Are you MIsusing the sciences to back up a claim?

As I wrote on my WordPress Blog page, I am using the sciences to back up my claims. I am not the only one and there are further blog formats that also use the sciences to back up their claims. The sciences I relate to scientific papers that are for example peer-reviewed. Now what’s the catch? Nowadays, I am certainly not the only one, you can open Google Scholar and then you type in what you are looking for and when you are lucky, which you likely are because we are saturated on the sciences, you find a scientific article that you are looking for – to confirm what you think and want to convey. Just to give you an example; Sex is awesome, oh suprise an older study confirms it is awesome. My obvservation is valid.

A former professor of mine referred to it as scientific “cherry-picking and I am delighted that she taught me about it, because indeed she is right. It is as easy these days to write a blog, possibly policy and investement suggestions and and cherry-pick the foundation for it as easy as it is not to. You could not do so and be honest, while following logical argumentation and analysing “its” meaning but hypothetically, the validity of your own argument is lost for further recognition, making what you write and what is to be read rather invalid, if not even stupid without scientific evidence. Instead we trust the sciences and how we read it, to then make a claim or to confirm the claim we try to make; “We should invest into bitcoin”, because in the future people will like it, according to this study and not carefully delibertion of it; its method and outcome and done for who by who and how. Logically and if we are being honest, it can also be not like that, because the future is too uncertain and more studies would have to be done etc. Some studies or the ability to publish is furthermore exclusive too, making the sciences limited to what I call a bit elitaire and exclusive towards different knowledge.

Now more about the sciences and how they are used, by who and why. You will find that a NGO X is making claims and then tends to use a study or at least parts of it to confirm their claim or to receive funding. In my field, known the field of sustainability something similiar can be found. “A” is sustainable minded and wants that people consume more sustainable and to do so needs money for purpose “B”. A will now look for an article on consumer studies and finds one (favored are studies by business consultencies and market research institutes) to confirm that 60% of consumers of a random sample group want to buy more sustainable. The study confirms what A was looking for, whilst ignoring wishful thinking which is that many people not actually want it and the fact that 40% don’t want to buy more sustainable etc. A yet receives some funding and the investment into for example sustainable apparel flops.

Now this goes further and further, making its way into the sciences itself, which is to research to confirm or to develop something that confirms the hypothesis, or what the client needs. This can happen if the research is steered towards a specific set of expected responses “How much do you like this?” instead of “How do you view this?” (Even if you ask how much do you like this, you make liking the main option). No? Ever been asked how much you dislike something that should be of liking and then rate it? My former professor (thank you at this point) referred to it as being the devils advocate. If you are an honest broker, you research and provide different options and the outcomes could be of choosing for the client. Ideally, you would be a pure scientist, making objective observation or picking objective studies by as much as possible (Pielke Jr, R. A., 2007). The latter tends to receive little funding because it can lead to non desired outcomes, obviously.

Now what is it that I want from you? Have a look at your resources and don’t use them, if you don’t want to and do if you want to. Why? Because its vicious and risks that investements and hopes are placed falsely. Have a look at studies that don’t confirm what you are looking for. It itches, but may give room for different spaces to thrive,for example new ideas, strategies, projects and policies and even not where they should not.

Recommended references:

Evans, A., Sleegers, W., & Mlakar, Ž. (2020). Individual differences in receptivity to scientific bullshit. Judgment and Decision Making15(3), 401.

Pai, M. (2020). How Prestige Journals Remain Elite, Exlusive And Exclusionary. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/madhukarpai/2020/11/30/how-prestige-journals-remain-elite-exclusive-and-exclusionary/?sh=5e90a3254d48

Pielke Jr, R. A. (2007). The honest broker: making sense of science in policy and politics. Cambridge University Press.

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Thank you to my readers, and what is next

Thank you for everyone who has been subscribing to my blogs and of who I have received comments and e-mails. This blog has initially started very unsuccessfully with transportation in Cambodia, followed by how I travelled with my first cat and evolved as I began developing an interest for bamboo. The interest developed after interning at INBAR in China and then later on into more critical writing, when I realized that the moment we are supportive or advocating for one thing, we tend to disregard another, leaving a blind stop to ourselves and presenting others with such too. I am thanking my MSc thesis course on innovation because it was through “Social Practice Theory” and my comperative analysis of bamboo and timber that I realized bamboo isn’t the thing for everyone, but for specific markets and consumers. Apparently, many people want the wood, because it simply feels romantic, and that is so okay.

Now, why do I write this? My job as research associate in Sustainability Sciences has ended on December 2022. To date, I have dedicated many hours in my profession, education and free time towards “it”. It is sustainability and I came to realize that just like with bamboo, if you become too advocating for “it” you develop a blind spot for what it is not. I now came to like Hegels theory in which a thesis co-exists with an antithesis to form a new synthesis (mainly a new theory). Today it made me think of “if something is sustainable, something is not and if something is not sustainable, something is.” If mathemathics is not sustainable, the antithesis is that it is, so the question is what is sustainable mathematics? You may find it is sustainable depending on its use case and maybe not if it is taught with such irrelevance that it comes little to use. After all it is what we use to programm, even the wordpress I am using to write and publish my blogs with.

