Making the Facts Louder than Opinions!

In the wake of the US elections, I have been focused on finding all the ways that I can stand on the side of equality, justice and health for all, and resist the many trends threatening these values.  There are big, major, highly visible and important ways to do this, but there are also the little, less visible and extremely important ways to do this – one being to pay attention to the trends that have resulted in “fake news” and develop habits that protect us from being “caught in the trap.”  Any of us can succomb to being misled. Our only protection is knowing how to sort out fact from opinion, reputable sources from disreputable sources.

So I was thrilled to discover (by way of a post on the Scholarly Kitchen) an amazing video by Weather.com, posted on December 6, 2016, showing meteorologist Kait Parker delivering a message titled “Note to Breitbart: Earth is not cooling, climate change Is real and please stop using our video to mislead Americans.”  Her main message – “let’s make the facts louder than opinions!”  So many kudos to Kait and to the Weather Channel! Your message is a gift to the earth and to all of us on it!

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About peggychinn

feminist, nurse activist, writer, editor of ANS Advances in Nursing Science, quilter, grandmother nurturing the future of the amazing children in my life.
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One Response to Making the Facts Louder than Opinions!

  1. 🙂

    I share your fundamental concerns about the state of our nation and where we are headed. But I come at it from a somewhat different direction. We have discussed this between ourselves a few times.

    For me, entering graduate studies in nursing was a bit of a culture shock. I was as close to an out of the closet positivist as was to be found among students and faculty. For those unaware I was a typical mid-1960s, male, college student, a product of that technological era and the Selective Service Channeling memorandum.

    I started at college with the intent of going into electrical engineering, gravitated to physics, and eventually settled in mathematics. My first masters degree was in applied mathematics and statistics, in an engineering school. I come by my positivist lean honestly.

    I was frequently appalled during my graduate nursing training by the lack of grasp of basic scientific methodology, quantification skills, grasp of mathematics and statistics among so many around me. I cannot adequately describe how many times one or more of my peers made it clear to me that quantification didn’t matter, or the faculty and peers that tried to explain to me, and failed colossally, that randomized clinical trials were some sort of massive male-dominated attempt at social control, all the while conveying, in the strongest possible terms, that everyone’s “opinion” was equally valuable..

    I don’t for a second doubt that these people believed the utter nonsense they uttered and I am not suggesting that there is a systematic way to devalue some, and elevate other, opinions. The election of DJT, and in truth, had HRC been elected, I would feel the same way because both of them were/are unfit for the Presidency and products of controlled and manipulated media narratives. Democrats had viable candidates in Bernie and Elizabeth and a flawed narrative handed the nomination to HRC who, imho is best described as a candidate barely able to cover her tracks because of decades long, and monumental disregard for basic ethics. Clinton wasn’t killed by the media – she just couldn’t keep the lid on her overflowing garbage can. Neither Bernie, nor Elizabeth, had any of the problems HRC did because they haven’t spent a lifetime advantaging themselves by duplicity. Clinton’s secret Wall Street speeches are no less a reason to lose an election than Romney’s not so secret speeches to his campaign contributors.

    But the real problem is that in so many ways nursing has embraced the same sort of anti-traditional science rhetoric that has led to the elevation of Breitbart to the same status as an article in a professional journal or the Washington Post or New York Times. Not to suggest that professional journals or the Washington Post and New York Times have done their jobs. The Washington Post and the New York Times monumentally failed the public in their coverage of the rush to war in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as they have failed to cover our infrastructure problems (e.g. Flint’s water supply issues) or almost any of the issues that affect most Americans.

    To highlight the problem we face in nursing, and the country at large, let me give my two favorite examples:

    Example 1

    As a first year BSN student in the Spring of 1998, I started hanging out with my Rogerian buddies and one of the first things that happened was the publication of Linda (Emily) Rosa’s contrived, inaccurate, and fraudulent article on Therapeutic touch in JAMA. I understood on the first reading that the article was a sham. But to this day the people who ought to understand WHY that article was flawed, TT practitioners and scholars, remain woefully unaware of the true problems – the flawed statistical design and analysis. I can’t think of a single person who actually does understand that despite my presentations and publications detailing those flaws. Why should these people better understand those flaws? Because they continue to make the same sorts of flaws, or fail to recognize the importance of adequate design in their continuing research. If they took the time to understand the flaws in the Rosa article, their research would be far better.

    Example 2

    As you know, I have been discussing the impact of insurance risk transferring health care finance mechanisms on nursing, nurses, doctors, health care, public health, the health care system and the health care finance system since my earliest days in nursing. That perspective is informed by my decade of work in actuarial setting in an insurance rating bureau and three separate insurance companies, one of which was the worst insurance company bankruptcy in history until the AIG insolvency in 2008-9.

    Still, most nurses fail to understand how deeply the problems in nursing are connected to a very simple flaw in the theory of capitation-like health care finance mechanisms: That large insurers manager risk more efficiently than smaller insurers and that as the portfolio size of an insurer grows smaller and smaller their probabilities of extreme operating outcomes (i.e. Excessive profits or catastrophic losses) increase dramatically. I can’t think of any role a nurse can play, that is not seriously compromised by the manner in which their activities are financed.

    Much like the Rosa article, and global warming, these aren’t impossibly difficult issues to understand. But they do require far more effort than it takes to read/watch an inaccurate Pollyanna-like story about global warming on Breitbart, or reading an essentially fabricated story about the virtues of DJT or HRC, or the nonsensical defense of capitation-like health care finance mechanisms published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (http://annals.org/aim/article/744430/toward-21st-century-health-care-system-recommendations-health-care-reform) by Nobel laureate Ken Arrow and 51 of his favorite friends.

    Research design, health care finance, and global warming are complex topics. There is no easy path to understanding them. Each of them require the novice to obtain a level of skill not possessed by the overwhelming majority of the population. To be informed voters and advocates for any cause require an often painful, tedious, yet ultimately rewarding dedication to shedding ignorance and inability in favor of understanding and skill.

    We cannot come close to resolving issues related to unequal access to care by variously historically oppressed and marginalized communities if we fail to understand that additional research on the facts of their limited access to care and oppression are getting worse because of fundamental, rather than incidental, flaws in health care finance policy that exacerbate those problems rather than rectifying them. Until nurses understand how dramatically the context of nursing has changed since 1973, and why that had to occur, all too many of us will confuse the parallel advances that have been made because of public health improvements, better technology, and better medications and fail to grasp that the access issues for historically oppressed and marginalized communities have actually grown worse, even as the level of care has improved across the board.

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