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The Defense Acquisition University uses Robert Ennis’s definition to define critical thinking as “reasonable reflective thinking aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do”. Being able to approach information in such a manner is essential to thinking security. Especially right now with so much information coming at everyone so quickly because of the SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 pandemic.

A lot of people, in elected and appointed offices at all levels of government, commentators and pundits, and some loudest and angriest of voices on social and digital media are all directing fire hoses of information at all of us expecting us to drink from them.

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With so much information, coming so fast, from so many different directions, not all of it is reliable or accurate. That is why critical thinking is so important right now.

On April 23,  at the daily Coronavirus Task Force, President Donald Trump inquired of Dr. Deborah Birx, who is the White House Medical Advisor for the Coronavirus Task Force, whether it might be possible to adapt disinfectants, ultraviolet light, or sunlight for internal human use to combat COVID-19 infections (there is an unedited video of the moment on the link).

Since then, the president has claimed that he was being sarcastic. You can judge for yourself after watching the clip. Dr. Birx has stated that he was processing newly received information out loud, which, she suggested, is how the president processes information.

Regardless of whether the president was being serious, sarcastic, or was processing information out loud, within 24 hours, the manufacturers of the major household disinfectants made statements that their products are for external use only are highly toxic and dangerous if ingested in any manner. They did not do this because they are #NeverTrumper or dislike the president. They issued these warnings, which are also prominently printed on all their products, to limit their own liability.

They moved to limit their own liability because they were worried that some people who are hyper-partisan supporters of the president and who take his statements as political gospel would try to protect themselves from COVID-19 by drinking or ingesting their products because they perceived that he was speaking to them seriously and not sarcastically.

This had already happened at least once from a previous presidential suggestion regarding using hydroxychloroquine as an off label treatment for COVID-19. An Arizona couple tried to treat themselves with the active ingredient in hydroxychloroquine after hearing the president promote it as a game-changer. The Centers for Disease Control had to issue a warning about attempting to self medicate with chloroquine phosphate, which is what the Arizona couple did, leading to fatal results.

Since the president’s April 23 remarks, there have been a number of states reporting increased calls to their poison control hotlines. And, as a result, they have issued or reissued guidance against ingesting disinfectants because they are toxic to humans. The Director of Kansas’ Poison Control Center has reported an over 40 percent increase in cleaning chemical cases in the past couple of weeks, including one involving a Kansan who “over the weekend drank a product because of advice he’d received”.

As I wrote in my March 5, 2020 column: “Do not attempt any self-treatments unless you’ve first checked with your health care provider. There are a lot of alternative treatments being suggested online that not only will not prevent the COVID-19 virus but will actually harm you if you try them.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.Org has an entire online resource debunking COVID-19 myths, including bogus cures or preventive remedies (If you don’t have a healthcare provider or cannot reach them, then check with your county’s public health department. DO NOT DRINK BLEACH).”

Right now the smartest and safest thing that anyone can do for themselves and their families is to follow the advice and guidance of the Federal, state, and local medical subject matter experts working to combat the SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 pandemic. At the Federal level, this means Dr. Fauci, who is the U.S. government’s most senior career specialist in these matters, and Dr. Birx who is the White House Coronavirus Task Force medical advisor.

At the state level, it is your state’s director of public health or equivalent. At the county level, it is your county’s public health director Andrea Carlstrom. And at the personal level, it is your primary care physician or a pulmonary specialist, if you have one. It is imperative for you and your family’s safety that you apply critical thinking to what the subject matter experts are telling you. Also apply critical thinking to the information being put out by elected and appointed officials, and the pundits and commentators. Doing so is thinking security.