What does this mean for me and for you? I will no longer write about one thing or the other, one field or the other , be supportive or not supportive of one thing or the other, but instead I want to rather dive into its depth. “What does this actually mean that we talk and fair about? Does this make sense?”. In other means, I have no clue what I will be writing about in particular,but certainly what comes to mind and I hope you can continue to be part of it, or also not if that is what you want.

All the best and I thank you very much,

Ann-Cathrin

P.S. If public policy can be supportive of one thing, it can also mean it can be not. If more sustainable housing lead to displacement of people who can no longer afford it, then it also is not more sustainable housing. So what is sustainable housing? [I guess what comes next will be much like this] 😉

Cover Image Source: https://www.furche.at/images/content/3566046-1280x658c-Hegel.jpg

[If you use cover image sources, always! cite them, thanks to my neighbour, because you can get fines if you don’t and following Hegel’s theory, also not. The guy on the cover image is Hegel. Heres a link towards his philosophy . ]

Should we end the letter of motivation?

According to author Harrington J. chapter in “Total Innovative Excellence” for an employee whose salary is US $60,000it will cost the company anywhere from US $30,000 to US $45,000 to hire and train a replacement. So why not starting it of with the right motivation? And why, with the right motivation, when it is the motivation that is right to begin with? I argue differently and believe that the motivation is often rather imaginary and targeted towards what is wanted as desired motivation. This makes applying and the review of applications more time-consuming for both employees and applicants. To reduce that I argue to deviate from the letter of motivation and reduce it to a 6-7 paragaph e-mail with what “realy does motivate or not”. Following you can find my arguments, with backgrounds drawing from psychoanalytical theory, which is much about what happens “unconciously”;

Unless your bills are paid by themselves, the primary motivation to apply for a paid job is very likely to get paid. Even if it is our dream job, we’d still want it to pay. Now we could mention it in letter(s) of motivation, but somehow it appear(s) unpolite to have a salary as prime motivator. Why? After all we want motivated employees and it seems that salary should not be the key factor for motivation, because the motivation should come from “within”. Ironically, it is also not neither nor. Because the salary is important, does not mean the rest or the motivation is not. Maybe there is no other motivation then the salary, and that may be okay too, if it is what sustains or has one grow in the company. After all, we don’t know.

Now what’s a letter of motivation? It describes the applicants motivation. However, motivation(s) tend to be different and successfull letter(s) of motivation tend to not cater towards that, but towards the motivation that one could imagine as an ideal motivation to land the job. If we were real about this, we would understand that we don’t know what type of motivation a company is expecting, other then what our motivation is so that we find a good match that is as real as it can be.

Even though we slightly know about it, we tend to ignore it and enter the I call it “double-folded application trap”. We know what motivates us most likely and what does not. And something similiar might apply to the employer. Both know, there is no such thing as the super-human. As applicants we pretend for it to be not like that, because we want to get the job and as employers and recuriters we hope the ideal candidate with the ideal motivation is out there too. Now it starts; the ideal letter of motivation begins being targeted as well as waited for to be recieved.

Hours may be spend perfectionising it, because of how little it should lead to rejection. If the letter of motivation was most real, it would probably reject some ideals and illustrate a different motivation to none. It may even lead to self-rejection, because less criteria and a different motivation would be present. While self-rejection could be suitable, it also is less favorable for economic and competative reasons. It means at this point a letter of motivation is submitted, which can run risk to be rather imaginary. What is left is the question of what is real for those who wrote and for those who read it (even worse with story-telling). Are you really okay with working over hours or is this something you want to do out of a heart-break, which means you won’t sustain in that position?

This makes applying as well as recuriting tyring, because one has to first fish through what is real and what is less likely and that for multiple job applications and their reviews. Now, should we end the letter of motivation? I would say yes and reduce it to an e-mail introduction of required 5-7 sentences instead. After all the job appliction has already been read so that when someone is applying it can be assumed that there is “a motivation” and the five liner might illustrate which one it is or not. Maybe someone even has a different motivation that can be suitable too. And what even is ideal, when in the lack of it, new ideals or candidates with different skills and motivations might be found too? Maybe someones real motivation even suprises “I am going to be a mom in a month and want to secure a job before giving birth. I am a quick learner and would like to grow with you. It is only possible if my child can be a part of this. See my CV attached.”

Hope you enjoyed this. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or writing assignments.

Image Source: What it means to be “real” according to psychology by Steven Handel.

You can’t collaborate, if you don’t want to.

Often collaboration has many benefits and if you don’t want to or someone else does not want to, there are several guidelines on how to do it or how to improve collaboration (1). The premise is to make collaboration desirable and also managable. As a result the option of whether collaboration is not wanted or should not happen is often not mentioned. Instead the benefits are mentioned, which on the other hand could be a form of gaslighting if it is not actually wanted. That is the manipulation of ones own reality towards a different one (2). For example, being convinced that a particular collaboration is suitable for a particular reason, whilst it might not be.

What is bad about convincing yourself in wanting to collaborate?

