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A good, if trivial, example why pseudo-scientific thinking MUST be challenged.

(174 Posts)
BertrandRussell Thu 18-Feb-16 10:28:24

This is a bit of a thread about a thread, but I hope it's allowed to stay- it illustrates perfectly why pseudo science can be dangerous and needs to be challenged, and why critical thinking is vital. Someone asked whether it was OK to have a child's bed positioned under a window. People reassured them that it was fine, so long as the window was properly secure and there were no blind cords to be a danger. There were still posters saying things like "I wouldn't- I don't know why, but I just wouldn't".

They have unconsciously absorbed the need to make sure the window is properly safe- but haven't absorbed that once you have done that it is safe. That there is something else going on that makes it dangerous. So an Old Husband's Tale continues.

I heard once of a family where they always cut the end off a joint of meat before roasting it "because that's what you have to do". When it was investigated, it turned out that 50 years ago, there had been a joint too big for the oven, so the end was cut off to make it smaller. 2 generations later, that had become just something you did when you roasted meat. Nobody questioned it.

If you feel uncomfortable putting your child's bed under a window, or like doing anything else superstitious, like greeting magpies or thinking that white feathers are sending you messages or chatting to robins because they make you think of your dead mother maybe that's just me that's fine. But do it in the clear knowledge that you are being irrational, and that it isn't real. Because once you stop thinking rationally about these things you are easy prey for charlatans and woo merchants.

Bolognese Thu 18-Feb-16 12:28:33

you explained it perfectly, nothing more to add.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 19-Feb-16 00:48:58

People who are uneasy putting children under windows are not likely to be so because of superstitions and Old Husband's Tales.

It's more likely an unconscious response to unease from older relatives. Who had good reasons to worry about children sleeping under windows.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 19-Feb-16 00:50:42

Is Pseudo science a philosophy?

HaveIGotAClue Fri 19-Feb-16 00:54:22

I wouldn't position a bed next to a window

A: draft
B: sunlight
C: an innate need in me to have my own back. Neanderthal though it may be, the easiest point of entry will be a window or door, so I'd like to be able to sleep happily away from potential dangers.
D: because it just feels wrong aesthetically! Are you putting the head of the bed up against the window (how does the headboard fit?) or are you positioning it sidelong?

Abraid2 Fri 19-Feb-16 00:55:29

Why must it be challenged?

They're not flat-earthers.

HaveIGotAClue Fri 19-Feb-16 00:57:01

E: most radiators are positioned underneath windows.

Your OP is a lot of pseudo-nonscience-nonsense in my very humble opinion.

ReallyTired Fri 19-Feb-16 01:00:18

I think that your lo is more likely to get up at stupid o'clock in the summer months if their bed is near a window. I can't see why it would be more dangerous. Curtain cords can kill a child wherever their bed is put. Young children need supervision.

BertrandRussell Fri 19-Feb-16 07:07:10

Interesting that most of the people disagreeing with me are quoting other non rational reasons- atavistic instincts, and the unconscious absorption and repetition of grandparents ideas that no longer hold true.

In the thread I am referencing it was confirmed that there was no problem with light or draughts. And the most practical place for the bed was under the window.

I put the thread in this section because I thought this was where discussion of Things like pseudo science went. Is there another section that would suit it better?

moptopp Fri 19-Feb-16 07:17:50

Huh. DD's bed is under the window. I don't particularly like it there but only because it's next to the radiator. It's a tiny box room and there's nowhere else to put it. Never heard anything, rational or otherwise, about not putting beds under windows.

moptopp Fri 19-Feb-16 07:21:09

Sorry, that wasn't quite the point of the thread. It's an interesting example OP.

Devilishpyjamas Fri 19-Feb-16 07:33:18

Why MUST non scientific thinking be challenged? My original day job was science & there are plenty of areas in which science does not have all the answers.

Anyway you haven't considered all the variables in your OP. Heat/sunlight/draughts. Risk assessment isn't absolute (i.e. you often can't make the risk zero) you make a choice of which risk you're happy to live with - which will be different for different people.

I'd suffer drafts & sunlight for myself & I'd position ds2 & ds3 beds next to a window if there was really no choice, but I'd never put ds1's bed next to one because he headbutts & hits the wall next to his bed & I'd rather have holes in wall than smashed glass (& yes he has previously broken windows - 5 of them - with his head).

Demonstrates why assuming there is 'one truth' doesn't really work & is misunderstanding science.

