Mediocre Mom Saves Us From Stupidity
There is so much noise on the internet. Some days, I think the internet is a blessing. After all, my generation will probably be the last to remember the time before it, when looking things up at the library took all day instead of a nanosecond on the computer. But other days, I think the internet is a curse. Because we can all look up information at the drop of a hat, we are bombarded with it. We also begin to believe that we can look up any problem for ourselves, diagnose it, and solve it, all with the help of Google. The problem with this is that the internet has created so many stupid people who think they are knowledgeable, when in fact they are completely off base (and usually a few ants short of a picnic),
Nowhere is this idiocy more apparent than in mommy groups on Facebook, discussing things like vaccination and childbirth. Without going into the merits or issues, I have decided to clear up a few basic issues for everyone so they can sift through the constant bombardment of information more easily.
First off, you do not get an honorary degree from Google (or Wikipedia, or Web MD, etc) for reading about a topic some predetermined number of hours on their site. No matter how much time you spend “researching” an issue, you are just not as well-informed as a professional. You may spot issues or ideas that you can raise with a professional and for which you can have perfectly legitimate questions, but you most certainly do not know more simply because you have looked it up.
Second, let’s take a closer look at the term “researching”. When I see the phrase “I did some research” pop up on the feeds, I cringe and inwardly groan. The primary definition of “research”, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “a careful study that is done to find and report new knowledge about something”. Synonyms include “investigating, experimenting, testing, fieldwork, analysis, fact-finding, and examination”. Nowhere does it include the definition “perusing the internet”. Actual researchers, usually scientists, spend hours, if not months or years, in a lab, building and testing a hypothesis, and reaching a conclusion based upon this testing. When you spend hours on the internet reading other people’s work and studies, and opine on them, this is not research. You are reporting, you are compiling, and you are possibly summarizing information. But you have not “done research”.
Third, working in a field does not make you an expert. Generally, if you have a specific degree, then you are a professional in that area of expertise. Please note, only doctors of medicine are actual MD’s. I have a Doctor of Jurisprudence. I do not consider myself an MD, nor do I give out medical advice. This should go for all people with other kinds of doctorates. If you have a doctorate in anything else besides medicine, you are NOT an MD. Thus, I suggest being completely skeptical when people make claims like “I work in the healthcare profession”. Work as what? A nurse? A medical assistant? A janitor in the hospital cafeteria? If they were actually an MD, they likely would have told you. The same goes for people claiming to be in the “legal profession”. If they are a lawyer, they will probably tell you. Otherwise they are likely a paralegal, a legal secretary, or a file clerk in a law office, and have no business practicing law. Likewise, be skeptical of those who say they come from the “science community”. Unless they are an actual epidemiologist, chemist, or biologist, they may as well be the person cleaning the rat cages.
Finally, can we just agree that “the internet” is not a credible cite. (Fun fact: I have actually seen a plaintiff in pro per use that in her court brief). It is not a dictionary, or a thesaurus, or an encyclopedia. While these things can be found on-line, most of the things we read are just someone else’s opinion. Citing to other people’s opinion works wonderfully for some topics, like where is the best Italian restaurant in town and what is the best place to stay at on vacation. Scientific issues, however, are not opinion-based. They are based on studies done with hours upon hours of actual research. Posting a bunch of opinion-based articles online opposing a scientific fact does not make them credible.
One of the problems with the internet is that it has created a whole host of trolls who find it necessary to go around opposing scientific facts. The problem, per se, isn’t the trolls but rather the people who keep reading the trolls and parroting the trolls’ opinions as though they are an equally valid opposing side. I am sure if I search hard enough, I can find online articles that argue that the world is flat and that the sky is a different color than blue. But these facts are not up for debate, and throwing them on the internet does not make it a debatable issue.
I feel terribly sorry for many professionals now because of the internet. There are now scores of people who think they know more than doctors, scientists, teachers and other professionals simply by looking up something online. Obviously this most often happens in the medical field. It must be wonderful for doctors to have patients balk at their suggestions and say “sorry, but I read online that…” or “well, let me ask my mommy Facebook group first”. If you don’t trust the professional’s opinion, why go to him or her in the first place? I am not suggesting that doctors (or any other professional) are infallible; quite the contrary. But if you think that every single professional doesn’t have you or your child’s best interest at heart at the outset, then you have a serious problem. If that’s the case, try googling “psychiatry” and “diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders”. Maybe you can diagnose yourself. But then again, “stupid” is not an official diagnosis.
I am mediocre mom!
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