Observational data – far from worthless

I’ve been following a discussion about CIO (crying it out) pros and cons over at iVillage that I found via a trackback to my blog stats. A poster had requested scientific information about the Ferber method/CIO in general. Someone (Thanks! 🙂 ) had posted some of my critiques of the usual garbage that gets passed around the Web as “scientific information abut CIO”, but is nothing of the sort. Of course, one of the other anti-CIO posters (who herself had posted two sources full of said garbage information) was not going to let those links stand. Having skimmed them, she pronounced the studies I referenced to be about “whether CIO works, not whether CIO is safe” (which is patently untrue – see the link referenced here). When her error was pointed out, she still insists we do not know the “dose” of CIO which is sufficient to cause brain damage (as demonstrated by studies which deal with prolonged separations and outright abuse in animals and children) and “If CIO were a drug, there would be clinical studies done to determine the physical effects and potential risks, at what dosage level it causes harm (overdose), and other factors relating to it’s safety before it could be approved for doctors to prescribe it or parents to use it. ” More to the point, she pooh-poohs the idea that parents’ and other observational data could actually be meaningful:

The studies presented are based on parental observation and little else. No medical studies on how an infant’s BRAIN actually responds to CIO have ever been presented. In other words, there is no “evidence of no harm”…. and a great deal of information that points to the possibility of harm. Is there definitive evidence on either side? Not at the moment. Is there reason to doubt the safety of this method? I believe so.

I often come upon AP/NPers (attachment/natural parenting devotees) responding to stuff that I’ve written which is referenced online. Most of it is an embarrassing demonstration of their lack of reading comprehension (and indeed, it’s quite obvious this poster did not initially read the links provided), but this case refers to something slightly different which, I think, could use a bit of elaboration, as it reveals a bias and error of thought common in AP/NP philosophy.
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