Age of American Unreason Critical Thinking Analysis

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Current Event/Critical Thinking Analysis
Madelyn Draftz
Quote from The Age of American Unreason, page 219-220: “The first and most fundamental warning sign [of junk thought] is an inability to distinguish between coincidence and causation—a basic requirement for scientific literacy.” “During the past twenty-five years, there appears to have been a significant increase in the incidence of autism in children around the world. Whatever the reason for the rise in reported cases of autism, it has coincided with an increase in the number of recommended child immunizations. Anti-vaccination groups have focused on a relatively new triple vaccine, introduced in 1987, that immunizes children against measles, mumps and rubella.” Susan Jacoby notes that many Americans confuse coincidence with cause, like autism “caused” by the MMR vaccine. Really, the increase in autism occurred because of the improved ways to diagnose autism. This was connected to the vaccine though, because the vaccine was given to babies at the same age that autism is typically diagnosed. This is simply a coincidence, or junk thought, like the study that states that giving antibiotics to 6-month olds, causes them to become chubby children. A study from NYU School of Medicine that was published in the International Journal of Obesity found that, “kids who weighed more for their height were those who were exposed to antibiotics from birth to 5 months of age”. The article continues to state that the study doesn’t prove that young infants are going to become overweight if they receive antibiotics in early life, but it does show that there is a correlation. “In order to further explore this correlation and find a direct causal link, further research needs to be conducted”. If the study doesn’t officially prove anything, how can it be considered valid? It’s just going to end up scaring new parents into becoming anti-antibiotics. Additionally, the increase in child obesity is because of lifestyle choices, not...
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