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Your Child Is More Resilient Than You Think

How "safetyism" on campus makes students less safe.

Taken literally, Nietzsche's famous aphorism—"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger"—is not entirely correct. Some things that don't kill you can still leave you permanently damaged and diminished.

Joanna AndreassonJoanna AndreassonYet in recent years, far too many parents, teachers, school administrators, and students themselves have become taken with the opposite idea—that what doesn't kill you makes you weaker. They have bought into a myth that students and children are inherently fragile. For the most part, this represents an understandable desire to protect children from emotional trauma. But overwhelming evidence suggests that this approach makes kids less psychologically stable. By over-sheltering kids, we end up exposing them to more serious harm.

Making Kids Fragile

Consider the story of one of our children, Max Haidt, on his first day of preschool in 2009. Max was 3 at the time, and before he was allowed to take the first step on his 18-year journey to a college degree, his parents, Jon and Jayne, had to attend a mandatory orientation session where Max's teacher explained the school's rules and procedures.

The most important rule, judging by the time spent discussing it, was: No nuts. Because of the risk to children with peanut allergies, there was an absolute prohibition on bringing anything containing nuts into the building. Of course, peanuts are legumes, not nuts, but some kids have allergies to tree nuts, too, so along with peanuts and peanut butter, all nuts and nut products were banned. And to be extra safe, the school also barred anything produced in a factory that processes nuts—a category that includes many kinds of dried fruits and other snacks.

As the list of prohibited substances grew, and as the clock ticked on, Max's dad asked the assembled group of parents what he thought was a helpful question: "Does anyone here have a child with any kind of nut allergy? If we know about the kids' actual allergies, I'm sure we'll all do everything we can to avoid risk. But if there's no kid in the class with such an allergy, then maybe we can lighten up a bit and instead of banning all those things, just ban peanuts?"

The teacher was visibly annoyed by the question, and she moved rapidly to stop any parent from responding. Don't put anyone on the spot, she said. Don't make any parent feel uncomfortable. Regardless of whether anyone in the class is affected, these are the school's rules.

You can't blame the school for being cautious. Peanut allergies were rare among American children up until the mid-1990s, when one study found that only four out of every 1,000 children under the age of 8 were affected—meaning probably nobody in Max's entire preschool of about 100 kids.

But by 2008, according to the same survey using the same measures, the rate had more than tripled, to 14 out of 1,000—meaning probably one or two kids in Max's school. Nobody knew why American children were suddenly becoming more allergic to peanuts, but the logical and compassionate response was obvious: Kids are vulnerable. Protect them from peanuts, peanut products, and anything that has been in contact with nuts of any kind. Why not? What's the harm, other than some inconvenience to parents preparing lunches?

It turns out, though, that the harm was severe. It was later discovered that allergies were surging precisely because parents and teachers had started protecting children from exposure to peanuts back in the 1990s.

In February 2015, an authoritative report called Learning Early About Peanut Allergy was published. The study had looked at the hypothesis that "regular eating of peanut-containing products, when started during infancy, will elicit a protective immune response instead of an allergic immune reaction." The researchers recruited the parents of 640 babies four to 11 months old who, because they had severe eczema or had tested positive for another allergy, were at high risk of developing a peanut allergy. Half the parents were instructed to follow the standard advice for high-risk kids, which was to avoid all exposure to peanuts and peanut products. The other half were given a supply of a snack made from peanut butter and puffed corn and were told to give some to their child at least three times a week. The researchers followed all the families carefully, and when the children turned 5 years old, they were tested for an allergic reaction to peanuts.

The results were stunning. Among the children who had been "protected" from exposure, 17 percent had developed a peanut allergy. In the group that had been deliberately exposed to peanut products, the number was only 3 percent. As one of the researchers said in an interview, "For decades allergists have been recommending that young infants avoid consuming allergenic foods such as peanut to prevent food allergies. Our findings suggest that this advice was incorrect and may have contributed to the rise in the peanut and other food allergies."

In fact, it makes perfect sense. The immune system is a miracle of evolutionary engineering. It can't possibly anticipate all the pathogens and parasites a child will encounter—especially in a mobile and omnivorous species such as ours—so it's "designed" to learn rapidly from early experience. As a complex, dynamic system that is able to adapt in and evolve with a changing environment, it requires exposure to a range of foods, bacteria, and even parasitic worms in order to develop its ability to mount an immune response to real threats, such as the bacterium that causes strep throat, while ignoring nonthreats such as peanut proteins.

This is the underlying rationale for what is called the hygiene hypothesis, the leading explanation for why allergy rates generally go up as countries get wealthier and cleaner. As developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik has observed, children today play outside less than they used to, which results in less exposure to microbes and weaker immune systems.

