August 28, 2016

"'Babies"' made from flour sacks or eggshells have been used for to teach children about the responsibilities of parenthood..."

"... but a new study using lifelike simulated babies in Western Australian schools had a surprising result: girls enrolled in the Virtual Infant Parenting Program (VIP) were twice as likely to give birth in their teens."

A Metafilter discussion that includes this comment:
This American Life had a segment about robot babies where (spoiler alert!) one of the teenagers turned out to have a better opinion of pregnancy and childrearing after her experience. Turns out the producer of that segment [Hillary Frank] wrote about the Lancet study two days ago.
From that last link (to the Hillary Frank piece):
17% of the intervention (robot babies) group had teen pregnancies; while 11% of the control group had teen pregnancies....
Was there evidence that the simulators made teens interested in becoming moms? Or less afraid of accidental pregnancy? [Dr. Sally] Brinkman said there was no way to know the answer to this question. The study was designed to track pregnancy, not whether the pregnancies were intended or unintended. But, she added, they did study the pregnancy termination rate in both groups. And the group that got the infant simulators had a 6% lower proportion of abortions, compared with the control group. But, of course, there’s no way to really know if that lower rate means the girls who experienced the infant simulators felt more comfortable with the idea of becoming moms....
The robot baby program was designed to push teenage girls to avoid pregnancy. They're supposed to see how much trouble it is to be woken up and to hear the crying and have to feed a baby. The study is especially bad news for the company that makes the robots... unless there are schools somewhere that think it would be a good idea to convince young people to accept the responsibilities of parenthood. We might be need that one day... as more and more young people resist the lure of babies and devote themselves to education and career launching and get used to the convenience and unshared wealth of life without children.

34 comments:

MayBee said...

This makes a lot of sense.

Our bodies are incredible feedback loops. The positions we take- say a big wide stance with arms in the air we might take to scare off a bear- also tells our brain we need certain hormones, and so testosterone is released and we feel more powerful.

It makes perfect sense taking care of a realistic baby would release the hormones that tell us to nurture and protect. It then might create a stronger desire to have something real to nurture and protect. Why didn't someone think of this?

tim maguire said...

Regarding your last point, if we could find a way to be proud of our culture, embrace it and teach it to immgrants, then we would have to worry about replacement rate. We could keep our country populated through importation. But people with cultural understanding, civic pride, and virtue are not reliable Democratic voters so, clearly, that's out.

Bob R said...

The data seems to suggest that experience with an inanimate object made the girls less likely to view the entity living inside them as an inanimate object, suitable for disposal.

Now, I have to say, "I am not a robot."

glenn said...

Ahhh, those genetic and hereditary predispositions. It's a good thing the really smart people "know" they don't exist.

robinintn said...

"... unless there are schools somewhere that think it would be a good idea to convince young people to accept the responsibilities of parenthood. " Throw in a corrupt senator to force every public school to purchase a doll and to have the doll company install his daughter as their $614k/yr titular head (fake MBA and all), and it could be Epipen all over.

rhhardin said...

Bits of dust and rags can be ruled out.

52. If I am inclined to suppose that a mouse has come into being by spontaneous generation out of grey rags and dust, I shall do well to examine those rags very closely to see how a mouse may have hidden in them, how it may have got there and so on. But if I am convinced that a mouse cannot come into being from these things, then this investigation will perhaps be superfluous.

Sydney said...

I can understand how caring for a robotic doll baby would stir maternal desires in a young heart. I remember feeling a strong urge to have a baby when I was a teenager and helping my aunt with her newborn. Lucky for me, I was an awkward teenager and had no boyfriends. I did not feel that same urge as a young adult when I was firmly set on my career path, even though I was around many more babies in the OB and pediatric wards.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...were twice as likely to give birth in their teens.

Great news. Your teenage years ( very late teens ) are by far the best time to give birth. You are young and healthy enough to deal with the childbirth, recovery, and lack of sleep. You are more likely to have family around to help out. And you have plenty of years after your kids start school to pursue higher education, career, and other trivialities. Plus you have a decent chance of being a grandparent while you are young an healthy enough to enjoy it.

Of course, for this to work we need to make sure they are getting married first.

Fernandinande said...

Social engineering backfires again**. The way to decrease teen, and other problematic pregnancy, is to remove the rewards for it. Do less, not more. Why would they think that playing with dolls would accomplish anything?

**Conclusions. Our study supports previous findings indicating that D.A.R.E. is ineffective.

Head Start: A Tragic Waste of Money

LarsPorsena said...