Often times it might not work out in the long term. An easy to understand example is going on a first date. The chemistry does not fit, but for the sakes of dating and the idea(l) of having a relationship (such as in most goals actively looked for in collaborations), one might start to think of benefits for this relationship to work, a bit like cherry-picking. As a result, one may twist themselves to appear more suitable and starts to accept and appreciate differences. This might go well for a bit, but after some time it won’t, because it is not true. The ending of the honey moon phase and the reality then presented is a good example. “Oh you don’t actually like this?” “yeah..sorry, I did that for you kind of.”

Why would anyone want to collaborate, while not actually wanting it?

There are different reasons, some may be concious and some may be unconcious. Let’s explore different thought processes and how they play out in practice.

  1. Modification of an object

Someone might not like the idea of collaboration firstly, which shows as a tiny thought, but then actively point out (sudden) collaborative benefits. However, unconciously a different thought process might happen, in which collaboration is continuesly not wanted. In psyche one of such mechanisms is referred to modification of an object (3). It is a mechanism that turns something not of liking into something of liking. The purpose of this mechansim in infants for example is protection of the self such as from harm or neglect. For example, if a caretaker is neglecting a baby, it would naturally dislike them and leave. Because it cannot do so it turns such disliking into liking.

In adults or in workplace cooperation this might look like needing to cooperate because it is essential for company survival or for example also an individual position. As a result – of modification of object – and present in concious argumentation one might find benefits in collaboration and believe so “oh this company is greatly positioned, this sounds like a cool vision, this person seems fantastic to work with. I like it, lets do it.” On the other hand one might unconciously think “I would not spend a dime on this.”

2. Sugar-coated belief system

At the same time you might have read and learned about all sorts of unconcious biases such as on racism and feel ready to avoid them. For example, you may believe that you actively share no racist trades, but when it comes to collaboration with a partner of a different skin color or accent, you may find yourself naming different reasons why the collaboration does not work. For example research (4) conducted on neuropolitics by Liya Yu, found that although “white people” claimed to be actively not racist, their brain regions showed signs of fear when seeing “black people.”As a result you may choose to collaborate with someone different, less suitable or you may choose to still collaborate, whilst you unconciously don’t want to and that shows for example by being or becoming avoident. Here it might be interesting to explore a few “Whys’?” Why being avoidant? What’s that feeling of discomfort telling me? And whatever it is, it’s okay. It is okay in that sense, that it can be be explored further.

Why is there a discrepancy between conciousness and unconciousness?

There are different reasons. Our brain develops bottom up and lays an unconcious foundation for our own survival; How to relate to another, what feels safe and unsafe. Depending on the latter, these traits become part of our unconciousness. For example there is no need to be concious about how to move your finger tips, when eating. And similiar patterns likely apply to our psyche and thereby our notions of survival. For example, if you grew up in a solely x-skin colored family environment, then this is what likely feels safe to you “your tribe with its habits and belief system”(5). However, suddenly you may find yourself with different people of different backgrounds (habits, skin color, religions, accents etc) and it does less. And I believe the larger the discrepancy from what you are used to; feel save with, the more likely your “concisouness” will shut down, and your primal instincts including what is unconcious but feels safe will be present or to some extend guide you, while not being aware of.

What does this say about effective collaboration?

Collaboration is great and it does hold many benefits if collaboration is true. For example, again if you go on a first date and the chemistry fits; values, or certain values shared align with each other, you truthfully complement each other, you don’t twist yourself to make yourself fit to the other, you can be honest, you lay out your cards. Whatever it is, I mean complementation can work so different, it fits and that’s okay. That’s great actually. For example, it’s okay wanting to collaborate with someone from your hometown, or the same cultrual background if that makes you feel safe and the collaboration too.

What if I don’t want to collaborate, but you know, I have to?

I believe you should not twist yourself for anyone or let anyone twist you. Secondly, in business model research, different business models are suitable for different market segments. I believe a similiar approach can be used for collaboration. If partner x is not suitable for project b, a different one can be found. At the same time, becoming aware about certain bias might help you to actively avoid collaboration, but at the same time it also gives you the chance to work on understanding them with the intent to encourage collaboration; Why do I hold certain bias? Where do they come form? What do I fear? as oppose to: I am aware of my bias or ignore it, let’s get it on with.

More to it? Let me know in the comments.

References

(1) Nevins, M. (2018). How to Collaborate with People You Don’t Like. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2018/12/how-to-collaborate-with-people-you-dont-like

(2) Thomas, L. (2018). “Gaslight and gaslighting”The Lancet. Psychiatry5 (2): 117–118. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30024-5PMID 29413137.

(3) Training Material from the International Society of Applied Psychoanalysis (Modification of Object)

(4) Yu, L. (2022). Vulnerable Minds: The Neuropolitics of Divided Societies. Columbia University Press.

(5) Van Vugt, M., & Schaller, M. (2008). Evolutionary approaches to group dynamics: An introductionGroup Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice12(1), 1.

Can we predict the future?

We cannot predict the future with certainty, but we can create possible scenarios. In sustainability one looks at trends such as in the ecology, economy and society to form possible images or scenarios of the future. For example one can see increasing policies supporting sustainable development, more companies to engage in sustainable production processes or at least ESG and also increasing consumer interests in such. Therefore, one could imagine that in 2050 earth will be quite sustainable, whatever that means exactly.

