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[personal profile] stellar_muddle
It has been a while since I have posted here. Facebook has been getting the random comments and baby spam (photos/video etc). However this week AJBM has decided that 50 min feed sessions will be the norm, so rather than play iPad games, I will try and exercise my brain a bit more and get some ideas out of the shower (where they tend to occur) and onto paper/screen.

Evidence, anecdotes, data and observation
(to be added to as I go, as there are baby breast feeding interruptions eg cleaning spilled milk etc)
The plural of anecdotes is not data.

As it applies to babies:

One of the things I seem to spend a bit of time on with small baby is reading about what is going on (eating, sleeping, development etc). I suppose it is my coping mechanism. Sometimes it is as simple as reassurance that that we are doing ok or observing is normal, or finding out how others have coped with various challenges. Other times, I "just" want to understand the whys or hows. Many blogs/webpages looked at. As a general rule, I try and look for the more evidence based ones (just for example). Or just interesting ones written by scientists. What is interesting is what is held up as evidence, or at the very least, the styles of argument used.
Given my background, it is unsurprising that the sorts of arguments that work best with me are based on peer reviewed publications - studies, meta-studies, reviews. Give me some calibrated quantified data. With distributions/uncertainties. Tell me what references are behind the ideas - let me check them out for myself to see if I draw the same conclusions.
Others (as observed in comments sections) seem to be offended by such things. Their experience (or that of someone they know) trumps all. This can cover everything from seatbelts, vaccinations, toilet training to parenting philosophies etc. Their anecdote is enough for them to be certain. Their aunty, cousin, friend, acquaintance, someone they ran into on the internet who had the exact same issue and the exact same solution are mere confirmation of the absolute truth.
I am not arguing that all anecdotes are bad. A selection of personalized stories can really help to reassure that you are not the only one, not alone and I can see how that personalization and contact helps. However care needs to be taken that memory is not selective and the anecdote is based on realistic observation and not just wistful thinking.
The systematic scientist bit of me has been trying to keep records: the ipad app which I have been recording feeding and sleeping patterns in is great, especially for the automatic graphs. It helps to be able to examine longer trends and to not be unduely influenced by what you were most recently dealing with. Are any changes real/significant (though not checking in the statistical sense) or just random fluctuations. I have even gone so far as to keep a several day record of exactly what was done to get her to sleep, just to see if there were any consistent factors and if so, what. And to try and not confuse causation and correlation, because they are not the same things.
But in the end, it comes down to what helps/works and what doesn't and some things you will never know if they were the best thing to do/actually worked. They just got the results you wanted, or seemed most appropriate at the time or were the best you could do under the circumstances.

Obviously ongoing research is required.

As it applies to reenactment:
There would be a rant about documentation and what is extrapolated based on small sample sizes, appropriate circumstances etc but I am not certain that my brain is up to it at the momment/there are more interesting things out there on the internet. Go and read them.
eg
Discussions on the Lengberg Bra, written sources, and reconstructions.

Edit: at this point don't expect much as typing via iPad and its autocorrect is less than helpful. I will add stuff as I go.
Grrr and now the salient points have vanished from my brain. Will try and retrieve in the 45 min window that the baby sleep will allow (given the laundry in on, and wools hand washed).

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