Firstly, internet, I believe the time has come for a good, old fashioned, vocabulary lesson:
A thing that is indisputably the case.
So, knowing this new word as we now do, what can we immediately cross off the list of what can be considered a fact? If you said “unsubstantiated claims”, you’ve just won my little word game! Prizes will be sent out in three to six weeks and the recipient will be responsible for all taxes and shipping fees.
But how do we know if a claim is unsubstantiated? The problem is that, most of the time, we don’t know. We don’t know unless we take the time ourselves to look in to the claims and arguments, and look in to the research, or the science, or the studies, etc… Which, honestly, most of us won’t do. Most of us will hear something we’ve been told and will believe it for no other reason than that we have no reason not to believe it. This is where all those snazzy lessons in critical thinking can finally come in to play, I think. Maybe we’re too lazy to look in to the real facts, but we should all have something of a rudimentary tool box for identifying ridiculousness when we hear it. In any case, the real problem comes when people start repeating mere claims as facts. It’s bad enough when we do this in our normal every day lives, but I think it becomes a markedly larger issue when someone with a very public voice comes out and begins to spew her special brand of ignorance.
Hello, Michele Bachmann.
Now, I’d be lying if I said I knew all the facts here. I don’t. I’m merely a lowly psychology student trying to make my way through the waves and ripples of life. What I do know, though, is that Michele Bachmann’s statements that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation was not only incorrect, but it was all manner of irresponsible as well. This claim, however wrong, will not just go away. It’s been dropped in to the public consciousness right a long side such great myths as, “humans only use 10% of their brains”. When pressed on the matter, and here’s where those red flags should start going up from those old CT classes, Bachmann tried to excuse herself by asserting that she didn’t know anything about it, really. She was only repeating something that had been told to her.
Yes. She was only repeating something that had been told to her.
This, here, is where misinformation catches up with us. One person told her, and she then turned around and told EVERYONE ELSE. HPV is a very serious virus that can lead to cervical cancer and now, because of this woman’s deeply ignorant remarks, there will be a negative impact on how the vaccine that can help prevent it is viewed. Let’s just hope Bachmann never has lunch with Jenny McCarthy, otherwise the whole world might divide by zero in to a deep, dark pit of disease and stupidity.
Yes, I know, there are risks with vaccines. I admit to understanding that they’re not exactly perfect. However, with the chance of sounding like a utilitarian here, they help more people than they harm. Minute risks are scary, but cancer’s scarier.
Moral of the story, folks? Well, don’t believe everything you hear. Also, don’t take candy from strangers… that’s just always good advice.