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What Parents Really Want for Christmas

Posted Dec 14 2012 1:19pm
Dear Santa,

You might be pleased to know the kids still play the drums, some of the Wii discs still work and the bean bag chairs that have yet to explode formed an excellent layer of insulation during the power outage and blizzard following the hurricane. Speaking of Super Storm Sandy please watch your step on the roof this year, it's unclear whether my home owner's insurance would cover a fall. Anyhow, thanks again for pulling it off again and if you can spare a minute from Words with Friends there are a few items on my wish list that I can't seem to find on Amazon Prime:

Fact-Checking

Could you please gift wrap some more fact-checking?  And not just fact-checking in the wake of brain dead remarks about rape, pregnancy or vaccines causing mental retardation. You're probably tired of hearing fact-checking given the election and every other politician bending reality and the media pretending they're reporting reality. Now that the election is over, however, why not challenge the fact-checkers to clean up the massive pile of misinformation directed towards moms and dads. As I've said before , it's easy to get away with misrepresenting the facts when it comes to kids. Unless you cause a national crisis (vaccines cause autism!),  run for political office or piss off the attachment/lactivist/natural parenting lobby, you can pretty much say what you want. 

Nuance

True journalists have been kicked around a lot lately. It's a full-time assignment just searching for assignments that provide money and don't require a 24-hour Twitter presence but that's no excuse for the sloppiness in reporting the latest and greatest discoveries in children's health. At the very least I'd appreciate the findings laid out in real terms. I think a mother deserves to know how many fewer colds or bouts of diarrhea she can expect to clean up if she breast-feeds until her kid starts walking.

Another small favor, I don't want to read about video games, background television, or exposure to air pollution causing anything unless in fact there's a randomized experiment involved. Ditto for all other correlational findings interpreted as evidence of causation. I realize these requests involve extra work for journalists but I can't always get to the actual journal article to figure it out myself and those articles are expensive.

Respected Journalists Botching the Science

I hate to criticize the Half The Sky dude, Nicholas Kristof , he of New York Times international human rights renown, but perhaps you could remind him to brush up on more of the facts when he chooses to report on toxins or for that matter, breastfeeding. Please ask him to rely on a more objective set of experts when he writes outside his area of expertise. Same goes for food columnist  Mark Bittman, the cookbook guru who thought nothing of conducting his own pilot survey of gastrointestinal complications yet led a backlash on the scientific methodology behind the Stanford Organic Food Study.  I respect these journalists but it is not cool when they botch the empirical evidence because then I have to wonder what else they've messed up.

Politicians Politicizing, Botching or Ignoring Science

Where to start? Perhaps with Health and Human Services Secretary  Kathleen Sebelius  who last year overrode  the  FDA's plan  to make emergency contraceptives available to young teens and is still opposed despite the American Academy of Pediatrics's statement this month endorsing availability to girls younger than seventeen - and despite empirical evidence of the benefits and relatively small health risks.  

Then there's New York Michael Bloomberg who has been determined to rid hospitals of free formula as if it's a lethal bio hazard in his new Latch On NYC .  Santa, how about you tell Mr. Bloomberg, politely of course, to Latch This  or just drop my friend Suzanne's book  Bottled Up on his doorstep. I'd tweet him a photo of my deflated breasts but I'm trying to teach my children proper social media etiquette.  

Surprised Researchers

You gotta do something about all these amazed researchers. I'm so over the lead author claiming surprise at their own findings in every other press release.  Look at these remarkable results. Trust us, we had no idea this toxin, developmental delay, early childhood learning program, organic food had such a large impact (or not!). We carefully designed this project and examined the data a million different ways and yet, boom, out popped these dramatic results. We are simply flabbergasted.


Yours Truly,

A concerned mom with too much to do in the next two weeks.  

P.S. My kids are really very decent, please do not take this out on them. They still believe even my twelve-year old who can explain the theory of relativity.  
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