walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

complaining about the people I (want to) agree with

There's a lot of loose talk about how people only read stuff they agree with (watch, listen, etc.) and how that's so damaging to our culture. Me, I've spent so much of my life having to memorize/listen to/regurgitate crap that I disagreed with and was incredibly obviously wrong (I've changed my mind since then about which bits are right and wrong), I always find a soothing sense of calm and relief when I find something to consume that doesn't just annoy the hell out of me.

The problem lies in the difficulty of finding anything that doesn't just annoy the hell out of me.

Regular readers of my blog recognize this trait (and, hopefully, are amused by it, because otherwise, it's got to be utterly exhausting). If I find someone whose conclusion I agree with, I'll still snark about the errors made along the way. Sometimes I find people who do great research, supply awesome data and then draw what I consider to be wholly unjustified conclusions from them.

And then some days, I find something with crap for data and crap for conclusions and am additionally annoyed by the fact that I really wish they were right. At least about some of it.

I'm currently reading _Three in a Bed_ by Deborah Jackson (more detailed review to follow. Maybe.). Jackson notes that people thought it was odd she'd write a book about sleeping with a baby. One wonders what people think of me, having now read at least three and a half books specifically about bedsharing, particularly since the first book was still really the best on the subject (_Good Nights_, Jay Gordon and Maria Goodavage - highly recommended; McKenna's book was good, but not nearly as fun). There are a variety of problems with this book that are of a technical nature. There are notes. There is a bibliography. But she quotes sources (repeatedly) that don't appear in the notes or the sources. I'm not an idiot. I can still track them down (haven't yet -- if it turns out they don't exist, believe me, I'll post about that, but I cannot imagine that happening) but it's still just Wrong. She also quotes secondary and tertiary sources, which always inhibits my respect for a non-fiction writer.

Here's what set me off. She's quoting Tine Thevenin (remember, I just read her book), who is summarizing Margaret Mead's research on the Mundugumor and Arapesh. When I read Thevenin's description, I just blew it right off as There Is No Fucking Way This Is True but did not pursue it; there was so much else inaccurate and objectionable in Thevenin that it was not worth the bother. Having now encountered this stinky turd twice, I figured, okay, this needs to be stomped out of existence. First off, Jackson quotes Thevenin's description, with no mention of Mead, which made it a little tricky to track down to _Sex and Temperament_. At that point, given the hammering Mead's rep has taken over the last couple decades, I could have stopped, but I was curious as to the details. The Mundugumor are now known as the Biwat, and there's maybe 2-3 hundred of them. And they intermarry with their neighbors, who include the Arapesh. So right there, any absolute (and believe me, the description given is as black and white as black and white get) generalization about the impact of child rearing practices on adult temperment and cultural behavior Cannot Possibly Be Valid. The two groups -- supposedly so amazingly different -- are intermarrying. Please. That means, inevitably, that some number of Biwat were raised Arapesh and vice versa. And that will influence how they raise their children. Etc.

I haven't been able to find out whether there's _any_ validity whatsoever to the description of breastfeeding practices, but the whole thing stinks to high heaven of (a) researcher made up shit or (b) researcher gullibly believed "primitive" who was having her on (my favorite in this category is the sheer number of field researchers who are prepared to believe that the "primitives" don't know the connection between sex and babies). I suppose there's a third possibility. Something like, (c) met some FLDS folks and generalized from them to All of Western Culture.

Look. I _really really really want_ to believe that cosleeping, bedsharing, etc. will lead to wonderfully happy, well-adjusted, emotionally secure, no night terrors, etc. babies and children. What I _know_ is that I get way more sleep by sharing a room and/or bed with my son, than trying to Answer the Call from Down the Hall, whether that's for boob or pulling up a comforter, or a pat on the back because of disturbances in the night. And it kind of pisses me off when people promise that bedsharing babes won't have night terrors. Especially when it seems abundantly clear to me that last night, my son was having some pretty crappy dreams, and woke up (if indeed he was awake) bawling and not particularly coherent this morning and took a good long while to calm down again.

It _also_ just rankles when I see someone summarizing the anthropological/ethnographic/cultural evidence as Westerners back in to bedsharing with toddlers and small children while Easterners bedshare with infants and then wean them to a separate bed. That is _NOT_ what the evidence shows. NOT.

The book has not yet hit the far wall, but it may just be a matter of time.

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