It always makes me snicker a little when I read something like the following in the comments to an article posted online: the evidence is clear, or many studies support this, or scientific peer-reviewed research shows, or (my personal favorite) I've done the research myself. (Really? I'm surprised you had time to pick up a [medical license, degree in immunology, xyz certification] and conduct your own [double-blind studies, psychological evaluations, lab tests]. You must be way more efficient at this parenting thing than I am.) Yet I continually see folks spouting one of two viewpoints: (1) If Only You Had More Information, You'd Agree With Me and (2) Don't Bore Me With Facts; I Know I'm Right.
Tip: Having access to the Internet does not make you an "expert" in anything. This article might be my favorite piece EVER on the topic. (Actually, I find the whole blog from which this post was taken entertaining, in an irreverent and snippy I-cannot-believe-he-just-wrote-that sort of way. Not for the faint of heart.)
Another eye-roller is when folks quote a respected agency when it supports their opinion, and yet completely disregard that same agency's views when it conflicts with their own. We're all about quoting reputable organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control, or the World Health Organization when they support our own agenda, but poo poo them if they disagree with us.
|Someone on the Internet doesn't agree with me|
For example, I see this some version of this line almost daily in the crunchy parenting blogosphere: The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and then once solids are added, continued breastfeeding until at least 12 months. (Yes; folks always feet the need to emphasize the "at least" part.) Yet when it comes to the AAP's views on vaccination, well . . . eh, who needs em, right?
The truth is, whether in favor of [insert divisive parenting issue here] or not, you will always be able to find "research" that supports your view.
So why is that?
We have a natural tendency to pay attention to the things that confirm our feelings or views and la la la la la ourselves away from the things that might disprove them. In psychological jargon, this is called confirmation bias. (For a simple explanation, see the wikipedia entry. For a specific example, check out this post from Psychology Today.)
Honestly, we're all walking contradictions (myself included). I know I am likely to praise any article that portrays breastfeeding in a positive light, and downplay any article that depicts it even the slightest bit negatively. Same with co-sleeping. I'm a fan, so I will applaud researchers like Dr. McKenna but minimize the suggestion from the AAP that "the baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing)."
What biases do you admit to?
Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.
p.s. For what it's worth, I'm in the process of composing a (rather lengthy) post about my personal views on a variety of topics, both parenting-related and not (i.e., all my own biases). A little full disclosure, putting it all out there, bloggy nakedness if you will. Guaranteed to have some folks cheering along and others looking for the "unlike" button so quickly they get twitchy. Coming soon.