That phenomenon isn't limited to physiological developments. "In the same way," Gopnik wrote in Psychology Today, "by shielding children from every possible risk, we may lead them to react with exaggerated fear to situations that aren't risky at all and isolate them from the adult skills that they will one day have to master."

Sometimes children do need protection from real dangers. But teaching kids that failures, insults, and painful experiences will do lasting damage is harmful in and of itself. Human beings need physical and mental challenges and stressors, or we deteriorate.

To understand why this overprotective approach is so foolish, it helps to understand the concept of "antifragility," which New York University risk engineering professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb has explained by distinguishing between three kinds of things.

Some, like china teacups, are fragile: They break easily and cannot heal themselves, so you must handle them gently and keep them away from toddlers. Other things are resilient: They can withstand shocks without being permanently damaged. Parents usually give their toddlers plastic cups precisely because plastic can survive repeated falls to the floor (though the cups obviously do not benefit from such falls).

Taleb asks us to look beyond the overused word resilience, however, and recognize that some things are antifragile: They require stressors in order to learn, adapt, and grow. Many of the important systems in our economic and political life are like our immune systems in this way. Things that are antifragile become rigid, weak, and inefficient when nothing challenges them.

That is exactly what is happening on many college campuses.

The Rise of Safetyism

In the 20th century, as the United States was becoming less dangerous for children, the word "safety" was generally understood to mean physical safety. Yet in the 21st century, especially on some college campuses, the meaning of "safety" has undergone a gradual conceptual expansion to include emotional safety.

Things that are antifragile require stressors in order to learn, adapt, and grow. Many of the important systems in our economic and political life are like this: They become rigid, weak, and inefficient when nothing challenges them.

In 2014, Oberlin College posted guidelines for faculty, urging them to use "trigger warnings"—advance notice that certain kinds of ideas are likely to arise in a class—to "show students that you care about their safety." The rest of the memo makes it clear that what the college was really telling its faculty was: Show students that you care about their feelings.

You can see the conflation of safety and feelings in another part of the memo, which urged faculty to use students' preferred gender pronouns (for example, "zhe" or "they" for individuals who don't want to be referred to as "he" or "she"). The reason was not because this was respectful or appropriately sensitive, but because a professor who uses an incorrect pronoun "prevents or impairs [the student's] safety in a classroom."

If students have been told that they can request gender-neutral pronouns and then a professor fails to use those pronouns, they may well be disappointed or upset. But are these students unsafe? Are they in any danger in the classroom? Professors should indeed be mindful of their students' feelings, but how does it change the nature of class discussions—and students themselves—when the community is told repeatedly that speech should be judged in terms of safety and danger?

Why might an Oberlin administrator have chosen those particular words? In a 2016 article titled "Concept Creep: Psychology's Expanding Concepts of Harm and Pathology," the Australian psychologist Nick Haslam examined a variety of key concepts in clinical and social psychology—including abuse, bullying, trauma, and prejudice—to determine how their usage had changed since the 1980s. He found that their scope had expanded in two directions: The concepts had crept "downward," to apply to less severe situations, and "outward," to encompass new but conceptually related phenomena.

Take the word trauma. In the early versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatrists used the word "trauma" only to describe a physical agent causing physical damage, as in the case of what we now call traumatic brain injury. In the 1980 revision, however, the DSM III recognized "post-traumatic stress disorder" (PTSD) as a mental disorder—the first type of nonphysical traumatic injury.

PTSD is caused by an extraordinary and terrifying experience, and the criteria for a traumatic event that warrants a diagnosis of PTSD were (and are) strict: To qualify, something would have to "evoke significant symptoms of distress in almost everyone" and be "outside the range of usual human experience." The DSM III emphasized that this was an objective standard. It had to be something that would cause most people to have a severe reaction. War, rape, and torture were included in this category. Divorce and simple bereavement (as in the death of a spouse due to natural causes) were not, because they are normal, even if unexpected, parts of life.

These latter experiences are painful, to be sure—but pain is not the same thing as trauma. While people in these situations that don't fall into the "trauma" category might benefit from counseling, they generally recover from such losses without any therapeutic interventions. In fact, even most people who do have traumatic experiences recover completely without intervention.

By the early 2000s, however, the concept of "trauma" within parts of the therapeutic community had crept down so far that it included anything "experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful…with lasting adverse effects on the individual's functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being." The subjective experience of harm became definitional in assessing trauma. As a result, the word became much more widely used, not just by mental health professionals but by their clients and patients—including an increasing number of college students.

As with trauma, a key change for most of the concepts Haslam examined was the shift to a subjective standard. It was not for anyone else to decide what counted as trauma, bullying, or abuse; if it felt like that to you, trust your feelings. If a person reported that an event was traumatic or bullying or abusive, his or her assessment would increasingly be taken as sufficient evidence. And if a rapidly growing number of students have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, then there is a rapidly growing need for the campus community to protect them.

