MEMEs are not Facts. They can be informative, perhaps even insightful, but they are not good sources of information. Today I am going to show two MEMEs, address their message then apply critical thought to each.
The other day I wrote an article about hair care treatment. Why did I write this article? For two reasons: 1. I love to research and 2. I want to promote personal advocacy. To have personal advocacy we must develop our critical thinking skills. Images like the Nioxin vs. Monat vs. Rogaine are underhandedly manipulative, their marketing strategies attempt to trick and intimidate us into buying their products. They do their best to break down our ability to use critical thought. The image encourages us to make a knee jerk reaction and cast away science in favor for pseudoscience.
How does it do this specifically?
- It compares apples to oranges – Showcasing ingredients in one column, stating no harmful ingredients or side effects in another, then showing side effects in the final column.
- It manipulates our perception – by placing their product in the center of the image, surrounded by negative space it compels us to feel safer with it over the complicated and scary jargon of the other products. It tells us their product has no harmful ingredients and no side effects while presenting the others in an inferior and negative light. Finally, it scares us with bold red words and exclamation points!
- It unfairly represents the three products – By providing inaccurate or incomplete data on each product they stack the deck in favor of Monat.
Personal advocacy requires Hope. I love Hope, she guides me every day in my struggle against the crushing weight of the world. Hope is the ATP in the muscles of Atlas as he holds the earth above his head. We need more than Hope to protect us from the harmful manipulations of others. Hope must be accompanied by critical thought, this Wisdom grants us the sight to see through lies and manipulations, to search for truth and protect ourselves from falsehoods.
The next topic I would like to discuss is the abuse of stereotypes and the danger of unchecked bias.
I had conversation on Facebook the other week about bias and stereotypes. Everyone has bias, which is fine, however when we allow our bias to interfere with treating others fairly that is when we have failed to effectively critically think.
The above MEME was discussed, the original poster asked if this quote was true: “a patient cured is a customer lost”
My reply was chemotherapy might not be right for everyone, but it has saved many lives. That we should be wary of sources that apply negative generalizations about large groups of people.
I have encountered many who are against chemotherapy and the pharmaceutical companies. When they tell me “there is no money in a cure” I ask them two questions, 1. How many kinds of cancer are there and 2. name 5 big pharmaceutical companies and the chemotherapy drugs they manufacture.
The information given and the sources they cite is an important indication to the amount of time they have researched and how effective they utilize critical thought. For example, someone using Wikipedia or a MEME as source for information may lack critical researching skills. Perhaps they know how to research but they are not concerned with using evidence-based data, maybe they embrace pseudoscience or simply make judgements based on feelings.
Critical thought teaches us to acknowledge our bias, to set it aside, to be fair and treat others for their qualities, rather than the actions of people unrelated to them. It is unfair to apply blanket opinions on other groups of people. When these blanket opinions are applied they create a stereotype which creates an atmosphere of unfairness.
Each pharmaceutical company is an organization comprised of dozens, hundreds even thousands of employees. There are dozens of pharmaceutical companies, how fair is it to say these people are concerned only with making money? Not all people are the same, not all companies are the same.
Instead of making blanket statements about groups of people you don’t know, research each company and judge them individually. Just like people, the ideology of one pharmaceutical company will change, one to the next.
Perhaps the next time we read a MEME and feel strongly about its message, we should consider spending some time to research its validity.