Skeptics with a K: Episode #114


Stress, social policy, smoking and stage hypnosis.  Plus teddy bears, Star Trek, critical thinking and sheeple. Chewing the cud, it’s Skeptics with a K.

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  1. #1 by Declan on February 2, 2014 - 05:34

    Great episode.

    I was terrified enough by those Moray results until I realized that if those are mean figures, then – assuming that some people gave reasonable answers – others must have answered along the lines of almost everybody in the UK being an immigrant.

  2. #2 by Gordon on February 8, 2014 - 10:37

    Couldn’t let the conversation about washing baby clothes go without some sort of comment (suspect I won’t be the only one!)

    “You have to wash babies clothes separate from your own clothes” because your own clothes are so dirty and unhygienic. Was very surprised to see that comment get through unquestioned; it poked one of my pet hates at the moment as a relatively new father: “Baby Woo”.

    I mean, if you think about it for a minute, that really makes no sense. Yes your clothes have bacteria on them but in the washing machine they get washed! That is the whole point of the thing. It doesn’t just mix the bacteria on the clothes up and spread them onto the rest of the clothes in the machine. Also, your baby is constantly coming into contact with your clothes (when they are not being washed!) day in and day out- you carry them around and hold them on our shoulder or your chest, put them in prams etc etc. We are all covered in bacteria all the time!

    Okay, you could say that it is “just a precaution” and what is the harm? Better safe than sorry when it comes to babies, surely? The trouble is that there are so many of these unnecessary precautions and advice out there with so little critical thinking applied to them that it leads to both massive amounts of extra work and constant guilt for doing or not doing certain things. And for usually already fairly strung out new parents! Also, it is the same kind of uncritical thinking that leads people to do things that really can be harmful like taking your baby to a cranio-osteopath to help them sleep (reference to that baby in Australia that had its neck broken by one) or not vaccinating your baby or not using the cream that the doctor gave your for their rash.

    I also think it is a little ironic that the segment that immediately follow this comment the underlying point was about how even “innocuous but nonsense” beliefs are indicative of a lack of critical thinking skills and a general cause for concern. …

    I am not trying to be all superior or anything -my wife and I also did some pretty silly things with hindsight (sterlising his bottles until he was 6 months old- 3 months after he started putting everything within arms reach including some really dirty stuff in his mouth), but I do think that baby woo does get a free pass much of the time (presumably because it is so emotive and people don’t want to go there) and we should be just as skeptical and evidence based in our approach to childcare as to whether to use a Shuzi Band or not. Particularly on Skeptical shows.

    Love the show by the way. Just thought I would add that.

  3. #3 by Chris on February 11, 2014 - 07:12

    Gordon, I think the issue is the sensitivity the baby would have to detergents used on adult clothes. But my kids are in college, so I don’t remember if I spent the extra bucks for special laundry soap. I do remember doing lots of laundry.

    Mostly because I was lacking in sleep. Oh, crud… the only thing I remember was the lack of sleep. I once was befuddled because I knew I had put a half onion in the fridge, only to find it in a cutlery drawer next to the fridge a few days later. I think I also ran a few red lights.

    Just remember, the only thing that is important is that your kids are alive when you tuck them into bed at night. Trust me, that is not a trivial job.

    I have panic attack flashes when I think of the several times that my middle child came close to death. First there was the bug he ingested when he could just crawl (older child alerted me!), then there was being on the dresser just inches from second story open window (spouse was yelled at), then running into a street in front a car which fortunately had very good brakes! Plus there were a few other incidences (like chewing through the blister pack of toddler paracetamol when I was distracted, etc.

    The irony is that he has been a swimming instructor and lifeguard since age fifteen. He is now annoyed when his college friends refuse to wear life jackets when they rent canoes at the university’s boat center.

  4. #4 by Rebecca on February 11, 2014 - 11:11

    To weigh in on the baby clothes, I think Chris is right, it tends to be more about the detergent and also possibly the temperature. To get out stains, and also as baby clothes tend to be made of cotton, often you would run them at a higher temp than you would “bother” with your own clothes. Although you will end up cleaning them all like that to get the stains out of your own clothes too!
    As an eczema sufferer my mum always had to use non-bio on everything in the house just in case I came in contact with it. Non-bio is around the same price and works just as well as biological so when the little one is very small they tend to recommend using it for all laundry items as due to their immune systems many babies will experience some kind of eczema or dermatitis in their first few years and then (generally) grow out if it!

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