“Educate yourself” & “Do your research”

If you’re a parent on the internet, you’ve likely come across the “do your research” folks.  They’re the anti-vax idiots, the über-natural nuts, the ones who are convinced that formula is toxic and that any amount of crying irreparably damages your baby’s brain.  You find it a lot among fad dieters, too.  The phrase “do your research” is an immediate signal that the speaker has no idea what constitutes real research and should henceforth be ignored.

“Educate yourself” tends to come up in a very different context: diversity initiatives. “How to be a good ally” lists, that sort of thing.  Unlike the anti-vaxxers, the writers of these equity-related missives generally have the facts on their side.  Their motivation is also different: they just want the people who interact with them to stop being ignorant trolls.

However, these phrases share a common fallacy: that more information will necessarily convert the reader/listener to the side of the writer/speaker.  That’s laughably wrong in the case of the anti-vaxxers and “natural” nuts.  Such people seem to believe that they’re the bearers of a secret truth, breathlessly informing you of “facts” from Dr. Google.  It doesn’t seem to enter their worldview that we have already heard all that stuff and have considered and rejected it.

Things are much more complicated when you’re telling us how to be good allies to the underprivileged.  Reading other perspectives is absolutely a plus when it comes to being more tolerant.  But… one must always remember that not everyone is going to interpret the same information in the same way.  I’ve lurked in quite a few diversity-related conversations where disagreement was incorrectly blamed on ignorance, and people who genuinely wanted to help decided not to bother.

The moral of the story is: be careful when you say things like this.  Don’t assume that the reason someone has different opinions is because they don’t know as much as you.

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13 thoughts on ““Educate yourself” & “Do your research”

  1. Brilliant post. Without wishing to point fingers in a cruel way, there’s a website/facebook page you’ve probably seen, Motherwise, which does exactly what you’ve just described above. It is so annoying, quite patronising, and a little bit sad – that no one could possible disagree so they just need more ‘information’ piling on them!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi,

    I recently wrote an article addressing this issue at length. I provide evidence from peer-reviewed journals/data to help elucidate what the connection between SIDS/vaccines really is and how we can better address it. Its clear that this topic is dear to many and my conclusions are objective (as much as humanly possible. Please read the article below. Thanks 🙂

    [link removed]

    -Badmash

    Like

    • Oh honey, no.

      “Here’s a bunch of complicated information about SIDS” (do you even know what petechiae are?) + “the US has lots of SIDS and lots of vaccines” + “vaccines have scary-sounding ingredients” does not equal “vaccines and SIDS are related.”

      I found the Washington Post article that’s the source of your first graph.* Did you read it? Income inequality is a huge, HUGE driver of infant mortality (just look at the third chart in the article), and the way we classify extremely premature births makes a big difference too.

      If you’re really interested in digging into the peer-reviewed literature on this, I suggest starting with this 2007 meta-analysis, which reviewed the available studies and concluded that vaccines reduce the risk of SIDS by 50%. The references in the new AAP sleep recommendations are another good place to start.

      *On that note, it’s bad form to use other people’s copyrighted images and claim fair use, especially without a link. (And sometimes it’s illegal, since you’re not the one who gets to decide what constitutes fair use.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi, thank you for the response

        As a medical professional I am well informed about the topics that I write about. Do i know what petechiae are? Yes lmfao. One thing i am new to though, however, is blogging copywriting, etc). Ill erase “fair use”, the images are cited with a reference number corresponding to the citations below the article. thanks for the input

        Matter of fact, i include the meta-analysis you mention (at least a component of it that finding) in my article (see citations)

        As to the “scary sounding ingredients” as you describe them. To put it simply, the way you describe formalin, free DNA/RNA, thimerosal, is egregious to actual scientific inquiry – into ingredients that may actually be harmful. (see article about thimerosal about RECENT biochemical/toxicity profile – or even consider how antibodies (possibly through molecular mimicry) may for to “MRC-5 cell line” and free DNA/RNA (autoimmunity anyone)

        Finally, risks associated with vaccines are incredibly real. As you can see from the “Tripedia Vaccine Package Insert” (monograph) things such as Brachial neuritis and Gulliain-barre syndrome are associated with vaccination.

        That being said, you’re correct, IMR is a complex issue. The most current literature uses a 3 circle venn diagram to illustrate IMR (and its causes/triggers/connections)
        1) Vulnerable infant
        2) Critical developmental period
        3) Exogenous factors

        Intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors have been stratified.

