About 17 years ago, I went to see a chiropractor who came highly recommended to help alleviate back pain I’d been experiencing. I was surprised when the chiropractor chose to use “applied kinesiology” with me rather than traditional spinal manipulation. I had never heard of applied kinesiology and was open to anything that might help me, but when this chiropractor had me raise my arm and resist the pressure he applied to it to “test” various things, and then told me what foods I should and shouldn’t eat and what people I should and shouldn’t avoid based on whether my arm went down or stayed rigid upon his application of pressure, I was stunned that he was serious. I never went back to this chiropractor and marveled that someone had really charged me $80 to do something so ridiculous.
About ten years passed and suddenly this “applied kinesiology” was everywhere and friends of mine swore by it. I’ve learned not to be surprised by such things any more. We people believe all sorts of unsubstantiated things, constantly suspending our critical thinking. Much of the time there is no real harm done, and because our minds and bodies are so intertwined, believing that a practitioner will help us increases the likelihood that we’ll be helped measurably. But I worry about a populace that so readily believes nonsense and passes it off as fact, and I feel strongly that educators must be among the best critical thinkers because, more than anyone, teachers shape the future.
There is a desperate need for good critical thinking among the generation poised to solve – or not solve – the complex challenges before us. So this is my plea to teachers: teach your students to be critical and creative thinkers above all else, and refuse to let yourself be duped. Model the critical thinking your students need to possess themselves.
(For those who want to see a demonstration that debunks applied kinesiology, take a look at this YouTube video.)
For a thinking populace,
Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of The Power and Promise of Humane Education and Most Good, Least Harm