Girl Killed by Ignorance and Stupidity.

Posted: March 29, 2008 in Crime, Education, News, Religion
Tags: , ,

0_61_032608_madeline1.jpgSometimes the question is asked ‘what is wrong with religion’ or something phrased like that. This is a case of one of the ways it causes pain, misery and death. But then, in this particular case, religion itself may not be at blame – it could well be that ignorance is. This is a sad story about stupid people blinded by faith and losing a child as a result.

Fox News, not usually the most reliable of news sources but this story was confirmed by others, came out with the story “Police: Girl Dies After Parents Pray for Healing Instead of Seeking Medical Help“. Madaline Kara Neumann, and 11 year old diabetes sufferer, died when her parents apparently chose prayer over medical intervention. The story was soon followed up by “Wisconsin Parents Didn’t Expect Daughter to Die During Prayer“, followed by “Aunt Pleaded in 911 Call for Help in Saving Sick Niece From Religious Mother“.

Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days

Thirty days of sickness and all that the parents did was pray? I do not know about any other family out there, but if I have the flu for longer than four or five days I go and see a Doctor as soon as I can. They’ve studied medicine, they have a far greater understanding of disease, human anatomy and such things than I ever will.

The girl’s parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to “apparently they didn’t have enough faith,” the police chief said.

I’d actually put the girls death down to criminal negligence. There is no reason that girl should have died at all. A relative got so concerned about the girl’s welfare that they phoned the police. A relative in another state had to call the Police to get the poor girl any sort of proper attention and, sadly, it was far too late. Think about it … a relative in another state was so concerned that she called the Police and the Parents didn’t even take the child to a Doctor?

The mother believes the girl could still be resurrected, the police chief said.
What? That surely can not be a serious statement. Oh wait, you read a testimonial reportedly written by the Mother in question and start getting how such insane thoughts are possible.

The family believes in the Bible, and it says healing comes from God, but they are not crazy, religious people, she said.

Two main statements there, one contradicts the other. I’m sure you can work it out.

Leilani Neumann said the family is not worried about a police investigation into her daughter’s death because “our lives are in God’s hands.”

Great. That tactic sure worked out well for the daughter, didn’t it?

This seems like a pretty clear case of criminal negligence to me, though I am in no way any expert on the law. That being said, all indications are that the inaction of the parents led directly to the death of their daughter. What happens in their other children fall sick?

One thing that did jump out at me was that it is/was a home that practised home-schooling. As a properly trained and qualified educational professional myself, I can safely say that home-schooling is one of the worst possible things you can place upon a child of any age. Those running it are not qualified, children are robbed of proper social interaction and never are exposed to new ideas or concepts. Home-schooling is, by all accounts I’ve seen, a lot less about educating a child as opposed to indoctrinating them. Contemporary educational theory/practice is all about teaching students how to think, not what to think and home schooling flies straight in the face of this. It does nothing but insure that the next generation stays as ignorant as the current one. Ignorance which, in this case, led to the death of Madeline Kara Neumann.

Going off on a slight tangent now… The whole praying for people to get well makes little sense (as I’ve pointed out before), do people pray for a broken down car to suddenly start working again? Do people pray for limbs to suddenly grow back again? No. Because it does not happen. People do not get well through prayer, there is not one confirmed case of it. Yes, there are cases of people suddenly getting well when it was not expected … yet that has happened to Christians, Atheists, Buddhists and people who have and have not been prayed for, so there is absolutely no correlation.

  1. […] 29, 2008 by tinyfrog Matt beat me to it on this one. An eleven-year-old girl recently died from a treatable form of diabetes. Her parents decided to […]

  2. Jennifer says:

    Aw that’s horrible. There’s not much that’s more tragic than stories like this. 😦

  3. […] children?4 pharyngula – None so blind as those who will not see [↩]matt’s notepad – Girl Killed by Ignorance and Stupidity [↩]tiny frog – Religious Faith results in Death [↩]spread rationality – Prayer instead […]

  4. L says:

    What you’ve said about homeschooling is 100% true – next to organized reliegion, it’s the most effecient method for the stupidist people on Earth to pass on their stupidity….

  5. Jens says:

    I agree with the topic of the article, that this family is a bunch of religious whackjobs that deserve jail time for their actions. I don’t agree with the tangent on home schooling.

    I won’t say that there aren’t a ton of religious whackjobs that home school in order to indoctrinate. There are. But I think painting the whole institution with such a wide brush goes too far. I was home schooled for 2 grades, not throughout my schooling, but enough to know that it gave me a huge head start against my peers.

