The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Archive for the ‘education’ Category

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.


Posted in education, Rants, Science and Technology | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Personal Responsibility? …Nah!

Posted by Bill Nance on August 14, 2009

This one is a beaut:

LOGAN, Utah – The parents of a Utah State University freshman who died from alcohol poisoning at a fraternity activity have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school.

Attorneys for George and Jane Starks say in the lawsuit filed Tuesday that the university’s “benign neglect” contributed to the Nov. 21 death of Michael Starks.

Police said the 18-year-old’s blood alcohol content was higher than 0.35, more than four times the legal limit to drive an automobile.

It’s always tragic when a young person dies, but not all young deaths are victimization.  This kid was 18 years old. That’s well over the legal age to drink in most countries in the world and is the age of consent in the United States. Starks was old enough to vote, join the military, enter into contracts and every other activity allowed to adults except the stupid over-21 drinking age, which is only a remnant of prohibition and the previous 21-year-old voting age anyway.

In other words, this adult person made a really stupid decision and sadly died as a result of his own stupidity.

The parents should be told to go to Hell in no uncertain terms. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes; Darwin is not merciful.

For what it’s worth, it’s extremely rare for a person to die from alcohol poisoning at a BAC of 0.35. It’s getting likely once you go over 0.4 and nearly certain once you get near 0.5.

Posted in education, Law & Order | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

13 Year-Old Strip-Searched For possible Posession of Ibuprofen: and the school is appealing the lawsuit they lost?

Posted by Bill Nance on January 16, 2009

I don’t post much on the subject of stupid school administrators for essentially two reasons: One; the fodder is so common (Almost the rule it seems) and Two; my blood pressure can’t take it.

But I’ll make an exception for the case of then 13-year-old Savana Redding, an honor student at Safford Middle School, about 127 miles from Tucson, Arizona.

In 2003 a student was found with ibuprofen (oh, the horrors)! The student, under threats of God-only-knows what, said she had obtained the ibuprofen from Savanna, her classmate. After a search of her locker and backpack (as if that’s not bad enough with no warrant or probable cause) the MALE school teacher, along with the assistant principle and a teacher’s aide, both females, strip searched this little girl, including pulling her bra to peek inside.

Folks, this is called child abuse. There is no other term for it. And the fact that the County Attorney didn’t immediately file criminal charges against these perverts speaks volumes for what’s wrong with our judicial system. (I hasten to add, had the girl texted photos of herself in this state of undress to a boy, the prosecutor would no doubt have been Johnny-On-The-Spot with charges of child pornography).

It’s too bad this happened, it’s also too bad the girl didn’t scream rape, kick the teacher in the balls and scratch the eyes out of the two females.

It’s also very fortunate for all three of these idiots that this wasn’t my daughter. I’ve never hit a woman in my life, but I’d be happy to make an exception for these idiots, and the male teacher would get the ass-kicking of the century. Frankly that’s a far better lesson than a court case.

The case is now up before the Supreme Court of the United States. If they rule that this is permissible, I urge any and all of you with children to keep them home indefinitely or to switch them to a private school where you can be assured no such thing will occur. Maybe losing out on enough funding from having no children present will make the schools finally grasp that they are not police, jailers or narcotics agents. Maybe they could also learn to do something really complicated when there’s a problem: like calling the child’s parents before they strip search a 13 year-old little girl.

/end rant

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, education, Law & Order, Rants | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Teens and Sex: Get Over It

Posted by Bill Nance on January 16, 2009

It seems the latest trend in America’s ongoing war on normal, healthy sexual experimentation among young people is charging girls who send naked pictures of themselves to their boyfriends with trafficking child pornography.

Yes, you heard right, the 14 and 15-year-old girls who sent pictures of themselves will now be charged with a serious felony, listed as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, etc.

I’m honestly not sure which I find more odious: The current irrational fear-craze that a child molester is lurking behind every tree, or the upswing in criminalizing teen sexuality.