Can the future be predicted accuratly?

There is certain bias to it because we find daily changes, but also unexpected events that may drastically influence our imagined scenario. Such an example is Covid-19 or the Ukraine Russian war that hugely impacted and still does in terms of efforts towards sustainable development; energy transition, cooperation, peace building opportunities and unexpected emissions such as from war, also the fact that while people care, some do not and some may do differently.

Can unexpected events be accounted for?

To take these unexpected events into account wild cards can be used. Wildcards can relate to any event that can have a major impact, for example a terrorist attack, an earthquake, a pandemic, or more individual an unplanned pregnancy, a Sexual Transmitted Disease or other illnesses not accounted for etc. . These are important to take into account because as seen in the examples before, they can hugely disrupt predictions. [Can you think of more?]

Why are wildcards important?

Wildcards are important because the future is too uncertain to predict it fully, so wildcards help to think about what other scenarios could occur and how to prevent them or what could be done in the case of their occurrance. Often these can help in minimizing possible risks. One of such examples is intelligence analysis, in which possible scenarios are quickly predicted to, for example, prevent fatalities or economic shocks. However, they may and they may not include wildcards or they may be based on them.

“This is likely to happen, lets therefore implement a policy here or increase security there or pay attention to there.”

Can scenario analysis be biased?

Yes, this can happen by taking into account narrowed views, biased sources or limited expertise. This can happen because of personal and collective bias or because of limited or biased information used to predict the future. For example the scenario of the sustainable earth I described at the beginning is purposely very one sided, focusing only on “positive” developments; whereby likely many companies may not care or cannot care about sustainability. The same can account for people and different countries too. So the future of earth may as much be sustainable as much as it won’t or a mix of it. This is imporant to be aware of to understand possible bottlenecks such as the impact of poverty or inequalities that can serve as barrier for interests in sustainability as a whole.

Can bias be avoided?

I believe that bias cannot be avoided fully, because there most often is personal and collective bias, but bias can be reduced such as by fact-checking news- sources; by looking carefully validating and evaluating information (cross-referencing) as well as by checking into different developments. Of course one should do so in a particular lign of interest and boundaries (time/space/directions).

Can bias be encouraged?

One may also go with imagining any future such as done most often in science-fiction and here work fully with possible bias and hence, imaginary. Yet, the reality of how to get there, might be a bit vague, a bit too much of phantasma so that future predictions becomes quit difficult to predict with certainty or possibly unrealistic.

Questions? Let me know and also if you want more on that topic. Below you can find my summaries.

Recommended Resources:

Walsh, P. (2011). Intelligence and intelligence analysis. Willan.

Investopedia (2022). Forecasting. Retrievable here.

Marketing for sustainability?

Sustainability should aim at enabling but also providing invdividuals and groups of individuals a lifestyle of their choosing, without causing damage to the environment such as the ecological ecosystem, people with who the environment is shared with and individuals themselves. To enable that, marketing for sustainabiltiy should educate consumers about products and lifestyles so that consumers are enabled to make concious purchasing and lifestyle choices. A good example is the sales of cigaret packages that often include marketing for the negative aspects of smoking such as its risk of cancer. Another good example is the use of health education as part of marketing, i.e. using an uber or other forms of car sharing as a means to circumvent drunk driving if other forms of public transportation aren’t available, helping thereby to avoid incidences from drunk driving. While there is a clear health benefit there are also business and environmental benefits that come from shared mobility.

In these forms of marketing, there is no sugarcoating. It is honest. This differs to growing strategies in marketing for sustainability, which can tend to market “sustainability” such as sustainable lifestyles and products, although the intention often still remains the sales of a product or service. Hereby sustainability becomes an ideal that is sold as part of a marketing strategy. The risk is that marketing for sustainability can continue to facilitate consumption or more specific growth behavior, while in sustainability, growth or the sales of a product or lifestyle (see push marketing) can work contradictive.

This can be seen in products with a renewable resource base; if the extraction and processing contradicts the resources’ needed regrowth time. However, these products might not be kept longer, because they were pushed onto the consumer and possibly not intrinsically needed. This might differ to other forms of marketing such as in pull marketing for sustainability, where consumers make more concious choices in terms of a purchase so that the product or service chosen is kept longer by aliging more with what the consumer needs and wants. Of course this might not be exclusive and there can be overlaps.

How does marketing for sustainabiltiy work these days?

Before marketing was sustainable, marketing sold certain imaginary that likely were not sustainable, think about the topless muscleman, infront of a BBQ of brand x with his guy friends and the woman in the background taking care of the children. Now in marketing for sustainability we may no longer see the muscle guy, but the well dressed husband or a lesbian couple, with a vegan steak in front of the now a newer and more efficient BBQ of brand x. One may now buy not only that lifestyle, so close to a sustainability ideal, but most of all one buys a new BBQ. Marketing did it again. It sold.

Because it is marketed as sustainable, does not mean it is (in the long-term). Source

What is more likely marketing for sustainability?

