Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Glimmers of Savvy Parenting News for 2013? Not in the Parenting Media

Despite the flurry of flu activity in the house, the strep, the late Ho Ho Hannukah/Kwanza/Everything cards, the dead fish and the general holiday mess/stress, I'm determined to start the new year on a positive word or two*. Thus I promise not to post about the recent ho ho hum genderized toy op-ed that offered nothing new but surely grabbed toy-buyers attention in the New York Times and must signal an editor enthralled by gender or Legos so I will keep on topic and say I actually enjoyed the year-end wrap-up in the media this time around possibly because several preached straight to Momma Data and my stats-loving, myth-busting, fact-checking heart.

Most of my favorite yearly reviews and Bests of 2012 came not from the typical parenting suspects but elsewhere like the UK organization Sense about Science devoted to making the rest of us savvier about stats and claims. Check out their recommended reading list. Sign up for their emails, I pretty much pinky swear you'll learn something worthwhile for the next time you encounter some expert telling you how to make your child safer, healthier or smarter. The best part, an email will arrive in your inbox from a woman named Tabitha Innocent, perhaps the most glamorous name in the savvy science biz save Trevor Butterworth. If you've never seen the crew's semi-regular Celebrities and Science Review, it's not too late though I hope there's one in the works for 2012, please! Surely placenta-eating January Jones has earned a nod.

Did anyone catch Tips For a Statistically Savvy New Year from Carl Bialak, aka The Numbers Guy at the Wall Street Journal?  Or the print version, Statistical Habits to Add, or Subtract in 2013. Guy hits on a lot of issues on our minds here, the lack of context, the old correlation is not causation. I was ever so disappointed there were no specific topics focusing on the slew of questionable claims directed towards moms and dads, but maybe this is the year. Carl? Breastfeeding? Video games? How could you not take the bait? Perusing the comments, it seems the WSJ columns gathered a crowd of mostly number-loving male types interested in weather, murder rates, the lottery, stock market and baseball not exactly the usual parenting fare. Might have to chime in. 

Now we turn to food. This time to a refreshing piece from Jane E. Brody in her Personal Health perch at the New York Times - What You Think You Know (but Don’t) About Wise Eating. Girlfriend touches on topics lighting up the parenting sphere like the costs and benefits of organic foods, trans fats, nitrates and nuts. So before you nix the bacon from the shopping cart, read it. The opening hooked me:
Let’s start the new year on scientifically sound footing by addressing some nutritional falsehoods that circulate widely in cyberspace, locker rooms, supermarkets and health food stores. As a result, millions of people are squandering hard-earned dollars on questionable, even hazardous foods and supplements.
For starters, when did “chemical” become a dirty word? What You Think You Know (but Don't) About Wise Eating.
Heady stuff. Yes we care about the food but it's also reassuring to read some useful myth-busting in the mainstream media that could come in handy to we parents.  For some fun, check out Time Healthland's Top Ten lists. Yes, there's one for mommies and daddies.  The Top Ten Parenting Trends - breastfeeding, martyr moms (I swear I know that woman in the photo from some playdate) and my fave, the clueless dad meme.  Meme.  Could we please find another word. So over it. So academic. So makes me think of men in sandals and beards requesting analyses they couldn't possibly help me run or even begin to run.  Ooopps, skeptical optimism, key word optimism....staying on track.....warm fuzzy thoughts. 

So that's a few scientifically savvy sources to start off the new year. Wish I had more. Anyone? Please do share any other refreshingly scientifically sound end of year lists. Or really any interesting Best Lists. My kids don't go back to school until next week so I need some light entertainment and fear I am not above the Top Ten Celebrity Plastic Surgery Mishaps.

*One more positive note, literally and figuratively: Smarter Ways to Discipline Children at the Wall Street Journal.

UPDATE:  As Baroness Andrea Riley pointed out, Sense about Science has published the 2012 Celebrity Review. Guess I missed Tabitha's email that day. Blame the flu. Anyhow you can also read about it on HuffPo - Celebrity Bad Science.  Guess who tops the list? January Jones. The sad part, the folks at HuffPo threw together a slideshow of celebrities involved in "Advanced Science" and they could only scrounge up 9 people including actress Hedy Lamarr who died years ago. If you should find yourself with nothing to do after weeks of too much unstructured time with family and friends and the kids running amok way past bedtime, go ahead, look at it. If not next year they might have re-run the same sorry list of science-savvy celebs unless they squeeze the smart girl from The Wonder Years, a mathematician, into the scientist cateorgory.



2 comments:

andreariley said...

Great links, a lot of fun reading there. FYI Sense About Science's 2012 list is out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/27/celebrity-bad-science-sense-about-science_n_2372668.html

http://www.senseaboutscience.org/news.php/291/celebrities-and-science-2012

I signed up for their email list and was delighted by their drop-down list of Titles--I decided I would like to be addressed as "Baroness". Who wouldn't?

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hi Andrea, or should I say Baroness! Many thanks. I kept snooping around SAS for the 2012 list but couldn't find it. Good catch. And I completely forgot about the Baroness option. I'm going to have to edit my preferences.