Girls start menstruating at about 11.75 years-old in America.  So by the time they are 14-15, they’ve been physically sexually mature for between 2.5-4 years on average. No one wants their 15-year-old to be banging her boyfriend, but the facts are that they will in a substantial number of cases, and the number of girls who remain celibate until after age 18 is fairly  small. A recent report by the CDC indicates that 60.5% of high school seniors (average age 17) admitted to having intercourse, and that’s of course not counting the numbers who have had oral sex. By age 20, according to that report, the numbers went up to 75%. Again, this is admitted sex, I personally suspect the actual numbers are much higher.

Look back to your own experience. How many of you remained virgins until marriage? How many of you left high school having as virgins? Did the sky fall because you had sex? Were you emotionally scarred for life? Of course you weren’t.

The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy and STD infection in the industrialized world for one very simple reason. We make a normal thing criminal and fail to teach responsible and comprehensive sexual curriculum to our kids. That’s all there is to it. Holland, which has no such taboos, doesn’t have the problems we do, nor does any other country where sex is not automatically considered evil and forbidden and not to be discussed at all.

Information is simply information. And there’s no such thing as too much correct information. Age appropriateness in sex education is about kid’s ability to understand and relate to it, not a matter of how old they must be before being exposed to such awful, horrible, eeevul things like birth control and disease prevention.

My daughter, at about age six, started using the term “sexy” to describe things one day. I explained this was not an appropriate word and she gave me a quizzical look and asked why not.  I will freely admit I didn’t know exactly how to put it, since I don’t believe in the concept of “bad” words, merely words that are inappropriate to some circumstances and company. I told her that many people, including me, thought that word was not appropriate for a young lady of her age to be using and that she would need to stop saying it.

A few weeks later she approached me again, and this time asked just what exactly, the word “sexy” meant. After taking a very deep breath, I began to tell her about how babies were made, in terms a six-year-old would understand. As I recall it was something along the lines of “Mommies and Daddies get really close,” etc. and that the term “sexy” was about that process, which didn’t apply at all to her opinions of something. She understood all this completely and it never came up again until she had “the talk” with her mother a few years later, followed up by many more with both her mother and myself over her teen years. I never forbade her to have sex, I merely explained the natural consequences of it and that those consequences were pretty awful for all concerned, so she’d best think about it before doing it. Her mother also saw to it that she had access to birth control.

I’m not going to go into my daughter’s sex life on this blog, but I will say that she’s not become pregnant nor contracted any STDs as far as I know, and she’s 21. So more information certainly doesn’t lead to promiscuity, at least not for her. But even if she had decided to start banging her boyfriend at age 15, something I would not have been pleased with, it would have been perfectly normal, if unwise. Teens do unwise things all day every day. It’s their nature to push all the limits.  And when we as a society set artificial and unnatural limits on sex, like how they should stay virgins until marriage (gimme a break) it’s natural they will simply push this limit even more.

The very notion of making the act of teens having consensual sex with each other (unwise but quite normal) or playing sexual games like taking dirty pictures of themselves (something only possible because of new technology, and comparativly quite harmless) a criminal offense, is disgusting.

Say what you really mean, you putrid little puritans:

SEX IS DIRTY; YOU SHOULD SAVE IT FOR THE ONE YOU MARRY. And if that message makes sense to you, you have bigger issues than the kids you’d like to put in jail for exploring their sexuality.

Listen to these fools on CNN prattle about how a “dirty” picture is the end of the world.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, education, News & Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Government bailouts and “helicopter parents.”

Posted by Bill Nance on November 26, 2008

There’s an interesting column today in the Detroit Free press about accountability, bailouts and parenting.

The Juice:

You can hardly walk into a public school these days without hearing about helicopter parents and the damage they are inflicting on the current generation of American schoolchildren.
In the latest edition of their classic, “Parenting with Love and Logic,” parenting gurus Foster Cline and Jim Fay (who coined the term a generation ago) argue that moms and dads who are “forever running lunches, permission slips, band instruments and homework assignments to school” are short-circuiting the natural consequences that teach children to take responsibility for their actions and omissions.

“The real world does not run on the bailout principal,” the authors warn. “Traffic tickets, overdue bills, irresponsible people, crippling diseases, taxes — these and other normal events of adult life usually do not disappear because a loving benefactor bails us out.”

Well, no — not usually.

