Friday, March 28, 2008

A Remarkable Lack of Self-awareness

A tragic story released today by the Chicago Tribune really makes you wonder about people's abilities to critically examine their own point of view--even when lives are on the line.

Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor...

...the girl's mother, Leilani Neumann, said that she and her family believe in the Bible and that healing comes from God, but that they do not belong to an organized religion or faith, are not fanatics and have nothing against doctors. [emphasis mine]

Are you sure about that?

According to the article, the girl had not been to a doctor since she was three (at least she got routine immunizations). Relatives, including an aunt, called the authorities to report that the little girl's life was in danger because her parents were refusing to take her to a hospital and were instead trying to heal her with prayer.

The interesting thing about the case is that, like so many others in the same vein, the legal route of investigation is whether or not the parents were negligent in caring for their daughter. The authorities (and most sensible people) will most likely conclude that not taking a comatose girl to a hospital qualifies as negligence.

The parents, on the other hand, are going to argue that "they did everything they could." They wanted their little girl to live; this was not negligence in the sense that they were unconcerned whether she lived or died. The father attempted to perform CPR. If the family's statements are to be believed, they did not want to see her die.

If the parents truly believe that they did everything they could, one of two things is the case. They were incompetent or they were brainwashed.

I'll leave which one up to the reader to decide.

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