Today morning someone close shared an audio clip with me saying that I should listen to it. It was talk by a doctor from Hyderabad and he gives some pertinent points about Covid-19, I was told.
I looked at the time it showed. Fourteen minutes. Did I have fourteen minutes to spend? Breakfast was calling. We have all had an overdose of information on Covid-19 front – I do check the latest developments – and so I almost let it go, but decided at the last moment to listen for a minute or two, just to be polite.
I ended up listening to the whole fourteen minutes of it because by the initial few minutes itself my Bullsh*t Detector Antennae were up and quivering in indignation. The trouble people go to, introducing themselves as ‘doctors’ who have been ‘practicing for thirty years’, following it up with obvious facts about the virus that everyone knows about already, slyly interspersing it with their own brand of baseless personal opinions, and presenting it all as the real deal! Unbelievable.
The students of WhatsApp University, which is like more than ninety percent of the population, lap it all up. There were so many pointers to show the man masquerading as a doctor in that clip was a total sham. I enumerated one by one the red flags in the clip, much to the discomfort of the person who shared it with me. Yup, this is how I go about making foes out of friends. My pointing out that they are culpable of spreading misinformation does not go down well with anyone.
On my part, I am amazed. HOW can people believe it is indeed a doctor speaking just because he says so in the beginning of the clip? Since one cannot verify that statement, how about the next best thing, to critically examining the content of his talk?
Why was the man contradicting already well established facts? Why are some of his suggestions inconsistent with what you have been told repeatedly by the people in the know? Why has he left out some medical conditions while discussing people with pre-existing conditions? (He refers to them as ‘those popping thirty or more tablets a day’) Why is he pushing alternative medicines for fever? No one thought of asking any of these questions, a fact which I find depressing and also sickening.
That brings me to my point. Critical thinking. It is a lost cause, a capacity the majority of us lack. Questions are anathema in our culture. We have been taught blind obedience as the ideal way to exist from the day we are born. Blind obedience to god, god-men, scriptures, elders, parents, in-laws, teachers, husband, higher-ups…. you name it. Our society is built on the corner stone of blind obedience. The boy who stood on the burning deck is idolized. The boy who beheaded his mother on the orders of his father is worshiped.
Under such unfavorable conditions, critical thinking I feel is but a shriveled half dead thing. What a sad state of affairs. Those who still posses the faculty to reason and think, in spite of having grown up in such a society, need to be commended. They are our hope.
© Shail Mohan 2020
COVID-19 has spawned a lot more than a medical pandemic.
It definitely has, Anne!
Critical thinking is, indeed a lost cause. One reason, at least here in the States, is that teachers teach kids how to pass standardized tests (via a lot of memorization) instead of teaching them how to think, how to use their brains. It’s a shame and it’s resulting in the dumbing down of our societies.
Thank you for the comment. This is an important point I missed mentioning.
It is something that happens here in India too.
Mister Bump UK said:
Yes I get a definite feeling that people don’t like questions….but it is how a child learns.
Agree. My elder son was the one with so many questions! I loved answering him. Not that I had answers all the time, and at such times as those I just told him I didn’t know.
Mister Bump UK said:
Yes I think you need to be honest with them. Otherwise, if they discover that you have lied, whatever else you said is not credible.
Ken Powell said:
I recommend a brilliant book – Factfulness – which might bring you some hope in the matter of critical thinking while also exemplifying all that you say here. It is a world famous book and rightly so. The author demonstrates why most of what we think is wrong, how to get facts right (critical thinking) but also why, on the whole, things are getting better. It is both illuminating and uplifting. He is a very humble chap too. I think you’d love it Shail!
I will definitely add it to my list of to-be-read books. Thank you, Ken.