on the bottom of most breast-feeding pamphlets you will see that it was printed by the government. If you follow the chain of research and websites back to the source you will find a government. Now this is not a bad thing, breast-feeding should be seen as important: it can help you bond with your baby, possibly help raise their immunities and is a million times cheaper than formula because it is free! That last one is why governments are pushing breast-feeding so hard. It is crazy expensive to formula feed an infant and with government assistance programs like wic, food stamps or the like in other developed nations this expense falls to them. These programs provide valuable nutrition to an unbelievable number of infants and children every year and that adds up. As far as the fellow mom breast pushers out there, just knock it off. Chances are a lot of the mom’s who have had to turn to formula feel bad about it but had no other option available to them to keep their baby alive. I personally know my son would be dead if not for baby formula. Stop making other woman feel like they didn’t try hard enough and have damned their child to becoming a warning to others for the rest of their lives; it simply isn’t true.
I encourage every parent in the world to use common sense when encountering pseudo-science and recognize it for what it is. The majority of these “scientific mommy facts” are the stuff of fairy tales and should be read as such. Like a cheap penny dreadful let it give you a terrifying thrill and then throw it in the trash.