Safe Spaces on Campus

Few Americans had ever heard of a "safe space" in an academic sense until March 2015, when The New York Times published an essay by Judith Shulevitz about students at Brown University preparing for an event on campus. Two feminist authors, Wendy McElroy and Jessica Valenti, were scheduled to debate "rape culture," the idea that "prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse."

Proponents of the idea, such as Valenti, argue that misogyny is endemic to American culture, and that in such a world, sexual assault is considered less serious than other crimes. It's clear, especially in the #MeToo era, that sexual abuse is far too common. But does that make for a rape culture? It seemed an idea worthy of debate.

Cognitive behavioral therapists treat trauma patients by exposing them to the things they find upsetting. By activating their fears, they help their patients grow accustomed to the stimuli.

McElroy disputes the claim that America is a rape culture, and to illustrate her argument, she contrasts the United States with countries in which rape is truly tolerated. In parts of Afghanistan, for example, "women are married against their will, they are murdered for men's honor, they are raped. And when they are raped they are arrested for it, and they are shunned by their family afterward," she said at the debate. "Now that's a rape culture."

McElroy has firsthand experience of sexual violence: She told the audience at Brown that she was raped as a teenager, and that as an adult she was so badly beaten by a boyfriend that it left her blind in one eye. Nonetheless, she thinks it is untrue and unhelpful to tell American women that they live in a rape culture.

But what if some Brown students believe that they do? Should McElroy be allowed to challenge that belief, or would doing so put them in danger? "Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people's experiences," one Brown student told Shulevitz, and that could be "damaging."

The logic seems to be that some Brown students' belief in the existence of a rape culture in America is based, at least in part, on their own lived experience of sexual assault. If, during the debate, McElroy were to tell them that America is not a rape culture, she could be taken to be saying that their personal experiences are "invalid" as grounds for their assertion.

Illustrating concept creep and the expansion of "safety" to include emotional comfort, the student quoted above and some classmates attempted to get McElroy disinvited from the debate in order to protect her peers. That effort failed, but Brown President Christina Paxson announced that she disagreed with McElroy and that at the same time as the debate, the college would hold a competing talk in which students could hear about how America is a rape culture without being confronted by different views.

The competing talk didn't entirely solve the problem, however. Because students could still be retraumatized by the presence of McElroy on campus, the person quoted above worked with other Brown students to create a "safe space" where anyone who felt "triggered" could recuperate and get help. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets, and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members purportedly trained to deal with trauma.

The threat wasn't just that painful personal memories might be reactivated; it was also that people's opinions would be challenged. One student who sought out the safe space put it this way: "I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs."

The general reaction to Shulevitz's article was incredulity. Many Americans—and surely many Brown students—could not understand why such extreme measures were needed to keep college kids "safe" from ideas. Couldn't they do that by simply not going to the talk?

But if you understand the fragile-student model—the belief that many college students are fragile in Taleb's sense of the word—it makes sense that all members of a community should work together to protect those students from reminders of past trauma. In this case, members of the Brown community should demand that the president (or somebody) prevent the threatening speaker from setting foot on campus. If you see yourself or your fellow students as flickering candles, you'll want to make your campus a wind-free zone. And if the president won't protect the students, the students themselves must care for one another, which seems to have been the positive motivation for creating the safe space.

But young adults are not candles. They are antifragile, not fragile. Research shows that is true even of victims of violence and those who suffer from PTSD. Studies show that most people report becoming stronger, or better in some way, after suffering through a traumatic experience.

That obviously doesn't mean we should stop protecting young people from potential trauma, but it does mean that the culture of safetyism is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature and of the dynamics of trauma and recovery. It is vital that people who have survived violence become habituated to the ordinary cues and reminders that are inevitably woven into the fabric of daily life. Avoiding triggers is a symptom of PTSD, not a treatment for it.

Cognitive behavioral therapists treat trauma patients by exposing them to the things they find upsetting—at first in small ways, such as imagining them or looking at pictures. By activating their fears, they help their patients grow accustomed to the stimuli. In fact, the reactivation of anxiety is so important to recovery that some therapists advise their patients to avoid using anti-anxiety medication while undertaking exposure therapy.

For a student who truly suffers from PTSD, appropriate treatment is necessary. But well-meaning friends and professors who coordinate to hide potential reminders of painful experiences, or who repeatedly warn the student about the possible reminders he or she might encounter, could be impeding the person's recovery. A culture that allows the concept of "safety" to creep so far that it equates emotional discomfort with physical danger is a culture that encourages people to systematically protect one another from the very experiences they need to have in order to become strong and healthy.

