Warnings surround us in this modern life. We should follow many of them without question. Most of these unquestionable warnings are made through the sound judgment of trained professionals assessing indisputable facts.
For instance, the warning against consumption of alcohol during pregnancy due to the statistical likelihood of fetal alcohol syndrome is an unquestionable warning. It’s based on indisputable scientific fact. You may be the one-in-a-million whose developing child doesn’t succumb, but the warning is still unquestionable.
Another is the warning against operating heavy machinery while taking certain medications. We know as a fact how these medications affect the central nervous system. You may think that your metabolism or your operating skills will save you from any bad outcome. But this warning is still unquestionable.
The warning to stay away from the third rail of the subway is also unquestionable. As is the warning to cook that piece of raw chicken thoroughly. These warnings may seem more anecdotal, but the scientific facts behind them still make them unquestionable.
But there are other warnings that surround us in this modern life that we would do well to question. Most of these warnings are made through the flawed judgment of mere conjecture by pseudoscientists. And many of these warnings come to us through our social media and online sources. Your FaceBook or Twitter feed needs questioning.
One that springs to mind quickly is the warning about vaccines and autism. The science behind vaccines and the efficacy of vaccination is indisputable. But in 2008 the medical journal Lancet published an article, later retracted, about a flawed study that purported to find a link between vaccination and autism, a mere conjecture that internet pseudoscientists judged as indisputable fact. Vaccination rates plummeted as the pseudoscience spread through social media and the internet. Naturally, rates of childhood diseases once relegated to the dustbin of history went up commensurately. This is a warning that should have been questioned.
Another such warning that comes to mind is the purported link between Wi-Fi and cancer. Your smartphone is giving you cancer. Oddly, there is a grain of truth in this. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiation from Wi-Fi devices as a Class 2B carcinogen, right up there with cancer factories like styrofoam, aloe vera, coffee, and your Aunt Sally’s pickled cucumbers. I think life, in general, is also in this classification. The warning that Wi-Fi causes cancer should be questioned.
So what should you do when we’re confronted with warnings from people on your FaceBook feed, or when that Twitter god you follow tweets some dire warning about some heretofore unknown danger? Well, you could do what I do. Think. Read. And most importantly of all: Do Not Heed This Warning!
Oh, but you should heed my warning, to never heed those questionable warnings. That just makes sense.