Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Educate Yourself

This is a simple enough phrase, but not one that everyone who is anti-vaccine could have arrived it independently.  It must be a phrase that is used frequently on alternative or anti-vax websites, then adopted by all.

It's an odd phrase, because in one sense we all are self-taught, acquiring knowledge only when we are putting in some effort.  It is not only geniuses who are autodidacts. Yet there is a real sense in which none of us has done much to "educate ourselves."  We stand on the shoulders of giants, and could not reconstruct even 1% of current knowledge starting from scratch.

This comes up because my youngest cousin asked on facebook whether she should have her 12 y/o daughter get the HPV vaccination and got an earful. She quickly deleted the entire thread (for which I congratulated her.) Several commenters used variations of "you have to educate yourself."

It must have powerful juju to be so meaningful to so many who have heretofore researched nothing, but now devote hours finding examples of what I they want to hear. If this seems an unfair generalisation, it might be.  I can see rejecting any number of individual pieces of modern, Western medicine.  But I have no one in my experience who researched other things before coming up against the vaccination question and then rejected them.  My anti-vaxxers, at least, are all people who may be smart enough in some ways, but never showed any interest in looking things up before. 

"Educate yourself," then, appears to mean "listen to only one side of things." Powerful.


Sam L. said...

Alternate reasoning and explanation/information NOT gladly accepted. See most college campi for examples.

RichardJohnson said...

"Educate yourself," then, appears to mean "listen to only one side of things." Powerful.

Which reminds me of a William F. Buckley, Jr. quote: "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

Variation: “Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.”

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Interestingly, the anti-vax and alternative medicine crowd includes lots of conservatives and libertarians. Bethany over at Graph Paper Diaries and I have had interesting discussions on this.

jaed said...

I think Ground Zero for the phrase was the SJW movement, in particular the racial segment. I could very well be wrong about this—it's just my impression—but I remember the demand to "educate yourself" being current several years ago among campus race activists, referring to such concepts as privilege, appropriation, and so forth. The idea being that only someone ignorant of these ideas would refuse to accept them.

Come to think of it, the idea of "Feminism 101" may predate it and have led to it. Much talk about how tiresome it was for feminists to keep having to "teach Feminism 101" to the recalcitrant, assumed [again] to be simply ignorant.

"If you disagree with us, we'll talk at you until we make you agree," when you consider it, may not be the best strategic approach to take to social change. But it is emotionally rewarding to place yourself at the acme of knowledge and all who disagree as ipso facto beneath you—even people who, objectively, are far more knowledgeable than you are.

And (as the Feminism 101 thing shows) this exalted position can even come with no self-imposed sense of obligation to teach others, but rather an eyerolling sense of being imposed on by the notional ignorance of those others.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I had not thought of those uses. I may or may not have ever heard them - don't know. But it gives a different spin. "If you look into this at all you can only come to one obvious conclusion." Which may be closer to the subtext than what I was saying originally.

Without using that exact phrase I can see myself taking that tack at some time. Let me think of an example... Talking about the composition of the House and Senate over the years, and what the trends have been. It's a matter of record, you can just look it up. Or whether Olympic throwing events go for greater distance now. Look it up. It gets trickier when there is a strong majority opinion but a minority opinion that clings on. I wouldn't tend to say "educate yourself" about that, because the minority opinion might at minimum have points in its favor, even if it is not fully true.

Texan99 said...

It has a connotation of "Eat the red pill," or whichever one it is that lets you perceive the Matrix. The conspiracy that has controlled your life behind the scenes, which you are now woke to. Of course, if you do some research and reach a different conclusion, you're still under the spell and they can't help you.

Grim said...

That, in turn, is a species of the old Marxist trick of "false consciousness." You're so oppressed by the forms of capitalism/racism/sexism/heteronormativism/whateverism, you can't see how oppressed you are -- you think you're happy! The only way you can prove that you are awake (or 'woke,' as they say now) is by learning how to reliably express our preferred view of reality!

james said...

Which I suppose in turn is a perversion of the Christian idea that the prince of this world has blinded the eyes of all he can, and only by the grace of God can we see our true condition.