Every discipline has its share of mavericks and oddballs, who are generally eyed askance by other professionals in the field. Fred Hoyle the astronomer springs to mind, as does John Allegro the Dead Sea Scrolls expert. Allegro of course was once a respected scholar, until he got it into his head that the early Christians had belonged to a hitherto unknown cult which worshipped hallucinogenic mushrooms. Often these weird individuals are very well known and admired by the general public, while fellow professionals regard them as either harmless cranks or raving lunatics. They are fond of writing popular books expounding their strange ideas, rather than submitting well researched papers to respectable journals for peer review. Such is the case with the half dozen or so academics who have espoused the cause of home education.
In common with wild cards from other fields such as psychology, astronomy, archaeology and so on, they tend to appeal directly to the laity. There is good reason for this. When John Allegro became convinced that Jesus was a magic mushroom, he wrote a book about it which was serialised in the Sunday Mirror. There would of course have been little point in trying to interest other Orientalists and archaeologists in his theory; they would know at once that it was sheer nonsense. Far better to address the readers of a tabloid newspaper. Similarly, when some professor of education convinces himself that children do not need to be taught to read, there would not be much point in getting an academic journal to take up the idea. The readers of such a publication would require detailed and properly conducted research to back up such an astonishing hypothesis. A crazy idea like this would probably not even make it through the peer review. The answer is to talk to ordinary parents, who do not really know enough about these ideas to see them for what they are and will in any case be very receptive to the idea that they do not have to teach their children, that the whole process of education can take place automatically.
Apart from books aimed at the public, these characters present papers to obscure conferences in out of the way places like Latvia. These papers are subsequently quoted as reverently as if they had been published in "Nature"! Some of the most popular assertions about home education can be traced back to this sort of paper. Books on the subject are often based upon a mere dozen or so families, some of whom are close personal friends of the author. Fortunately, the left leaning, libertarian parents reading them know less about the matter than those actually involved in education and child development and so are not likely to spot the glaring holes in the reasoning presented.
Throughout the world there are many thousands of people studying and teaching education, the psychology of childhood and so on. Few parents ever hear about these people. They prefer to listen to the six or seven who say reassuring things like, "Children learn without teachers. Don't bother to teacher Johnny to read, he'll pick it up of his own accord." They either do not know, or more likely do not care, that 99.99% of these experts' own colleagues view them as amiable and well meaning crackpots.