Lies, damn lies, and…

….misleadingly skewed articles.

Courtesy of Julie, I’ve found that STATS.org are very kindly offering to tell us What Science Really Says About the Benefits of Breast-Feeding.  The authors complain that the recent NYT article, while "laying claim to a balanced approach" was, in fact, "extremely biased".  The reason this bothers them, as far as I can deduce, is because they don’t see why other people should be the only ones to get all the fun of writing extremely biased articles. 

Breastfeeding advocates are as liable as anyone else to fall into the trap of assuming that any evidence that supports their viewpoint must be correct, and I’m all in favour of taking a more thoughtful and analytical approach than "Wahey!  Another study showing breastmilk benefits!  Take that, anti-breastfeeding formula company dupes!"  Unfortunately, while this article raised some good points, it also had several downright inaccuracies and enough spin to make me dizzy.  I was left feeling that the authors’ actual goal wasn’t a genuine attempt at weighing the evidence fairly and coming to realistic conclusions about what it does and doesn’t show, so much as a random bashing of breastfeeding, the AAP, and the NYT collectively.

The claims in the article deserve detailed discussion, and I’m working on that.  But I’m a slow writer (due, of course, to my dedication to getting every detail meticulously right and well-written into the bargain.  Or, if you want to put it another way, to my tiresome anal-retentiveness.)  Meanwhile, most people seem to be accepting the STATS.org article with uncritical delight ("See, I knew the NYT had to be exaggerating the benefits of breastfeeding!") and no further questions asked. 

So, while the arrival of the full discussion is still pending, I wanted to make the point that questions should be asked.  Just because an article criticises a viewpoint you don’t like doesn’t automatically mean that what they say is right.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Lies, damn lies, and…

  1. Looking forward to your post, whenever you’re able to get it finished.

  2. I thought it was interesting at a first skim but also saw it was biased and inaccurate too. It seems impossible to find a sensible article that is accurate and uptodate. Sadly I feel articles such as the NY Times and the STATS.org ones undermines the message on both sides. It’s bloody annoying.
    I am interested to know if the latest large body of research really was in the 80s. If so, why the hell hasn’t there been an ongoing research programme. I find it hard to believe there isn’t one that’s been going at least 20 years.

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