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Posts Tagged ‘charlatan

You can read the title as a cheer or a sigh.


Video source

Yesterday I heard a promoter at mall sell disinformation. This reminded me of the claim a student teacher made years ago.

The mall charlatan proclaimed the benefits of oxygenated water and a product that would allow you to put extra oxygen in tap water.

Only aquatic organisms would benefit from an infusion of oxygen in the water. Then again only up to a point because too much oxygen is harmful whether it is in water or air. That aside, humans are terrestrial animals and we do not gain from extra-oxygenated water except perhaps for ticklish bubbles.

If we were somehow able to absorb more oxygen from water like the way we do from our red blood cells, we would oxidise chemicals in our bodies. One physically overt effect of this is premature aging, which was something contrary to the promoter’s product.

The harm of buying into this non-scientifically-based sell hurts your pocket and helps perpetuate scientific ignorance. This is bad, but not as bad as what might happen in a classroom.

A few years ago, I reflected on a student teacher who told her students that it was important to drink water because it contained oxygen. Our bodies do not electrolyse water. If we did, we would produce two highly flammable and explosive gases (hydrogen and oxygen) in our bodies.

I pointed this out to the student teacher and urged her to rectify this at the next lesson. Misteaching science initiates or perpetuates falsehoods. Disinformation takes root and becomes unfounded knowledge. If left unchecked, this condition might develop into disdain for scientific literacy and critical thinking.

We should be nurturing kids who are scientifically literate and cheering, “Yeah, Science!” But if we do not correct bad teaching or ignorant sales pitches, we leave kids who think that ignorance is bliss.

The short answer: Get the person to explain and defend the basics.

The long answer is a short story.

I had dinner with a group of people some weeks back and one person decided to bring up bitcoin and blockchain. In one breath, the person said he could not explain bitcoin, but advised everyone to not invest in it. In another, he confidently claimed that blockchain was the future and to pursue that.

My question was: How can a person laud blockchain but not know that bitcoin is based on it? How can you not be able to explain something but tell others to take your word not to invest in it?

I did not actually ask the question because I recognise bait. That person’s statements were a barefaced attempt to be challenged so that he could spout more ignorant rhetoric.


Video source

If you need a good explanation on blockchain, watch the YouTube video above. An expert explains the concept at five different levels.

A charlatan can neither explain basic concepts nor defend it with current information and research.

The same approach should also be applied to vendors claiming to provide schools and educational institutions with edtech panaceas. Can they explain what their product is based on using first principles? Can they do this with different stakeholders? What research have they conducted or do they cite?

The end of my long answer is the same of the short answer: Get the person to explain and defend the basics.


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