I’m not racist but …

I'm not a racist but

Have you ever noticed that there are certain statements that automatically mean the opposite of what the speaker intends?

The classic example is “I’m not racist but …” You just know that whatever follows those words is going to be racist.

According to Rational Wiki:

Any sentence that starts with the words “I’m not prejudiced, but…,” or similar formations (“I’m not racist, but…” or “I’m not homophobic,” “not sexist,” etc.) is likely to contradict itself very rapidly… Saying a sentence that starts with “I’m not X, but…” likely means that you are X.

The exact same principle applies to the favorite phrase of natural parenting advocates. That phrase is “I’m educated and …”

Popular formulations include:

I’ve educated myself about natural childbirth or homebirth or vaccination and …

I’ve done my research on natural childbirth or homebirth or vaccination and …

It is virtually guaranteed that whatever follows is going to be absolute nonsense.


When a natural parenting advocate claims to be “educated” about medical topics, she certainly doesn’t mean that she went to medical school, has hands on training caring for pregnant women and babies, or is familiar with the obstetric, neonatology or immunology literature. What does she mean? She means that she has adopted a cultural construction of “education” that has little if anything to do with actual knowledge of the topic. She means that she has used Google to access information that may or may not be true. She has ignored those who have actual education and training and crowd sourced her decisions by reading books, blogs, websites and message boards written by other lay people who are often equally ignorant.

A lay person’s claims to be “educated” about a health topic is really a claim of defiance. The person is proudly defying the recommendations of health experts with years of education and years of training in order to credulously accept the bizarre conspiracy theories and absolute nonsense of people who have little or no education and training in the relevant discipline. When a homebirth advocate or vaccine rejectionist claims to be “educated,” she means that she has thoroughly read and blindly accepted the propaganda of other people who are equally uneducated.

What’s doubly ironic about the claim of being “educated” is that people who really are educated on a topic never proclaim themselves to be “educated.” They might tell you about their training, their years of schooling, their professional titles or the papers they have published on the topic, but they will rarely if ever claim to be “educated.”

When someone tells me he is not racist but …, he has helpfully alerted me that the statement that follows is likely to be racist.

And hen someone tells me she is “educated” about childbirth, homebirth or vaccination, she has helpfully alerted me that she is thoroughly ignorant about that topic and about what being educated really means.