Perception is reality and other truisms: When immersed in a story we let down our guard

In  a recent post concerning a federal government lawsuit seeking to reclaim $330,000 in kickbacks, I’ve spoken of the distinction between rhetoric and reality.

That’s a great post – it’s not too long, yet covers a lot of ground.

Gradually, it’s dawned on me that adding endless material to such blog posts – by way of additional comments, and updates – is not the way to go. As a post increases in length, its usefulness to readers diminishes. People generally visit a website for short periods. They don’t want to spend long periods working their way through longread texts, however valuable such texts occasionally may be.

Concepts related to the distinction between what is claimed and what the facts indicate

So, I will continue my thoughts – in  this new post, rather than adding to a previous one – with additional comments.

Interesting variations regarding the topic at hand – that is, the distinction between rhetoric and reality, as it applies to the above-noted federal lawsuit narrative – include the concepts of rhetorical coercion and due diligence.

Data and evidence

An additional relevant concept is evidence-based practice.

The concept is summarized here and a more general overview can be found here.

Evidence-based practice is of relevance to speech therapy and medicine, and has applicability much more widely, as well – in fact, to all of life’s endeavours, in my view.

I became interested with data and evidence as a result of experiences over many decades in which I sought – and eventually found – a way to address a communications problem that I experienced from the age of six to 41 years of age, as I’ve described in an online video and a variety of online articles including one that can be accessed here.

In medical research, sometimes evidence stands in contrast to “expert opinion.”

With regard to the role of data in the construction of conclusions, a March 5, 2014 Globe and Mail article, entitled “Cutting out saturated fat doesn’t help heart health, researcher writes,” comes to mind.

Similarly, a Jan. 24, 2014 CBC article notes: “Vitamin D supplements’ benefits panned in review of studies.”

A Jan. 31, 2014 CBC article notes: “Sports drinks unnecessary, counterproductive for most people.”

Ideology trumps evidence

A March/April 2014 Mother Jones article focused on the results of data from research regarding plastics is entitled: “The scary new evidence on BPA-free plastics.”

Evidence-based news reporting also interests me. A Feb. 27, 2014 CBC article, by way of example, notes: “Hidden camera investigation uncovers ‘atrocious’ investment advice.”

Another evidence-based article, in the Feb. 19, 2014 New Yorker, which like many such articles may appear counterintuitive, is entitled: “The powerlessness of positive thinking.”

A March 17, 2014 New York Times article is entitled: “Study questions fat and heart disease link.”

An April 2, 2009 New York Times article is entitled: “Believing in treatments that don’t work.” With regard to a particular medical procedure for which evidence is lacking, regarding the efficacy and safety of the procedure, the author notes: “Ideology trumps evidence,” and adds: “Somewhere along the line, theory trumped reality. Administering a medicine or performing a surgery became more important than its effect.”

With regard to the distinction between evidence and professional expertise, a Feb. 20, 2014 Globe and Mail article notes: “Supreme Court halts use of expert opinions.”

Truisms related to rhetoric and reality

In addition, other compelling truisms – which may or may not be applicable to real-life situations, as it depends on particular circumstances – come to mind.

Among them are:

With regard to scams and the like on the occasions, which sometimes arise, when the reality trumps the rhetoric, a great expression arises, namely: “The jig is up.”

Updates

A Feb. 8, 2016 CBC article is entitled: “Motherisk scandal highlights risk of deferring to experts without questioning credentials: Lab’s flawed hair testing echoes Charles Smith scandal, with similarly devastating effects.”

A March 30, 2018 Scientific American article is entitled: “Cambridge Analytica and Online Manipulation: It’s not just about data protection; it’s about strategies designed to induce addictive behavior, and thus to manipulate.”

 

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