As we move into 2018, are we still in a room without a view? [opinion]


By Kieran McCartan, PhD, David Prescott, LICSW, & Alissa Ackerman, PhD.

The start of a new year is often a time of reflection and hope. We think about our experiences as well as practice over the last year and learn from poor practice as well as build upon good, existing practices. Having a solid, reliable, evidence base is central to all aspects of life, personal and professional!

Thinking back over the last 12 months, 2017 has been an interesting year to say the least with the common factor being one of ideology and “common sense” understandings winning out over an established evidence base many times. A recent example was the United States’ Centers for Disease Control emphasizing that it would not accept funding submissions that contain words such as “evidence-based”, “transgender”, etc. Although we all have ideologies, thoughts, and beliefs that govern our lives and practice, the majority of the time these are not based on facts, outcomes and analysis. Rather, these can be based on perceptions and collusion with friends, family and/or peers. This might be fine if we are deciding which diet to use, airline to fly or coffee shop to visit; but, are these the best metrics for deciding on larger, societal scale decisions? All too often it seems that we agree with science primarily when it supports our views.

This reliance on ideology has often times led – especially in northern hemisphere westernized countries – to a rejection of expert knowledge as well as evidence. In 2017, in our opinion, this resulted in a return to lay knowledge and ideologically driven theories, policies and practices. In other words, sometimes going backwards to debunked beliefs and practices!

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“Let’s do science on it.” What a novel idea. Too bad our elected “officials” don’t give a care about science, what’s right, or anything else besides money and power.