They should just force the girls to watch 'Teen Mom'.

Jane the Actuary said...

It all depends on the baseline. If your baseline is "babies are a piece of cake," than a simulation of midnight feedings might be a wake-up call. If your baseline is "babies are awful and I never want anything to do with them," then a program like this might have exactly the opposite effect.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/janetheactuary/2016/08/children-are-a-gift.html

Terry said...

Perhaps they should not have included a monthly check from the government as part of the deal.
"Gimme another one of them babies!"

Lucien said...

Just make sure to give the subjects "abstinence only" education after they work with the fake babies. That'll fix 'em. (Just like in Gravity's Rainbow" and "A Clockwork Orange".)

Darrell said...

The ones that made dumplings from the flour and eggs turned out to be all Democrats.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

This is why teen mothers traditionally got expelled from high school. It was understood that the other girls in the school would want a baby too.

William said...

Ignorance is bliss is right. Teen age moms are more likely to have healthy babies, have a support system in place to help care for the babies, and have more energy for child rearing. If the teen age mom is married and can stay married, this isn't such a bad thing. The Woody Allen/Soon Yi romance is not cautionary but aspirational.

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

I never, never, would want to fuck a baby. I know that is wrong. But fucking a robot baby: who does that hurt?

I mean, I'm not sure I'd even want to fuck a robot baby, I'm just thinking out loud here in the corner.

I wonder how you would hold the robot baby. Maybe just lay it on the futon and hold its head, I'm thinking.

Maybe I could just rent one.

But then when I return it the Guy at the Counter would probably look at me funny and say "Sir! This baby has been fucked!"

Maybe I'd say "It was that way when I got it."

Maybe that would work.

"Sir, that is not true."

"Yes, yes it is. You rented me a pre-fucked robot baby, and I'm here to complain."

I bet he would just want me to leave.

Everyone wants me to leave.

No one likes me.

Like no one else thinks these things.


I am Laslo.



Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

If I was going to fuck a robot baby I'd probably want it to be a white baby robot. Not that I have anything against colored people, or colored robot people, or whatever.

It just seems like it would be racist for a white guy to fuck a black robot baby. Maybe that's just me, I don't know.

I wonder if that kind of thing happened when they had slaves in the South. I mean, what are the odds that no one fucked a slave baby, just once? I bet all kinds of strange sex shit happened. And not just with babies, with black people in general. because they were slaves at the time.

Don't get me wrong: I'd fuck an adult woman robot if I had the chance. She would have to be programmed not to talk, though: I can't keep an erection when women talk.

I wouldn't fuck a fat woman robot, though. Even though real women won't fuck me I still have standards.

Like no one else thinks these things.


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

I just want to clarify something. If I were to fuck a robot baby it would be a girl baby robot: I am not gay. I am not down with little baby penises, even on robots.

Maybe I was fucked when I was a baby. I don't know: like I'd even be able to remember.

I have some strange Uncles, though: I could see it having happened. Uncle Bob, I can picture him being a baby-fucker; maybe that is why he drinks so much. And cries.

Maybe that was why I wet the bed so often, because I'd been fucked when I was a baby. So it wasn't my fault, then. I shouldn't have been spanked just because I wet the bed, because I was fucked as a baby. That wasn't fair.

Maybe my wetting the bed so much led to me wanting to pee on women. I can see there being a connection. Take THAT, Mom: take THAT.

Like no one else thinks these things.


I am Laslo.

Birkel said...

Laslo Spatula:

You shifted from "If I was..." to "If I were..." so points must be reduced.

buwaya puti said...

More likely the girls made to carry the fake babies were selected, perhaps inadvertently, from populations more prone to teen pregnancy. The most difficult thing in studies of this sort is perfect randomization of samples.

Fritz said...

Fernandinande said...
Social engineering backfires again**. The way to decrease teen, and other problematic pregnancy, is to remove the rewards for it. Do less, not more. Why would they think that playing with dolls would accomplish anything?

**Conclusions. Our study supports previous findings indicating that D.A.R.E. is ineffective.

Head Start: A Tragic Waste of Money


What do you mean backfires? All these programs were intended to provide public service jobs to otherwise unemployable democratic voters. By that standard they succeeded.

n.n said...

The natural order overrides "secular" efforts to indoctrinate (e.g. normalize) competing interests to indulge in dysfunctional orientations and behaviors.

Char Char Binks said...

They could just get Baby Alives on eBay.

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

Maybe my mother should have had a robot baby instead.

She would go out drinking all night, and leave me locked in my bedroom.

