Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Stupidity and Vaccinations 

Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit) has a Tech Central column on vaccinations for children (specifically whooping cough). Read it.

When I teach undergraduates, I am constantly approached with challenges to the material. The student has come across an article that contradicts the material I have presented in class. Dutifully, I examine the material. Without fail, I find that the material is biased, junk science, pure conjecture, or the production of a twisted mind. Junk science is becoming more common. My strategy has been to gracefully and meticulously walk the student through the material pointing out the errors. Then, when the material has been reduced to insignificance, I remind the student of the one great maxim not found in the course textbook that I teach, "People are stupid."

Not all people, all of the time. But put in the right position, we all are prone to poor judgment. Parents are prone to poor judgment constantly. We are bombarded with breaking news, new research discoveries, and advisory information. Knowing what is real and what is junk takes time and practice.

A good friend of mine recently sent home an article she had been given about the dangers of milk. She has a gracious nature and caring heart. She was concerned for the safety and well-being of the children in our church program. She asked me to evaluate the information. She is smarter than most people I know. She realized that she did not have the expertise to evaluate the information. Few people are willing to admit that they do not know. I am no smarter than she is. However, she recognized that I have had enough training and education to evaluate the information. I took a few days to research the material. The information was bogus, but it looked convincingly scientific. The group responsible for producing the information was a more respectable front for PETA. They are stupid.

People are stupid. The real challenge of today is to be able to tell the stupid from the not stupid. My friend is not stupid. The person who gave her the information is stupid. The group that has thrust horribly inaccurate (and often false) information on the rest of us is stupid. Anyone who blindly follows the advice of others despite suspicions is stupid.

That doubt in the back of your mind, that uneasy feeling you get, that nagging suspicion that won't let you sleep, that is a clue that you may have heard something stupid. Vaccinations are dangerous? When you hear that statement, regardless of what is offered in the way of supporting information, you should at least question its veracity. You should ask someone who has the training and knowledge to know. Despite all my training and education, I still took the time to ask our pediatrician about each vaccine for our daughter. Otherwise, I would be stupid.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com