Skepticism

Bad Chart Thursday: Halloween Edition

Boo!

Whoops, did I make you jump? Sorry about that – just having a little Halloween fun here! Gosh, I love how much everyone loves Halloween. It’s a time when we can all just scare each other silly and eat some tasty candy. No one ever feels stereotyped or objectified on this fabulously spooky day! Unless you’re in North Dakota, of course.

Since Buzzfeed picked up the story, a letter from a North Dakota resident to certain parents in her community has been making the rounds. Take a look:

Mean Halloween Letter

In case you can’t quite read it, the letter writer is telling parents that their children are fat and shouldn’t eat candy on Halloween. Here’s a snarky translation:

“Hey neighbor, I am able to make a medical diagnosis and discern regular eating habits simply by looking at a child in a costume. Also, I am in charge of all of your parenting decisions. Plus, I know how to use clip art. Look at my clip art. Don’t you love my clip art? It’s full of Halloween spirit!”

Here is a bad (good?) Venn Diagram explanation of what’s wrong with this letter (besides Semicolon; and Capital Letter misuse):

Valid Halloween Treats

See! No overlap! Friends, Halloween treats are meant to be delicious to the tongue. And to the (absence-of-a) soul! They should uplift and delight, not bring you down. A judgmental letter is not a treat. It’s a mean ol’ trick.

And then there’s the issue of an unqualified person making a medical diagnosis. Now, since our judgmental letter writer chose to remain anonymous, we of course don’t know for sure that she’s not a medical professional. But given that “moderately obese” doesn’t seem to be a recognized classification, it’s fairly safe to say she’s not. Plus she’s clearly not been able to complete an actual physical exam or take a medical history of these costumed children. So let’s have another Venn Diagram lesson for our letter writer:

Legitimate Medical Diagnosis

Other issues with the medical community aside, four years of medical school and a few years of residency should teach even an idiot a thing or two (right?). So it’s probably best to get a little education before attempting to diagnose and recommend treatments for costumed children.

Listen, everyone knows eating a ton of Halloween candy isn’t the number one healthiest choice in the world. That’s why it’s Halloween candy, not every-single-hour-of-every-single-day-all-the-time candy. And that’s why people go walk around for it – and burn a couple calories along the way. There are plenty of pretty darn big issues with Halloween, like racist and sexist costumes – and now, random strangers fat-shaming children. Costumed kiddos walking around and enjoying a little candy are the least of our worries here.

Note: We will not be responsible if candy-eating parties happen on this letter-writer’s lawn.

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Kerry is a longtime skeptic and technology enthusiast, currently in recovery from too many years spent working in enterprise software. She still believes in the power of technology to do good, when used judiciously. Find her on Twitter or Google+.

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