If you have taken English 102, here at Prairie State College, then chances are that you came down for a Library Session, and learned about applying critical thinking when doing research. One of the major topics covered is the Expertise of the Author and agendas that they or a company publishing their material may have.
When doing research, finding sources that demonstrate Expertise is very important because it can lend credibility to your argument. However, when you are performing research, determining the answer to whether or not an argument made by an author is credible is not always black and white. Here is an example …
The Kefauver Hearings and the Birth of the Comic Book Code
Perhaps, if you have long been a fan of comics, you’ve already heard this tale, but if not then let me introduce you Dr. Frederic Wertham and his mission to get comic books out of the hands of children.
Wertham’s tale begins in the mid to late-1940s when he began counseling juvenile delinquents in New York. At this time, comic books were all the rage with kids and an average of 15 million issues were sold each month. Now, Wertham, a cognitive psychiatrist who studied violent behavior and the effects of mass media, began to notice that a large percentage of these the juvenile delinquents he worked with read comic books (he also may have noted that they all drank Coca-Cola, but that did not fit with his narrative, and was thus ignored). Previous to this there was a growing national rebuttal to comic books and editorials were written in magazines such as Catholic World, The National Review, and Reader’s Digest which singled out comics as being distasteful and contributing to increased cases of illiteracy. These cases, it is important to note, were not scientific and did not purport to be, but instead built their cases strictly in regards to taste. So, Wertham, capitalizing on this growing criticism of the medium, published a book entitled The Seduction of the Innocent, which was a full-length psychiatric exposition of the damaging effects of comic books on children. In the book, Wertham presented out-of-context clips of violent and sexual images and concluded, without any scientific backing, that these images aggravated emotional problems of children.