Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Complaint and culture

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  • dc_red, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    The reason articles can't simply be put on University websites (for the most part) is that the (corporate-owned) journals in which they're published explicitly preclude this.

    i.e., it is a condition of publishing in most corporate journals that the final version can't be posted on an open-access site, unless you're backed by a powerful funding agency that demands public access to the final product (Monbiot mentions the US National Institutes of Health).

    Many journals will allow earlier versions without the final formatting and editing to be posted (conditions vary, and are reasonably complex).

    So academic authors are compelled to sign agreements (if they want to publish in these journals) that preclude a creative commons licence.

    And by and large you won't get much funding from a public agency without a record of publishing in highly-regarded, corporate-owned journals (and a plan to do more of it in the future).

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Here is the (edited for privacy) text of an e-mail I got from a friend recently:

    Just after I last wrote we all started getting really down. Baby was spending most of the day screaming and never really going to sleep, and this went on for several weeks. I celebrated my birthday by visiting my doctor who put me on anti-depressants because I was really depressed and she agreed that I needed some help. Meanwhile Mother was just as depressed and her doctor diagnosed severe post-natal depression.

    When the doctor signed me off work and the prozac started to take effect it became clear to us that Baby's poor health was caused by starvation. The health visitors kept visiting and seeing Mother breastfeeding, and reasuring us that everything would be OK soon because breastfeeding is a miracle cure for all of baby's ills. During one visit I "disclosed" that I had been diagnosed with depression and then the health visitors went into child protection overdrive. Suddenly we were getting phone calls and visits every day - they must have considered me a risk, but ironically they didn't diagnose the real risk which was that Baby wasn't getting enough nutrition.

    A bit of drug induced clarity allowed us to decide to put Baby on formula milk, and since then she's been really good, going from zero weight gain and perma-crying to massive continual weight gain and full nights of sleep.

    One Monday we got a visit from "the No.1 breastfeeding specialist". She observed Mother and Baby and declared that "there's nothing wrong, she is just having a growth spurt." (In spite of Baby not gaining any weight for two weeks). A few days later after we had decided to put Baby on the bottle another health visitor was sat with Mother and said, in an idle chit-chat stylee, "Oh yeah... that specialist who saw you on Monday came back to the office and she was really concerned about Baby. She told me that Baby should definitely be on a bottle because she isn't getting enough milk from your breasts." I was out but Mother relayed the story to me later - my blood boiled. I could feel the bubbles. Needless to say, we have severed all links with them now.

    What a difference proper feeding has made to Baby. Her weight is now 6.5kg and she looks phat. She goes to sleep at about 8pm and wakes up at 7am and that's about all there is to it. If it hadn't been for the health visitors and their specious dogma then we would have had a perfect baby experience.

    My sister also took to blatently lying through her teeth to her health visitor, and hiding the bottle down the back of the sofa cushions when she was round.

    When our daughter was born, my wife shared a hospital room with a mother who was reduced to a state of perma-crying for three days after the birth because she couldn't feed properly. The husband put his fist through the drywall in frustration.

    Still, some people just have a bad attitude, right?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2292 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    But then, being a mere male what would I know.

    O/T:
    There's a barber shop in Grey Lynn called Mere Male's Barber Shop.

    For many years, I assumed that "Mere Male" was the name of the Samoan guy who owned the place.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Can someone explain for a lay person why papers can’t just be put on the university website under creative commons? Why do we need the journals at all – other than them acting as “cricket scorers” for the

    It's anecdotal and won't apply everywhere, but when I was doing post-grad stuff a Vic I remember that nearly anything submitted to a journal was probably freely available in the form of technical papers on the department website and variously in conference proceedings. It's not exactly the same as final journal submissions, of course, but often with similar graphics and text that'd just been re-hashed for any journal submissions. Through this kind of open publication it'd have been fairly easy to find out about what someone was doing and how they were going, albeit not in a guaranteed peer-reviewed way all the time.

    Few people would cite a technical paper if they could cite a journal publication instead.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Why do we need the journals at all – other than them acting as “cricket scorers” for the academic community?

    It's how the peer review function (ie: quality control) has traditionally been managed. There are other ways to do that which don't involve creating private gatekeepers who can charge accordingly.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Danielle,

    Could we perhaps be ‘supportive and encouraging’ to mothers rather than ‘accusatory and patronising’? You catch more bees with honey, and all that jazz.’.

    Also, the idea that childbirth causes severe ladybrain damage that prevents all rational thought and agency is soooo last millennium. Isn't it?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Emma Hart,

    At the time, it felt like the lactation consultant in Rotorua hospital saved my life. Such was her awesomeness.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I'd just like to add to the largely-feminine death-stare being directed at Ross. As if one's attitude can change the shape of your baby's mouth and heal fissured nipples. As if one can do anything about one's attitude on four hours' non-consecutive sleep a night. I was keen as at first, but after a day or so of reality, dreaded every feed for the first three weeks - ironically, persisting doggedly rather than trying other tactics made it worse. Then my baby got the hang of it, and hung on in, so to speak, for the next 11 months.

    The thing I found comforting was at the Plunket breastfeeding bootcamp I went to, someone said sometimes babies just take a while to get the hang of it. The idea that it was the baby's fault, rather than the mother's, was both frustrating and liberating - I couldn't do much about it, but it wasn't my fault, it was my adorable little lamprey's.

    With control comes responsibility - the idea that mothers are responsible for their medical condition during pregnancy and childbirth can be oppressive as well as liberating. I've heard plenty of stories of mothers being blamed for their perinatal problems, for not having the right attitude, by people firmly wedded to the naturalistic fallacy that birth is natural and safe providing you don't mess with it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to Rich Lock,

    I have a friend who appears to 'dry up' when baby is about 7-8 months old - happened with her son & now her daughter. She knows that switching to/supplementing with formula is what's needed, but feels so guilty & horrible because all the blogs & Plunket advice is telling her that she needs to breastfeed until bubs is X years old & Mum can't give up yet. It's heartbreaking to watch her struggle between what she knows the kid needs & the pressure she's getting from the professionals & busybodies.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I have friends with new twins who didn't get to see a lactation consultant for FOUR DAYS. That can be the difference between success or failure with breastfeeding.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3583 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Dug.

    Yes, I agree all the support and encouragement in the world is necessary. We certainly needed it and had it. And it needs to be there to ensure it maximises the opportunity for our young to get a "good start in life". I have yet to hear from anyone who denies that breast is best. The WHO has succeeded in banning the promotion of formula as a substitute for breast milk around the world. Ironically, NZ exports the ingredients for the stuff throughout the world. What do you think most of the milk powder gets used for?

    But what I see is a PR machine out there that formula is OK as a substitute for breastmilk. It can be fed by the partner so that they can feel included. Why bother with the pain. Why bother soaking the sheets. There is no doubt that it is better than nothing but it is not a substitute.

    Ask any farmer - sheep or dairy, and tell them to wean their future profit on substitute milk. They would laugh you off the paddock.

    And given other postings on other topics (ie public relations) I have great difficulty in deciphering the chaff (PR) from the real numbers of those who have to use formula.

    Sorry. It is a hobby horse that I am afraid fires me up. Sorry sorry sorry.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1459 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Do I really have to say out loud that women are not cows? Or sheep?

    Apparently. Jesus.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3583 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Ask any farmer - sheep or dairy, and tell them to wean their future profit on substitute milk. They would laugh you off the paddock.

    This is a bloody stupid metaphor, sorry. Profit motive: the milk from sheep or cows is free. Feed substitutes (and plenty of orphan lambs are bottle-fed, Ross, it used to be my job when I was a kid) cost money.

    Ross, you still don't sound like you're listening to the women on this thread, which would seem to indicate that the pressure is all the other way - towards breast-feeding, not away from it. And that being told "it's not a substitute" might be emotionally distressing for women who already feel guilty.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Danielle,

    Sorry. It is a hobby horse that I am afraid fires me up. Sorry sorry sorry.

    Yeah, and being deliberately dismissive of women as people, and comparing them to cows and sheep is something that really fires me up. As is Epic Mansplaining of the type you're doing here. Or comparing breastfeeding to sport, as if women just need better "coaching".

    You're right, you don't have tits. I do, and I would still never tell another woman that she just needs a "more positive attitude".

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1268 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Ross, I don't disagree that 'breast is best'. But my experience, albeit largely anecdotal, suggests that the other options are being shouted down, even when they might be more appropriate. The debate, she lacks nuance.

    Or sheep?

    Two legs bad! four legs good!

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2292 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Ross Mason,

    But what I see is a PR machine out there that formula is OK as a substitute for breastmilk.

    It's been ~7 years since I was a parent of a newborn, but I don't remember seeing that at all. I remember the trained, experienced people we trusted coming into our home and refusing to give us information on how my wife could mitigate the pain and sickness of giving up feeding, because they thought the pain and sickness of continuing to feed was somehow trivial. A few flashy advertisements from formula companies has nothing on that as a "PR machine".

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich Lock,

    The debate, she lacks nuance.

    Which takes us back to the North&South article. Where is the emphasis when the cover has the word 'Midwives' blazing on it and the whole beginning of the story is about only their alleged failings? It's hardly neutral territory given the history.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It’s how the peer review function (ie: quality control) has traditionally been managed. There are other ways to do that which don’t involve creating private gatekeepers who can charge accordingly

    I'd have thought so.

    How does peer review work? Do the reviewers get chosen by the journal, the author, their department head? Do they get paid and by who? Are their names and reports public?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    As far as I understand it, the benefits of milk over formula shrink over time - a little one who's not on solids has different needs to a bouncing year-old kid who's been on solids for months and can handle cow's milk straight. At first, it can affect the balance of gut microflora.

    I'd like to see some examples of this PR machine in action, in NZ in 2011. Pretty hard to run a PR campaign when you're banned from promoting something in just about any way. The closest thing I've seen to formula promotion was a free sample in a shipment of nappies I got once. Whereas my midwife handed me a DVD on breastfeeding yesterday - I know which would cost more to produce.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    But what I see is a PR machine out there that formula is OK as a substitute for breastmilk

    As someone attending parenting and breastfeeding classes with my wife, reading parenting books and buying a bewildering array of post-natal gadgets, I really don't see this at all. The overwhelming message is pro-breastfeeding.

    Which is good, to a degree, because there's a lot of empirical evidence in its favour. But the differences aren't mortal - the majority of the population over the age of 30 was formula fed, they're not limbless vegetables. And many women have huge problems breastfeeding, so the message that this failure means they're destroying their children's lives isn't that helpful. Especially since stress impacts on the milk production cycle.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 894 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Rich, reviewers are chosen by the journal - although I have come across situations where authors are asked to nominate a range of potential reviewers, presumably to save the editor the effort of doing so.
    They don't get paid; it's considered an academic duty. Generally they remain anonymous.
    It's a deeply flawed system in many ways, but seems to be preferable to any alternatives yet devised.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to James Butler,

    A few flashy advertisements from formula companies has nothing on that as a "PR machine".

    Notice how they only advertise "toddler milk", and the one I'm most familiar with starts with "Nothing compares to breastmilk, but how time flies. When you're ready to move on..." They know their audience is primed to hate them if they go there.

    I wonder what things are like in China at the moment on that front. How awful, not to be able to trust that commercial products aren't stuffed with poison thanks to a pack of greedy middlemen.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

  • jessica scott, in reply to B Jones,

    I’d like to see some examples of this PR machine in action, in NZ in 2011.

    Try buying a baby welcome arrival card without a bottle on it, or a toy baby doll without a bottle

    Wellington • Since Mar 2010 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to jessica scott,

    People tend to balk a little at disembodied boobs on greeting cards.

    (I fed plenty of breast milk via bottle.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3583 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Yes, but is that the result of product placement? An actual PR campaign, or just cultural associations? Babies have bottles all the time, but that doesn't mean formula is in them - mine got more of what I ended up calling Expresso.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

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