By Janine Saunders, EdD, MPH | February 21, 2017
Program Manager, ETR
Neil deGrasse Tyson famously said, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." During this time of fake news and alternative facts, promoting science-based approaches is more important than ever. If you’re like me, you encounter people every day who, knowingly or unknowingly, are making decisions based on false information.
Some people don’t know the facts. Others simply don’t care. For those who are open-minded, however, the chance to learn more about important issues from a credible source (you!) may make a big difference.
February is National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month. What a great opportunity to spread some facts about school health. Here are a few good ideas to get you started!
However, we’ll be better ambassadors of science if we first demonstrate our openness to others’ ideas. When we find out more about their questions or concerns, we can craft our message in ways that address their greatest interests. Ask your friends what they already know about school-based health and start there.
We need to point out that scientific conclusions about groups cannot be made on the basis of a single case. While it is true that one person could smoke and live to be a nonagenarian, it is far more likely that a smoker will die prematurely. On average, in fact, smokers die ten years earlier than nonsmokers. For every person who dies from smoking, there are another 30 living with a serious tobacco-related illness.
And since we are talking about school health, it is important to remember that each day more than 3,200 adolescents smoke their first cigarette.
Talk about interesting findings you’ve recently come across in your work. Right now, for example, I’m working on a really cool evaluation of middle school comprehensive sex education curricula in two Bay Area school districts. One of the outcomes across both districts is a significant increase in sexual health knowledge among the students. That’s an exciting finding. Which is why I’ve been subtly dropping it into my cocktail party conversations of late!
I was recently driving my ten-year-old and his friends back from a field trip. That’s always a great opportunity for eavesdropping. One of his friends asked, “What does your mom do at her job?”
My son said, “She helps people answer complex questions using science. She sciences all day.” He is right, and I love doing it.
I would also love to hear more about what you are doing. What strategies are you using to promote science-based frameworks? What experiences have you had talking to colleagues?
Let’s keep that flame alight. Keep on sciencing, friends.
Janine Saunders, EdD, MPH, is a Program Manager at ETR and a proud scientist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.