Marketing for sustainability should be as simple as that it is honest and deviate from selling sustainability ideals sourrounding the product or by idealizing the product for being sustainable. It is nearly as knowing a partner who one choses to marry or a partnership one engages with for an investment, because one knows them. For example, a tourist agency could sell a sustainble sailing turn across the atlantic ocean with vegan food, FSC certified timber and a romantic ride into the sun. However, it also has to sell the reality that being the risk of sea sickness, the storms on the sea, the team-work needed, 24 hours readiness and most of all the lack of romantization such trip might bring along. If it does so, it will find that consumers sustain the sail turn, but will also return as consumers again because marketing was honest, and the reality sold matched what was expected. Honesty hereby makes marketing sustainable – the product being sustainable tourism- long term profitable.

Curious about the many ideals sold here? Klick here.

For physical products that could look as much like “here is the product we are selling, but it also falls short on long-term battery life. We are being actually honest that you can’t expect this from this product, but we are looking into developing a new model that enables you to keep the product and be able to easily replace the battery so that you don’t depend on new product purchases. This will also be part of a new business service offering, so that you don’t have to deal with long returns and actually safe money over time, with benefits for us to save on production resources too. The product is actually useful for these purposes…. and we don’t recommend if … because you likely won’t end up using it. If you still want to try it out, we can rent it out too as part of our new service offering. ”

It could also be as simple as selling a lack of ideals or filling a niche or problem: Here you can use the GPS tracker for your pet in the city so that your pet can go outdoors, you don’t get mad during home office, while you don’t have to worry, whether it gets locked up in a garage without finding it. This type of marketing might even work better then selling such GPS in idealized sustainable scenarios with a wild tracker pet father or couple, conquering wild river beds and sustainable forests with their pets, because most people work during the week, so selling a product what it is for in the context, make it sustain and the consumers too. It may even increase the reach including sales, while improving coustomer loyalty.

Of course selling purely sustainable values is great too, particular if it does not prohibit behaviors by purchasing products and lifestyles that are for instance socially and ecologically friendly prodcued such as re-use bottles or bags bags as a means to avoid the use of continues plastics. But to sell to sell and then use sustainability as a selling point.. hmm hmm.

More thoughts ? Message me anytime.

References

Koelen, M. A., & Van den Ban, A. W. (2004). Health education and health promotion. Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Training courses on the unconciousness mind, ideals and fantasy.

On the ideals on pregnancy and (mother)hood that no longer hold true.

Image Source: GQ-Magazin

I wrote this blog in the light of the US Supreme Court ruling on overturning abortion rights. I also write this blog, because I had an abortion myself. In that sense I am biased and in the same sense I understand how important access to abortion and particular safe abortion is. Following I have listed 6 arguments I have read most about to avoid pregnancy and to carry on with it. Most of the arguments are based on the ideals of (avoiding) pregnancy and (mother)hood that no longer hold true. I wrote (mother)hood, because in parenthood also the father is involved. I highlight motherhood since pregnancy is about the woman and her autonomy over her body (at least it should be).

I write about ideals and their lack and post this here, because we tend to idealize so much, that decisions taken tend to not fully align with the realities that exist, but more likely the ideals of realities, also known as fantasy. This does not only apply to the abortion case, but one can also see this in other fields, in which actions are taken based on ideals, but no longer the realities, that diversity and a globalized world with inequalities bring with them. And that is; risky.

Argument 1; Why not avoiding pregnancy?

One of the key arguments that can be found on social media is that pregnancy is inevitable avoidable. That is by using contraception such as the condom and birth control. I write about these two, because they are most commonly used. Now, people have sex for different reasons in different circumstances and choose to use and not to use contraception, not because they don’t know about it, but because they don’t want to. Because it is like that; Sometimes people are horny, they do it in the heat of the moment. They may use the pull-out method instead, but how difficult must it be to pull out before an orgasm? I am not a man, but I imagine it to be challenging. In other instances, people might have drunk sex and are careless. What about reboundsex with the ex? There are also instances in which condoms are used, but for the many reasons they may slip off with the orgasm, or before. I did not like using birthcontrol because it made me feel tired and so I believed in the “calendar” method, which did not work out at all. Of course, there are also instances, in which a lack of education leads to unprotected sex. There may be wishful thinking, of course there are also extreme cases of rape and other reasons why people have unproteted sex.

Argument 2. You can get a baby, regardless what situation you are in

When I looked further through other social media posts and comments, one can easily find different recommendations on how to carry on with the pregnancy. In doing so one disregards the circumstantiality in which people get pregnant and speaking for diverse people and particular woman that I met throughout my life; disregarding the hardship of poverty, the hardship of lacking access to maternal care, the hardship of battling mental health problems, the hardship of being a single parent with little income, the hardship of domestic violence (emotional/physical), the hardship of combining a career with children, the hardship of being too young of a parent, the hardship of an affair, the hardship of wanting to persue studies, the hardship of too much uncertainty, the hardship of a relationship one is potentially forced into, simply not wanting, … .

Argument 3; Having a baby will make you happy.

Ideally speaking and also according to google bias, when you type “pregnancy and/or parenthood”, it appears so joyful, its beautiful. Particular the mother, can find herself in the best time, well taken care of with ideally a supportive husband and if not married one can quikly go to the church to ensure a lifetime relationship; ready to pursue the American Dream. For single parents there is according to google bias also little hardship; one can find the happy single dads throwing their happy children into the air and for others it seems as if there is indefinite support.