But these are hardly usual times. And since 2006, when Cline and Fay wrote those words, the bailout principle has been making a big comeback wherever the real world threatens to exact a price for irresponsible behavior.

Something to think about…

Posted in economy, education, Miscellaneous | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Don’t cut taxes, fix healthcare

Posted by Bill Nance on October 1, 2008

I’ve written before that Reaganomics didn’t work in the 1980s, as demonstrated by the tripling of the national debt during Reagan’s administration and the serious recession which resulted.

The one economic policy Reagan got right was to lower confiscatory tax rates. But that was well over 20 years ago. Americans at or near the top have not been over-taxed in nearly a generation. In fact the only group which is over-taxed in this country are those in the middle. That is, people making under $200,000 a year or so.

This group gets socked with federal income tax, state income tax, property tax, gas tax, sales tax, excise tax etc. It has received little in tax relief under Republican administrations which seem to be married to the concept of “trickle-down” economics. Or as George Bush the Elder put it: “Voodoo Economics.”

Trickle down works (to an extent) when tax rates at the top are confiscatory, as they were in 1980, when the top marginal rate hovered around 70%. (I must add that no rich person ever paid anything like this rate because of massive tax loopholes and shelters which existed at the time).

But the Bush tax cuts have done nothing whatever to “stimulate” the economy. Nor have the two bribes in the form of stimulus checks, beyond the very short term.

If nothing else results from this latest economic crisis, I hope that the lasting lesson is that tax cuts are not a magic formula for economic growth. You cannot reduce revenue while increasing spending. If you really want to stimulate the economy, you make sure tax rates are not so high that they ACTUALLY discourage investment, while making sure your spending matches revenue and addresses actual needs of the people, not miscellaneous subsidies to the Defense Department, agri-business, giant corporations and the like.

An idea for actually stimulating the economy? Fix healthcare.

Ask any small business owner: They cannot afford ever-increasing insurance premiums. Either implement something like Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan or something akin to Canada’s. (Canada pays about 1/2 of what we do and provides vastly better care for the majority of it’s people. Anyone saying otherwise is either ignorant or a liar).

Free up small business’ money; not with tax cuts but with business expense cuts in the form of health insurance premiums for their employees. In the end, it’s a lot more money into the pockets of everyone, because it allows small business, which employs 85% of Americans, to expand and grow.

We’re already paying double what the Canadians pay. So the idea that this would mean massive tax increases is frankly a fraud. It’s a matter of making what are now voluntary payments into mandatory ones, and distributing those costs evenly across the spectrum. We could provide substantially better care than we provide now, at less cost, and cover everyone. This isn’t rocket science, it’s healthcare company lobbying and ideology bereft of intellectual honesty that’s kept it form happening to date.

Americans must learn to think beyond the ends of their noses. Growth and prosperity don’t come from above. They come from below. And short-term growth for some at the expense of long term economic health for the many is a bad trade-off.

American large business and the wealthy are not over-taxed. Quite the opposite. Trickle down wish-thinking and tax cuts for the sake of tax cuts was a lousy policy in the 1980s and it’s a lousy policy now.

Posted in education, healthcare, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Affirmative action in history courses

Posted by Bill Nance on September 29, 2008

As you may or may not know, I’m somewhat of an historical enthusiast. One of the things I enjoy is finding out little details in great historical narratives which add color and depth to the greater story.

An excellent example of this was the story of Harriet Tubman, the heroic escaped slave who returned over and over again to lead other escaped slaves from slavery in the south to freedom in Canada. Learning about Tubman’s courageous actions (and that word courageous doesn’t do adequate justice to her actions) helped personalize for me the deprivations and horror of slavery. I get the same feeling when I read Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, or the diary Joseph Plumb Martin.

So last night when I heard a re-broadcast of the Boston University’s World of Ideas I was excited by the prospect of hearing about Agrippa Hull, a black Revolutionary War soldier who was also an orderly to General John Patterson and to also Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an important but little known Polish General who was in charge of building fortifications at West Point.

I wasn’t terribly interested however, in a lecture on the need for affirmative action in history courses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in education, history, Left-Wing Nut-Jobery, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »