The Life Project eBook Ù The Life Epub /

The Life Project Really interesting book about the politics and people involved in the creation of a series of life cohort programmes and the changes in medicine and social sciences that studies of their subjects provoked The compromise and chance of what ended up being a world leading programme is astonishing the people involved seem admirable and the outcomes of the studies are fascinating I've read criticism of this book saying that it's too much about the people and politics and not enough about the learnings from the studies That seems wrong to me; the people and politics shaped what data was collected and therefore what correlations could be explored but to the point as the book makes clear hundreds and hundreds of studies have arisen from the data and the results can be unclear open to interpretation and vulnerable to manipulation by politicians and the media It would be extremely difficult to unpick all of that the interested reader must turn to the scientific papers if they want to understand Even so plenty of the book is about what people learned and how medical advice changed as a resultFinally the book is brutal and empirical about the ways in which being born into poverty massively disadvantages people regardless of other characteristics It should make any reader furious this book or the scientific studies should be reuired reading for all politicians While this leans to the scientific than the social sciences for my taste the overall fascination of following life cohorts is gripping So much has been learned and remains to be learned Well worth the read even the bits about data curation On March 3 1946 a survey began that is today the longest running study of human development in the world growing to encompass six generations of children 150000 people and some of the best studied people on the planet The simple act of observing human life has changed the way we are born schooled parent and die irrevocably altering our understanding of ineuality and health This is the tale of these studies the scientists who created them sustained them and perhaps most importantly the remarkable discoveries that have come from them The envy of scientists around the world The Life Project is one of Britain’s best kept secrets Gripping read finished in 2 nights sad Social Mobility Remains a Myth in GBFascinating read as entertaining as anything I have read extremely informative about British Society over the last 70 years Perhaps because born in 1958 attending a grammar school coming from the socially deprived North East of England I could relate to the content and some of the conclusions the lack of social mobility for my contemporaries and the burning desire of my Father to get me to go into higher education If you have kids I would add this to your priority reading list If you don't have kids I would still add it to your reading list Amazing book So fascinating to see how certain things predetermine a person's life trajectory I wish America had had the foresight to do something so in depth A Life Project indeed This book is uite statistical but very interestingworth a read I really enjoyed this book which surprised me because it's not my usual cup of tea I found myself uoting from it and thinking about it at odd times Very glad I found it An interesting book about longitudinal cohort studies in the UK In 1946 some British scientists came up with the then revolutionary idea to study and follow a cohort of children born in a particular part of that year That study yielded so much useful information about perinatal mortality and health that additional cohort studies followed at about 10 year intervals Much of what is currently accepted wisdom came from these studies the knowledge that smoking leads to low birth weigh babies the role of pollution in respiratory disorders and the oft repeated observation that being born in poverty is a risk factor for a host of mental physical and social challenges Some studies were focused on medical science and the collection of physical specimens from placenta to stools from baby teeth to DNA samples were others were in the realm of social science The author is clearly interested in her subject and describes the scientists physicians and economists who ran supported and analyzed these studies with sympathy and indulgence This is not just a story of science but also of the struggle for science funding was always at risk and than one cohort study was either scrapped or canceled early on Depending on the political winds the findings of the studies might be used to support various government positions or to inform new policies The author has a UK centric focus that I found endearing but that others might find irritating Cohort studies in the US for instance are scantily represented The Framingham study is mentioned but not the Nurses' Study or the Nun Study and there appears to be a little schadenfreude in the description of the collapse of a 15 year effort to start an American childrens' study I would have liked to see a little description of the technical aspects of the study especially the different techniues used to store data From paper records to punch cards to computers to better computers toFortunately there is a good list of papers and books about the data from these cohort studies that enable the interested reader to find out All in all an excellent effort to bring these important studies out into the limelight They have been very influential in shaping modern medicine and social policies and deserve to be better known This is a book about long term studies of people born into pre defined parameters and followed through their lives and touches on how those studies have helped and informed the medical professions as well testing social science theories That all sounds a little dry but fortunately this book is anything