These ideas do no longer hold true, because of the bias they imply. When I found out I was pregnant I had just ended a relationship that was no longer nurturing. I had no money, and after working and studying abroad for 7 years and having no emotional support coming back, but also having my first paid long-term job, it was the most unideal situation for myself having a baby. I had not felt calmness for myself in a long time and I wouldn’t be able to offer calmness and consistancy at that point either to myself nor the child privately. The cicumstantiality decided against it. The circumstances or as Adam Shechter (Psychotherapist) calls it on his instagram account; the psychicic pregnancy was non ideal.

We also no longer live the American Dream. People break up and marriage no longer is “a life-time insurance” and neither does it say anything about how people love, how nurturing the relationship is, how healthy it is for the baby. There is little happinness, when what is, is not happy. So is also a single dad or a single mom not always happy.

Argument 4: The baby will help you solve your relationship problems

I remember feeling the relief of a break-up, but also the sadness with it. I remember the tears as my pregnancy test would show positive. I did not want the relationship to continue. Inevitabely I was suggested that the baby would help bond with the partner. Most people would do it like that. I strongly disown that. A baby should not be used as a means for couples to stay together. Because when you do not function as a couple independent of a baby, you do not function as a parent. And you have to function as a parent if you want to raise a child healthy. Thinking that a baby will fix all the relationship problems is wrong. It may even trap people in relationships (not only romantic ones but also family relationships, friendships, work relationships) that are no longer nurturing.

Argument 5: When one is pregnant, they will do automatically a good job at being a parent

Nowadays, families do not live together anymore. Families hereby may compromise “father, mother, grandparents, cousins, and other friends” in which children can be taken care of. We live more scattered now. We live more isolated (particular in Germany), where taking care is often the primary responsibility of one care-taker or a couple. Dr. Bruce Perry, a child neurologist who I had attended a policy roundtable on maternal health care in Calfifornia with, tends to write and teach about how important the role of community in attachment, regulation and healthy brain development is. An isolated family system, reduces that. It also reduces a single parent to the primary care taker, after which the primary care taker may no longer take enough care of themselves. It increases stress and pressure and parenthood no longer is “ideal”.

In addition, being a parent is no longer leaving the kids to play video games. Being an attuned parents requires time. TV and playstation cannot raise a child. Parents have to engage their children, support them in becoming the version that is true to them and does not appeal to what we learn in media only. Parents have to raise their children in a world with wicked and yet so complex challenges that the role of a parent no longer is as ideal and easy as it might have looked like many years ago. It wasn’t even then. Ultimately, the ideals no longer hold, after which an abortion may no longer be perceived un-ideal.

The last Argument 6: You can give your baby up for adoption

Just, no! Fostercare is one of the worst systems that exist. In university I interned at the NGO Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in California, USA, where foster children are matched up with volunteers to provide some sort of consistancy for at least two years. That form of consitancy and nourishing relationship was perceived as essential, since fosterhomes are often overcrowded. There children are often being displaced to other foster homes, and the older they get the longer they stay. The longer they stay the higher the burdon on their mental health. I did not want that! And I know many others don’t either.

Why do safe abortions and access to legal matter?

Abortions will always be happenning, because of the beforementioned. They will continue to happen because of the lack of ideals and the circumstantiality after which people get pregnant. If abortions happen unsafely, there are high risks for the mothers health. For instance, the abortion pill consists often of two pills. The first one in which the fetus detaches from the uterus and the second one in which the fetus (if not already discharchged) is discharged through contractions the second pill iniatiates. However, it has to be verified that the fetus is discharged, because it is harmfull if it stays inside the uterus. A fetus may also stay attached to the uterus (if the pill did not work out) with yet unknown birth harms.

Is all unwanted pregnancy bad?

I want to write about this, because of the critical text I wrote first. I do believe that not all unwanted pregnancy is bad and I also believe that there is often no ideal moment to become a parent. Its a challenge and we have to grow into. But I do believe that there are lack of ideals, which have to be recognized because of the “risks” that a continuation of pregnancy can bear to the parent(s) and the child.

Resources

Clinical Reserach during my internship at the Court Appointed Special Advocates in California, USA in 2015. Parts of the report accessible at; https://www.slideshare.net/AnnCathrinJst/anncathrin-joest-professional-product-962015

Conversations and LinkedIn comments

My own Abortion and Circumstantiality

On bias in adoption

Likely every day people have sex without being asked about their gender preferences, living situation, income, level of education and age. Why not? Because it would be discriminating. And so are many standards on adoption.

Why does this matter?

I found myself wondering, whether I would consider an adoption. I was single and I thought I had a safe yet small apartment, I was getting more concious with myself, I lived in a safe environment. Yet I was not too sure on what my job would look like when my contract might end in 2022, I wasn’t sure how I would manage alone, whether my part-time salary was enough and I wasn’t sure how to combine raising a child with my interests. At the same time I thought it must be doable. Particular in Germany, there is various child-support from the government and also civil society initatives.

Single parents, can be great parents.

