Only As Strong As The Weakest Link

As students, our knowledge is restrained and sometimes even limited by the structure set in educational institutions. Essentially, the basic foundation for the power structure in educational institutions is that the more knowledge you have, the more authority you own. In this system, epistemophilia and epistemophobia work hand in hand in the authorities of such institutions. On one hand, they crave more knowledge in order to gain more power. On the other hand, a fear of those “under” them expanding their intelligence is developed. In other words, an inferiority complex is found in the system. Of course, not every institution has this environment but, to me, it is usually seen in primary and secondary schools, where this philia often turns into an addiction of being in control of the youth’s education.

Both the past and the present have demonstrated such conduct in elementary and junior high schools. In the former, a lot of private, religious institutions tamper with the subject of evolution or completely disregard the topic in their curriculums. Due to a conflict of beliefs, the hard truth of science is tossed aside without these students knowing. Meanwhile, in present time, it has been found that some schools in Texas are trying to omit slavery as an important part of the nation’s history. These schools issue textbooks that rewrite the term “slave” as “worker” as well as address the Civil War as a matter over states’ rights rather than slavery. Older folks and generations are often the authorities that assert these beliefs on the impressionable youth. These older generations are most likely raised without any other mindsets around them, creating a cycle of narrow-mindedness by rewriting history to their own benefit like a fascist state.

In fact, another type of institution in which this behavior is present in is the medical system. According to a study in 2014, “approximately 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed” every year. As the population grows at a faster rate than the number of physicians in the country, patient visits become more rushed. This prevents patients from getting the in-depth insight that they deserve. As a lot of dangerous diseases have very common symptoms, the importance of the trust in this doctor-patient relationship is emphasized. In other instances, some doctors are just blatantly overconfident and do not take their patients seriously. By demonstrating an inability to ask the right questions with care and concern, these physicians make it is easy to believe that the every other patient is an anxious mother or a chronic hypochondriac who don’t know what they are talking about. After going through such an arduous journey to obtain a medical license as well as diagnosing so many patients day after day, it is no wonder that some medical practitioners believe themselves to be all-time experts on the subject. This medical career requires the practitioner to practice and expand on their discipline constantly, making medicine a very core part of their life and their identity.

Blake from Clay’s Ark demonstrates this mindset when he and his family are kidnapped and infected by the enclave. As soon as Meda begins explaining the disease to Blake, he nitpicks her words and from then on claims “She didn’t know what she was was talking about” (486). At the mention of the safety of his daughters, Blake attempts to understand Meda’s story. However, just as he could not understand his wife’s social activism, Blake cannot understand the enclave’s perspective. In reference to David McRaney’s 95th You Are Not So Smart podcast, Blake is pushed too far and experiences the backfire effect when he ultimately compares the disease to rabies in his illusion that it was possible to find a cure. In that moment, Blake’s identity as a doctor is threatened and from then on defends his authority, AKA his “superior” knowledge. Just as some misdiagnoses can lead to life-threatening situations, Blake’s need to escape and find a cure (gain more knowledge) leads to the exposure of the organism to the rest of the world. All of the careful work that Eli and the rest of the enclave has built up is ruined from one man’s narrow-mindedness.

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