A recent HuffPo piece on that rather flagrant bit of cover trolling from TIME magazine irritates me.
HAHHAH. wait. I kid you not, I just went* to read the byline to insert the author into this post and noticed it was from that confirmed idiot Eric Michael Johnson. We've noted problems with him and his Huffery before on this blog.
As with the most dangerous idiots**, EMJ starts out just fine:
One thing I’ve learned in my research on human evolution is that people are quick to assume that what they do is “natural” simply because they don’t know of other examples where things are done differently. The primate brain is a pattern recognition machine and is adapted to quickly identify regularities in our environment. But when we are presented with the same pattern over and over again it is easy to fall victim to what is known as confirmation bias, or coming to false conclusions because the evidence we use does not come from a broad enough sample.
Okay, fine. Also to cherry pick some particular historical examples*** as evidence that "this is how it has always been" whilst ignoring other examples that are either contemporaneous or removed in time that totally contradict the "natural" fallacy.
Then EMJ runs straight into the wall:
In order to avoid falling for this bias on the question of extended breastfeeding the best way forward would be to draw from the largest sample possible: the entire primate lineage.
And that's it. That's his entire thesis, dressed up with a little bit of data and one graph. It's false. It's false because of one simple fact.
We, the humans, are about as unusual as it comes for a primate. In oh so many ways. Ways that are closely related to a categorical distinction when it comes to breastfeeding.
Humans have used their incredible brains to create options to breastfeeding!
The children fed on something other than breastmilk quite obviously survive and, indeed, thrive.
What we are discussing is the rarefied air of "better" or "worse" outcome in the context of variance in IQ, immune resistance, "bonding", etc that really is not readily attributable to any one source of input.
Take away breastfeeding for all of those other primates and you are not going to be talking about marginal improvements in smarts. You are going to be talking about massive changes in mortality rate.
This is why EMJ's argument**** is stupid.
****He may be right about the awesomeness of breastfeeding until the human child is three but this is sure as hell not an argument that demonstrates that.