On weighing the evidence

My friend J’s husband called her from work today with the immortal words, “I’ve met someone else.” If he had been able to pick a worse time in life to tell her — say, when she was hooked up to chemotherapy or had just been knocked over and broken her spine — I suspect he would have. (I’d like to think I’m joking.)

I recently had another opportunity of my own to mull over the impact of emotional deceit and betrayal, but after the initial surprise I found those reflections boring.

Instead, I turned to thinking about getting so attached to my hopes and errors that it becomes almost impossible to look at the evidence and admit I was wrong. I _was_ misled, but also, for a year, I remained more attached to my erroneous assumptions than to the weight of the evidence.

So I’m reminded of the importance of being ready to notice, and own up, when I’m likely to be wrong. What someone tells you isn’t evidence, but what they do — or fail to do — certainly is. Sooner or later, you have to go with the evidence.

J and her husband had years of shared struggles, victories, and all the usual pushme-pullyou dramas and traumas that go with two different people sharing their lives.

There were times when, on the basis of the evidence, I told her she should leave. Maybe she should have, for the sake of her own soul. But she didn’t, and her husband would almost always call when we were talking, because whether they were getting along or not, he’d still call her every hour throughout the day and then ring off with a real, “I love you.”

So what do you do when the evidence itself is so confused?

Very few people wind up in solid marriages. Both my brothers did, so I sometimes think that I should, too. But I’m beginning to believe, down to my soul, that nobody will have my back that devotedly — and maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe I shouldn’t come first to anyone, nor put anyone first, myself. Becoming that attached to something that’s so very rare in reality does seem to hinder one’s ability to see the evidence, and destroys the ability to admit that one is wrong.

I have congenital trouble with admitting that my perceptions are wrong in the first place. Perhaps I should just work on that.

Share this article:

Scientific method & infant studies

Further thoughts on this article which revealed, to every parent’s astonishment I’m sure, that babies remember what upsets them and learn to hope for less in the future:
http://www.physorg.com/news201964561.html
My first, suppressed response was a huge internal “WTHF??? Who’d do
that deliberately??”
But I was a nurse for years — I know what people will do deliberately and I won’t go into it here, especially since I just had a tasty breakfast.
My second thought was the one reflecting my training, which tells me that if it isn’t repeated in a number of controlled scientific experiments, it’s not accepted medical knowledge (document, document, document!), and if it’s not accepted scientifically, it won’t be accepted as good parenting practice.
grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… But I digress.
On the one hand, I’m glad that a few OBs might suggest that parents hang onto their infants instead of handling them like awkward, smelly little responsibilities to be managed with as little face-time as possible.
On the other, I find it profoundly, horribly wrong to tell young parents to walk away from their screaming baby and stay there while we stab or slash the kid to get a few blood samples, and then come back again later to do it all again.
Because heaven knows you can’t just watch the painful reality of life unfold naturally. That would require the assumption, antithetical to scientific method’s assumptions, that observation and empathy in a real-world setting (where sometimes kids get put down for real reasons) is a valid basis for drawing conclusions.
I could go on about psychogenic shock, neurological development, early bonding, the isolationist shift in child-rearing advice over 30 years, the current puzzlement among psychologists about the staggering proportion of young adults who are incapable of empathy, the weirdness of the fact that most of the world is toilet-trained by ~2 but here we’re rarely trained by 4… And so on.
But that could take awhile and my iPhone is starting to make my fingertips sting.

Share this article: