Another dot in the blogosphere?

Are you sure?

Posted on: June 11, 2021

If you think about it, there are not many things in life that you can be absolutely sure of. Of that I am certain.

My mind wandered to an experience I had when I was pursuing a Masters twenty years ago. I was the first Singaporean in the program, so everyone seemed to have questions. But a few already had answers.

One of my course mates, a US citizen, insisted that Singapore was a city in China. She claimed that her father travelled a lot and that was how she knew. She was ridiculously sure.

I wanted so say this: Who would you rather get your information from — your traveller-father or a Singaporean born and bred? Instead I gave a simple geopolitical lesson that Singapore was an independent country located about one degree above the equator and definitely part of China. My inquisitor was still not so sure about how sure I was.

Certainty of factual information is also function of confidence, not just cognition. You can be supremely confident while ignorant (check your Facebook feed for evidence) or relatively quiet about your expertise. The former can get more attention and sound more convincing than the latter.

Video source

Case in point? See the video above. The two women in the video, one reportedly a doctor and the other nurse (and both anti-vaxxers) were sure that there are magnetic components in the vaccines and that these are linked to larger and nefarious schemes.

They get a lot of attention in broadcast media because stories like these are good for ratings. Some choose to parody or mock such ignorance (see the end of the clip) to get likes on TikTok or Instagram. Few actually counter these ridiculous claims [example 1] [example 2].

I chose to answer the call to be an educator because we are the grunts in the war against ignorance. When morale is low or the cause fuzzy, this memory and the video are reminders on how sure I need to be in the next battle.

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