Skepchick Quickies, 4.14


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. Well, the baby whisperer taught me something: I apparently have no fucking clue what intuition is. They say that pregnancy is the one time intuition is honored, then go onto say that if a pregnant woman feels something is “not right” with her body, the doc tells her to come in for a visit. Not feeling well is intuition? If I have the worst headache of my life and it turns out to be an aneurysm, is that intuition? Because I always thought the “not right” feeling was an interpretation of the signals being sent to your brain.

    Also, every pregnant woman should get an ultrasound because it seriously would be a terrible situation to give birth to a child with a severe heart or lung defect and not have the resources around to deal with it available immediately.

  2. She’s suggesting that you come to an “agreement” with spirits hovering around your body to welcome them as the spirit of your unborn child? Being surrounded by ghosts that are trying to enter your body sounds more like an awesome/ terrible horror movie. And yet another way to guilt trip mothers–if your kid’s Damien, it’s your own fault for not being more welcoming to the friendly spirits. Oh, wait, I guess someone already kind of made that movie.

  3. The black hole thing still ends up with a variation of “Turtles all the way down,” so I’m not convinced yet.

    That said, “Turtles all the way down” is also my favorite Kama Sutra position, so I’ve got SOME fondness for the idea :)

  4. @Elyse: Fair enough. I was thinking that if a pregnant woman “feels something is wrong” and her OB tells her to come in- it’s because the “something” isn’t braxton-hicks contractions or typical round ligament pain- it’s “something” like leaking fluid (which I suspect was the case for the woman in the article given how she was treated). Point being, it’s usually a symptom that’s concrete not intuition. That said, if a patient who’d never had a u/s called an OB and said, “I think my shockras are off,” I bet she’d be told, “there’s an ultrasound for that.”

  5. The evolutionary psychology bingo was funny, but way off the mark. I’ve never heard a professional (academic) researcher in evolutionary psychology claim, for example, that all behavior is completely hardwired by the genes. If you read the works of Tooby, Cosmides, Pinker, Buss, Kanazawa, and many others, they all agree that behavior is a combination of genes and environment.

    What they criticize is the standard social science model that the human mind is a blank slate at birth and that environment entirely molds human psychology and behavior.

  6. @Elyse: I am on LJ, and I have a pretty big friends list. There’s always at least one pregnant woman at any given time. It’s not at all unusual for them to make a post asking, “Is this normal? Is something wrong? AAAAH.”

    So … yeah.

  7. @BigMKNows: I think it’s referring to (most) professional academic researchers so much, but rather laypeople who like to try to interpret or talk about the results of such research. Or (mostly male) college students who think they know everything.

  8. Am I allowed to comment on the Baby Whisperer even if I couldn’t stomach reading the whole article? It was too much WTF for me this morning.

    Quoting from the article: “What is your agreement with this being coming in? ”

    My agreement with the hovering spirit of my kid was: Don’t grow up to vote republican and I won’t strangle you with my own hands. Apparently he agreed, but time will tell, I guess.

  9. @Elyse: I’m no OB, but doesn’t every woman who gets pregnant think, at some point during her pregnancy (especially first time moms and women who have had miscarriages) that something is wrong?

    I’ve never been pregnant, but from what I understand of the experience I would think everything is wrong.

  10. as someone who likes to temper his opinions with acres of caveats and addendums, I like having something I can come out so unequivocally against.

    @BigMKNows: As was stated, it’s mostly the people who are undergraduates and more on the “psychology” side of the equation (with only an elementary understanding of evolution) who are the problem. Yes, there is valuable research being done in ev psych, but the abuses of it are widespread. I guess it’s similar to the quantum woo folks, but not as easy to spot.

  11. I kind of take the evo psych pronouncements with a grain of salt, although I worked a bit with David Buss and his method is sound (Kanazawa , on the other hand…). I think most laypeople know much more about “psychology” than evolution, so they look at these findings as evidence for their most deeply held stereotypes(confirmation bias, anyone?).

    Research in evo psych is definitely giving us some insight into human behavior, but it is also limited in its ability to be tested scientifically, and when the media get hold of the results they blow them out of proportion. Of course, they do this with just about every scientific advancement, so nothing new there.

    RE: Baby whisperer – I think this self-proclaimed “intuitive” could do a lot of harm (psychologically) to women who experince complications during pregnancy. They may begin to blame themselves for not “accepting the incoming spirit” or some-such nonsense. Of course if you ask Robertson, she probably thinks she’s “empowering” these pregnant women to understand their developing child, but what she’s really doing is undermining their confidence.

    “Oh, no. I can’t be a good mommy if I don’t align my chakras and listen to my intuitive guide!”


  12. “However, Geitner admits, a person has to be receptive to intuitive therapy.”
    Of course they do – because if you don’t want desperately for it to work, it won’t work.
    Or because the spirits will just be annoyed that you don’t believe in them. That’s it.

  13. They’re wrong about the black holes, of course. It’s not that there’s another universe inside of each black hole. It’s that there’s THIS universe inside every black hole.

  14. Actually, I’ve heard nothing but negatives from those who’ve used intuitives. According to several, a breech baby is caused by the baby sensing ambivalence or rejection by the mother and trying to remain closer to her heart. Essentially, if there’s any problem, they find some way to blame the mother and try to get her to pay for some extra services or devices to “fix” it.

    I do believe in intuition, but that it’s the unconscious mind gathering small bits of information and noticing oddities or trends without conscious effort. Usually when someone just has a feeling there’s something wrong, there’s often little symptoms they hadn’t realized were that indicative, like not feeling the baby move very much, getting a headache, short blurs in vision or hormonal fluctuations.

  15. @Florence Erlenmeyer:

    According to several, a breech baby is caused by the baby sensing ambivalence or rejection by the mother and trying to remain closer to her heart.

    This is true. It’s why breech babies are mostly born to drug addicted single moms.

    You always know which moms never would have loved their kids because their babies are stillborn.

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