Safety is good, and keeping others safe from harm is virtuous, but virtues can become vices when carried to extremes. When safety becomes a sacred value, people can become unwilling to make trade-offs demanded by other practical and moral concerns. "Safety" trumps everything else, no matter how unlikely or trivial the potential danger.

When children are raised in a culture of safetyism, which teaches them to stay "emotionally safe" while protecting them from every imaginable danger, it may set up a feedback loop: Kids become more fragile and less resilient, which signals to adults that they need additional protection, which makes them even more fragile and even less resilient. The result may be similar to what happened when we tried to keep kids safe from exposure to peanuts: a widespread backfiring effect in which the "cure" turns out to be a primary cause of the disease.

This article is adapted from The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by arrangement with Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

Photo Credit: kemaltaner/iStock

Greg Lukianoff is the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure(Penguin Random House).

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business, author of The Righteous Mind (Pantheon Books), co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (Penguin Random House) and a co-founder and board member of Let Grow.

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  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    This trigger warning crap, this take-offense-at-everything attitude, is aggravating because I don't know what offends other people, and the only way to avid offending other people is to stay away from them, except there are probably some people who are offended if I stay away from them. Case in point: personal space. Some cultures expect people to stand closer or farther apart than others. When two people from different cultures, both are offended by the separation distance; one party thinks the other is aggressive, the other party thinks the other hates him.

    And worse yet, I don't even really know what offends me; sometimes I have a higher tolerance or even take pleasure from something that at others times really pisses me off. How in the dickens can I predict what is going to piss off any single person at any instant, let alone a crowd, or random anonymous online readers?

    Like someone said the other day, offense is only something that can be taken, and it is the offended person's problem, not the offender's.

  • ||

    A couple of years back I was trash talking in my hockey pool with 'yo momma' jokes. We were all going along having a grand old time until an older gentleman in the medical profession took offense. See, he revealed to us his mother died... Five years previous.. So he didn't want to hear it anymore because I was being *insensitive*. I had to guess his feelings. I told him to eat shit.

    So it's not just millennial snowflakes. He also subscribes to the 'your freedom of speech ends with my offense' bull shit. I tried to reason him with that but it was a 'nay' on that front.

    What offends me is pineapple on pizza. An abomination I say.

  • CLM1227||

    What offends me is pineapple on pizza. An abomination I say.

    So totally true.

  • soldiermedic76||

    People who dislike pineapple on pizza offend me. Almost as much as people who don't like sauerkraut on pizza.

  • ||

    Sauerkraut?

    Now I've heard it all!

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Almost as bad as brown gravy on cheese-fries. ;-)

  • ||

    No kidding.

  • soldiermedic76||

    It's a Midwest thing. Seen it the first time when my folks lived in Bemidji, Minnesota and it is popular here in Northeast Montana.

  • lap83||

    I'm from MN and I haven't seen that, but I'd totally try it

  • D-Pizzle||

    Brown gravy on fries = good.
    Brown gravy on cheese fries = a profound threat to the very foundations of civilization.

  • Agammamon||

    While there is a time and place for saerkraut, I think we can all agree that if you put it on a pizza you should be involuntarily institutionalized.

  • MarkLastname||

    Did he proceed to tell you his mother died of copraphagia and was therefore also offended by 'eat shit?'

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    See, he revealed to us his mother died... Five years previous..

    The proper response: "So that's why she just laid there"

  • Trainer||

    Just in case anyone needs it after reading this-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGxBl_dpFZg

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Ho ho! Wouldn't that be fun, 21 fuzzy licky puppies and grass all around!

  • Eddy||

  • Eddy||

  • gaoxiaen||

  • Trainer||

    Where's the Reason "Safe Space" link so we can add these?

  • Morbo||

    Dogs are considered unclean and therefor offensive to the Islamic faith, you microaggressing cislord!

  • LarryA||

    How snowflake do you have to be to find comfort in watching a video of puppies, as opposed to playing with the real thing?

  • Eddy||

  • Sevo||

    Surprise! Wave of immigrants not welcome in Mexico, either:

    "Tijuana Struggles to Shelter Migrants, Combat Hostility of Some Local Residents"
    [...]
    "Instead of a triage effort, it could have been planned in advance, said Soraya Vasquez, with the Comite Estrategico de Ayuda Humanitaria Tijuana, a network of civic groups and activists that help migrants. She's a lawyer who started the group when Haitian migrants began to arrive in Tijuana two years ago.
    "The Haitians came so suddenly," said Vasquez. "There was no planning. Here they've had a month. How is it that it's a quarter to midnight and the government is just trying to figure out where to put people?"
    https://www.kqed.org/news/11706843/tijuana
    -struggles-to-shelter-migrants-combat-
    hostility-of-some-local-residents

    I lean toward the open-borders side of the discussion, but it's hard to see a responsible government simply allowing several thousand un-vetted folks waltz in.
    And BTW, who in hell paid for the operation? It didn't happen though the goodness of people in a country not noted for common prosperity.

