MISINFORMATION IS EVERYWHERE, BUT WHAT ABOUT MISEDUCATION?

268
3
Submitted Date 03/05/2019
Bookmark

For a long time I believed education was the solution to the world’s woes. Education would lift people out of poverty; it would help us understand one another, heralding a new era of peaceful prosperity; it would erase racism, bigotry and other forms of intolerance.

 

How naïve…

 

More and more, I come to realize that education is just another powerful misinformation tool.

 

Story time. Not very long ago, I was chatting with a well-educated young Polish woman, and I told her about a friend who had had multiple abortions. Her eyes widened. Misunderstanding her confusion, I started to explain how no birth control method was a hundred percent, and that somehow my friend was so fertile that even using two of them, she’d get pregnant.

“It’s not that,” she said. “It’s just… doesn’t getting an abortion make you sterile?”

This from an eighteen-year-old woman, with pharmacist parents, who wanted to be a doctor. And I remember now, in her eyes, the fight between this ‘truth’ that had been fed to her all her life as a Polish Catholic, and what I had just revealed to her.

At the time, I just burst out laughing, not realizing I had just messed up a major part of her worldview. Then I went further, I got out my phone and showed her a picture of my friend, surrounded by all her happy kids. And I told her how I’d been there at one of the abortions, and at the birth of at least two of the kids, so I knew they were really hers.

I went on to explain that perhaps, in a country where abortion is illegal and so performed in dark alleys by butchers with hangers, abortions carry a higher price for women…

 

Now abortion is hot button issue, and I quite understand people with an objection to it. I mean, even someone who is pro-choice doesn’t regard abortion as a good thing. All I want is for it to be available and legal.

If you have moral objections to it, no one is forcing you to get one, and you are quite free to voice those objections. Where I lose my sh!t is when you make up facts to convince young impressionable minds to get them in your camp.

Some are just passing on false information they heard, but I’m betting somewhere, there’s someone who knows these lies for what they are, who might even be at the origins of these lies, who justifies them as serving the Greater Good. If your position was so right as you claim, why do you need falsehoods to prop it up?

 

Why do we as humans, need to set the person who disagrees with us as the enemy, as a monster that must be fought?

 

Even when you take issues that are less passionate, you find these insidious fabrications. Ever since I arrived in the United States from Canada, I have heard lies being bandied about against socialized medicine. Lies, I may add, which are so obviously manufactured by the people who profit from the status quo that it blows the mind to think people fall for them.

Of course the Health insurance companies don’t want things to change – why are we even listening to their objections? Everyone agrees that the people running these companies don’t care much more than a fig about our well-being, and yet, their arguments against a system that would greatly reduce their power is accepted like Gospel.

Same goes for pharmaceutical companies – why in the world would they be in favor of the Department of Health and Human Services gaining oversight on their prices? They’ll say anything, threatening shortages and other apocalyptic scenarios, to avoid it.

Then we have the providers railing, because they won’t be able to charge as much for care. Healthcare costs in the United States are amongst the highest in the world, so is it possible that they are so high because providers are simply charging too much? Once again, it is evident that these people profit enormously from the status quo, and will say anything to keep it. Why are Americans even listening?

 

The other day, I commented on such an op-ed, where someone with obvious ties to the American Healthcare industry made socialized healthcare into a nightmare, even citing Canada as an example. I said that while some of the things she said were true, the fact remained that having lived in 3 years in France, 35 in Canada, and now 7 in the United States, I would hop back on the socialized medicine train without a moment’s hesitation. (Canada and France don’t exactly function in the same way, but I find both preferable.) Unsurprisingly, I was immediately trolled by an anonymous telling me maybe I should go back where I came from then. I was the monster who disagreed. It didn’t matter to this person that I had actually experienced various systems, my perspective had to be devalued in any way possible because I disagreed with him.

 

But these rampant misinformation campaigns, enabled even by our newspapers avid for eyes, is nothing compared to the insidious power of mis-education.

 

Who decides what is taught in school? Should we teach the theory of evolution? Or creationism?

At the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, you find textbooks exacerbating hate and glorifying martyrdom, even at an elementary level.

What would we find if we examined school textbooks from any country in the world? Would we also find these little nuggets of misinformation like what led a young Polish woman to believe abortion made you infertile?

And that brings me to the scariest idea yet: how many of these lies are in our own textbooks?

Would we find what conditioned Americans to have such blind faith in their Healthcare system?

Worse, how many are lodged inside my brain? “Facts” that I now consider undisputable, that it doesn’t even occur to me to question. “Facts” that shape how I perceive the world, that influence my thoughts.

 

“Je pense, donc je suis.” I think, therefore I am.

But what in the world am I?

Related Stories

Comments

Please login to post comments on this story

  • Tomas Chough 9 months, 1 week ago

    Very interesting. I've thought a lot about this myself and it's a great thing to question. One of my conclusions is that it's great to question everything. We grow a lot when we question and learn new things or different perspectives that aren't the ones we were taught. At the same time, I think it's important to pick our battles and where we want to put our focus. There are so many things we've been taught or programmed to do/think that it'd be impossible to get to the root of each one. While many of them may be wrong, I think our best bet is to choose what we want to question in our lives so that we can make our personal journey better. Question anything that we feel doesn't align with our deepest feelings, values, truths (which at the same time may be wrongly educated as well lol) and not worry about every single thing. Thanks for sharing Gabriele!

    • Gabriele Russo 9 months, 1 week ago

      Glad to meet someone with an open mind ;) We are becoming a rare breed, it seems.

  • Miranda Fotia 9 months ago

    Worse, how many are lodged inside my brain? “Facts” that I now consider undisputable, that it doesn’t even occur to me to question. “Facts” that shape how I perceive the world, that influence my thoughts.
    Great question! I often wonder how the Trump era will be recorded in the history books. I hope they will be honest. Our country will never learn from it's mistakes if we never teach our children the truth so they can learn from it. It is so important that our education system teaches our kids the facts without bias.