    I credit the fact that I was able to really delve into learning one on one and in a very nurturing environment with my academic success through college (and soon through grad school. Fingers crossed).

    Based on recollections of my classmates time in public school it seems to me I was able to develop a love of learning that many of them did not because a classroom environment is not always conducive to keeping kids interested. (Especially kids who are intelligent and inquisitive and don’t want to wait for the kids who struggle and demand the majority of teacher time). Those early grades are the time when you either learn to love learning or you learn to tolerate it. Classrooms work for some people but I’m glad I was able to learn in an environment that worked for me rather than being told that I had to attend a regular school.

    I learned more during 1/4 to 1/2 day sessions of “school” with my mom than my classroom peers learned in full days over those two years. Would the teacher been as willing to indulge the ability to read that lead to me reading far above my grade level? From my experiences in public school I highly doubt it.

    Proper training is an issue and I think it is incumbent on the parents to realize what the stakes are and rise to meet them. But many home school parents do.

    While homeschooled I had frequent social intereactions with kids my age and got to know lots of other homeschooled and non-homeschooled kids. I knew many of these homeschoolers all the way through highschool graduation and in all but one case they excelled in school, went to excellent colleges, and are productive, unindoctrinated individuals. Some were religious and some were not. Some were home schooled because of their beliefs and some were not.

    So, while I will admit that I may be an exception, I think you paint with far to broad a brush in condemning home schooling. Condemn the indoctrinators all you want but don’t condemn home schooling as a system. It can and does produce many highly intelligent, open and inquisitive adults.

  6. Valerie says:

    To start, my personal preference is to get medical treatment for illnesses. It is tragic that the parents of Madaline Neumann chose to rely solely on prayer instead of including medicine as a method for answering their prayers.

    That said, their religious beliefs have nothing to do with the concept of homeschooling.

    There are probably people who rely on prayer who do any number of activities that many of us would think are ill-advised. My list would include:
    — parachutists
    — hang-gliders
    — airplane pilots in general
    — airplane test pilots in particular
    — trapeze artists
    — high-rise window washers
    (I suffer from vertigo, so all of those activities strike me as unpleasant and risky)

    I’m sure there are other things, but I’m sure my drift is obvious. Just because an airplane pilot believes prayer will cure illness, doesn’t mean that the risk inherent in piloting a heavier-than-air craft is related to the risk in relying on a miracle cure.

    Homeschooling parents are as diverse a group as the society from which they spring. One example is the group of parents who have linked their websites to the Evolved Homeschooler wiki.

    If your readers Google “atheist homeschooler,” they will find: “Results 1 – 10 of about 2,790 for “atheist homeschooler” I used quotation marks around the words to get results for the combination atheist+homeschooler instead of the larger results for any use of the words “atheist” and “homeschooler” in a single entry. Homeschooling families come in all shapes, sizes and patterns of belief or rationality.

    Also, as far as the statement, “[homeschooling] does nothing but insure that the next generation stays as ignorant as the current one” goes, I’ve read reports that state as much as about 60% of the American population are creationists, meaning they have no confidence that the science behind evolution is as accurate as the science behind whatever keeps those airplanes aloft, even though I think that probably a certain percentage of creationists trust airplanes enough to use them for travel.

    Now, if 60% of Americans believe in a literal, biblical creation, and if homeschooling families account for about 2% of the school-age children in the country, where did the other 58% of that roughly 60% go to school? (this is using the 2% as exclusively religious, which is inaccurate, but easy to think about)

    The “ignorance” that has been passed down has survived the increasingly scientific institutional educations of at least 90% of the population for the past 150 years.

    The question shouldn’t be whether homeschooling parents are instilling ignorance in the minds of their children, but rather how institutional schooling is neither effective nor convincing in refuting unscientific thought in the general population.

    —“home-schooling is one of the worst possible things you can place upon a child of any age.”—

    Speaking from direct experience, I have to disagree. I was able to directly adjust materials and techniques if my children experienced difficulties. If the material was difficult, we slowed down. If the material was easy, we skipped ahead. Also, stress levels dropped, and my children’s behavior improved.

    —” Those running it are not qualified,”—

    The only thing that is being “run” is family life, and we parents are as well-qualified to “run” that as any of us. We learn by doing, talk to each other, attend workshops and conferences, and work to do the best we can for our children.

