The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Archive for September, 2009

Study Says Spanking Is Bad For Kids? More Psuedo Science From The Ivory Tower

Posted by Bill Nance on September 16, 2009

A study published in the journal Child Development says spanking is bad for kids, according to a CNN article. Pardon me if I’m somewhat skeptical over how exactly one really measures for this stuff, and am even more skeptical when I hear the same old pacifist arguments from ivory tower social “scientists.”

“”We’re talking about infants and toddlers, and I think that just, cognitively, they just don’t understand enough about right or wrong or punishment to benefit from being spanked,” said Lisa Berlin, the study’s lead author and research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.

Well Dr. Berlin, you’re quite right. Infants and toddlers don’t grasp ethics or time-outs and yelling is terrifying to a child that age. That’s why you give them a swat when they reach for the electrical outlet or the stove. They don’t grasp it’s not allowed, they DO grasp that when they reach for it they get an ouch, immediately and consistently. It usually doesn’t take more than a few times to teach the lesson.

Berlin and colleagues found that children who were spanked as 1-year-olds tended to behave more aggressively at age 2…

Measuring aggression in terms of X percent over/below baseline is nearly impossible.  How exactly do you arrive at a baseline? What exactly is your method for measuring aggression and how do you average it? And finally, how do you assess this so-called “aggressive” behavior other than in a fundamentally subjective and therefore unreliable manner? If the kids who were in one group were all randomly beating the snot out the kids in the other group, that would get my attention too. But that’s not the case here, and as with every study I have ever read that attempts to measure aggression, I’m reasonably sure that this one used “anything other than totally docile” as a definition of aggression. Seriously, someone define for me in a scientifically measurable way what is the difference between aggression and assertiveness in 2 year-olds and how to tell the two apart? -Remember, these are child psychologists, the same people who think little boys who don’t act like little girls need Ritalin.

To continue:

…[They] did not perform as well as other children on a test measuring thinking skills at age 3.

It’s  extremely difficult to measure the thinking skills of 3-year-olds. Kids develop at wildly different rates at that age for reasons that have nothing to do with spanking. So claiming that spanking is correlated with different measurements of thinking skills is questionable to put it kindly.

The new study focused on children from low-income families because prior research suggested that spanking is more common among them, Berlin said. This may be because of the added stresses of parenting in a low-income situation, or because of a “cultural contagion” of behaviors among people. For example, in some families this study examined, a grandmother would spank a child, or neighbors would encourage physical discipline, she said.

Her study found that about one-third of the 1-year-olds, and about half of the 2- and 3-year-olds, had been spanked in the previous week, according to mothers’ self-reporting to the researchers. At all three ages, African-American children were spanked significantly more frequently than those from white and Mexican-American families, and verbally punished more than the other children at ages 2 and 3, the study said.

You’ve got to be kidding me.  They used as a sample people from low-income groups which they admit are under “added stresses” and then used self reporting as a model for the study? In other words they looked for the most likely group to have high stress, low income, stress over money, little or poor childcare, most likely to be much younger parents than average..They picked out the group likely to be the worst parents in the country and then decided this would be the ideal group to use to study the effects of spanking? R U f***ing serious?

Now, as to self reporting:

Out here in the real world we know low-income people are much more likely to get their kids taken away for giving them a spanking than middle class people who have lawyers and will raise Hell with a legislator. This is a known factor. Do the study’s authors really think they can be relied on as accurate self-reporters of what many child welfare agencies define as a crime?  Are you people completely daft about the way the real world works? -wait, never mind, we’ve asnwered that.

This kind of thing is just silly. There are so many unmeasurables, so many complicating factors that there is no way on earth to control for,the study was meaningless before it started. Secondly, by measuring kids only in the first three years, years in which completely normal healthy and intelligent kids exhibit wide latitudes of behavior and cognitive skills and trying to correlate it with something you can’t even pretend to know is occurring with any certainty is ridiculous. Finally, when one third of your control group reports spanking their one-year-olds every week, you know before you get any further that this is far from “normal” behavior from the parents, which might lead you to draw conclusions about beating, abuse or other things, but can’t possibly tell you about the efficacy of “spanking.”

Stop with the B.S. studies that can’t and don’t prove anything. If you can’t measure it without using some half-assed subjective metric and you can’t control for variables, it’s not science. It’s someone’s subjective opinion. And choosing this group for the study instead of a populati0n cross-section indicates the “researchers” started out with an axe to grind and carefully crafted a “study” to confirm their opinions.

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Image Of The Day

Posted by Bill Nance on September 2, 2009

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Bullet by Till Melchior

You can see more of this artist’s work here.

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September 11 -Perspective

Posted by Bill Nance on September 2, 2009

Well, here we are, 9 days before the 8th annniversery of Sept. 11, 2001, the day that gave us the “war on terror” or whatever they’re calling it this week.

On that day, 19 hijackers took over four airliners and proceeded to drive three of them into buildings filled with innocent men, women and children (even the pentagon has more civilian workers than military personnel.) The fourth airplane, United Airlines Flight 93, had a different outcome. Passengers, alerted to the first impacts on the World Trade Center heroicly stormed the cockpit, forcing the hijackers to drive the plane into the ground.

In all, nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered on that day and rightfully, with indignation and anger we turned our attention on the perpetrators of that crime and their sponsors and unleashed Hell.

There were some real heroes on that day; the people on flight 93 who stormed that cockpit were heroes. The firefighters, EMS people and cops who went into the WTC knowing full-well it was likely to come down with them inside were heroes. but for the most part, the dead on that day were just victims.

I’m truly sorry for anyone who lost loved ones on that day. But I’m just as sorry for any other person who’s lost someone to a murderer. Just because one murder, or yes, even 3000 is more spectacular than another doesn’t make the mother of a 9-year-old killed in a drive-by less worthy of compassion. This Sept. 11, let’s try to put it in perspective and call out the heroes who genuinely did heroic things. We can remember the victims, but honestly folks, calling helpless victims heroes cheapens the word and lessens the things done by REAL heroes on that awful day.

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