GreenSand Fri 19-Feb-16 07:39:22

Compleatly different, but did you know your more likely to get divorced if you eat margarine?? see, it's on the web, so must be right grin

BertrandRussell Fri 19-Feb-16 07:45:59

"Demonstrates why assuming there is 'one truth' doesn't really work & is misunderstanding science."

I'm not assuming there's "one truth". There are no practical reasons in the case concerned for not putting the bed under the window. In your case there would be.

And of course there are plenty of areas where science does not have all the answers. The trouble is, some people take this to mean it has none of them.

meditrina Fri 19-Feb-16 07:46:56

"In the thread I am referencing it was confirmed that there was no problem with light or draughts. And the most practical place for the bed was under the window."

Couldn't you just take it up on the thread, rather than start a TAAT?

"I put the thread in this section because I thought this was where discussion of Things like pseudo science went. Is there another section that would suit it better?"

I think the topic you were after would be either the unexplained for superstition, or the science club for science, pseudo or otherwise.

meditrina Fri 19-Feb-16 07:50:00

BTW, the MN thread (such as it was) on divorce and margarine was in The Science Club topic.

BertrandRussell Fri 19-Feb-16 07:51:30

I didn't want to carry on on the thread because I didn't think that would be fair on the OP if the conversation broadened away from her interior decoration issue.

And I would be happy to move this, but I wonder if you are going to suggest the same to the threads about past life regression, white feathers and psychics which are among the first 10 thread to come up on this section?

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 19-Feb-16 07:54:45

I didn't see the thread - were people saying "you mustn't put a bed by a window because I wouldn't although I don't know why." or were they saying "I personally wouldn't although I don't know why." The former should probably be challenged, the second less so.

I have panic attacks which are irrational, what's your take on that?

ABitBemusedToday Fri 19-Feb-16 07:56:42

OP, the window thing. You say in your example there is no fraught problem but in my experience, I actually was that parent. I assessed my nice warm house with all its cavity wall insulation and brand new double glazing, and decided there was no fraught and so the bed could sit in the most practical part of the room (against the window).

DS began to remove his covers and sleep on the floor in the middle of the room. He was only little, so we thought it was him being a typical 3-4 yr old, and when I asked he kept saying it was more cosy down there. We re-checked any draughts and there were none. One particular night when the wind was blowing a different direction, I snuggled under the covers with him after he had a nightmare, and I was aware of the most awful draught that had gone completely undetected beforehand.

So, the moral of the story is that a non-draughty window can prove be dreadfully draughty, just not necessarily consistently. However enough to make a tiny child sleep in the floor to escape it!

We moved the bed away from the window and immediately the sleeping-on-the-floor routine stopped.

Gotta keep an open mind grin

BertrandRussell Fri 19-Feb-16 07:56:57

Milk- read the last paragraph of my OP.

ABitBemusedToday Fri 19-Feb-16 07:58:55

Argh! I kept changing fraught back to draught and it somehow switched hit self back!

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Fri 19-Feb-16 08:03:45

OP - my panic attacks are very real to me. Or is it now OK to dismiss anyone and anything that doesn't quite add up to science? People have feelings and emotions and to dismiss those in that way makes (generic) you a very unkind person.

meditrina Fri 19-Feb-16 08:11:31

The first 10 threads in The Scence Club do not include any you list, but of course a random one-off superstition would fit there very well with those you do. Unless you are trying to suggest that bed positioning is part of a belief system. In which case it would fit here, but you'd need to make it clear in the title or opening post that you did intend to discuss Chinese traditional religions, ancestor worship and feng shui (which is about far more than the position of furniture, but does include that).

But you do not seem to be asking for a philosophical discussion on ancestor worship and the flow of qi.

You seem rather to have misplaced a thread on pseudoscience. So, as you asked for better homes for it, I continue to recommend Or the Sceience Club which has threads about Brian Cox, garden wildlife (note there, not gardening), science television, 'the end is nigh', The Big Bang, and, as already noted, pseudoscience.

scaevola Fri 19-Feb-16 08:13:48

"Or is it now OK to dismiss anyone and anything that doesn't quite add up to science?"

No, I think most people would not say that. And scientists are the first to know they do not have all the answers. Especially in matters relating to health.

314Romaniac Fri 19-Feb-16 08:17:46

Well, I clicked on this because science does interest me, but I don't think anybody has to do somebody somebody else's way!

I don't understand this stuff really but there is room in a big wide world and my big life for a few random, inexplicable idiosyncrasies and irrational decisions that don't stand in the way of anything that needs to happen.

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