I asked her what happens if I needed to pee, I can't get out to go to the bathroom. She told me to just go ahead and wet the bed, since I did that so much anyway. My mattress had urine stains that looked like an angel with big wings, but that is another story; regardless, there is no such thing as a Urine Angel, or at least it never came to save me.

Then I asked her what I should do if I needed to poop, so she locked me inside my bedroom with an orange plastic bucket.

So at night I would carefully poop and then I would try to sleep, knowing there was an open bucket of poop in the room, all night, just... there. I think this is why I don't flush the toilet at public restrooms.

I especially like to leave the toilet unflushed at the unisex bathroom at my local Starbucks: I think they all now know it is me, but it isn't like they liked me before, anyway. So -- lady with the baby in your arms at the restroom door -- finish your Frappucchino and then look at THAT: I made it for you.

Like no one else thinks these things.


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

A few months ago I met a girl on the Internet who lets me pee on her sometimes.

You'd think that, this being the internet, she would be really fat, but she isn't. She's really skinny, in fact: she has the anorexia, like real bad. I hope she doesn't die soon.

Anyway, I drink a Big Gulp from the Seven-Eleven, and when I get to her place she already has the tarp laid out in the kitchen. She doesn't like to talk much, so I pretty much start peeing on her once I get there. I'm not one for much small talk, either, so that works.

She insists on wearing swim goggles, but -- other than that -- it really is as good as I had hoped it would be. Well, I also wish she didn't have to wrap her forearms in saran wrap to avoid getting pee into her fresh cut marks. Other than that.

I once brought up the subject of bukkake but she said what we had together wasn't sexual, sorry. It's OK: what we have is enough. Whatever it is.

Like I said, I hope she doesn't die soon. She is REALLY skinny.

Like no one else thinks these things.


I am Laslo

Fernandinande said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact said...
Like no one else thinks these things.


I never thought about peeing on your mother. At least not until you brought it up.

Sammy Finkelman said...

The exerience with the lifelike simulated babies made them feel they knew what taking care of a baby entailed, and that they were up to the job.

Just_Mike_S said...

Don't you want somebody to love? Doncha need somebody to love? Wouldn't you love somebody to love? You better find somebody to love.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Laslo, are you crazy?

Just have her get in the tub. It's much easier.

Char Char Binks said...

If you fuck a robot baby goat, and it's a male baby goat, or designed to look male, does that make you gay? Asking for a friend.

Martin said...

Considering that population decline, not growth, is the bigger problem across most of the developed and even developing worlds, it is great news that there may be such an easy way to increase the birth rate.

Come back in 20 yrs and see whether there is a difference in total lifetime births between the test and control groups. This may just show that the test group had first kids a little earlier.

While controlling for hundreds of variables that you have no way to control for, of course.

protestmanager said...

I sent this to the "This American Life" people:

Hello,

There seems to be an information failure involving Hillary Frank's blog post about the Lancet study. I don't believe the problem was on Hilary's end, but she's the one who wrote the blog post, so I wanted to let her know.

Here's what the Lancet paper says (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)30384-1/abstract):

Compared with girls in the control group, a higher proportion of girls in the intervention group recorded at least one birth (97 [8%] of 1267 in the intervention group vs 67 [4%] of 1567 in the control group) or at least one abortion as the first pregnancy event (113 [9%] vs 101 [6%]).

Both live births AND abortions were up for the "study" girls.

Here's what Hilary wrote in her blog (which has no way to comment):

17% of the intervention (robot babies) group had teen pregnancies; while 11% of the control group had teen pregnancies.

Which is fine, if you add together the live birth and abortion numbers, but then she also wrote:

But, she added, they did study the pregnancy termination rate in both groups. And the group that got the infant simulators had a 6% lower proportion of abortions, compared with the control group


That is horrible weasel wording to avoid these simple facts: The girls in the study were 79% more likely to give birth to a baby, 38% more likely to have an abortion, and overall 55% more likely to get pregnant than the control girls.

The only place where the abortion rate went "down" for the study girls was that 54% of the 210 study girls who got pregnant had an abortion, whereas 60% of the 168 control girls who got pregnant had an abortion. With numbers that small, a 6% difference is meaningless.

protestmanager said...

I prettied up my comment and added a table with all the data here: https://protestmanager.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/robot-babies-lead-to-more-pregnancies-and-more-births/

It's just a guess, but I would bet that teenage girls walking around with a robot baby get a lot more positive interactions and feedback than teenage girls walking around with a real baby. So I'm perfectly willing to believe that this study did set the girls up for failure.