  • Eddy||

    "Tijuana struggles to combat anti-migrant hostility" seems like excellent spin from the media's point of view.

    It's much better than "Tijuana struggles with migrant invasion" or some other xenophobic racist framing. /sarc

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The activists who usually organize flotillas to Gaza needed something to do while they waited for the rocket launching to decrease to normal levels.

  • Longtobefree||

    "government is just trying to figure out where to put people"

    Uh, jail comes to mind first thing

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Brown and Oberlin are the examples of "coddling campuses," but not a word about Wheaton, Grove City, Liberty, Ouachita Baptist, or hundreds of other censorship-shackled, nonsense-teaching, conduct code-imposing, dogma-enforcing, dissent-punishing, science-disdaining, fairy tale-flattering, conservative-controlled campuses?

    Some snowflakey safe spaces are safer from comment or criticism than others, at least among those fishing for right-wing donors.

  • Eddy||

    To be sure.

  • Eddy||

    We're talking about can't-keep-up goobers who are bound to be defeated anyway, so why exactly do you care about their educations?

    The students at our liberal-libertarian top-tier universities are America's future tech entrepreneurs, states(wo)men and baristas...so anything which affects *their* education is newsworthy!

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|11.18.18 @ 11:10AM|#
    "...Wheaton, Grove City, Liberty, Ouachita Baptist, or hundreds of other censorship-shackled, nonsense-teaching, conduct code-imposing, dogma-enforcing, dissent-punishing, science-disdaining, fairy tale-flattering, conservative-controlled campuses?"

    Still pissed at least one didn't give you a courtesy pass on the entrance exams, are you?

  • ||

    God you're an insufferable partisan hack.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I'm a partisan hack.

    You're an authoritarian, bigoted, superstitious, right-wing loser of the culture war.

    We all have problems.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    There is a fundamental difference between a university and a seminary that should be obvious from the etymology of those two words. A university is supposed to teach students a wide range of ideas so that they develop the skills necessary to interact with all of human thought through a universal perspective. A seminary is designed to provide students with knowledge from a single source so that they can spread it around the way one broadcasts seeds onto a field behind the barn.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "For the most part, this represents an understandable desire to protect children from emotional trauma."

    Anyone else familiar with the hygiene hypothesis?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene_hypothesis

    Basic idea: sanitation etc. has largely done away with all sorts of microbes that we used to be exposed to all the time as children. This has all but eliminated the threat of diseases like cholera and typhoid, but it appears that being exposed to other microbes helped us calibrate our immune systems as children. Some of the evidence of this is the explosive rate of what we might call hyperactive autoimmune disorders, not only things like hay fever and asthma but also things like allergies, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's, MS, some forms of leukemia, etc. One of the interesting things is that these diseases have stayed at historically (low) rates in the developing world, where sanitation isn't as good. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., they've found that American kids who live on farms, who presumably are regularly exposed to animal feces, etc. have autoimmune disorder rates that are low like those in the developing world. In short, it appears that our autoimmune systems evolved to be calibrated by the microbes in our environment, and without those microbes to help calibrate it, our immune systems are more prone to errors like attacking tissues and things like friendly gut bacteria as if they were diseases.

    Evolution often seems to work that way.

  • Ken Shultz||

    As science marches on, I suspect we may find the same kind of relationship between early childhood trauma and psychological health. I think it would be rather astounding if we evolved to be psychologically healthy without ever being exposed to trauma at an early age. Emotional overreactions to things that shouldn't be overly traumatic may well be like hyperactive autoimmune disorders that develop in response to the absence of shit. If adult snowflakes have a higher incidence of anxiety and depression, it wouldn't surprise me at all if it's attributable to their lack of trauma as children.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Perhaps we evolved a mechanism to recognize a particularly nice spot that triggers us to respond to coddling by spitefully trying to drive out anyone who isn't a relative.

  • CLM1227||

    It could also be a response to over-reaction from parents.

    Children learn how to respond to harm by how their parents respond.

    My mother-in-law never got this and flipped out every time my oldest hurt himself. He's the least capable of handling injury. My youngest, though? Comes to me for a kiss and he's off again.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I wholeheartedly agree.

    What did the pioneers who settled the west drink? Did they pull up to a stream, scoop up a pot of water, build a fire, boil the water, wait for it to cool and then drink it?

    With many diseases, exposure mitigates.

    The person (who doesn't work in a hospital) with the bottle of hand disinfectant on their desk should be shot as a public enemy. (joking) But this is also the "creep" they are talking about. Some germs will kill you...therefore all germs are to be avoided...

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Life expectancy was much lower before the invention of the toilet and it is still low in locations without toilets. It is deadly to shit in the woods if enough people do it.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    It is estimated that the total number of wild mammals in the world is about 130 billion.[4]

    What toilets are the other 122 billion mammals using?

