I’ve read a lot of Emily Oster over the past year. Her first book, Expecting Better, has become the data-minded parent’s bible on pregnancy. Her new book, Cribsheet, extends that analysis to the first years of life.
Oster is an economist at Brown University, and what she brings to this particular pursuit is a passion for good evidence. And here’s the thing: it turns out that much of what we think we know about pregnancy and parenthood isn’t based on good evidence. Sometimes it’s not based on any evidence at all.
This is, on one level, a conversation about some topics of particular interest to me right now — breastfeeding, sleep training, brain development — but, it’s also a conversation about a meta-topic of interest to us all: how we assume experts are basing their confident pronouncements on good data, when, in fact, they often are not.
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