and although I’m not entirely sure who the target audience is I found it fascinatingThe book starts by looking at maternity care for the children born in April 1946 the at that time one off study concentrated on where the children were born whether they survived the first month of life how long their mothers were confined for and how much they cost This was in before the creation of the NHS and these children were born at the start of the baby boon but the study had initially been planned by members of the eugenics society to discover why fewer babies were born to the middle classes which caused anxiety about the future of the country Having dispatched midwives and health visitors to fill in uestionnaires about the lives of the 5000 plus children born in the week the scientists were then able to start writing their reportsThe book talks about the design of follow up studies for this group of children and what they were trying to discover which leads to the make up of the uestions but also brings in later studies one in 1956 another in 1970 Another study should have begun in 1982 but Margaret Thatcher wasn’t a big fan of social science and by this time the studies were costing a considerable amount of money so this never took place but a study in Bristol begun in 1991 where DNA was collected from blood and placentas and is still stored to this day The last study began in 2000 and with those children having reached their teens the next is into the final stages of planningI actually knew about the 1991 study through a throw away comment from my mother who knew one of the participants when he was still a young boy but I didn’t realise how big it was or how far these studies have actually gone towards defining policy With studies on Grammar versus Comprehensive Schools obesity smoking and where it is best to give birth there is very little that hasn’t been plundered to make a case or in some instances to disprove a caseHelen Pearson is obviously a big supporter of these studies and as the UK is the only country to have so many lives monitored and for so far back for the ‘better good’ I’m with her although the costs are immense of course as the way we live has changed at such a fast rate continual studies are needed to reflect this Although a supporter the author is good at balancing the good done with the misrepresentation of some of the facts and pointing out where the facts themselves could be found wanting – one example of this is a study from the first two birth cohorts which states that children with interested parents do far better than those without at school and life in general However as it was teachers who were judging the ‘interest’ levels of parents in a time when these very parents rarely set foot in a school it may well be that the teachers stated that the parents were interested in the education of their offspring often if the child was doing well at schoolThere are so many interesting facts and a few small insights into the lives of a couple of the earlier candidates that I think there is something to interest many people I even enjoyed some of the walk through the politics of funding the next phase and next study although the tales of how exhausted those in charge were became a little wearisome at timesI’m very grateful to Vine for giving me a copy of this book which gave me a lot to think about on so many different levels Despite being a book with an academic subject the author has made it incredibly accessible to those with no knowledge of the subject at all The Life Project will be published on 3 March 2016 It is undoubtedly my failing that I didn't realise on buying The Life Project that it really is the story of the birth cohort studies the instigators the funding struggles etc much less the analysis of the studies' findings It is the latter which interests me where the findings were stated the book was hugely interesting However I have some issues with The Life Project First no references were given in the main body of the text this I found v frustrating The Bibliography Sources section did fill this gap to a certain extent but as this was after the main text attention had travelled its usual arc I found statements such as 'The advantages of being September born are so well known that sometimes when a child is born in the dying hours of 31 August midwives will do parents a favour and record the baby's birth as being in the early hours of 1 September' frustrating for the lack of a reference as I wanted v much to see Pearson's evidence Second the author was a tad repetitive worse went into unnecessary detail about a great many things people their backgrounds funding politics locations I noted that she had a real beef with the University of Essex talked at some length about what she perceives to be the exceptionally ugly aesthetic character of its buildings The narrative needed no detail than that the University holds many of the records referred to When the topic was revisited I was told for a second time how dreadfully bleak the site is I felt that her editor should have done a better job Third there were a few asides which presupposed that the reader all right thinking people would agree with her A little personality a little humour injected into a text are not inappropriate but as outlined above re Brutalist architecture some issues are contested So when she referred to health safety regulations as being 'famously overzealous in the UK' I was irritated by her assumption that this is a given someone I know knows a lot about HS than I do believes our regulations are broadly appropriate have saved lives Nevertheless the book was written in an easily accessible style and I enjoyed the insights frustratingly few tho they were gleaned from the studies in particular the specifics of how our early experiences impact on our futures

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