    I'd say it's more about distribution.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    It can be deadly to shit in the woods if just one person does it, because it leave the person doing it vulnerable to other predators. :)

  • Ken Shultz||

    Life expectancy statistics are always problematic when you're comparing people in the developed world today with people who live(d) in a place where there was a high infant mortality rate.

    If every fifth child doesn't live to see their 12th birthday, those who do may still make it past 70 years old. That's going to bring down the life expectancy rate having all those young deaths in there to average.

  • Trainer||

    Here in Ukraine, people milk their cows, put the milk in used water bottles and stand on the street to sell them with no refrigeration at all. Butcher shops don't even have coolers- everything is just out there on the counter. At the table, there are no serving spoons. Every just digs in with their own spoon and it doesn't seem to issue. No one seems to get sick from it.

  • Don't look at me!||

    You should see how they sell chicken parts and other meat in Chinatown in Bangkok.

  • cc2||

    And the reason for this is that no evolutionary response is fast enough to keep up with all the germs, but a self-calibrating system based on exposure does a good job.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah.

    I just hope the point isn't being lost that the autoimmune system calibration I was talking about was supposed to be an analogy for what I suspect happens with childhood trauma and adult psychological health. A healthy psychology may develop over time through reasonable exposure to trauma through the same sort of calibration.

    It might be interesting to correlate things like adult depression statistics for people who had a pet die as a child vs. those who didn't. Experiencing some trauma as a child may well help us calibrate our psychological responses to more serious trauma as adults. Our thinking may be off on trauma like it was on perfect sanitation.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Also, the Abood case is a pretty horrible one.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A....._Education

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    oops wrong article

  • Eddy||

    ...and all those dirty pictures!

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Meh, this video is better. (Warning: It is on an X-rated website, and that music video is so sexy that Egypt arrested the signer a year ago on the grounds that she would traumatize an entire generation of Egyptians with her sexy teacher act. *Sigh* and we wonder why so many Arab men are willing to risk death to cross the Mediterranean and live in Europe where all the ladies at the tax funded schools can wear their hair like that.)

  • Don't look at me!||

    lived experience
    Worst expression ever.

  • Jerryskids||

    To be fair, Nietzsche said "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger", he didn't say shit about you.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    :D

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Good article. MOAR like this, Reason!

  • Trainer||

    You mean like well thought out, well written and well researched?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    yes, doesn't matter and yes...respectively

  • mtrueman||

    "But overwhelming evidence suggests that this approach makes kids less psychologically stable."

    Anecdotes about your children named Max are not evidence and certainly not overwhelming evidence. These two are just as bas as that other writer here who harps on this issue. 50 years ago they would have all been Freudians blaming societies ills on our mothers. This schtick is no better today than it was back then.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    You know who else didn't like Freud? A bunch of Germans with daddy issues.

  • mtrueman||

    "The result may be similar to what happened when we tried to keep kids safe from exposure to peanuts: a widespread backfiring effect in which the "cure" turns out to be a primary cause of the disease."

    It also may not be similar. Without this 'massive evidence' they write about, we just won't know. I'd send these social scientists back to the drawing board rather than publishing this drivel.

    "You know who else didn't like Freud?"

    There are many. Nabokov, the author, is one of my favourites.

  • Cy||

    Excellent article. Well done.

  • CLM1227||

    My kids eat dirt, have warts, and 2 slept in a tent by themselves last night.

    We even heated a brick on the grill and stuffed it in their sleeping bags.

    I like being a bad mom. My kids appear to like it, too.

  • Eddy||

    Yes, but is it organic, locally sourced dirt?

    If not, you can order certifiably organic dirt from me at reasonable prices as bogus (at) totallyfake.com

  • CLM1227||

    It had dead things in it. I'm thinking that's organic enough.

  • lap83||

    My aunt, who lives in the middle of the woods and had 3 boys, told me when I had my son that every boy needs to eat a cup of dirt before they become a man

  • Blaze Miskulin||

    Only a cup?

    My grandpa's saying was: "You eat a bushel of dirt in your life... gotta start some time."

  • BLNelson||

    This author is mistaken in the belief that leftists care about children. They don't. They merely want power to tell you how to birth, care for, educate and otherwise raise them.

  • ||

    It takes a community.

    You children belong to the community.

    Whatever happened to Melitha anyway?

  • mtrueman||

    "They merely want power to tell you how to birth, care for, educate and otherwise raise them."

    They already have that power. It's called Free Speech.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Do you think you are actually clever?

  • mtrueman||

    No, just a low tolerance for whiny bullshit.

  • soldiermedic76||

    So you can't even stand yourself? Well at least you admit you are full of shit.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|11.18.18 @ 6:47PM|#
    "No, just a low tolerance for whiny bullshit."

