Sunday, February 21, 2010

On sleep training and Modus Tollens

There are different techniques to train your baby to sleep. According to, the full range goes from, at the extreme left, attachment parenting to, at the extreme right, the cry-it-out method. The left-to-right ordering has the right feel to it. I can see leftist hippies co-sleeping with their child as easily as I can see a conservative army colonel letting his kid cry to exhaustion. You will become a man, my son.

A term that recurs is that of "sleep association". For instance, the child who nurses and immediately falls asleep may be learning that nursing leads to sleep. Like most high schools students, he may also apply the Modus Tollens the wrong way, and conclude -- incorrectly -- that no nursing implies no sleep. I have difficulties to believe that an infant shall be so precocious as to be acquainted with logic, and shall at the same time make such a basic mistake in its application.

Moreover, what of Pavlov's dog? He learns that when the bell rings, food will come. To be BC (behavioristically correct), I should say: when the bell rings, he salivates. I haven't read anywhere about the more surprising result, that when food arrives without the chime, the dog doesn't salivate.

Is the dog smarter than the infant, knowing that if P implies Q, then it is not necessarily true that Not P implies Not Q? Or is he more stupid, not able to even grasp the notion of logical implication but in a feeble neuronal loop that doesn't go through the heights of the frontal lobe?

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