The Truth About Misinformation-I Am Perpetually StunnedTuesday, February 19th, 2013
Some people tell stories when they write. Some tell facts or talk of important journalistic issues. I have a tendency merely to put into words what sloshes around in my brain. The funny thing about this is that I am not really a “literary person”. I don’t read cathartic current novels, I was in a book club for 5 years and finally quit because no one ever liked my idea of reading Stephen King and honestly, for me, books and movies are really only a source of leisure, diversion or entertainment. I really do think life provides me with enough challenges to want to spend money or my free time watching or reading about others’.
I do love reading medical and science journals and have a few, very favorite, authors. Anne Lamott, Anna Quindlan, Gregory David Roberts – who wrote the riveting, tragic and beautiful, autobiographical “novel” (because he would have gone back to prison if he had not made it “fictional”), Shantaram. It is hands down the best book I have read in the last five years. ANYTHING by David Foster Wallace , easily the finest contemporary author of our time. An easy intro being a piece he wrote for Vanity Fair called “Shipping Out”, some years ago about a trip on a cruise liner. And my weeks are not complete without reading Mark Morford’s San Francisco- SF Gate column .
I sometimes wonder if I get too passionate with my rants but I am perpetually shocked by what I find out in the world. Mainly, on the Internet and in TV media. As I too often say to anyone who will listen, “you can’t make this stuff up”. I find it in my work, I find it in parenting “strategies”, I find it in the well meaning emails I receive from, people, who I think are in fact smart, telling me how my cell phone is going to explode when I pump gas or that Xander’s food is being contaminated by his Pokemon lunchbox.
Believe it or not, this is actually leading into something. The idea of real “misinformation”. During my retreat (not exactly the right word) of this last week, I spent time doing that unfocused kind of Internet browsing where you float around looking at miscellaneous articles. Quite randomly (I actually think while looking for Season 2, Episode 11 of True Blood) I came upon an interview with a guy named Richard Cohen by Rachel Maddow.
Richard Cohen is a “psychotherapist”, one who has no education or credentials in the field and who has been denounced by all professional psychotherapy agencies. He has formed a foundation called The International Healing Foundation and has written a book called Gay Children, Straight Parents: A Plan for Family Healing. As Rachel Maddow points out in the interview, one might think, when picking it up, that it is a supportive book. It actually is a book in which he professes that with his “therapy” he can turn anyone who is gay, straight. Yup. Really. He calls it “unwanted SSA (same sex attraction) and says that he was once gay and is now happily straight and married, but “for a really long time still had unwanted SSA”. Huh?
I am not going to say much more about it here except to highly encourage you to watch the interview. Especially starting at the 10-minute mark. It is sheer pleasure to watch a true imbecile be eaten alive by a very sharp and highly literate interviewer. At one point he states that “race” is one cause of homosexuality. Really, he does. I am perpetually stunned.
Ok – so here’s where this is leading. Finally. I am ready to once again bring out and up to the forefront more examples of those in birthing and parenting circles who promote themselves as experts without any knowledge base, other than an experience of their own or “facts” they have decided to state, likely without any actual validity. If you have ever met a researcher or scientist they tend to be humble, brilliant, and dedicated individuals who devote their lives to real knowledge. The promotion of this sort of misinformation, often by “celebrities”, is irresponsible and insults the truly knowledgeable people who actually do teach us things.