    Me, too. Do us all a favor take your whiny bullshit elsewhere.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    You're completely right, BLNelson. Leftists hate children. They also hate puppies and kittens and grandmas and apple pie.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    In fact, leftists aren't really people. They are body-snatcher aliens. That is why they are so malevolent. It's also why it's totally okay to dehumanize them so gravely. Because they aren't really human.

  • ||

    It's interesting this thing about nut (and food in general) allergies.

    The same parents who want their kids outside getting dirty to build their immunity against bacteria may need to consider extending this to food and how it figures into the immune system.

  • mtrueman||

    You want these parents to put their food outside in the dirt to build up its immunity? Try it yourself. Sounds like it could make a good anecdote, if nothing else.

  • Echospinner||

    No need they do it anyway.

    First thing a kid does is stick their fingers in their mouth. They do it even before they are born.

    There is a reason for that.

  • mtrueman||

    "There is a reason for that"

    There's also a reason for cleaning food before preparing it.

  • Echospinner||

    Of course there is. Who wants to eat dirty food? And clean water, sanitation, hygiene all that is good.

    The point to me is no need to flip out about it. A little shmutz is not a big deal.

    The article conflates emotional health with immunology which is not a terrible analogy.

    A baby is exposed to thousands of antigens from birth on. Then they crawl around on the floor and stick everything in their mouths. Nobody is saying just let them eat anything but nature has designed them this way. With exposure their immune system gets stronger.

    There is a difference between antigens and pathogens. We wash the food to get rid of pathogens like shigella or salmonella.

    The comparison is kids are going to deal with emotional bumps and bruises and it is normal. They need to learn how to handle those as well. Parents should help them do that and avoid being overprotective.

    Not arguing with what you said just some thoughts about the topic.

  • ||

    I'm just expanding on what I read in the article about the study cited.

  • Echospinner||

    It is a good point. The interactive role of gut bacteria, food antigens, and systemic immune factors is an ongoing area in current research.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Just change it to the ten second rule.

  • Echospinner||

    You know how baby drops a pacifier and mom will stick it in her mouth and then pop it back in the baby? Gross right?

    In a preliminary study by researchers at Henry Ford hospital released last week those babies have higher immunoglobulin levels than those whose parents washed the pacifiers.

    Proving once again that mom knew what she was doing all along.

    Now eat your vegetables.

  • mtrueman||

    Tits, tits, the blimp, the blimp
    The mothership, the mothership's the one.

  • Sevo||

    When you lose the SF Chron, well...

    "Trump's claim of poor California forest management rings true — to a degree"
    [...]
    ""A century of mismanaging Sierra Nevada forests has brought an unprecedented environmental catastrophe that impacts all Californians." That's not a tweet from President Trump, but the opening line of a February report by California's Little Hoover Commission investigating fire danger in the state.
    "The immediate crisis is visible to anyone who has traveled recently in the Sierra Nevada, especially in its southern range where mountainsides are brown with dying and dead forests," Commission Chairman Pedro Nava wrote in the cover letter for "Fire on the Mountain," an 82-page report on the tinderbox nature of the state's forests."
    https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/
    matier-ross/article/Trump-s-claim-of-
    poor-California-forest-13400503.php

  • Sevo||

    (cont'd)
    The "degree" is in regard to the US-controlled areas which haven't gotten a lot better management, but the degree to which mismanagement is the proximate cause reaches near 100%.
    To the argument "CLIMATE CHANGE!!!" the answer is simple; IF that is a cause it is an approximate cause and in fact indicates an even stronger requirement for better management rather than neglect and virtue-signalling.
    That scumbag moonbeam has either been at the controls or close the the levers of power since the '70s. The population has doubled. We have had not ONE addition to water storage, our infrastructure money is wasted on his fucking choo-choo, rather than, say, the Oroville Dam, and money that might be spent on forest management is spent on retirement benes, thanks to both moonbeam's Dills Act and the tree-huggers.
    The permanent 'drought', the failing infrastructure and the wild-fires are simply 100% the result of moonbeam and the CA Ds.
    Hey, hey, moonbeam, how many people have you fried today?

  • Eddy||

    "Hey, hey, moonbeam, how many people got fried for your dreams?"

  • Don't look at me!||

    California is becoming our Venezuela with the landscape of Haiti.

  • mtrueman||

    It's not socialist enough according to Sevo, who should know, incidentally, the term is 'proximate cause'. He wants yet more spending and 'better management' of forest lands.

  • soldiermedic76||

    You do know that forest management by the government involves selling logging rights to private companies? It actually makes money dipahit. The USFS use to fund a lot of it's functions through timber sales. But the decrease in logging both increased fire danged and decreased funding for firefighting. Most state land agencies in the west also manage forest via the sales of logging rights to private companies. You really are a mendacious asshole.

