I feel like we have a systemic issue where no one is differentiating from fact, research, opinion and experience.
We are too busy preaching ‘facts’ that are not facts, but rather research, opinion, or experience. OR We are arguing against someone’s perceived ‘facts’. We do not get the whole picture.
These are four very different meanings.
Facts: Google defines fact as “a thing that is indisputably the case”. In theory, research with the same outcomes will become a fact – but research can not usually be done without external variables that could alter the outcomes. Experience might be your ‘fact or truth’ but it does not mean it is anyone else’s.
Research: A hypothesis that was tested through controlled studies or by compiling several sets of data (that is usually not controlled). Academic Research is then reviewed by peers to find the external variables and navigate where future studies should be conducted to clarify the results.
Opinion: What one thinks.
Experience: What has happened to someone or a culture and can alter their actions in the future.
Recently a well-known advocacy and education agency around stillbirth posted an image that stated, ‘Maternal obesity is a significant risk factor of stillbirth’. Is this fact, research, opinion or experience? It might be research or experience, but to me that statement sounds like a statement that is not helpful but rather shaming. I asked a simple question about the research and if this is due to other underlying issues (systemic – mistrust of doctors to not judge them or being treated dismissive when they do ask for care, physical – maybe higher blood pressure contributing to placenta issues, emotional -?). I was then dismissed, and someone told me this was ‘fact’. This is NOT fact. This is research – which can be used to do further research on the ‘why’.
Research and experience also show that black infants are much more likely to die before their first birthday, than white babies. The fact is not the blackness causes babies to die. The reality is this is a systemic issue and we are failing. We need more research. We are not asking the ‘why’.
Instead when given this information we use it to form causal relationships and then shame the victims or the perceived perpetrator. This is not helpful.
Some might say I am too empathic and cynical. My mind always goes to the ‘WHY’.
WHY are people acting the way they are? WHY do some people value one person’s opinions and not the other? WHY do we feel defensive when someone tries to point out flaws in our thinking? WHY does this power struggle exist in our society? WHY can’t we all just coexist in our ecosystem?
I encourage you to take a step back before reacting and trying to navigate the intention or the WHY. Maybe if we could all take a minute to be aware of ourselves and take interest in others, we would all be a little calmer.