    —“children are robbed of proper social interaction” —

    Sez who? Seems to me that throughout my schooling the attitude towards “social interaction” was “you’re not here to visit with your neighbor.” Years of 9-month stretches of time where conversation happened only on playgrounds, or during breaks between classes with a no talking rule in effect otherwise may add up to “socialization” but it doesn’t do much in the way of civilization. One only has to look at the report from Georgia about 3rd grade children conspiring to attack and possibly murder a teacher.

    —“and never are exposed to new ideas or concepts.”—

    Homeschooling parents can act more quickly to adjust to new concepts than can an institution that has to have textbooks approved by committees or state boards. Public school textbooks are often years in the making, and may be written to conform to the standards of either the Texas (conservative) or California (liberal) because those states’ book budgets are so large that they drive the market. I found out about the Texas/California split while looking through mainstream teaching supplies catalogs and noting these designations.

    Homeschooling parents need not apply to book committees in order to use new materials on the market, or perhaps to use classics that are considered too old fashioned. We are also not held hostage by other parents who want booklists to be sanitized to their satisfaction. Some of us even celebrate “read a banned book week” sponsored by the American Library Association.

    — “Home-schooling is, by all accounts I’ve seen, a lot less about educating a child as opposed to indoctrinating them.” —

    Now tell me about the differences between the California and Texas textbook markets. One person’s Truth is another person’s brainwashing.

    — “Contemporary educational theory/practice is all about teaching students how to think, not what to think” —

    And that’s the same thing I read on many homeschooling discussion lists. The parents are looking for quality materials that they believe will most benefit their children. You and I may disagree about whether the benefits will be in the here and now, or will extend to eternity, but from what I’ve seen, the most common query from parents new to homeschooling is “what is the ‘best’ curriculum.” (“best” being subjective, of course)

    —“and home schooling flies straight in the face of this.”—

    You’re missing the entire aspect of freedom in your evaluation of homeschooling and reading it solely as an *organized* religiously conservative cloister. In actuality, it is freedom of choice, regardless of the choice (within legal limits, of course).

    Just as some parents are free to choose materials that I would feel are inaccurate, so, too, am I free to choose materials they would reject because of ‘humanistic bias’ or whatever aspect of the materials that they reject.

    No one has a lock on home education. While atheistic Darwinists cannot stop biblical literalists from homeschooling, neither can biblical literalists stop atheistic Darwinists from homeschooling. The field is wide open.

  7. Jens says:

    Wow, I’m looking forward to a rebuttal. I think Valerie’s point is well made, don’t equate two things that are only superficially related based on an imperfect or biased understanding of the topic. It’s related closely, I think, to the old saw of correlation not implying causation.

  8. Matt says:

    And in an update, it seems that the parents have been charged with Reckless Homicide:

  9. Mia says:

    I agree with Valerie – as a homeschooling parent, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    “That you’ve said about homeschooling is 100% true – next to organized reliegion, it’s the most effecient method for the stupidist people on Earth to pass on their stupidity….”

    Yeah, “L”, think what you want and keep spouting off your ignorance, but I can guarantee you that my 4th grader knows how to spell “religion” and “efficient”, and my 1st grader knows there is no such word as “stupidist”. Ick.
    Those who are truly stupid mouth off about things they know nothing about.

  10. Stacy says:

    Wow… you had me on your side until your rant about homeschooling.

    I am an atheist AND I homeschool my child (thanks to all of the religious content in the public school system in the bible belt). I am also a former educator.

    Before you speak about a subject that you do not have direct knowledge of… you may want to sit on the fence and listen to those who do.

  11. We are secular homeschoolers and hang out with other like-minded families. Our kids do really really well on SAT’s and other college admissions tests – I have an 11th grader already receiving scholarship offers….my kids have attended Prom, competed in Odyssey of the Mind (against school kids) and made it all the way to the World Finals, my eldest debuted as a soloist with a major metropolitan symphony (piano) – they’re educated, socialized, and awesome free-thinkers. The school kids we know? Not so much, for the most part. And my kids aren’t the exception to the rule among the homeschoolers we know. Every major university accepts homeschooled students, including Yale, Harvard, and Stanford.

  12. Laura says:

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but you had me until you went off on homeschooling. Why don’t you do some research on the topic before you go spouting off about it. Not all homeschoolers are religious nutcases. Many of us homeschool to keep religious bias OUT of our kids education, not the other way around.

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