I began informing myself on adoption and the adoption process. I quickly found myself in a bizarr world on parental requirements and bias. For instance, adoption shouldn’t happen later then the age of 40, and adoption is favored for married couples, there should be enough space for the child (like a single room), the income should be high enough and the employment status permanent. I thought, well that might then take a long time for me to adopt someone, since I don’t qualify for most of these criteria in Germany. I looked further into that, and found that for instance in China someone to adopt should be female and/or have a high school degree. And puh, so many other criteria around the world.

To give an idea on the diversity and many biases on adoption.

I stopped reserching more, because it got me thinking about the family image, what constitutes as ideals of living and how certain ways of being or certain ways societal images, shape the image of love and the ability to care. The ability to qualify as “ideal foster parent“. One could think that someone with a stable income provides stability and a single room for a child provides love and affection. Or that still two parents are needed (of different genders), ideally married, to provide a child with a healthy development. It is not the case.

These are symbols of certain ways of being that somehow managed to be perceived as “ideal”. They are not, because it does not say much about how the child is being nurtured. Instead they are symbols that remove the opportunities for adoption of a child that otherwise may continue to live in poverty, that may be stuck in a foster system being send in and out of different homes, a child that may no longer learn or get to know stability, so that as adults it may not know what stability means either.

Money does not buy love. Time sometimes does, affection, support. Of course it’s not exclusive.

When we talk about systems-change for sustainability, we also have to talk about perception. How a donation to an orphanage in one way may provide food for a day (which is important), but how when we talk about longevity of solutions – the sustainability-, a short donation won’t sustain. What does sustain is a change in processes and a change in the perception of cultural practices including belief systems; that being that singles, gays, and those above 40, or “1 room flatters”, very much can qualify as nurturing parent as much as those who fit the criteria.

References

Linkedin Conversation

Conversation with gay friends

GoogleSearch

What holds us back to love? On love and bias.

For a while, something preoccupied me. Love. When had we failed in love, when had we succeeded? Why did love feel so great, why did love scare? Why are we afraight to love? Why had love created problems? Where was <the> love?

I thought about the many stereotypes we internalize over years as a child, teen an adult. We think there is only one real type of love, the one we see in Hollywood, the one in which couples kiss, the one were couples hold hands. Yet, they were symbols for a certain type of love but these symbols might hold us back from realizing love; holding onto an extreme version of idealized romanticizing.


Love transcends and passes through a series of relationships in which people bond. Bonding as a connection, a form of love, outside of a stereotyped version of only one type of love and the symbols we associate to loving and being loved. As a result, love scares. In movies or social media; love in its “enactment” is sexualized, perceived as (too) unprofessional, a symbol for infidelity, something bad that must be kept secret, even punishable within the LGBTQ community.


But love is not wrong, threatening or bad. It is a feeling. A beautiful feeling. There are only interpretations of love or loving (a neutral emotion) in which, for example, specific enactments are portrayed as a sequence of the feeling of love. Yet, love is not a box. Love is not enactment. Love is not predescribed behavior. Love is merely a feeling. A feeling that sets free, creates warmth, closeness, forms and maintains connection.

Yet we tend to bend so much against this feeling, because love so often seems to be one particular “thing” associated or equated to stereotypes and how to be and not to. How to love and not to. Who to love and who not to. As a result we give little space to love. We reduce the possibility to love, to be loved, for love to surface, to be lived. We may decline and forbid one of the feelings most precious, not only to others, bust most of all ourselves. A feeling worth so living for.

Why would this matter for sustainability?

We talk, we laugh, we cry, we challange, we grow together, we might start to love. We realize its love. We change. We feel bad. We stop. We end relationships. Yet what brings most joy, brings most saddness. We begin isolating, maybe hating, we might consume too much, drink too much, move away. We are sad. Not because of love, but the perceived consequences loving holds, although there are none to loving.

I can love you and you can love me in any way you want to, we want to, within the boundaries of the enactment we set to it or open up. Love enables. Love does never restrict.

[Cover picture by @Juni.ka on Instagram]

What’s therapy like?

It’s mental health awareness week, 2022 and indeed, I am visiting a therapist too. Is that a bad thing? No. Is that a good thing? Yes. Unfortauntely therapy is often stigamtized although in the USA it was for some time quit common to have a therapist. Therapy can be for everyone, of any age and often its not just about being “mindfull”, sometimes its a change in perception or putting emotions into language. Much I didn’t know about, so that I put together this small blog on a few of my learnings, to kind of change that narrative on mental health and illustrate that different forms of looking at mental health and perception can contribute to well-being as individual and within the broader cultural context. After all, its for all.

Look at the bright side!

Its’ been one of the comments I heard most in my life and also said it most to myself. Something didn’t go well, but I had to or made myself look at the bright side. “A relationship ended sadly, but on the bright side it ended. A family member died, but on the bright side, I was on holidays. I got rejected for a job, on the bright my CV looked great. I was sad about moving to another city, but on the bright sight new people could be met. I lent someone money who did not pay it back, but on the bright side I still had money. I was scared about teaching, on the bright side I looked beautiful. The project proposal did not get accepted, on the bright side new calls would come. I felt lonely, on the bright side I have a cat.”

