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Jenny McCarthy: Critical Thinker

Posted on 2014.04.14 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114

I don't mean to be hatin' on Jenny McCarthy, I really don't - but she is so rich with content its difficult to not exploit her in the name of positive life lessons. In a recent press release, she reminds us that critical thinking means asking the hard questions:

"What happened to critical thinking? What happened to asking questions because every child is different? I am not 'anti-vaccine'...I have been wrongly branded as 'anti-vaccine.'"

"I am dumbfounded that these conversations are discounted and negated because the answers are not black or white, God help us all if gray is no longer an option."

Being ignorant myself when all this initially came about, I had do my own research. No, not the kind where I'm was drawing amniotic fluid from the swollen bellies of pregnant women, but the kind where I read the results from those who do - amidst the droves of stay-at-home activist moms decrying science. I saw innocent people being burned at the stake because they recognized what was occurring and tried to temper the hysteria. It was a modern day witch-hunt, science versus those who are enlightened. While its baffling that something like that could that could have happened in the 1600s, experiencing it firsthand was both fascinating and horrifying.

As an aside, I really do credit these enlightened types where credit is due, as they do manage to break many of the traditional paradigms. Despite what the bible *actually* says about witchcraft for example, I know a handful of witchcraft practicing Christians. It amazing what you can justify when you set your mind to it, and the anti-vacc hysteria amongst witchcraft-practicing Christians was a chapter in own personal history which will forever rival that of Salem.

I appreciate those willing to consider other points of view yes, but claiming a middle-ground argument against proven-science is a logical fallacy - the truth of the Earth's curvature doesn't lie somewhere in between spherical believers and flat-earthers. It just doesn't. Charles K. Johnson, former leader of The Flat Earth Society disagreed, "Science is a false religion, the opium of the masses." Thomas Dolby himself was blinded by science, as he is a card carrying member - and his credentials are far more noteworthy than those of Ms. McCarthy (though I'll admit now to any physiological pressure were I to have to empirically choose between Musical Director for TED Conference and Ms. McCarthy's own impressive resume).

Political Scientist Michael Barkun states the appeal of believing something dumb is popular because it appears to make sense out of a world that is otherwise confusing, does so by oversimplifying things in an easily-digestible dichotomous way, and presents it as special, secret knowledge unknown or unappreciated by others. Who wouldn't fall for that?

Critical thinkers.

Real ones.


michelle1963 at 2014-04-14 12:18 (UTC) (Link)
Critical thinking. In the general populace, it seems to be a skill that is lacking. Is it something that is not taught? Is teaching attempted, but the skill is difficult, and so many can't master it? Are some people simply lazy, preferring a quick, simple answer even if it is wrong? All of the above?

In reference to Ms McCarthy's question about asking questions - absolutely, questions should be asked. But critical thinkers are interested in finding the facts, and they do not hold on to a theory once it's been disproven. The theory that vaccines cause autism has been disproven.

The Dutch in a very Big Brother sort of way that would never fly here in the US, keeps health records on their entire population. This includes which children got what vaccines and which children got no vaccines at all. With an incredible number of data points at hand, they found that the rate of autism in the vaccinated group and in the unvaccinated group was identical. No correlation between vaccines and autism.

In true critical thinkers, this data would kill the theory and the search would begin for a new theory to test. But those who are emotionally invested in one particular theory hold on to it in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Interestingly enough, a recent research article has found evidence of brain abnormalities occurring in utero - long before any child gets vaccines.

Edited at 2014-04-14 12:18 pm (UTC)
suzanne1945 at 2014-04-14 12:59 (UTC) (Link)
As a retired elementary school teacher, I can attest that critical thinking skills have been part of the curriculum for 30+ years. True that No Child Left Behind, with its emphasis on testing, diminished it in favor of memorization to pass that one day test, but it was still part of the curriculum. Now the Common Core Standards has come to pass and while it is too soon to tell its ultimate effect in education, it has done a 180 and critical thinking is again at the fore front. But guess who is decrying these standards to get American children on a path to compete world wide? You guessed it--the conservative, tea party members, and those parents who see it as "too hard". Yes, critical thinking is being taught, but it seems just believing something is much easier than finding and analyzing facts.
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