        Intrinsic – Male gender, prematurity, genetic predisposition, fetal tobacco/alcohol exposure

        Extrinsic – Sleeping position, family income, co-sleeping, layering (and as i suggest in this article other environmental/chemical toxins, including but not limited to, infections and vaccinations (I implore you to read the article about curlin proteins and SIDS – interesting article that supports the notion behind molecular mimicry)

        Of course, IMR and SIDS are not mutually exclusive, SIDS is still a relatively undefined disorder (pathophysiologically) As you can see from the article that I’ve drawn up, simple asphyxiation does not align with the data (specifically autopsy) how do you explain GCB, unclotted blood, empty bladder, etc.?

        this isn’t an article claiming vaccines CAUSE sids/autism, merely, we need to better study and understand what we put into our bodies and the long-term (even short-term implications)

        -badmash

        Like

      • Ah, the classic “look at the vaccine inserts!” Of course vaccines have risks—everything, including walking, has risks—it’s just that with vaccines we know the risks are very, very small.

        Please go up and reread the post you commented on, as you seem to have rather dramatically missed the point.

        I’m curious as to why you’re so worried about thiomersal, since as a medical professional you would know that it was removed years ago from all the vaccines except flu (and some Td adult boosters, I think).

        I’ll be honest, you come across as someone who’s recently taken a few college biology classes and is suddenly seeing all these connections and is so excited! That may not be the case, but it’s what shows up in your writing style.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi,

        The “classic look at the package insert” has actual merit (for those who know what and where to look). Within those inserts, are clinical data relevant to prescribing. Furthermore, this data (including post marketing research) can often find anomalies and provide unlikely sources of information about various biological systems. For example, a recent rotavirus vaccine approval data shows an increased incidence in pneumonia among babies that received the vaccine. The authors of this data simply wrote it off, saying that the increased incidence was due to the season (i.e. Being winter). This doesn’t explain, however, the death rate in controls compared to vaccinated infants. Out of this data, some postulates have formed, namely, that natural rotavirus infection provides immunity against viral strains on pneumoniae (through an unknown mechanism)

        As to missing the point and having an “excited” style indicative of a “college student having just taking a few bio classes” i can assure you neither of these are true. As you pointed out, income gaps appear to be the main cause of high IMRs, exptrapolating, lack of education (now this is an argument on its own) is the reason why the IMR is so high. Likewise, the general population lacks the tools and understanding to interprete clinical data, as such I have chosen to highlight a few niche topics within controversial topics to show how little we truly understand about the human body. Ultimately, my dumbing down of my writing (also not including every single pierce of data) is done to be concise and far reaching. Ultimately, I’m choosing to share data that defies what authorities claim to be true. At one time, dr professed that wombs caused hysterical mania, that smoking was good cuz it increased lung volume, that douching is “cleanly” (now no longer recommended due to disruption of natural vaginal flora).

        As such, our understanding and knowledge of things is constantly growing, to claim that all past data is correct in light of new, contradictory but compelleing evidence, again is egregious because it relies on faith instead of scientific principle.

        Finally, as a medical professional, my intent through all of this is to provide people/patients with informed consent, that vaccines have benefits and risks (though rare), and finally, by our own oath, to provide patients with alternatives, including but not limited to, the no treatment option.

        -badmash

        Like

      • Oh hon, of course you present yourself as “defying what authorities claim to be true.” It’s the image you’ve constructed of yourself: you’re the rebel, the One True Seer of Truth. I got that from your blog name. It’s why you keep dumping out information, because you imagine that no one else could possibly have done the research you have and already know it.

        I actually don’t think you’re “dumbing down” your writing—on the contrary, I think you’re overusing jargon in an attempt to look smart. You’re clearly not a scientist working on actual vaccine research (lab/clinical/statistical/etc.), because you’d know better than to use such common anti-vaxxer tropes.

        I’m going to have to ask you not to Gish Gallop all over my page any more. Consider this a warning: you’re welcome to comment on anything else if you like, but further “I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I’m just concerned” will get you banned permanently.

        [Edited to fix HTML tags]

        Like

  3. Crazy grad mama,

    Thank you for keeping this conversation civil. As one human to another, I love discourse (clearly you teased that out lol).

    I respect you and your blog and will no longer discuss this issue here, thank you for allowing it to happen in the first place. My blog is essentially a playground for me, to test writing styles, tones, etc. I’ve always been very enthralled with literature unfortunately my career has required me to utilize
    Other skills so I’m just shaking the dust off.

    I’d love to hear some topics you are passionate about or feel as if is something under-addressed. I’m considering writing an article about drug legalization/decriminlization and using Portugal as the prototype (having decriminliased drug offenses in 2001)

    With love and respect,
    Badmash

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, well, thanks for calling me civil. 🙂

      A blog is a great place to practice writing and try different stuff out. I’d be interested to read more on drug decriminalization—I tend to lean pro-legal-marijuana myself, but I haven’t dug into the issues on a global scale.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hey crazy grad mama!

        i couldn’t find a way to send you message through your blog and i certainly didnt wanna spam you but i just wrote a few new articles using a different format and style. Didnt get around to the legalization (totally for it btw) but i do intend to sometime soon! let me know what you think. Would love your creative and constructive criticism (and praise if theres something worthy). Thank you! 🙂

        Respectfully,
        Badmash

        Like

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