  • Sevo||

    "You really are a mendacious asshole.Z"
    Trueman embodies stupid and smug on top of being dishonest.

  • mtrueman||

    "You do know that forest management by the government involves selling logging rights to private companies? "

    So when someone calls on the government for 'better forest management,' what does that mean to you?

  • soldiermedic76||

    Allowing logging and prescribed burns like they used to. Rewriting laws and regulations to make it easier for approval for sale age logging. Etc.Tje amount of logging on public land has drastically decreased under both Clinton and Obama, ehike the average time to approve a project for logging has more than doubled. This is government management dipshit.

  • mtrueman||

    I'm just surprised at your apparent trust the government to manage something as important as our forest lands.Same goes with Sevo. If a few forest fires are enough to turn you both into communistic tax and spenders, well, I just don't know.

  • soldiermedic76||

    You are being obtuse. I am not certain be it is deliberate or you just are not intellectually mature enough to grasp that what I am proposing I'd to have the government return control back to private industry by making timber harvest (and grazing) easier for private industries to do. This is the exact opposite bof what you inferred I was stating. Is this because you can't grasp difficult concepts?

  • mtrueman||

    Sevo was writing about making investments in infrastructure, calling on greater government involvement in the 'better management of forests.' His scheme is to be financed on the backs of retired firefighters. It's socialism at its worst.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|11.18.18 @ 7:04PM|#
    "It's not socialist enough according to Sevo, who should know, incidentally, the term is 'proximate cause'. He wants yet more spending and 'better management' of forest lands."
    You lying shitbag, nowhere did I suggest what you claim.
    If you weren't such a fucking ignoramus and annoying asshole, perhaps I'd explain it to you.
    Instead,stuff your lies up your ass.

  • mtrueman||

    "He wants yet more spending and 'better management' of forest lands."
    You lying shitbag, nowhere did I suggest what you claim."

    On second thought, he doesn't really know what he wants.

  • Sevo||

    "...incidentally, the term is 'proximate cause'..."

    Incidentally, shitbag, the phrase is 'read what you comment on'.

  • mtrueman||

    "read what you comment on"

    No need to stop there. Check out Aristole for his take on proximate and other causes.

  • mtrueman||

    "thanks to both moonbeam's Dills Act and the tree-huggers."

    Forget about tree-huggers, but I'd watch any act put on by moonbeam's dills.

  • JFree||

    Kids are very resilient. After all, they have to put up with parents.

    OTOH - they are also assholes. Just like adults.

  • Echospinner||

    Putting up with parents can be educational in, um interesting ways.

    Just had to post this.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=w4t652Usg10

  • Eddy||

    Heh heh heh, ha ha...that's not funny. At all.

  • Longtobefree||

    I hereby give trigger warning to the world; I don't give a damn about your thoughts or feelings. It is not "how you feel", you are just wrong.
    To quote the Eagles, Get over it.

  • MikeP2||

    Love how you morph a whine about how schools deal with allergies in our hyper litigious society into whine about college campuses with the most tenuous of connections. A little too forced.
    Oh, and the hygene hypothesis is interesting and may have some validity, but it is nowhere close to proven with peanuts allergies and no real data at all on other allergies.

  • D-Pizzle||

    It's called "an analogy." Look it up.

  • AnotherCrypt||

    I live in a very, very poor country. I often see street children playing in filth, only to see them over the next days up and runnig. I'm not saying you should let your kids play in filth, it's just an anecdote

  • SIV||

    So Wendy McElroy likes it rough?

  • Tony||

    Well parents want to avoid any suspicion of neglect, which is why I think they should all get at least one mulligan.

  • mtrueman||

    Charges of child neglect actually increased Rita Hayworth's popularity with the public.

  • Dori_G||

    This problem has been building up for some time, and we are only now beginning to see the symptoms in college age adults. Left bias is a huge problem beginning in K-12, and an emphasis on subjective feelings even in the face of opposing logic is standard.

    I'm actually not entirely outraged by the presentation of the subjective side of things, as I think there's some truth to it. But when no alternative viewpoints are presented or tolerated, that's when it becomes a big problem.

    We've created a culture of safety and feelings, and yet we are surprised at the outcome. We shouldn't be surprised. We need to take affirmative steps to counter this, and I think people are beginning to see it and make changes.

    Dori
    www.LittleLibertarians.com

  • aajax||

    Heard many women say that being sexually assaulted made them stronger? Me, neither.

  • aajax||

    Heard many women say that being sexually assaulted made them stronger? Me, neither.

  • aajax||

    Heard many women say that being sexually assaulted made them stronger? Me, neither.

  • aajax||

    Heard many women say that being sexually assaulted made them stronger? Me, neither.