Though, my therapist taught me, these statments have nothing to do with the experience felt. They devalue and they distract from what has caused the feeling to begin with; Why did the project proposal fail? Why was I scared of teaching? Why couldn’t I be sad on holidays? Why did I lend money to this person? Why didn’t I get the job? Not feeling “the side not bright” instead pushed feeling inwards, made expressing them difficult, has led to isolating more inwards. It devalued, took away the meaning of what was felt, created uncertainty and supported acceptance over the non bright side. Leading to no changes that could serve a truly brighter side. Its’ called toxic positivity.

Your feelings are wrong!

I remember one of the first conversations with therapist and I said “Sorry for crying I know it’s stupid to be sad about this.” From then on many conversations were about “Why would you feel stupid for feeling a certain way? It’s how you feel and there is nothing wrong about feeling. It’s like saying it’s stupid that you feel sad for having lost a leg [if you did]. It’s not stupid. It’s valid in your own experience”. From then on, more conversations centered around the validty of my feelings, the fact that each of us has an own “subjective narrative” to which we react in certain ways that holds true to how we feel and perceive. Indeed telling others that their feelings are wrong, is by fact wrong. Its okay to be annoyed, its okay to be angry, its okay to be happy, its okay to be.

A narrative on celebations on mothers day being for happy mothers only is one-sided. When we have a society that celebrates or rewards only certain type of behaviour or feelings and disregards different perceptions and experiences, society is limited in its being. That is reducing the feelings of people to an inadequacy that more likely pushes them into shame instead of finding a supportive networking or feedback that more likely reinforces or is accepting their feelings. Telling them, that their feelings are”right as oppose to wrong”.

This won’t work!

There are probably many times in which we got rejected, as child, as lover, as employe, so often that trying feels scary. But it doesn’t have to be. Rejection isn’t a bad thing. Trying to avoid rejection, is a bad thing. Telling someone that a change in direction won’t work because the risks are uncertain may not pay out in the long term. Sometimes we do have to risk. Telling someone they can’t love someone because the circumstances are off, minimizes their feelings but may also leads them to self-reject, before they may even try within the circumstances that are off. Recommending someone to avoid talking about a certain topic, because it won’t be liked, likely leads to that things will always stay the same.

It is not rejection itself that people fear, it is the possible consequences of rejection.Preparing to accept those consequences and viewing rejection as a learning experience that will bring you closer to success, will not only help you to conquer the fear of rejection, but help you to appreciate rejection itself (Robert Foster Bennet)

It’s not important!

My shoe is dirty, but it’s not important. I have relationship problem at home, but it’s not important. I feel lonely, but it’s not important. I am stressed because I have to pick up my child earlier, but it’s not important. I want to take a shower, but it’s not important. I want to become a writer, but it’s not important. I want to try out a new music instrument, but it’s not important. I want to study something else, but it’s not important. I want to set up a business, but it’s not important. I want to change my curricular, but it’s not imporant. (…)

“Why isn’t it important?” my therapist asked and I said , some things I think, in the large scale don’t matter. I can’t change them, I have no experience” “It matters because it matters to you.”

Whatever small it is , it matters. If nothing really matters or if importance is reduced to the smallest feeling, then everything that is perceived as seemingly not important, will always stay that way, when its the small things, the small irritants that need more listening to. Small things, that make living so worthile, a clean shoe, a random post, a great conversation, an egaged student, a happy pet, a great meal, shiny hair, a great book, time to breath, time to do nothing, a boring holiday, a cool class, an experiment that fails.

This has to be perfect!

There is no perfection. Even in nature, leafs don’t look perfect symmetrical. There is always some sort of lack of perfection. But we tend to want make things perfect, write perfect, say everything perfect, think it all through, wait so much, copy other people who we think that make something perfect, lose some sort of sense of self or how ones own uniquness can be perfect to another, thinking one needs to be like another, than realizes one is not, had their own perfection already been perfect to themselves. Misses hours and days of simply “doing” or “doing” by perfectionizing, when things aren’t always perfect. They may appeal, more or less, but there is no guideline on perfection, and where there is, they miss out the uniqueness that imperfection offers; a typo in a CV or text of a brilliant person, an academic article trying to be published by a non-native struggling English speaker, an idea terrible explained, but fantastic in its implementation, a haircut not appealing to the mass, but so appealing to one it truly does appeal to, love true and messy in the eyes of others, but so rich and fullfilling in the eyes of oneself with the other, a uniqe business to be shared, but isn’ because its not like other [go for it !]

Narratives on mental health?

Hiding, not feeling, pretending not to, ignoring, avoiding, not living, not being, determine how things should and should not be, all that effects our mental health. It is the range of feelings, the range of narratives, the range of experiences that makes being human more human, within the experience that one shapes with oneself and the expereince one shapes with another. There is no right or wrong to being, there is more likely wrong to “denying being” and that is where much of the mental health headeachs reside ; thinking one isn’t good enough the way they are, devaluing feelings, the experiences one makes, not wanting to change, because one things they can’t, wanting others to be the same, denying individuality, denying love, denying being.

(…)

Resources

[Experiences from my therapy and readings following Freud, Lacan, Instagram posts from therapists]

Mari Ruti (2013): The Call of Character: Living worth being. Book